After His Passion

“The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after that He through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom He had chosen: to whom also He shewed Himself alive after His passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: and, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but Wait for the promise of the Father, which, ye have heard of Me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.” Acts 1:1-5 (KJV)

A great many people are familiar people are familiar with the movie called “The Passion” made for the movie screen several years ago; but not everyone is very familiar with the Person of the Passion; and that is Jesus Christ.

The Acts are the continuing accounts of the Physician named Luke who also penned down the Gospel account of Luke.  Luke was not only a physician, but a historian as well.  The verses above show us that continuing account of the crucified, buried and resurrected Lord Jesus Christ.

I just want to leave you with some thoughts on phrases and words through this first chapter;

  1. “Taken up”  and “As He went up”  verses 2, 9, 10, 11;
  2.   “After His passion”  v. 3;
  3.   The continuing of the Gospel of Christ… “But ye shall receive power…” verses 7-8;
  4.   “These all continued with one accord in prayer…”  v. 14;

In verse 11 it should be noted that the admonition is to be telling people about Jesus, His passion, and that He is alive, and one day, soon, returning; and not to be gazing at the skies, and enamored with the signs.

Of course there is much more for chapter one. This will not be a …

Giving, Praying, Going, Doing, and Saying

If you are born in a hospital, does not make you a doctor, nurse, or even a hospital bed. Neither, if you are born in a garage does that make you a car, truck or motorcycle. Those may seem to be somewhat pathetic thoughts, but the point will be made in a moment.

Hear the words of Jesus:

“Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name and in Thy name have cast out devils and in Thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.” Matthew 7:21-23 (KJV)

There are many morally good people in the world who would give you the shirt off their back, and maybe even more than that. Being morally good does not mean they are good in the eyes of God.

Just as Jesus says in the above text; just saying His name does not mean one knows Him. I hear people using His name all the time; but let me tell you they do not know Him; not the way they use His precious name. Then, there are those who claim to know Him, but do not trust His finished work on the cross.

They continue to live doing things to gain God’s favor. They may attend every Church service. They may pray. They might even read a chapter a day from the Bible or read a daily devotional guide; all trying to gain favor with God. Yet, they do not know Him.

In the gospel of Luke Jesus says,

“And why call ye Me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” Luke 6:46

What must one do to be a Christian; a true follower of Jesus Christ? Believe on the One whom the Father has sent (John 6:29). He died on the cross, was buried, and rose again. He is returning.  Will He find you faithful; or in the world culture?

B F & M – Last Things (Eschatology)

The study of “Last things” is one of my own favorite lines for ruminating Scriptures.  There are a vast aray of differences of the understanding of “Last thing”, that the BF&M of 2000, covers most of what we as Baptists believe concerning the return of Jesus Christ.

Studying the Revelation, the Major and Minor Prophets of the Old Testament, and their prophecies concerning the first coming of Jesus, and also concerning the second coming of Jesus is a fascinating endeavor.

There is blessing and reward for those who love the appearing of the Lord: “Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” 2 Timothy 4:8 (NKJV).  This is clearly concerning the appearing of Christ when He comes in all His glory, and becomes King of Jerusalem, and the world.

Our Statement of Faith:

“X. Last Things

God, in His own time and in His own way, will bring the world to its appropriate end. According to His promise, Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly in glory to the earth; the dead will be raised; and Christ will judge all men in righteousness. The unrighteous will be consigned to Hell, the place of everlasting punishment. The righteous in their resurrected and glorified bodies will receive their reward and will dwell forever in Heaven with the Lord.

Isaiah 2:4; 11:9; Matthew 16:27; 18:8-9; 19:28; 24:27,30,36,44; 25:31-46; 26:64; Mark 8:38; 9:43-48; Luke 12:40,48; 16:19-26; 17:22-37; 21:27-28; John 14:1-3; Acts 1:11; 17:31; Romans 14:10; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 15:24-28,35-58; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Philippians 3:20-21; Colossians 1:5; 3:4; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18; 5:1ff.; 2 Thessalonians 1:7ff.; 2; 1 Timothy 6:14; 2 Timothy 4:1,8; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 9:27-28; James 5:8; 2 Peter 3:7ff.; 1 John 2:28; 3:2; Jude 14; Revelation 1:18; 3:11; 20:1-22:13.”

There are many things which happen before the appearing of Jesus in His glory.  There are several views concerning these events, and some views which do not believe in some of the events that I do.

Some believe in the “Rapture of the Church” which there are probably three views concerning this as to the timing of the rapture.  There is the “pre-tribulation rapture” view; then, the “mid-tribulation rapture” view, and some who believe in a “post-tribulation” view.  There are some who do not believe in a rapture.

There are some of us who believe in a millennial [one thousand year] reign of Christ on earth when He comes in His glory.  There are some who believe that all prophecy has been fulfilled.  I will not get into that study here.  The study of “Last things” is called – “Eschatology”

For my beliefs on these “Last things” you can go to Fire and Hammer, or click Revelation or Thessalonians in the sidebar called Gleanings (categories).

-T.A.

B F & M – Salvation

Living in this world we  often hear people ask the question, “What do we need salvation from?”  As mentioned in the previous post concerning our Statement of Faith on “Man” we do believe that man is a fallen being; meaning that we have fallen out of fellowship with our Creator, and therefore, we are a condemned race.  We need the salvation which only our Creator can provide us.

Here is our Statement of Faith concerning Salvation:

“IV. Salvation

Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer. In its broadest sense salvation includes regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification. There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.

A. Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace.

Repentance is a genuine turning from sin toward God. Faith is the acceptance of Jesus Christ and commitment of the entire personality to Him as Lord and Saviour.

B. Justification is God’s gracious and full acquittal upon principles of His righteousness of all sinners who repent and believe in Christ. Justification brings the believer unto a relationship of peace and favor with God.

C. Sanctification is the experience, beginning in regeneration, by which the believer is set apart to God’s purposes, and is enabled to progress toward moral and spiritual maturity through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in him. Growth in grace should continue throughout the regenerate person’s life.

D. Glorification is the culmination of salvation and is the final blessed and abiding state of the redeemed.

Genesis 3:15; Exodus 3:14-17; 6:2-8; Matthew 1:21; 4:17; 16:21-26; 27:22-28:6; Luke 1:68-69; 2:28-32; John 1:11-14,29; 3:3-21,36; 5:24; 10:9,28-29; 15:1-16; 17:17; Acts 2:21; 4:12; 15:11; 16:30-31; 17:30-31; 20:32; Romans 1:16-18; 2:4; 3:23-25; 4:3ff.; 5:8-10; 6:1-23; 8:1-18,29-39; 10:9-10,13; 13:11-14; 1 Corinthians 1:18,30; 6:19-20; 15:10; 2 Corinthians 5:17-20; Galatians 2:20; 3:13; 5:22-25; 6:15; Ephesians 1:7; 2:8-22; 4:11-16; Philippians 2:12-13; Colossians 1:9-22; 3:1ff.; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24; 2 Timothy 1:12; Titus 2:11-14; Hebrews 2:1-3; 5:8-9; 9:24-28; 11:1-12:8,14; James 2:14-26; 1 Peter 1:2-23; 1 John 1:6-2:11; Revelation 3:20; 21:1-22:5.”

Let me try and clarify the meaning of “Justification”.  It is the act of God declaring righteousness on the believer.  It is the same as God’s declaring us as “Saints”.  It is certainly undeserved on our part.  It is God’s declaration and the placing of the righteousness of Jesus Christ on us.  Jesus Himself taking our unrighteousness while on the cross and putting it to death at His death.

It is truly a marvelous salvation.

-T.A.

The Scarlet Thread – Manna

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

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

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

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

We read in Numbers 11:8,

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

Friday Baptist 062411

Today’s Baptist is Charles H. Spurgeon.  This writing is from his devotional “Morning and Evening”, the morning of June 24 –

Luke 11:27, 28:
A certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto Him, Blessed is the womb that bare Thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked. But He said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.

It is fondly imagined by some that it must have involved very special privileges to have been the mother of our Lord, because they supposed that she had the benefit of looking into His very heart in a way in which we cannot hope to do. There may be an appearance of plausibility in the supposition, but not much. We do not know that Mary knew more than others; what she did know she did well to lay up in her heart; but she does not appear from anything we read in the Evangelists to have been a better-instructed believer than any other of Christ’s disciples. All that she knew we also may discover. Do you wonder that we should say so? Here is a text to prove it: “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him, and He will show them His covenant.” Remember the Master’s words-“Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his Lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.” So blessedly does this Divine Revealer of secrets tell us His heart, that He keepeth back nothing which is profitable to us; His own assurance is, “If it were not so, I would have told you.” Doth He not this day manifest Himself unto us as He doth not unto the world? It is even so; and therefore we will not ignorantly cry out, “Blessed is the womb that bare thee,” but we will intelligently bless God that, having heard the Word and kept it, we have first of all as true a communion with the Saviour as the Virgin had, and in the second place as true an acquaintance with the secrets of His heart as she can be supposed to have obtained. Happy soul to be thus privileged!

-posted by T.A.

Resurrection – Unbelief and Hardness of Heart; Mark 16:9-14

“Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven devils. 10 And she went and told them that had been with Him, as they mourned and wept. 11 And they, when they had heard that He was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not. 12 After that He appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country. 13 And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them.
14 Afterward He appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen Him after He was risen.”  Mark 16:9-14 (KJV)

By the testimony of verse 9 the resurrected Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene.  Who is this Mary?  She is mentioned in the Gospel of Luke,

“And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils” (Luke 8:2).

This Mary had been terribly bound, and was probably involved in great evil.  The Lord Jesus had freed her and cast the demons from her.  By His great glory He appeared to her first and gave her  the privilege of telling the sceptical disciples of the resurrection.  When she came to the disciples and told them they did not believe her report.

According to verse 10 the disciples were in mourning and were weeping.  They were quite sorrowful over the death of Jesus.  Why, O why, would they not believe Mary?  Would not her countenance be aglow with joy?  Would not her words have been filled with excitement?  Saying,  “Our Lord’s grave is empty, He is alive.  I have seen Him.  He has spoken to me.”  I think I would have at least been curious.  This would have, of course, been after Mary has been to the tomb, found it empty, went to Peter and John, they run to see it empty, and then return, as John writes,

” Then the disciples went away again unto their own home.”  (John 20:10).

They were not even curious enough to begin a search, they “…went away again to themselves”.

After appearing to Mary Magdalene Jesus appears to two who are walking together.  Luke tells us is was to Emmaeus.  Luke gives us more details of this appearance by Jesus.  These two did not recognize Him.  He shared with them the words of the Prophets concerning Himself, and only when He had broken bread at their table did they recognize Him.   When He first appeared to Mary, she did not recognize Him.  She thought Him to be the gardner.  Maybe due to the sadness, mourning, and tears His identity was covered to them, and maybe due to spiritual influence from Him.  They had been blind to the words Jesus had spoken concerning His rising from the dead, and now they were blind to its reality.  Only by the power of God did they know Him.  Only by the “Drawing” of the Father, and His will can anyone know Him.  These two told the disciples that Jesus was risen, and still they do not believe.  By this time Peter and John had probably already seen Jesus alive due to the words of Luke in chapter 24 verse 34,

“Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.”

When they came to those who had not yet seen Jesus alive the remainder would not believe.  We sometimes jump all over Thomas because he would not believe unless he witnessed the resurrected Jesus personally, but all of the disciples had the same attitude.  Blessed are those who have believed though they have not seen.

Why did Jesus rebuke them for their unbelief?  He had spoken to them many times of His death and resurrection, but they had not heard.  They had had a wrong attitude toward Him.  He was their source of deliverance from captivity of Rome.  He was their hope for amounting to something in “His kingdom”.  Judas was not the only one following Him for the wrong reason(s).  They found it hard to believe that their “Messiah” would even die.  If He was not going to die there was no need for a resurrection.  So in their mind all the problems of the Hebrews were over; then He died.

Jesus rebuked them, because they had not believed His Word.  “Destroy this temple, and in three day I will raise it again”.  You can imagine that now that He has appeared to all of the disciples, they now believe.  Would I have been any different?  Knowing what I know of myself, and having grown up in Missouri [the Show-Me State], I doubt it.  Knowing what I now know, by the testimony of so many witnesses and the testimony of God’s Word, Yes I believe He is risen.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Observations From Luke – 032111

When I was a boy I spent many days and hours digging for treasure.  I had all kinds of holes dug in the ground around our house, in the pastures, the cedar glades, or wherever there was a place I thought that there could be treasure.  I did this probably when I was 8 – 10 years of age.

All the time I had a treasure I didn’t see, and that was my family, my parents and siblings, aunts and uncles, cousins.  Later on I received a treasure that I have to this day, and will have it through all eternity, and that treasure is the treasure of Jesus Christ in my heart, my life, my inner most being; eternal life with God and Him who died for me.  That is the greatest treasure.

Jesus said in Luke 12:34;

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

Now there is not a thing wrong with desiring treasure.  You will notice though that the verse does not say “Where your heart is, there will your treasure be also”, and that is what many of us probably think.  That is not what Jesus says though.

We already have a treasure.  Defining our treasure is a key to being at peace; recognizing our treasure.

I knew a couple several years ago who built a new house; they gave a great testimony of loving Jesus Christ, being great givers, and being church people.  For a while after building their house they  became somewhat frightened or nervous about leaving their home at night.  They were worried that someone might break into their house, and either steal some of their new things or vandalize the house.  In their hearts, at least for awhile their treasure was in that new house; and they were not at all at peace.

Where is your treasure?  If it is truly in Christ Jesus, then you will be at peace, and fear nothing.

“Where your treasure is there will your heart be also.”

-Tim A. Blankenship

Observations From Luke – 032011

There are a lot of comments of Jesus’s coming as a babe in a manger, living as a man without sin, and that He came to be an example to us of how we should live.  Some say he came to perform many and mighty miracles.  He did do those things, but they were not why He came.

Looking at what Luke writes in chapter nine,

“And it came to pass, when the time was come that He should be received up, He stedfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, and sent messengers before His face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for Him.  And they did not receive Him, because His face was as though He would go to Jerusalem.”  Luke 9:51-53 (KJV)

We can know why Jesus came by what He says in the gospel of John, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…”  He came because He loved us and was willing to go to Jerusalem, and die on a cruel, rugged, Roman cross for the sins of mankind, as the Lamb of God.

As we look at the above Scripture we see stated that, “When the time was come that He should be received up…”  He had a determination to go to Jerusalem.  From very early in His ministry He knew He must be about what He came to do, and that was His Father’s business (Luke 2:49).  Jerusalem and the cross was the Father’s business.

Would to God we would obey the Father’s will, and did His business as Jesus our Lord has done.  He now sits honored and glorified at the Father’s right hand.

Follow Jesus, believe Him and be delivered from sin, its condemnation and death; and live eternally in the presence of God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Observations From Luke – 031911

The Observations today will be short but needful; maybe I should say, a needful reminder.

Prayer and communion with God is needful for today’s Christian.  Some may believe that prayer and communion with God is the same, but let me show you what I believe to be a difference.  I believe you can pray without communion with God; but maybe then, that would not be prayer.  However, I don’t believe you can have communion with God without prayer.  Communion is having an intimate relationship with the Father, through our Lord Jesus Christ.

There is a world of prayer going on that is not directed to the God who created all things; the Father of Jesus Christ; therefore are not in communion with God.

Meanwhile, back to the topic of prayer.  Jesus prayed.  He spent nights in prayer,

“And it came to pass in those days, that He went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.” Luke 6:12 (KJV)

Jesus had just healed a man whose hand was withered, and on the sabbath day.  There were scribes and Pharisees who were angry, even mad (v. 11), because of this “heinous” act of healing.  In the days following Jesus went to pray.  That doesn’t mean that He never prayed before this, but that He went away for a time to pray.

I want to confess to you that I do not pray as oft, in this way, that I should.  My praying is mostly when I am listening to God speak as I read His Word, and as I go about through each day.  There are times we need to spend great amounts of time in prayer with God.

Just as Jesus went to a mountain to pray.  To a specific place – a mountain – so too do you and I need to have a time and place to pray unto God who created all things.  I want to be specific about that.  God, YHWH [YaHWeH], or Jehovah is the God of creation, of heaven, of Jesus Christ.  He has a Son, and His name is Jesus.  Praying to anyone else is fruitless speaking to oneself.

Spend time with GOD in prayer.  With our world seeing the chaos, catastrophic events, mass death and destruction happening we need to pray as we have never prayed before.  We need to pray that many of the people who are survivors of these cataclysmic events will trust in the LORD with all their hearts, believe in Jesus Christ and receive eternal life in Him.  We need to pray for encouragement of those who are aiding these people; and the searchers who are looking for those still trapped beneath all the rubble.  Than cannot be an easy, or non troubling task.  Most of all we need to pray for the coming of Christ to put an end to the reign of Satan on earth.

Join me in prayer.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Observations From Luke – 031811

The gospel of Matthew deals with Jesus as King; the gospel of Mark shows Him as servant; in the gospel of Luke we see Him as a man, but more than a man, the God-Man; Son of God and Son of Man.

Someone once said,  “The Son of God became the Son of Man, that the sons of men might become the sons of God.”  O, the grace, mercy, love and power of God; how marvelous He truly is.

Looking at the genealogies of Matthew and then, of Luke we see a difference in the way they are reported.  Matthew begins with Jesus Christ Himself and ends with Joseph.  Luke begins the Joseph and goes backward to God Himself.  Joseph is declared by Luke to be “son of Heli” who is believed to be Joseph’s father in law, thus being Mary’s genealogy.

There are some,  who would tell us that the reports of the two gospel accounts, being so different means they are opposed to one another, thus contradict.  There is another alternative to that.  God never contradicts, this is God’s Word.  It is correct, God is correct.  Matthew gives us the genealogy of Joseph, and Luke gives us the genealogy of Mary.

Who is John the Baptist?

“And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not;   John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: whose fan is in His hand, and He will throughly purge His floor, and will gather the wheat into His garner; but the chaff He will burn with fire unquenchable.  And many other things in his exhortation preached he unto the people.”  Luke 3:15-18 (KJV)

He was the promised son of elderly parents, Zacharias, and Elisabeth.  They had been unable to have children for all the years they had been married, and then, one day while Zacharias is ministering within the temple an angel comes to him and tells him that he and Elisabeth will have a son.  They are to name him John.  He is to be the messenger of the Messiah, preparing the way before Him.

The Baptist gives glory to the Christ of God, and takes none for himself.  He is a man who lived in the wilderness, dressed in camel’s hair, and ate honey and locusts (Matthew 3:4).  He preached the message of repentance, calling the people to be rid of sin in their hearts and lives, the Christ is coming.

Many were seeing the Baptist as though he might be that Christ.  He, however, tells them that he is not worthy to loose the latchet of His shoes.  That One is “mightier than I”.  He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.  John the Baptist points the people to the Messiah/Christ of Israel; who is the Savior of the world.

That One, the Messiah has come to die for the sins of the world.  He is set to come again, to rid the world of sin.  He will come.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Lift Up Your Head…

Jesus said, …for your redemption draweth nigh (Luke 21:28).

I don’t think I have kept it much of a secret, nor have I intended to.  The thing I have not kept secret is that – Jesus Christ is coming again, and it is soon.

Joel Rosenberg, author of “The Last Jihad” and “The Ezekiel Option” as well as other novels has a blog where he keeps his readers informed of world events; especially those concerning Israel.  In one of his latest post he writes of articles from the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

The article from the New York Times tells of the work being done on ruins of ancient Babylon and info concerning the rebuilding of BabylonThe Article from the Wall Street Journal is concerning a massive gas well that has been discovered off the coast of Israel in the Mediterranean Sea”.

You may read Joel Rosenberg’s blog by clicking this link.

Hope this finds you ready for our Lord’s return; or that you get ready “today is the day of salvation”

-Tim A. Blankenship

Presentation Of The King

The Presentation Of The King

Matthew 21:1-16

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

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

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

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

OUTLINE –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

application –

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

Daniel 1:17-21

…Giving What You Need For The Task

Daniel 1:17-21

Purpose –  To see and show that when God calls us to certain tasks; even as captives in a foreign land; He provides what we need for those tasks.

OUTLINE –

I.  GOD PROVIDED DANIEL, HANANIAH, MISHAEL, AND AZARIAH THE GIFTS THEY NEEDED FOR THE TASKS THEY HAD (v. 17).
II.  GOD PROVIDED THAT THE FOUR HEBREW BOYS FOUND FAVOR WITH THE KING (vv. 18-19).
III.  GOD EVEN PROVIDED THAT THE WISDOM AND KNOWLEDGE HE GAVE TO THEM EXCEEDED THAT OF THE OTHERS (v. 20).
IV.  THE TIME OF DANIEL’S SERVICE WAS REWARDED BY ALLOWING HIM TO SEE ISRAELITES RETURNING TO THE PROMISED LAND (.v. 21).

Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah had shown themselves faithful to the Lord’s commandments.  They had done so without causing too much of a rift within the court; and they had God’s approval and blessing.  When we honor God, by keeping His word, applying it to our lives on a daily basis, He will also honor us and bless us.  There is, however, no promise of that blessing being immediate; nor, should we be obedient, nor attempting to honor God because we know we will be blessed for it.
We honor and bless and obey the Lord and His Word because He is worthy; and we thank Him for the priviledge of such service.  By the blood of Jesus Christ we have the right to be called “The sons of God” (John 1:12).  It is still a service we thank Him for, because He gifts us for that purpose.

I.  AS GOD EQUIPPED THE FOUR HEBREW BOYS FOR THEIR TIME IN BABYLON; SO GOD HAS EQUIPPED THE CHURCH FOR THE DAYS IN WH ICH WE LIVE (v. 17).
The text we look at tells us that it was God who gave them “knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom:”, and we must acknowledge that it comes from no one else except the one who designed and continues to give good minds to those He will.  Even to the astonishment and dismay to the educational elite; God oft times speaks by confounding the “wise”

“But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;”1 Corinthians 1:27 (KJV).

We learn from this that it is God who gave Daniel the power of understanding dreams and visions.  This by itself qualifies Daniel as a prophet of God.

“And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream.”  Numbers 12:6 (KJV)

These things which Daniel and His friends learned were not from the Chaldean educational system, nor the education they received.  There were many things they learned which were in grave error; and they knew it to be error.  They learned about astrology, and how it worked; they did not practice it.  Astrology – interpreting the astrological charts, and the zodiac was very familiar to the Babylonian citizens.

The child of God today; the Christian of today needs to be grounded and stable in the riches of the Word of God.  I want to stress that before I say what I’m going to say with some reservation.  You and I need first and foremost to study, hear, practice, and heed the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the whole counsel of God’s Word.  When we are able, then, it would be beneficial in some ways to learn about the deceptions and lies that permeate society; not practicing them in any fashion or form, but learning of them, to know where some of these people are coming from, and to know how to rebuke and rebut them.  Some Christians of our day frown on the though of rebuke or rebutting some other belief system or religion; however, if we are to be salt, light, and an influence in society, then we must correct in love those we see in error with Scripture.

We have also been equipped for service to God in the day in which we live.  The apostle Paul writes,

“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;  For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:  Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:  That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;  But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:”  Ephesians 4:11-15 (KJV)

The above gifting is basically dealing with church leaders, however, every Christian is responsible to use the gift God has given you.  Paul has also written,

“But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.”  1 Corinthians 12:18 (KJV)

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”  James 1:17 (KJV)

“For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.”  Romans 11:29 (KJV)

The gifts and calling of God are given to us for the benefit of the day in which you and I live.  We need to rejoice in the gifts of others without desiring their gift or gifts for ourselves.  Every Christian is gifted by God to do the work of ministry.

II.  IT IS GOD WHO BRINGS FAVOR BEFORE THE KINGS AND PRESIDENTS OF THE WORLD (vv. 18-19).
King Nebuchaddnezar was most likely educated in the ways of the “wise men” of Babylon, and could carry on quite a conversation with them, and all the ones who had been educated in the Babylonian institution of learning.  It was after the three years of training was over that the king had them all brought into him.  The king discovered four young men, possibly twenty years of age now; who “…among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah” (v.19).  These four were chosen to stand in the king’s presence.

Daniel and his friends had spent the past three years learning the ways of Babylon, and remained faithful to the LORD.  They were diligent in the task of living the life which God had given them; and they did it without complaint; and with praise. Even though they were in enemy territory God had given them peace without compromising their beliefs.  Solomon, the writer of Proverbs has written,

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

“Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.”  Proverbs 22:29 (KJV)

Looking at those two verses we can see that, first of all “Peace” is more than the absence of war.  Peace comes from God.  When we are at war with God we will most likely be at war with everyone.  Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were at peace with God, so God gave them peace with their enemies.  Secondly, they were diligent with God’s business, faithful in obedience to Him and they were the ones who found favor with the king Nebuchadnezzar.

It is said of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ when He was around twelve years of age, that He was found in “…favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52).  Who makes it possible for us to be found in favor with God or kings?  Only God can do that.  God exalts one and brings down another.  In doing so God accomplishes His will and maintains the order of the powers of man.

III.  THERE IS GREAT WISDOM AND KNOWLEDGE FOR THOSE WHO WILL TRUST THE LORD IN ALL OF LIFE (v. 20).
There is much learning, knowledge and so called wisdom in our world.  Education is a good thing, when it is guided by a godly heart and life.  When “education” turns hearts away from God, and that is its sole purpose it is evil and and should be avoided at all cost.  Everyone has the right to learn what they want to learn; but they don’t have the right to force me to learn godless evolution, evil monetary practices, and/or evil practices of law.

One man of year gone by made the statement, and I pray I am getting this correctly, or close at least, “Education without justification and sanctification is an abomination”.  He meant by that word “justification” that all sin was paid for in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and that all the righteousness of Christ Jesus was ours through Him.

The writer of  Proverbs speaks much of wisdom giving all of two chapters to wisdom, even personifying wisdom.  In chapter eight wisdom is personified, and we can see wisdom in our Lord in His teachings, in His living, in His dying, and in His resurrection.  The ninth chapter deals more with wisdom, and when you read this chapter you see the worth and value of wisdom, ie., godly wisdom versus worldly wisdom.

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that these young men were smart, and wise in God.  They could carry on a conversation with the king about the things of  Babylon, and why, what and how he was the king of Babylon.  It is a sad thing, but there are many people who have no care what so ever about “wisdom”.  They speak without thought, act without thought; but merely to circumstances, and the behavior of others.

Who desires wisdom?  The wise.  How do we receive wisdom?

“Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.” Proverbs 9:9 (KJV)

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”  James 1:5 (KJV)

IV.  GOD IS FAITHFUL WHO HAS PROMISED; THERE IS REWARD FOR ALL WHO WILL BELIEVE AND RECEIVE (v. 21).
Though this verse is placed in the beginning of the book of Daniel doesn’t mean that this event tool place here.  We are being told that Daniel was blessed by God and prospered under several kings while a captive.  Daniel even lived to see his people returning to the Promised Land of Israel.  He may have had a part in speaking with Cyrus and his leadership in the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem under Ezra’s ministry and work.  We see clearly from Scripture that God is guiding the affairs of His people.

“A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.”  Proverbs 16:9 (KJV)

Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah could not have planned such lives for themselves.  Neither can you or I.  We can scheme and plot and plan, and many a time those things just don’t work for us.  We must understand that GOD WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU, and He gives us what we need to perform the tasks He has for us to do.

God will never fail to fulfill His plans.  He does have a plan for your life through His Son Jesus Christ.

APPLICATION –

i.  God has equipped us through the gift of His Son Jesus Christ, and His Holy Spirit to live for Him, and serve Him in the time which we live;
ii.  When you and I live for the Lord, faithfully serving, praising, thanking Him; then He will give us peace in our hearts, a pure conscience, and raise us in favor with the people of the world to accomplish His purposes;
iii.  Let us be wise to seek godly wisdom; and to seek it from God by asking Him for it, then, use it rightly for His glory;
iv.  You and I must trust the Lord to be faithful in CARING FOR YOU, and you what you need to do His will.

-Tim A. Blankenship

A Prophecy Of Our Lord’s Birth

The following is an outline of a sermon I preached in December of 2006, and posted at Wings As Eagles on December 11, 2006.  I repost it here for this season of remembering His birth.

THE BIRTH FORETOLD

Isaiah 7:1-14

OUTLINE –

I. JUDAH/JERUSALEM WAS UNDER SEIGE, AND GREAT THREAT FROM THE SYRIANS WITH SUPPORT FROM EPHRAIM/ISRAEL (vv. 1-2)

II. GOD SENT ISAIAH TO AHAZ, THE GRANDSON OF UZZIAH TO COMFORT AND ENCOURAGE HIM CONCERNING THE TERRORISM AT THEIR GATES (vv. 3-7).

III. GOD’S WORDS CONCERNING THOSE WHO RISE UP AGAINST THE RIGHTEOUS REMNANT (vv. 8-9).

IV. GOD GIVES A SIGN, DESPITE THE ARROGANCE AND UNWILLINGNESS TO OBEY FROM AHAZ; OF THE GOD-MAN WHO WOULD COME BY WAY OF A VIRGIN (vv. 10-16).

INTRODUCTION –

I. Living In An Affluent Society As We Do; We Often Do Not Realize The Fears and Battles Which Others In the World Are Going Through; Yet, There Are Many In Our Own Country Which Suffer Due To Hideous Things, Threats, Sickness, and Other Things.

II. Some People Are Asking “Why Doesn’t God Intervene?”, and The Answer To That Is; He Has and Presently Is.

III. The Word Of God Gives Us The Way Of Life and the Way Of Faith, Comfort, Encouragement, and We All Need It In Our Lives.

IV. God Came Down and Dwelt Among Us, and He Is Still With Us.

Even though this is the Christmas season; the season, the time of the year when we remember our Lord’s birth. Those who are not suffering from delusion will readily admit that these are not pleasant times, but let’s not be disheartened, discouraged or downheartedd. Remember, Jesus, the one whose birth we celebrate is Lord over all.

Christmas is about God. It is about God sending His Son, born of a virgin, born to die for the sins of the world.

I. THESE MAY BE DAYS OF SEIGE FROM THE ENEMY AND DARK FORCES FROM EVERY SIDE, AND THESE CAN CAUSE GREAT FEAR (vv. 1-2).

A. Ahaz was surrounded by the trouble of his Sister Nation, and the Syrians, so we may be as well, surrounded by an enemy who is set to destroy us and our testimony for Christ.

B. When we are not right with God we will be fearful; if we are right with God, having our sins confessed and obeying His call and direction for our lives, then, we need not fear, nor will we be fearful.

Someone once said, “If we fear God; we need fear nothing else”.

II. GOD HAS SENT HIS MESSENGER TO GIVE US COMFORT AND ENCOURAGEMENT FOR FACING THE ENEMY WHICH TRIES SO HARD TO DETRACT US AND GET US AWAY FROM GOD AND HIS PLAN FOR OUR LIVES (vv. 3-7).

A. Every time we are afraid God sends a messenger by way of the Holy Spirit; the message is found in God’s Word.

B. God’s messenger will speak a relevant message for the time and place.

1. Notice, that God sent ‘Shearjashub’ with Isaiah as a message of comfort – his name means, “A remnant shall return”.

2. The land of Judah would not be forgotten by God – that promise is true of all those who are in the faith of the Lord Jesus.

C. The greatest messenger of all is God’s Son Jesus Christ.

The Psalmist has written, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee.” (Ps. 56:3). And, in verse eleven he wrote, “In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.”

D. Be assured; the enemy of our peace shall not prevail – Jesus Christ won the victory.

1. These “Smoking firebrands” may be hot, but they are going to burn out and burn up, and be nothing but ash.

III. GOD’S WORD IS HERE FOR OUR INSTRUCTION, REBUKE, CORRECTION, INSPIRATION, AND SPIRITUAL GROWTH TO MATURITY IN JESUS CHRIST (vv. 8-9).

A. God is in control of the matters of our lives; so let’s not let our troubles detract us from the will of God.

B. God’s Word is the means by which we can resist the lies, snares, pits, and deceit of the enemy.

1. The Word of God, with the Spirit of God gets us to the place God wants us when we hear and obey.

2. By the Word of God we know the afflictions are often, if not always, for our benefit.

“Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept Thy Word” (Ps. 119:67).

“It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn Thy statutes” (Ps. 119:71).

C. Those who will not take heed to God and His Word will certainly be without help (v. 9b).

IV. FOR US GOD HAS GIVEN US THE SIGN OF THE GOD-MAN WHO WAS BORN OF A VIRGIN IN THE STABLE OF BETHLEHEM (vv. 10 – 16).

A. Like Ahaz, some do not want a sign from God, because it would humble them, and cause them to realize their weaknesses, and God’s strength.

B. Despite the unwillingness of some to request a sign, God has given us one anyway.

1. That sign is the birth of the God-man Jesus Christ to the virgin mother who was willing to risk her reputation, and future marriage, and possibly her own life, to bring the Son of God to earth to pay the price for the sins of mankind, and redeem us unto God.

2. That sign, even now, causes controversy in the hearts of many who profess Christ as their Savior.

C. The unwillingness does not negate the fact, though, it strengthens it.

1. He was born of the woman – a virgin – who had no seed.

2. He could not have had a human father, the sinful seed comes from the man.

3. He was born of the seed of God, thus, having no sin, and fully qualified to die for mankind’s sin and bring reconciliation between God and mankind.

D. This prophecy was fulfilled in the following verses,

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS” Matthew 1:18-25

“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:1-7.

SUMMARY –

I. LOOK TO THE MESSENGER OF GOD’S WORD – AS JEREMIAH SAID, ‘THERE IS A WORD FROM THE LORD”.

II. LOOK TO THE SIGN WHICH HAS BEEN GIVEN US – THE SIGN OF HIS VIRGIN BIRTH AND THE SIGN OF HIS CROSS.

III. TRUST GOD’S WORD WITH THE SPIRIT OF GOD TO GUIDE YOU, SECURE YOU, GIVE YOU PEACE IN THE MIDST OF ATTACKS AND AFFLICTION.

IV. THERE ARE ACTUALLY THREE SIGNS GOD HAS GIVEN US FOR ASSURANCE AND PEACE – 1) THE VIRGIN BIRTH OF CHRIST; 2) CHRIST’S DEATH ON THE CROSS; 3) AND THE RESURRECTION FROM THE DEAD.

V. CAN YOU TRUST SUCH A ONE AS THIS JESUS? DEFFINITELY.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Mark Chapter Nine

Mark 9:1-50

“And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power. 2 And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them. 3 And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them. 4 And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus. 5 And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. 6 For he wist not what to say; for they were sore afraid. 7 And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him. 8 And suddenly, when they had looked round about, they saw no man any more, save Jesus only with themselves. 9 And as they came down from the mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead. 10 And they kept that saying with themselves, questioning one with another what the rising from the dead should mean. 11 And they asked him, saying, Why say the scribes that Elias must first come? 12 And he answered and told them, Elias verily cometh first, and restoreth all things; and how it is written of the Son of man, that he must suffer many things, and be set at nought. 13 But I say unto you, That Elias is indeed come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed, as it is written of him.”  Mark 9:1-13 (KJV)

THE GLORY OF JESUS IS SEEN BY A FEW WHILE JESUS SPEAKS TO ELIJAH AND MOSES ABOUT HIS DEATH (Luke 9:31).

In verse 1 Jesus is most likely speaking of those who would see His “Transfiguration” which is about to happen, and it happened only before the three disciples – Peter, James, and John.  In Luke’s account of this glory the three disciples had fallen asleep.  There are times to sleep and times to fight going to sleep, and this seems like it was one of those times to fight sleep.  They almost missed it.

The two to whom Jesus was speaking were considered dead and gone.  Moses died and Elijah had just “gone” by the power of a “chariot of fire”.  Moses represents the “Law” of God, and Elijah represents the “Prophets” of God.  It is important for us to catch the message which the “Voice from Heaven” speaks.  “This is my beloved Son: hear Him.”  Those words tell us that the most important thing we can hear is Jesus.  The “Law” and the “Prophets” speak of Jesus.  John the apostle wrote in the Revelation of Jesus Christ, “…For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (REV. 19:10).

According to Luke 9:31 Jesus was speaking to Moses and Elijah of His coming death.  No other of the gospel writers mention this.  It tells us clearly that was the direction Jesus was headed – to Jerusalem to die, and make atonement for the sin of mankind.

In Matthew and Luke the text tells us it was “Moses and Elijah”.  Mark is the only one who writes “Elijah and Moses”.  It is important for us to remember the history of these two men.  Moses died and was buried by God, and no one knew where he was buried (DEUT. 34:5-6); and Elijah never died.  He was carried to Heaven by a fiery chariot (2 Kings 2:11), and Elisha, his pupil in the prophetic ministry, received a “double portion” of Elijah’s spirit.  There is quite a picture given here to us.  That is that at the future coming of Jesus Christ in His glory all that know Jesus, the living and the dead, will be raised to share in that eternal glory with Him.

“And when he came to his disciples, he saw a great multitude about them, and the scribes questioning with them. 15 And straightway all the people, when they beheld him, were greatly amazed, and running to him saluted him. 16 And he asked the scribes, What question ye with them? 17 And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; 18 And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not. 19 He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me. 20 And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming. 21 And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child. 22 And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us. 23  Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. 24 And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. 25 When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him. 26 And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead. 27 But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose. 28 And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out? 29 And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.”  Mark 9:14-29 (KJV)

ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE TO THEM THAT BELIEVE.

It is apparent by our text that the young man of whom it is speaking was afflicted by an “evil spirit”.  He has been afflicted for several years, even from early childhood.  We can see from this that children are not exempt from evil or even the devil or his demons.  Children can be susceptible to Satan from a very early age, but then, all are born into sin, and none are without sin.

This boy had often been thrown into the fire, and into the waters.  This demon hated this boy, and that is something we all need to remember that the devil and his hordes hates mankind, and will do whatever it takes to destroy the human race.

Notice, Jesus’ rebuke of the “Faithless generation”.  He is probably referring to “scribes” who are there in argument with the disciples, accusing and excusing their own actions and accusing the disciples of not having power to help this boy.

When Jesus calls for the boy and they bring him to Him the boys goes into a “fit”; falling on the ground and foaming at the mouth.  You will notice the father is not only asking Jesus to help his son, but also himself; he says, “Have compassion on us, and help us.”  The father later says, “I believe; help thou mine unbelief”.  This father new to whom to bring his son, but he had not witnessed the power of Jesus before, but he was about to.  He had the faith to bring his son to Jesus, and that was a good starting point.

There are many psychologists who probably would reckon this boy to have epilepsy, or some neurological disorder, but not demon possessed.  Notice though why it must be demon possession;  1) this personality recognized Jesus because he did not want to come before him, thus causing the boy to throw himself on the ground and foam at the mouth;  2) Jesus spoke to the spirit and commanded him to come out, and to stay out;  3) the spirit cried out through the boy and wreaked havoc on him one last time, evidently fighting for his “territory” but could not fight against his creator and win.

Note Jesus’ final words on this matter, “This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting. Mark 9:29 (KJV)”.  The matter of this boy’s well being hinged on the battle of two worlds, and who was to overcome.  There is a spiritual warfare we must wage everyday.  It is not an easy fight.  We must commit ourselves to prayer, and at times we must give ourselves to it diligently even to the point of forsaking our food and nourishment for the day or a period of time.  We cannot win spiritual battles if we are weak in the Spirit of God.  That was the problem with the disciples, and why they could not help this man or his son.  It is a battle we wage to keep the souls of men from eternal torment.  We must pray for them to have opened eyes to see the death of Christ on the cross, his resurrection; and that they will have an open heart to receive the glorious salvation of God through Jesus Christ.

It is an imperative  that we remember the words of Jesus, “All things are possible to him/[her] that believeth”.  It is not just believing in the event as history, but in the person of Jesus Himself.

“And they departed thence, and passed through Galilee; and he would not that any man should know it. 31 For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day. 32 But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him. 33 And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way? 34 But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest. 35 And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all. 36 And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them, 37 Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me. 38 And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. 39 But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. 40 For he that is not against us is on our part.”  Mark 9:30-40 (KJV)

A GRASPING FOR POWER BRINGS A REBUKE FROM JESUS, AND AN ANSWER TO THEIR PROBLEM.

Jesus is teaching a valuable lesson in these verses about service and “Greatness” or power and position.  He says He is going to die and then He will be glorified by resurrection.  He will die for our sins, and then by resurrection be given all that was His from the beginning.  By His death Jesus was serving the human race by providing our eternal salvation.

There are many people today looking for a longevity to life; they look for power and prestige, and position; but they look to themselves, when all that is needed is to bow at the feet of Jesus and call Him Lord, and wash the feet of our fellow man by service.  What great privilege it is to serve the Lord and bless our fellow man.

Jesus does enlist a small child as an illustration of humility and service.  A child will subject themselves to an older person, and most of the time trust in their care.  We are to come to Christ as little children, and we are to always receive our fellow man as if they were “little children”.  In receiving the “child” we receive Jesus and the One who sent Him.  And that is the Father.

When we see others working in the name of the Lord do we grow jealous, protective of our own work, or do we say, “Great!  Someone else is working in His vineyard.”  The latter should be our attitude and we should be an encouragement to all who are serving the Lord, and living for His glory.  This is not to be a blanket statement that approves of all who claim to be working in the name of Jesus, but to those who are Biblically sound, and those who are truly in Christ Jesus.

“For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward. 42 And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. 43 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 44 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 45 And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 46 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 47 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: 48 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 49 For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. 50 Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.”  Mark 9:41-50 (KJV)

THE HORRENDOUS, ETERNAL CONSEQUENCES OF SIN.

What is the price of sin?  “Sin will take you farther than you want to go; slowly but wholly taking control;  sin will leave you longer than you want to stay;  sin will cost you far more than you can ever pay.”  ANON.  It is something that Jesus took quite serious.  He took it so seriously that He went all the way to the cross and died, taking all our sin on Himself, paying the price that was mine and yours to pay.

How seriously does Jesus take sin?  Let us look at these verses.  Do not offend a “little one” for it would be better that a millstone were tied around your neck and be thrown into the sea.  “If your hand offends you, cut it off”;  “If your eye offends you pluck it out”.  It seems to me like Jesus takes sin quite seriously.  He was willing to pay the price for our sin that we might have eternal life in His eternal presence.  Jesus is not advocating the torture, or destruction of our bodies, but He is showing us the degradation of sin and its costliness and the price we should pay.  Simply cutting off a hand will not keep you from sinning.  Plucking out an eye will not keep you from the sin of lusting.   We saw in chapter seven that it is in the heart of man where we must deal with sin.  How much are you willing to pay to rid your life of sin?  Jesus was willing to give His life.

Jesus uses here the illustration of Gehenna – the garbage, trash, waste dump of the city of Jerusalem – that burned continually and the fire was never out.  There is an eternal fire that burns, where no desires are ever met, and there is nothing but pain, sorrow, hatred, vileness, hostility, and war.  Is that the place you want to be?  Is that the place where you want your friends and neighbors to spend eternity?  It is the place Jesus described as “Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. Mark 9:46 (KJV)”.  He mentions this twice.  Is there a Heaven?  If Jesus said He was preparing a place for us, and that He was coming to take us to that place; then, yes there is a Heaven.  Is there a place called Hell?  Jesus mentions more about Hell than He does about Heaven.  He spent a whole story of a rich man and a poor man named Lazarus to tell us of the reality of Hell.  He describes it as a place of flames, torment, and a place you would not want to be.  This is in Luke chapter sixteen.

Hell is the place we all deserve to be.  We do not deserve Heaven, but because of the gift of Jesus’ death on the cross and by the power of His resurrection we can go to Heaven for all eternity, but not without Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior.

In the beginning of this chapter we see Jesus in His glory and speaking with Elijah and Moses.  In between this picture of the glory of Jesus and this warning of Hell we find a child being tormented by a demon, disciples arguing about who is the greatest will be the greatest among them, and one disciple wondering about a man who is doing the work of Jesus who is not a part of their group.  These are the things that happen between Heaven and Hell.  As a matter of fact when Jesus died on the cross His head was toward Heaven and His feet were toward Hell, and His arms were outstretched to the world in invitation to come to Him.

What a Servant.  What a Savior.  For His arms are still outstretched to all so we may come to Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Rejected and Proven

“And he went out from thence, and came into his own country; and his disciples follow him. 2 And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands? 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him. 4 But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house. 5 And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. 6 And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching.”  Mark 6:1-6 (KJV)

We look at the life of Jesus in red, white and black and can believe and know that He is a great man, a great teacher, a great prophet – even greater than John the Baptist, a great preacher, but even so much more.  We learn from these letters that He is the very Son of God, and in fact is the very God incarnate – God come to us in flesh.  He is the Savior of the world.
Those who grew up around Him and those who saw Him growing up put no stock in Him.  They were witnesses of His life, but it was not important to them that He had never done anything wrong, had never sinned, never spoken back to his “parents”.  He in fact had never caused those who were raising Him any grief whatsoever, unless it was the things which Mary “pondered in her heart”.  To the people of Nazareth Jesus was nothing more than a carpenter, and did not deserve any credit as a teacher.
Here is what J. C. Ryle had to say of this matter.  1)  “We see, in the first place, how apt men are to undervalue things with which they are familiar.”  2)  “We see, in the second place, how humble was the rank of life which our Lord condescended to occupy before He began His public ministry.”  3)  “We see, in the last place, how exceedingly sinful is the sin of unbelief.”  Unbelief is still sin.  It is actually the very first sin that was committed.  Eve did not believe God when He had said “The day you eat of this tree you will surely die”, and she believed a lie.  It is because of the sin of “unbelief” that Jesus could do no mighty work in Nazareth.  Even Jesus was surprised “amazed” by their unbelief.

“And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits; 8 And commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse: 9 But be shod with sandals; and not put on two coats. 10 And he said unto them, In what place soever ye enter into an house, there abide till ye depart from that place. 11 And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city. 12 And they went out, and preached that men should repent. 13 And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.”  Mark 6:7-13 (KJV)

Mark notes that Jesus sent them out “two and two”.  It is important that we remember that, because their is strength in twos.  When one is discouraged the other can be a source of encouragement.  They can learn from one another.  They sharpen one another, “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend. Prov 27:17 (KJV)”.  One is there to keep the other from falling, and if one does fall the other can pick him up.
Jesus told them they were to take nothing with them, except their staff, and the clothing on their backs.  It was to be a journey and ministry of faith.  (The word “scrip” could be seen as what we would call a “backpack”.)  When people heard their words, and saw their works they would support and care for their needs.  When they entered a city  or village they were to stay in one home, and not be moving from home to home.  If they were not received they were to leave shaking the dust from their feet, “as a testimony against them”.  They would have rejected God’s messengers, thus God’s message, so judgment could be coming their way.  The shaking of the dust from the feet is almost as to say, “Since you will not listen and hear the Word of God you have no hope”, thus it is time to move on to other people and places.

“And king Herod heard of him; (for his name was spread abroad:) and he said, That John the Baptist was risen from the dead, and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him. 15 Others said, That it is Elias. And others said, That it is a prophet, or as one of the prophets. 16 But when Herod heard thereof, he said, It is John, whom I beheaded: he is risen from the dead. 17 For Herod himself had sent forth and laid hold upon John, and bound him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother Philip’s wife: for he had married her. 18 For John had said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife. 19 Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against him, and would have killed him; but she could not: 20 For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly. 21 And when a convenient day was come, that Herod on his birthday made a supper to his lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee; 22 And when the daughter of the said Herodias came in, and danced, and pleased Herod and them that sat with him, the king said unto the damsel, Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee. 23 And he sware unto her, Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee, unto the half of my kingdom. 24 And she went forth, and said unto her mother, What shall I ask? And she said, The head of John the Baptist. 25 And she came in straightway with haste unto the king, and asked, saying, I will that thou give me by and by in a charger the head of John the Baptist. 26 And the king was exceeding sorry; yet for his oath’s sake, and for their sakes which sat with him, he would not reject her. 27 And immediately the king sent an executioner, and commanded his head to be brought: and he went and beheaded him in the prison, 28 And brought his head in a charger, and gave it to the damsel: and the damsel gave it to her mother. 29 And when his disciples heard of it, they came and took up his corpse, and laid it in a tomb.”  Mark 6:14-29 (KJV)

“For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.  Luke 7:28 (KJV)”
Herod hears of the great and mighty works of Jesus, and begins questioning the identity of Jesus.  “Who is this Jesus?”  “Is he John the Baptist come back from the dead?”;   “…John reincarnated?”.  You can tell by this that Herod was a troubled man.  He had been troubled in his heart by the preaching of the prophet.
Mark goes into some details to tell us why he is troubled about John.  The Baptist had warned Herod that  “It Is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”  Herodias was her name.  Herod’s brother was Philip known as “Herod Philip II”.  Herodias was a nephew to Herod Antipas (the Herod of our text).  John the Baptist,  prophet of  God hated to see sin even in a Gentile ruler, and he told him so.  John got thrown into the dungeon for it, but yet Herod would not harm him, because the words rang true.
One of the main things a minister of God ought to do is rebuke sin wherever he sees it.  When it is seen in the ungodly it should be rebuked.  When it is seen in the redeemed it should be rebuked.  Sin is the  problem that infects and causes problems in every society.  For a man to take his brother’s wife is adultery, and that is the charge that John brought against Herod.  It matters not if it is a king, or the man in the gutter, sin must be rebuked.
What was the charge leveled against John?  It was for proclaiming the Word of God and rebuking the sin of the lands governor.
We see in Herod, “The amazing power of truth over the conscience”.  He has heard the words John preached and he is haunted by them, even after he has killed the man.  We can also see “How far people may go in religion, and yet miss salvation by yielding to one master – sin”.  In John we see, “How boldly a faithful minister of God ought to rebuke sin.  We see finally, “How bitterly people hate a reprover, when they are determined to keep their sins”.
When the Word of God is proclaimed it will accomplish that which God pleases.  It caused Herod to be very troubled.  For someone to even think that Jesus was John the Baptist risen from the dead, or “reincarnated” is on the border of lunacy.

“And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught. 31 And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat. 32 And they departed into a desert place by ship privately. 33 And the people saw them departing, and many knew him, and ran afoot thither out of all cities, and outwent them, and came together unto him. 34 And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things. 35 And when the day was now far spent, his disciples came unto him, and said, This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed: 36 Send them away, that they may go into the country round about, and into the villages, and buy themselves bread: for they have nothing to eat. 37 He answered and said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they say unto him, Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them to eat? 38  He saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? go and see. And when they knew, they say, Five, and two fishes. 39 And he commanded them to make all sit down by companies upon the green grass. 40 And they sat down in ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties. 41 And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided he among them all. 42 And they did all eat, and were filled. 43 And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments, and of the fishes. 44 And they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand men.”  Mark 6:30-44 (KJV)

Jesus knowing the disciples needed some rest and food led them to leave to go to a deserted place, and get some rest.  There was so much ministry activity that they had not even had time to eat.
The disciples and Jesus leave by “boat” to go someplace quiet but then are overwhelmed by a great multitude of people.  The disciples have not yet learned what Jesus can do.  Evening [“the day was now far spent”] was coming on them quickly now, and there was no food, and there were thousands and thousands of people to feed.  It must have been going through the disciples minds, “There is no way these people can be fed; we need to send them home”.  Jesus had another idea, though.  He with the Shepherd’s heart had compassion on them and taught them.  When evening had come and the disciples were doubting and scheming on how to get rid of these people Jesus just said, “Let’s feed them”.
According to the Gospel of John there was a boy who had his “lunch” with him.  Would he share it with the multitude?  Here is what John says,

“One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said* to Him, 9 “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?” John 6:8-9 (NASB)”.

Stand back and see what Jesus can do.  When it seems like the chips are down, and there are too many people to feed, and the world is against you, just let Jesus move in and take over.
Jesus as the Shepherd that He was and is  commands the people to sit down in the “green grass”.  In the twenty third Psalm it says, “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures”, an assurance of plenty for “sheep” to eat.  It would not surprise me to find out that there was a still, calm body of water near by also.  Mark’s Gospel is the only one of the gospels which tell us that Jesus “With  compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd” (v. 34).  That is Mark’s way of declaring Jesus as the Shepherd of God’s sheep and He will tend and care for those who are His.
The number of men is all that is given.  The word “men” in verse 44 is not a generic term for all humanity; it is specifically refering to the male gender.  If these men came with their wives and children which most probably did with a few exceptions, then this number could range from 15,000 to 20,000 or more.  This was of Divine origin.  If anyone doubts the origin of the earth and all created things, then they will doubt the miracles of Jesus.  If God can create from nothing, then He can easily perform a “miracle” – that is what we call it – because during “miracle” the laws of nature are suspended; God overrules.   He has the power to take the molecules, atoms, protons, neutrons, etc. – all those unseen elements which He created, and turn them into more bread, and more fish, and He did it to feed thousands of people.

WOW!  Do not doubt, but be believing what God can do, and what He has done, and what He is going to do.
There are some who profess Christ as Savior who want to dismiss all the miracles with human understanding, by saying things like, “Jesus already had the food hidden away in a nearby cave”, or “The little boys generosity inspired all the others to bring out what they had, and so all were fed”.  None of that explains the “twelve basketfuls” that were left over.  Now, you talk about the Lord providing for His disciples.  Now they each had a basket of bread and fish to take home with them.  Remember they had not eaten, so they must have been hungry.
There did not have to be five loaves and two fish, there could have been nothing, or stones.  Remember when Jesus was being tempted by the devil in the wilderness for forty days.  The first temptation was to fill His need for sustenance.  “If you are the Son of God, turn these stones into bread”, but Jesus did not yield to the temptation.  He said instead, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word which proceeds from the mouth of God”.  For Jesus to turn the stones to bread would have been to yield to the devil, and now, as then, He is yielding to the leadership of the Father.  He is acting as a Shepherd toward His caring for the sheep.
JESUS CARES FOR YOU.

“And straightway he constrained his disciples to get into the ship, and to go to the other side before unto Bethsaida, while he sent away the people. 46 And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray. 47 And when even was come, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and he alone on the land. 48 And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them. 49 But when they saw him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been a spirit, and cried out: 50 For they all saw him, and were troubled. And immediately he talked with them, and saith unto them, Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid. 51 And he went up unto them into the ship; and the wind ceased: and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered. 52 For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened. 53 And when they had passed over, they came into the land of Gennesaret, and drew to the shore. 54 And when they were come out of the ship, straightway they knew him, 55 And ran through that whole region round about, and began to carry about in beds those that were sick, where they heard he was. 56 And whithersoever he entered, into villages, or cities, or country, they laid the sick in the streets, and besought him that they might touch if it were but the border of his garment: and as many as touched him were made whole.”  Mark 6:45-56 (KJV)

Jesus sent the disciples away by boat while He sent the people on their way.  After that had been accomplished he departed to a “Mountain to pray”.  There is a lesson here for all of us who are His;  there is a time to be alone with God and Him alone.  Jesus, in human flesh, needed to recoup and spend time with His Father.  So do we.  Where Jesus could communicate with the Father face to face we must rely on the written Word, so it is wise to communicate with God while you have His Word at hand, and open before you.
As the disciples were rowing across the Sea of Galilee a boisterous wind came up, and it was a head wind which caused them to fight against it and evidently not gain much if anything in distance.  Jesus saw them rowing and struggling against the wind and went out to help them, and what a way He travelled to help.  It was sometime after midnight when Jesus came to them walking on the water.
This passage of Scripture even tells us that He “Would have passed by them”.   He came “Along side” of them to check their faith.  Would they recognize Him in His supernatural power and walking on the water?  They thought He was a ghost.  They still were dealing with a lot of personal superstition, if they were believing in ghosts.
Jesus recognizes their fear and assures them it is Himself, and He went up into the boat and it tells us that the wind ceased.
Jesus comes to us in the midst of our storms, but do we recognize Him or do we depend on our own methods and strength?   How would we react, even this day and age, if we were on the water in a boat and someone came walking in the midst of the night on the surface of the water, across a deep hole?
Many times, we as human beings, fear what we do not understand.  Seeing Jesus, and not knowing who it was is only a thing which is innate in every human being – fear of the unseen, unknown beyond.  Which is only evidence that God put in each of us the desire for that which is eternal.
In verse 52 Mark reminds us of the miracle of the loaves and fish, “For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened. Mark 6:52 (KJV)”.  Had they really understood about the miracle of the loaves and the fish they would not have been “amazed” about Jesus’ ability to walk on water.  Both actually show His power and authority over nature [as we call it], and that He was and is the Creator of all that is.
When Jesus and the disciples arrive at Gennesaret [the other side] the people there knew who Jesus was and they began to bring the sick, and they thinking, “I only need to touch the hem of His garment”, and all who touched Him were healed.  This faith they showed was very similar the lady in chapter 5 who had had the bleeding for 12 years.  Jesus and the disciples minister to them, and great things are done

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Precious Word Of God

The Word of God is precious and dear to every  Christian’s heart.  When Paul the apostle was telling people of Jesus Christ all the Scriptures he had was the Old Testament.  That is the Word of God he used in his preaching Jesus.

In Acts 28:23 we find these words, “And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening”.  Why is it that there are many preachers and even Christian groups who completely avoid the Old Testament when in the New Testament we have evidence that those words was the only Word of God available to the apostles?

When you see them as messages concerning Jesus they become precious and give better understanding to the New Testament.  Get into all of God’s Word.  The Old and New Testaments is all God has given us today.  Even Jesus, after He arose from death, mentions the law and the prophets.  Check out Luke 24.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Continuing Christian…

For forty days following the ascension of Jesus Christ the disciples waiting in the upper room prayed, waited, and encouraged one another; as they waited for that “power” that they were to receive from God.

As they waited they were in ”one accord” as Luke writes of these wonderful events.  ”One accord” does not mean that the individuals did not have a independent mind, or thought.  It means that they were together for one purpose, and that one purpose was the glory of Jesus Christ.  That glory of Jesus Christ was to be the Holy Spirit of God that was coming  upon them all as they studied, prayed, preached, and read the word, or had it read to them.

Forty day following the ascension of Jesus it happened.  The long awaited event was coming and what an event it was.  The sound of a “Mighty rushing wind”.  That reminds me of a wind from a tornado, a hurricane, or shear winds.  “Cloven tongues of fire” fell upon them, and caused each one to speak in a language that the people there for the feast would hear and understand.  These “cloven tongues” were the sign that the Spirit of God was on them in this place.

We are told that they were “all filled with the Holy Ghost…”  The many languaged people began to hear words from these followers of Jesus, which they had never heard.  Words of life, words of liberty, and words of grace, peace and love.  Some began to accuse these of being drunk.  Being early of the morning was reason enough for Peter to remind them that it was morning, thus they were not drunk with wine from the vine, so to speak.

As a result of this heavenly event at least 3000 souls were saved.  What happens following this wonderful event is the source of our study.

“Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”  Acts 2:41-47(KJV)

Let’s see if we can find an outline for this text:

  1. BAPTISM FOLLOWS THOSE WHO GLADLY BELIEVE (v. 41).
  2. THEY ARE ONLY COUNTED WITH THE JERUSALEM NUMBER FOLLOWING BAPTISM (v. 41).
  3. NOTE THE FOUR CHARACTERISTICS OF A NEW AND ACTIVE CHURCH (v. 42).
  4. THERE WAS AN AWE OF RESPECT, A FEAR, WHICH SWEPT OVER THE PEOPLE, AND THE ONE’S WHO WERE BELIEVING HAD ALL THINGS COMMON (vv. 43-45).
  5. THE ACTIVITIES OF THE EARLY CHURCH THROUGH THE WEEK (vv. 46-47).

BAPTISM FOLLOWS THOSE WHO GLADLY BELIEVE (v. 41).  Receiving of the Word of God – the Gospel of Jesus Christ – is purely, surely a great joy and a gladness.  When we hear the truth of the Word of God, believe it, and put it to work we have no problem following our Lord’s instruction for growing in faith.

Receiving the word and the gospel is far more than a mere belief in the existence of Jesus Christ, or His death on the cross, or His burial, or His resurrection.  It is in truth the receiving of the Spirit of God into your life, who changes you, and grows in you each and every day for our God’s glory.  It means the thief who believes is no longer a thief.  It means that the murderer is no longer a murderer.  It means the prostitute is no longer a prostitute.  It means the liar is no longer a liar.  Those who have been changed in their hearts now have desire to be more like Jesus Christ and give their lives completely to Him.

Where there had been only 120 Christians in the upper room; we now find that “about three thousand souls” were added to the Jerusalem church that day.

THEY ARE ONLY COUNTED WITH THE JERUSALEM NUMBER FOLLOWING BAPTISM (v. 41).  Is the Point statement made here pertinent for today’s Christian?  I believe it to be very pertinent.  It gives Biblical guidance for local church membership.  These were not or are not counted until we are told that they were baptised, then they are counted as “Members” of the local church.  At that time there was only one local church, and it was the Jerusalem church.

There are some today who do not believe that local church membership is a Biblical idea, or principle.  It seems clear to me, that the Bible says much about it.  The letter to the Romans written by Paul the apostle was written to the church at Rome.  The letter to the Galations was written to the church at Galatia.  The letter to the Ephesians was written to the church at Ephesus.  The letters to the Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians were written to the local congregations of those respective cities.  In the Revelation Jesus Christ Himself sent a different letter to seven different churches.  They are local churches.

Understand, none of this negates the fact that we are all part of the one body of Jesus Christ.  Just as the human body has different parts, so too, does the body of Christ.  Each local church has its own parts, and each one in the total Body of Christ has their parts.

We are baptised into the Body of Christ by the baptism of the Spirit of God.  We profess our faith in a local congregation through water baptism.  Water baptism testifies to the death – our not breathing going under the water, meaning immersion; burial – being put under the water; and the resurrection – coming up out of the water.  This way is meaningless through sprinkling or pouring of water upon a participant.

Until a soul has been baptised Scripturally into the local body of Christ they are not qualified to particpate in the Lord’s Supper, are not counted as part of the local body, and have no membership privileges.

NOTE THE FOUR CHARACTERISTICS OF A NEW AND ACTIVE CHURCH (v. 42).  There are four characteristics of this early church.  The first one is that they “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine”.  What is the “apostles’ doctrine”?  The things about Jesus Christ which He taught; the miracles of Jesus, His virgin conception, and virgin birth.  The death, burial and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ.  And surely the apostles’ doctrine would include the last day prophecies, and the return of Jesus Christ at His second coming.  This is not meant to be an exhaustive list.  Those are the main things.

The second, fellowship.  Fellowship is much more than sitting around a table sharing a meal together.  It may include the meal, but fellowship is a bonding, a coming together, for the one goal and good of one cause.  It is caring for one another, sharing with one another in the Word of God and material things.  It is a casual sharing of a testimony of God’s grace and goodness in a daily event, or a tragic circumstance or what could have been a tragic circumstance.

The third is, “in breaking bread”.  Now this could definitely be the breaking of the bread representing the body of Christ in the Lord’s Supper.  This could also be the sharing of a meal.  We see that this had gotten tangled up with the Corinthian church, and the apostle Paul had to rebuke them (1 Corinthians 11:20-34).  They were not only defying the richness of the Lord’s Supper, but they were rude, unruly, showing partiality, and just plain ole, hypocritical in their behavior.

The fourth is prayer.  Prayer is a very important part of the church.  We go to God in prayer to share our hearts with Him; and we go to His Word so He can share His heart with us.  I know it is much deeper than that.  One thing  being that in prayer, Biblical prayer, we go as an intercessor before the throne of God for others.  We go before the throne to pray His will, not our own will.  Going to the throne of grace we find grace to help in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16).  Even though our heavenly Father knows what we need before we ask; our asking is a show of subjection, humility, and love to the One who supplies all our need.  When we step out ahead of, or before God leads, or supplies we can get ourselves into very serious trouble.  Most people have credit cards, for example, and will buy things without a thought as to its price; and often it is something they do not need.  After many times and years go by, and they have paid only the minimum payment each month, while continuing to mount up the balance they find themselves in trouble.  Why can we not pray, believe God to supply, instead of trusting in the plastic god?

THERE WAS AN AWE OF RESPECT, A FEAR, WHICH SWEPT OVER THE PEOPLE, AND THE ONE’S WHO WERE BELIEVING HAD ALL THINGS COMMON (vv. 43-45).  As we look at these verses we see that wonderful, and awe-inspiring things took place in city of Jerusalem.  The power of Jesus Christ Himself had come upon all who were in the upper room, ie., the Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit who is Christ in those who possess, and confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and are possessed by Him.

“Fear” is a God given emotion.  Without fear we would be jumping to our deaths.  We would be touching hot burning stoves.  We would drive insanely speedily on hilly, curvy, terrain.  You should get the picture with those matters.  “Fear” can be a good thing.  In the case of this verse it is a good thing. “And fear came upon every soul…” (v. 43).  When we are before the presence of holy God we will shiver, tremble, and quake because we recognize His presence, person, power, and genuine prestige.  This ‘fear’ is more than simple respect.  It is an awe.  He is more awesome than anything we can ever see.  He is more awesome than any celebrity you will ever meet.  He is more powerful than the President of the United States of America or any other country.  Even the redeemed will bow before Him, and gladly call Him “LORD”.

We must note that this passage points out that it was through the apostles the Lord granted the “signs and wonders“.  Why do people assume that there are apostles in the church today?  There is no evidence of it.  They have not been eyewitnesses of the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ.  These signs and wonders were given to the apostles as testimony from God of their calling, their witness, and their preaching and teaching of Jesus Christ.

Some would liken the love and generosity of the early church and their sharing of their goods, land and homes as being the first socialistic order.  That is not so.  Socialism confiscates from those who have to give to those who have not.  The order for the early church was that each one gave as they were able, and were blessed by God.  Some of the early church sold their houses and land in order to be better servants to God and His Son Jesus, but no one forced the sale.  It was an act of love not of a dictatorship.  Christians who love the Lord and have burdens for the cause of Christ are still doing this; maybe not on the same scale and maybe to a greater scale.  Every week when believers gather together we receive the tithes and offerings, and those come, sometimes with great sacrifice from the giver or givers.  In most congregationally led churches no one is forced or shamed into giving tithes and offerings; it comes from their hearts most of the time.  These funds were distributed as there was need among the people.

THE ACTIVITIES OF THE EARLY CHURCH THROUGH THE WEEK (vv. 46-47).  The question has been asked, “How often should Christians meet as the Body of Christ?”  There are many answers to that question and some would like to answer it with “Only twice a year.  Easter and Christmas”.  Oh, how far we have fallen.  How often did the early church, the Church of Jerusalem meet?  Look at verse 46, and the first part of 47:

“And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people.”

Note “…They, continuing daily…” and many professing Christians today have a hard time getting together one worship service per week.  We should feel ashamed for our lack of faith, trust, and commitment to God, His Word, His Son and His Church.  Why is that many Christians want to find an excuse to miss worship services on Sunday?  Why do they want to go to the lake for swimming, water skiing, fishing or boating rather than spend time in the place of worship with brothers and sisters in Christ?  They are missing the heart of worship.  They are missing the very One who gives them that desire, and that drive.  The early Christians loved being together.  Christians today love being together, and seek every opportunity to do so.

The “Breaking bread” referred here has to do with the sharing of daily meals, and provisions.  It was a time of fellowship, worship, praise, and Christian growth.  In their gatherings they not only shared their food, and fellowship; they also shared “gladness and singleness of heart“, and Oh the joy which they had together worshipping, praising God and magnifying the name of Jesus.  Their worship in the gatherings were without hypocrisy, they were genuine, and did not attempt to overshadow anyone else.  They were a simple people with a simple goal; and that goal was to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ.

In the concluding part of verse 47 we read:

“And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”

There are many attempts today to “grow the church”, “reach people for Christ”, etc. thus we have shows of entertainment, motorcycle jumping and racing, power teams, rock stars, and we get a crowd.  The gospel is preached, and hundreds, maybe in some cases thousands, raise their hands of decision for Christ.  For some it is genuine and they are born again to faith in Jesus Christ.  For the others they go away thinking, “Man, I prayed some words tonight.  I am alright with God.  Let’s party.”  and they are still on the road to destruction due to deception.

Notice who added the people to the church.  It was the Lord who added to the church daily.  It was not the apostles.  It was not the women of the church.  It was not the children of the church.  It was not the men of the church.  They had no programs.  They had no visitation program.  They were, however, faithful in worship, praise, and living a consistent Christian lifestyle which was a testimony of their faith.

It is my belief that when the people of God will get into His Word, read it, study it – pulling out the meaning, the message and power of the text, and apply it to our lives then, we will be more powerful affective witnesses and see multitudes come to faith in Jesus our Lord and Savior.  It is not our doing, our calling to save sinners; that is the work of our Lord.  It is our doing and calling to be faithful witnesses.

Continue Christians in the work of Jesus Christ.

-Tim A. Blankenship

These are my study notes for a sermon I preached at Carr Lane Baptist Church on September 28, 2008

Go To The One Who Can

FRIENDS WHO KNOW GO TO THE ONE WHO CAN.

“And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four.  And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay.  When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.  But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts,  Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?  And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts?  Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk?  But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,)  I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.  And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.”  Mark 2:3-12 (KJV)

Even though it was in Capernaum there were some there who believed in who Jesus was.  They went to great extremes to see that their friend who could not walk would be able to walk when he met Jesus.  There was a problem, though.  That was a problem of a crowd who had gathered to hear Jesus speak.  It was in a home of someone who had invited Jesus to stay there, most likely.  They could not get their friend through the crowd, so they went to the roof and began tearing away the dried clay, wood, and what ever other particles there was until there was a hole large enough to lower a man on a “bed”.  What friendship.  What devotion.  What a faith.

Jesus makes a statement which caused some discontent in the thoughts of some who were present for this great gathering.  “Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.”  These “scribes” of the law accused Jesus of blasphemy.  “Blasphemy” = “irreverence toward something considered sacred’  MIRRIAM/WEBSTER DICTIONARY.  For Jesus these Scribes were thinking of Jesus taking on the role of God, and that was blasphemy.   To the religious leader of Jesus’s day “Only God can forgive sin”, and that is absolutely correct.  By this statement Jesus was declaring to these “leaders” that He was God.  In order to prove He had the power, privilege, and authority to forgive sin He healed the man who was let down through the roof and ceiling.

We have no idea how long this man had been sick and unable to walk.  It really does not matter though, because Jesus healed him and he got up, took his bedroll and went home.  This event is in all three of the synoptic gospels.  It is very similar in Matthew, Mark, and Luke.  Matthew reckons the statement of the “Scribes” as “evil”.  Jesus said, “Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?” (Matthew 9:4), after they were thinking Jesus being blasphemous.  Luke’s version is, “What reason ye in your hearts?”.

βλασφημία  blasphēmia
blas-fay-me’-ah

From G989; vilification (especially against God): – blasphemy, evil speaking, railing.

How they could accuse Jesus of blasphemy is beyond understanding.  What He did He did in God’s name,  He did for God’s glory – the crowd glorified God; and the man got up and went home.  Because of the faith of these friends God is glorified and their friend is up walking, glorifying God as well as the throng of people who witnessed it.

In a world filled with turmoil it is great to know that we can still go to the One who can take care or our every need.  Notice that “Need” not our every want.  Go To The One Who Can.  His name is Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

All Wise Savior

“To God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.” Jude 25 (NKJV).

In this closing statement by Jude he clearly declares the deity of the One we call Savior. “To God our Savior”. Anyone, person or religious organization who would deny the deity of Jesus Christ; or decrees deity to all who could or would achieve the “christ-spirit” or whatever they would call it; denies the very heart of Christ Jesus; therefore they do not know Him. They are in fact worshipping a different “Jesus”; a demon.

The Jesus whom Jude, Peter, James, John; and Matthew, Mark and Luke write of is Jesus Christ the Son of the living God, who is God made flesh, and “dwelt among us”. He alone is the One who died for the sins of the whole world, was buried in a dead human body; and rose victoriously over sin, death and hell in a glorified human body. If you don’t know the Jesus who died as the incarnate God, was buried as the incarnate God, and rose again as the bodily form of God, then you know not my Jesus.

Jude gives Jesus as the One “who alone is wise”. We can read the eighth and ninth chapters of Proverbs, and you see the Personification of wisdom, and that Person is none other than Jesus the Christ. Solomon is often given credit as being “the wisest man who ever lived”, but then, there is Jesus; the One who gave Him His wisdom. Jesus was wise to follow the guidance and direction of His heavenly Father. He desired to always do those things which pleased His Father, even to the death on the cross.

The glory of Jesus is in the fact that He did the Father’s will. We have all sinned and fell short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Jesus came, as like sinful men, yet without sin, and Himself was the glory of God on earth. He fulfilled the task which the first Adam failed to fulfill. As followers of Jesus Christ, and by imputation – the reckoning of God – we fulfill the glory of God. When we see Jesus we will see Him in all His glory and majesty. A couple of things we have which are symbols of majesty on earth are the eagle in the sky, and the lion. These pale in comparison to the majesty of Jesus.

With Jesus is all power, and He rules in the hearts of rulers, and will ultimately have His way in this world. One day the Lord Jesus will return to this earth, will overthrow the kingdoms of this world, and its rulers, and He Himself will rule, and sin will no more have rule and dominion in the hearts and minds of men or women. These qualities which Jude ascribes to Jesus are given to Him also by the angels, and the saints in heaven according to Revelation 4:10, 11; 5:12-14.

Give glory to the Lord Jesus Christ and the Father by believing in Jesus, and the work He has done on the cross, becoming sin for us, receiving the wrath of God that was ours, taking our sins away in His burial, then, rising victoriously over it all. Proving once and for all that He is all that He said He is. Proving that there is life after death, and that eternal life is found solely through the atoning work of Jesus Christ.

“To God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.”

-Tim A. Blankenship

Jesus, God-Man, Servant

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

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

“And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.” Revelation 4:7 (KJV)

Study of Mark 1:1-20:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

Just A Thought 04/16/09

Jesus, And The NRA

There is quite a bit of talk about firearms and whether we should regulate them, or even ban them.  I got to thinking about how would Jesus respond to the idea of firearms, and it came to mind that the weapon of Jesus’s day was the sword.

At one point in the ministry of Jesus He gave commandment for His disciples to get a sword;

” Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.” Luke 22:36 (KJV)

We have Christian and non-Christian alike arguing against having handguns, or arguing for having them.  In the United States of America it is the right of every American; except for former prison inmates; to keep and bear arms.  The Second amendment of the USA states:

Second Amendment –

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

People die in the USA every day probably by some kind of gun shot accident, intentional murder, or manslaughter; and many who see these things think the answer is taking away our right to “keep and bear arms”. 

I was reading another blog the other day, by a brother in Christ who was proposing further gun restrictions due to murders, street battles and such.  He quoted the old adage, “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people”.  Only he added his addendum on it by saying “Guns kill people”, or something like that.

Murders and hatred come from the heart.  Jesus told us that.  If you take away guns there will still be murders.  There were people murdered in Jesus’s day by the  sword, by stones and stoning.  Maybe we should ban kitchen knives, and stones.

The answer is changing the hearts of men.  Jesus said,

“But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:  These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.” Matthew 15:18-20 (KJV)

I still don’t know that Jesus would be an advocate of the NRA [National Rifle Association] the guard and protector of the Second Amendment of the USA; but I do know that He would advocate us presenting the Gospel of  His death, burial and resurrection; because there is the power to change hearts and lives.

Jesus also said,

“Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” Matthew 26:52 (KJV)

-Tim A. Blankenship

G. Campbell Morgan – Golgotha

The following are excerpts from his sermon “The Darkness of Golgotha” which I used in a message a few years ago, in a message I titled “The Darkness of the Cross”; dealing with those three hours Jesus and the world spent in darkness during the crucifixion.  Matthew 27:45-46; Mark 15:33-34;  Luke 23:44-46

“From the very beginning of the shining of that Light, focused in history by the Incarnation, the one supreme purpose of the enemy was to….put it out. And in these three hours of darkness we are brought face to face with the time when all the force of evil was brought to bear on the soul of the Son of God, and all the unutterable intent and purpose of evil wrapped Him about in darkness that is beyond our comprehension.” .

“…He died, not of a broken heart, not of human brutality, not of murder by human hands; but by His own volition He yielded up the Ghost, and His spirit, commended to God passed to God. The death that saves was not that physical dissolution, but the infinite spiritual mystery of the three hours and the darkness, which being passed, He Himself did say, ‘It is finished’”.

“That does not answer the inquiry as to what happened. I have no answer for that. Only this I know, that in that hour of darkness He passed into the place of the ultimate wrestling of evil in actual experience. There is light as I hear the final word, ‘Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit’ (Luke 23:46), for the word is a word which declares that whatever the transaction was, it was accomplished; that whatever the dying indicated, it was done.”

“Someone may say to me, ‘Cannot God forgive out of pure love?’ I shall answer, ‘If He can, I cannot.’ If He could forgive me for the wrongs of which I am conscious, and that have left behind them their stain and pollution – If He could forgive my sins by simply saying, ‘Never mind them’, then I cannot so forgive myself. My conscience cries for a cleansing that is more than a sentiment of pity. Somehow, somewhere, in order that I may have forgiveness, there must be tragedy, something mightier than devilish sin.”

“I do not know what happened in the darkness, but this I know, that as I have come to the cross and received the suggestions of the material unveiling, I have found my heart, my spirit, my life brought into a realm of healing spices, to the consciousness of the forgiveness of sins. And there is no other gospel of forgiveness.”

These excerpts are taken from a sermon preached by G. Campbell Morgan, titled THE DARKNESS OF GOLGOTHA.

Have a great Resurrection Sunday.  Remember as Christians we really celebrate His Resurrection every week of the year.

T.A.

The Cause Worth Fighting For

1 Samuel 17:29

There are times we need to heed the wise advice of who ever coined the phrase “Choose your fights”, or maybe you have never heard the phrase before.  That is okay.  The advice is good to heed when it comes to family, friends and neighbors.  You might include in that the people you work with in case some don’t understand the neighbor part.

There are times we must fight when no one else will, and this case in David’s life is a great example.  His brother was willing to start a quarrel with David, but unwilling to face Goliath.

What is there that is worth fighting for; even if it could mean our death?

OUTLINE from 1 Samuel 17:29 –

I.  THERE IS A CAUSE WHEN THE PEOPLE OF GOD ARE IN FEAR (vv. 11, 24).
II.  THERE IS A CAUSE WHEN THERE IS NO FEAR IN THE ENEMY CAMP (vv. 3-10).
III.  THERE IS A CAUSE WHEN THE ONE WITH NO FEAR IS CHARGED WITH PRIDE (v. 28).
IV.  THERE IS A CAUSE WHEN THE NAME OF GOD, AND HIS ARMY IS DEFIED (v. 10).

THERE IS A CAUSE WHEN THE PEOPLE OF GOD ARE IN FEAR (vv. 11, 24).  I would imagine that all of us have been intimidated by some one or some thing at some time of other.  Intimidation is fear.  King Saul and his troops were in fear of this behemoth of a man, the soldier of the Philistines who challenged them to send out their best man, and end the battle.

Saul was a king who had allowed pride, and his own personal accomplishments to get between himself and God, and fear was a side product of this.  The Lord Jesus has said,

“And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28 (KJV)

Saul seems to have been more concerned with losing the battle than that the name of God was defied.  Compare the heart of the king with young David, and you see quite the contrast.  David had the heart like what our Lord spoke, believing God would deliver;

“Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:32 (KJV)

The fear in the troops of God was evident for the young David who had a heart for God.

David was angry by the man who defied the armies of God; defying God.  When God’s people see people defying our God; it should cause us to rise up and confront the enemy of God.

Christian, let us maintain our right fellowship with God.  Let us always give Him the glory for any accomplishments.  Let us never fear the flesh of man, but always fear our God, knowing that it is He who raises up kings, and prime ministers,  presidents, and princes.  Christian, always walk in the fear of God and you will fear nothing else.  Paul the apostle has written by the Spirit of God,

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV)

THERE IS A CAUSE WHEN THERE IS NO FEAR IN THE ENEMY CAMP (vv. 3-10).  The words of Goliath continued haunting the host of Israel day after day after day, and no one is doing anything, except shaking in their sandals.  It is a good sign that the people of God are not living by the commandments of God and have fallen away from Him.

It is quite evident by Goliath’s challenge that the Philistines are not shaking in their sandals.  The giant is boastful, arrogant, confident that he can win against any “poor soldier” of Israel.  They have forgotten the power of one man who is right with God.

Saul’s sins are many, but there are two which bear remembering.  The first is his impatience in waiting for Samuel to come and offer sacrifice; so he offers it himself (1 Samuel 13).  The second sin is one of disobedience.  In chapter 15 the LORD sent Samuel to command Saul to destroy the Amalekites, and to leave none living; and to kill all the animals in their possession; to take nothing.  Saul saved many alive, saved some of the animals, and saved king Agag alive; in disobedience to God.  Some of today’s people might call Saul a “Real humanitarian”; however the issue was a commandment of God, he disobeyed, and the issue is obedience, godliness, and righteousness and Saul was none of them.

Due to the sin of Israel, the king and the troops they now live in fear.  Some fear with over coming faith in God can be a powerful thing.  When there is no faith in God, however, it [fear] is crippling.  Such was the case with Saul.  Now because of this there was no fear in the Philistine camp.

Could it be, that the reason there is no fear of God in the enemy camp today [2009] is due to the disobedience of many of God’s people?  The love, power, grace and mercy of God is not seen in our lives.

The cause for the Christian today is to put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:10), and stand upon the teachings, the death, burial, bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the promise of His imminent return for His bride.  To be honest, forthright, just, faithful (first to God, and to one another), loving, generous, kind, having self-control, being filled with joy, peace, and patience (Galations 5:22-23).

When Christians are walking with God the world will respect us, and they will fear YHWH.

THERE IS A CAUSE WHEN THE ONE WITH NO FEAR IS CHARGED WITH PRIDE (v. 28).  You could say that Eliab, David’s brother, was accusing him of “grandstanding”.  That sounds like many who have accused men of God in past generations of Christianity, and not so distant days of “grandstanding”.  It could be called, “Making a spectacle of one’s self”, or using an opportunity to call attention to one’s self as the answer to the problem at hand;  just for selfish cause.

David’s heart went immediately to God when he saw this treacherous event from the Philistines.  He saw a cause in this and he, though just a youth, was willing to give his life in God’s hands and go and conquer this mocker of God.  David did not say, “I think I can conquer this giant”,  he said,

“The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine.” (v. 37).

There is no question in the mind of David.  God will give him the victory, and he is going to give God the glory.

THERE IS A CAUSE WHEN THE NAME OF GOD, AND HIS ARMY IS DEFIED (v. 10).  This thought is tied very closely with the second thought.  When there is no fear in the heart of the enemy of God, and His people they will defy the name of God, and His people.

To defy is to belittle, mock, to make light of, to accuse of cowardice, or impotence in battle.  John Gill in his commentary wrote;

“1Sa 17:10 – And the Philistine said, I defy the armies of Israel this day,…. Or “reproach” them; that is, should they not accept his challenge, and send down a man to fight with them, he should then upbraid them with cowardice; and now he disdained them, as if there was not a man among them that dared to encounter with him:

On verse 26 Gill writes;

“for who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God? there were two things which provoked David, and raised indignation in him against this man; the one was, the character of the person that reproached, a Philistine, an uncircumcised person, a profane man, that had no true religion in him, an alien from the commonwealth of Israel, and a stranger to the covenants of promise; and the other was the persons whom he reproached, the armies of the living God, of the King of kings, and Lord of lords; and which in effect was reproaching the Lord himself, and which David, filled with zeal for God, and for his people, could not bear; and the consideration of these things animated him to engage with him, not doubting of success.”

Back to the thought of fear.  It cripples, it keeps God’s people from the power which God has given us through the seal of the Spirit of God (Ephesians 1:13-14).  We begin to fear the shadows of life when we are not walking with God.  We fear physical assaults, we fear every turn of our lives, we fear that our friends are whispering about us behind our backs, plotting to ruin or hurt us in some way, we fear financial ruin, we even begin questioning our salvation, the love of God, and the love others have for us.

When we, like David, are walking in the Spirit, walking with God, then we fear nothing but God Himself.

When God and His army is defied, that should cause His people to rise up, and be brave, bold and beautiful in our Lord.  We are living in a day of darkness.  It is not the time for fear, but faith in God through His Son Jesus Christ.  Jesus’s words, “Let not your heart be troubled…” (John 14:1) were words of assurance, peace and encouragement.  We must live, love, and fight in those words.  When others try to tear you down, the body of Christ down, your church down;  let us stand strong in God; in His Word, in and through the power of His Spirit.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Our Love For Jehovah

OUTLINE for Deuteronomy 5:6-21;

I.  LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART (vv. 6-7).
II.  LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR SOUL (vv. 8-10).
III.  LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR MIND (v. 11).
IV.  LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH (vv. 12-15)

LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART (vv. 6-7).  God [YHWH or YaHWeH] is the One and only One who delivered Israel from Egypt.  Delivered from the house of bondage He calls His delivered people to trust only in Him.

To LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART is to love only Him.  When a man is  in love with a woman, he grows more in love with her with each passing day.  The same is true with knowing and loving God.  In the sixth chapter of Deuteronomy we are told, “And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart…” (v. 5); and in Matthew, Mark and Luke Jesus is quoted saying the same thing (Matthew 22:37;  Mark 12:30;  Luke 10:27).

When God speaks here He is not authorizing us to put Him at the top of the list of gods to worship.  His heart’s command is to worship Him alone, and there is no other.  Would a man tell his wife “As long as you have me at the top of the list, you may see all the other men you want”?  No man in his right mind, and with any moral character would say that.

The heart is the seat of who we are.  The heart of the one who worships God alone will have his/her heart filled with God.

LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR SOUL (vv. 8-10).  Mankind is the only one of God’s creation which is made in His image and after His likeness.  We are told that when God had made Adam, “…and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Genesis 2:7 (KJV).

When we LOVE GOD WITH ALL OUR SOUL we are loving Him from who we really are.  He breathed into our nostrils the breath of life, and that is not said of any other creature of creation, but mankind.

When we worship and love gods of our own making we denigrate ourselves.  Even when we worship self through selfishness, atheism, agnosticism, or in science, technology, or any other means of self worth garbage; we do not lower God we lower ourselves.

It is certain, at least in my mind, that everything which God has made obeys the ordinances and laws of God set down for each of them with the exception of one; and that one is man.  The one made in His image has sinned, rebelled, and seeks other things as their god.  The worship of other gods is demon worship;

“What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils. Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?” (1 Corinthians 10:19-22).

Man is the only part of God’s creation of which God has said is made in His image and after His likeness. Remember, everytime you look at another human being you are looking at the image of God. Though this image is darkened by sin; there is light for thier soul. To murder the unborn in the womb is to murder the image of God. To curse another human being is to curse the image of God. To lie about another is to lie about the image of God.

The greatest, purest, and clearest Image of God was the One who walked on earth as God’s Son.  His name is Jesus.  He said, “If you have seen Me,  you have seen the Father” (John 14:9).

LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR MIND (v. 11).  It is certain, at least to me, that many people of our society need a renewed mind. I know that Jesus also said that, “…From the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh…” (Matthew 12:34; Luke 6:45), but is it not the mind that gives the mouth the ability to speak. And, we do often “Speak our mind”. We say things like, “…I will give them a piece of my mind…”, and usually when we cannot afford to give them any.

God’s name is often used, even by professing Christians who use His name without thought. It has been said that the Hebrew scribes, when writing the Scriptures would change “pens” to write the name of God. It was so special that the name of God is not even clearly revealed in the original languages. In the Hebrew language all we know of the name God is YHWH. That name has been transliterated to Jehovah or YaHWeH. The best name we have for God is J-E-S-U-S. And, how often we hear His name used vainly.

The heart that is abundant with the things of God and Jesus His Son will speak from that abundance. An abundant heart will have a clear, thinking mind. The abundant heart will speak things which will glorify the Father and the whole God-head. When your heart and soul are filled with God, are you going to speak vainly of God? No way.

There are those who use God’s name in vain by cursing and swearing. What about those who speak God’s name, seemingly in a reverent manner on Sunday at church, but the rest of the week live like the world in the way they speak? It seems to me to be the height of hypocrisy. Not just a hypocritical act but the act of a Hypocrite.

There is nothing that turns off a someone away from God quicker than someone who professes Christianity on Sunday, but imbibes in the world the rest of the week. This is a taking of God’s name in vain as well. God help us to guard our minds, by always speaking reverently of God. “He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name.” (Psalm 111:9).

What about those who do all the churchy, traditional things, but overlook doing right toward their neighbor?

“Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:” (Isaiah 29:13).

“This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matthew 15:8-9).

“And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like:He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.” (Luke 6:46-48).

LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH (vv. 12-15).  This is the fourth and final commandment having to do with our relationship with God. It is important to have this relationship. We are born into this world with that relationship in deadness. There is no spiritual heart for God. The law is pure evidence that this is so. There is no human being who has obeyed the law of God completely, except the Son of God Himself – Jesus Christ.

In the first place the Sabbath was initiated by God after the sixth day of creation when His work was finished.

“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.” (Genesis 2:1-3).

In creation God established a work cycle for mankind. Contrary to some beliefs work is not a part of the curse. Laziness is a sin and is a part of the curse. God made it where every hard working person would have a day of rest and worship. It is still necessary to have a day to rest and to worship the Lord our God. It is a shame on our society in which people work seven days a week and never give God a thought. The only god some people worship is the “Greenback” which can do absolutely nothing for peace or joy.

For Israel it was a day for renewing their strength after six days of laboring, and for worshipping God. The Christian is not bound by this commandment. We find our strength and rest in Him. He is in fact our rest and strength. That does not mean that we are to forsake the day of worship. It does mean that our worship is to be everyday, and when we join with our brothers and sisters on Sundays to lift up the name of our Lord and Savior, and God.

The Christian and the Sabbath is shown us in Hebrews 4:1-11. There we are told,

“Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief…”.

Because Jesus fulfilled this and all the law by His complete and perfect obedience to God, His Father, we are privileged and honored to join together on the first day of the week to do so, “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.” (Acts 20:7). “One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.” (Romans 14:5-6). The reason we worship on Sunday is because of the fulfillment and completion of the law in Christ Jesus and His resurrection on Sunday morning. The Christian’s rest is in Jesus Christ, “The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.” (Mark 2:27-28). Jesus said this before He died and was buried and rose again. That means it was so in the beginning as well.

Our strength is God’s.  He gives every breath we breath.  He gives every beat of our heart.  He gives us every step we take.  Our sole allegiance ought to be to Him and to Him alone.

Loving God We Love Our Neighbor

OUTLINE vv. 16-21

I.  LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR BEGINS AT HOME (v. 16).
II.  LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR MEANS LOVING AND RESPECTING HUMAN LIFE (v. 17).
III.  LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR MEANS CHERISHING THE INSTITUTION OF MARRIAGE (v. 18).
IV.  LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR RESPECTS PRIVATE OWNERSHIP (v. 19).
V.  LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR WE BEAR WITNESS OF THE TRUTH (v. 20).
VI.  LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR WE DESIRE THEM TO BE BLESSED (v. 21).

LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR BEGINS AT HOME (v. 16).  Without our mothers and fathers we would not be present in the world.  That should be a good thing for us.  It is a sad thing that many a child grows up never knowing their dad, and sometimes their mom.  One of the most dreadful things is that some of those who do grow up with both parents is the disrespect many have toward them.

Usually, when a child does not honor and respect their parents, they have less respect, if any respect, for law enforcement, and for any in places of authority; thus getting themselves into a multitude of troubles.  God intended children to have their parents.  Mom’s and Dad’s; you are not ordained by God to be a friend to your child; you are called, ordained to be a parent, giving them guidance, correction, love, care, providing for them as they are growing and learning.  Friendship with your son(s) or daughter(s) will come when they are grown, then, you will have a friendship which you will cherish.

This is the only commandment of the ten with a promise.  One reason for the Babylonian exile was Israel’s disrespect for parents;

“In thee have they set light by father and mother: in the midst of thee have they dealt by oppression with the stranger: in thee have they vexed the fatherless and the widow”. (Ezekiel 22:7);

“Behold, therefore I have smitten mine hand at thy dishonest gain which thou hast made, and at thy blood which hath been in the midst of thee. Can thine heart endure, or can thine hands be strong, in the days that I shall deal with thee? I the LORD have spoken it, and will do it. And I will scatter thee among the heathen, and disperse thee in the countries, and will consume thy filthiness out of thee. And thou shalt take thine inheritance in thyself in the sight of the heathen, and thou shalt know that I am the LORD.” (Ezekiel 22:13-16).

Could it be that many of the problems of the society within the United States is much related to the disrespect of children toward parents, many authority figures, and God Himself?  That may have started with adults having a disrespect for human life.  Which would have began with a turning away from God.

LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR MEANS LOVING AND RESPECTING HUMAN LIFE (v. 17).  This sixth commandment is given to protect life, human life.  We are to cherish, and respect all human life.  The human baby in the womb of his/her mother, or even the embryo in the glass dish, or frozen in storage.  The MIRRIAM/WEBSTER Pocket Dictionary defines “embryo: a living being in the earliest stages of development–”,  and we have “Scientist” who want to cut up and destroy human embryoes for the purpose of “life saving” stem cell research.  These are not “Scientist”; they are butchers.

Let me get one thing straight.  This commandment is a commandment against cold-blooded murder.  Willful, pre-meditated, planned taking of a human life.  It is not commandment against protecting one’s own life.  It is not commandment against the execution of a murderer.  The execution of a murderer is surely the surest form of respect for human life.  Capital punishment of the murderer shows all that every human being is equal before God.  When we allow a convicted murderer to live; we count her/his life more precious than the one they killed.  When we put to death the one who killed maliciously; we  show not only respect for human life, but also show the respect that is due God’s commandments.

Here is some Scripture to reconcile the sixth commandment with capital punishment –

“And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’ brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.” (Gen. 9:5-6).

“And he that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death.” (EX. 21:15).

“And if men strive together, and one smite another with a stone, or with his fist, and he die not, but keepeth his bed: If he rise again, and walk abroad upon his staff, then shall he that smote him be quit: only he shall pay for the loss of his time, and shall cause him to be thoroughly healed.” (EX. 21:18-19).

Then a New Testament passage,

” Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.” (Romans 13:1-7).

All human life is precious.  Our neighbor’s life and all in his/her household are precious in the sight of our Lord.

LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR MEANS CHERISHING THE INSTITUTION OF MARRIAGE (v. 18).  This commandment, the seventh, is a decree of respect and honor for the marriage of every man and woman.  Marriage is not a right it is an institution of God.  It is decreed by God that “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24), and this definitely means a man and a woman.

The First Institution God Ordained. This first institution is MARRIAGE. This blessed institution is falling by the wayside in our modern society. Our government penalizes married couples by charging them more  taxes in some cases. Elderly couples can receive more Social Security benefits by living together without marrying. This, in essence, is government, our government of the United States; rewarding immoral behavior.

Young couples are living together more and more without marriage. They want to “Test drive” the relationship, similar to test driving a car they want to purchase. This is a relationship not a piece of property. If you test drive a car and buy it there will come a day in a few years, at the most, where you will get rid of that car. If you “Test drive” that relationship, that is what most likely will happen to the relationship too. Why? Because there is need for commitment, and where there is no commitment, there is no power or permanance to the relationship. Either party in the relationship can leave at any time. It is with sadness that I must admit, there are many who enter marriage with this attitude as well. If you are not prepared to spend a lifetime with someone do not marry, but do not make a sham of marriage by living in rebellion to God’s law by cohabitating. There is little to no respect for the institution for marriage, and it seems due to the fact of no respect for God and that which is holy, righteous and good.

Marriage is more than, “Just a sheet of paper…”. It is in fact the bringing together of two – one man and one woman – before God and they two become “One flesh” (Gen. 2:24; Eph. 5:31). It is in fact a life-time commitment with binding vows that promise one another, and God, that whether “…rich or poor, in sickness or in health, loving no other, until death do we part.” That is more than a sheet of paper; it is a “binding contract” with God, and has serious repercussions if the bond is broken any way other than by death.

THERE IS FORGIVENESS (John 8:1-11). In the Bible the penalty for adultery is death. The Scripture given previously to the last sentence shows this was what was in the heart and mind of this woman’s accusers. Quick to pick up the stones of accusation, slow to mercy, slow to forgiveness. With this woman caught in the act of adultery, Jesus gives her forgiveness.

Notice Jesus’s words, “…Go, and sin no more”. It was not just a blanket forgiveness without responsibility. She had been forgiven, and now her life would reflect the cleansing and forgiveness she had received. Muse on these questions for awhile. Where was the man who was caught in the act with her? What did Jesus write in the dirt on the ground? Why didn’t they throw the stones?

The only one who could have stoned her forgave her instead. THERE IS FORGIVENESS FOR THE SIN OF ADULTERY. There is forgiveness for all sin, when you put your faith in Jesus Christ.

LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR RESPECTS PRIVATE OWNERSHIP (v. 19).  For some reason there are many  who think society owes them something so they take what they want, when they want it, and often at great cost to someone else.  Some people who work in some business think they have a right to take a little something which belongs to their boss.  It could be “just a box of paper clips”, or only showing one’s self busy when the boss is watching.  It is theft.  It is stealing.

* Of the first seven commandments; death is the penalty for the violation.
* This eighth commandment does not call for the death penalty – it calls, rather for restitution (Ex. 22:1; Luke 19:5-10).
* There is one exception, that is if they “Kidnap” – steal a human being (Ex. 21:16). This called for the death penalty.

If we love God and one another we will not desire what another has, and take and steal. We will practice what Paul taught the Ephesians, rather, “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth” (Eph. 4:28). There will be no need for gambling, stealing from those who are more needy – doing it legally. When one loves their neighbor there is also a love for God and for being a faithful steward of God’s resources He has put in our trust. Also there will be the need to see that all debts are paid in full, especially the debt to our neighbors that could be the redemption of their souls.

LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR WE BEAR WITNESS OF THE TRUTH (v. 20).  This commandment is a decree against lying against your neighbor.  Bearing false witness to condemn, to elevate one’s self, to unjustly bolster one’s self image over another, or to bring condemnation before a court.

The Truth is precious, and we should be truthful with our neighbors, with our families, and most of all with God.  When we love God and our neighbors the truth will be precious to us.

The law of God says, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” What exactly does this involve. Is it for the individual who is witnessing in court? Yes! Is it for the individual who is witnessing to a neighbor? Yes! You are witnessing as you share a word of gossip. You are witnessing as you defame the character of someone you do not care for. Is this a good witness? No! This is as true in politics. When one candidate charges the other with things they have heard, but are not proven. When one charges the other with something they know is not true.

J. Vernon McGee writes,

“Did you know that there are more words for breaking this commandment than all the other commandments put together?….some of them – lying, mendacity, prevarication, slander, backbiting, defamation, detraction, belittling, censoriousness, gossip, depreciation, derogation, rumor, vilification, aspersion, forgery, mudslinging, falsehood, guile, hypocrisy, insinuation, innuendo, railing, whispering, talebearing, libel, fib, fable, equivocation, disparagement, fabrication, aberation, deceit, trump up, forswear.” (From LOVE, LIBERATION, & THE LAW by J. Vernon McGee pg. 150).

That is a terribly long list of bad words, which are words in action to destroy another.  Should we not consider that when we are guilty of that it is almost certain that it will not be long and they will come back to get us.

Just a few Scriptures will bear out for us the lies destination.

“A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape.” Prov 19:5 (KJV).

“A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall perish.” Prov 19:9 (KJV)

“Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off: him that hath an high look and a proud heart will not I suffer.” Psalms 101:5 (KJV)

Now look in the New Testament,

“And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life” Rev 21:27 (KJV)

“For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.” Rev 22:15 (KJV)

“But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” Matt 12:36 (KJV)

LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR WE DESIRE THEM TO BE BLESSED (v. 21).  When we have real desire for others [our neighbors] to be blessed we will not have the audacity to desire, lust for, covet the property which belongs to them; or the persons which are in their love and care.

Though this commandment is the final of the ten, it could be the KEY COMMANDMENT.  Think about this; if we disobey this commandment we can very easily and are breaking every one of the other nine.

James tells us, “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” James 2:10 (KJV). Get that, “Guilty of all”. Now that can be said of all the others too, but here, I hope you can see why it is important to realize that covetousness is a seed of evil, that breeds evil, and leads to the decay of the whole law in the hearts of people.

According to the book of Colossians it is Idolatry to covet. “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:” Col 3:5 (KJV). Even the book of Ephesians backs this up by saying, “For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” Eph 5:5 (KJV). Note that Paul has written there, “Nor covetous man, who is an idolater…” O, the sad thing is there are many, many, too many people who live for the grasping and holding on of things, or people, or positions, or power; do I need to go on. I think you get the point.

The following verses are the words of Jesus:

”Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” Luke 12:15 (KJV).

Again Jesus says,

“Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?  (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek: ) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.  Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” Matt 6:31-34 (KJV).

Now if this is not a word for those who covet things and such, I am mistaken about the whole issue,

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matt 6:21 (KJV).

If your heart is on the things of the world, that is your treasure. However, if your heart is on the Lord and His righteousness and glory, that is your treasure. If you are going to covet; covet the godly things, that will glorify the Savior.

When our treasure is our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, then we have these laws written in our hearts, and our desire is to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and love our neighbor as we love ourselves.  No one I know of wants any of these negative acts conducted against them.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Celebrate The LORD

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

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

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

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

The portraits follow of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 Corinthians 15:20, 23 (KJV)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Isaiah 11:1-16

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

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

“Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” Malachi 4:4-6 (KJV)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Of His Rest and Reunion we read:

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

Let’s Celebrate Jesus.

-Tim A. Blankenship

A Sign From Heaven

There are signs which give direction as we drive our cars.  There are signs which advertise a product, service, or a political candidate, etc.  I know that is not the type sign the Scriptures speak of, or that Jesus, and/or the religious leaders of His day were speaking of.

The Pharisees and Sadducees were testing Jesus, and they were blind to who Jesus was.  He whom the Scriptures spoke of was standing in their midst and they missed the greatest sign of all times.  Why should, or why would another be given them?

In the account of Matthew we read,

“The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven. He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times? A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.” Matthew 16:1-4 (KJV)

It is so sad that the ones who were supposed to be guardians of the law of God, and were supposed be so familiar with it could have the Sign standing, ministering in their day, preaching the Word, healing the sick, making the lame to walk, casting out demons, raising the dead; and they missed it completely.  The ones who could discern the weather patterns, couldn’t discern “the signs of the times”.

What benefit is there in knowing weather patterns, or the weather for the day?  Does it serve any eternal purpose?  I can understand needing to know for those who spend their time working in the outdoors, but does it really make a difference in the way we live life?  Probably, but for these religious leaders, scholars, they had a responsibility to the people to discern the times, more than the weather.

No sign would be given them.  One sign, which I don’t think they really understood, Jesus said they would receive.  That sign would be the sign of the prophet Jonah.

The sign of the prophet Jonah was three days and nights in the belly of the whale (Matthew 12:39-41), and in Luke 11 Jesus said,

“This is an evil generation: they seek a sign; and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet. For as Jonas was a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation.” Luke 11:29-30 (KJV)

Thus, Jesus was a sign to His generation, but many rejected Him, even after He was raised to life from the grave.

We today have a risen Lord and Savior who ever lives and is our intercessor before our Father.  We have the written, Holy Spirit inspired, God breathed Scriptures which confirm the truth and evidence of our God and Savior Jesus Christ, His power, wisdom, holiness, righteousness, glory, and worth.  He is worthy of our worship, our praise, and devotion.

Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God was crucified, buried, and raised bodily from the grave that He might be our eternal God and Savior.  That is all the sign I need.  Thank you Jesus.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Rest Of His Ministry

Luke 21:34-36; 4:18-19

Purpose –  To proclaim the purpose of the second coming of Jesus, why Jesus stopped with, “to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord…”.

In this message I want us to remember the words of Jesus when He appeared in the synagogue, read from Isaiah 61:1 & 2, but stopped short from finishing the text.  Where there were probably many Jewish people expecting a king to come, deliver them from Rome, and set them free; they were not expecting a healer, Lord and Savior.

The proclamation of Isaiah states;

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.” Isaiah 61:1-3 (KJV)

You can see by these verses that Jesus never read the whole statement.  Was there an error in His reading by stopping short?  He stopped at the phrase, “To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” and never continued with, and the day of vengeance of our God…” and the following words of  promise.  So what do we do with this seeming conflict?  Realize there is no conflict, but rather a prophetic word of urgency.

It is as though Jesus was saying, “I am here now to do these things.  When I come again the other, that not yet done, will be done.”

THE MINISTRY OF JESUS AT HIS FIRST COMING (Luke 4:18-19).  We are told by Scripture that Jesus came to do the will of God.  He said, “Know you not that I must be about My Father’s business”  and He also said, “I am come to seek and to save the lost.”  His purpose was not to heal the sick, raise the dead; that was His ministry, but not His purpose for becoming man.

He did not come to be served, but to serve, He said, “and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).  We are told that near the end of His ministry on earth He had His “face was as though He would go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51).  As you read the gospels Jesus spent His life doing what would please the Father, and accomplish His will, and glory.

In Jesus’s work and ministry He declared this is the time for salvation, “…The acceptable year of the LORD”.  The apostle Paul wrote, “…now is the day of salvation”(2 Corinthians 6:2).

JESUS WARNS OF A TIME OF SPIRITUAL LAXNESS,  DARKNESS, AND WORRIES OF LIFE (v. 34;  1 Timothy 4:1-4).  Can we as people get caught up in our everyday business, life, life pursuits, ballgames, vacations, etc., and not give a care about our spiritual well being?

YES!  We can.  It is often so easy to get engulfed, overwhelmed and busied by life that spending time with God, living for Him by Biblical living, and sharing the gospel is never on our mind.  There may be more to Jesus’s words than just those things though.  The word “surfeiting” expresses along with the word “overcharged” over doing the food and drink; making gluttons and drunkards of one’s self.  The party atmosphere is not the best atmosphere.  It may be fun, and it may be exciting, but what happens after it is over?  If there is overeating, gluttonous eating, then there may be sickness, pain, misery.  If the over indulgence is with drink, and it is alcoholic then there won’t be a whole lot of difference.

Jesus is warning of spiritual darkness that can creep in silently, and take hold of your life, when you least expect it.  I wonder if the apostle Paul did not have Jesus’s words here in mind when he wrote,

“But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.” 1 Thessalonians 5:4-5 (KJV)

Jesus would not want His followers to be in darkness.  He gives us a warning to stay alert at all times, no matter how good or bad the economy, or our health may be.  Jesus also warned of the times being similar to the time of Noah (Matthew 24:37-39).  People simply going about their daily lives, with thier problems, business, and life in particular, as though everything would go on as it is.

THE WHOLE EARTH ENSNARED; NO ONE LEFT UNTOUCHED BY THIS EVIL (v. 35;  Revelation 3:10; 11:10; 13:8 ).  This verse reminds me of these three verses in the Revelation of our Lord which say, “(Them, They, or All)that dwell upon the earth”, and Jesus is giving all plenty of warning of a time coming on earth where the “whole earth” will be ensnared in unrighteous, debauchery, loose living, drunkenness, and gluttonous acts.

“Because thou hast kept the word of My patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.” Revelation 3:10 (KJV)

“And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.” Revelation 11:10 (KJV)

“And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” Revelation 13:8 (KJV)

Let it be understood that we are all visitors on this earth; meaning by that that we are all only here for a short time.  Some of us have realized that there is another and better place “far away” for which we can go when we are prepared.  We make our home here, see it as only temporary, and live our lives for the One who has sent His Son to redeem us from all our sin.

It seems very real to me, that Jesus is telling all who heard Him speak the words, and all who would read these words in years to come, that only those whose hearts are dwelling on earth, making this a permanent home, are the one’s who will be ensnared.  Trapped by the lies of a deceptive leader who would lead all who follow him to destruction, and eternity in the fire.

BEFORE IT COMES BE SURE YOU ARE COUNTED WORTHY TO ESCAPE THESE THINGS AND STAND BEFORE THE SON OF MAN (v. 36).  Jesus’s words “Watch… and pray always”, and then, “…that ye may be accounted worthy of to escape all these things…” implies what I have said above.  There is a way of escaping the traps of what is coming on this world, and that is that we “May be accounted worthy of escape”.

How is one counted worthy of escape?  Is it with good labors?  Good works? The right ritual worship?  The right baptism?  NO!  It is nothing according to the flesh of men that makes one worthy to stand in the presence of the Son of  Man, and accounted by Him fully worthy.  This is the work of God alone.

The Word of God tells us plainly:

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10 (KJV)

“But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:4-7 (KJV)

No one can be accounted worthy to stand fully righteous and worthy, except by the cross of Jesus Christ; that is His death, His burial and His bodily resurrection from the dead.  He the perfect, sinless, Son of God gave Himself, a sacrifice, that those who would trust in Him might be saved.  Through His sacrifice we are accounted as worthy.  Accounted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass.

The reason for our need to “Watch… and pray” is so that it does not come on us suddenly and we are caught unaware of His taking us out.  This is our means of discerning the times and the seasons of men.  We, as Christians, ought always be looking for the appearing of our Savior, and listening for His shout.

AT THE APPEARING OF JESUS; HIS JUDGMENT; AND FOLLOWING  (Isaiah 61:2-3ff).  When Jesus stood in the synagogue and read from Isaiah 61, and stopped reading at the verse ending with “…the acceptable year of the LORD”, and closed the book He was saying that time had come, the rest would come later.  His first coming was not as the religious leaders had expected, and they refused to accept Jesus because of that they tried to kill Him, then, by throwing Him over a cliff (Luke 4:28-30).

When you continue reading in Isaiah 61 you find;

“To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.” Isaiah 61:1-3 (KJV)

“The day of vengeance of our God”, and Jesus never came in His incarnation to bring the wrath and judgment of God on sin.  He came to be the instrument of receiving the wrath and  judgment of God for sin.  He took the wrath that was ours upon Himself, that mankind might have a path, a bridge, a “narrow way” before the very throne, and the very face of God.

If you will take note of verse 3 above, when He comes again to earth, it will be to comfort those who mourn, giving them “beauty for ashes,… oil of joy for mourning,… garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness…”  His coming again will be to establish the kingdom on earth, and to restore Israel, fulfilling all His promises to them.

Watch and pray that you may be accounted worthy to escape the wrath that is coming upon all who dwell upon the earth.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Scripture, Jesus, And The Christian

Purpose:  As Jesus came to do the Father’s will, fulfilling Scriptures, so too are those who follow Him fulfilling Scripures.

OUTLINE of Luke 4:14-21

I.  JESUS RETURNS TO GALILEE IN THE POWER OF THE SPIRIT  AND TEACHES (v. 14-15).

II.  JESUS IS FAITHFUL TO ATTEND THE PLACE OF WORSHIP (v. 16).

III.  JESUS PARTICIPATED IN KEEPING THE SCRIPTURES AS CENTRAL TO WORSHIP (v. 17).

IV.  JESUS READ THE SCRIPTURES AND APPLIED THEM TO HIMSELF (vv. 18-19).

V.  JESUS THE FULFILLMENT OF SCRIPTURE (vv. 20-21;  Revelation 19:10).

THE CHRISTIAN’S TIME OF TESTING EQUIPS US TO WALK IN THE SPIRIT OF JESUS (vv. 14-15).  Following the baptism of Jesus by John, Jesus was led by the Spirit of God into the wilderness for testing.  Testing is not just to show us, what we have, but to strengthen us for the journey ahead.

The testing which Jesus endured, survived, and defeated the temptations of the enemy were needed by Him, to strengthen Him for the journey which lay ahead; all the way to the cross.  Let’s remember that Luke’s gospel is written concerning the “God-Man” Jesus Christ.  Luke shows the humanity of Jesus more than the other gospel writers.  As Luke emphasizes His humanity he does not degrade, lessen, or violate the Deity of Christ (as written by John); the Royalty of Christ (as written by Matthew), nor the Servanthood of Christ (as written of by Mark).   The four gospels nowhere, and at no place ever contradict one another; they rather complement one another; giving us the fuller story of Jesus Christ.

Jesus stood up in the synagogue to read the portion of Isaiah.  It is noted in Nehemiah that when  the Scriptures were read, “…All the people stood up” (Nehemiah 8:5).  This was done in reverence to God’s Word.  Jesus, and it may be that all who would read Scripture in the synagogue or Temple were to stand.

With the test Jesus passed He was strengthened to face the temptations of the people.  Some wanted Him to be their king, and even came at least once to force Him to be their king (John 6:15).  Surely, this was a temptation for Him; however He would not take a shortcut, nor detour around the destination that was to the cross.

The Christian’s walk in the Spirit of Christ is not one filled with popularity, nor easy shortcuts which can often turn out to be sad mistakes, and even sin.  Christians walking in the Spirit follow the path of the cross.  “Take up the cross and follow Me…” (Mark 8:34, 10:21;  Matthew 16:24;  Luke 9:23; 14:27) Jesus said, and is still calling those who follow Him to die to self, and the world.  There is no walking in the Spirit of Jesus without the cross of the follower.

THE CHRISTIAN’S WALK IN THE SPIRIT OF JESUS WILL BE FAITHFUL TO SUPPORT THE WORSHIP OF THEIR LOCAL CHURCH (v. 16)  “I am part of the invisible church.”  Have you ever heard such a comment or something similar, and usually added to it is this comment; “I am not a part of any church, I attend all churches, as God leads”.  What they mean is that they are “Church hoppers”.  These types of people go from church to church, and more times than not are a source of contempt, and discontent, first in themselves and then to others.

We see Jesus attending synagogue when He was not in Jerusalem to attend the Temple meetings.  He attended the synagogue of His home town of Nazareth.

Becoming a member of a local church; and this is coming from a Baptist point of view, and I believe a Scriptural one; requires first of all that you be born again, having called on the name of Jesus Christ for salvation, and having been baptized by the Spirit into Christ.  Secondly, that you confess your faith to a local church, requesting water baptism showing the baptism of the Spirit which you have already received – baptism being by immersion (that is putting under the water)- testifying of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Scripture knows nothing of an “Invisible church”.  The letters which the apostle Paul wrote were written to local congregations.  For example, Romans was written to the Christians at Rome.  The Corinthian letters were written to Christians in Corinth.  The Thessalonian letters were written to the Christians in Thessalonica.  The Letters to the Seven Churches which were given by Jesus were to local churches.

Why does the Spirit filled Christian need to be in a local congregation.  First of all because Jesus is.  Secondly, for their spiritual well being; encouragement, solidarity, strength, faithfulness, systematic learning, worship, fellowship, ministry, discipleship, and reaching the lost to bring them in.  Third, a local congregation of God’s people bonding together in Christ can more affectively reach the community in which that local church meats.  I am sure there are more.

THE CHRISTIAN’S WALK IN THE SPIRIT OF JESUS WILL INCLUDE DEDICATION TO THE PROMINENCE OF THE WORD OF GOD (v. 17).  In recent years it seems that the priority or prominence within the church has become gaining attendance, rather than placing priority, prominence, and authority to the Word of God.  The Christian who is walking in the Spirit of Jesus Christ wants, desires, for the Word of God to grow in prominence within their hearts and lives.

Where should the Bible/Scripture fit into the local church?  Where should it fit into any church which professes to be Christian?  The Word of God should always be front and center.  By front and center I mean that the Word of God is of the utmost priority and prominence, because it is Scripture which lifts up and glorifies Jesus and the Father.  It is Scripture which works by the Spirit to make alive those who are “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1).  It is Scripture by which a “…young man cleanse[s] his way…” (Psalm 119:9), by which all can cleanse their way.  The Scriptures, quickened by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, is “a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path”  (Psalm 119:105).  In Baptist and some prostestant churches there is some symbolism seen in the way the worship area is designed.  When you enter the “sanctuary” you see the pulpit (as the place where the Word of God is proclaimed) up front, and in the center of the stage or platform, with the organ and piano to the right and left.  Many times the pews or chairs are angled toward the pulpit giving note to the priority of preaching the Scriptures.

Jesus stood showing priority, prominence and respect for reading the Word of God.

Prominence of Scripture must be done more than in a local congregation.  It must be lived out in the hearts and lives of Christians who worship in the local church.  The priority of Scripture must be seen in your life by your devotion to the reading, meditating upon what you have read, hearing what you have read – hearing God in what you have read, then taking it and applying it to your life, giving full priority and prominence to it within your life.

THE CHRISTIAN’S WALK IN THE SPIRIT OF JESUS WILL SHOW FORTH JESUS AND BE A PART IN THE FULFILLING OF SCRIPTURE (vv. 18-21).  As Jesus read the prophecy of Isaiah, He knew this spoke of Himself, and called on those who could hear Him to receive it, and believe it.   Jesus was quoting from Isaiah 61:1-2a, cutting it off before, “And the day of  vengeance of our God…”.

Jesus came to these of whom He gives notice.  To preach good tidings to the poor; the heal the broken hearted;  to proclaim liberty to the captives; opening the prison to those who are bound.  Jesus came the first time to save us, to give us hope; and to assure us that there is a day coming when all evil will be dealt an eternal blow, which was initially dealt with on the cross a few years later.

Jesus’s presence with them in the synagogue, at Nazareth was not by accident, but was a clear declaration that Jesus is the God-Man who would do all these things.  With the commission given us by Jesus we are gifted to go and be a light, the salt, and the living word among those who have not heard.

In our obedience to Jesus Christ we fulfill the Scriptures in our own hearts and in the lives of others.  It would be more correct to say that God fulfills Scripture in our obedience to Jesus and His Word.

As Jesus stood to fulfill the reading of the Scriptures, He then sat down, as though to say, “It will be and is as good as done”.  That day all the answers to mankinds ills had made His appearance.  He still calls for people to follow Him.  The Scriptures tell us that Jesus is setting down at the Father’s right hand (Hebrews 1:3, 13; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2;  1 Peter 3:22).

-Tim A. Blankenship

For Whom Has The Lord Come???

Within the Gospel of Matthew is a story of a Canaanite woman who came to Jesus (Matthew 15:21-28) requesting healing for her sick daughter.  It is a somewhat compelling story, and a story of faith.  The words of our Lord almost seem cruel, but instead are words for bringing out the faith of this Gentile woman.

Thus, in the eyes of the Jews of that day she had at least two strikes against her.  First of all, she was a woman, and it was quite something for Jesus to even be speaking to her; secondly she was a Gentile.  There are many people today who feel as though everything is against them; they could never be saved; they could never be forgiven their sins by God.  There is, however, no one who is outside the forgiveness of our God and Lord.

I once spoke to a man who came up near me, setting on a park bench, in Springfield, MO.,  Nature Center.  The man looked as though he had the weight of the world on his shoulders.  An elderly man, and after speaking with him I found out that he was living alone, his wife had left him, he had fought in the Vietnam war, and felt as though, “God could never forgive me for what I have done”.  I tried to assure him that God could forgive through Jesus Christ, and cleanse him of all his sin.

I told the man of David’s act of murder, of Saul of Tarsus and his rampage against Christians, and that these two men received the forgiveness that can be found only in Jesus Christ.  He went away without Christ.  Oh, how sad.

Matthew tells of this event in Jesus’s ministry, and shows us for whom the Lord has come.  Jesus has said, “Know you not that I have come to do My Father’s business” (Luke 2:49).  Jesus said, “I have come to seek and save that which is lost” (Luke 19:10).  This Gentile woman needed Jesus, and needed His healing touch.

This Canaanite woman’s faith would not relent.  She would not give up.  Then, Jesus testing her faith, told her, “It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.”  Her response was one of faith, and this reference is to the dogs  which were house pets, not the mean and vicious ones which roamed the streets, and valleys.  Jesus was not being mean, but showing much grace as He will to all who will come to Him believing.

The Lord witnessed her faith, and answered her request.  “And her daughter was healed from that very hour”. 

Will your request be from the Lord, “Heal me today”?  We all are sick, and in much need of the healing, and deliverance from the sickness of sin and death.  The only healing available for sin is the blood of Jesus Christ shed on the cross of Calvary.  Call on Him today.  He will not turn you away.

 “Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs. And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.” Matthew 15:21-28 (KJV)

Wouldn’t it be great to enter the New Year of 2009 with a new outlook on life, forgiven and cleansed of all your sin?  Call on the name of Jesus Christ and be saved.

-Tim A. Blankenship

People, And The Incarnation Of Christ

Luke 2:25-38; Matthew 2:1-12, 16-18

PURPOSE –  In looking at the six people/personalities we see in this message the  question should arise, “Which personality do I fit?”, and lead us to a close walk with our personal Lord, Savior, and God.

OUTLINE –

I.  HEROD – AN EXAMPLE OF “ROYALTY” WHO HATED KING JESUS (v. Matthew 2:16-18).

II.  THE WISE MEN [MAGI] – AN EXAMPLE OF THOSE WHO SEEK HIM FROM FAR AWAY (Matthew 2:1-12).

III.  SHEPHERDS – AN EXAMPLE OF THE LOWLY WHO ARE CALLED TO WORSHIP HIM (Luke 2:8-9).

IV.  PRIESTS AND SCRIBES – AN EXAMPLE OF THE RELIGIOUS, INDIFFFERENT CROWD (Matthew 2:4).

V.  ANNA – THOSE FAITHFUL IN PRAYER DESPITE THE TIMES AND TRIBULATIONS THEY EXPERIENCE (Luke 2:36-38).

VI.  SIMEON – THOSE WHO ARE FAITHFUL IN EXPECTATION OF THE LORD’S COMING (Luke 2:25-35).

In looking at this list there are more we could include probably, but some, such as the “Inn keeper” who had no room, we have no details of him.  Joseph and Mary we have already looked at in the last message.  We could also think about the soldiers who murdered all the infant males in Bethlehem at the orders of king Herod.  You can tell by those I have mentioned here that there are more than we often think about.  The six listed above are the ones I want us to consider in this message.

HEROD – AN EXAMPLE OF “ROYALTY” WHO HATED KING JESUS (v. Matthew 2:16-18).  Herod was a jealous king.  One of whom has recorded history of being jealous of his sons and having them slaughtered so he could keep his “throne”.

When he hears from the “Magi” that there is a “King of the Jews” (Matthew 2:2) he calls for an urgent and diligent search where this King would be born.  He calls for the Priests and scribes.  They inform Herod that it is in Bethlehem, quoting Micah 5:2.

Herod asks the “wise men” to let him know when this child is found so that “I may worship Him to” (Matthew 2:8).  In his heart he was still that jealous envious “king” who wanted no one to take his throne.  Herod was actually a puppet king of Rome, and he wanted nothing to do with the worship of a “King of the Jews”  he was the king of the Jews.  His intent was to destroy Him, and it mattered not what the cost.

THE WISE MEN [MAGI] – AN EXAMPLE OF THOSE WHO SEEK HIM FROM FAR AWAY (Matthew 2:1-12).  These men who came, with no number mentioned as to how many there were, were Gentiles from some land away from Israel.  We are not told where they are from.  This is, however, evidence that God is sending His Son to and for the salvation of the whole world.

The following is from the MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE;

“wise men from the East.  The number of wise men is not given.  The traditional notion that there were 3 stems from the number of gifts they brought.  These were not kings, but Magi, magicians or astrologers–possibly Zoroastrian wise men from Persia whose knowledge of Hebrew Scriptures could be traced back to the time of Daniel (cf. Dan. 5:11).”

From THE MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE, note on Matthew 2:1, p. 1394, NKJV.

It almost appears in reading these verses that the “wise men” were the only ones interested in the star.  Not everyone is an star gazer, but God used this “Star” or whatever it was to capture the attention of three Gentile men, and they came and worshipped the King (Matthew 2:11).

Some one has said, “Wise men still seek Him”, and of that it is sure.  Though God may not in our day be using a star to guide men to Himself; He still uses circumstances, at times, and in some cultures He uses dreams that will cause the recipient of the dream to search out a messenger of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  God uses other people that may cause someone in another culture and another religion to search for the Jesus of the Bible.

Some may wonder well, “What do you do with that verse that says, ‘no one seeks for God’? and my answer to that is, They would not had God not been drawing them to Himself.

The “wise men” followed the direction of the Hebrew Scripture and they have been forever remembered by our Lord and God.  Those same Hebrew Scriptures are  in the Christian Bible.

SHEPHERDS – AN EXAMPLE OF THE LOWLY WHO ARE CALLED TO WORSHIP HIM (Luke 2:8-9).  The shepherds of Israel, the lowliest of society were the first to be notified of the birth of Jesus; and they were notified by the angels of heaven.  Oh, what glory, joy and rejoicing they brought to the lowly that night.

Shepherds were told where to find the “Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world” (John 1:29).   He was to be found in the manger where He lay.  Is there any better place to find a new born Lamb than in a manger?

In the world when a king is going to make an appearance the papers, the news stations make it clear and plain that the king is going to come, but invitations to see the king, visit with the king, dine with the king only go to the elite, and politically, and financially powerful ones.  This Kings appearace was revealed to the lowly of society.

In this we see that God cares for the people of all social levels; and I would add that if God tilts the scales in any favor it would probably be toward the lowly.

Are you hurting from financial troubles, loss of your job, illness, major health problems, disease, troubled marriage, divorce, death of a loved one? Then, this message is for you.  More importantly; Jesus is calling you to Himself.

PRIESTS AND SCRIBES – AN EXAMPLE OF THE RELIGIOUS, INDIFFFERENT CROWD (Matthew 2:4).  Here were the people, the men, who would have been the most familiar with the Hebrew Scriptures.  They were the religious ones.  They would have known the Scriptures which foretold the coming of their long awaited Messiah/King.  It just seems that they were unmoved by this request from the Magi.  They seem as though they don’t even care.

There are  many religious leaders who are engulfed in their business of ministry.  They are “Professional” at what they do.  They are always dressed in the proper attire (Please note this is not a slam against dressing decently and proper), speak professionally in their words, have their religion wrapped up in liturgy, lithargic learning that usually has nothing to do with Biblical understanding, but cultural, societal, and ecumenical unity.  While all they time paying no attention to the signs of the times in which we live that loudly proclaim that the Savior is near.

ANNA – THOSE FAITHFUL IN PRAYER DESPITE THE TIMES AND TRIBULATIONS THEY EXPERIENCE (Luke 2:36-38).  Anna was a young woman when she became a widow after being married for only 7 years.  She spent her time in the temple praying.  She had been a widow for 84 years, and had spent day and night in the temple praying.

We are not told why her young husband had died, and it is not necessary for us to know.  What we know is about Anna and her faithfulness to the Lord.  Her prayers must have been somewhat similar to that of Zachariah, which was partly for the coming of a deliverer for the nation of Israel, and they may have been seeking for the whole world as well.

After spending all those years praying for the appearing of this child, this Son of God, she recognizes Him, and gives thanks to God; and “spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.”  (v. 38).

These things surrounding the birth of our Lord shout loudly to all who will hear, and to those who refuse to hear, that Jesus is God’s Christ, God’s Son, and is the only means of salvation in the world.

SIMEON – THOSE WHO ARE FAITHFUL IN EXPECTATION OF THE LORD’S COMING (Luke 2:25-35).  Simeon is an interesting character, and is often overlooked, even more is said of him than Anna.

We need to remember that this prophecy, along with the words of and about Anna took place on the eighth day after our Lord’s birth.  There was ceremony, circumcision, and worship conducted at the temple on this wonderful day.

Simeon was a man to whom the Lord had revealed that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Christ (v. 26).  He was a man getting up into years.  We are told that he was a just and devout man.  He was a man who feared God, and had been declared by God to be just, ie. made right with God.  Just as Anna is faithful in prayer, so is Simeon faithful in expectations of the Lord’s coming to deliver His people.

Simeon speaks to Joseph and Mary and all those present.  Let’s see what things he spoke:

1. “let me depart in peace”;
2. Mine eyes have seen Thy salvation;
3. Prepared before the face of all  people;
4. A light to the Gentiles;
5. The glory of the people of Israel.

The things he spoke to Mary and Joseph:

1. The child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel;
2. A sign which shall be spoken against, as a sword shall pierce your soul
3. That the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.

This “sign” that is spoken against is evidently the cross on which he would die.  That was the piercing of her soul, and at this cross the hearts of many are revealed.  It was the wicked and vileness of men’s hearts that nailed Him on that cross.  Yet, on that cross the atonement for sins was given through the precious, sinless, blood of the Lamb of God.

As Simeon was faithful to carry on the work of the Lord in his life we too are called to be faithful unto the coming of our Lord for His Bride and later in His glory.

Simeon loved the appearing of our Lord.  The professing Christian who has a larger desire to make more money, acquire more things, see more family, etc, than desiring the return of the Lord should be looking at their hearts true condition.  One evidence of the true Christian experience is expectation of our Lord’s return.

Have a heart like the “Wise men” who seek Him, and worship Him; like the shepherds who saw and heard the call and worshipped Him; and a heart like that of Anna who continued in fasting and prayer night and day until that day she could bless Jesus, and be a blessing; and finally have a heart like Simeon who long awaited the coming of the King of the Jews, their Messiah, Deliverer, and Savior.  Our Lord Jesus is coming returning soon for the Church; and later in all His glory, and the whole world will see Him.

Call on His name for salvation, before it is forever too late.

-Tim A. Blankenship

A Wonderful, Joyous Birth

Luke 2:1-20

Purpose:  To see and understand the impact of personal salvation come down to mankind and the world through the birth of Jesus Christ.

OUTLINE FOR LUKE 2:1-20 –

I.  THESE EVENTS WERE IN THE HANDS OF OUR SOVEREIGN GOD (vv. 1-5; Micah 5:2).

II.  THE BIRTH OF JESUS WAS IN THE RIGHT TIME, RIGHT PLACE AND INVOLVED THE RIGHT PEOPLE (vv. 6-7;  Galations 4:4).

III.  THROUGH THE BIRTH OF JESUS CHRIST THE LOWLY ARE EXALTED, AND THE HAUGHTY MADE LOW (vv. 8-16; 1:52).

IV.  THE BIRTH OF JESUS IS SPREAD AROUND BROADLY, AND BY THE LOWLY (vv. 17-18),

V.  THE JOY OF THE BIRTH OF JESUS CHRIST (vv. 19-20).

There are many times we do not understand why things happen or are happening as they do.  One of those times could be the present day events in the United States and the world; economically, politically, religiously, medically, or in our families.  Though things seem to be messed up, and wickedness seems out of control we, as Christians, can rest assured that God has it all in His hands, and is working it all out for our good and His glory.  There is no better example of that than the times before the birth of Jesus, the birth of Jesus, and up until now.

God has the good of the world in His hands and heart.  We can trust Him.  The world should trust Him.  He has provided salvation for all who will believe Him, and trust their eternal lives to His care and love.  “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him would not perish, but would have everlasting life.” (John 3:16).

Let us never think that the people previous to the birth of Jesus believed they had it all figured out; they didn’t.  They did however trust that the Lord was working, and accomplishing His purposes and will.  We have seen men like Zachariah hearing the message of God from the angel Gabriel concerning the birth of  John, and his reception of that message, along with Elisabeth his wife.  Then, we have seen the virgin Mary hearing the message of the birth of her Son, and without a human father; yet she believed.  Even during that 430 years of darkness God was working, moving in the hearts of men, but in silence; waiting for that right time, place, and for the right people to fulfill His Word.

WE CAN TRUST THAT THE EVENTS ARE IN THE HANDS OF OUR SOVEREIGN GOD (vv. 1-5).  None of us like taxes or to take part in census taking.  Both of these may have been the purpose of Caesar’s decree; but the real decree came from God Himself, to fulfill His Word that His Son would be born in Bethlehem, the city of David’s heritage (1 Samuel 16:1-4ff).  The Old Testament passage for that is,

“But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” Micah 5:2 (KJV)

We must understand that while God created us with what has been called “Free will”, that this does not thwart the will of God, nor hinder His will in any way, but works with His sovereignty fulfilling His will.

If the god the Open Theists believe in is what we have, then we are all without hope.  The god of the Open Theists does not know the future any better than you or I; does not direct the affairs of mankind; has no control over what happens tomorrow.

Look at these events with Joseph and Mary.  They receive a decree from the ruler of Rome to go to the place of their heritage, which is Bethlehem, and the child that is within the womb of Mary is that Son of Promise who is to be born in Bethlehem, fulfilling the Scriptures.  Only God who reigns on high could accomplish such a thing.  As Mary was told by Gabriel,  “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” 1:37 (KJV)

ONLY A SOVEREIGN GOD COULD HAVE HIS SON BORN IN THE RIGHT PLACE, AT THE RIGHT TIME, AND TO THE RIGHT PEOPLE (vv. 6-7).  Paul the apostle wrote,

“But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law…” Galations 4:4 (KJV)

The right place, of course, was the city of David’s heritage and birth; the right time was when there was darkness in the earth, so that the Light might be more clearly seen, heard and received; the right people was a young couple who were awaiting the coming of their Messiah (Though we are not told this specifically, it does seem quite likely, and they received this gift by grace.)  And they were faithful to serving the Lord.

I have no idea what the likelihood is of these things all just happening without divine direction, but I am sure the numbers would be astronomical.  I do not understand why some people find it so hard to believe that it takes the hands of the Devine to direct the affairs of the Devine, and the birth of His Son is certainly a Devine work.

You can try and explain some things only so many ways, but the obvious, until it becomes so very foolish to make circles around the obvious.  In doing so you miss the obvious.

It was the right time and place for the time of our Lord’s life and death.  His crucifixion some 33 years later, and in His own country, by the words of His own people, and by the hands of Gentiles, could not have happened any other time.

It is fascinating to think that the Ark of the covenant had been taken away at least 430 years before the birth of Jesus.  The Ark represented the presence of God, and His glory; now the presence and glory of God came into their midst in Person.  It was the right time, in the right place with the right woman, that the glory of God was revealed to fallen mankind, hated, despised, and laid on the cross by the people who so needed Him.

BY THE SOEREIGN HAND OF GOD, THROUGH THE BIRTH OF HIS SON THE LOWLY ARE EXALTED AND THE HAUGHTY MADE LOW(vv.  8-16; 1:52).  Shepherds were the most lowly and despised of Jewish people; yet these were the first to be notified of the birth of their King and Lord.

We are not told how many shepherds there were, but just know that there was more than one because of the plural usage of “shepherds”.  Whether there was two, or more makes little difference; the more the merrier I would say.  That they were despised by many people only shows that God has in His mind to demonstrate His love to the lonely, the outcasts, and the helpless and hurting.

However many there was we see shepherds “In the field watching their flocks at night”.  If it would have been Winter it does not seem likely that they would be in the field, but in their mangers, caves, keeping their sheep warm, and protected.  At night they needed to good shepherds guarding the sheep from wolves, and thieves.

As they were guarding their sheep an great, awe-inspiring event happened, unlike anything which they had ever experienced.  The angel of the Lord appeared to them, making an announcement of the birth of of the Savior, in the city of David.  Along with the announcement came instructions on where to find him.  There was also a “heavenly host” which joined with the angel, “praising God” and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

The shepherds heard the angels and found the manger where our Lord lay following His birth.  They left the fields “with haste – in a hurry.  Probably even to the point of leaving their flocks behind.  The joy of seeing the new born King, Son of God was more weighty,  personal, costly than the sheep in their folds.  The long awaited King was born.

There is no mention of any king who was told.  We know the history of Herod and his hatred for even his own sons, and killing them out of jealousy, and fear of their taking the throne from him.  Herod was finally brought down.  Those who know Jesus and follow Him are exalted.

THE SOVEREIGN BIRTH OF JESUS HAS BEEN SPREAD ABROAD BY THOSE WHO WERE WITNESSES OF HIS BIRTH (vv. 17-18).  It does seem like an almost automatic response to tell of something you know that has happened which has excited you and others who were with you.   We are not told who they told or how long they spent in telling, just that they scattered the news abroad.

This was such wonderful news that others “wondered” about it.  The following is John Gill’s commentary on part of verse 18:

“…wondered at those things that were told them by the shepherds: for though they expected the Messiah, and that he would be born at Bethlehem, yet they did not imagine that he would be born of such mean parents, and appear in such mean circumstances, and in so contemptible a place; and that shepherds, and not the princes of Israel, should have the first notice of it; and yet the account which these shepherd, who were plain hearted men, and could never be thought to invent such a story, and spread it, and impose on men, without any interest in it, was very surprising; so that they knew not what to say to it, neither to deny, nor believe it; accordingly, the Persic version renders the whole thus, “and whoever heard, wondering, stuck at it”; hesitated about it, and yet astonished at the particulars of it; just as Christ’s hearers were in Luk 4:22 who wondered at his ministry, and the manner of it, and yet objected the meanness of his parentage and education.”

From the e-Sword Commentaries.

THE JOY OF THE SOVEREIGN BIRTH OF JESUS CHRIST (vv. 19-20).  Mary was enamored by the things she heard and seen concerning the events of her Son’s birth.  Shepherds coming in from the fields, to see this new born child; a “star” shining over the stable where He lay (Matthew 2:1-2ff); and many other events which include the many fulfillments of the prophetic word of God.

The shepherds after going to see Jesus the new born King returned to their sheepfolds to shepherd their flocks, but with a whole new outlook on things.  They were singing, rejoicing in all the things they had seen and heard.  Though we are not told that they did; I kind believe the shepherds sat down and visited with Mary and Joseph, then Mary told her story, that of Zachariah and Elisabeth, her story of virgin conception, the virgin birth.  Joseph probably told them of how he had about divorced Mary (secretly), except that an angel revealed to Him the unique specialty of this birth and child that would be born (Matthew 1:18-21ff).

Joy, peace, love, gentleness, patience, kindness, self-control, meekness and faith are fruits which follow those who are witnesses, empowered by the presence of this King (Galations 5:22-24).  This King was born as Savior to take away our sins by paying the price that was ours to pay.

Without the birth of this King there would be no Savior, no salvation, no Peace or Joy.  That is why the shepherds returned praising and glorifying God.

Anyone putting their faith and trust in Jesus the King will live and reign with Him forever.  All sins forgiven; the price fully paid by the death of Jesus on the cross, carrying the guilt and shame of sin away in His burial, then His rising for our justification – being made right with God for all eternity, and living for Him, waiting for His return.

-Tim A. Blankenship

A Magnificent Surrender

PURPOSE:  Since becoming a Christian is the most important thing to happen in one’s life there are many similarities to our lives with Mary, the mother of Jesus; We received a special call, and appearance from our God; We have been given a message to share with all people;  We must be obedient to God if we are to be counted faithful; We have a right worship of God and His Son Jesus; and we worship with expectation of His soon coming and with patience we wait for Him.

OUTLINE FOR Luke 1:26-56:

I.  A MAGNIFICENT APPEARANCE (vv. 26-28).

II.  A MAGNIFICENT MESSAGE OF HOPE FOR ALL PEOPLE (vv. 29-37).

III.  A MAGNIFICENT OBEDIENCE (v. 38).

IV.  A MAGNIFICENT WORSHIP (vv. 39-55).

V.  A MAGNIFICENT PATIENCE (v. 56).

There are probably many things in life which we see, hear, touch, taste, and smell that we could call “Magnificent”.  However, when it comes to the eternal things truly only one thing, and person can be called “Magnificent”, and that is the appearance, message, obedience, worship, and patience of our Lord Jesus.  He is truly MAGNIFICENT!

A MAGNIFICENT APPEARANCE (vv. 26-28). In the sixth month of Elisabeth’s pregnancy the angel Gabriel appears in Nazareth to a young virgin girl by the name of Mary.  When we have no reason to doubt the Word of God we must believe that when God says she was a virgin, then she was indeed a virgin.

Gabriel is the one who had appeared to Elisabeth some months before, and now appears to Mary with the news that she will have a child.  How must have Mary felt at the appearance of Gabriel?  Shocked, unbelieving?  Now remember this was a period of time when visions, spiritual experiences with angels was a rare thing.  God had not spoken through prophet or angel for 400 years.  How would Christians of today [2008] react if our Bibles were taken away, and there was no more revelation from God for so many years?  I dare say that that would be a test that would certainly separate the confessors from the possessors.  It seems to be the case in Jerusalem and Israel during the days of Zachariah, Elisabeth, and Mary as well.

With the appearance of the angel comes words of encouragement, words to be remembered by all.  “Thou art highly favored”, “Blessed art thou among women”, and “the Lord is with thee” are words we can trust and believe and rest in.

It is God who sent Gabriel to Mary.  He has a specific message for Mary, and that is that she will have a Son; not just any son of man; but He will be the Son of God, and Son of man.  We will get to Mary’s question in the next point.  Let me stress this at this point;  Mary was not an “Unwed mother”.  Note the instructions to Gabriel, “To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph…”  Espousal was more than an engagement; at least as we know engagement here in the USA; it was a binding covenant made earlier, and could only be broken by a writing of divorce.  There had, however, been no consummation of the marriage by sexual intercourse.

Truly this appearace by Gabriel to Mary was a Magnificent Appearance.

A MAGNIFICENT MESSAGE OF HOPE FOR ALL PEOPLE (vv. 29-37).  Troubled as most of us would be the angel gives her words of comfort, and tells her she has been favored by God.  It has been decreed by God through Gabriel that Mary is “Full of grace”, which means she is a receiver of grace, not a dispensor of grace.  This same term is used in Ephesians 1:6 “he hath made us accepted in the beloved” (KJV); and is reference to all who are in Christ Jesus.  Anyone who would use this to give Mary co-redeemtrix rights is Biblically incorrect.

This is the first, and last miracle virgin conception of God.  Let me give you the MIRRIAM/WEBSTER DICTIONARY definition of the word “MIRACLE”:

“1. An extraordinary event manifesting a supernatural work of God; 2. An unusual event, thing or accomplishment: WONDER, MARVEL…“

Now, my definition of miracle is a little different than that:

A miracle is an act of God where He breaks through the laws of what is natural, to accomplish a greater purpose for His glory.

God transcends the laws of nature that He has made, and can at any time, any place, and with or without anyone or anything perform what we would call “Miracle”.  With Mary God would perform a first.  “The virgin will conceive, have a son…” Isaiah 7:14 (HCSB) were the words of God through the prophet Isaiah to king Ahaz.  Though the prophecy had a lesser fulfillment in Isaiah’s day, it was fully fulfilled in Mary’s conception of Jesus Christ.  Though Isaiah would not know of whom God was speaking , futuristically, the LORD had one specific young woman for this task, ie. the task of giving birth to the Messiah,  and her name was Mary.

With the medical technology we have today I really don’t understand why anyone would have a problem believing in a virgin’s conceiving a child.  Though today’s virgin conceiving would be by “arificial insemination” or “invitro fertilization” it is still possible, yet the seed implanted would still be a human father, and not God.  God also placed His seed in the womb of Mary without any means other than His Word.

The angel telling her she will have a Son, and also tells her His name.  In the prophecy of Isaiah he calls Him “Immanuel” meaning “God with us”, and here “Jesus” means “The Lord is salvation”.  Both names are for our Lord Jesus, and they fit Him.  He would be the means of grace and mercy and salvation to all nations.

Notice these great things that are given to Jesus:

1.  He will be called the Son of the Highest;
2.  He will receive the throne of David;
3.  He will reign over the house of Jacob;
4.  His kingdom will have no end.

Mary, knowing that she was a virgin; asked Gabriel, “How can this be since I have not been with a man?”  The answer to this came by the angel basically letting Mary know that this was a “God thing”.  It did not require a man, but God had chosen her to be the vessel to bear His Son, give birth to His Son, and to teach Him godly living, and faith.

One thing which we must note right now is that God chose godly, expectant, faithful people to bear two of the most influential people ever born to man.  We are told of Zachariah’s and Elisabeth’s “Righteousness”.  We are also told that Mary was “full of grace” before God (Ephesians 1:6).  The only righteousness that is worthwhile for us is God’s righteousness, and He gives that to us by GRACE.

News of Elisabeth’s pregnancy, and the approaching birth of her promised son was told to Mary.  This may have helped confirm the angel’s message to her.  It does confirm to Mary and all who will believe that there is nothing impossible with God.

A MAGNIFICENT OBEDIENCE (v. 38).  Too many people fight, kick, and murmur and complain about the will of God.  Then, when it is all over think, “Well!  Why didn’t He call me and use me?”  Is there any young lady, who is a virgin, be willing to do what Mary did?  There are too many young people and adults who are too self-centered; who are looking out for themselves, and care nothing for living for God, and faith.

After the angel Gabriel tells Mary of her “Highly favored” situation with God Mary’s response is one of obedience.  This is not evidence of her placement into a divine position as co-redeemtrix with Christ, or of her supposed immaculate conception.  It is simply her willingness to be a tool for God’s purpose and His glory.  It is nothing more than what any of us can do; and that is being a willing, obedient vessel for God’s glory.

We – Christians – are in fact doing just that when Christ becomes our Lord and Savior.  The Seed of God is given to us, resurrecting our dead spirit, and empowering us with the Spirit of God.  Consider John’s [the apostle] letter, writing;

“Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for His Seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” 1 John 3:9 (KJV)

The above verse, of course, addresses the practicing of sin in a habitual fashion, and as a way of life.  The part I am dealing with is the “His Seed…” portion.  It is God’s Seed that cannot sin.  It is God’s Seed that gives the Christian life, and the heart to hate evil, and all sin.

It is just as much A MAGNIFICENT OBEDIENCE when any child of God hears the voice of God, and is moved to obey in faith believing all that God has said to do.

A MAGNIFICENT WORSHIP (vv. 39-55).  Mary, now, having conceived in her womb the Son of God journeys to the home of Zachariah and Elisabeth and stays for three months.  Mary probably stayed until the birth of John Baptist; because we are told, taking verse 24 and 26, that it was six months that Elisabeth was with child, Mary stayed three months (v. 56), so surely she stayed until the baby John was born; and could very well have been there when Zachariah’s tongue was loosed (v. 64).

Upon Mary’s arrival to the house of Elisabeth John leaps in his mother’s womb, and Elisabeth is filled with the Spirit.  Songs of praise and adoration break out from both women.

“Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.”

The words are those of Elisabeth.  She recognized the one who was carrying the Son of God within her, by the voice of His mother’s greeting.  Elisabeth was giving blessing to Mary because she had been the willing, chosen vessel by God to carry the Son of God in her womb.  Elisabeth’s initial thought was of her unworthiness to be in the presence of the mother of her Lord.

How could Elisabeth even know that Mary was bearing a child, little lone, that she was bearing a son, and not just any son, but the very Son of God?  The work of the Spirit of God.  The “Fruit of thy womb” of course was Jesus, and He is blessed, and He blesses all who come to Him.  Elisabeth even recognizes that Mary has given the utmost of her life to our Lord, surrendered to Him, and is blessed because of who He is; and because of this God is about to fulfill His will in and through her.

Now take a look at Mary’s song:

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior,
because He has looked with favor
on the humble condition of His slave.
Surely, from now on all generations
will call me blessed,
because the Mighty One
has done great things for me,
and His name is holy.
His mercy is from generation to generation
on those who fear Him.
He has done a mighty deed with His arm;
He has scattered the proud
because of the thoughts of their hearts;
He has toppled the mighty from their thrones
and exalted the lowly.
He has satisfied the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped His servant Israel,
mindful of His mercy,
just as He spoke to our ancestors,
to Abraham and his descendants forever.
Luke 1:46-55 (HCSB)

Note that Mary does not congratulate herself, but gives glory to our Lord; to the greatness of the Lord.  She rejoices in the fact that she has “found favor” with Him; and she refers to “God my Savior”, recognizing her need for God as Savior alone.  With Elisabeth’s and Mary’s praise we have much to practice in praise, worship and adoration.

A MAGNIFICENT PATIENCE (v. 56).  Wouldn’t it have been fascinating to be in that house those three months?  Both the mother of John the Baptist, and the mother of Jesus the Christ going about household duties, chores, and since Elisabeth is the elder one, and having a baby probably needing some assistance from Mary.

For three months Mary is learning from her cousin the things that only women can learn from one another; what an elderly woman can teach to a younger; and they probably spent much time in worship of the MIGHTY ONE of Israel.  For three months Elisabeth draws ever nearer to the day when she will give birth to John, Mary begins showing signs of pregnancy, and grows more and more expectant for her nearing day.

All mothers have, and show patience for that awaited day when the labor pains begin (though not looking forward to the pain, but the outcome), and they begin the birthing process.  Expectancy, excitement, rejoicing are great words to use to express the heart  of that mother when her child is born; but can you imagine the joy that was in the heart of Elisabeth as John is born, knowing that he will be the first prophet since Malachi, around 430 B.C.; and that he will be the herald for the Messiah who is to be born only six short months later.  They are seeing the evidence of God’s message returning to His people who have been in darkness for so long; and this is without the Ark of the covenant.

“Patience is a virtue”, someone has said.  Much is said of patience by the apostle Paul.  As Mary needed and displayed patience while with Elisabeth the Christian today needs to be patient in living for Jesus Christ.  The heart of the Christian is looking for the appearing, the coming of Jesus once again.  Have you ever heard someone who professed to being a Christian say, “I don’t want Jesus to come back today!”?  My question to that would be “Why not?”  What is more important than the coming of Jesus?  That is the heart of the truly born again believer.

I can almost guarantee that the most important thought in Mary’s life; when she received the announcement that she was going to carry and give birth to the Son of God; was not “What is Joseph, and my parents, and others going to say?”  Her thought was most likely, “In nine months the Messiah will be born, and for these nine months God has given grace, to me, to bear His Son.”  Nine months to display patience.  Nine months to plan, prepare, and proclaim the coming of the Lord.

We do not know the day or the time of our Lord’s coming for His Church.  We have been given an indefinite time to plan, prepare, and proclaim the coming of the Lord.  We too can display A MAGNIFICENT PATIENCE.  A Patience that is found only through the faith and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Faithful Until The Light

References – Amos 3:7;  Revelation 22:6

OUTLINE OF LUKE 1:5-25

I.  THE FAITHFUL IN A TIME OF DARKNESS (v. 5).

II.  FAVORED BY GOD – DISFAVOR AMONG MENT (vv. 6-7).

III.  THROUGH DIVINE APPOINTMENT THE LIGHT SHINES IN THE FAITHFUL HEART AND LIFE (vv. 8-17).

IV.  FROM SILENCE TO JUBILATION (vv. 18-25 referencing vv.  57-80).

At the time of Zachariah and Elisabeth it had been about 400 years since God had spoken through a prophet.  There had been no prophet for God’s people.  It was a time of darkness; and there were praying and desparate souls longing/desiring for the presence of the glory of the LORD.

There was a Temple [Herod’s Temple- not yet finished], but no “Ark of the covenant”.  It had not been recovered, and returned to the place – the Most Holy Place.

There was a favored couple – favored by God; probably viewed by the people as being disfavored by God due to having not been blessed with a child.  Zachariah and Elisabeth had both been declared “Righteous” by God.  This was “Favor”.  When God declares one “Righteous” then, that one is “Righteous” indeed.

Zachariah had his once in a lifetime duty to fulfill.  The MacArthur Study Bible note states:

“Because of the large number of priests, most would never be chosen for such a duty, and no one was permitted to serve in this capacity twice.”

In this of course we would see a Divine appointment.  Does God not direct the fall of the “Lot”?  Thus God gives a message to Zachariah that a messenger – foretold in Malachi 4:5-6 – is about to be conceived and born to he and Elisabeth.

This “incense altar” was to be kept burning perpetually.  Morning and evening that one priest had privilege of tending the altar making sure the special fiery fragrance ascended to the throne of God.  The  The couple had been praying/longing/desiring a son, and as Zachariah goes about his duties he receives the answer.

It is interesting to note that the name Zachariah means “Jah has remembered” or “YHWH has remembered”.  Through 400 years of silence God was working, and never forgot His people.

FAITHFUL IN A TIME OF DARKNESS (v. 5).  As Zachariah and Elisabeth were faithful, they have been declared “Righteous” by God; so too are all who are in Christ Jesus.  When we see wickedness abounding we have a word from God that “grace much more abounds” (Romans 5:20).

We must understand that our works, words, deeds, are worthy of righteousness.  The righteousness of God is from God alone, declared by God alone.  Righteousness comes as a gift from God through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Even when God seems silent; be faithful; believing light is on the way.  For many years Zachariah and Elisabeth kept on believing.  Do we believe in God only for what He can give us?  Do we believe in God only because of the good things He does?  Do we believe in God only because of His power, His might, and awe-inspiring displays in creation?  If we only believe during these things and only when they are visible to us; we will not be likely to stand faithful like Zachariah and Elisabeth during those dark times of life.  Always trust the Lord, believing that there is a greater Light

FAVORED BY GOD – SEEN AS DISFAVORED BY GOD (vv. 6-7).  Despite the seeming rejection by God, Zachariah and Elisabeth continue faithfully.  Though others could not see it; most likely; they were counted by God as “Righteous”.  Many people probably viewed them as cursed by God, and because of their faithfulness some may have wanted them to be cursed by God.  Read Psalm 3:1-3.

They continued throught he many years looking/praying/desiring/waiting for a child.  We must see, and remember that there is nothing that tells us that God had ever promised them a child.

The believer in Christ must continue looking/praying/desiring/waiting for the the promised return of our Savior.  We live for our God who has pronounced us “Righteous”.

THROUGH DIVINE APPOINTMENT THE LIGHT SHINES IN THE FAITHFUL HEART AND LIFE (vv. 8-17).  Have you ever started thinking, “It will never happen”?  Maybe it was a desire, longing, or prayer you had prayed; you have kept asking, but deep in the recesses of your mind your thoughts were “It’s not going to happen.”

You may at this moment be praying for help with your income situation; your housing situation; matters of education; a health problem that is causing real worries or fear.  Do you believe in God appointments?  “God appointments” or “Divine appointments” are those things that to some will seem like ‘conincidences’, but to the child of God we know who ordains them.  RIGHT?  RIGHT.

God has a way of teaching us faith; growing, abiding faith, and that training never stops; until we see Jesus face to face.  Then, I could not tell you for sure, but what we may also learn throughout all eternity.

Zachariah having waited many years to serve in the Temple, had also waited for a child with Elisabeth.  It is sad to see so many people who are impatient, and cannot wait for anything.  Far too many times I have grown impatient in matters of waiting.  Who enjoys waiting at a traffic light, or even for a train to pass when you need to get over the tracks to the other side?

Have you ever stopped to ask yourself, “Is God delaying me for a purpose?”  We may never know on this side of glory, but that delayed traffic may just be a Divine appointment for our safety somewhere down the road, beginning at the light we are sitting at.

Christians must learn the godliness of waiting.  The Bible speaks much about waiting, and very little on “Hurry”.

The priest hears God speak through the angel Gabriel, and the message is good news of a son to the couple who had waited for many years.  Now, this is God’s timing.  It could not have been at a better time.  The conception and birth of this son was going to bring such joy into their home, their lives, and their neighbor’s lives as well.  Everyone was going to rejoice with Zachariah and Elisabeth.

The conception and birth of this son was going to be a fulfillment of prophecy (Malachi 4:-5-6).  They would probably not be alive at the time of this prophet’s ministry.  Zachariah is told to name his son “John”.  A very specific message, with a very specific name.

This prophet would be a preparer of the way of the LORD, and the Lord’s name is Jesus.

FROM SILENCE TO JUBILATION (vv. 18-25 referencing vv. 57-80).  While Zachariah is in the Temple fulfilling his duties, receiving the message, but not believing it he is stricken with dumbness (both mute and deaf – see v. 62).  He comes out of the Temple, and cannot speak, and the people having seen him being so long in the Temple perceive that he must have received a vision from God (v. 22).  Yet he could not speak.

Can you imagine being in your place of worship, conducting your duties in the church, and Gabriel comes to you with the message, “You will receive what you have been asking for.”  You don’t believe this messenger, so he tells you that you are not going to be able to speak, because you have not believed.  You cannot tell others of the blessing that is on the way.  You must contain yourself, and only write on a piece of paper.  You may now want to shout, but because of not believing in the first place you can’t.

Oh, how difficult we make things for ourselves at times because of our unbelief, or doubts.

John the prophet of God was born to Zachariah and Elisabeth in their old age.  There was much joy and rejoicing.  There was, in fact, much jubilation.  When Zachariah admitted to the name John his mouth was open, his hearing returned and there was jubilation.  When the Word of God is believed, and practiced in our lives others will hear and believe.

John would be the herald; the messenger of God proclaiming the coming of the Holy One of God, calling for repentance, and for the people to get right with God.

There is a day coming when Jesus will come again.  We are the heralds of His coming today.  We can be the means of others finding peace with God through Jesus Christ.  We look forward to that day when we will stand with Jesus, worshipping Him, giving Him glory; and there will be great jubilation.

-Tim A. Blankenship

His Kingdom Coming

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Perils of Friendship With the World (2)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

PROMISES AND PROPHECIES 10 & 11

These are the final references to prophecies, in this series, having to do with Israel in Scripture, God’s promises and prophecies concerning them, the land, and their return to God.

As I stated at the beginning of this series they were put together by my Brother in Christ (Dr. Wayne Stephens) who had been to Israel, and loved the Word of God, and the Promises and Prophecies concerning these events.

Brother Wayne went home to be with the Lord on January 6th of 2006.  My contribution to these articles has been only adding the reference verse to the address of the verse, and publishing them on the pages of FIRE AND HAMMER.

VERSES REFERRING TO PLACES WE [Bro. Wayne Stephens and wife Sylvia] VISITED.

A. Ashkelon: 1 Kings 19:3 – “And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there.” (KJV).

2 Kings 12:1 – “In the seventh year of Jehu Jehoash began to reign; and forty years reigned he in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Zibiah of Beersheba.” (KJV).

Jeremiah 47:7 – “How can it be quiet, seeing the LORD hath given it a charge against Ashkelon, and against the sea shore? there hath he appointed it.” (KJV).

B. Bethany: Matthew 17; Matthew 21:1 – “And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, 2 Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me.” (KJV).

C. Capernaum: Matthew 4:18 – “And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.” (KJV).

John 6:16 – “And when even was now come, his disciples went down unto the sea,” (KJV).

Also see Mark 1:21; 5:41; 11:23

D. Caves of Machpelah: Genesis 25:7-10; 49:28 – 50:14. NOTE: Tombs of the patriarchs and matriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; Sarah, Rebeccah and Leah.

E. Caesarea: Acts 8:26-40.

F. Field of Ruth and Field of Shepherds Luke 1:8.

G. Jericho called city of Palm trees. Deuteronomy 34:3; Joshua 2:6; 2 Kings 2:15.

H. Joppa: Joshua 19:46; Acts 9:36; John 1:1-3; Acts 10.

I. Jordon River: Joshua 1 – 3; 3:3-4; Matthew 3:5; Deuteronomy 12:31.

J. Megiddo: 2 Kings 9:15; 1 Kings 10:26; 2 Chronicles 38:20; Revelation 16:16. NOTE: The ruins of Megiddo include the gate and wall, stables, “Manger”, palace where ivory fragments were found; water tunnel and Canaanite temple.

K. Mount of Beatitudes (Horns of Hattin) Matthew 5 – 7.

L. Mount Gerizin (Blessing) and Mount Ebal (Curse): Deuteronomy 12:29.

M. Mount Tabor: Judges 4:5; Hosea 5:1.

N. Nazareth: Luke 1:26-38; Matthew 2:23; Luke 2:51.

O. Pool of Siloam: 2 Kings 25:4; 2 Chronicles 32:4-30; John 9:1-11. Zedekiah and his men escaped through here to Jericho.

P. Rachel’s Tomb: Jeremiah 31:15 (Weeping).

Q. Sea of Galilee: Matthew 4:13; Luke 8:22-25.

R. Shechem: John 4; Genesis 33:18.

S. Valley of Elah: 1 Samuel 17:2.

T. Valley of Gahena: Matthew 27:5-8.

U. Wilderness of Judea: Matthew 4:1-2; Luke 3:2-4.

XI. PRAY FOR JERUSALEM.

A. Psalm 122:1 – “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD. 2 Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem. 3 Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact together: 4 Whither the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, unto the testimony of Israel, to give thanks unto the name of the LORD. 5 For there are set thrones of judgment, the thrones of the house of David.

and prays for peace 6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee. 7 Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces. 8 For my brethren and companions’ sakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee. 9 Because of the house of the LORD our God I will seek thy good.” (KJV).

Psalm 125:2 – “As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the LORD is round about his people from henceforth even for ever.” (KJV).

B. Isaiah 66:10 – “Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all ye that love her: rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourn for her: 11 That ye may suck, and be satisfied with the breasts of her consolations; that ye may milk out, and be delighted with the abundance of her glory. 12 For thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream: then shall ye suck, ye shall be borne upon her sides, and be dandled upon her knees.” (KJV).

Amos 9:14 – “And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. 15 And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the LORD thy God.” (KJV).

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

PROMISES AND PROPHECIES 3

III. PROPHECIES CONCERNING JERUSALEM.

A. Luke 21:24 – “And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” NOTE: June 1967 was the first time Jerusalem has been in the hands of an independent Israel since 597 B.C., and it has been 2000 years since it was even occupied by Jews.

B. Zechariah 2:4 – “And said unto him, Run, speak to this young man, saying, Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls for the multitude of men and cattle therein:” NOTE: The modern cities do not have walls.

C. Jeremiah 31:35-40 – “Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is his name: 36 If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever. 37 Thus saith the LORD; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the LORD. 38 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the city shall be built to the LORD from the tower of Hananeel unto the gate of the corner. 39 And the measuring line shall yet go forth over against it upon the hill Gareb, and shall compass about to Goath. 40 And the whole valley of the dead bodies, and of the ashes, and all the fields unto the brook of Kidron, unto the corner of the horse gate toward the east, shall be holy unto the LORD; it shall not be plucked up, nor thrown down any more for ever.” READ Zechariah chapters 2 and 14 and NOTE: Present boundaries of the city’s new section to the Northwest touch every detailed landmark prophecied by Jeremiah.

D. Destruction of Jerusalem.

1. Ezekiel 7:23-24 – “Make a chain: for the land is full of bloody crimes, and the city is full of violence. 24 Wherefore I will bring the worst of the heathen, and they shall possess their houses: I will also make the pomp of the strong to cease; and their holy places shall be defiled.”

2. Luke 19:41-44 – “And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, 42 Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. 43 For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, 44 And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.

E. Eastern Gate Closed. NOTE: In Arabic these gates are called Elabwab Addahriyat… meaning, “Everlasting doors” and mentioned once in Scripture in Psalm 24; “Be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors”.

1. Ezekiel 44:1-3 – “Then he brought me back the way of the gate of the outward sanctuary which looketh toward the east; and it was shut. 2 Then said the LORD unto me; This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter in by it; because the LORD, the God of Israel, hath entered in by it, therefore it shall be shut. 3 It is for the prince; the prince, he shall sit in it to eat bread before the LORD; he shall enter by the way of the porch of that gate, and shall go out by the way of the same.”

F. Capital of the Messianic Kingdom.

1. Jeremiah 3:13-17 – “Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the LORD thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith the LORD. 14 Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion: 15 And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding. 16 And it shall come to pass, when ye be multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, saith the LORD, they shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of the LORD: neither shall it come to mind: neither shall they remember it; neither shall they visit it; neither shall that be done any more.”

G. Wars.

1. Zechariah 12:2-3 – “Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem. 3 And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.”

2. Zechariah 14:1-3 – “Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. 2 For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. 3 Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.”

H. Peace. NOTE: Jerusalem means, “City of Peace”, yet it has been seiged 46 times since David’s time and utterly destroyed and leveled to the ground 17 times; (These are listed for further study on pages 158-160 in “ISRAELI-ARAB CONFLICT OF THE BIBLE” booklet).

1. Ezekiel 34:25 – “And I will make with them a covenant of peace, and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land: and they shall dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods.”

a. Ezekiel 37:26 – “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.”

2. Isaiah 66:10-12 – “Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all ye that love her: rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourn for her: 11 That ye may suck, and be satisfied with the breasts of her consolations; that ye may milk out, and be delighted with the abundance of her glory. 12 For thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream: then shall ye suck, ye shall be borne upon her sides, and be dandled upon her knees.”

3. Isaiah 32:17-18 – “And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever. 18 And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places;”

a. Isaiah 33:20 – “Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities: thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken.”

4. Haggai 2:9 – “The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the LORD of hosts.”

5. Zechariah 9:10 – “And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off: and he shall speak peace unto the heathen: and his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth.”

6. Micah 4:2 – “And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 3 And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”

Edited for placing tags, and categories, no text change 03/12/10 by t.a.

WORSHIPPING THE ONE ON THE THRONE

WORSHIPPING THE ONE ON THE THRONE

Revelation 4:1-11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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