Jesus in Genesis (4)

“…For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy”.

Revelation 19:10b  We have been Looking For Jesus in Genesis. This time we are going to see His appearance in two situations of two different people. The first is to Hagar. Some may ask, “You mean Hagar saw Jesus?” My answer will follow. The other one, of course, would be Abraham. That would not surprise us so much. Would it?

The appearance to Hagar takes place following the conception of Ishmael. Genesis 16. If you will remember the story Sarah became a little impatient waiting on God to fulfill His promise of a son to Abraham, so she offers her husband her servant as a wife to have a child. When Hagar conceives she really wants to “Rub it in” with Sarah. It almost seems that Sarah mistreats Hagar, maybe even to the point of beating her, and that drives her away. Hagar had basically become quite arrogant toward Sarah, and you can hardly blame Sarah for her behavior, yet you can see the weakness and danger of more than one wife.

When Hagar fled, she probably thought for her life, an

“Angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water…” (v. 7).

This is what has been termed a “Pre-incarnate manifestation of Jesus Christ”. It certainly seems to me to be Jesus before He ever became flesh and blood human. This person is certainly more than an angel of God. He speaks in verse ten saying,

“I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude.” (v. 10).

No angel could say that. It must of necessity be Jesus Christ the Living Word.

Hagar is believed by many to be the mother of the Arabian people, the Muslim people. If you will notice the words of Jesus to Hagar they are ones of comfort, encouragement, yet, rebuke as well. She has flaunted her pregnancy toward Sarah. She is told by the Lord to return to Sarah, “And submit thyself under her hands.” (Genesis 16:9). Hagar is given a promise for her child which would be born to her. In chapter 17 God promises Abraham that He will bless Ishmael in verse 20.

“…Twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.”

Why would Jesus reveal Himself to Hagar. Because he cared for her and the nation which would come from her and Abraham’s union. Maybe in seeing this we can start to hope that maybe there is some hope for the people of Hagar. Only as they turn to the Lord Jesus with all their hearts.

The second appearance of Jesus we see comes as Abraham is at his “Tent door in the heat of the day”. He sees three men approaching. Genesis 18. He runs to meet them. I get the impression that Abraham knew who they were before He jumped up and ran to them. He bowed down before them and verse 3 says,

“…My Lord, if now I have found favor in Thy sight, pass not away, I pray Thee, from Thy servant.”

Abraham offers the “Men” refreshment and food. It is quite clear that one of these “Men” is the Lord Himself. Remember how the Lord reveals Himself in the Old Testament? When He is seen in a physical form, it must be the pre-incarnate Lord Jesus Christ. How would Abraham recognize God in physical form. He knows Him personally. When you know the Lord you know His appearing and appearance. You know His voice.

It was at this time that the Lord renewed His promise to Abraham, and this time Sarah heard the promise made even to her. They were going to have a son in their old age (Abraham was at this time 99 years of age and Sarah was 89), and is it any wonder that Sarah laughed. Thinking, “How can this be?”, and yet, hearing the Lord speak to them with the promise. It came from the Lord Himself, in Person, and physical form.

“Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.”(v.14).

This was a word directly from the Lord, not from angels, not in a dream, but from the very mouth of the Lord Jesus.

“The men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way.” (v. 16).

The “men” headed toward Sodom on a mission of judgment. The Lord decides since Abraham is His friend, that He will reveal why the others are headed toward Sodom. In this passage of the chapter we see Abraham become an intercessor pleading for the cities of the plain. He asked the Lord to spare the city if there are only 10 righteous people in it. The Lord says He will. We know that there were not 10 righteous people in the cities, but God still dragged Abraham’s nephew Lot, Lot’s wife, and two daughters from the city before they were destroyed.

The compassion and faithfulness of the Lord is seen through out all of Scripture. We see the manifestation of Jesus in physical form even before He became flesh and dwelt among men. We see Him to be holy, righteous, All-knowing, All-powerful, All-present, and Unchanging. He is the God of mercy, love and grace.

Day Two Hundred Seventy and Three

What do I want for Christmas?

Just in the past two weeks there have been two horrendous, murderous, terrorist attacks. Just yesterday March 27, 2016 there was an attack in Iran while a number of Christian brethren were celebrating Easter.  There were 67 murdered, and hundreds injured.

What I want is that these murderers  be stopped, to be silenced by Holy God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; and I want them to know they will answer to GOD, not Allah, that Allah will crumble and fall before the face of Almighty Jehovah; and that every knee, even that of all those who worship Allah will fall before Jesus the Christ, worship Him, and if they are without repentance and faith in Him now will die eternally in the Lake of fire; I want all Muslims to know that Jesus died on the cross for your sins, He was buried, and He was raised from death, and came out of that grave; believe Him, and be saved.

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:5-11 (KJV)

Forgive my error.  It was Pakistan not Iran where the terrorist murderers killed.

Theirs Is the Kingdom

Matthew 5:1-12 conclusion…

 

“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” Matthew 5:10-12 (KJV).

These two have the tendency and practicality of standing together, so I will include them together. What is your position in relation to persecution? If you are a normal, red blooded American, then you probably don’t like it, won’t tolerate it, and would despise wherever it came from. Nobody likes persecution, and most people would seek means of staying away from it. There are however, reasons to stand your ground, and face the trials of persecution. The best reason of all is for the person of Jesus Christ. When you are living by faith in Christ you will suffer persecution; “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” 2 Timothy 3:12 (KJV).

Anyone who has heard of “The Voice of the Martyrs” knows that there are many cases of persecution going on in the world today. There are many instances of Christians suffering because of their faith in Jesus Christ. Many of them have turned from Islam to face angry parents, employers, city leaders, and supposed defenders of peace and placed on trial, rejected by their families, fired from their jobs, and treated ruthlessly by the police. Let me be clear that it is not only Islam which persecutes those who turn to Christ. It is also Hindus, and various other religions of men. Stand firm in the faith; stand firm.

The “Blessed(s)” in these two statements are not just toward anyone who stands firm in what they believe. The object of their belief is of utmost importance. If one is to receive these “Blessed”, then it will be because of their stand for “Righteousness” and that only comes through faith in Jesus Christ. Righteousness – simply put; means being right with God. No one – man, woman, boy or girl; and no matter what the color of their skin – is right with God except through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

If you are being persecuted because of your faith in Jesus, then, be assured that there will be a day of reward in Heaven. You are in good company. They also persecuted the prophets. Jeremiah was thrown into a pit; he was beaten and mocked by his own people. It is said by tradition that it was Isaiah the prophet who is mentioned in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews as being “Sawn asunder”, and some say it was while he was stuffed into a hollowed out tree. When it comes to Jesus Christ; in Him alone you have reason to “Rejoice and be exceeding glad”, but also in knowing that you are in a great company of others who suffered for righteousness sake through Jesus.

After looking at these “Beatitudes” can you see that this is not a thing attainable by human desire? There is deffinitely fulfillment in the lives of those who live the life of the “Beatitudes”, but it is only possible by grace through faith in Jesus.

Henry Martyn (1781-1812)

The following article is borrowed from Kairos Journal.  I found it quite interesting and informing.  I pray the readers here will as well.

“Alone against Islam”: Henry Martyn (1781-1812)

The debate inside the tent soon matched the soaring temperatures outside as the solitary, sickly Christian rebuffed the arguments of his Muslim opponents. Henry Martyn (1781-1812) had reached Tabriz in May 1812 hoping to present a copy of his Persian translation of the New Testament to the Shah, the nation’s ruler, for his commendation. But before that could happen, the Shah’s vizier (1) ordered him to dispute with the mullahs. After an hour or two the vizier finally intervened with an ultimatum. “You had better say ‘God is God, and Muhammad is the prophet of God.’” No-one moved. All eyes focused on Martyn. Later he recalled, “I said, ‘God is God,’ but instead of adding ‘Muhammad is the prophet of God,’ I said, ‘and Jesus is the Son of God.’” The mullahs rose in disgust and the vizier refused his visitor’s request. (2)

Fifteen years earlier, few could have imagined such a scene. In October 1797, Martyn entered Cambridge University to read mathematics and five years later became a fellow in classics. As a brilliant scholar and linguistic genius, an academic career beckoned, yet Martyn turned his back on it. Charles Simeon (3) asked him to serve as his curate in 1803, and under his influence the young man set his heart on serving Christ overseas.

Leaving behind the woman he loved, Martyn arrived in India in April 1806 as a chaplain of the East India Company, responsible for the souls of the locally stationed British soldiers. But his heart burned for the indigenous Muslim and Hindu populations, and before long he was preaching to them despite heat, opposition, and ill-health. Putting his linguistic skills to use, he started the simultaneous translation projects of the New Testament into Persian, Arabic, and Urdu and completed the Urdu edition in February 1809.

His desire to revise the Persian and complete his Arabic New Testament led Martyn to leave India and enter the formidable domain of Islamic Persia in May 1811. Setting out for Shiraz, a prominent center of Shia Muslim scholarship and poetry, he traveled with a wet towel around his face and neck because of the fierce heat. Once installed in his new home, Martyn worked with a local, Mirza Seid Ali, on the Persian translation, and in less than nine months he completed the New Testament and a version of the Psalms in an accurate and readable vernacular. “No year of my life was ever spent more usefully,” he wrote. (4)

Yet Martyn’s time in Shiraz was far from tranquil. As the only Christian in a Muslim city, he was an easy target for abuse, and the governor had to intervene to stop the constant stoning of his house. He defended the gospel in lengthy discussions with the mullahs and wrote a reply to a defense of Islam published by the leading mullah, Mirza Ibrahim. Always willing to engage the Sufis, his conversations invariably reached an impasse over the deity of Christ. Before he left Shiraz to see the Shah in May 1812, only one man had turned to Christ. Yet the fruit of Martyn’s life appeared after his untimely death that October. His Persian edition reached people in 1846, being used until 1910, and his work still shapes the current edition.

Reflecting on his life, Martyn commented, “Even if I never should see a native converted, God may design, by my patience and continuance in the work, to encourage future missionaries.” (5) Today, Persia (modern day Iran) is still held in the vice of radical Islam, pouring forth a message of threat and triumphalism backed up with arms and money. As political and military solutions are considered to contain its influence, Henry Martyn’s sacrificial example shows the only sure way to challenge Islam. May God be pleased to send many more like him to confront the nations with Christ’s truth.

Footnotes:
1     A high official in certain Muslim countries and caliphates, especially a minister of state.
2     Richard T. France, “Henry Martyn,” in Five Pioneer Missionaries, ed. S. M. Houghton (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1965), 291.
3     Vicar of Holy Trinity Church in Cambridge, England.
4     Ibid., 285.
5     Ibid., 263.

Jerusalem and Prayer

The City of Jerusalem of the land of Israel is a hot topic.  It causes many people to get furious over it, because it seems to be; in their minds; there religions city.  Israel claims it, Catholicism claims it in the name of Christianity, and Islam claims it in the name of Mohammed.  Thus there is much struggle over the city.

Scripture calls it the “City of David”  (2 Samuel 5:7; 6:10;  1 Kings 2:10; and several other references in 1 Kings), and “City of God” (Psalm 46:4; 48:1, 8;  87:3).  David was the King of Israel, who had the heart of God.

David wrote,

“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.”  Psalm 122:6 (KJV)

There are many events; some of them very catastrophic which happen in and around Jerusalem today.  Many arguing and fighting for a Palestinian State.  I do not see a Palestinian State mentioned in Scripture; the main purpose of the “Palestinian people”, by many of their own people is to destroy Israel.  So Jerusalem does need our prayer.

When the Psalmist writes this he is not asking us to pray for the peace of the “Church”, or Islam, but the peace of the City of David and of God.  It seems there has always been a struggle between the holy and the unholy, good and evil over this city.

Someone has said something like this, “As goes Jerusalem; so goes the world.”  When we pray for the peace of Jerusalem and her people Israel we pray for the peace of the world too.

Jerusalem is the place where our Lord Jesus walked and where He died on the cross and was burried and from which He rose again to life.  It is also the place to which one day, and I believe soon, will return and make things right in this world (Zechariah 14).  There will be peace in Jerusalem through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

-Tim A. Blankenship

B F & M – Peace and War

Voicing our opinions and convictions are some things we Baptists are known for.  Every Christian has an opinion about anything, and sometimes everything.  There are some pretty heavy and hard debates over some things as well.  I believe that we can disagree without being disagreeable.  Or, you might even say, Without going to war over it.

As Christians we should never desire war.  Whether it is in a foreign land or within our own; war should be avoided when, and if it is possible to maintain freedom, and preserve life.

It is my opinion and I believe also one of Scripture that the passive approach to war is futile to our existence.  When we are faced with extinction by an invader in our homes it would be right to protect our family.  There are not too many USA citizens who would disagree.  The same is true when our Nation is attacked.  Rather than being defensive there must be an offensive attack.

As with the war in Iraq, we are supposed to be there in an offensive war, due to the attacks of September 11, 2001.  I realize many do not see it that way, and that is okay.  Saddam Hussein was a threat to the people of Iraq, the United States of America, and to the world.  He needed to be dealt with.  God does not frown on us defending our lives and our liberty; and/or the lives and liberty of others.

Here is our Statement of Faith on the subject of “Peace and War”:

“XVI. Peace and War

It is the duty of Christians to seek peace with all men on principles of righteousness. In accordance with the spirit and teachings of Christ they should do all in their power to put an end to war.

The true remedy for the war spirit is the gospel of our Lord. The supreme need of the world is the acceptance of His teachings in all the affairs of men and nations, and the practical application of His law of love. Christian people throughout the world should pray for the reign of the Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 2:4; Matthew 5:9,38-48; 6:33; 26:52; Luke 22:36,38; Romans 12:18-19; 13:1-7; 14:19; Hebrews 12:14; James 4:1-2.”

Some time ago I was listening to a News interview of a former Muslim terrorist.  He was asked, how terrorist are convinced to stop being terrorists?.  His answer was enlightening and encouraging.  He said, “Most cease being terrorists because of Christianity”.  He is actually saying that these former terrorist, including himself, stop being terrorists because they had trusted Jesus Christ as Savior.

If we desire peace rather than war with those who are terrorists; those who are threatening to destroy America; those who hate our freedom, our faith, our culture, and really our God; then, we must pray for God’s intervention in their hearts.  Only a changed heart for Christ Jesus will convince them to cease and desist from their terror on the world.

We must pray for peace.  We must pray for the Prince of Peace, who is our Lord and Savior, to come and give peace in the world.  He is the only true source of peace on earth.

Come quickly Lord Jesus.

-T.A.

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

The Test Of A Lifetime

The very thing which Abraham and Sarah had hoped and prayed for all their lives; their promised son; was about to become an object of sacrifice. God does not require human sacrifice for redemption, justification, sanctification, or glorification. Humanity has been corrupted by sin, therefore would not meet the strict qualifications of purity required for the sacrifice. Death was the result of original sin come down through Adam, and all are guilty.

The Word from God to Abraham;

“And He said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.” Genesis 22:2 (KJV)

The son of promise. The son for which Abraham and Sarah had prayed and waited for a long time. For twenty five years they had waited for the promise, and for many years, possibly 30 – 37 years they had enjoyed the presence of Isaac; their son of laughter. Now God’s message, His Word, His command is “…Offer him for a burnt offering…” What a wonderful, glorious God. Doesn’t God know when you are dead, you’re dead? He knows no such thing. He is God of life, not death. When you give to God what He commands you lose nothing; you gain the life of obedience and faith.

The only son whom Abraham loved was Isaac, of course. Now, Abraham had another son by Hagar (chapter 16) a servant from Egypt. This union was without God’s blessing, thus a sinful relationship, and God yet promised to bless Ishmael, and make him a nation of people. He, however, was not the promised son. Isaac, “Laughter” is the promised son. The promised son is the son of Abraham and of Sarah, as God had promised. In being the “only son” is meant that he is the “only son” of God’s promise. Abraham loved Isaac, and God knew this, but did Abraham know that he actually had a greater love for God than he did for Isaac? Did Abraham realize the measure of faith he himself had for God, His word, and His will?

It was most likely very early in the morning when Abraham heard the Word of God. The place, to Abraham is not revealed, but God tells him “…upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.” It was in the land of Moriah, which some believe to be in the area of Jerusalem, and the mount upon which Calvary was to be later. The thing is God knows the place and the time that is involved, and we will see that a little later. The thing is we hear a Word from God that is challenging, may even cause some doubt; and when it comes to faith, if there is no doubt what is the need for faith? Faith works through the doubts and fears of life, as Abraham worked through it as he obeyed.

This could seem as a dark event in the life of Abraham, but it is not. It is rather an event of challenging faith. Faith that will prove the heart of a man. Faith that will prove the promise, the power and grace of the Everlasting God. We must remember that in all things God is soveriegn, and will work out all things for our good and His glory. Faith is not “A leap into the dark”, but a walk in the Light.

You may be going through what you deem as THE TEST OF A LIFETIME, just keep walking in the light of the promises and grace of God. Give up all to God, and you gain, and never lose. Jesus said, “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” Matthew 10:39 (KJV). Also read Mark 8:35; Luke 9:25; and John 12:25. That TEST OF A LIFETIME may just be the power of the glory of God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

 

The Mountain Will Move

Speaking previously in verse six, still through the prophet, God says, “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts.” We know that through much effort on our part at times, and through circumstances and events that that is so true. When we labor for God, trusting only in our own abilities and gifts, we fail. When we are reliant upon the LORD and trusting Him then there is no such thing as failure.

We look now at the seventh verse of this chapter:

“Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.” Zechariah 4:7 (KJV)

Zerubbabel is the king who is able to restore the destroyed Temple. There are mountains of obstacles. If we are a bit familiar with Israel’s situation this day we see many obstacles for the rebuilding of the Temple. There are questions as to where the Temple was located exactly; it is known to be on the same area as the Jerusalem mosque of Islam [Dome of the Rock].

This has great hope for the future day prophecy (Ezekiel 40-44). Though they had many obstacles during the building of the Temple during the days of Ezra, there is a world wide problem in these days. This just magnifies the words of verse six, “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit“. Obstacles seem to make great opportunities for God to move for His own glory and our good.

The mountain like obstacles faced by the future day Zerubbabel will fall like crumbling rock, and will flatten before him. This “Zerubbabel” will be a leader of Israel in a future day who has a passion for Israel, and restoring the Hebrew worship to his people. It could be in a day very near. Not one word of the LORD will fail to come to pass. He has spoken, thus it shall be.

We see mentioned in verse seven, “…he shall bring forth the headstone” [or capstone] meaning the end of the building project. Zerubbabel finished the temple and there was great rejoicing (Ezra 6:16-18). Truly it is the “grace” of God that causes great rejoicing and celebration after so many years of absence, and trials.

Thank our LORD and God that we too can rest in the thoughts and promises of God, and that it is not by might nor by any power we may have, but it is always by the power of God’s Spirit that we can overcome, any mountain, or obstacle. If God has promised, it will be done. He has promised; it will be done.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Have We Forgotten…

Seven years ago today we the people of the United States of America were attacked.  It was from hearts of jealousy, greed, lust for power, and cowardly hearts that thousands of our citizens lost their lives that day.  May we as a nation remember the atrocious act of that day.

There was a song that was written, and recorded some time shortly after that which touches the heart and reminds us.

Have You Forgotten, by Darrell Worley

 

I hear people sayin’. We Don’t need this war.
I say there’s some things worth fightin’ for.
What about our freedom, and this piece of ground?
We didn’t get to keep ’em by backin’ down.
They say we don’t realize the mess we’re gettin’ in
Before you start preachin’ let me ask you this my friend.

Chorus
Have you forgotten, how it felt that day?
To see your homeland under fire
And her people blown away
Have you forgotten, when those towers fell
We had neighbors still inside goin through a livin hell
And you say we shouldn’t worry bout Bin Laden
Have you forgotten?

You took all the footage off my T.V.
Said it’s too disturbin for you and me
It’ll just breed anger is what the experts say
If it was up to me I’d show it everyday
Some say this country just out lookin’ for a fight
Well after 9/11 man I’d have to say right.

Chorus
Have you forgotten, how it felt that day?
To see your homeland under fire
And her people blown away
Have you forgotten when those towers fell
We had neighbors still inside goin’ through a livin’ hell
And we vow to get the ones behind Bin Laden
Have you forgotten?

I’ve been there with the soldiers
Who’ve gone away to war
you can bet they remember just what they’re fightin’ for

Have you forgotten
All the people killed
Yes some went down like heroes
In that Pennsylvania field
Have you forgotten
About our Pentagon
All the loved ones that we lost
And those left to carry on
Don’t you tell me not to worry ’bout Bin Laden

Have you forgotten?

Have you forgotten?

Have you forgotten?!

Have a wonderful day in the Lord.

-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

Meeting God in Person

Meeting God in Person

“And the angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur. And he said, Hagar, Sarai’s maid, whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go? And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai. And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands. And the angel of the LORD said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude. And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the LORD hath heard thy affliction. And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren. And she called the name of the LORD that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me? Wherefore the well was called Beerlahairoi; behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered. And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called his son’s name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael. And Abram was fourscore and six years old, when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram.” Genesis 16:7-16 (KJV)

Remembering now that Hagar had received some harsh, and unkind treatment from Sarai, she has fled from her husband and mistress. We must remember some things about Hagar too. She had become “Highminded” against Sarai; though not specifically charged, it is definitely implied by the phrase, “despised in her eyes” (v.5). Sarai was her master wife, the ruler of the household. Now notice who appears to Hagar after she has fled from the Abrahams.

The Angel of the LORD is the one who finds Hagar by a fountain of water. The Angel of the LORD is believed to be a manifestation of the pre-incarnate Christ. This angel is never mentioned in Scripture following the incarnation of Christ in Bethlehem. This shows us that the LORD is indeed concerned with the people of all races, and countries, and that He is involved in the affairs of humanity. The LORD cared for Hagar and went to her.

Notice how the LORD addresses Hagar; He calls her “Sarai’s maid”, reminding her that she has attachments, and obligations, and that she is still a servant to Sarai. The question asked by the LORD is not one seeking information, but rather one seeking repentance. What is Hagar’s need for repentance? She has been rebellious, and proud concerning Sarai; and sought a higher place than what she was allotted by God. She was a servant girl, nothing more. The first born son of promise was to be from Abram and Sarai; not Abram and Hagar.

The LORD’s word to Hagar is, “Return to your mistress, and submit yourself under her hand.” She is not to exude an attitude of arrogance or supremacy over Sarai, but be an obedient servant girl. God gives her a promise, “I will multiply your descendants exceedingly…”, and the promise did not stop there. Hagar is told that she is with child, that she would bear a son, and call his name Ishmael. The promise is one that has not only been fulfilled but makes history practically everyday. It is seriously believed that Ishmael is the father of the Arabic people. This is mostly a people who are also followers of Mohammed who is the founder of the Muslim religion. They fulfill the discription in God’s “promise” to Hagar. “He shall be a wild man; his hand shall be against every man, and every man’s hand against him. And he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren”. In the naming of her son Ishmael she would always look at her son and remember the day she heard from the LORD.

Hagar then names the place where she has met God in person “You Are the God Who Sees” (Beer Lahai Roi). This is the same place (24:62) where Isaac, the promised son, would be waiting, years later for his bride; which the servant of Abraham had gone to find.

What did Hagar do upon meeting the LORD and hearing His voice? She honored Him with a great name. She returned to her mistress, and we must believe that she returned in a submissive manner. This experience for Hagar was a blessed experience. It is a privilege, an honor, a blessing, and grace that any one can meet God. All can meet God, however, by the person of Jesus Christ. This Angel of the LORD was He before He ever became man, and walked among us.

God shows His mercy every day. Some may wonder “How?”, and that is really simple to explain. If He indeed did create all things, and He did. If He does indeed still involve Himself in the affairs of this world, and He does. Then, surely He holds the power to stop your breathing, and the beating of your heart with only a word. That is His mercy displayed. His grace was displayed as His Son Jesus hanged between earth and heaven, and all of heaven’s wrath was poured onto the Son in our behalf. The life given by Himself, that we might live with Him eternally. Have you met God personally?

-by Tim A. Blankenship

LOOKING FOR JESUS – GENESIS (4)

“…For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy”.

Revelation 19:10bWe have been Looking For Jesus in Genesis. This time we are going to see His appearance in two situations of two different people. The first is to Hagar. Some may ask, “You mean Hagar saw Jesus?” My answer will follow. The other one, of course, would be Abraham. That would not surprise us so much. Would it?

The appearance to Hagar takes place following the conception of Ishmael. Genesis 16. If you will remember the story Sarah became a little impatient waiting on God to fulfill His promise of a son to Abraham, so she offers her husband her servant as a wife to have a child. When Hagar conceives she really wants to “Rub it in” with Sarah. It almost seems that Sarah mistreats Hagar, maybe even to the point of beating her, and that drives her away. Hagar had basically become quite arrogant toward Sarah, and you can hardly blame Sarah for her behavior, yet you can see the weakness and danger of more than one wife.

When Hagar fled, she probably thought for her life, an “Angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water…” (v. 7). This is what has been termed a “Pre-incarnate manifestation of Jesus Christ”. It certainly seems to me to be Jesus before He ever became flesh and blood human. This person is certainly more than an angel of God. He speaks in verse ten saying, “I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude.” (v. 10). No angel could say that. It must of necessity be Jesus Christ the Living Word.

Hagar is believed by many to be the mother of the Arabian people, the muslim people. If you will notice the words of Jesus to Hagar they are ones of comfort, encouragement, yet, rebuke as well. She has flaunted her pregnancy toward Sarah. She is told by the Lord to return to Sarah, “And submit thyself under her hands.” (Genesis 16:9). Hagar is given a promise for her child which would be born to her. In chapter 17 God promises Abraham that He will bless Ishmael in verse 20. “…Twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.”

Why would Jesus reveal Himself to Hagar. Because he cared for her and the nation which would come from her and Abraham’s union. Maybe in seeing this we can stop to hope that maybe there is some hope for the people of Hagar. Only as they turn to the Lord Jesus with all their hearts.

The second appearance of Jesus we see comes as Abraham is at his “Tent door in the heat of the day”. He sees three men approaching. Genesis 18. He runs to meet them. I get the impression that Abraham knew who they were before He jumped up and ran to them. He bowed down before them and verse 3 says, “…My Lord, if now I have found favor in Thy sight, pass not away, I pray Thee, from Thy servant.” Abraham offers the “Men” refreshment and food. It is quite clear that one of these “Men” is the Lord Himself. Remember how the Lord reveals Himself in the Old Testament? When He is seen in a physical form, it must be the pre-incarnate Lord Jesus Christ. How would Abraham recognize God in physical form. He knows Him personally. When you know the Lord you know His appearing and appearance. You know His voice.

It was at this time that the Lord renewed His promise to Abraham, and this time Sarah heard the promise made even to her. They were going to have a son in their old age (Abraham was at this time 99 years of age and Sarah was 89), and is it any wonder that Sarah laughed. Thinking, “How can this be?”, and yet, hearing the Lord speak to them with the promise. It came from the Lord Himself, in Person, and physical form. “Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.”(v.14). This was a word directly from the Lord, not from angels, not in a dream, but from the very mouth of the Lord Jesus.

“The men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way.” (v. 16). The “men” headed toward Sodom on a mission of judgment. The Lord decides since Abraham is His friend, that He will reveal why the others are headed toward Sodom. In this passage of the chapter we see Abraham become an intercessor pleading for the cities of the plain. He ask the Lord to spare the city if there are only 10 righteous people in it. The Lord says He will. We know that there were not 10 righteous people in the cities, but God still dragged Abraham’s nephew Lot, Lot’s wife, and two daughters from the city before they were destroyed.

The compassion and faithfulness of the Lord is seen through out all of Scripture. We see the manifestation of Jesus in physical form even before He became flesh and dwelt among men. We see Him to be holy, righteous, All-knowing, All-powerful, All-present, and unchanging. He is the God of mercy, love and grace.