The Approaching Enemy

Are you fearful?  Does it seem as though the enemy is coming in around you? Do you feel surrounded by your troubles, trials, and fears?

Sometimes we all have them, and we deal with them the best way we know how, but often, the last thing we do is seek the Lord.  We need to remember, always, that He is not a spare tire, which we only use when we need it.

There was a prophet in the land of Israel who was in touch with God.  He even told the king of Israel where the Syrian [enemy] camp was located, and they would defeat the Syrians.  The Syrian king gave orders to find Elisha, but the prophet was not fearful; however the young servant of Elisha was afraid.  Hear the words of Elisha to the young man…

“And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.’ 2 Kings 6:16-17

Fear is an often mentioned topic in Scripture. I have heard said, that the phrase “Fear not” or “Be not afraid” or other similar ones are used 365 times from Genesis through the Revelation.  If so that would be one for each day of the year.

The story of Elisha and his servant is a marvelous one.  It is an encouraging event in Biblical history which has fascinated me, and others for many centuries, and millennial.   In the servants fear God opened the man’s eyes so that he could see that God was with them.

The child of God need never wonder in doubt about the presence of God.  God sent His Son Jesus.  He is called Emmanuel meaning “God with us”, and this One went to the cross as the atonement for the sins of mankind; so that we might always be in the presence of God.

Are you fearful today?  Look into God’s word.  Believe God and His word.  Trust His Son Jesus for salvation.  Turn from your sin to Him.  He is with you.

In looking at this event I thought of the Proverb which says…

“When a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.”  Proverbs 16:7

Please the LORD by coming to His Son Jesus.  He is the Son of God, God the Son.

Prophets Speak – Christmas Day One Hundred Forty and Four

“If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with horses? And if in the land of peace, in which you trusted, they wearied you, then how will you do in the swelling of Jordan? For even your brethren, and the house of your father, even they have dealt treacherously with you; yea, they have called a multitude after you: believe them not, though they speak fair words unto you.” Jeremiah 12:5-6 (KJV)

The prophet had asked God some questions; and God answered.

What do I want for Christmas today?

No matter what may come into my life today whether with men, trials, life situations I want to be able to contend with it all through the power of the cross, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ; I want to always take it to heart and mind that I cannot stand for Him alone.

The Return

O Israel, return unto the LORD thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity.  Take with you words, and turn to the LORD: say unto Him, ‘Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips.  Asshur shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses: neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, ‘Ye are our gods: for in Thee the fatherless findeth mercy.”  Hosea 14:1-3 (KJV)

The Israeli society of the prophet Hosea’s day was not dissimilar from our own.  They worshipped gods aplenty.  There is not many in our society today who would admit to worshipping “gods”, but the United States of America is full of dieties which are worshipped.  There are two I can think of which are promoted everyday.  One is Democracy, as though that is the answer for all ills and lack of freedom in the world.  The other is Capitalism as though that will solve all the financial ills of the world.  There are others;  Money and finance, Science and technology, and Global unity.  One that may make even the best of people angry is we worship our children too.

I see it everyday.  People will jump when their children say “Jump”, “I have a ballgame tonight.  It is 100 miles away.”  Mom and Dad will take off from work to go to the game.  Many will not get up early enough on Sunday morning to darken the doors of their local church and worship the only one and true God.

The Return is when God’s people will hear God’s voice and return to Him, and realize that the only hope I have; the only hope and promise we have is in the LORD of all things.  You will find Him in the cross of His Son Jesus; His death, burial and bodily resurrection.

-T.A.

The Man and the Horses

THE MAN AND THE HORSES

“Upon the four and twentieth day of the eleventh month, which is the month Sebat, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the LORD unto Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying, I saw by night, and behold a man riding upon a red horse, and he stood among the myrtle trees that were in the bottom; and behind him were there red horses, speckled, and white. Then said I, O my lord, what are these? And the angel that talked with me said unto me, I will shew thee what these be. And the man that stood among the myrtle trees answered and said, These are they whom the LORD hath sent to walk to and fro through the earth. And they answered the angel of the LORD that stood among the myrtle trees, and said, We have walked to and fro through the earth, and, behold, all the earth sitteth still, and is at rest. Then the angel of the LORD answered and said, O LORD of hosts, how long wilt thou not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which thou hast had indignation these threescore and ten years?” Zechariah 1:7-12 (KJV)

It seems that my view of these horses and the man among the myrtles is going to be a bit contrary to those who I would give the greater credit for their many more years of learning than myself. However, here is what I am seeing in Zechariah’s vision. An angel is speaking to the prophet, thus Zechariah calls him, “my lord”, as opposed to the “LORD” of verse seven and the following verses where Jehovah/YaHWeH is represented in the text. It does not seem clear to me that the Angel of the LORD is the one who has been riding on the “Red horse”.

It seems more clear that the rider on the “Red horse” is being held at bay by the man standing in the myrtles. Zechariah’s question as to ‘What are these?’, and the angel who was with him means to give him understanding. The man standing among the myrtles, does not seem to be on horseback, as do the others, and gives the answer, “These are they whom the LORD hath sent to walk to and fro through the earth”. The walking ‘to and fro through the earth’ seems to me to be a clue as to their identity. This same phrase is used in the book of Job 1:7 and Job 2:2 where this is used speaking of the devil and the “sons of God”. There are similar horses mentioned in Revelation 6:1-8, and it has been said by some that the white horse rider of the Revelation is Christ, if He is seen as having already come the second time, or that He is visible only in His Church and that the Church will be victorious on the earth.

The myrtle tree is a lowly tree, and grows in the lowlands; the valleys, and hollows of the country. They could represent the lowliness of the nation of Israel. Here is the study note for “among the myrtle trees in the hollow. Myrtle trees wer associated with booth-making at the Feast of Tabernacles (Lev.23:33-44; Neh. 8:15) and with messianic blessing (cf. Is. 41:19; 55:13), and thereby possibly speak of restoration and blessing. Their location in the hollow has been thought to refer to a low place where such shrubs would flourish. Because of the lowliness (these shrubs would never exceed 8:ft. in height)commonness, fragrance (from white blossoms), and abundance in flourishing places, it is best to see these as representing Israel, God’s people. They are the lowly and yet enriched people. Their lowliness in thehollow could also refer to Israel’s current humiliation.” MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE, p.1340.

In the vision the prophet would be seeing that the devil had been a disciplining tool of God during the seventy years of judgment upon Judah. The red horse would be a symbol of blood shed; much blood has been shed during the battles and dispersion of the Hebrew people. The angel of the LORD is probably the Lord Jesus as a theophany – preincarnate manifestation. He is the One standing among the “myrtle trees”, but I do not notice Him on any of the horses.

These horseman could have been walking “to and fro throughout the earth” for the purpose of destruction of the Hebrews who had all been taken captive with the exception of a small remnant which Jeremiah followed into Egypt. With the rest of the earth at rest the angel of the LORD pleads with the LORD of hosts for mercy on all Judah, and mercy on Jerusalem since there has been seventy years of judgment.

It is not the horsemen who plead mercy. It is the angel of the LORD who pleads for mercy for all Judah and the city of Jerusalem. “…We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” 1 John 2:1; and “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” Hebrews 7:25 (NKJV), and while He pleads with His Father He holds the demon legions at bay. The Lord Jesus is the reason for mercy upon the whole world, and for grace for all who will call upon His name. It is because of the mercy of God that His wrath has not fallen on us all.

Jesus Christ is returning one day on a white horse, and that is according to the Revelation of Jesus Christ chapter 19:11-16; and at that point and time will deal with those who “dwell upon the earth”, ie., those whose hearts are on material things, have refused the Lord, His Word and His messengers, and believe that humanity has the answer for all that ills the earth. He will rule with a rod of iron, and there will be no wars, and the earth will have plenty after His restoration.

It is by the cross of Jesus that He entered that spiritual darkness, experiences the wrath of the Father, pays our sin debt, and defeats the devil and his demons. In which He also pleads mercy for His brethren who have endured seventy years of judgment starting in Babylon then on to Ahasuerus, and to Cyrus who gave the first authorization for the rebuilding of the temple.

-Tim A. Blankenship

God’s Horses and Chariots of Salvation

God’s Horses, and Chariots of Salvation

In these following verses we see pictures of the LORD riding in chariots pulled by horses. He has, of course, won many and mighty victories for the people of His name. The prophet Habakkuk is reminded and reminding those who read and/or sing this song of the greatness of our LORD.

Hear the Word of the LORD through the prophet:

“Was the LORD displeased against the rivers? was thine anger against the rivers? was thy wrath against the sea, that thou didst ride upon thine horses and thy chariots of salvation? Thy bow was made quite naked, according to the oaths of the tribes, even thy word. Selah. Thou didst cleave the earth with rivers. The mountains saw thee, and they trembled: the overflowing of the water passed by: the deep uttered his voice, and lifted up his hands on high. The sun and moon stood still in their habitation: at the light of thine arrows they went, and at the shining of thy glittering spear. Thou didst march through the land in indignation, thou didst thresh the heathen in anger. Thou wentest forth for the salvation of thy people, even for salvation with thine anointed; thou woundedst the head out of the house of the wicked, by discovering the foundation unto the neck. Selah. Thou didst strike through with his staves the head of his villages: they came out as a whirlwind to scatter me: their rejoicing was as to devour the poor secretly. Thou didst walk through the sea with thine horses, through the heap of great waters.” Habakkuk 3:8-15 (KJV)

We are reminded of God’s power over the waters of the earth. “Was the LORD displeased against the rivers?” and “Was Your wrath against the sea”; remind us of the children of Israel crossing the Jordon River by God’s stopping the waters upstream so they could cross on dry ground, and previously to this; the Red Sea, by God’s dividing the sea and them walking across on dry ground.

Of course, we know that God has no need of horses and chariots, but this is the picture of God’s power and victory over the enemy, as He freed the children of Israel from the bondage of Egypt, and promise of future deliverance from the captivity to come.

Let’s look at the word “Selah” for a moment. The meaning is not quite certain. I have found it quite meaningful to see it as the means or call for reflection upon what I have read. To go back and read it again. To meditate upon it, and reflect on the greatness of the LORD whenever this word is used. The Psalmist uses it quite often, and it may mean to go back and repeat the words. That is at least how I like to think about it. The word “Selah” is used three times in Habakkuk’s third song. Twice in the above passage alone.

The arrow God shoots from His bow is always on target. He hits what He aims at. It may not always be a “Bull’s-eye”. “Bull’s-eye” being what we think is the target. In other words it is not always what we think, but God hits what He aims for. His Word is always on target, never out of date, and pertinent in every point.

The waters of the earth are all at God’s beckoning and call. When He called for a flood upon the earth – there was a flood. When He called for a drought upon the Northern kingdom of Israel under the rule of Ahab, there was a drought for 3.5 years. When He commanded the Red Sea to part; it parted. When He called for the Jordan River to stop flowing; it stopped flowing. All the waters are at His command, and none can control these things but Him.

We are reminded in verse 11 of the power of God over the sun and moon. In the book of Joshua 10:12-14 we see God causing the sun to stand still for a whole day; and one other time several years later the shadow on the sundial of Ahaz went backwards 10 degrees to give king Hezekiah a sign that his life had been extended 15 years (2 Kings 20:8-11; Isaiah 38:4-8). Truly God is God of gods, King of kings, Lord of lords, and there really can be no other. There is none like Him. Praise the name of the LORD.

The LORD is a victorious GOD. He loves His people, protects them, sets them in the right paths, and corrects them when they go astray. He will always have a remnant of people. There have been times when He has used other nations to correct His people, and those people God uses think they serve themselves, and mistreat the people of God, but those who do will face the wrath of the Almighty. “You trampled the nations in anger. You went forth for the salvation of Your people, for salvation with Your Anointed.” This is likened to a “Threshing floor” where grain is taken, trampled, beaten, and tossed so the wind can blow away the waste and stubble. He, at times have even caused the enemy to turn their own weapons against one another – “You thrust through with his own arrows the head of his villages”.

Still yet we see the prophet rejoicing in the power of our great God. There is none who can withstand Him. He is victorious, and will always be victorious. We are reminded of another victory at the Red Sea. When the Egyptian army came by way of the path through the Sea, the Sea closed in on them – “You walked through the sea with Your horses, Through the heap of great waters”.

How glorious is our LORD. How majestic is His name. He will always bring His people through.

-by Tim A. Blankenship