The Good Discipline of the LORD

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

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

Many people in the United States of America have and are seeing the word discipline as antiquated, outdated, and unnecessary.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

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

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

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

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

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

v. 6  “(Jer_12:15).

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

 

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

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

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

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

Covenant Keeping GOD

“Nevertheless I will remember My covenant with thee in the days of thy youth, and I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant. Then thou shalt remember thy ways, and be ashamed, when thou shalt receive thy sisters, thine elder and thy younger: and I will give them unto thee for daughters, but not by thy covenant. And I will establish My covenant with thee; and thou shalt know that I am the LORD: that thou mayest remember, and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more because of thy shame, when I am pacified toward thee for all that thou hast done, saith the Lord GOD.” Ezekiel 16:60-63 (KJV)

The covenant God had given to Israel was through Abraham. Though the nation had been judged, was being judged, and would be judged some more God would not forget His covenant with Abraham.

The following is quoted from the Jeremiah Study Bible notes for the above verses:

As fierce and catastrophic as the coming judgment would be, God reiterates His commitment to Jerusalem to one day restore her, give her a new heart that would follow after God, and bring her once more to regional pre-eminence. We see here both God’s commitment to keep the covenant He had made with Abraham to give his descendants the Promised Land forever, and also His lavish grace in restoring Sodom and Samaria to Jerusalem as daughters, not sisters. God would provide atonement for Israel’s sins through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ His Son.

May all Christians rest in the peace of knowing that God is a Covenant keeping God. What He has said will not fail to come to pass. Not one word will return to Him void. Jesus Christ is coming again. Not to die, but to reign on the earth.

The Proof of Truth

There were a few times when I was a kid, that I got to use whitewash. Some may be asking, “What is whitewash?” I do not remember what the ingredients in it are, but I remember it was used by many people to put a cheap covering over a hard looking building, fence, or barn. It only had an appearance of looking good for a rain or two; then it was a mess.

Jesus referred to “Whited sepulchres” in Matthew 23:27; which is reference for covering, putting a false appearance on a tomb making it appear to be something it was not. He likens them to being “Whited sepulchres”.

The prophet Ezekiel speaking to the captives in Babylon is used by God to confront them of their trust they had placed in false prophets; and not in the LORD.

“Because, even because they have seduced My people, saying, Peace; and there was no peace; and one built up a wall, and, lo, others daubed it with untempered morter: say unto them which daub it with untempered morter, that it shall fall: there shall be an overflowing shower; and ye, O great hailstones, shall fall; and a stormy wind shall rend it.” Ezekiel 13:10-11 (KJV)

The “Untempered morter” is whitewash. The “Peace” the false preachers had proclaimed was untempered mortar and could not give strength to the wall they claimed they had for safety. It was a crumbling wall, daubed with color, but no real mortar.

The truth of this matter is that false teachings will not stand the test of truth. God is truth. One’s who claim to speak for God better be sure that God has spoken to them. Those who claim to have a word from God, and that word is not fulfilled; does not come to pass has not spoken for God.

For some reason it seems that false teachers who are always making people applaud themselves, never lift up the name of the Lord; and are always trying to increase their profit, by fleecing the sheep. It does not seem it is ever done without asking for a “Seed gift” or some other name.

Their words are like the whitewash. It cannot stand the rains of God’s judgment. The wall of false teaching will come crumbling down.

Here is the mortar that holds all of God’s truth together: Jesus Christ died for your sins, He was buried, and He rose again from the grave. He is returning again some day to receive all who believe in Him to Himself; and so shall we ever live with the Lord (John 14:1-6; 1 Corinthians 15:1-6; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

God of Purer Eyes

Habakkuk 1:12-17

Art thou not from everlasting, O LORD my God, mine Holy One? we shall not die. O LORD, thou hast ordained them for judgment; and, O mighty God, thou hast established them for correction.” v. 12 (KJV).

Habakkuk seems to begin to understand the immutable [unchanging] character of God. He even refers to Him as ‘mine Holy One. He realizes that God is definitely going to use these godless people, the Chaldeans to judge His own sinful people. The judgment of God, must begin at the house of God; “Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house.” Ezekiel 9:6 (KJV). NOTE: “and begin at my sanctuary”. In the New Testament Peter says something very similar, and may have had this verse in mind, “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” 1 Peter 4:17 (KJV).

The prophet realizes that God is not going to completely destroy Judah, but, he still has questions. Judah will be corrected, and made right with God through the process of cleansing of the fire.

Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity: wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he?” v. 13 (KJV).

Habakkuk also begins to see that God is pure, and recognizes this in Him when he says, “Thou are of purer eyes than to behold evil…”. This is a correct observation by the prophet. It seems, though, that the question is still lingering in his mind. How can God use this wicked people, when He is of purer eyes than to look on iniquity, to judge the people whom He has chosen?

Is the prophet wanting God to judge the sins of Judah? That is my question. If God is of purer eyes than to look on sins of people, surely it must begin with those who are His own. Another question I must ask is, ‘If God does not judge the sins of those who are His, how can He justly judge the sins of those who are wicked?’ In all fairness He cannot. Since the Holy One [using Habakkuk’s words for God] cannot look on sin, because He is of purer eyes, than to do so, He must judge His people’s sins. Especially, when they defiantly wear His name and practice the evil of their hearts.

Maybe Habakkuk is realizing that God is going to have His way in the hearts of His people, and in the hearts of the Chaldeans, as well. It is not God’s plan to wipeout His people, but to cleanse them. However, He will judge, later, those who mistreat His people, and He will do it with vengeance. Woe be to the man, or nation who mistreats the child of God, or the people of God.

For verses 14-17 the MacArthur Study Bible note says, “Lest God had forgotten just how wicked the Chaldeans were, Habakkuk drew attention to their evil character and behavior. Life was cheap to the Chaldeans. In the face of their ruthless tactics of war, other societies were ‘like fish of the sea, like creeping things that have no ruler over them.’ In light of their reputation (vv. 6-10), how could God have unleashed this ruthless force upon another helpless people?” (NKJV version pg.1319).

“And makest men as the fishes of the sea, as the creeping things, that have no ruler over them? They take up all of them with the angle, they catch them in their net, and gather them in their drag: therefore they rejoice and are glad. Therefore they sacrifice unto their net, and burn incense unto their drag; because by them their portion is fat, and their meat plenteous. Shall they therefore empty their net, and not spare continually to slay the nations?” vv. 14-17 KJV).

In looking at the context of verses 14-17 it seems that these, “…wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he” Habakkuk 1:13 (KJV) and, verse 15 would go together. The Babylonian/Chaldeans only see other people and nations as “fish to catch”, a prey to kill. Because they so overwhelm their prey they believe their gods are the ones to worship. This should cause us, I am sure it did the prophet Habakkuk, to realize they have brought shame to the name of GOD.

The prophet sees the people of God, though, defiled by sin, living in sin, and rebellious to God; as being the more righteous (v. 13). He sees the nations, including Judah, as being seen by them like ‘fish of the sea’, and all they [the Chaldeans] have to do is drop a hook or a net and pull them in.

Habakkuk has acknowledged in verse twelve that he realizes that the coming of the Chaldeans is the judgment of God upon an unholy people of Judah; who have forsaken the Lord their God, and worshipping empty vessels.

Sometimes it does seem that trouble just abounds, and comes to us like an enemy taking us like fish from the sea. Like the prophet, though, we can turn to our GOD and trust Him with the questions we may ask. When our faith is in Him, they are not questions of accusation, but, rather questions for faith learning and growing.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Originally published January 12, ’08

Friday Baptist 061711

The following message is by Alexander MacLaren who lived from 1826-1910.  This message is taken from his messages from the book of Ezekiel.

THE DRY BONES AND THE SPIRIT OF LIFE

1. The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, 2. And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry. 3. And He said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, Thou knowest. 4. Again He said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. 5. Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: 6. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the Lord. 7. So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. 8. And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them. 9. Then said He unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord God; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. 10. So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. 11. Then He said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts. 12. Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O My people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. 13. And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up out of your graves. 14. And shall put My spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord.’—EZEKIEL xxxvii. 1-14.

This great vision apparently took its form from a despairing saying, which had become a proverb among the exiles, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost: we are clean cut off’ (v. 11). Ezekiel lays hold of the metaphor, which had been taken to express the hopeless destruction of Israel’s national existence, and even from it wrings a message of hope. Faith has the prerogative of seeing possibilities of life in what looks to sense hopeless death. We may look at the vision from three points of view, considering its bearing on Israel, on the world, and on the resurrection of the body.

I. The saying, already referred to, puts the hopelessness of the mass of the exiles in a forcible fashion. The only sense in which living men could say that their bones were dried up, and they cut off, is a figurative one, and obviously it is the national existence which they regarded as irretrievably ended. The saying gives us a glimpse into the despair which had settled down on the exiles, and against which Ezekiel had to contend, as he had also to contend against its apparently opposite and yet kindred feeling of presumptuous, misplaced hope. We observe that he begins by accepting fully the facts which bred despair, and even accentuating them. The true prophet never makes light of the miseries of which he knows the cure, and does not try to comfort by minimising the gravity of the evil. The bones are very many, and they are very dry. As far as outward resources are concerned, despair was rational, and hope as absurd as it would have been to expect that men, dead so long that their bones had been bleached by years of exposure to the weather, should live again.

But while Ezekiel saw the facts of Israel’s powerlessness as plainly as the most despondent, he did not therefore despair. The question which rose in his mind was God’s question, and the very raising it let a gleam of hope in. So he answered with that noble utterance of faith and submission, ‘O Lord God, Thou knowest.’ ‘With God all things are possible.’ Presumption would have said ‘Yes’; Unbelief would have said ‘No’; Faith says, ‘Thou knowest.’

The grand description of the process of resurrection follows the analogy of the order in the creation of man, giving, first, the shaping of the body, and afterwards the breathing into it of the breath which is life. Both stages are wholly God’s work. The prophet’s part was to prophesy to the bones first; and his word, in a sense, brought about the effect which it foretold, since his ministry was the most potent means of rekindling dying hopes, and bringing the disjecta membra of the nation together again. The vivid and gigantic imagination of the prophet gives a picture of the rushing together of the bones, which has no superior in any literature. He hears a noise, and sees a ‘shaking’ (by which is meant the motion of the bones to each other, rather than an ‘earthquake,’ as the Revised Version has it, which inserts a quite irrelevant detail), and the result of all is that the skeletons are complete. Then follows the gradual clothing with flesh. There they lie, a host of corpses.

The second stage is the quickening of these bodies with life, and here again Ezekiel, as God’s messenger, has power to bring about what he announces; for, at his command, the breath, or wind, or spirit, comes, and the stiff corpses spring to their feet, a mighty army. The explanation in the last verses of the text somewhat departs from the tenor of the vision by speaking of Israel as buried, but keeps to its substance, and point the despairing exiles to God as the source of national resurrection. But we must not force deeper meaning on Ezekiel’s words than they properly bear. The spirit promised in them is simply the source of life,—literally, of physical life; metaphorically, of national life. However that national restoration was connected with holiness, that does not enter into the prophet’s vision. Israel’s restoration to its land is all that Ezekiel meant by it. True, that restoration was to lead to clearer recognition by Israel of the name of Jehovah, and of all that it implied in him and demanded from them. But the proper scope of the vision is to assure despairing Israelites that God would quicken the apparently slain national life, and replace them in the land.

II. We may extend the application of the vision to the condition of humanity and the divine intervention which communicates life to a dead world, but must remember that no such meaning was in Ezekiel’s thoughts. The valley full of dry bones is but too correct a description of the aspect which a world ‘dead in trespasses and sins’ bears, when seen from the mountain-top by pure and heavenly eyes. The activities of godless lives mask the real spiritual death, which is the condition of every soul that is separate from God. Galvanised corpses may have muscular movements, but they are dead, notwithstanding their twitching. They that live without God are dead while they live.

Again, we may learn from the vision the preparation needful for the prophet, who is to be the instrument of imparting divine life to a dead world. The sorrowful sense of the widespread deadness must enter into a man’s spirit, and be ever present to him, in order to fit him for his work. A dead world is not to be quickened on easy terms. We must see mankind in some measure as God sees them if we are to do God’s work among them. So-called Christian teachers, who do not believe that the race is dead in sin, or who, believing it, do not feel the tragedy of the fact, and the power lodged in their hands to bring the true life, may prophesy to the dry bones for ever, and there will be no shaking among them.

The great work of the gospel is to communicate divine life. The details of the process in the vision are not applicable in this respect. As we have pointed out, they are shaped after the pattern of the creation of Adam, but the essential point is that what the world needs is the impartation from God of His Spirit. We know more than Ezekiel did as to the way by which that Spirit is given to men, and as to the kind of life which it imparts, and as to the connection between that life and holiness. It is a diviner voice than Ezekiel’s which speaks to us in the name of God, and says to us with deeper meaning than the prophet of the Exile dreamed of, ‘I will put my Spirit in you, and ye shall live.’

But we may note that it is possible to have the outward form of a living body, and yet to have no life. Churches and individuals may be perfectly organised and perfectly dead. Creeds may be articulated most correctly, every bone in its place, and yet have no vitality in them. Forms of worship may be punctiliously proper, and have no breath of life in them. Religion must have a body, but often the body is not so much the organ as the sepulchre of the spirit. We have to take heed that the externals do not kill the inward life.

Again, we note that this great act of life-giving is God’s revelation of His name,—that is, of His character so far as men can know it. ‘Ye shall know that I am the Lord’ (vs. 13, 14). God makes Himself known in His divinest glory when He quickens dead souls. The world may learn what He is therefrom, but they who have experienced the change, and have, as it were, been raised from the grave to new life, have personal experience of His power and faithfulness so sure and sweet that henceforward they cannot doubt Him nor forget His grace.

III. As to the bearing of the vision on the doctrine of the resurrection little need be said. It does not necessarily presuppose the people’s acquaintance with that doctrine, for it would be quite conceivable that the vision had revealed to the prophet the thought of a resurrection, which had not been in his beliefs before. The vision is so entirely figurative, that it cannot be employed as evidence that the idea of the resurrection of the dead was part of the Jewish beliefs at this date. It does, however, seem most natural to suppose that the exiles were familiar with the idea, though the vision cannot be taken as a revelation of a literal resurrection of dead men. For clear expectations of such a resurrection we must turn to such scriptures as Daniel xii. 2, 13.

You may find more by Alexander MacLaren at Christian Classics Ethereal Library.

-T.A.

Observations From John – 033011

Please remember that the gospel of John is pictured in Ezekiel 1 as the eagle in the face of the Living creature, and the flying eagle in the Revelation 4:7.  These show forth a symbolic picture of the deity of our Lord.  John’s writing of Jesus is clearly that Jesus as the Son of God is God.

In the thirteenth chapter of John’s gospel we have the event of the Lord’s Supper, and this is what I have observed;

“He riseth from supper, and laid aside His garments; and took a towel, and girded Himself.  After that He poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith He was girded.  Then cometh He to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto Him, ‘Lord, dost thou wash my feet?’  Jesus answered and said unto him, ‘What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.’  Peter saith unto Him, ‘Thou shalt never wash my feet.’  Jesus answered him, ‘If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with Me.’  Simon Peter saith unto Him, ‘Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.’  Jesus saith to him, ‘He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.'” John 13:4-10 (KJV)

There is much to see here, however there is one observation and truth I want you to see; and that is that God came down to heaven in the form of a man [Jesus Christ], and then stooped even further to wash His disciples feet.  To me that is a really big thing, and says a whole lot about us as the human race.

The beauty of it is in the Son stooping to serve, and wash the feet.

When was the last time I stooped to serve another in like fashion?  How about you?

-Tim A. Blankenship

 

Observations From Deuteronomy – 022811

Reading today from Deuteronomy chapters 23 – 25.

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

I want us to look at one verse,

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

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

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

This is further stated in the book of Ezekiel,

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

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

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

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

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

God’s wonderful gift of grace.

Read Deuteronomy 23 – 25 for today.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Daniel 1:1-7

I realize I have done a previous study on the prophet Daniel.  However, the following are study notes for a new series of sermons I am preaching at Carr Lane Baptist Church beginning January 03, 2010.  I will include hear a link to my previous study and to only the points on our church site.

GOD WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU

“Casting all your care upon Him; for He cares for you.”  1 Peter 5:7

A STUDY IN DANIEL

Purpose – To unveil and see the sovereign hand of God at work in the history of the nations of mankind, of men, and to know and trust God to be sovereign in directing our individual lives.

When Your World Crumbles Around You

Daniel 1:1-7

Purpose – To know and trust God to care for us even when nations, our own, and others are falling; God will take care of us, and meet our needs.

OUTLINE –
I.  THE FALL OF A NATION (v. 1).
II.  THE CAPTIVITY OF A KING, AND KINGDOM’S RELIGION (v. 2).
III.  THE CAPTORS ATTEMPT TO MOLD AND CONTROL MINDS (vv. 3-5).
IV.  THE SOVEREIGN HAND OF GOD IN FOREIGN AFFAIRS (vv. 6-7).

Isaiah the prophet had prophesied over one hundred years before of the impending doom coming on the nation of Israel.  They had grown rich, soft, comfortable, complacent, and apathetic.  “No harm will come to us.” they would say, “After all we are God’s nation, God’s people.  We have the temple of God”; and oh so foolish in their hearts turning from God.

There is security with the LORD so long as the LORD is honored, revered, trusted and obeyed by His people.  When God’s people forsake Him, He does not forsake His people, however, He will discipline, correct, and rebuke them to get them back under His care.

I.  PEOPLE FALL AWAY FROM GOD (v.1)
Jehoiakim king of Judah was the son of Josiah, who was the son of Amon, the son of Manasseh (2 Kings 21:18-26).  Johoiakim was born Eliakim, but the king of Egypt changed his name to Jehoiakim and appointed him king of Jerusalem (2 Kings 23:34).  This falling of the kingdom had begun a few years earlier when the prophet Isaiah was warning of the hard heartedness, and their straying from God.

The reason for the captivity that we are reading about in this text is because of the people’s forsaking God, His Word and His commandments (Ezekiel 20:13, 16; 23:38).

When God had spoken throught he prophet Jeremiah to call the people to go out to Nebuchadnezzar and surrender that was their last opportunity to remain in their land (Jeremiah 27:1-11).

II.  A KING IS TAKEN AND A KINGDOM’S RELIGION IS CAPTURED (v. 2).
This was the first invasion by Nebuchadnezzar.  He took the king from his throne, and to Babylon.  He also took some of the “articles of the house of God”.  It seems to have been a way to imply that the power of the gods of a nation are determined by the conquering nations taking these articles with them, and housing them with their religious articles.  This is seen earlier in the nation of Israel’s history when the Philistines took the Ark of the Covenant and put it in the house of Dagon (1 Samuel 4:11; 5:1-9)

One thing we as Christians must know and keep in mind; just because our place of worship may be destroyed, in shambles, and the place of the “Lord’s Supper” be stolen does not mean that God is destroyed or stolen.  He is larger than our pieces of religion which are used to remember Him.  When the world may take the sign of the cross and abuse it, misuse it, and/or mock it that does not deminish the power of the cross of Jesus Christ.  Several years ago a man, believing he was designing some sort of artistic piece placed a designer cross in a jar of urine, and photographed it.  That did not affect the power of the cross of Jesus one iota.  It was saccreligious.  It caused an outrage among many, and it seemed with some that it was almost the end of the cross of Christ.  Not so however.  The power of the cross of Christ Jesus cannot be captured, destroyed, or diminished.

Religions of men can be captured, destroyed, diminished, and cast out; but the cross of Christ will continue in its power to save and change lives until Jesus Christ returns.

III.  THE WORLD ATTEMPTS TO MOLD AND CONTROL MINDS (vv.3-5).
In the day of Babylon’s captivity of the Jews and others they would take the captives and change their names, and give them a new diet.  For the Jewish people it would mean eating swine, and other unclean foods for them.  In the eyes of many of the world this rich food would be a “blessing” over what they had been eating.
Ashpenaz, a eunuch for the king, was to pick out choice youth from the kingdoms, including Israel, and give them a new diet, and teach them new things.  Fill their heads with new thoughts, divert them from what they had been taught, and gain their loyalty.

Even in a free country such as the USA our public schools, many colleges, and universities, endeavor to redirect minds from the basics of what they have been taught by their parents, churches, and private schooling; directing them to more liberal thought and leadership styles.  They do these things by calling basic life truths, Bible truths, and moral truths into question, and ridiculing any and all who will stand on those basics.

This thought is seen in the science of the thought of “Global warming”.  When some scientist began questioning the authenticity of the theory and its truth these men and women were called all sorts of insulting names; “Unlearned, ignorant, fools” and not even given a chance to prove their points.  The world is attempting, even now, to control the minds, and beliefs of the people.

IV.  THE SOVEREIGN HAND OF GOD IN FOREIGN AFFAIRS (vv. 6-7).
A changing of the names of these Jewish youth.  We are told of only four.  Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; probably because they were four who stood for what they had been taught, never followed the path of evil in Babylon, and stood their ground.  We do not hear them called by these names until a later chapter.  They are called by their Hebrew names at least 5 times from chapter one through chapter two, and yet most people only know them by their Babylonian names?   God wants us to know them by their names Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.  Daniel is referred to as Daniel most of the way through the book; why do we not continue to know Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah by their true names?

Daniel means “God is my judge” … Belteshazzar means “the keeper of the treasure of Baal”;  Hananiah means “Jehovah is gracious”  …Shadrach means “command of the moon god”; Mishael means “Who is like Jehovah” … Meshech means “the goddess Shach”;  Azariah means “Jehovah is my helper” … Abednego means “the fire god”.

Part of the reason and answer to the question above is that we too have been conditioned by what we have been taught.  Let’s begin retraining our thinking to direct ourselves to the thoughts of godly thinking, and living; and trusting that kings and kingdoms are ordained by God; they rise and fall by His decree; and that no king, kingdom, man or woman can stand without the hand of God ordaining it. “The king’s heart is in thehand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: He turneth it whithersoever He will” Proverbs 21:1

APPLICATION-
i.  Let’s stand upon the Word of God; reading, studying, hearing, and applying it to every area of our lives (2 Timothy 3:15-17; 1 Timothy 4:2).
ii.  Putting our faith and trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ on Calvary’s cross, and guarding our hearts and minds from religion of men (Psalm 118:8).
iii.  Filling our minds with the things of God, holiness, righteousness, God’s glory, justice, peace, His love, mercy, goodness, bearing the fruits of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:16;  Ephesians 5:18; Galations 5:22-23).
iv.  Always keeping in mind the power of the sovereign hand of God over the affairs of men and nations will help us realize everyday, that, God is directing the events and circumstances of  our lives; that, He does not have a plan A and a plan B (Daniel 29, 37, 47).

-Tim A. Blankenshi

You may find my previous study posted on Fire and Hammer and the article on Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah and the other Daniel: The Educating Of The Youth.

The LORD Knows…

“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.” Psalm 1:1 (KJV).

This Psalm is one of my favorites.  It is one that lingers in my memory.  I do not know that I set out to purposely memorize it, but it is there.  The collection of the Psalms are words of encouragement, hope, and you see the hearts of the writers of the Psalms.

David is known to be the human author of most of these writings of Biblical poetry, but it is  also known that some of them were written by Moses, Asaph, and maybe another one or two.  We do know and believe that these are words which are inspired by God Himself.  They would not be present in the Canon of Scripture if they were not.

This first verse of the Psalms begins with a “Blessed” or “Happy”.  This would be the individual who is fulfilled.  This individual does not seek ungodly counsel from others, nor do they go to the ungodly seeking godly counsel.

This individual does not have dealings with the rebellious and wicked; taking a bold stand against immorality.  The places where the “Blessed” individual stands is upon the Word of God, in places that lift up the Lord.  The place of the “Blessed” individual’s seating is where God is seated.

The ’scornful’ are those who make a mockery of God, and scoff at all who profess Him and godliness.  An individual usually sits, comfortably where they live.  The “Blessed” individual lives in the presence of the LORD God.

Everyone “Delights” in something.  There is something that you can hardly do without, maybe a new car, new house, new suit of clothes, more money,  more of anything, that you perceive as good.  We can get our hearts set on something, and that becomes our “Delight”.

Gulom of the Lord of the Rings story had his “Delight” on the Ring of power.  J.R. R. Tolkein wrote the story, and it shows an analogy of the power of sin in our lives.  Gulom had been a normal hobbit until the Ring was found and he murdered his friend, took the Ring, and became a creeping, rock crawling, pale, almost sickening being.  The picture is surely that sin will destroy you.  To Gulom, the Ring was his “Precious”.  That was his delight.

In Psalm 1:2 the Psalmist writes, “But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in His law doth he meditate day and night.”  We  have been told in verse one what this individual does not do; now we see what this godly individual does.

She/he holds no “Delight” in the wickedness of the world or its things.  The heart has been reborn.  The more the “Delight” is in the “law of the LORD” the less these things of the world become anything of importance.  The law of the LORD is something the man and woman of God delights in.  They meditate on it day and night.

To wake up thinking Scripturally.  To go to bed at night thinking Biblically.  What a wonderful “Delight” it is.  The Word of God is more precious than anything this world has to give.  DELIGHT IN THE LAW OF THE LORD.  Within its pages you find life and eternal life.  It will take you to the person of Jesus.  Sin will hold no power on you.

“And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”  Psalm 1:3 (KJV).

Have you ever noticed trees by streams of water during a drought?  Trees on the hillside away from the streams often begin to look a little dry, and sometimes leaves begin to fade, but the trees by the streams never fade in the heat of drought.  The Psalmist paints us a lovely picture of the follower of Christ Jesus who stays in, abides in, continues in the Word of God.  He/She “delights in the law of the LORD”, and when troubles come they just keep on ticking.

The fruit will keep on coming despite droughts, despite hardships, and even despite the storms, though the storms may cause severe damage.  The one who keeps themselves in the Word, the law, the way of the LORD will also prosper in all they do.  Do remember that prosperity is not always in things, but peace, comfort, encouragement, love, wisdom, grace, mercy, etc..

Just as the tree planted by the rivers of water is always at the mercy of the stream which flows by so too is the follower at the mercy of the One whose Word we read, hear and practice.  We/You are always in His hands.

There is such evil in our world at times.  Murders happen each and every day and even in each hour of the day.  Some of which we never hear about.  There are many crimes done to other human beings, of whom all are made in the image and likeness of God, and by God Himself.  He alone gives life, and He alone can justly take a life.

“The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.”  Psalm 1:4 (KJV).

We have seen the blessedness of the one who walks with God, and that she/he delights in the law [Word] of the LORD meditating in it day and night; and that this individual is like a tree planted by the rivers of water.  Now that is quite refreshing to a child of God; to know that whatsoever they do shall prosper.

There is a somewhat sad statement, yet, a statement that should encourage us as well.  The encouraging thing about verse four is that God will judge wickedness, and will not let it go unpunished.  The sad thing is that there are those who are “Ungodly”.

The “Ungodly” are those who will set out to oppose all that is godly, righteous, just, and of God.  Whether we want to admit this or not they do exist.  A few years ago we  heard of a group who on a website asks for those who will commit the “Unpardonable sin” to sin against the Spirit of God and forever condemn their soul.  The ungodly are those who just completely reject the love, grace, mercy, and cross of Jesus Christ.

These are as the waste of the wheat as it is thrashed.  When the winds of life and God’s judgment comes are driven away.  May God save those who will hear Him, and believe.

In the first Psalm we see the blessedness of the one who is right with God.  They do not seek ungodly counsel, nor do they participate in sinful endeavors, nor try to rule with the scornful or as the scornful.  The “Blessed” are those whose “…delight is in the law of the LORD; and in His law doth he meditate day and night”.  Those who do this are strong, supplied, and sufficient for all things.

“Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous” Psalm 1:5 (KJV).

The ungodly and the sinner are the same.  They are not right with God.  Their delight is to do the things that gratify their emotions, thinking, lust, greed, and power.  These are ones who will not hardly hesitate to use a friend, sometimes even a family member or spouse, or co-worker to gain what they desire; what they delight in.  They certainly have no desire for God.  God would be an interruption in their life.

The path of the ungodly and the sinner is that they will not be able to stand before God in the judgment with their good deeds.  They will be judged according to their works (Revelation 20:11-14;  v. 12), and will not be able to give any reason for their unbelieving hearts.  There will be no room for the ungodly and the sinner “…in the congregation of the righteous”.

Who are the righteous?  All those who have come to God through faith in His Son Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross, and received the righteousness of Christ and have been raised together with Him, for all eternity.

Sin definitely has a hold on the human race.  Why many do not want to see it is beyond reason.  One Monday morning at Virginia Tech, in April 2007, we saw the results of sin, and there is only one answer for sin.  The life of a perfect sacrifice.  And we are not it.

“For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish”  Psalm 1:6 (KJV).

Cho Sueng-Hui a student with a visa from South Korea went into a dorm and killed two fellow students.  He, then proceeded to Norris Hall where students and teachers were gathered for classes, and shot and killed thirty more, and then, turned the gun on himself.  This man does not need my condemnation, nor anyone else.  He is condemned far greater than anything you or I could.  He is forever in the absence of God’s presence.

Those who have become so encumbered by sin that they follow its call will do almost anything.  Let no one say, “I could not/would not ever do what that man did”.  You just might.  As long as you turn a deaf ear to the Lord; your heart will grow hard, heavy, and madness of evil can easily set in.  You could find yourself doing all kinds of evil, that you never dreamed possible.  You say you don’t believe in evil.  Do not be deceived.  You saw it take place on Monday morning April 16, 2007, and every morning before and since that dreadful day.  Evil is more powerful than you or I can deal with alone.  The end of evil is destruction.

The LORD knows ‘the way of the righteous’;  He should because He directs the way of the righteous.  The LORD does not direct the righteous to kill, maim or destroy.  He directs the righteous to live godly, holy, and sanctified lives for His glory, and calls us to call others unto Him.  The way of the righteous is also the way of peace, mercy, justice, love, joy, gentleness, patience, self control.  They show forth those things which have been called the ‘Fruit of the Spirit’.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Abundant Family of God

Ephesians 3:14-21

It has been the will and the plan of God to bring all people into one body, but according to God’s good will; not man’s.  It seems that man has endeavored to come together as one more than once; the first time being at Babel; and look what happened.

God is holy, and all people cannot come to Him in their own merit due to sin.  God loves humanity, and is the offended Deity to whom a price must be paid, and that price is death; the death of every sinner.  Just as sin entered the world and the human race by one man [Adam] so too, by only one man can sin’s debt be paid, and that debt, which was owed to God, has been paid by the death of His Son Jesus Christ (Romans 5:12-21).

In verses 1-13 of Ephesians 3 Paul has given explanation how that God has displayed His love and grace by the cross of Jesus and has opened the way for the Gentiles (all who are not Jewish).

NAMED FOR THE FATHER OF THE FAMILY (vv. 14-15).  In the first two chapters and the first thirteen verses of this chapter the apostle has dealt with the “mystery of the gospel”, by which the Jew and the Gentile become one through Jesus Christ.  We understand through the previous thirteen verses of this chapter that it has always been God’s plan to bring Jew and Gentile together into one body.  God is sovereign and works all things for his purpose, will and glory.

God the Father is the source of “Fatherhood”.  This is not a verse supporting the heresy of the “Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of man”.  God is only the Father of all who have trusted Him through faith in Jesus Christ and the finished work of Christ – His death on the cross, His burial, and His bodily resurrection.  The “whole family in heaven and earth” can only refer to the “saints” both living and dead [bodies sleeping awaiting their day of resurrection].  We are of the family of God, because God in His grace has made it so; without our aid or efforts.

We are of the “Household of faith”, with the name given us by our Father.

BEING FILLED WITH ALL THE FULNESS OF GOD (vv. 16-19).  When the lost man or woman comes to Jesus Christ they receive all of Jesus Christ that they will ever receive.  We are however, at times, very inept in practicing all the fulness of God we have been given.

God said through Zechariah the prophet;

“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 (KJV)

The Spirit of God is the person and source of our Fulness of God.  He is the catalyst of our fulness.  In this prayer Paul is asking these things from God for the Ephesians and us, “according to the riches of His glory…”

1.  “To be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man”;
2.  “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith”;
3.  “being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height…”;
4.  “to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge…”

It seems by the presence of these that would be having the fulness of God which Paul speaks of.

THE ABUNDANCE OF GOD’S POWER WORKING IN US (v. 20).  It seems as I am studying this I seem a bit unable to describe what this is dealing with.  God’s grace for salvation is more abundant than I can begin to imagine, and His grace for living is just as abundant, and when God says, that He will complete what He began (Philippians 1:6); that is part of that abundance.

God is far more able to do “Exceeding abundantly”, “far more abundantly”, “above and beyond” “all that we ask or think”, that we ought to know that anything God says we can rely on.

All of this accomplished “…according to the power that worketh in us…”.  The power working in us is limited, it seems, only by our faith at work.  Maybe I should say, “Limited only by our faith not working”.  If we are truly walking with God, in the Spirit, filled with the Spirit; then there is nothing that should stand in our way of fulfilling God’s will in our lives; and seeing God’s will accomplished in the lives of others.

We cannot muster up the power in ourselves.  It is through the Spirit of God in the child of God walking by faith in Jesus Christ.

THE CHURCH GIVING GLORY TO THE FATHER FOREVER (v. 21).  The purpose of all creation is to give glory to God, to praise and adore Him.

When sin has wrecked and mauled and destroyed a sinners life God gets no pleasure from his death (Ezekiel 18:32).  When that soul has been saved, set free from sin by God’s free gift of grace God glories in that child’s physical death (Psalm 116:15).  Why deos Scripture tell us this?  Because, it is God who has worked in that saved soul’s life to bring him to Himself.  It is God who works in you (Philippians 2:13) as a child of God to bring you to His glory.

Now, having siad that, it leads us to the Church.  The Church is the Bride of Jesus Christ.  He being “the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9).  What glory it brings to God when finally the Church is brought as one into the eternal presence of God.  The Spirit habitating in the life center of every believer is the means  by which we glorify God.  The Holy Spirit is the power of the Church which brings every born again soul to God.  He is glorified because He sees the Church completed already seated with Jesus in heavenly places.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Discipleship – The Pursuit Of Godliness

Hebrews 12:14-17

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is elsewhere (x) a little differently expressed.

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

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

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

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

SUMMARY –

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

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

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

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

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

The Battle For Jerusalem

Jerusalem the “city of David”.  So called by the Old Testament Scriptures; and given to the nation of Israel.  In Jerusalem is a mount on which at the present time stands a mosque of Islam.  It is on a sight which is respected by two groups of people.

It is respected by the Jews because of it being the place of Solomon’s Temple which he built by request of his father David.  It was a glorious temple of beauty, sacred devotion to Jehovah [YHWH], and great design.  It is respected by Islam because that is the place where Al Aqsa Mosque is presently standing.

There is still a battle raging over this special site in Biblical history.  Scripture promises that the temple will be rebuilt.  What this means for the mosque is up for discussion, and could mean one of several things; which I will not get into here.

Recently, however, the Moslem Mufti, Sheik Sabri told thousands of moslem children that the temple of the Jews would never be rebuilt. You may read more of this story here at Prophecy Today. What exactly does that say concerning the Scriptures, God’s Word.  Islam claims to have such high regard for the Bible, yet we see time and again their disdain and disrespect for the promises of God to the Hebrew people concerning their land, and the temple.

The City of Jerusalem is still the “City of David” as the Scriptures proclaim (called “city of David” at least 43 times from 2 Samuel 5:7 – Nehemiah 12:37).  It sounds to me as though it is the “City of David”, and not the city of Mohammed.

It was king David’s desire to build a temple to Jehovah, and GOD would not permit him to do so, but passed that honor on to Solomon; because of the “blood on David’s hands”.

It is possible that the temple will be not only rebuilt, but there will be another temple built in that one’s place when Jesus returns.  See 2 Thessalonians 2:4;  Ezekiel 40-42.

For someone to give a message that God is not going to fulfill His Word is to doubt God and His promises.  To doubt God and His promises is to wage war against the Most High, and declare Him a liar.  Yet the Word of God is true, “Let God be true, but every man a liar” (Romans 3:4).  The Mosque may crumble and fall, and never be rebuilt; however, the temple will be on the Temple Mount once again.  And it could be very soon.  God will fulfill every word of Scripture.

Come Lord Jesus.  Come soon.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Message Of Jesus – Still Needed

“And again he entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house.  And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them.”  Mark 2:1-2 (KJV)

“They crowded to hear Him, as we read in this passage, “until there was no room about the door.” They were amazed. They were astonished. They were filled with wonder at His mighty works. But they were not converted. They lived in the full noon-tide blaze of the Sun of Righteousness, and yet their hearts remained hard. And they drew from our Lord the heaviest condemnation that He ever pronounced against any place, except Jerusalem–“And you people of Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will be brought down to the place of the dead. For if the miracles I did for you had been done in Sodom, it would still be here today. I assure you, Sodom will be better off on the judgment day than you.” (Matt. 11:23, 24)”  From J. C. Ryle Commentary

There is a need for humanity to hear the words of Jesus.  It is a necessity of human beings; if we are to be eternally saved; to hear and heed His Word.  The  earthquake (December 26, 2004) which caused the tsunami in the Indian Ocean; and various other earthquakes, storms, and wars; should be a wake up cry to the world.  God is still in charge of the world.  The death toll has been staggering – to say the least – reaching into the hundreds of thousands, and many of those going into eternal fires of torment.

There is sin still in our world.  Every one of us born of man is born into sin.  We are sinners by birth and sinners by choice.  It is because of sin that there is sickness, disease, death, tsunami, tornado, earthquake, storms, etc..

People will often gather; as they did for Jesus on the day we read here; to hear a great speaker, because of what they might see, receive, or to be entertained.  The people of Capernaum were awed by Jesus, and the words He spoke, but they would not take heed to His words.

There are people who are asking, “If God is omnipotent and omniscient, then why did He not prevent this horrible disaster in the Indian Ocean?”,  “Why did He not prevent the destruction of this tornado, earthquake, the death of my son or daughter; husband or wife?”  God is Omnipotent [All-Powerful] and Omniscient [All-Knowing], and yes He could have prevented the disaster, but because of the fall “Nature” just as sin is allowed to run its course.  We had just as well ask, “Why did my Dad die?” or “Why is there death in the world?”  Most Christians would agree that death is the result of sin, because we know those verses that tell us “death came into the world because of sin” (Rom. 5:12-21).

The world needs to hear the words and message of Jesus because there is coming a judgment upon the world unlike which the world has never seen.  It seems to me that God is screaming for mankind’s attention.  Still there are those who keep asserting that “…these things are only a thing of nature, there is no God, and this tragedy only proves it.”

In stark reality it seems to me to show that God is truly gracious; for if He were to take His hand completely away from His creation; the universe and the  world on which we live, and all that is in it would come to an abrupt end.  And He would be completely just in doing so.

People in Ezekiel’s day would gather to hear a preacher preach, but not do according to his teaching (Ezekiel 33:30-33).  Jesus said, “Why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not what I say?”  Good question.  We as God’s people need to hear what God says and take heed to what He says.  The people of the world need to hear what God says, they need to hear what He says about repentance and faith, about His Son Jesus and the way to eternal life through Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Jesus, God-Man, Servant

The gospels have been identified as being written identifying Christ from four different perspectives.  First, Matthew shows Jesus as the King of the Jews;  Mark shows Him as a servant – there is no genealogy showing His  heritage in birth;  Luke shows him as man – in fact the God-man;  and John shows Him as deity – fully God and fully man, and makes quite clear (to all who can see and understand) that He is Deity.

This picture is even seen in the book of Ezekiel 1:4-14, and verse 10 shows us the faces of the gospel.  The lion would represent royalty – the King;  the ox face would represent service – the Servant;  the man’s face would represent the man – the God-man;  and the eagle represents majesty/deity – the God who became flesh and dwelt among us.  In the Revelation 4:7 the Apostle John even list them in the same order as the gospels are in.

“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 4:7 (KJV)

Study of Mark 1:1-20:

VV. 1 – 8  —   THE COMING OF THE ONE WHO CARES PROCLAIMED BY THE PROPHET.

The dignity of Jesus is full proclaimed by the messenger who was His fore runner preparing the way for Him – basically preparing the hearts of men to receive Him.

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ was a fulfillment of prophecy – a fulfillment of Scripture.

The ministry of John the Baptist produced, for a time, a great effect upon the Jewish nation.

John’s doctrine of Christ was clear and characterized his own preaching – John knows that the one who is coming is mightier than he.  The One coming will not baptize you with water, but with fire.  He will change your life; cleanse you and make you whole.

VV. 9 – 20  —   THE COMMITMENT AND AUTHENTICATION OF JESUS AND HIS MINISTRY.

Jesus, being totally committed to His Father’s direction and plan for His life shows the commitment by following the ordinance of the law, and identifying Himself with mankind in baptism.  The Father confirmed Him by speaking from Heaven as an authentication of who He genuinely was/is.

Jesus was then placed under temptation without sinning to show Himself without sin to man, and as proof of His power to conquer sin and death.

The nature of our Lord’s preaching is similar to John’s in that He was calling sinners to repentance, and different in that He called for obedience to the gospel.  Now; just what is the gospel?  It is a word which means, “Good News”.

Jesus calls two men as He is walking on the sea shore – Simon and Andrew – and calls them to follow Him, and He will make them “Fishers of men”.  They would no longer be fishing for fish, but they would be “fishing” for the souls of men.   According to John’s Gospel chapter 1 and verses 40 – 42 Andrew is one who brought Simon [Peter] to Christ.

“One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.  He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.  And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.”John 1:40-42 (KJV)

That is an amazing thing for a brother to do.  There is no contradiction here only further clarification.  When you put the four gospels together you have a full story, not complete, but the story as the writers witnessed it.

These men were called to the office of a preacher.  Not everyone considers the office a great one, but Jesus was a Preacher – a Preacher of preachers – if you will.  Jesus was committed to the work which He came to do.  In the beginning of His ministry it was to preach, and glorify His Father;

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,  To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”Luke 4:18-19 (KJV)

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Lord Of Joy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

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

Immorality, Judgment and Mercy

“…As Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” Jude 7 (NKJV).

Since verse five Jude has written of the perils of apostasy, and named things of the commission of apostasy. Unbelief – the unbelief of those who were delivered from Egypt, but would not believe God’s provision, power, mercy and grace. The rebellion of the angels who left their God appointed estate for their own reward. Then, Jude writes of the cities of the plain who were destroyed with fire and brimstone because of their immorality, their gross immorality.

The sin of each of these groups are similar in that they departed from God. Their judgments will also be similar.

One of the clearest signs of a society which has departed from God is the approval of that society for immoral conduct. Not many in leadership positions within politics wants to expose immorality for what it is. It is a sign of that societies departure from God. Sexual immorality within a society is God’s judgment on that society for turning from Him. We are in grave danger of not seeing the hand of God’s judgment in the USA. It is judgment when society gives approval to greed, lust, and stealing from the poor. When God’s people turn a deaf ear to God, His prophets/preachers, and His Word; then, God will allow our own sins to judge us (Jeremiah 2:19).

As Christians in a society where sexual immorality is running rampant, approval of homosexuality is abounding, we must stand on the power of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus our Lord and Savior, and the Word of God. Let’s not back away from the truth of God’s Word. Trusting the Lord during debaucherous times, relying on His Spirit within us, and the authority of His Word to instruct us, correct us, and rebuke us; we stand as examples of Jesus Christ, His love and grace. Adultery, premarital sex relationships, and homosexual activities are all under the category of unbelief, rebellion, and immorality equaling apostasy. As Christians, followers of Jesus Christ; we are to have no part in it.

 

God does not desire that any perish (John 3:16; 2 Peter 3:9), and the God of the New Testament is as loving in the Old Testament. Hear the prophet Ezekiel,

“Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?” Ezekiel 18:23 (KJV); and

“For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.” Ezekiel 18:32 (KJV).

Jesus Christ took the wrath and judgment of God that belonged to you and me. He died on the cross, was buried taking our sin, guilt and shame away, then He bodily arose from the grave, and through Him we have fellowship with our Father/God. Let us love with the love of Jesus Christ. The love of Jesus means revealing sin where it stands opposed to all that is unholy, and unrighteous, and giving our lives for the purpose of seeing the lost and condemned in sin come to a saving faith of Him who died and rose again. Also, giving hope through the power of Jesus Christ. Power to deliver. Power to change. Power to become the sons of God.

Turn from immorality to Jesus Christ today, and live.

-Tim A. Blankenship

A Reckoning In Stewardship

Matthew 25:14-30

We live in an era of time where traveling is rather easy, spontaneous, and quick in arriving at our destinations; at least compared to the days Jesus walked as a man with us. This story should be one of familiarity with our day. It is, however, a story of our Lord and Savior, His departure into the heavenlies, leaving with us His power, presence, and glory to share with others.

“For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.” Matthew 25:14 (KJV)

Jesus the King of kings descended in the incarnation of a new born babe, laid in a manger, and revealed to the lowest, common people, shepherds, and finally to the “wise men” who came from the East. Jesus grew as a child just as any child, yet He never sinned. Yes, that means that He faithfully obeyed His mother and adopted father [Joseph], and without so much as a whimper.

This child became a man who was called liar, deceiver, healer, king, physician, etc.. This man was sent by the Father in heaven to be the propitiation for the sins of mankind. He is the justifier. He is the Savior. He went to the cross bearing the sins of all the world. He not only bore our sins, but bore the wrath of God’s judgment upon sin. I am not sure many realize the tremendous pain, spiritual darkness, agony, and the rejection of God the Father. Why do I call these things to our remembrance? To get us where we are going.

When Jesus was with the disciples He told them that He would go away, and a Comforter would come (John 14:15-26; 16:5-16). Our Lord when He ascended (Acts 1) left with us His Spirit who should up in power on the day of “Pentecost” (Acts 2), and empowered the Church to do His work on earth. The goods which our Lord left us was the work of the ministry, the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the only true change effect in the world.

“And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.” Matthew 25:15 (KJV)

There was a period of time when dealing with spiritual gifts were a hot subject within many local churches. It should still be a matter of church operation, and it is a means of keeping church unity. When all members know their ministry; their task, and do it with all their heart; they will not be jumping into another area attempting to drive others to do their will. When the child of God is living by the Spirit of God, filled with the Spirit, performing their spiritual gift by the Spirit, then there will not be so many complications, combat situations, and/or beaten and defeated church members.

As Christians we have not only been given spiritual gifts, but we have also been entrusted with much material goods in this world as well. Just as we are STEWARDS of the spiritual gifts given us by God; as He has seen fit; so too, have we had distributed to our care material things to use as God would lead us. In this world, and particularly in the United States of America, all have been richly blessed. Even the poorest of the poor of all USA citizens would be counted wealthy in some parts of the world, just simply because they live here. Among Christians God has distributed wealth as he sees fit. In our verse above, Jesus says, “… to every man according to his several ability…”. Paul the apostle writes in 1 Corinthians 12:11,

“But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.” 1 Corinthians 12:11 (KJV)

We can see by this that the Lord is the one who has that determining wisdom to distribute as He pleases. It is not as the servants please. In the world of humanity there are some who can handle wealth, use it wisely, invest it wisely, and grow that small portion they were given. Though it is not said in this text the willful giving of the STEWARD is wise in sharing it with the less fortunate.

Some people are going to start crying “Well God is not fair”. Who are we to determine fairness? God has been accused of being unfair since the fall of man, and nothing has changed since then. Hear the cries of the people to whom Ezekiel preached, “Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. Hear now, O house of Israel; Is not my way equal? are not your ways unequal?…’Yet saith the house of Israel, The way of the Lord is not equal. O house of Israel, are not my ways equal? are not your ways unequal?” Ezekiel 18:25, 29 (KJV). The Creator of the universe has the authority, and all rights to distribute gifts and material things as He so pleases.

With great expectations we look for His soon return. Looking for that soon return means we are to be, and ought to be ever faithful in the tasks He has given us.

“Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.” Matthew 25:16-18 (KJV)

Looking at the three above servants we see them go to immediate action. At least that seems implied. Their lord left, and left them in charge of these talents, or material wealth. The idea of the lord was that when he returned he would receive gain from what he had left them. He gives them no indication as to when he will return, but that he will return is understood.

One question that came to my mind in looking at this story is, “How well am I handling the goods which my Lord has left me?” I fear sometimes not too well. My salvation is secure through the blood of Jesus Christ, but my works for His kingdom and glory pale in comparison to His mighty work in me and for me.

The first servant was given “five talents” and went and did business with the same. It could have been the “Stockmarket” of the day, and he invested wisely, and this tells me that God and His Son Jesus are in favor of wise investing in material things; but I do want to emphasize “Wise Investing“. The lottery and gambling of any form is not investing. A home or house, land, business [legal and legitimate business], and others are good investments most of the time. This first servant doubled his talents.

The second servant was given “two talents”, and he also doubled his gifts. Now that is pretty wise investing. That is what God would have us do, realizing where we got it all in the first place.

The third servant who received only “one talent” probably thought, “What’s the use? It’s so little it will never amount to anything. So, I will just bury it in the ground”. If he had no personal use for it, then why did he not take it and do something with it; put it to work. You could say this is one example of someone being a double servant. This man was servant to the lord who left him with the talent, and he was also servant to the single talent. The servant let the minute amount he had determine his actions, rather than do something which would increase it.

What a blessing to use what God has given us and be blessed in seeing it used for the glory of His name. Whether it is spiritual gifts, or material things both have been left to us as the STEWARDS of God, to increase His kingdom, His glory, His power, and bring many lost souls into His kingdom.

“After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents” Matthew 25:19-28 (KJV)

The lord has been away for some time, and he returns to find some to bless, commend, and give. These servants appear before their lord with what they have done while he was away.

Everyone is a STEWARD of what they have. It has been given by God to all human beings to be STEWARDS of this planet and creation. It has also been given us, by God, to be STEWARDS of the blessings of this life. The problem arises when mankind has chosen to rebel against God, and chose to go his/her own way. Though mankind is basically in rebellion against God we are all still STEWARDS of all created things. We are not doing real well, mostly due to the sin condition in the hearts of all humanity.

Since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden the devil has had a hand in disguising his plans and purposes, and making them appear to be man’s and usually for the evil of the planet, mankind, and the universe.

There is coming a day of RECKONING. A day when all will give an account of their lives, and what they have done with what they have. We are not responsible for what we do not possess, but we are responsible for what we touch, and control. We are responsible for our personal relationship with the Lord. We are responsible for our sins. We are responsible for our family’s well being. We are responsible for our neighbors well being. We are responsible as citizens of the town, State, and Nation in which we live. We are responsible, and an give an account for every word we speak – good or bad. Here in the United States we have been given much, and with much comes much responsibility, and accountability.

Notice the justness of the lord. He tells the servant whom he had given “five talents”, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord”. He was a responsible and good STEWARD with what he had been entrusted, and he was rewarded for his STEWARDSHIP. The servant who had received “two talents” was told, “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord”. He too was rewarded for his faithful STEWARDSHIP. The third servant was foolish with what he had received and buried it in the ground, and gaining nothing. It could give reference to Jesus’s words, “Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” Matthew 5:15-16 (KJV). This servant took what he had been given and hid it, buried it in the ground to rot, rust and/or decay. Could it be correct to say, “A gift unused is a gift abused”?

Let’s look at this third servant for a moment. What has been given him? An opportunity to expand his life’s work, and mostly that of his lord. An opportunity to do well for his family, yet he has shunned his gift. According to Jesus the words for him is, “Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents”. “Wicked and slothful servant…” those would be sad words indeed to hear from the mouth of our Lord. We must understand something, and that is that what we have been given; we have not earned; it is a gift. This life is a gift. Every breath we breathe is a gift. Every beat of our heart is a gift. What do we do with what we have? The “wicked and slothful” servant lost what he had hid in the ground, and it was given to the one who had been given the “ten talents”.

I can almost hear, “Well, that just ain’t fair.” “That’s not right.” “That’s not fair.” According to whom? You. Are you the one who determines what is fair, just or right in this world. If I were the owner of a large ranch or farm and hired people would I not have the right as the owner to pay what was fair and agreed on by all who work for me. I could pay according to what I saw in the individual. Much work and done well would warrant that I pay well. Little work, and work done without care, and done badly would warrant little pay, and maybe even firing. That may not be right for a nation which has labor laws, minimum wages, and laws which govern wages; but it is so in a land that is truly free.

Our God is just, right and good, and He will judge, and award as He sees fit. He will award those who will be faithful STEWARDS of what He has given. The first and greatest thing He has given is salvation in His Son Jesus Christ. What will you do with Jesus?

“For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 25:29-30 (KJV)

Some may like to think that there is no eternal punishment. Go ahead and think that if you must. You are not in agreement with God and His Word, therefore you are sadly mistaken. God has given an eternal soul to all mankind, and the Revelation says, speaking of those who are without faith in Christ, “There was found no place for them…” (Revelation 20:11), meaning no place in the presence of God; no place in heaven; no place in the glory of God. There is only one place and that place is the place Jesus Himself describes as the place “…where the fire is no quenched, and the worm dieth not” (Mark 9:44-48), and Jesus says in the above verse, “And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” If this is not an eternal place, then, tell me why is there “weeping and gnashing of teeth”?

Could someone say, “Well this only proves that we can never really know if we are saved,” or someone else might say, “Doesn’t this prove that we could lose our salvation?” Not at all. It proves that true believers will be faithful STEWARDS of grace, salvation, and good works. It proves that we have a Savior who never breaks a promise. He will complete what He has begun. A false faith – faith built on show, pretense, or hypocrisy; faith not on Jesus Christ will not save you. a false hope – hope without the promises of God; will not save you. The faithful STEWARDS of the grace of Jesus Christ will endure to the end, and be saved by the cross of Jesus Christ.

Jesus’s description of hell, “there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” is probably the most accurate description we have ever heard. Do you know that Jesus warned more about hell, than he spoke of heaven? Do you know that He went to the cross in order to save all those who will believe in Him from their sins which causes them to go there. Open rebellion against God is rejecting the only means of salvation He has offered to us; and that is the cross of Christ, His burial, and His resurrection. Do not rebel against Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship

 

Discernment Of The Times

 “Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” Matthew 24:32-34 (KJV)

Jesus has given a previous lesson on the fig tree (Matthew 21:18-22; Mark 11:11-14, 20-24). Jesus being hungry saw a fig tree with leaves, and when He arrives at the tree to eat some figs finds that it is a hypocrite tree. It is a fig tree, it advertises that it has figs by its having leaves, but there are no figs on the tree. Mark says that it was not the season for figs, yet the leaves indicated that there were figs on the tree. In some places of the Old Testament Israel is likened to the fig tree (Hosea 9:10), and is almost always named in association with them in their blessings or cursings (1 Kings 4:25; Jeremiah 8:13; Joel 1:7, 12; 2:22; Micah 4:4; Habakkuk 3:17; Haggai 2:19; Zechariah 3:10).

When Jesus cursed the fig tree, because it bore no fruit, it was a representative curse upon the nation of religious Israel. They were pretending to have spiritual life, but they were dead; because they had refused to recognize their Messiah, trust Him and believe. By Jesus cursing the fig tree He declared that the old ceremonial, legalistic, religious practices of Judaism were fruitless and cursed and dead. How can I say this? Mark’s Gospel places this cursing of the fig tree between Jesus entering the temple on a late evening (Mark 11:11). Jesus then left and went to Bethany, and the text says, “And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry: And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet. And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it.” (Mark 11:12-14). Then following the curse of the fig tree we find Jesus in the temple overturning money changers tables, because they had defiled the temple, and made the “house of prayer” a den of thieves (Mark 11:15-19). Matthew’s Gospel tells us that the chief priests and elders asked Him where He received the authority to say and do the things He did? He refused to answer, because they refused to answer His concerning the prophet John the Baptist.

The Bible is the Holy Spirit inspired, inerrant, infallible decree of God to mankind; of God, His righteousness, justice, peace, sovereignty, power, and love for mankind; it also tells us of our own wickedness, or our need for repentance, and faith. I say this to emphasize that each verse of Scripture is placed in an order; which God has prescribed; to make the point that He wants to make. It would, therefore, seem to me that the placement of verses 12 – 14 of Mark 11 where they are would be declaring that the religiosity, hypocrisy, and godlessness of the of the Aaronic priesthood is cursed; at the least their godless legalism, and hypocritical acts; they will forever remain fruitless.

If you notice in the above verses of Matthew 24 Jesus only refers to the leaves, and no fruit. It could be that Jesus is referring to the realization of a renewed State of Israel. If this is so then, we have seen this take place in a generation of time. May 14, 1948, and in those sixty years there have been many things take place which should cause us to sit up and take notice. The increase of those things which Jesus tells us of in verses 4-8 of chapter 24. We must remember that these signs are signs of the Second Coming of Jesus in His glory, and not for the rapture of the Church.

Even if the signs or their increase of intensity is what Jesus is referring to it is evident that the time is short. Truly Summer is near, and Jesus is at the door. The generation of which Jesus refers would probably be the generation which sees these signs fulfilled. If the fig tree in this case is Israel, then it would refer to the generation of those living during the time Israel is back as a Nation.

24:34 this generation. This cannot refer to the genreation living at that time of Christ, for ‘all these things’–the abomination of desolation (v. 15), the persecutions and judgments (vv. 17-22), the false prophets (vv. 23-26), the signs in the heavens (vv. 27-29), Christ’s final return (v. 30), and the gathering of the elect (v. 31)–did not ‘take place’ in their lifetime. It seems best to interpret Christ’s words as a reference to the generation alive at the time when those final hard labor pains begin … This would fit with the lesson of the fig tree, which stresses the short span of time in which these things will occur…” From The MACARTHUR Study Bible, p. 1440 (NKJV).

“Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” Matthew 24:35 (KJV)

Jesus saying, “This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled” gives us direction toward verse 35. Verse 35 assures us of the power of the Word of God. It is powerful. It is unchanging. It is inerrant. It is infallible. It is eternal. Can’t all these things be said of God Himself? Yes! His Word is His character. His Word is His voice in a dark world. His Word is His message of Himself to mankind. His Word is His Law, His History, His poetry, songs, and laments. His Word is also His message of faith, repentance, and future events.

Let’s look at what God in His Word says of what He says:

“The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.” Psalms 19:7-11 (KJV);

“Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.” Deuteronomy 4:2 (KJV);

“And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.” Deuteronomy 8:3 (KJV);

“Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee, and that He may perform the word which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Deuteronomy 9:5 (KJV);

“But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.” Deuteronomy 30:14 (KJV);

” And the child Samuel ministered unto the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; there was no open vision.” 1 Samuel 3:1 (KJV);

“As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him.” 2 Samuel 22:31 (KJV);

“By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.” Psalms 33:6 (KJV);

“The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.” Isaiah 40:8 (KJV);

“So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11 (KJV);

“Then said the LORD unto me, Thou hast well seen: for I will hasten my word to perform it.” Jeremiah 1:12 (KJV);

“The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the LORD. Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?” Jeremiah 23:28-29 (KJV);

” For I am the LORD: I will speak, and the word that I shall speak shall come to pass; it shall be no more prolonged: for in your days, O rebellious house, will I say the word, and will perform it, saith the Lord GOD.  Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying,  Son of man, behold, they of the house of Israel say, The vision that he seeth is for many days to come, and he prophesieth of the times that are far off.  Therefore say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; There shall none of my words be prolonged any more, but the word which I have spoken shall be done, saith the Lord GOD.” Ezekiel 12:25-28 (KJV);

“In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.” Daniel 9:2 (KJV);

” Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.” Hosea 4:1 (KJV);

“And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it.” Amos 8:12 (KJV);

“Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, 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 (KJV).

 

We should be comforted, encouraged, and exhilarated to know that God gives so much power and authority to His Word, and has given it to us to know Him, grow to love Him, and live for His glory. It is also wonderful to know that everything which God has spoken will be fulfilled, and that there is no ending to His word and/or His promises.

“But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.” Matthew 24:36-44 (KJV)

There are some who try and date the Second Coming of our Lord. It has always been ended with embarassment, and loss of credibility. Why is it that we cannot believe what Jesus has taught us; “No man, no, not the angels of heaven, but My Father only, knows the day and hour”. He gives us a clue as to the conditions of the times, but still without a date.

Some have looked at this verse and indicated that since Jesus didn’t know the day or hour this was surely evidence that He was not divine. Jesus was divine, but limited His knowledge as a man, to only what the Father would have Him know. It would seem to me, that now that He is seated on the Father’s right hand, and all things have been “Placed under His feet”, that Jesus would definitely know the day and hour of His coming.

Jesus gives us some signs to look for before that great and notable day of the Lord comes. There is the sign of Noah. Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD, and God called him to build a huge boat, with its inhabitants being the animals of the earth, and eight human beings – Noah and his wife, their three sons and their wives. The days of Noah were evil. Everyone was going about life without much thought and little to no thought of God. They were wealthy, comfortable, and there seems to have been no war; all is well! At least on the surface. Then Noah comes along, hears the Word of the LORD, obeys, and begins building this large floating boat, and ark for deliverance. Not only is Noah preaching to the people around him, but the building of the ark itself is a message to the people. Let’s hear what the writer of Hebrews says of this;

“By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.” Hebrews 11:7 (KJV)

The culture of Noah’s day was probably very similar to our own. Jesus describes it as, “…before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage…”. To see this and read it just seems like the casual, everyday thing. People were going about their daily task, play, work, as though everything were fine. Jesus is most likely getting us to see that cultural laws had become common place. Cultural law basically being if it is alright for the culture your in then it is right. We could look at this way – if exchanging marriage partners is culturally okay, then it is okay to practice for all; if homosexuality and same sex marriage is acceptable then, it should be acceptable for all; if giving the unborn babies up on the altar of abortion is the going and approved thing, then by all means don’t over burden yourself; if prostitution is just another way of making a living, and can be unionized, then don’t criticize those who must earn their keep by slaving themselves out for pleasure oriented people; you see the phrase of the cultural elite is “You got to go along, to get along”.

As long as you don’t “rock the boat” or “make waves” you are an okay sort of person. However, if you speak out about these culturally acceptable vices, and call them “evil”; the culturally elite will turn that around on you and call you the “evil”. Remember Isaiah the prophets words, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” Isaiah 5:20 (KJV). There has been a changing of words and semantics plays a large part in our understanding. It used to be that the word “Gay” meant “Happy, merry, cheerful”. Now the word “Gay” is used culturally to define a deviant lifestyle which is growing more and more acceptable by our world, and culture.

That is probably the like of Noah’s day. The cultural thing is to be accepting of all fads, frauds, and failures; with one exception, and that exception being those who will have the courage and boldness to say what is right and wrong. That day when Jesus comes back to earth to set up His kingdom will be a dramatic day. Most of those who hold power positions will be put down. Every nation who exalts itself against the God of heaven will fall. Every individual who exalts themselves against the Lord Jesus will crumble and bow in His presence. There will be no humility here from these; they will be pleading for the rocks and the mountains to fall on them.

On that day it seems there will be a separation which takes place in that moment; at least in that very day. Two working side by side – one will be left to live on in the kingdom of Jesus because of their faith in Him, and the other will perish. Matthew’s gospel mentions two men in the field, and two women at the mill, and would probably cover every situation of the workers in that time to come. It leaves us to understand that no gender, or workplace, is without the separation. One believes and is left to live on in the Kingdom or our Lord, while the unbelieving perish, and await the final judgment.

Jesus gives us these words to cause us to be “watchful” and vigilant concerning the matter of His Second Coming. Though this Sermon on Mount Olive is probably a message solely for the Jewish people it should have a profound impact on the Body of Christ – the Church. Though there are many preachers who use these words of two being together and one taken as refering to the rapture of the Church, the rapture of the Church does not seem to be mentioned in the sermon; at least in this part of it. We are uncertain of when the LORD may return, but we can know that since these signs are having to do with the Second Coming of Christ and not the Rapture, then the Rapture of the Church is closer. Therefore, we are to be ever vigilant, and diligent to do the works that will glorify our Lord.

“Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 24:45-51 (KJV)

Here are words of direction, and correction, and comfort. One of the things that Scriptures tell us will happen before the Lord comes is people who doubt – “scoffers” -that Jesus is returning, “Where is the promise of His coming?” they say. There are even some who have heard the one’s who have given up on the Lord’s return and who want to spiritualize His coming, who say, “Jesus already returned and set up His kingdom”, or they say, “The second coming of Jesus is when you were born again”, and there might be a few poor souls who say, “The second coming of Jesus is when you physically die”. These, at least to me, just seem to be a different way of scoffing at the coming again of our Lord and Savior. If the Scriptures which foretold the first coming of Jesus were fulfilled literally, then how can we not believe that those same Old Testament prophecies, which also tell us of the second coming, will not also be fulfilled literally.

It is the heart that has grown cold to the words of the second coming of Christ when the life gets hard, the heart grows cold. When a professing child of God begins to give up on the promises of God they will also begin to grow cold toward others, and in their thinking believe that the way you live doesn’t really matter. If the Lord is not returning “What use is there of this life”, and if the promise of the Lord’s return were not genuine, and His return were a lie, then truly, would life be worth living? I would have to answer YES! to that question.

The faithful Christian would lose nothing in remaining faithful to the Lord, His Word and His promises. Several years ago I would not have agreed with what I just said, but the life of a Christian is worth living. However, Jesus did come the first time; He did live a sinless life, and performed many miracles, and pleased the Father in heaven. He went to the cross and voluntarily laid down His life for all men, taking the judgment for our sins, died, and was buried, and three days later was raised to life to eternally rule and reign; and give eternal life to all who will believe in Him.

Only the unbelieving could turn away from the truth of the return of our Lord, and the setting up of His kingdom on earth. The things of this world will come to an end, and His Kingdom will be forever.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Perils of Friendship With the World (2)

“Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven; And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground. But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.” Genesis 19:24-26 (KJV)

With Lot and what there is of his family safe in Zoar the LORD sends down the rain of fire and brimstone. This brimstone could refer to sulfur which will itself burn, with an unseen flame. It could refer to several different flammable substances. The picture we are given seems to be that of falling substance from the skies. It was in the form of visible flames, and hot, with hard substance as well forming a crushing effect as it hit the cities, and the lands, of the plain. No living person would want to remain in that kind of tragic environment. It would mean certain death.

Some have located the previous area of the cities of Sodom on the Southern end of the Dead Sea. The area is evidently under water. That would actually mean that the judgment was what formed the Dead Sea, or at least a portion of it. According to some archaeological people these cities were destroyed by volcanic eruption or something along that line of thought. It seems that no one wants to acknowledge that God judges sin and rebellion.

The Bible says, and this is our final authority, “Then the LORD rained upon Sodom…” When will those who profess the name of Jesus begin to realize that God still judges sin. When we live in a profligate nation, where sin is more a joke than a problem, and we start seeing tragedies of all sorts begin, surely that should make us wonder. It seems that when sin is on the increase, and mocked at, and promoted as being a normal part of life, then earthquakes will increase, wild storms of wind, and rain continue to increase, but the “scientist” will tell us these are only natural phenomena and is due to today’s popular event called “global warming”. Whether we want to admit it or not all these things are due to sin in the first place; from the sin of Adam and Eve to our sins today; we all stand guilty before God. It is only His hand that keeps this world from flying apart, and when these things begin happening; it is due to His hand gradually being removed. Gradually being removed so as to warn us, and turn our hearts toward Him.

There was not much warning for the cities of Sodom, except what Lot provided for his sons-in-law. The people of Sodom and the plains had the testimony of creation, ie., the stars, the sun and the moon, the singing birds, and all flying fowl. As the Psalmist wrote, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth His handiwork.” (Psalm 19:1). They had the witness of Lot and his family, though it may have been a weak one; he was still a witness, which can be used against them. Lot was evidently afflicted by the sins of this city, “And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:” 2 Peter 2:7. We can see that Lot did have a hatred for the sins of his culture. Remember how he sought to protect the visitors from harm by the people of the city.

God so hated the sins of Sodom and cities of the plain that He destroyed all the inhabitants of those cities. They were polluted by immorality, and they were full of themselves, as we saw in Ezekiel 16:49-50. When people get too full of themselves they have no room for God, and God, according to His Word is a jealous God; no matter what Oprah thinks. Nothing much grows where these cities once stood.

One woman has been immortalized by Jesus in a far different way than anyone would want to be. Her name was lost with Lot and His daughters, because we don’t know it. God had warned Lot, his wife, and their two daughters, “Escape for thy life; look not behind thee…”, and it was after they were all safely in Zoar, the city that was protected because of Lot’s plea with the visitors, that the judgment fell upon their city. For whatever reason she “looked back”, and became a “Pillar of salt”. Jesus refers to Lot’s wife in the Gospel of Luke: “Remember Lot’s wife.” (17:32). It is not mentioned why she looked back, and I don’t think we can go far wrong in bringing some things to light concerning her backwards look. First of all, her heart was still in Sodom; maybe it could be daughters who never came with them, the sons-in-law, and maybe grandchildren. Secondly, her heart could have still been there because of the power and popularity she and Lot had in the city, and she just couldn’t leave that behind. A third thing, could have been their wealth; by this time, the years they had spent there they could have achieved much material gains, gold, silver, jewels, precious garments, and the lifestyle they lived was comfortable; she was leaving it all behind. Remember Jesus’s words, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matthew 6:21. Someone has said of Lot’s wife, “She became in death, what she never was in life. Salt.” The warning of Lot’s wife stands for all time to all who will cherish the physical and material over the Word and will of God.

“And Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the LORD: And he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace. And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when he overthrew the cities in the which Lot dwelt.” Genesis 19:27-29 (KJV)

The morning of Lot’s deliverance, and at about the time of the destruction of the cities, Abraham got up early in the morning and went to the place where he had stood with the LORD probably just the day before, and looked toward the direction of Lot’s location; the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, and he saw the smoke billowing up through the air and the sky. I am sure Abraham’s heart must have sped up and skipped, and practically stopped. There were surely tears in his eyes knowing the hundreds, thousands of human lives that were given in judgment that day. Abraham surely believed that Lot and his family, or at least some of them had been spared; he was trusting the LORD for that matter and God would not fail.

Is there anything wrong with godly people grieving over the loss of human life even when it is known to be the judgment of God? It would seem to me to be ungodly not to grieve. Though “God is angry with the wicked everyday” (Psalm 7:11); He does not desire to destroy them but to save them. Hear the prophet Ezekiel: “Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways and live?” (18:23), and once more, “For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and and live ye.” (18:32). It seems quite clear that God grieves in the judgment too. We can rejoice in that God is glorified in the judgment of sin. We can rejoice when justice is carried out, and God is glorified. We must remember this world and this life is not about us; it is, however about Almighty God, and His glory.

“And Lot went up out of Zoar, and dwelt in the mountain, and his two daughters with him; for he feared to dwell in Zoar: and he dwelt in a cave, he and his two daughters. And the firstborn said unto the younger, Our father is old, and there is not a man in the earth to come in unto us after the manner of all the earth: Come, et us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father. And they made their father drink wine that night: and the firstborn went in, and lay with her father; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose. And it came to pass on the morrow, that the firstborn said unto the younger, Behold, I lay yesternight with my father: let us make him drink wine this night also; and go thou in, and lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father. And they made their father drink wine that night also: and the younger arose, and lay with him; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose. Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father. And the firstborn bare a son, and called his name Moab: the same is the father of the Moabites unto this day. And the younger, she also bare a son, and called his name Benammi: the same is the father of the children of Ammon unto this day.” Genesis 19:30-38 (KJV)

 

Zoar was a city of the plains which was spared from the judgment of God. To those in “science” who would proclaim that “This was just a volcanic eruption” would have a hard time explaining how this city was kept from the judgment, and it is just a short distance from the Southern end of the Dead Sea. God’s grace is truly sufficient.

Why Lot feared dwelling in Zoar we are not told. It does tell us that he was fearful there, so he went and lived in a cave. Maybe he was fearful because the people there thought Lot was responsible for the deaths of so many, or at least he may have thought they were thinking that, and fled for his life. We often do not realize it but fear has a very crippling and disabling affect on us. It causes us to flee when nothing pursues us. The writer of Proverbs wrote, “The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.” (28:1). When our hearts are not with God, that is usually when we are fearful. That is our weakest time, and that is when we flee. To what we have no idea, we just must flee, and it is most likely into more fearful surroundings, and into sin.

We would surely mostly admit that a cave would not be as comfortable as a home in a city. There is much evidence of what happens when we start living with fear. The people of the city of Zoar may have despised Lot, thinking that he was responsible for the demise of the other cities, and maybe accusing him of that, and he may have had just a paranoia thinking such things. Even though he was delivered to this city by God he grows in fear. Fear in the heart shouts loudly and clearly that things are not right with you and God. When you are in the Spirit of God, walking with Him, and doing His will there is no fear, but rather “peace, love, joy…”. John the apostle tells us, “Perfect love casteth out fear” (1 John 4:18), and we need to know that when we have the proper fear of God, there is no need to fear anything else.

This fear led him to withdraw from the city. Some of the fear may have been that God would destroy this city too. If that be true then Lot’s faith is certainly wavering, and he is gravely in doubt. God had brought him here and saved this city from destruction, why would he now destroy it? He went to a cave with his two daughters. The daughters determined that they needed to have babies, if their race of people were to continue. They devised a plot of getting Lot drunk, getting him in their beds or them into his. Lot may have not noticed the special treatment, the wine, the excess, because he was hurting from the death of his wife, and most of all he was fearful. Fear mixed with sorrow are two of the strongest emotions that can ruin and take control of our thinking. They can get us to the place of amusements; and it would do us good to do a word study here. The word “Muse” means “thought” or “thinking”. When you add the “a” to a word it usually means basically “No”. When you put these two together you have the meaning of “No thinking” or “No thought”. Amusement is usually for the purpose of taking our minds off of problems, and thus that is what has happened to Lot. From Lot we should learn how our fear, our emotions, and our amusements can so easily detract us from the direction and path of holiness, and righteous living in Christ our Lord and Savior.

There is a lot to be said for sobriety, and sober thinking. Without it you end up with fathers having incestual relationships with daughters, mothers having incestual relationships with sons, cars careening out of control killing an innocent family driving down the highway, on their way to grandma’s house. Without sober thinking you will have step fathers raping and killing their step daughters, and /or their sons. There is really no limit to what evil can come from drunkenness. As a result of this debauchery Lot fathers two of his own grandchildren. One of them is Moab which becomes a nation which hates Israel, desires to curse Israel, hires a false prophet to do so, brings immorality into Israel and a plague ensues (Numbers 22-25). The other son/grandson born to Lot by his younger daughter is named Ben-ammi and these are the Ammonites which also hated Israel. But, then, these were only personal choices; no one was hurt by them were they??? Think again.

Moses, in his writing the Pentateuch wrote, “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23). I think he knew what he was writing.

-Tim A. Blankenship

A False Count

“Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof. Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.” Matthew 13:31-33 (KJV).

Remembering the parable of the wheat and the tares will give us a better understanding of these two. The enemy came in under the cover of darkness, while men slept, and planted the tares among the seeds of wheat. When the wheat began to grow, there to be seen by all who could identify it, was the tares. The landowner said, “Let them grow along with the wheat, or you will uproot the wheat also.” The sower is the Son of man, the seeds which He sowed were the children of His kingdom, the tares are the children of the enemy who is Satan. The children of the devil are planted in the kingdom to endeavor to supplant the children of the kingdom, and overrule the kingdom of God.

The “grain of mustard seed” is said to be the smallest of seeds, and yet, it only grows into a normal size of about 6 – 8 feet in height. Jesus uses the mustard seed as a comparison to faith in Matthew 17:20; “…If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say to this mountain, ‘Remove from here to yonder place;’ and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”

Trees of great stature and structure are used to show political power through earthly kingdoms in Scripture. For example in Ezekiel 17:23, it is written, “In the mountain of the height of Israel will I plant it: and it shall bring forth boughs, and bear fruit, and be a goodly cedar: and under it shall dwell all fowl of every wing: in the shadow of the branches thereof shall they dwell.” This, of course speaking of the kingdom of Israel under the rule of Messiah. The kingdom and reign which all Christians look for, with great expectations. Note the tree which speaks of the power of Assyria and its world influence; “Therefore his height was exalted above all the trees of the field, and his boughs were multiplied, and his branches became long because of the multitude of waters, when he shot forth. All the fowls of heaven made their nests in his boughs, and under his branches did all the beasts of the field bring forth their young, and under his shadow dwelt all great nations.” Ezekiel 31:5-6 (KJV). The tree of Israel is like a cedar tree. The tree of Assyria has no like.

Nebuchadnezzar is likened unto a tree cut down. Before he is cut down this is how Daniel describes him, “The leaves thereof were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all: the beasts of the field had shadow under it, and the fowls of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof, and all flesh was fed of it.” Daniel 4:12 (KJV). John the apostle writes in the Revelation of Babylon, “And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.” Revelation 18:2 (KJV).

According to Strongs, “G1186 δένδρον, dendron; den’-dron. Probably from δρύς drus (an oak); a tree: – tree”. According to Jesus, “…when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree…” The word “Tree” in this verse is for the Oak, and is no way what is expected of the mustard seed. One thing that can be seen in this is that this “Tree” is representative of political power. It welcomes every kind of animal under its bushes, because of its great size. It seems to indicate an irregular growth, an untimely growth, illigitimate growth, and an ungodly growth.

These two parables if you will notice are placed between the parable of the wheat and the tares, and the explanation of the wheat and the tares. This was intentional so that we might see His intent of the two parables. He is warning us of the deception of the enemy. We all like to see growth in our churches. Hopefully we mean by growth – people being called to Christ through faith in the shed blood of Jesus’s death, His burial, and resurrection. Too many times churches have crowds, members, and numbers, but no salvations. “But Oh, we had a great crowd. There was excitement in the air.” something along this line said, and everybody is feeling great; but is Jesus truly praised, worshipped, and glorified?

Many will read this and think, “This is sure a different way of looking at this than I have ever heard”. If so, I think that is a good thing. I know the other view or interpretation of it. That being, that the growth of this tree is representative of the growth of Christianity, and the numbers of people who are Christians in the world, being a good and positive thing. If that is so, however, then, it gets us away from the other two parables which have preceded these two. Jesus has just given us two points to consider in the other two; One, that the word of God is not received, and continued in all who hear the message; Two, that there is an enemy who has planted his tares [children] in the kingdom of heaven causing much dissension and division and ungodliness. This is the third thing, and it has to do with how the enemy influences the church within the kingdom of heaven.

The growth of the mustard seed would normally be to become the bush of an herb. It, however, becomes like an “Oak tree”. It represents popularity, power, prestige; and for many years Christianity has fit into that realm. When people begin to see that influence of power, popularity, and prestige sinking or falling away the people who are not genuine in their faith will also begin falling away. However, until that time comes the birds of the air and beasts of the field will continue to come and get under the umbrella of its shade, and nests in its branches. Too many times people are in love with Christianity, but not Christ.

How is it that the power, popularity, and prestige of Christianity has increased in past years. It partly has to do with politics. The woman, or religion (Christianity in this case) riding on the back of the beast, or democracy. The true child of the kingdom; the true Christian; is not in love with Christianity, but with Jesus Christ Himself. The power of Christianity in past years has been its numbers, the votes at the election booth. Every Christian has the responsibility in a free country to vote, and vote our convictions, not parties or politics, but our God given, Biblical and moral convictions. Another thing is when we are having popular singers, strong men, and show men perform acts of entertainment, for the crowds and for profit. There may be a message of the gospel presented, and due to emotional excitement, encouragement or a nudge from a friend, some go thinking, “This thing called Christianity is really exciting. I think I want into this thing.” Then, they find out afterward, that there are problems, tribulations, trials, and maybe they find something a little more exciting. What happened to their “faith”. They had never been told the cost of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. They trusted in a moment and not a Lord and Savior.

In the Christianity of today, we see many leaders of it calling for less rhetoric against the Muslim religion, and all false religions. It is okay to speak against “radical Islam”, but let us not put the whole group in that category. Some are even saying, “Let’s try to get along with the Muslim, and find common ground.” The only common ground we have with Islam is that we are part of the human race. The only thing we have in common with them is that apart from the gospel of Jesus Christ we are all condemned to hell. The only thing we have in common with them is that Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world; yours, mine, and ours. There is far too much compromising on the part of Christianity (the religion), going along to get along. This is not the day for compromise. We are in the greatest spiritual conflict since the cross of Jesus Christ. It is time to speak the truth, and to speak the truth boldly, courageously, without malice, without personal offense as is possible, and with love.

The devil likes nothing better than for the church and the kingdom to have an unholy, ungodly, supernatural growth. We are accepting people into congregations that call themselves Christian, but they have had no personal experience with Jesus. They are still in their sins, unforgiven, unredeemed. They have not been regenerated by the power of the Spirit of God, they have not been justified, there is no sanctification, and until they have these things they certainly will not be glorified in the presence of Jesus. There are some in the local church who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus, they do not love the Word of God, they are more concerned with the children’s activity than their time with God, and are teaching children, or not, “…because there is no one else willing to do it”, and what a shame. It would be better to have no class for children, than to have an unbeliever leading them into God knows what. In one church I know, they had a woman teaching children – all ages – who would spend 5 maybe 10 minutes of an hour with a flannel chart, telling a story of Jesus, then the rest of the hour they got to go play outdoors. These children had no respect for discipline. They pretty much did as they pleased under her “care”.

Now is not the time to be adding numbers without their conversions. “It is time for Thee, LORD, to work; for they have made void Thy law.” (Psalm 119:126). If there was ever a day the church needed to be pure, and shine forth the light of Jesus Christ, it is today. Let us not be so much trying to win souls, but like Jesus commanded us, “Go and teach all nations… Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you…” that is the making of disciples. Tell them of Jesus, His death on the cross, His burial carrying our sins away, and His resurrection; and the promises of His return. The teaching and making of disciples would include the Sermon on the Mount, His sending of His disciples to preach the gospel, the Olivet Discourse, and all things that He has commanded us. It would also include the teachings of the apostles, and the epistles of the Bible. But, then, when a pastor will preach the Word and the pure gospel of Christ; that does not bring in the crowds. I recently heard a preacher say, “If a preacher will preach the Word people will come”, which sounds much like, “If you build it they will come”. It sounds good and much like Hollywood, but it is not the truth. If a preacher will love the people, and preach to them smooth, encouraging, entertaining, comforting, messages, then, they will come. If the pastor “loves the people” he can preach just about anything that tickles their fancy, and they will come. Who is going to come to church services when all you have is a preacher who expounds the Scriptures, revealing the wickedness of men’s hearts, and the power of the cross of Jesus, and the power of the resurrection? Most times, only the faithful, who love God, His word and their pastor.

There have been a few times I compromised on some principles of my beliefs, but every time I have done so I ended up regretting it. It seems like each time that I have compromised on a Biblical principle, or belief, and I regretted it, that I always became stronger in that principle and/or belief. Should a pastor love God and His Word more than he does the people God has given him to lead, or should he love the people and neglect the Scriptures? How can you love the people if you have no love for the Scriptures? Teaching them the truth, the power of the Word, and of the personal God who is Jesus is the greatest love we can give the people. We should never compromise Scriptures or preaching the Word to gain popularity, or power, or prestige; or for any other reason. That is what the devil will have us do.

The Psalmist wrote in the song, “Except the LORD build the house, they labor in vain who build it.” (Psalm 127:1). Rather than relying on “fire under the altar” (1 Kings 18:23, 25) why can the church not depend on the fire of God? Rather than depending on the fires of men, where is the fire of God? We have left it at the altars, unrepaired, and undesired. We depend too much on the methods of the flesh. Then we have our own converts, but none to Christ. We have numbers, but no one fit for heaven. May God forgive us, and may we get on our knees, rebuild our altars and seek the power and the face of God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Work of Intercession

The Work of Intercession

“And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked? Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein? That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? And the LORD said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes. And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes: Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: wilt thou destroy all the city for lack of five? And he said, If I find there forty and five, I will not destroy it. And he spake unto him yet again, and said, Peradventure there shall be forty found there. And he said, I will not do it for forty’s sake. And he said unto him, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Peradventure there shall thirty be found there. And he said, I will not do it, if I find thirty there. And he said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord: Peradventure there shall be twenty found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for twenty’s sake. And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten’s sake. And the LORD went his way, as soon as he had left communing with Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place.” Genesis 18:23-33 (KJV)

The word “Intercession” means, according to the MIRRIAM/WEBSTER DICTIONARY, “1: MEDIATION 2: Prayer or petition in favor of another.” The word is not used in these verses of our text, and according to some hermeneutical professionals we are not allowed to use it in the discussion of the text either. That may be a bit of an overstatement, but it can get quite picky with some folks at times.

When Abraham heard of the condition of Sodom and in particular Lot, His nephew, he began to petition the Lord concerning the city. That was the place where Lot had chosen. Remember Lot had lifted up his own eyes and determined the place he wanted by its richness, and the way it appeared to be already blessed; but he did not determine by the conditions of the hearts of the people who lived there. There are many professing Christians of our day who see what they think is a “Mission field”, they may have their heart truly on seeing the conversion of the people, but they can, if not very careful find themselves in a situation similar to Lot’s. They had best be very strong in the Word of God and faith of Christ, and guard their own hearts concerning the teachings and beliefs of the group of people to whom they are witnessing. Too many times “Christians” have turned away from their faith in acceptance of the beliefs of others. No, they may not accept the belief of that group, but they begin thinking that they are okay with God, they believe something. In doing that they have turned from the faith of God.

Whatever Lot’s motive for going to Sodom, and the cities of the plain, he had soon lost sight of the situation. Lot would have been in a desperate situation were it not for the grace of God. Nowhere in our text does Abraham even mention Lot, or his family. It is for the people. The Intercessor begins pleading for the people, believing in the righteousness of God, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” That is really where true intercessory prayer begins; ie., with God. It is He who is offended by wickedness. It is He who will deal with the wicked. It is God who must be approached, petitioned, and given requests from the heart. It should also be done for His name sake. In Abraham’s prayer/petition he addresses the righteousness of God. The Intercessor is not as concerned for the outcome of the wicked as he is the outcome of the appearance of God’s righteousness. Too much prayer is done in the name of the one praying – that meaning; give me what I want- and when we pray in His name we pray as He wants and directs.

Intercessory Prayer is best defined as To plead with God in behalf of others. Even to provide a wall between God’s judgment and the lost, the sick, the backsliden, etc. In Ezekiel 22:30 we read, “And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.” Ezekiel 22:30 (KJV). Intercessory Prayer can be seen as the power of God at work in His child, and a release of that power in the one for whom intercession is given.

When Abraham prayed for Sodom he received more than what he asked for. It was by the sheer mercy and grace of God, that Lot, and his two daughters were delivered (See Genesis 19:15-29). It seems that in Abraham’s prayer at the beginning he may have thought in the time Lot had been in the valley, with the people, having developed a name for himself, that there might just be more than the family. Sadly, there were not, and Abraham gets all the way down to the number of ten, stops, and the LORD says, “I will not destroy it for the sake of ten.” We know there were not ten righteous people living in Sodom. In our eyes we would not even have called Lot righteous, nor his daughters. It is by the mercy and grace of God that Lot and his daughters were saved. The city was not spared, but Lot was; after being forced to leave.

It could be asked, What is the purpose of intercession? To that we would find the answer throughout the pages of Scripture; to be; to exalt the justice and righteousness of God in the intercessor. This first of all shows us that the heart of Abraham was set firmly on God, and not on having his own way. The highest act of prayer is to depend upon the will of God being done, and that was at the heart of Abraham’s prayer. Another thing concerning the purpose of intercession is to plead God’s mercy in behalf of others (vv. 24-32) and in James 5:13-20 we see prayer being offered for things such as sickness, forgiveness, afflictions, calling for the elders to pray, and even praying for rain or no rain. One other purpose for intercession would be to know and receive the will of God concerning unholy practices. The Word of God tells us to avoid the unholy, but sometimes there may be some things that are not really clear; so we must seek for guidance. Most likely if you must pray to find out it is probably not good or right.

There are results we receive from intercessory prayer. The first one is the intercessor will accept God’s will for how it turns out. The heart of the intercessor will be at rest with God. The Lord’s “Place” and the intercessor’s “Place” is much the same “Place”. People are saved and God’s justice, righteousness, and holiness is fulfilled and done. The intercessor will have and put greater trust in the Lord.

There is really no great secret in being an Intercessor for others. The secret is revealed in the pages of God’s Word, and they are seen in these verses of our text. First, to know God, and to be known by God (v. 19); Abraham was known by God and he knew God, ie., he had a personal relationship with Him. To know God means we know His heart, His thoughts, His righteousness, His holiness, His justice, and we don’t want to do anything to offend these. To be known by God is the best. When He knows you He will never cast you out of His presence. He knows you as His own. Secondly, to know His secrets (v. 17), and in John 15:13-15 we read, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.”; and in Amos 3:7 it is written, “Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.”; and in Psalm 25:14 the Psalmist has written, ” The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant.”. A third matter of being an intercessor is you have a burden to share (v. 23), and you are caring for what the will of the Lord is concerning others, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9 (KJV). Last of all; but this list is not exhaustive; is the intercessor is of humble spirit. Always humble before the Lord, never seeking their own, always jealous for the Lord’s will, and not that of the flesh (v. 27). The truly humble are lifting up the name of the Lord, and never notice their own humility. It is of a genuine heart and pure motive.

You will notice in the final verse of our text, “And the LORD went his way, as soon as he had left communing with Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place.” This shows us the LORD was pleased with His time with Abraham, and Abraham was content to leave the outcome in the LORD’s hands. When we cannot sleep at night because of fear for the one we pray, it is because we have not gained peace in the matter. We have not trusted it to the LORD’s hands and will. It is quite possible that we fear our desire and will is not going to be done. That was not true of Abraham or God in this case. Nor, should it ever be in ours.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Whited Sepulchre

THE WHITED SEPULCHRE

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.” Matthew 23:27-28 (KJV)

The verses quoted are the words of Jesus to an unbelieving, hard-hearted, rebellious group of religious leaders known to Jesus as “Scribes, Pharisees, hypocrites”. The words quoted are the seventh of eight “Woes” which Jesus himself voices against them. The scribes, the Pharisees, the hypocrites were the ones who were always condemning others. They basically had no good word to say about anyone, except themselves, and I would imagine if one of them violated their normal routine they would also be condemned.

The “Whited” is speaking of a whitewash which was often used for temporary covering. It was temporary only because it washed away in the rain. It only gave the appearance of being something it wasn’t. They purposely whitewashed the sepulchres to have them clearly marked, so as not to touch them and thus, defile themselves making themselves cermonially unclean.

Jesus likens them to these “Whited sepulchres”. The way they paraded themselves around as being the epitome of holiness and righteousness, and before God they have the stench of hell, the putridness of dead men’s decaying flesh and bones. This reminds me of the “Untempered mortar” of Ezekiel’s prophecy, “Because, even because they have seduced my people, saying, Peace; and there was no peace; and one built up a wall, and, lo, others daubed it with untempered morter: Say unto them which daub it with untempered morter, that it shall fall: there shall be an overflowing shower; and ye, O great hailstones, shall fall; and a stormy wind shall rend it. Lo, when the wall is fallen, shall it not be said unto you, Where is the daubing wherewith ye have daubed it? Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; I will even rend it with a stormy wind in my fury; and there shall be an overflowing shower in mine anger, and great hailstones in my fury to consume it. So will I break down the wall that ye have daubed with untempered morter, and bring it down to the ground, so that the foundation thereof shall be discovered, and it shall fall, and ye shall be consumed in the midst thereof: and ye shall know that I am the LORD. Thus will I accomplish my wrath upon the wall, and upon them that have daubed it with untempered morter, and will say unto you, The wall is no more, neither they that daubed it; To wit, the prophets of Israel which prophesy concerning Jerusalem, and which see visions of peace for her, and there is no peace, saith the Lord GOD.” Ezekiel 13:10-16 (KJV). Just as the false prophets of Ezekiel’s day were suring up the hopes of their people with promises, but not dealing with their sin, so too were the religious leaders of Jesus’s day offering a false hope in perfection, and the keeping of manmade ordinances, which they themselves were not practicing. The untempered mortar of which Ezekiel speaks is like a white wash substance to fill the cracks in the wall, but with no holding ability, to only be washed away with the rains.

Jesus speaks at the beginning of this discourse saying, “Whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do” (23:3). Jesus does not say a word about not obeying, but saying do what they teach and say. Just don’t practice their hypocrisy of saying and not doing.

Legalism is rules that are always made for someone else. It has no practical application for the one proclaiming it, or they have provided for themselves ways to bypass and get around it. They had made for themselves “Loopholes” to get around these rules of tradition, and in some cases of written law. Jesus condemns the actions of the hypocrites who boasted of their own good deeds, and by their own acts made it impossible for anyone else to actually believe.

Legalism is the denying of the power of God alone to save and adding to it the works of law, tradition, ritual, or sacraments. It has absolutely nothing to do with the call of the pastor, preacher, teacher, and God’s Word calling God’s people to live holy, righteous, temperate, lives of labor for the glory of the Lord. One is not a whited sepulchre when they too are walking in the Word of God, and following the practices of holiness, etc..

-by Tim A. Blankenship

PROMISES AND PROPHECIES 7-9

PROPHECIES OF ENEMIES FROM THE NORTH.

A. Ezekiel 38:15 – “And thou shalt come from thy place out of the north parts, thou, and many people with thee, all of them riding upon horses, a great company, and a mighty army:”

B. Ezekiel 38:2 – “Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him”

1. Notes: Rosh is present day Russia. Meshech is present day Moscow, and Tubal is Present day Tabolsk.

C. Ezekiel 38:11 – “And thou shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates” NOTE: New cities of Israel are now unwalled.

D. Ezekiel 38:12 – “To take a spoil, and to take a prey; to turn thine hand upon the desolate places that are now inhabited, and upon the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the land.”

1. Notes; “Midst of the land.” Any world map shows Palestine to be the center of land area. The Dome of the Rock is the center of the earth. The word Mediterranean means the middle or center of the earth or terrain.

E. Ezekiel 38:15 – “And thou shalt come from thy place out of the north parts, thou, and many people with thee, all of them riding upon horses, a great company, and a mighty army”.

1. NOTE: “Armies of Russia on horses”; Russia has 70% of all horseflesh in the world today!

F. Ezekiel 38:5 – “Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya with them; all of them with shield and helmet: 6 Gomer, and all his bands; the house of Togarmah of the north quarters, and all his bands: and many people with thee”.

1. NOTE: These countries are Persia, Ethiopia, Libya (North Africa), Gomer (Germany), and Togarmah (Turkey). These countries plus Egypt, Lebanon and Jordon comprise the United Arab Republic as we know it today.

VIII. PROPHECIES CONCERNING THE LANGUAGE.

A. Zephaniah 3:9 – “For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve him with one consent.” Zeph 3:9 (KJV)”

B. Jeremiah 31:23 – “Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; As yet they shall use this speech in the land of Judah and in the cities thereof, when I shall bring again their captivity; The LORD bless thee, O habitation of justice, and mountain of holiness.” (KJV).

Note; the State of Israel was born with a language barrier of 70 different languages from all over the world. In order to have a uniform tongue they adopted the national language of Hebrew, which is being taught in every school there today.

IX. PROPHECY CONCERNING THE EXCAVATED CITIES.

A. Ezekiel 36:11 – “And I will multiply upon you man and beast; and they shall increase and bring fruit: and I will settle you after your old estates, and will do better unto you than at your beginnings: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.” (KJV).

Note; “Old Estates” – By governmental law, the ancient excavated cities must retain their old names.

B. Ashkelon: Zephaniah 2:4 – “For Gaza shall be forsaken, and Ashkelon a desolation: they shall drive out Ashdod at the noon day, and Ekron shall be rooted up. Woe unto the inhabitants of the sea coast, the nation of the Cherethites! the word of the LORD is against you; O Canaan, the land of the Philistines, I will even destroy thee, that there shall be no inhabitant. 6 And the sea coast shall be dwellings and cottages for shepherds, and folds for flocks. 7 And the coast shall be for the remnant of the house of Judah; they shall feed thereupon: in the houses of Ashkelon shall they lie down in the evening: for the LORD their God shall visit them, and turn away their captivity.” (KJV).

C. REBUILD: Ezekiel 36:33 – “Thus saith the Lord GOD; In the day that I shall have cleansed you from all your iniquities I will also cause you to dwell in the cities, and the wastes shall be builded. 34 And the desolate land shall be tilled, whereas it lay desolate in the sight of all that passed by. 35 And they shall say, This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are become fenced, and are inhabited.” (KJV).

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