For, Lo, I Come

“Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the LORD. And many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and shall be My people: and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto thee. And the LORD shall inherit Judah His portion in the holy land, and shall choose Jerusalem again.

Be silent, O all flesh, before the LORD: for He is raised up out of his holy habitation.” Zechariah 2:10-13 (KJB)

Some thoughts from The Biblical Illustrator:

I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee

The restorer of Israel and Judah

Note that the name of “the Lord,” or “Jehovah,” is applied to two distinct persons; to Him who sends, and to Him who is sent.
Note also that in this prophecy the future restoration of the Jews is spoken of, as well as their settlement at Jerusalem after the Babylonish captivity. The words of the text evidently relate to the future restoration. A period is yet to come, of glory to God, and of prosperity to the people of Israel and Judah; and that the Son of God, the Messiah, will dwell among them, acknowledged and honoured as the Lord of hosts. Note some of the circumstances which will mark that season of the fulfilment of God’s promises to His people.

  1. The conversion of the people of Israel and Judah.
  2. The restoration of all the tribes to their own land.
  3. The people of God will be restored to their native land in the midst of wars and tumults. Their return will be preceded by violent convulsions, and by a season of disaster and tribulation, such as the world has never yet witnessed.
  4. The first and most remarkable circumstance in the condition of God’s people after their settlement in their own land, is His immediate presence among them.
  5. God will make a new covenant with them. It will involve a much higher degree of religious knowledge.
  6. The pardon of sin is mentioned as one of the promises under the new covenant.
  7. The consequence of this abundant pardon and superior know ledge is the greater practice of virtue. This superior degree of purity and holiness in the people of God, is the gift of God Himself, the effect of that abundant effusion of the Spirit which will adorn the Church under His own immediate care.
  8. The advantages will not be confined to Israel, but will flow out to other peoples.
  9. Jews and Gentiles being united as one body of faithful worshippers, a pure and holy service will be paid to God in Jerusalem. The people will enjoy all worldly and spiritual blessedness. Let us seek to attain a share of these coming blessings. (T. Bowdler, A. M.)

The joy of the Divine presence

1 No difficulty or strait can take away from the Church the true cause of her joy, nor excuse her for not rejoicing in it, for when the Jews are now a contemptible handful, deserted by their brethren, vexed by their enemies, and some of themselves conspiring against them, yet she is called to this duty, “Sing and rejoice.”

  1. The Lord’s own presence in and with His people, is His choice and matchless gift, which He is willing to give before any other thing, and which, as He will not disdain to bestow in His people’s lowest condition, so it is a gift that should occasion much joy and refreshment to them.
  2. As the Lord’s presence with His own chosen people is perpetual, and will bring intimate familiarity and love; so Himself will be at all the pains to make up this union, He will not, by sin putting Him, as it were, away for a time, be provoked to stay away, and will have this communion still upon the growing hand till they come to full fruition, for He will dwell constantly and familiarly “in the midst of thee.”
  3. It is the great ground of the Church’s encouragement, and the fountain of all other manifestations of God, that the Son of God became man, that her Redeemer is God, that He came and dwelt in our nature, and was like us in all things without sin; and that we may tryst with God in the man Christ, and know our tender-hearted Surety to be also God over all blessed forever, and able to save to the uttermost. This incarnation of Christ is it which this promise ultimately points at as the ground of their joy. “Sing, for I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith Jehovah.” (George Hutcheson.)

The joy of the millennial Church

The words point to the bright periods when messiah’s kingdom shall so extend as to embrace “many nations.” Three remarks are suggested concerning this joy.

  1. It is righteous. It is not only Divinely authorised, but commanded. “Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion.” Often we are informed by religious teachers that joy is a privilege, but seldom told that joy is a duty. It is as truly a sin against heaven to be spiritually gloomy and sad, as to be socially false and dishonest. “Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion.” Similar commands are found elsewhere on the pages of Holy Writ. “Break forth into joy, sing together” (Isa_52:9). “Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion” (Isa_12:6). Gratitude is joy; and ought not gratitude to fill every soul? Admiration is joy; and ought not every soul to be filled with admiration of the Divine excellence? Love is joy; and ought we not to love all creatures with the love of benevolence, and the Creator with the love of adoration?
  2. It is reasonable. But here are reasons suggested for this joy. What are they?
  3. The presence of God. “Lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the Lord.” The highest happiness of an intelligent creature, is the presence of the object it supremely loves. “In Thy presence is fulness of joy.”
  4. The increase of the good. “Many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day.” Is not this a good reason for joy—to see the clouds of error in the human sky breaking, dissolving, vanishing, and the Sun of Truth rising, spreading, and penetrating the whole earth with its lifegiving beams? Is not this a sublime reason for lifegiving joy—“Many nations shall be joined to the Lord,” as the branches are joined to the roots of the tree, as the members of the body are joined to the head?
  5. The restoration of the Jews. “For the Lord shall inherit Judah His portion in the holy land, and shall choose Jerusalem again.”

III. It is reverential. “Be silent, O all flesh, before the Lord: for He is raised up out of His holy habitation.” “The Lord is in His holy temple, let all the earth keep silence before Him.” The profoundest emotions of the Soul are always mute. Superficial feelings are noisy and chattering. The shallow stream rattles amongst the hills. The deep river rolls by unheard. Deep joy is silent as the stars. It is so with the godly soul. In the presence of the supremely beautiful, it is filled with a joy that cannot speak. If we are loyal subjects of the great spiritual empire, we might well be happy. (Homilist.)”  From THE BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATOR on Zechariah 2:10-13

Not Forsaken

“For Israel hath not been forsaken, nor Judah of his God, of the LORD of Hosts; though their land was filled with sin against the Holy One of Israel.

Flee out of the midst of Babylon, and deliver every man his soul: be not cut off in her iniquity; for this is the time of the LORD’S vengeance; He will render unto her a recompence.” Jeremiah 51:5-6 (KJB)

Though the land, the people of Israel and Judah had sinned greatly against the LORD of Hosts His grace is sufficient to bring them back. More than sufficient to judge those who had treated them so viciously and vilely.

The LORD calls for them, during the time of His visitation upon Babylon to flee. “Come out of her My people” (Revelation 18:4).

Christian of 2019 and beyond; God does not forsake His people.  The reason for the captivity of Judah and Israel is due to their forsaking God.  Christian let us never think that God who is Holy, Righteous, and Just will overlook our sin. NO! He will still hold us accountable for our forsaking Him.

We can rest assured by the cross and death of the Lord Jesus Christ, His burial, and resurrection that our sins are forgiven, yet there is discipline, chastisement for sin.  If you are without the chastisement of the Lord, you are not His.

Rest and grow in His grace.

Whose Word Will Stand?

“…Yet a small number that escape the sword shall return out of the land of Egypt into the land of Judah, and all the remnant of Judah, that are gone into the land of Egypt to sojourn there, shall know whose words shall stand, Mine, or theirs. And this shall be a sign unto you, saith the LORD, that I will punish you in this place, that ye may know that My words shall surely stand against you for evil…” Jeremiah 44:28-29 (KJB)

Jeremiah had told these people about God’s word to stay in the land of Judah to live, to work, and to worship God there.  They would not hear Jeremiah; thus, they would not listen to, neither hear God.  They go down to Egypt despite God’s word to them.

Now they receive word that they will be punished again by Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon. They blamed God for their situation, yet it was their unbelief, their wayward way of life in Judah committing hypocritical worship, feigned worship to the God of Heaven while devoting themselves to idols; worship of foreign gods which were no god at all. The truth had become relative to them.

In 2019 there are far too many professing Christians who believe that there is no absolute truth; except the statement that “There is no absolute truth”. So that nullifies that statement.

Hear the word of the LORD. The word of the LORD will stand. Every word He has spoken will come to pass just as He has said.

Jesus Christ is the Son of God; God who became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:1, 14). Jesus came to us to die on the cross for our sins.  He was buried to take our sin, our shame, our guilt, and condemnation away.  He was raised up from the grave and seen of over 500 witness (1 Corinthians 15:1-8).

Whose word will stand?  Yours or Gods?  I can rest assured that God’s word will stand, and yours will be left in the dust of foolish thought.

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.

The LORD, My Portion

“Every man is brutish in his knowledge: every founder is confounded by the graven image: for his molten image is falsehood, and there is no breath in them. They are vanity, and the work of errors: in the time of their visitation they shall perish.

The Portion of Jacob is not like them: for He is the former of all things; and Israel is the rod of His inheritance: The LORD of Hosts is His name.” Jeremiah 10:14-16 (KJB)

The prophet lived among many people of Judah who were in pretense worshiping the LORD God, and yet they worshiped demons in the form of idolatry the other days of the week.

Some of these people may have even been the idol makers, and sold them for a profit.  After all it is only business. Right?  Wrong.  It is forbidden by God Himself to make or to set up idols.

You may be thinking, “Well people do not worship idols today”.  Really? Some of them roll around on four wheels.  We call them automobiles.  They are only a tool to serve us.  What about those things you see attached to peoples hands and ears, called “Cell phones” are they not worshiped? Some worship their children and grandchildren.  Anything can be an idol.

I have heard it said, “Man makes god in his own image”.  You know kind of a slur on God’s word where He tells us “Let Us make man in our image”.  The gods the race of Adam makes are things created by our own hands, by our own minds. These gods are weak. They can be burned. They can be destroyed. They can die.

The LORD, my Portion is not weak, but Mighty; Almighty, as a matter of fact.  The LORD, my Portion can not be burned; He cannot be destroyed; and He cannot die. He is the One who made all things; the seen and the unseen; every planet, every star, every molecule that is in the Universe. He bows to no one.

He did come to earth as a Man, the God Man Jesus Christ, and gave His life to redeem Adam’s fallen race unto Himself.

Trust the LORD and Be Prepared

This is a post I shared on August 10, 2013, and it was titled “The Making of The Preacher”…

The call of the prophet was one of separation. It was one for Jeremiah that would separate him from his family, due to the message he would be proclaiming, it would even keep him from marriage. There were times he would even feel that God had forsaken Him. We will see these things as we progress through this wonderful prophecy which our LORD God has given us.

The passage of the prophet for today is chapter one, verses 17-19;

“Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them. For, behold, I have made thee this day a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brasen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land. And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the LORD, to deliver thee.” Jeremiah 1:17-19 (KJV).

The idea of “girding up the loins” is the idea of getting one’s self ready for the task at hand. You might say of a preacher called by God, “Get yourself ready to do My bidding”. As Paul spoke to Timothy, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” 2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV). Jeremiah was called to preach the Word of the Lord and he must be prepared. He must know that calling is sure, because there were going to come times in his ministry where that would be all that he had.

“Arise”, get up and get going, the time is short. “Speak to them all that I command thee”. There can be no changing of the message to soften the impact. It must be spoken as God has given it. It is sad to say and to think, but there are many preachers, who are pastors of churches and preach (if you can call it that) messages that are watered down versions of the truth, thus not the truth, but lies. They would rather be popular with their people. Popular with the people unpopular with God. Which would we be? God says to the prophet, “Be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them”.

If we as preachers neglect to preach Jesus; His death on the cross; His burial; His bodily resurrection; and His promise… “I will come again” then we fail to preach the Word of God.  That is the essence of all of Scripture.

The prophet is called to stand, to be strong. God tells Jeremiah, “I have made you this day a defenced city, an iron pillar, and brazen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests , and against the people of the land.” This is God’s promise to Jeremiah of God’s protection from harm. Even when the judgment comes on the land, even though the people, the kings, the princes, and the priests turn against him Jeremiah is promised protection. His life will be kept and preserved. Someone has said, “The man of God in the will of God is immortal, until God is through with him”. That is a profound statement. Of course the one who made that statement must have been speaking of this temporal life we live here on earth, because with Jesus as our Lord and Savior we are immortal anyway.

The promise of God for protection would be a mighty force in the faithfulness of Jeremiah. The promise is a mighty power in our lives as well. To think that his own family, friends, king, princes, and others would try to harm him, even try to kill him, and he having the promise of God’s protection and keeping. “They shall fight against you; but they shall not prevail against you; for I am with you, says the LORD, to deliver you.” Would you rather have the friendship of the world, or the protection and power of God on your life? Think about it. You cannot have both, if you are going to be a preacher of God’s Word.

Words of the Prophets – Isaiah

Protection Removed

“Now will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill:  And He fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and He looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes.  And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt Me and My vineyard.  What could have been done more to My vineyard, that I have not done in it? Wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?  And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to My vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down:  And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it.  For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah His pleasant plant: and He looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.” Isaiah 5:1-7 (KJV)

The Certainty of GOD’S Word

“For the saying which he cried by the word of the LORD against the altar in Bethel, and against all the houses of the high places which are in the cities of Samaria, shall surely come to pass.” 1 Kings 13:32 (KJB)

To get a better understanding of these events I would recommend reading chapters 11 – 13 of 1 Kings. Especially pay attention to the thirteenth chapter.

Because of King Solomon’s departure from the worship of GOD alone, and his love for his wives, and women, the kingdom is taken from him when his son Rehoboam is crowned king.  A man by the name of Jereboam is God’s chosen king for the Northern kingdom of Israel, which is also called Samaria, Ephraim, and Israel.  Samaria is made up of ten tribes, and Judah is of the tribe of Judah mostly, and Judah is faithful to the dynasty of David.

Jereboam rebels against God’s word, and sets up idols at Dan and Bethel, golden calves actually, which is actually an affront to GOD [Jehovah/YHWH].

An unnamed prophet comes on the scene while Jereboam is worshiping at Bethel, and speaks the word of the LORD. As a sign he has said that the altar will split in  half, and the ashes be spilled on the ground, and it happens, seemingly under the very nose of Jereboam.  He is angry at the prophet, and while pointing to the prophet to have him seized, his arm turns to mush (dries up), then the sign was fulfilled.

What is so special about this story?  It is truly one of the unique stories of the Bible; and it teaches us a great lesson of faith, and hearing the word of the LORD ourselves, and testing all who claim to speak the word of the LORD.

In the above text of 1 Kings 13:32 we find the old lying prophet certain that the words of the prophet from Judah will be fulfilled.  Just as that altar was split, the ashes spilled onto the ground, they were fulfilled just as the prophet said by the word of the LORD.

There are many people today looking for something sure, solid, and strong.  Many are looking at other things other than to GOD and His word, and His Son.  Look no further than the word of God.  It is certain, sure, solid, and strong.  God is faithful.  He will not leave anything undone which He has spoken.

He has sent us His Son to die for us.  His name if Jesus.  He died on that old rugged cross, was buried, and He rose from the grave and forever lives.  Because He lives those who call on His name in repentance will live eternally with Him.  Call on His name.

No One Found Worthy

“And I saw in the right hand of Him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.” Revelation 5:1-4 (KJV)

In this chapter, we will be reminded of God’s warnings of coming judgment, that the wars, famines, diseases, death, cataclysmic upheavals of earth, and such that happen now are only small in comparison to what will happen when the Lion/Lamb takes the Book and looses the seals. Havoc, such as no one has ever seen will plague the earth, and it is done by the “…One to whom judgment belongs”.

As we continue this chapter, John is still in Heaven. The twenty four elders and the four living ones are gathered around the throne.

Chapter five is a continuation of chapter four. Whereas, the focus of chapter four was upon the One who was on the throne [God the Father], the focus shifts to the Lamb.
There is a book in the Father’s right hand – the side on which Jesus sits. This book is sealed. It has been sealed from the foundation of the world. It is the declaration of ownership – the “title-deed” to all the earth, and creation. It is the revelation of a Christ-denying, God-hating world that Jesus Christ is Lord. It is the “title-deed” to all that God promised Jesu before He went to the cross.
It appears in verse two that it had to be a man who would be worthy of opening the book, “and loose the seals”, but none was found. The “Loud voice” of the “Strong angel” (a prominent angel) – probably Gabriel – implies urgency, an immediate need. This reminds me of the message to Ezekiel, “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).

What would happen if no one was found to open the book? This is why John wept:
1. All Old Testament prophecies of the Christ earthly reign would be voided;
2. Creation would remain under the curse of the fall;
3. The kingdom would never be restored to Israel;
4. The Bible would not be true.

No mere man is worthy to open the book the Father holds in His right hand. We are sinners, unrighteous and unholy before a righteous and holy God. Notice, that none were found who were even able “to look thereon” (v. 3).
In these verses, we also see that there is no man worthy to carry out the judgment of the following chapters. God has said throughout all of Scripture, “Vengeance is Mine; I will repay, saith the LORD” (Deuteronomy 32:35; Nahum 1:2; Romans 12:19; Hebrews 10:30). No judgment that is done for holiness or righteousness sake, can be done by sinful man. It belongs solely to Holy God. “O LORD God, to whom vengeance belongeth; O God, to whom vengeance belongeth, shew thyself.” Psalms 94:1 (KJV).

And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. And He came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.  Revelation 5:5-7

John’s weeping invokes one of the elders to say, “Weep not”. There is One who is worthy. The appointed One, the Anointed One. “The Lion of the tribe of Judah” – “Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” Gen 49:9-10 (KJV). The lion; a symbol of royalty, of power and supremacy, “Hath prevailed to open the book”. “The root of David”, “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:” Isaiah 11:1 (KJV). As Deity, He is the Root from which David came. As man, David is the root of His [Jesus’s] human genealogy, “Hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.”

The “Seven seals” begin to open in chapter six; the last seal is opened in 8:1 with the beginning of the “Seven trumpets”.

Because of His position as God-man, He has authority and power to open the book. He is worthy because:
1. He is a near kinsman – He is the “Nearer Kinsman” – the God-Man;
2. He was a willing sacrifice for sin – willing to pay the price for our redemption (John 10:18);
3. He was able to pay the price.

When John turned to see the “Lion of the tribe of Judah”, instead he saw a Lamb. Where was the Lamb: He was in “The midst of the throne and of the four beasts and in the midst of the elders”. This is the position our Lord desires.

The Lord Jesus is referred to as “the Lamb” at least twenty-eight times in the Revelation. “Lamb” identifies Him as the sacrifice [God’s chosen sacrifice] for man’s sin. In verse six of our text He is mentioned as being resurrected from death; “…a Lamb as it had been slain”. This Lamb “Stood”. Dead lambs do not stand. “Had been slain” is in the past tense showing a dead lamb now living. There can be no doubt about who this is. It is Jesus the crucified, pierced, and resurrected One.

The “Seven horns” represent His perfect power. The “Seven eyes” His perfect sight to see all the affairs, thoughts and deeds of man. The “Seven Spirits” His perfect presence (John 16:7). These are all in the person of Jesus Christ, the Lamb. Omnipotence, Omniscience, and Omnipresence are the theological terms used for the figures.

When the Lamb takes the book it will be the beginning of the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy of 7:13-14 and Psalm 2:8 as well as others. See Matthew 11:27 and 28:18. It is given to the Lamb of God to loose the seals of judgment upon the God-rejecting, God-hating world.

Prophets Speak – Christmas Day One Hundred Thirty and Seven

“Then came the word of the LORD unto the prophet Jeremiah, saying, ‘Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel; Thus shall ye say to the king of Judah, that sent you unto me to enquire of me; Behold, Pharaoh’s army, which is come forth to help you, shall return to Egypt into their own land. And the Chaldeans shall come again, and fight against this city, and take it, and burn it with fire.'” Jeremiah 37:6-8 (KJV)

There is a lot of talk about speaking “Positively”, and I like to be positive about things.  The above verses do not sound very positive.  Do they?  If God is about to carry out His word of judgment on His people of Judah is that positive?  My thought is – Yes it is.

If God’s word of judgment is fulfilled just as He says; then His words of promise, hope, life, and eternity will also be fulfilled.

What do I want for Christmas today?

I want to see the best in every situation, knowing that God is at work in me, all Christians, and the rest of the world; carrying out His will and purposes and letting the whole world know that He is the LORD.

Prophets Speak – Christmas Day One Hundred Forty and Three

“…Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD, After this manner will I mar the pride of Judah, and the great pride of Jerusalem. This evil people, which refuse to hear My words, which walk in the imagination of their heart, and walk after other gods, to serve them, and to worship them, shall even be as this girdle, which is good for nothing. For as the girdle cleaveth to the loins of a man, so have I caused to cleave unto Me the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah, says the LORD; that they might be unto Me for a people, and for a name, and for a praise, and for a glory: but they would not hear.” Jeremiah 13:8-11 (KJV)

Jeremiah had just been given a lesson on decay and ruin with a girdle (a sash), along side the Euphrates River, and a word from God for the people of Judah and Israel.

What do I want for Christmas today?

I want to learn from the events of life the word, and ways of God, to be obedient to His Word, hear Him, and do His will; and I want all who are God’s people through the death, burial and bodily resurrection of God the Son, the Son of God, to hear Him and do His will as well.

Prophets Speak – Christmas Day One Hundred Sixty and Two

“For Jerusalem stumbled,
And Judah is fallen,
Because their tongue and their doings
Are against the LORD,
To provoke the eyes of His glory.
The look on their countenance witnesses against them,
And they declare their sin as Sodom;
They do not hide it.
Woe to their soul!
For they have brought evil upon themselves.” Isaiah 3:8-9 (NKJV)

This prophecy is a message directed to the city of Jerusalem in the prophets day, and the people of Judah.  We can, however, see that the message would fit with the Christianity as well in the Twenty First century.

What do I want for Christmas?

Seeing that many sins, shame, and condemnation is within the lives of many who call themselves “Christian” and there is no remorse, no repentance; I want the power of the Spirit of God to come over  every Christian, including myself, to make us aware of our guilt, our sins, unto repentance, and to embolden us to stand for Christ Jesus, His cross, His burial, His resurrection; and His second coming, and to tell others of His power, glory, and His glorious salvation through faith in Christ.

 

Becoming One Again

We have been looking at the prophecy of Ezekiel. Ezekiel was a captive in Babylon when he was given this prophecy. He spoke much of the nation’s return to their homeland, but it would not take place until after a period of 70 years. In the Scripture and prophecy for today’s study we see a promise, and prophecy that they would return as not two nations divided; but as one.

“The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying, Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions: and join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand. And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, Wilt thou not shew us what thou meanest by these? Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand.” Ezekiel 37:15-19 (KJV)

The prophet does not use the name “Israel” in reference to the Northern Kingdom; but rather uses Joseph or Ephraim. The prophet Hosea refers to Ephraim rather than “Israel”.

This prophecy was only partially fulfilled with the return of the nation from captivity to their homeland. They have not had a king. When King Jesus came, they rejected Him, and crucified Him; and they paid the price for that in 70 A.D. with the destruction of the city of Jerusalem, and the temple, and being scattered once again unto the four quarters of the earth.

As the Lord has renewed the nation of Israel (May 14, 1948) there are still numerous Hebrew people scattered around the world, but one day they will all be in their homeland; they will have a new temple, and they will recognize Jesus as their Messiah and King.

There is much that is going to happen between now and the time Israel will see Jesus as the Son of God; God the Son; and as their Messiah and King. Yet, because God has said it; it shall be done; it shall be done.

The point today is that you believe and receive Him as your Lord, your Saviour and your King.

God’s Word Will Stand

Prisoners from Judah have been taken to Babylon. Jeremiah and a remnant of people have been left in Jerusalem and have been told by God through Jeremiah that they are to stay in the land and till, and tend it, and that God will bless them, protecting them, and keeping them from further harm from Babylon.

The people have asked Jeremiah to go to the LORD, and seek His direction as to what they are to do. They seem to mean by that: “Do we stay in Jerusalem, or shall we go down into Egypt?” God has told them to stay in Judah and trust Him. They have flat out rejected the word of the LORD, and said, “We are going to Egypt.” See Jeremiah 43:1-7.

“Therefore hear ye the word of the LORD, all Judah that dwell in the land of Egypt; Behold, I have sworn by My great name, saith the LORD, that My name shall no more be named in the mouth of any man of Judah in all the land of Egypt, saying, The Lord GOD liveth. Behold, I will watch over them for evil, and not for good: and all the men of Judah that are in the land of Egypt shall be consumed by the sword and by the famine, until there be an end of them. Yet a small number that escape the sword shall return out of the land of Egypt into the land of Judah, and all the remnant of Judah, that are gone into the land of Egypt to sojourn there, shall know whose words shall stand, Mine, or theirs. And this shall be a sign unto you, saith the LORD, that I will punish you in this place, that ye may know that My words shall surely stand against you for evil: Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will give Pharaohhophra king of Egypt into the hand of his enemies, and into the hand of them that seek his life; as I gave Zedekiah king of Judah into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, his enemy, and that sought his life.” Jeremiah 44:26-30 (KJV)

After the people have arrived in Egypt God gives them a sign to show that it is His word that will stand; not theirs. That sign is that Babylon is going to come against Egypt, and the very thing that they feared will come to pass. All that refused to hear the word of the LORD, and obey will face famine, death, and pestilence.

Yet, there is a promise in these verses, “Yet a small number that escape the sword shall return out of the land of Egypt into the land of Judah…, and they shall know whose words shall stand, Mine or theirs”. That has part of the phrase that is mentioned throughout the Old Testament “They shall know…” mentioned so many times in Ezekiel’s prophecy.

Why is it so important for God’s people to know, to hear, and to do the word of God? So that we can better know Him, and live under His blessings and not His chastening, disciplining hand.

Jesus Christ is God’s living Word. When you hear Him, and follow Him you are cleansed, you are forgiven, you have eternal life through His death, burial and resurrection. His Word shall stand.

The Danger of Preaching the Truth

“Now it came to pass, when Jeremiah had made an end of speaking all that the LORD had commanded him to speak unto all the people, that the priests and the prophets and all the people took him, saying, Thou shalt surely die.” Jeremiah 26:8 (KJV)

Jeremiah was not the only prophet of Judah or Jerusalem. There were others. There were others who were preaching the truth, just not as recognized as Jeremiah. There were also those who were popular with the people and the evil priests who were forsaking God, His word and the temple; but were ignorant of their peril.

These priests and people believed the temple was secure in God, that it would never be destroyed, and that Jerusalem would never fall. They believed that they could live any way they wanted to; going after the gods of the surrounding nations, with pagan temples, temple prostitution, and worship that caused the people to stray from God.

The prophet Jeremiah gave them the word of God, and did not hold back one word (26:2). He did it knowing it would not be popular. He preached because God called him to preach, not because momma called him. He preached because it was a fire in his heart, and he could not keep it back. He preached because he first of all loved God and His Word; secondly because he loved his people, and wanted them to be right with God; and he loved his country, and wanted the country to be delivered from its evil ways.

When a preacher preaches the word of God he will not always be popular. He will not always fill churches, or temples. He will most likely; especially when sin is running rampant around the world will be called a “Nut case”, laughed at, mocked, and even have his life threatened. Like Jeremiah, though, he will be faithful to the LORD and His Word.

Preacher, if God called you; and not your momma; not your career; but God called you, then you have one obligation, and that is to proclaim the Word of God; even if it hurts. Part of that obligation is to live that same word you preach. It can be hazardous. But you do it because of God, and His Son Jesus Christ.

“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” 2 Timothy 4:2

The Plea of GOD for His people

“Wherefore I will yet plead with you, saith the LORD, and with your children’s children will I plead. For pass over the isles of Chittim, and see; and send unto Kedar, and consider diligently, and see if there be such a thing. Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? But My people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit. Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the LORD. For My people have committed two evils; they have forsaken Me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” Jeremiah 2:9-13 (KJV)

In these verses God speaking through the prophet Jeremiah says that the children of Judah, and Israel have done something that even the worshippers of false gods do not do; that is forsake their gods. Jehovah is the one true God, and they had forsaken Him, and turned to false gods.

The two evils: They had forsaken God, and the second, was they had made their own gods. They had “changed their glory for that which does not profit”. The glory of the follower of Jehovah is His glory.

The Psalmist has written,

“Thus they changed their glory into the similitude of an ox that eateth grass.” Psalm 106:20

Jehovah likens them as to having forsaken a living, flowing, fresh stream of moving clear, clean, cool, refreshing water for a dug out cisterns that collect runoff water, can become stale, stagnant, and smelly. Besides that the cisterns they have made are cracked throughout, and cannot even hold the water it collects.

Jesus is the Living Water who gives life. Why would anyone want anything, anyone else?

The Land is GOD’S to Give as He Pleases

“God hath spoken in His holiness; I will rejoice, I will divide Shechem, and mete out the valley of Succoth. Gilead is Mine, and Manasseh is Mine; Ephraim also is the strength of Mine head; Judah is My lawgiver; Moab is My washpot; over Edom will I cast out My shoe: Philistia, triumph thou because of Me.” Psalm 60:6-8 (KJV)

One of the things people and nations need to understand is that God is the owner of all lands, and distributes those lands as He sees fit.

The land of Canaan was promised to Abraham, and His children through Isaac the promised son. He gave the land of Canaan plus land on the east side of Jordan to the people of promise.

Down through the ages there is still contention over that land. It is simply because the people will not submit to God’s ownership and division of that land. If the people would submit to God’s ownership, division of that land, and realize we are all only stewards of where we dwell; then there could be peace.

The Psalmist speaking the words of God notes this division. Shechem and Succoth are land on the east side of Jordan, and were given to two and one half tribes of Israel, because of their request for it (Numbers 32:1-5). Gilead, Manasseh, Ephraim, and Judah are God’s people. God says, “Gilead is Mine.” He also says, “Manasseh is Mine”; and “Ephraim is the helmet for My head” (NKJV), and “Judah is My lawgiver”.

To think about “Moab is My washpot” we are the surrounding enemy nations; along with Edom, and Philistia. We might consider Moab as the “washpot” in that when Israel strayed God uses them to discipline, chastise Israel for their waywardness.

Do we as Christians today understand that all God has given in our hand, under our feet, even on our back are His; and we are uniquely His stewards to care, and work it for His glory? The land is His and everything on it.

When we know God through His Son Jesus Christ we will understand this and will direct our lives accordingly. We will love the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. We will love the Word of God, we will hear it and do what He says. When we fail, or fall we will trust Him to pick us back up; and we will continue on the path of holiness.

Revival

“Now when all this was finished, all Israel that were present went out to the cities of Judah, and brake the images in pieces, and cut down the groves, and threw down the high places and the altars out of all Judah and Benjamin, in Ephraim also and Manasseh, until they had utterly destroyed them all. Then all the children of Israel returned, every man to his possession, into their own cities.” 2 Chronicles 31:1 (KJV)

Hezekiah was a godly king, and did that which was right in the sight of the LORD (29:1-2). He called the remnant of the northern kingdom to join with the people of the southern kingdom to restore the Passover, and proper worship to the Lord in Jerusalem; and many of the people came (30:1-12).

Both kingdoms were guilty of godless kings, leading the people away from God and the proper worship of Him who alone is worthy of worship. Ahaz; Hezekiah’s father was one of the worst of Judah.

As a result of the people of the remnant of the northern kingdom coming to Jerusalem and worshipping with the people of the southern kingdom was that they all returned to their lands, and destroyed the idols, images, high places, and done what was right and godly. They had a revival in the land.

People of God of any day when they get right with God will rid themselves, their land, their homes of anything that is an offense to God, the LORD. The greatest enemy to God’s people – To the Christian today is harboring, hanging on to that sinful thing that we want to hang on to. What is it? That thing that keeps you from a right fellowship with God.

Pride, greed, lust, lying, shedding innocent blood, wicked mind and thoughts, sowing discord among brethren: you can apply your own there. What is our greatest enemy? See 2 Corinthians 10:5. Throw it down.

Enquire of the LORD

“Go ye, enquire of the LORD for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that is found: for great is the wrath of the LORD that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us.” 2 Kings 22:13 (KJV)

The words of God’s book is the word of God. The most important book ever penned down by the hands of men; and sadly it is the most rejected book. Though it was written down by the hands of men the word of God is the verbally inspired, inerrant, and infallible word.

Josiah, the youngest king of Judah to begin ruling, saw the importance of the word of God. It is said of Josiah that “he did right in the sight of the LORD”; and that was due to his reverence, trust, and faith in God and His word.

Upon hearing the word of God Josiah took action. It would have first been upon his own heart and life. The first place of action for us today is to hear the word of God; then to act upon it.

We are sinners according to the word of God (Romans 3:23), and we need a Saviour if we are to be in fellowship with God, and that is Jesus Christ Son of God, and God the Son.

Turn to God, to His word, and to His Son.

His Sanctuary; His Dominion

“When Israel went out of Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language; Judah was His sanctuary, and Israel His dominion.” Psalm 114:1-2 (KJV)

The Psalmist; probably not David, but another of a later time acknowledges GOD as the Ruler of the nation.

The LORD is the One who delivered Jacob [Israel] out of Egypt.  Judah is the sanctuary of God’s abiding.  It is from Judah which our Saviour Jesus the Christ came.  It is in Judah where Jerusalem is.

Israel the new name for Jacob is the place of God’s rule; and covers the entirety of the kingdom.

It is Christ Jesus who is the King.  It is within His people that He is abiding; His sanctuary.  Yet He has a plan for Israel.

Just as the LORD delivered Jacob out of Egypt; so too does He deliver sinners out of sin, and death.  He has sent His Son Jesus who died on the cross, was buried, and He rose from death, and forever lives.  Believe Him and live forever with Him.

God is Known

“In Judah is God known: His name is great in Israel.” Psalm 76:1 (KJV)

It is a worthwhile calling to make God known to the world.  It is one thing for those who know God to know Him; but to know Him also calls for those to make Him known by others who might desire to know Him.

God desires that the world know Him.  He is not into self-propagation of prophets who proclaim a god who gives us all good things, and is unholy.  God is holy, and when we stand holy in Him gives us the desires of our heart; that is the things He desires become our desires.

The Bible from Genesis through Revelation 22 is about God making Himself known to the world.  In the prophecy of Ezekiel the prophet uses the phrase, “…they shall know that I am the LORD” over 60 times in those 48 chapters.

It is a great honor to know God; and to know His name and it is a great name.  It is a more wonderful thing to be known by Him.  His name is great in His people.

The following is a quote from the Matthew Henry Commentary,

I. In the revelation God had made of himself to them, Psa_76:1. It is the honour and privilege of Judah and Israel that among them God is known, and where he is known his name will be great. God is known as he is pleased to make himself known; and those are happy to whom he discovers himself – happy people that have their land filled with the knowledge of God, happy persons that have their hearts filled with that knowledge. In Judah God was known as he was not known in other nations, which made the favour the greater, inasmuch as it was distinguishing, Psa_147:19, Psa_147:20.

Every child of God is given the privilege to reveal God to the world around us.  They are responsible for their own choices.  Live your life that others may see God at work in you.

The Redeeming Love of God (Hosea 4:1-3)

God’s Controversy With His People 1

As we begin our study of Hosea 4 we find Hosea speaking in the gates of the city.  This is the place where civil and religious meetings were held.  There were probably some who were from the Southern kingdom present here as well.

The LORD is presented as having a “Controversy” with the people.  The MIRRIAM/WEBSTER Dictionary defines “Controversy” as being “a clash of opposing views: DISPUTE”.  It must of necessity be concluded that the one who opposes God is the one who is in error.  The New International Version of the Bible uses the word “Charge”.  The New American Standard uses the word “Case”.  These latter two imply court actions.  If then this is a court scene we see GOD as the offended party; and He is also the Judge, the Prosecutor; and since there is no defense mentioned He would also be their Defense.  God has a legal case against Israel.  It is a case He will win.  A case where the guilty will in brokenness confess their guilt, turn from their evil, and seek His face, receiving His forgiveness.

In verse one through three God says all are guilty, then the priests and prophets are responsible for rejecting the Word of God, rather than teaching it, living it, and proclaiming it (vv. 4-6).  They are all condemned for leaving God to follow the harlotry of Baal (vv. 7-10).  The men are then told of their responsibility for the corrupting of their wives and daughters (vv. 13-14).  Judah [the Southern kingdom] is then called on to heed the Word of Go, and not to forsake God and His ways following other gods (vv. 15-19).

“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.  By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood.  Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languish, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven; yea, the fishes of the sea also shall be taken away.”  Hosea 4:1-3 (KJV)

The land is greatly polluted.  Sexual perversion and immorality always pollute the land of any nation.

God still contends with evil.  He is contending with evil even now across the United States of America, and in all nations of the world.  Sin is just as destructive today as it was in Hosea’s day; maybe more open and with greater influence; but “where sin abounds grace does much more abound”.

“Truth” is faithfulness.  Faithful to God, His Word, and His ways.  To walk in them is to walk in truth.  To walk in truth is to be faithful to His Word.  To depart from truth is to cease being kind.  “Mercy” is kindness.  When God’s people forsake His way sexual immorality increases, murders increase, all crime and criminal activities increase, and education slips into amorality.  Evil becomes good, and good becomes evil.  Because of this there is no knowledge of God in the land.  God is seen only as non-existent, unavailable, or contained in a box to be used at our own discretion and for our own pleasures.  Because of evil god is made in our own image.  He is viewed as tolerating evil, and never judging it; putting Him on equal basis with the gods of men’s hearts.  His Holiness, Righteousness, mercy, and grace are forgotten.  What need is there of mercy and/or grace if God tolerates all kinds of evil?

When people depart from God to serve the gods of their hearts “Everyone does that which is right in their own eyes” (Judges 21:25), the land becomes “Bloody”.  The commandments of God become useless, despised, and rejected; tossed aside as fables.

In verse two Hosea declares that at least five of the Ten Commandments had been severely broken.

There are also ecological consequences to sin.

The land cries out to God for mercy (Romans 8:22).  The man of God’s creation willfully sinned against God.  Sin causes the creation to groan.  Unless God keeps His hand of mercy on the land, then the land judges us.

The environmental crises that are known today; the upheaval of weather  patterns, in the USA, and around the world; are evidences of a gross spiritual problem.  God’s people have forsaken Him to serve the idols of pleasure, entertainment, and the sirens of comfort.  Many of the gods of our day are science, technology, money and finance.  All idols of man’s own making; leading to our destruction.

The world may laugh at such a simplistic answer, but the Bible is clear on the matter, and it is right.  Someone has said, “The heart of the human problem, is the problem of the human heart.” (Matthew 15:16-20).  The heart of man can only be righted when man confesses his sin/departure from God, repents, and asks for, and receives God’s forgiveness.

It is not gun-control we need to stop murders, or condoms to stop STD’s and/or AIDS.  It is self-control, and especially Holy Spirit initiated self-control.  To make it real the world needs the grace, mercy, and love of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the forgiveness only His atoning death, burial and resurrection supplies.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Redeeming Love of God (2)

GOD Pursues the Redemption of His Wife

GOD is on a persistent quest to redeem the lost spouse (Israel), and reclaim her to Himself.  Through the gift of His Son Jesus He paid the ultimate sacrifice to redeem all who will hear His voice believe the gospel of Jesus Christ and be saved.

“Say ye unto your brethren, Ammi; and to your sisters, Ruhamah.  Plead with your mother, plead: for she is not My wife, neither am I her Husband: let her therefore put away her whoredoms out of her sight, and her adulteries from between her breasts; lest I strip her naked, and set her as in the day that she was born, and make her as a wilderness, and set her like a dry land, and slay her with thirst.  And I will not have mercy upon her children; for they be the children of whoredoms.  For their mother hath played the harlot: she that conceived them hath done shamefully: for she said, I will go after my lovers, that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink.'” Hosea 2:1-5 (KJV)

God calls on Judah and Israel to refer to one another as brethren “Brother” and “Sister”.  There is a contending on God’s part, with Israel.  God has put away Israel: “She is not My wife”  “I am not her Husband!”  There is punitive judgment here – for the purpose of punishing and restoration.

If Israel would not quit hers sins then God would “Put them away” in order to show them, that it was He who was providing bountifully for them; not her “lovers” who are the Baals of pagan, godless worship.

“Wife” in the text, as is Gomer is representative of the corporate people [Nation] or land of the North.  “Children” are representative of individuals within the nation or land.

There is a strong indication that there was a small group [remnant] within the nation who were not participating as individuals, but said or did nothing about it.  Their toleration in essence; was approval for the actions of others while they were selling the nation to godless whoredoms and all kinds of immoralities.

In these verses God pleads with Israel (v. 2);  He warns them of judgment (vv. 3-4); and the people obstinately reject God’s plea (v. 5).

“Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths.  And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find them: then shall she say, ‘I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now.’  For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal.”  Hosea 2:6-8 (KJV)

We are told by some Scriptures that God puts a “Hedge” about His people keeping them from harm, and from evil.  Here the hedge has a different purpose.  God says now how He will bring them back to Himself.  He will build a hedge of thorns and “wall her in”.

By doing this God accomplishes three things;

  1. She would no longer be able to find the “Paths” that lead to the shrines and idols of Baal (v. 6);
  2. In seeking the idols they would not be able to find them (v. 7);
  3. They would begin to realize that they had it much better when they were worshiping God and Him only.

In God and in God alone they would realize the blessings they had received were from GOD alone (vv. 7-8).

“Therefore will I return, and take away My corn in the time thereof, and My wine in the season thereof, and will recover My wool and My flax given to cover her nakedness.  And now will I discover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and none shall deliver her out of Mine hand.  I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts.  And I will destroy her vines and her fig trees, whereof she hath said, ‘These are my rewards that my lovers have given me:’ and I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall eat them.  And I will visit upon her the days of Baalim, wherein she burned incense to them, and she decked herself with her earrings and her jewels, and she went after her lovers, and forgat Me, saith the LORD.”  Hosea 2:9-13 (KJV)

We can see by these things that God is on a relentless pursuit of His wayward “Wife”.  He lovers her.  Real and true love is harsh with a wayward loved one.

How would God pursue?

  1. Take away the grain at harvest;
  2. Take back the wool and the flax (linen);
  3. He would remove His hand of protection, and put on her a hand of judgment, which no one could deliver her from;
  4. All celebrations, feast days, would cease; along with laughter and joy;
  5. He would destroy her vines and fig trees, because she had given praise to the Baals for the fruitfulness of the land.

This judgment was God’s.  She had gone after other gods following the paths of pagan cultures clothed in expensive jewels and dress.  God says, “She forgot Me”.

This is a sad commentary about God’s people.  The very fact that Israel was worshiping Baals shows they had forgotten, and departed from God.  Any time any of God’s people begin to look to their wealth, blessings, or pleasures as coming because of their own goodness, or from anything , but God; she has forgotten God.

Has the United States of America depended upon idols?  Is the pagan deity Baal still worshiped in the USA? Pleasure, wealth and convenience seems to be the cry of today’s society and culture.  The saddest part of that is that many professing Christians have lined up with the world in these things too.

Yet our answer for freedom from sin and this world is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.  Hear Him, believe Him, repent and be saved.

When evil is in the world, and the world is in the Church; evil is progressing toward its maximum potential, and its end.
More on this chapter next time…

-Tim A. Blankenship

Two Sticks, David, and The Sanctuary

The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying, ‘Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, ‘For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions:’ then take another stick, and write upon it, ‘For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions:’ and join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand.  And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, ‘Wilt thou not shew us what thou meanest by these?’  Say unto them, ‘Thus saith the Lord GOD; ‘Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in Mine hand.  And the sticks whereon thou writest shall be in thine hand before their eyes.  And say unto them, ‘Thus saith the Lord GOD; ‘Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: and I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all: neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be My people, and I will be their God.  And David My servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in My judgments, and observe My statutes, and do them.  And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children’s children for ever: and My servant David shall be their prince for ever.  Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore.  My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be My people.  And the heathen shall know that I the LORD do sanctify Israel, when My sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore.'”  Ezekiel 37:15-28 (KJV)

The LORD of hosts will accomplish His purposes for His people.  No matter how difficult it may seem; or how far out the way His people may get; He will bring them to Himself again.

-T.A.

Expectantly Looking for God

Ephraim feedeth on wind, and followeth after the east wind: he daily increaseth lies and desolation; and they do make a covenant with the Assyrians, and oil is carried into Egypt.  The LORD hath also a controversy with Judah, and will punish Jacob according to his ways; according to his doings will he recompense him.  He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength he had power with God: yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication unto Him: he found Him in Bethel, and there He spake with us; even the LORD God of hosts; the LORD is His memorial.  Therefore turn thou to thy God: keep mercy and judgment, and wait on thy God continually.”  Hosea 12:1-6 (KJV)

Here are the words of the prophet who is telling the nation of Israel/Ephraim to trust, to expectantly wait for the Lord.  They were to do that by keeping mercy and right judgment.  “Wait on thy God continually” is to expect the coming of the Lord; to trust that He was coming.

For the Christian who is following Jesus today; that message is one we must heed as well.  Jesus told the disciples and us; “Occupy until I come” (Luke 19:13).  Though He says this in a parable, it is still a powerful command to His people.  The command means to be busy living for Christ, as we carry on our daily duties, our labors, and our recreations.  Do so, however, with expectancy of the soon return of the King of kings.  He is coming.

-T.A.