But The LORD Is In His Holy Temple

The following is reposted from May 1, 2008.

“Woe unto him that saith to the wood, ‘Awake;’ to the dumb stone, ‘Arise,’ it shall teach! Behold, it is laid over with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in the midst of it.

But the LORD is in His holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before Him.” Habakkuk 2:19-20 (KJB)

We have looked at the previous four promises from chapter 1:3; 2:3, 4, 14, and the final one now in 2:20. These are wonderful promises. It is especially wonderful that the final promise is one which gives us assurance that the LORD is in His temple. There is assurance in that, because, that tells us that He is still in control.

From the MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE we read, “2:20 holy temple. A reference to heaven, from where the Lord rules (Ps. 11:4) and answers the prayers of those who seek Him (1 Kings 8:28-30: Ps. 73:17).” p. 1321.

It seems that there is something here very personal for the follower of Christ as well. Since the Father who is in His holy temple sent His Son, and His Son died on the cross for our sins, and He rose again; He then sent His Spirit to dwell within all those who are His. “Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” Romans 8:9a (NKJV). Jesus Christ is in you who know Him and are known by Him. The LORD will not leave His temple.

“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NKJV).

When all the earth comes to realize that God is the Supreme Ruler all will be silent before Him. The Psalmist wrote, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10. In the New Testament we read,

“That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and those on earth, and of those under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:10-11 (NKJV).

The worship of idols always requires much noise, adulation, because they have nothing to offer. Thus much false fire. The God who made the heavens, the earth and all things in it and on it cries for our silence. Let Him be glorified by His own glory. On Habakkuk 2:20 the CRISWELL STUDY BIBLE states: “2:20 “But” signifies a striking contrast with the nothingness of idols. Jehovah the invisible God is occupying His holy temple, ready to intervene omnipotently for the deliverance and protection of His people and the destruction of their enemies. He inspires solemn adoration and profound silence (cf. Ps.68:5; Zeph. 1:7; Zech. 2:13)” p. 1047 KJV.

Only false gods [idols] require much hoopla, and noise. Our God, Father of Jesus is the light of His own glory. Rest in Him who is in His temple.

Kings, Neighbors,Enemies, and Honey

“These are also proverbs of Solomon, which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied out.
It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honor of kings is to search out a matter.  The heaven for height, and the earth for depth, and the heart of kings is unsearchable.  Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer.  Take away the wicked from before the king, and his throne shall be established in righteousness.
Put not forth thyself in the presence of the king, and stand not in the place of great men: for better it is that it be said unto thee, ‘Come up hither;’ than that thou shouldest be put lower in the presence of the prince whom thine eyes have seen.”  Proverbs 25:1-7  (KJB)

Kings, Neighbors, Enemies, and Honey – Proverbs 25:1-28

VERSES 1-7 –  On verses two and three the MacArthur Study Bible notes, “God…kings. The roles of God and the king are compared.  God, whose knowledge is above all human knowledge (cf. Ps. 92:5; Eccl. 3:11; Is. 46:10; Acts 15:18; Heb. 4:13), and whose ways are unsearchable (cf. Job 5:9; Ps. 145:3; Is. 40:28), keeps things to Himself because He needs no counsel (see Rom. 11:34).  On the contrary, kings should rightly seek to know what they must know in order to rule righteously.”

Looking at verses four and five we can conclude that kingdoms of men are established by God when wickedness is removed and righteousness is in place.  There is silver present, but it must be refined by fire.

In verses six and seven we see that humility is an honorable trait even in places of authority.

VERSES 8-20 –  Getting along with neighbors will be aided by not being hasty in judging them when they seem to be unwise, and in the end you are shamed by your own actions (vv. 8-10).

Using words wisely when dealing with our neighbors (vv. 11-12).  Refreshing and encouraging  words from a messenger (v. 13).  Forbearance or patience is a necessity for good neighbors (vv. 14-15).  Too much of a good and sweet thing will end in hatred of that very thing (vv. 16-17).

Being a good neighbor involves confidence in the right place and people, respecting truth and, others comfort, shelter, and nourishment (vv. 18-20).

VERSES 21-28 –  We ought to treat our enemies as we would treat our neighbors.  “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” (Matt. 19:19; 22:39;  Mark 12:31;  Luke 10:27;  Rom 13:9;  Gal. 5:14;  James 2:8).

VERSES 16 and 27 –  Honey is a natural sweetener.  Too much of this sweetener will make one sick.  Verse 16 prepares us for verse 17 where spending too much time a neighbor’s can be a thing that turns to hatred if not done in moderation.

To search for one’s own glory is as bad as eating too much honey.  It will make others sick, and possibly you sick as well.

Finding the Knowledge of God

You Shall Find the Knowledge of God – Proverbs 2:1-9

Verses 1 – 5 –  “…If thou wilt receive my words…”  The “ifs” of learning and instruction.  Using the affectionate term “my son” the parent, the teacher continues the instruction.  The “ifs” state a conditional teaching.

“Receive” means to seize, take hold of when they are heard and taught.  It is as though to be taken and applied as it is your very own. “Hide” to hoard them, protect them; meaning do not let anything pervert or change them.  This word is used again in verse 7 as “Layeth up”.

The “commandments” are those things which are being taught; the Law, Ordinances, precepts.

These should be sought as though it was the most excellent treasure; “silver” “hid treasures”.  When these “ifs”; ie. these conditions are met, then you will “find the knowledge of God” (v. 5).

Verse 6 –  “The LORD giveth wisdom”  The source of wisdom and knowledge.  Since it is the LORD who gives wisdom, it must be clear that knowledge and understanding; closely associated with wisdom; then must also be given by the LORD through wisdom.

“…Out of His mouth”  The study note from the MacArthur Study Bible states,

“His mouth. The words of His mouth are contained in Scripture.  It is there that God speaks (cf. Heb. 1:1-2;  2 Pet. 1:20, 21).  Wisdom comes only by revelation.”

Knowledge in our current society is associated with having received an education at a college, university, etc.  The knowledge we read of here is that knowledge which only God Himself gives.

Verse 7 –  “He layeth up sound wisdom”  The Hebrew word for “layeth up” is the same as that for hide as in verse 1.  Sound wisdom is thus stored up by God for the righteous.

It could have much to do with Amos’s words,

“Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets.”  Amos 3:7

and even Jesus’s words to Peter at his confession of Christ (Matthew 16:17).

“He is a buckler” – Buckler is a shield, a form of defense.   The LORD is a defense, our whole defense against the wicked and the peril of the wicked.

Verses 8 – 9 –  “He keepeth the paths..”  The LORD guards and maintains.   From the Pulpit Commentary this note,

“It is God who “keepeth the paths of judgment,” as he alone has the power to do so. He watches over all that walk therein, guides, superintends, and protects them.”  e-Sword edition.

“Preserveth the way of His saints” is as the LORD putting a hedge around to protect the righteous as they walk in Him.

Verse 9 then, tells us that in His keeping and preserving (Hedging us in) we “understand” righteousness, judgment, and equity (which is equality, or fairness).

Our understanding of equality, righteousness, judgment; God’s keeping us, and preserving us must come from the wisdom of God.  When we receive correct instruction we should hide it within our hearts and minds; keeping it for use in life’s situations.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Law Fulfilled

The Fulfilling Of The Law

Romans 3:21-31

OUTLINE –

I. ALL WHO BELIEVE DECLARED RIGHTEOUS BY FAITH (vv. 21-26).

II. THERE IS NO BOASTING WHEN ONE IS JUSTIFIED BY FAITH (vv. 27-28).

III. THERE IS ONE GOD WHO JUSTIFIES ALL (vv. 29-30).

IV. THE LAW IS HONORED THROUGH FAITH (v. 31)

There are a few words in these eleven verses that are very important Biblical terms. Righteousness, faith, justified, redemption, grace, propitiation, remission. They are all favorable toward the sinner.

These are more than just words. They are a description of God and His love for humankind. Righteousness describes God and His requirements of pure worship. Faith is the only thing a person can do to be declared righteous by God; and God gives the faith too (Eph 2:8-9). Justification [justified] is God’s declaration to the repentant believing sinner that he is righteous. God declares the believer righteous because of faith: he believes God. Justification; the word justified may be easily remembered as God making me “Just-as-if-I’d” never sinned. Redemption is a term related to slave auctions where the purchaser pays the agreed price to set the slave free. The only adequate price to be paid for the slave of sin was/is the death of Jesus on the cross; because the law commands death for sin. Grace of course is God’s unmerited favor toward sinners. Sinners are undeserving of grace. God in His love grants it to all who believe. Propitiation is a word sometimes hared to pronounce, but it is a beautiful word. It describes the work [sacrifice] of Jesus on the cross. It describes the hatred of God for sin, yet the depths He is willing to reach to redeem fallen man. Jesus was our propitiate. He lovingly, and willingly went to the cross to be the sacrifice for our sin. Not only was Jesus the sacrifice, but He was “Made…to be sin for us…” (2 Cor. 5:21). All God’s hatred for sin was poured out upon the sinless Son of God who was now ‘made to be sin for us’.

“In this case Christ’s violent death satisfied the offended holiness and wrath of God against those for whom Christ died.” MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE note on 2:25; page 1698.

In pagan worship it is the worshipper who must appease the wrath of their offended deity. The only way sinful man can appease the wrath of God is by spending eternity in Hell. The final word is Remission which means forgiveness. God accepted, for the forgiveness of sin; the sacrifices of blood that were offered in faith until the true sacrifice for sin would die for sin. The sacrifice for all sin is paid in full. There is no more sacrifice for sin. God’s forgiveness is available for all who will repent and believe in Jesus.

ALL WHO BELIEVE ARE DECLARED BY GOD TO BE RIGHTEOUS (vv. 21-26).

The ‘righteousness’ unobtainable by the law is revealed by the faith in Jesus Christ. This same righteousness of God is witnessed to by the written revelation of God in the law and the messages of the prophets.

This righteousness is for all who will believe and trust only Jesus for it. The previous verses of chapter 1:18 – 3:20 plainly tell us who is righteous. NONE!!! Now we see that God’s righteousness is available for all – that is the pagan, the moral pagan, the immoral pagan, the moral religious, the immoral religious, the religious; the Jew, moral and immoral. All are included in God’s invitation to His righteousness.

“There is no difference” in the Gentile and the Jew – “For all have sinned and come short” – miss the mark – “of the glory of God”. The glory of God is the place where God desires for us to be . A man just as well try to pick up an automobile and throw it to China from the east coast of the United States of America, as to try to gain God’s favor by keeping the law. We fall short; we miss God’s ‘bull’s eye’.

“Being justified” means being declared righteous by God. It is far superior to be declared righteous by God Himself, than for me to declare myself righteous. God’s declaration is true. Mine only a vain attempt. We might make note of the word “freely”. This wonderful justification is free to us. But that is because God already paid the price. His ‘grace’ – the undeserved favor of God – is the reason it is free. The ‘redemption’ price for our freedom from sin, and its penalty and bondage was paid by God’s Son, Jesus Christ as He willingly laid His life down for our sins.

In truth Jesus became the very object of God’s wrath. On the cross Jesus became sin; my sin and yours. We could not endure God’s wrath because we would only die and spend eternity in Hell. The law commands death for sin. Jesus had no sin, but took the wrath that was ours. Since He had no sin, but bore our sins God struck Him (“…stricken, smitten of God…” Isaiah 53:4), He died – sin was condemned (Rom 8:3), by the flesh of a sinless. The law did require death for sin – He died. YES! He died, but rose again conquering the power of sin and as evidence of who He is (Rom 1:4).

Through the sacrifice [propitiation] of Jesus God declares us righteous; He forgives our sin; and justifies all who believe in Jesus.

THERE IS NO BOASTING WHEN SINNERS ARE JUSTIFIED BY FAITH (vv. 27-28).

Human beings love to boast of their accomplishments and things which they achieve.

There are many things in which the human ego can be boosted. There is one area however in which there is no room to boast. That is our worship. We fall far short. We have everyone, turned from the true way to our own way (Isaiah 53:6). When we try to worship God in our own way it is evident we have turned from God.

Since true righteousness is a gift from God we have nothing in which to boast; except in the grace of God. We ought to boast loudly and clearly of the goodness, mercy and grace of God who loved His enemies so much He would sacrifice His holy Son to reconcile us to Himself. That is someone in whom to boast.

If anyone could obey the law he would have much to boast about, and would deserve the praise of God; but only God deserves the praise of God (Ps. 110:1), thus God became flesh – “the Word became flesh”. By faith in the work of Jesus Christ – the Word (John 1:1-5, 14) – on the cross we are saved (delivered from the penalty of the demands of God’s law). There is therefore no room for boasting because someone else paid our debt of sin. That Person has the praise of God – He kept; He fulfilled the whole law – and gives to all who believe eternal life.

Reading the book of Romans was the thing that pointed Martin Luther to Christ. He was a catholic priest in Germany, and felt something was missing in his religion. The liturgies, rosary, indulgences, confession, etc.; the whole ritual scheme left him empty. While reading Romans he read 1:17, “The just shall live by faith”. He read 3:28, “We conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law”. In his translation he wrote, “by faith alone…” which is a proper interpretation. To add anything to faith is to nullify faith.

Remember ‘justification’ is the act of God by which He declares the believing sinner righteous. It is the act and declaration of God; not of any man. It is received by faith and God alone is the giver of faith.

THERE IS ONE GOD WHO JUSTIFIES ALL (vv. 29-30).

Just as all mankind is condemned in the law by sin, so too, all who are justified (declared righteous by God) are so by faith.

Te color of one’s skin, their culture, their morality (Moral or immoral), their religion, etc. does not negate the fact of one God who justifies all who believe.

God is not only the God of the Jews, but the God of all – believing and unbelieving – people. He is the God of the Jew and the Gentile whether He is recognized by them or not.

Faith in Jesus Christ and His death for the atoning of sin; His burial for the carrying away of sins dominion; the resurrection of His body from the grave as the evidence of the conquering of sins power, and proof of His deity and Son-ship; and His return [a promise of God yet to be] to totally redeem all who have believed Him and to put an end to sin, and to reign in the hearts and lives of men on earth for all eternity: is the only way of salvation for all mankind. Any who add anything to faith or take away from faith teach a false gospel.

THE LAW IS HONORED THROUGH FAITH (v. 31).

Since people are justified by faith without the law does that void the law? Paul says, “NO!” The law was given to show mankind his condemnation; to cause him to fall on his knees before our righteous and holy God in repentance, calling on Him by faith.

In the work of Jesus Christ on the cross the demands of the law were fulfilled, thus, by faith it is possible for a sinner to be made righteous before God; not on his own merit, but on the merit of Jesus Christ.

In Christ the holiness and righteousness of God toward sin is intact. His love for His enemies is shown. All who believe Him are declared righteous. That is an amazing salvation

Actually the law is firmly established. All God desired is accomplished. Sinners; by God’s declaration; become saints.

When a person puts their faith in Jesus Christ the desire of their heart is to be with Him; to be like Him; to serve Him whenever and however possible. We desire to learn more about Him. We desire to be around others who love Him. We grieve over our sins and seek forgiveness quickly and diligently. We grieve over lost sinners who are condemned and pray for them, witness to them, and lead them to personal faith in Jesus. We seek to worship God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. That certainly sounds like the establishment/fulfillment of the law to me.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Preacher for the People

Let me say this up front, then, you can and will decide if you want to finish reading this or not.  The preacher who preaches to please the people, the largest groups, does not please God.  The Preacher of God; the prophet of God preaches what God says, not what men say.  Having said that hear the prophet Micah…

“Prophesy ye not, say they to them that prophesy: they shall not prophesy to them, that they shall not take shame. O thou that art named the house of Jacob, is the Spirit of the LORD straitened? Are these His doings? Do not My words do good to him that walketh uprightly? Even of late My people is risen up as an enemy: ye pull off the robe with the garment from them that pass by securely as men averse from war. The women of My people have ye cast out from their pleasant houses; from their children have ye taken away My glory for ever. Arise ye, and depart; for this is not your rest: because it is polluted, it shall destroy you, even with a sore destruction. If a man walking in the spirit and falsehood do lie, saying, I will prophesy unto thee of wine and of strong drink; he shall even be the prophet of this people.” Micah 2:6-11 (KJV)

Micah lived during some of, if not most of the time of Isaiah (See Isaiah 1:1 and Micah 1:1); they were in the era of the same kings.  Isaiah had told the people…

Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceit… Isaiah 30:10

I have always heard that you can catch more flies with honey. I have always wondered why you would want to ruin good honey by catching flies in it.  Besides I am offended at the thought that a human being is thought of as a fly.  People with a mind, who can think.  People can see the peril they are headed toward if they are warned of it; and that is what a prophet/preacher of God actually does.  Remember this; God’s warnings are also God’s promises.  He does fulfill every word He speaks – the negative and the positive.

Let me give you a study note from the MacArthur Study Bible then I will close this lesson…

2:6-11  False prophets, commanding Micah to cease prophesying, would certainly not prophesy against the people’s evil doings; they would not confront them with the divine standard of holiness.  Rather their false message (v. 7) had stopped the mouths of the true prophets and had permitted the rulers to engage  in social atrocities (vv. 8,9), leading the people to destruction (v. 10).  They didn’t want true prophecies; therefore, they got what they wanted (cf. Is. 30:10). It is best to understand that Micah speaks in v. 6 and God in vv. 7-11.

Who will you listen to?

If you truly love Jesus the one who died for your sins, was buried and rose again; then you will listen to His words.  “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” John 14:15

Jesus Through the Bible – The Greater Prophet

“The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto Him ye shall hearken; according to all that thou desiredst of the LORD thy God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not.’ And the LORD said unto me, ‘They have well spoken that which they have spoken. I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put My words in His mouth; and He shall speak unto them all that I shall command Him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto My words which He shall speak in My name, I will require it of him.’” Deuteronomy 18:15-19

Jesus, a prophet? Yes! But so much more than just a prophet. He is the Prophet of whom Moses spoke. Deuteronomy 34:10 tells us that when Moses had “died” (no man knowing his burial place) that “…There arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face.” No one after Moses except for Jesus could have laid claim to speaking with God “face to face”.

Jesus was like Moses in several ways

He was spared death as a baby (Exodus 2; Matthew 2:13-23);
He renounced a royal court (Philippians 2:5-8; Hebrews 11:24-27);
He had compassion on His people (Numbers 27:17; Matthew 9:36);
He made intercession for the people (Deuteronomy 9:18; Hebrews 7:25);
He spoke with God face to face (Exodus 34:29-30; 2 Corinthians 3:7);
He was the mediator of a covenant (Deuteronomy 29:1; Hebrews 8:6-7). These are from the MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE notes for Deuteronomy 18:15-19.

Jesus a prophet? Definitely. So much more than a prophet; the Prophet, the Lord, The Savior, the Redeemer of mankind; the Son of God, God the Son. The Mediator of a Greater Covenant – The Gospel of grace.

Honey – Dealing with Kings, Neighbors, and Enemies

“If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: for thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the LORD shall reward thee.
The north wind driveth away rain: so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue.
It is better to dwell in the corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman and in a wide house.
As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.
A righteous man falling down before the wicked is as a troubled fountain, and a corrupt spring.
It is not good to eat much honey: so for men to search their own glory is not glory.
He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.” Proverbs 25:21-28 (KJV)

Some notes and thoughts on Proverbs 25…

VERSES 1-7 – On verses two and three the MacArthur Study Bible notes,

“God…kings.The roles of God and the king are compared. God, whose knowledge is above all human knowledge (cf. Ps. 92:5; Eccl. 3:11; Is. 46:10; Acts 15:18; Heb. 4:13), and whose ways are unsearchable (cf. Job 5:9; Ps. 145:3; Is. 40:28), keeps things to Himself because He needs no counsel (see Rom. 11:34). On the contrary, kings should rightly seek to know what they must know in order to rule righteously.”

Looking at verses four and five we can conclude that kingdoms of men are established by God when wickedness is removed and righteousness is in place. There is silver present, but it must be refined by fire.

In verses six and seven we see that humility is an honorable trait even in places of authority.

VERSES 8-20 – Getting along with neighbors will be aided by not being hasty in judging them when they seem to be unwise, and in the end you are shamed by your own actions (vv. 8-10).
Using words wisely when dealing with our neighbors (vv. 11-12). Refreshing and encouraging words from a messenger (v. 13). Forbearance or patience is a necessity for good neighbors (vv. 14-15). Too much of a good and sweet thing will end in hatred of that very thing (vv. 16-17).

Being a good neighbor involves confidence in the right place and people, respecting truth and, others comfort, shelter, and nourishment (vv. 18-20).

VERSES 21-28 – We ought to treat our enemies as we would treat our neighbors. “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Matt. 19:19; 22:39; Mark 12:31; Luke 10:27; Rom 13:9; Gal. 5:14; James 2:8).
Those who have self control can be at peace with others, and lead others to peace. Without there will be broken and corrupt cities, churches, and leadership.

VERSES 16 and 27 – Honey is a natural sweetener. Too much of this sweetner will make one sick. Verse 16 prepares us for verse 17 where spending too much time a neighbor’s can be a thing that turns to hatred if not done in moderation.

A good example of staying too long at a neighbor’s home and hospitality is seen with Job’s friends (Job 2:11-13), and if they would have stayed silent by returnint to their homes, they would not have needed Job’s forgiveness; nor God’s (Job 42:7-10).

To search for one’s own glory is as bad as eating too much honey. It will make others sick, and possibly you sick as well.

Born in a Manger Meek and Mild, But not for Long

In Christian churches every Sunday the resurrection of Christ Jesus is mentioned, He is worshipped as the risen Saviour. We can say, and do say that we are His and He is ours. He is a glorious Saviour, Lord, risen Lord, and coming King.

There is an obscure set of verses in Matthew. The event; part of the events of the resurrection of Christ; is not mentioned by any of the other three Gospel writers.

There are some who do not believe in the resurrection period who classify it as myth, or merely allegory. However, if we call this merely “Allegory”, then we call Scripture a lie; and it is not.

Hear the writing of Matthew:

“And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after His resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.” Matthew 27:51-53 (KJV)

At the death of Jesus (v. 50) the veil of the temple was torn from the top to the bottom; signifying that the way to the presence and throne of God was open for all who would come through the cross of Jesus, and there was an earthquake. Notice that the graves of saints; Old Testament believers; were opened, and after the resurrection of Jesus many of these saints arose, and came out of their graves and appeared to other people.

There is much mystery in these verses. These people are mentioned nowhere else in Scripture. Let me give you a quote from the MacArthur Study Bible:

27:52 bodies of the saints…were raised. Matthew alone mentions this miracle. Nothing more is said about these people, which would be unlikely if they remained on earth for long. Evidently, these people were given glorified bodies; they appeared “to many” (v. 53), enough to establish the reality of the miracle; and then they no doubt ascended to glory– a kind of foretaste of 1 Thess. 4:16.”

These were part of the “First Fruits” of the first resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:20, 23; Revelation 20:5, 6).

There is life, and joy, and peace for all who will come by faith to the crucified, buried, and risen Saviour. He is coming again soon. When He comes again for His Church it will be in the air. It will not be secret; but only the redeemed of the Lord will be going with Him.

Jesus Through the Bible – Greater Prophet

“The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto Him ye shall hearken; according to all that thou desiredst of the LORD thy God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not.’ And the LORD said unto me, ‘They have well spoken that which they have spoken.  I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put My words in His mouth; and He shall speak unto them all that I shall command Him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto My words which He shall speak in My name, I will require it of him.'”  Deuteronomy 18:15-19

Jesus, a prophet?  Yes!  But so much more than just a prophet.  He is the Prophet of whom Moses spoke.  Deuteronomy 34:10 tells us that when Moses had “died” (no man knowing his burial place) that “…There arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face.”  No one after Moses except for Jesus could have laid claim to speaking with God “face to face”.

Jesus was like Moses in several ways

  1. He was spared death as a baby (Exodus 2; Matthew 2:13-23);
  2. He  renounced a royal court (Philippians 2:5-8; Hebrews 11:24-27);
  3. He had compassion on His people (Numbers 27:17; Matthew 9:36);
  4. He made intercession for the people (Deuteronomy 9:18;  Hebrews 7:25);
  5. He spoke with God face to face (Exodus 34:29-30; 2 Corinthians 3:7);
  6. He was the mediator of a covenant (Deuteronomy 29:1; Hebrews 8:6-7).  These are from the MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE notes for Deuteronomy 18:15-19.

Jesus a prophet?  Definitely.  So much more than a prophet; the Prophet, the Lord, The Saviour, the Redeemer of mankind.  The Mediator of a Greater Covenant – The Gospel of grace.

Words for Christian Living 060213

“Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, not to doubtful disputations. For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? To his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. 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. For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.”  Romans 14:1-7 (KJV)

On the matter of “Doubtful disputations” or “Disputes over doubtful things”  the MacArthur Study Bible note says, “Better translated, ‘for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions (or scruples).’  The mature believer should not sit in judgment on the sincere but underdeveloped thoughts that govern the weak believer’s conduct.”

-Tim A. Blankenship

God of Purer Eyes

Habakkuk 1:12-17

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

Originally published January 12, ’08

Observations From Mark – 031611

Today’s Reading is from Mark 11 – 13.

The religious leaders of Jesus ‘s day were having trouble with the idea of Messiah being more than a man; however, Jesus asks them a question concerning a writing of David, a king of Israel whom they all respected, and admired.

“And Jesus answered and said, while He taught in the temple, ‘How say the scribes that Christ is the Son of David?  For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, ‘The LORD said to my Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand, till I make Thine enemies Thy footstool.’  David therefore himself calleth Him Lord; and whence is He then his son?’ And the common people heard Him gladly.”  Mark 12:35-37 (KJV)

In this statement which is quoted from Psalm 110:1 declares Messiah to be David’s Lord.  The scribes are correct in calling Christ or Messiah the “Son of David”; however, since David is calling Him “Lord” then there is a great confession from David that the Christ is also the Son of God, the God-Man.

The following is a quote from the MacArthur Study Bible on verse 37;

12:37 David himself calls Him ‘Lord.’ Jesus interpreted Ps. 110:1 for the Pharisees.  David would not have called one of his descendants “Lord.”  Thus the Messiah is more than the “Son of David”– He is also the “Son of God.”  Jesus was proclaiming the Messiah’s deity, and thus His own (cf. Rom. 1:3; 2 Tim. 2:8; Matt. 22:45).

and from the ESV Study Bible;

Mark 12:35–37 While in the temple, Jesus publicly raises a question that he has already discussed in private with his disciples: who is the Messiah of God—is he essentially the son of David or the Lord of David? Jesus’ point is not to deny that the Messiah is a descendant of David (e.g., Ps. 2:1–12; 89:1–52; Isa. 9:1–7; Jer. 23:5–6; Ezek. 34:23–24). The issue is that, in this passage (i.e., Ps. 110:1–5), there is no mention of the Messiah being the son of David; rather, the Messiah is here the “Lord of David” (see note on Matt. 22:41–46). Jesus affirms the divine inspiration of the Psalm through the Holy Spirit. The Lord (Hb. Yahweh) grants to David’s Lord (Hb. ’Adonay) an exclusive place of honor at his right hand and helps David’s Lord overcome his enemies. Jesus anticipates being exalted to the right hand of God, and thus he far transcends any expectation of a merely political, Davidic messiah.

When anyone argues against the deity of Jesus Christ they argue against the very word of God; Old and New Testaments.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Observations From Deuteronomy – 022611

Reading today from Deuteronomy 17 – 19.

People of our world today are searching for answers.  They want answers concerning their future.  Who will be my spouse?  How will this investment I am about to make turn out?  Will it make me wealthy, or will it leave  me in bankruptcy?  We all have this inkling to know what tomorrow holds.  Some turn to horoscopes, also known as astrology, reading of signs, and forms of witchcraft and sorcery.

God forbids His people to have part in these things.  The LORD even tells us that He is driving out the Canaanites because of this very thing.  Their abominations/evil practices.

Yet, there are professing Christians who dabble in these “dark arts”.  They say things like, “What does it hurt?” or “I just do it for fun” or “It doesn’t affect my fellowship with God or other Christians”.  In this study today we will make some observations which will show  us that even the early church shows us that these were evil things, and are not for the dabbling of those who love Jesus Christ.  Today we look at…

“When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations.  There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.  For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee.  Thou shalt be perfect with the LORD thy God.  For these nations, which thou shalt possess, hearkened unto observers of times, and unto diviners: but as for thee, the LORD thy God hath not suffered thee so to do.”  Deuteronomy 18:9-14 (KJV)

There are nine practices which are named in the above text.  The first of which is the offering of one’s child in the fire.  The Canaanite worship had involved the worship of  at least three deities which were Baal, Moloch, and Ashtoroth.  I am not going to get into their worship practices because they are vile, immoral and not worthy of any recognition.  All we need to see is that first one listed involved the offering of children to the fires, and this was to Moloch.  It is amazing how we can make laws or gods convenient for out beliefs.  I heard it said, “Man makes god after his own image”; and there is a small element of truth to that.

Those who worship false deities have made these gods to suit their own hearts.  They fashion the gods to find their pleasure, comfort, and convenience.  Isn’t it amazing that in the Canaanite forms of worship they had a god like Baal who offered them all the sexual immorality in worshipping this deity and that of Ashtoreth; and children were born as a result of all this immoral conduct; then, they didn’t want the children and offered them to Moloch.  How convenient.

The GOD of heaven; who created all things created mankind in His own image.  That image has fallen into sin and no longer glorifies Him.  He called out the people we know as Jews or Hebrews, and through them has sent a Savior into this world as an offering for our sins.

The MacArthur Study Bible notes for these verses tells us,

18:9-12 the abominations of those nations. Moses gave a strict injunction not to copy, imitate, or do what the polytheistic Canaanites did.  Nine detestable practices of the Canaanites were delineated in vv. 10, 11, namely: 1) sacrificing children in the fire; 2) witchcraft, seeking to determine the will of the gods by examining and interpreting omens; 3) soothsaying, attempting to control the future through power given by evil spirits; 4) interpreting omens, telling the future based on signs; 5) sorcery, inducing magical effects by drugs or some other sort of potion; 6) conjuring spells binding other people by magical muttering; 7) being a medium, one who supposedly communicates with the dead, but actually communicates with demons; 8 ) being a spiritist, one who has an intimate acquaintance with the demonic, spiritual world; and 9) calling up the dead, investigating and seeking information from the dead.  These evil practices were the reason the Lord was going to drive the Canaanites out of the land.”

From page 276 NKJV edition.

Christians, listen to the Lord here.  It was forbidden by God for the Israelites to take part in this evil.  It was at least part of the reason God drove the Canaanites from the land, and gave it to Israel.  If Israel participated in the evil they then would be chastised, sent into captivity, and suffer much until they returned to the Lord.

There is a portion of Scripture in the book of Acts which tells us what some new believers in Christ did with books concerning sorcery and such;

“And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.  And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds.  Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.  So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.”  Acts 19:17-20

I am not advocating the burning of books.  I am, however, asking Christians to forsake these dark arts; and trust only in the LORD.  He alone knows our tomorrow.  It does make a difference what you believe.  Your beliefs will have a part affecting your morality and life.  I am advocating for a fire of passion for our Christ, our Lord and Savior.  One of the verse of Deuteronomy says, “Thou shalt be perfect with the LORD thy God”.  Jesus even said,

“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”  Matthew 5:48

The only way of “perfection” with God is through the cross of Jesus Christ.  He is perfect and by His death, burial and resurrection we are made perfect before the LORD God.  Obedience is not optional.

Please read Deuteronomy 17 – 19

-Tim A. Blankenship

My Observations 020311

The Bible reading for today is Leviticus 11 – 13.

We are now into matters of foods; in particular meats; that the people of Israel are commanded to eat.  In the mind of the Gentile man or woman these may seem quite archaic or unnecessary; however, these are commandments for Israel; not Gentiles.  That may be partially why these commandments on eating meats, leprosy, and others following are given.

It is not for the people to understand why these laws were given; it is for the people to obey God.

“Ye shall not make yourselves abominable with any creeping thing that creepeth, neither shall ye make yourselves unclean with them, that ye should be defiled thereby.  For I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.  For I am the LORD that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.  This is the law of the beasts, and of the fowl, and of every living creature that moveth in the waters, and of every creature that creepeth upon the earth: to make a difference between the unclean and the clean, and between the beast that may be eaten and the beast that may not be eaten.”  Leviticus 11:43-47 (KJV)

In these verses above it seems that the LORD gives us the most important reason for obedience to these laws.  It is God’s command to “be holy”.  Leviticus is about holiness.  God’s call to His people is to be holy as He is holy.  Holiness is cleanliness.

Let me quote from the MacArthur Study Bible on these verses,

11:1-47 This section contains further legislation on the consumption of animals.  Abel’s offering hints at a “post-Fall/pre-Flood” diet of animals (Gen. 4:4).  After the Noahic flood, God specifically had granted man permission to eat meat (Gen. 9:1-4), but here spelled out the specifics as covenant legislation.  All of the reasons for the prohibitions are not specified.  The major points were: 1) that Israel was to obey God’s absolute standard, regardless of the reason for it, or the lack of understanding of it; and 2) such a unique diet was specified that Israel would find it difficult to eat with idolatrous people around and among them.  Their dietary laws served as a barrier to easy socialization with idolatrous peoples. Dietary and hygienic benefits were real, but only secondary to the divine purposes of obedience and separation.

FROM THE MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE NKJV p. 168

There is an example here for Christians to follow as well.  We are commanded in the New Testament, “Come out from among them, and be ye separate” (2 Corinthians 6:17), and “Be ye holy for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15, 16).  The world in which we live today is shouting for Christians to be holy, separate, and clean; yet we have professing Christians dressing as the world dresses, eating as the world eats, entertaining as the world entertains; the world sees no difference in the way we live and their way of life; and we wonder why there is a decrease in the numbers of people coming to Christ.

We don’t have to copy the world’s music, dress, entertainment, and worship styles to “win the lost”.  We must, however, be holy and separate from them, and then they may just have a reason to hear the message that only Christ can change us.  If we love Jesus Christ let’s let our lives show what only Christ can do.

Take time to read Leviticus 11 – 13.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Servant, The Word, and Traditions of Men

Mark 7:1-37

“1 Then came together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, which came from Jerusalem. 2 And when they saw some of his disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen, hands, they found fault. 3 For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. 4 And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables. 5 Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands?” Mark 7:1-5 (KJV)

If there is fault to find the fault would be with those who seek to find fault with that which is perfect.  The disciples, or followers of Jesus are not perfect, but they do follow a perfect Lord and Savior.  The “Nay-sayers” and “fault finders” are simply without any evidence of truth, and so object to any one who is living out the truth; which is the life of Jesus.

In the day we live in there are good health reasons for washing of hands.  To wash hands after using the restroom is certainly a means of preventing disease, illness, or sickness.  Washing one’s hands after using a handrail or shaking hands with people is a good idea, to prevent colds, the Swine flu [h1n1] threat of the day, or other sickness.  There is much sickness that is passed from one person to another just by the hands, so washing them often is a good idea, but let’s not be obnoxious about it.

There are a lot of people who believe the saying, “Cleanliness is next to godliness” is in the Bible.  It is not.  I think the religious leaders of Jesus’ day must have thought that it was.  They had developed a tradition of “Handwashing” which they had elevated over Scriptures.  Not only had they done that, but they had neglected to practice the practical teachings of Scripture concerning caring for parents (vv. 10-11).

Verse 3 –  “except they wash”

G3538
νίπτω
niptō
nip’-to
To cleanse (especially the hands or the feet or the face); ceremonially to perform ablution: – wash. Compare G3068.

v. 4 – “except they wash”

G907
βαπτίζω
baptizō
bap-tid’-zo
From a derivative of G911; to make whelmed (that is, fully wet); used only (in the New Testament) of ceremonial ablution, especially (technically) of the ordinance of Christian baptism: – baptist, baptize, wash.

In verses three and four we have the word “wash” used in  two different ways.  The one in verse three has to do with the washing of hands before eating their meal in a ceremonial fashion.

“The ceremony involved someone pouring water out of a jar onto another’s hands; whose fingers must be pointing up.  As long as the water dripped off at the wrist, the person could proceed to the next step.  He then had water poured over both hands with the fingers pointing down.  Then each hand was to be rubbed with the fist of the other hand.” FROM MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE pg. 1473.

Verse four is our word for “Baptism”, and it leaves us with the idea that after these men had been to the market, around a lot of people, they were required to take a ceremonial bath [it could be only the immersing of their hands in water] before they could even eat a meal.  That seems like a whole lot of trouble to eat a meal.

The disciples were eating without the ceremonial cleansing of their hands.  The question was brought up by the Pharisees as to why this was so.  Nit pickers is the word I would use concerning them.  Eating without washing the hands defiles no one.

The Pharisees were actually accusing Jesus of teaching the disciples against the “traditions of the elders”.
For verses 1 – 13 J. C. Ryle wrote, 1)

“The first thing which demands our attention in these verses, is the low and degraded condition of Jewish religion, when our Lord was upon earth.”;   2) “The second thing, that demands our attention, is the uselessness of mere lip-service in the worship of God.”;   3)  “The last thing that demands our attention in these verses, is the tendency of man’s inventions in religion to supplant God’s word.”

“6 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. 7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. 8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. 9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. 10 For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: 11 But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. 12 And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; 13 Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye. 14 And when he had called all the people unto him, he said unto them, Hearken unto me every one of you, and understand: 15 There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man. 16 If any man have ears to hear, let him hear. 17 And when he was entered into the house from the people, his disciples asked him concerning the parable. 18 And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him; 19 Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats? 20 And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: 23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.”  Mark 7:6-23 (KJV)

When the traditions of men become as important or in the case of the Pharisees more important than the clear teachings of God’s Word, then hypocrisy had crept in and the Word of God has no affect on the heart.  These were, in effect, honoring God with their lips, but their heart was unclean and far from God – “Wherefore the Lord said, ‘Forasmuch as this people draw near Me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor Me, but have removed their heart far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the precept of men…” (Isaiah 29:13).

The Pharisees were teaching the traditions of men as though they were “doctrine” with the same authority and inspiration of Scriptures.  They were wrong.  Are there ways by which we can put “traditions” above Scripture?  How about some rules concerning our buildings, area of worship, music in worship, giving of offerings in worship, our dress, physical appearance, etc.?  Can a born again/Christian be a hypocrite?  NO!  Can we be hypocritical?  YES!

G5273
ὑποκριτής
hupokritēs
hoop-ok-ree-tace’
From G5271; an actor under an assumed character (stage player), that is, (figuratively) a dissembler (“hypocrite”): – hypocrite.

A “Hypocrite” is, “an actor under an assumed character”.  Basically someone pretending to be something they are not.  They can boast long and loud of their faith and character, but there is no fruit, proof, or evidence of it.  Jesus called these men “You hypocrites…”.  They were “Hypocrites” not just hypocritical.  They put on a good religious front, but had nothing of the heart.

They had even taken the commandment of God which says, “Honor your father and mother” and put a tradition with it which allowed them to withhold support from their elderly parents if they had designated the support need as “a gift”.  “Corban” was the phrase they used to exonerate themselves from supporting their parents.  That is one of their traditions which had taken the place of Scripture.  They had in affect made of “None effect” by their traditions.

The heart of man is desperately wicked.  It is from the heart that man is defiled and made unclean.  Nothing from without us can make us unclean.  It is due to an unclean heart that we stand condemned by God, to a Christless eternity.  “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?  Jeremiah 17:9 (KJV)”.   Can we hear the words of Jesus as He tells us that He is more concerned with the depraved heart of man than He is with “sacrifice”; “And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.  1 Samuel 15:22-23 (KJV)”.  Although this is Old Testament it certainly portrays the depraved heart, in thinking that an act of “sacrifice” is greater than the written Word of God.

J. C. Ryle writes for verses 14 – 23, 1)

“We see in the beginning of this passage, how slow of understanding men are in spiritual things.”;   2)  “We see, in the second place, from this passage, that the heart is the chief source of defilement and impurity in God’s sight.”;   3)  “We see, in the last place, from this passage, what a black catalogue of evils the human heart contains.”

“24 And from thence he arose, and went into the borders of Tyre and Sidon, and entered into an house, and would have no man know it: but he could not be hid. 25 For a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell at his feet: 26  The woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation; and she besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter. 27 But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it unto the dogs. 28 And she answered and said unto him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs. 29 And he said unto her, For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter. 30 And when she was come to her house, she found the devil gone out, and her daughter laid upon the bed.”  Mark 7:24-30 (KJV)

The “dogs” to which Jesus refers is not a derogatory term of meaning “mean, vicious, or mangy”, but most likely a family pet.  Jesus ministry was to be to the household of Israel, and this woman was a Gentile, “And a Canaanite woman from that region came out and began to cry out, saying, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed.”  Matthew 15:22 (NASB)”, and He viewed this woman and her child as part of the household, but not a prominent part of it.  The “dogs” were under the table.

This was a test of the woman’s faith.  How would she respond?  Would she leave disappointed or would she keep on believing, and trust the Savior to do His work in her and her daughter?  She would believe.  The woman’s daughter was another one who was demon possessed.  It does not go into any details to tell us the situation of the daughter – how this demon effected her life – it just simply tells us she “had an unclean spirit”.

Just by His Word Jesus delivers the daughter, and the mother leaves believing the saying to be true.  That is a wonderful faith.  Concoction of rules does not a righteous person make.  Believing the Word of God and obeying is the path of righteousness.

J. C. Ryle on verses 24 – 30,

1)  “In the first place, this passage is meant to encourage us to pray for others.”;   2)  “In the second place, this passage is meant to teach us to persevere in praying for others.”

“31 And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, he came unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis. 32 And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him. 33 And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue; 34 And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. 35 And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain. 36 And he charged them that they should tell no man: but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it; 37 And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.”  Mark 7:31-37 (KJV)

Someone has said, “We have two ears and one mouth, so that means we are to do twice as much listening as we do speaking”.  That is really good advice.  It is with that that it seems Jesus may have thought the same thing, because He opened up his hearing first.  Part of that would be because most people who do not hear cannot speak, or cannot speak well also.

It is important that we listen; especially to the Word of the Lord; so that we might faithfully and powerfully proclaim it to a world that is lost and condemned by sin.  Hear the Word of God then proclaim it.  Jesus said above, “If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.” (v.16).  All that Jesus said and taught is worth our hearing and doing.

The Lord opened the ears so me might hear the Gospel of Christ and be saved, and He gave us speech so that we might praise Him, and sound forth the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ.  Do you have redeemed ears, and a redeemed mouth?  If you are in Jesus Christ you have.

Ryle wrote,

1)”The first thing that demands our notice in these verses, is the mighty miracle that is here recorded.”;   2)  “The second thing which demands our notice in these verses, is the peculiar manner in which our Lord thought good to work the miracle here recorded.”;   3)  “But there is one simple lesson to be learned from our Lord’s conduct on this occasion. That lesson is, that Christ was not tied to the use of any one means in doing His works among men.”;   4)  “We see the same thing going on still in the Church of Christ. We see continual proof that the Lord is not tied to the use of any one means exclusively in conveying grace to the soul.”;   5)  “The last thing which demands our notice in these verses, is the remarkable testimony which was borne by those who saw the miracle here recorded.”

If we do not do what we hear we are hypocrites and do not glorify the Lord of life. The miracle of your changed life is what others will see.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Old and The New

“And the disciples of John and of the Pharisees used to fast: and they come and say unto him, Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but thy disciples fast not?  And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? as long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.  But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days.  No man also seweth a piece of new cloth on an old garment: else the new piece that filled it up taketh away from the old, and the rent is made worse.  And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles.” Mark 2:18-22 (KJV)

The Old Testament Law only called for one fast per year, and that was on the “Day of Atonement”.  The religious leaders of Jesus’ day had made it a pious thing to fast twice per week.  If you did not do that you were not holy, or right with God.  What it really was is you were not right with the Pharisaical interpretation of the law.

It was a new day.  The Bridegroom was here, and He had gathered His “children of the bridechamber” and while He was with them was no time to fast, but rejoice, celebrate, work and be glad.

With Jesus’ death on the cross there is no more room for the sacrifice of bullocks, lambs, goats, birds, or grains.  The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin.  The old has been done away, the new has come and the blending of the new and the old will not work.  Old, used wine skins will crack and burst if new wine is put into them.  A new piece of material used to patch an old garment will shrink and make the hole of the garment even worse when the garment has been washed.

The new man, (“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (KJV)) in Christ Jesus has no need of the old ceremonial system, or dependence upon keeping the “feast days”.  He has the real thing.  He has Jesus.  To incorporate them into the life would be to say the blood of Jesus is insufficient.  It would tear the faith of Christ apart.  The MacArthur Study Bible note says  of Matthew 9:17,

“Jesus used this illustration to teach that the forms of old rituals, such as the cermonial fastings practiced by the Pharisees and John’s disciples, were not fit for the new wine of the New Covenant era (“Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:  Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.”  Colossians 2:16-17 (KJV))  In both analogies, the Lord was saying that what the Pharisees did in fasting or any other ritual had no part with the gospel”

verses of Colossians 2:16-17 filled in by TAB.

There are times we need to learn to incorporate new things into our lives to live in the times in which we live.  There does not have to be a compromise of truth in order to do that.  Of course Jesus is speaking in this instance of the gospel, and its greatness.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Independence? Godly And/Or Ungodly?

The prophet Isaiah has already warned of dependence upon the Assyrians for the help of Judah. Yet, Ahaz refuses to relent, and depends on them anyway. That rebellion on God is really based on a “Godless Independence”. Anything but depending on the only one who can truly help us.

Due to the rebellion of Ahaz, the Word of the LORD comes to Isaiah once again, and here is what we read:

“The LORD spake also unto me again, saying,  Forasmuch as this people refuseth the waters of Shiloah that go softly, and rejoice in Rezin and Remaliah’s son;  Now therefore, behold, the Lord bringeth up upon them the waters of the river, strong and many, even the king of Assyria, and all his glory: and he shall come up over all his channels, and go over all his banks: And he shall pass through Judah; he shall overflow and go over, he shall reach even to the neck; and the stretching out of his wings shall fill the breadth of thy land, O Immanuel.

Associate yourselves, O ye people, and ye shall be broken in pieces; and give ear, all ye of far countries: gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces; gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces. Take counsel together, and it shall come to nought; speak the word, and it shall not stand: for God is with us.” Isaiah 8:5-10 (KJV)

Ahaz was independent, or so he thought. He was independent of God, the LORD. He was however, very dependent upon the Assyrians. He truly had a faulty independence.

Many citizens of the United States of America believe themselves to be independent, yet they are in slavery, and dependence upon things which basically control their lives. Like debt. There is the debt on their house they live in. They are in debt for the cars they drive. Some are even indebted to their children. They trust in these things to get them through life. Too many are not depending on God.

The people of Judah had refused the refreshing water that flowed from Shiloah. The “Waters of Shiloah ” was the stream which flowed from the Gihon spring outside Jeruslem’s wall which flowed to the Pool of Siloam which supplied the city’s water. It was a symbol of the people’s dependence upon the LORD, but they, through king Ahaz were forsaking it for the overflow of Assyria.

The prophet likens the Assyria as the banks of the Euphrates River overflowing and coming and conquering the land of Judah, and Israel. “O Immanuel” is a sadness because the land of Immanuel was about to be stripped of her glory. “What a pity that He who owns and will someday possess the land must see it in such a devastated condition!” MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE p.967.

“Be broken you peoples” God says to the Assyrians who are full of pride because of their conquest of the land. “Your time is coming” seems to be God’s warning to them in their arrogance. Your armor, your vast army will be shattered. And, God states this twice as though to give them double damage. The plotting and scheming of the counsel of men cannot stand against the Almighty God. Their words, their plans will fall to nothing, and so will those of the world leaders today. They will come to naught. God is with us.

God is with us, or “Immanuel”. He is still with Israel, and will fulfill all His promises to them. He will never fail to fulfill His Word. His promise is “God is with us”. That is not “Godless Independence”; that is Godly dependence.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Who Is Jesus???

The question, the title of this article  is still one that is often asked; even in this modern, or post-modern society.  Does it really matter who Jesus is?  Some think so, and that includes myself.

There is plenty of historical evidence that a man named Jesus lived during the time of the one named in the New Testament.  Was he just a man who was different from all men, and inspired great hope in others; or was He something more?

Many of the world religions believe Jesus lived, but to Mohammed he was only a prophet.  The god [Allah] of Mohammed has no son.  The followers of Mohammed need no one to die in their place.  To many other religions of the world they seem to all place Jesus in the realm of a “great teacher” or a “great prophet”, but Son of God, or God incarnate?  NO!

The question has even came up in talk shows concerning the matter of Jesus.  There are well known people, celebrities who tell things such as “We can all become our own savior, our own god, by becoming a christ spirit, or allowing the christ spirit to inhabit us”.  In my mind it is a mixture of demonism, and self worship; which when it really comes down to the truth is demon worship.

Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do men say that I am?”  The following is the full question and the session where Jesus asked the question:

“When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.” Matthew 16:13-20 (KJV)

You will notice that when Jesus had asked the question there were various answers.  “Some say you are John the Baptist; some that you are Elijah; others say you are Jeremiah or one of the other prophets” .  It seems that people may have believed in some form of reincarnation or something.

Let’s think about that question for a moment.  “Who do men say that I [Jesus] am?”  To some he is a good teacher, or a good prophet, or a good example to follow.  Does that really answer who Jesus is?  I really don’t think so.

Jesus’s question includes the term “Son of man”.  For Jesus and His work this was a term of respect, and only used of on other man in history, and that was the prophet Ezekiel.  For Ezekiel it meant that he was a prophet of the Deity.  For Jesus it means much more.

As we look further into this dialogue Jesus asked the great question which all people need to answer.  “Who do you say that I am?”  Who is Jesus to you?  Your answer to this question will determine your destiny for eternity.  There is only one answer which God blesses.

Peter, the hasty one, answered very quickly, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  “Christ” is the annointed one.  This would mean the Messiah of Israel the Annointed One of God.  The Messiah is the Son of God and the Son of man.  God became flesh and dwelt among us.  He is Immanuel meaning “God with us”.    Where did Peters answer; his confession come from?  How did he know this answer?  Listen to the words of Jesus.

“Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. “

Jesus blesses Peter for his answer telling him that this did not come from his own mind or flesh, but by revelation from God.  His [Peter’s] answer was more than just an intellectual knowledge, it was heavenly knowledge given him by God the Father.  No one can, in or of themselves, just decide one day that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God.  It comes by revelation from God.  When it comes by revelation from God, that is when that becomes a strong conviction one will die for, and it is one worth living for to die for.  Peter would later give his life for the cause of Jesus Christ.

The blessing the Lord gave to Peter was more than just words.  The confession of Peter becomes the bedrock, the foundation upon which the Church [the Body of Christ] is built.  No one comes into Christ apart from this confession.  No one comes without the faith announcement, heart conviction, life changing event, of acknowledging that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

Jesus was not saying that Peter was the rock upon which the Church is built.  The Rock is Christ, and our confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

Jesus tells  Peter that He gives to him the “Keys to the kingdom”.  Keys represent authority.  With keys we can shut up a building to prevent entry by unauthorized personel.  With keys we secure a car, a truck, a building.  That is what gives us power over what we own, or are given from an approved authority.

The following is from The MacArthur Study Bible on the matter of the “Keys of the kingdom of heaven” –

 

16:19 the keys of the kingdom of heaven.  These represent authority, and here Christ gives  Peter (and by extension all other believers) authority to declare what was bound or loosed in heaven.  This echoed the promise of John 20:23, where Christ gave the disciples authority to forgive or retain the sins of people.  All this must be understood in the context of 18:15-17, where Christ laid out specific, instructions for dealing with sin in the church.”

The MacArthur Study Bible, NKJV, p. 1423

This includes the power that we have in prayer, the leadership in our churches, and our power with God in heaven.

The question remains, “Who is Jesus?”  It does not really matter who others say He is; when it gets down to where the rubber hits the road; then what really matters is who Jesus is to you.

If you do not see Him as the Christ, the Son of the living God, then you are not in a right relationship with God, you are lost, condemned, yet in your sins.  Jesus said to Philip, “If you have seen me you have seen the Father” (John 14:9-11).

God, and Father, open the eyes of all who may read this that they may see the truth of who Jesus is, and save them for YOUR own glory.  Amen.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Christian Soldier – Prepared For Battle

Ephesians 6:10-20

PURPOSE: Seeing how we are constantly bombarded with evil in society, which comes from the “evil one’; we Christians must be as soldiers, prepared for the battle of good against evil, the flesh against the Spirit, pride against humility, love against hate, and be equipped by the strength of the Lord, the power of His might and learning to put on, and keeping on the armor of God.

THE FINAL EVIDENCE OF THE FILLING OF THE SPIRIT IN THE CHRISTIAN’S LIFE (vv. 5:18, 6:10).  “Finally” concludes the evidences of the filling of the Spirit which the apostle gives from verse eighteen of chapter five and runs through verse eighteen of chapter six.  I am saying that to put on the armor which we are commanded to put on, and the keeping on of that armor are evidences of the “Filling”

Let’s recap what has already been said of the “Filling of the Spirit”.  When you are filled with the Spirit of God:

1. You are controlled by the Spirit of God (v. 5:18);
2. Your life is a musical; your life is filled with song and thanksgiving (vv. 5:19-20);
3. You are submissive to others, or to one another (v. 5:21);
4. The Spirit filled wife is submissive to her husband (vv. 5:22-24);
5. The Spirit filled husband loves his wife sacrificially as “Christ died for the church” (vv. 5:25-31)
6. Spirit filled children will honor their parents (vv. 6:1-3);
7. Spirit filled parents will lovingly teach, discipline, and direct their children in the Lord (v. 4);
8. The Spirit filled laborer/worker/employee will be a diligent, faithful, hard working, unselfish, having high integrity, in the work for Christ sake (vv. 5-8);
9. The Spirit filled boss/manager/supervisor/owner will be well behaved toward his laborers/workers/employees: paying a better than average wage required by government; and see to it that all workers are treated fairly and equally.

The final three chapters of Ephesians are the practical aspects of what the apostle is teaching in the first three chapters.  These are surely practical, and show us how we ought to live personally, toward others, and this final one in the spiritual world as well; which many times, if not all the time; is manifest in the flesh and  blood of humanity.

We live in a desperately wicked world, and as Christians if we are not diligent and  vigilant we can find ourselves living a life of defeat.  Paul encourages us with these great words, Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.  This reminds me of the prophet Zechariah’s inspired words, “Not by might nor by power; but by My Spirit, says the LORD” (Zechariah 4:6).  The only way for us to “be strong” effectively is in the Lord, and that happens as we obey Him and His Word.  The Spirit of God can only work in us for godly living as we obey the Word of God.  The disobedient child of God is not in the will of God, and out of fellowship, out of tune with the leading of the Spirit of God.  No disobedient Christian can faithfully follow the will of God, nor can the disobedient Christian be strong in the Lord, and the power of His might.

The only answer for that is seeking God’s forgiveness (1 John 1:9), receiving that forgiveness; then, living faithfully to God, His Word and the direction of His Spirit.  Be strong… in the power of His might.

The Spirit filled Christian will be a good soldier of Christ.

THE COMMAND, THE EQUIPMENT AND THE BATTLE (vv. 11-13).  Imagine if you will you can see the apostle, possibly chained to a Roman soldier, as he is imprisoned in a cold, wet, dark, cell.  He has occassionally caught the look of the armor the soldiers wear, and God has given him this illustration of the Christian’s armor.  You can tell where Paul’s heart is.  It is on the Lord Jesus Christ, and the people who have and who are coming to Christ as their Lord and Savior.  The apostle wants, even desires that his brethren be made strong, protected, powerful, and sturdy in the fight of the faith, and for the faith.

In these verses Paul gives us the command to put on the whole armor of God.  He also gives us the equipment of the armor; which consist of, the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, battle shoes, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and for a weapon, the Sword of the Spirit.  Could there be one more weapon?  I believe there is and it is the weapon of prayer.  It is more powerful than an ICBM (Inter-Continental Ballistic Missle), or any other missile for that matter, because it is faster, and hits with much more impact, and only damages evil.

We are told that the battle is not against flesh and blood, but against forces which we cannot see.  Evil is a force (within politics, religion, etc.) of our enemy [the devil] which works deceptively; destroying individuals, marriages, families, towns and cities, State and Federal governments, and the whole world; which the devil uses to try and overthrow the reign of God.  We can see God’s view on this in the Second Psalm:

“Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.” Psalms 2:1-3 (KJV)

The battle rages everyday of our lives.  We cannot back down, nor lose hope.  Though the enemy has already been defeated on the cross by our Lord Jesus Christ; he is still a foe that we must deal with in the Spirit of God.  His doom is sure.  His teeth have been shattered, and all he can really do is roar, and make a big stink.  However, the Christian must daily be filled with the Spirit, putting on the whole armor of God to stand, and stand firm against the onslaughts of Satan, that others may come to faith, grow more into the image of Christ our Lord, and be eternally with Him in glory.

The evil day is any time Satan’s attacks are worsening.  It seems to me that they are worsening everyday now.  It is actually speaking of when things in the world are at their worst.  With the economy crumbling and especially with many people’s investments in Wall Street, there is much fear, worry and dread.  May the Spirit filled Christian and her resting in Christ be the cause of peace in many more.  Whent he attacks seem unbearable, even in this can the Christian – Spirit filled – and fully armored, stand.  Praise God!

STANDING, FIGHTING WITH THE ARMOR IN THE STRENGTH AND MIGHT OF OUR LORD (vv. 14-17).  Some years ago there was a song I heard several times with the words, “We are walking into the enemies camp, and laying our weapons down; shedding our armor as we go, and leaving it on the ground.”  I believe this was the chorus of the song.  It did, however, catch my attention.  I think you can see what the writer of that song was saying.

This is not the time for Christians to be laying our armor, nor our weapons down at the feet of the enemy.  This is the time for us to gird up our loins with the belt of truth, taking all those things which hinder us and tucking them away so we can fight.  Why is it that some “Christian” hymnals have taken songs such as “Onward Christian Soldiers” out of the hymnal?  Some have changed to wording of songs so as not to offend the world.  Has any one figured out yet that the gospel message of Jesus Christ, the cross, burial and resurrection offends this world!?  (I guess it would be alright to view the previous sentence as an exclamation or a question).  To put on the belt of truth requires that the Christian spend time daily in the Word of God, hearing God through those things written by the prophets, lawgivers, singers, and historical writers.

The belt of truth is used as the means to hold other pieces of equipment in place.  With it you had a  place to carry the Sword.  The “belt of truth” for the Christian is the “truthfulness” continued, abiding living a committed, dedicated life to the battle for Christ, without hypocrisy, and devoted to victory.

The breastplate of righteousness described by the MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE,

“The breastplate was usually a tough, sleeveless piece of leather or heavy material with animal horn or hoof pieces sewn on, covering th soldier’s full torso, protecting his heart and other vital organs.  Because righteousness, or holiness, is such a distinctive characteristic of God Himself, it is not hard to understand why that is the Christian’s chief protection against Satan and  his schemes.  As believers faithfully live in obedience to and communion with Jesus Christ, His own righteousness produces in them the practical, daily righteousness that becomes the spiritual breastplate.  Lack of holiness, on the other hand, leaves them vulnerable to the great enemy of their souls (cf. Is. 59:17;  2 Cor. 7:1;  1 Thess. 5:8).

THE MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE, p. 1815.

Righteousness has been put to our account, because of Jesus’s death on the cross, and in our place.  This breastplate protects the Christian from the frontal assaults of Satan as he bombards with accusation which has been forgiven, insults, defamation and lies.  When we are clothed in the righteousness and armored in the breastplate of righteousness we can rest assured in Christ Jesus and enter the battle with confidence that, “No weapon that is formed against us shall prosper” (Isaiah54:17a).

A good soldier will have on the proper shoe or boot for the journey, and the battles that will be faced.  The shoe will provide good traction, stable footing, a steady foundation.  The feet are our foundation for travelling.  The means of going, and carrying out the mission to which every soldier has been called.  The feet of the Christian soldier is to be ready to share the gospel wherever we may go.  The Christian soldier is assured of eternal salvation, and knows how to share his personal testimony, and give a clear presentation of the message of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 3:15).  His feet are “shod” and, ready to go at a moments notice.

Though most modern troops/soldiers do not carry shields, each soldier knows the value of a shield.  If we have been watching some news clips on television news we have seen some of our soldiers walking beside the hum-vees using them as a shield from the enemy bullets.  We see them hunkered down behind walls as shields as well.  In many cases it would be foolish not to seek a shield for protection.  For the Christian we cannot exist without the shield of faith.

When the enemy come swinging his sword of evil, and shooting his “fiery darts” of hatred; the shield of faith is raised to turn them away.  Sometimes the blows of evil and darts of hate can be felt, but they fall harmlessly to the ground yielding to the raised “shield of faith”;

“When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.”  Isaiah 59:19 (KJV)

The enemy will stop at nothing in order to make us stumble in our faith.  The “shield of faith” can only be effective when the “loins are girt about with truth”; when the “breastplate of righteousness” is in place, and our feet are “shod”, and prepared to preach the “foolishness” of the cross of Christ (1 Corinthians 1:18).

The helmet of salvation is protection for the head; for if you lose the head you lose your life.  The Roman soldier’s helmet protected him from a simple blow to the head, and from being knocked unconscious from a seemingly minor blow, disabling him from the battle.  When an individual is born again they receive this salvation, as though awakened out of sleep or from death with this helmet.  It is from our head that we have our senses of sight, smell, hearing and taste; and without the head we would have no sense of touch.  The total body is ruled by the head.

It is with salvation one’s eyes are opened to the things of God; that one can begin to tell a spiritual stench from spiritual fragrance; that one begins to hear God’s commands and do what He says, that one can taste the Word of God, and that it is good, in fact DELICIOUS.

The apostle now proceeds to the offensive equipment/weapons.  The first item is the Sword of the Spirit.  The Roman soldier’s main offensive weapon was his sword.  Once trained in its use he could wield his sword with great accuracy and power.

Notice, by the text that this Sword is the “Word of God”.  The power of God’s Spirit in our lives is in the Word of God.  The Holy Spirit of God, who resides, dwells in every believer speaks to and through the one who is familiar with the Word of God.  The Sword would literally be the Word of God present, and at work in the spirit filled soldier of Jesus Christ; not just words on onion paper, and bound in leather; but written in our hearts.  The writer of Hebrews likened the Word to a “two edged sword,” and as  “a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).  The sword of God’s Word is not only powerful to its handler, but also to anyone within its thrust.

The preacher of God’s Word can stand confidently knowing God’s Word and God’s Spirit work together in power, doing the work for which God intends it.  He can stand with that Bible in his hands and know, that no matter what portion of Scripture he uses; a message from God is being proclaimed.  The “rightly divided” Word.

STANDING WITH GOD IN PRAYER (vv. 18-20).  Not too many see it, but it seems to me that prayer must be the second offensive weapon that we have in Christ.  I wrote earlier that it is more powerful and an ICBM and accomplishes far more in God’s glory.  What could be more important for the soldier of Christ than to kneel before His presence, tell him our hearts fears concerning the battle, receive His encouragements, corrections and rebukes, and also receive His instruction for fighting the battle ahead?

A lot of spiritual warfare is fought on our knees.  As a matter of fact no victory will be secured if prayer is not practiced.  In prayer we find and receive power to do the will of God; we are strengthened and encouraged for the battle(s) ahead.  In prayer we are made alert to the things that are hated by God.  The Christian soldier, when he spends time with his Commander-In-Chief Jesus Christ learns to become like Him.

We pray for others, one another, all saints.  Remember saints are simply called by God out of sin unto faith in Christ Jesus.  We pray “in the Spirit” by praying according to the Spirit and not our own desires.  The Spirit prays in us which glorifies Jesus Christ (John 16:14).

In this text Paul request prayer for himself as well.  We ought always pray for our pastors, teachers, and all who have spiritual authority in the church.  Paul’s request was threefold:

1. That he might experience freedom in his preaching;
2. That he might speak boldly;
3. That he might clearly present the “mystery of the gospel”.

If you want to know how to pray for your pastor, and others who are in authority, biblically, and in the Spirit; here is the answer.

We are all “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20a), therefore, we all need prayer to be bold in our witness, and preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Be a good soldier of Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 2:3).  “Put on the whole armor of God,” and wield the “sword of the Spirit” in power; trusting the Lord Jesus Christ to accomplish His work in you; and in His word.  His word will not return unto Him void (Isaiah 55:11).

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Heart of Hard Ground

There have been times when a farmer has plans for a piece of ground for a certain crop. He goes and plows the ground, spends several hours doing it, and maybe a day or two, three, or more; depending on the size of the piece of land, and the mode of power for plowing. Something happens; maybe too much rain, a family emergency, or just other duties come into play; and the ground goes neglected. That ground may have been plowed, harrowed, completely ready for seed, fertilizer, and all necessary preparations, but it goes neglected.

For a year maybe even two, or more, that ground lays there, growing grass, weeds, thorns – weeds and thorns are mostly what will grow on “fallow ground”. “Fallow ground” is what that land has become. There is no good fruit coming from this land. It really has no beauty to it. It has become hardened and needs to be broken up in order for it to be useful, productive.

Productivity for this land will only come about when that ground is plowed again, or broken up. You would not want to just plow the weeds and thorns under because of their seeds. There will be some in the ground already. Then, you would want to burn the ground off before it is plowed. Burning it off might be all you would need to do before you plowed, with some cleanup following the burn. After cleaning up some of the thorns and weeds following the burn, then you would set about the plowing or the breaking up of the “fallow ground”.

“For thus says the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem: ‘Break up your fallow ground, and do not sow among thorns. Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your hearts, you men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, lest My fury come forth like fire, and burn so that no one can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.'” Jeremiah 4:3-4 (NKJV)

There is a portion of land, a couple of acres, on the farm where I grew up, that is called, “The Pickle Patch”. I have never seen any pickles grown there. I think my Dad has, but I never have. I have seen and helped pick corn from there for feeding cattle and hogs, but that was when I was a very small boy. Today that small amount of acreage has grown up into a thorn patch. It does have a good set of fescue grass growing under all those thorn trees, (also known as “thorny locust”; at least around this part of the world), and it is there for wildlife to eat. That has happened from years of neglect.

The hearts and lives of men and women can become hard, calloused, and of no use to God when they are neglected. That is what has happened with the people to whom Jeremiah is speaking. The men of Judah and Jerusalem are the main ones the prophet addresses.

Just how, does the heart of a man become likened to “fallow ground”? How can a man become hard hearted toward God, and unproductive? There is only one step toward a hard heart. There is only one turn toward that “fallow ground”. That step and that turn is away from God. It may happen gradually with the coming of many blessing, comfort sets in, then, a complacent, apathetic attitude. It happens by missing just one quiet time with God, then one more, then one more. Then, there is the missing of one assembling with the saints of God in the worship of God. It happens by getting too involved in the pleasures and comforts of the society around us.

Jesus uses a parable concerning four different soil conditions in Matthew 13:3-9, 18-23. Jesus calls it the “Parable of the sower” (v. 18). It does deal with the conditions of the soil, however. The first is the hardpacked path area where people walk through the fields (common for that day); the second was shallow soil – shallow due to bedrock directly under a very thin layer of soil; the third could be compared to the “fallow ground”, because it is weedy and thorny soil; and the final soil is “good soil” which means that it is soil that has been worked and prepared for the seed, and it is the only one of the soils which produces fruit.

God is not pleased when His people are hardened by their neglect of their hearts. We know Jeremiah is dealing with their heart conditions when he writes of “circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your hearts…”. The study note from the MacArthur Study Bible says,

 “4:4 Circumcise. This surgery (Gen. 17:10-14) was to cut away flesh that could hold disease in its folds and could pass the disease on to wives. It was important for the preservation of God’s people physically. But it was also a symbol of the need of the heart to be cleansed from sin’s deadly disease. The really essential surgery needed to happen on the inside, where God calls for taking away fleshly things that keep the heart from being spiritually devoted to Him and from true faith in Him and His will. Jeremiah later expanded on this theme (31:31-34; cf. Deut. 10:16; 30:6; Rom. 2:29). God selected the reproductive organ as the location of the symbol for man’s need of cleansing for sin, because it is the instrument most indicative of his depravity, since by it he reproduces generations of sinners.” MACARTHER STUDY BIBLE, p. 1067, (NKJV).

The child of God must never forget to maintain His walk with God. Why are some Christians so cavalier about their relationship with God? Could it be that they really have no relationship with God? Therefore, if that be so they don’t even know Him. God’s call through the prophet is for the people to break up the “fallow ground”. In other words, “Take those hardened hearts of yours, and plow them; do what is necessary to break them and humble yourselves before Me.”

The following is a quote from John Gills Exposition of the Entire Bible:

break up your fallow ground; this is ground that lies untilled, not ploughed, nor sown, on which nothing grows but the produce of nature, as weeds, thorns, briers, &c. is common to men and beasts, and is trodden upon, and, so is hard and unsusceptible of seed; which, if it accidentally falls upon it, makes no impression on it, and is not received by it; and the breaking of it up is by the plough. The “fallow ground” fitly represents the hearts of unregenerate men, which are unopened to the word, and unbroken by it; nor have they the seed of divine grace sown in them; but are destitute of faith, hope, love, fear, and the like; there is nothing grows there but the weeds of sin and corruption; and are like a common beaten road; are the common track of sin, where lusts pass to and fro, and dwell; and so are hardened and obdurate, as hard as a stone, yea, harder than the nether millstone; and who, though they may occasionally be under the word, it makes no impression on them; it has no place in them, but is like the seed that falls by the wayside, Mat. 13:4, unless divine power attends it; for the Gospel is the plough, and ministers are the ploughmen; but it is the Lord alone that makes it effectual to the breaking up the fallow ground of men’s hearts, Luk 9:62, but when the Lord puts his hand to the plough it enters within, and opens the heart; it is quick, powerful, and sharp; it cuts deep, and makes long and large furrows, even strong convictions of sin; it throws a man’s inside outward, as the plough does the earth; and lays all the wicked of his heart open to him; and roots up the pride, the vanity, and boasting of the creature, and other lusts; and so makes way for the seed of divine grace to be sown there:” e-Sword edition.

 It is a hard and evil heart that will not follow the path of our Lord. It is a hard and calloused heart that refuses to hear the Word of the Lord. God holds us, yea, even keeps us from falling. O, how God yearns for His children to continually walk with Him, and those who are His have the heart to walk with Him, but too often are turned aside by the allures of the world, thus the heart can grow fallow.

The prophet calls for a circumcision of the heart, or as it is worded, “Circumcise yourselves to the LORD…” This requires a conscience act of the men to whom he speaks. Have you ever heard the phrase, “Well! I am only human, you know.” We are human, and we do sin and make mistakes; however; that is no excuse for the child of God. He has equipped us to overcome the temptations which lure us from our walk with Him. We have His Spirit within us. This is that same Spirit which is in Christ Jesus. That is right. You have the power in you, as a Christian to resist temptation, the hardening of your heart to God, and anything that will turn you away from Him. One thing I might add here concerning things that can cause the heart to grow hard toward God would be the satisfaction and pride, even an arrogance that you are the child of God, leading to an attitude that you are better than anyone else. God forbid we ever do that. That is a hardened heart.

This circumcision of the heart [of yourselves] is taught by Jesus and the apostle Paul. Paul wrote, “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:2. This requires that the power of the Spirit of God be in you. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matthew 6:21. When God is on your mind your thoughts will be on the things of God. When God is your treasure your heart will be set on Him, and in neither one of these can there be “fallow ground” or a hard heart.

This message is to the people of God. This message is to those who once had a thriving relationship with the LORD, but have grown hard of heart. He is calling you back. Plow the ground. Get into His Word, seek His face, repent of your sins, confess Jesus Christ is Lord.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Jealous for Jerusalem

JEALOUS FOR JERUSALEM

“And the LORD answered the angel that talked with me with good words and comfortable words. So the angel that communed with me said unto me, Cry thou, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great jealousy. And I am very sore displeased with the heathen that are at ease: for I was but a little displeased, and they helped forward the affliction. Therefore thus saith the LORD; I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies: my house shall be built in it, saith the LORD of hosts, and a line shall be stretched forth upon Jerusalem. Cry yet, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; My cities through prosperity shall yet be spread abroad; and the LORD shall yet comfort Zion, and shall yet choose Jerusalem.” Zechariah 1:13-17 (KJV)

While there are numerous people who are telling us that the days of Israel, the days of Jerusalem being blessed by God are over; the Word of God declares their greatest days are just ahead. How close that may be we do not know. We do believe they are approaching quickly.

With a little consideration I have come to the conclusion that verse 12 belongs with these five verses. “Then the angel of the LORD answered and said, O LORD of hosts, how long wilt Thou not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which Thou hast had indignation these three score and ten years.” In every case where the phrase where “angel of the LORD” is used in Old Testament Scriptures it is a reference to a Christophany, or pre-incarnate manifestation of Jesus Christ. We will look at this a little more in depth in the commentary following.

Providing that “angel of the LORD” is indeed a Christophany it would fit into the description of the ministry of Jesus Christ following His resurrection and ascension into Heaven. In verse 12 of our text He is pleading with the Father for mercy upon Jerusalem, and the other cities of Judah. Certainly this is fitting with the intercession which we are told of in Hebrews 7:25 – “Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, He ever liveth to make intercession for them.” The “three score and ten years” were the years of judgment that they had spent in captivity in Babylon and the land was left desolate. He is our advocate with the Father as I wrote of earlier.

The LORD of hosts who happens to be the Father spoke with “good words” unto the Son, and they were also “comfortable words”. The intercession of the Son always persuades the Father, and He promises good for Jerusalem and the cities of Judah. Just what did the LORD of hosts say? We are told that in verses 14 – 17. It should be noted that even in the Old Testament the people of God – Jerusalem and the cities – had an advocate with the Father; who plead for mercy for them. It also should be noted that we get our message through the Lord Jesus. Apart from the cross of Jesus we have no message.

The LORD of hosts has said, “I am jealous for Jerusalem and Zion…”. That explains the reason for the seventy years previously mentioned. When His people forsake Him He will set about to judge their departure, their hypocrisies, their sins. He always judges with the full intent of bringing them back into His grace and fellowship. We are also told that He is “displeased” with the ease of the pagan heathen who have conquered, devoured and taken into captivity His people. He was displeased with the behavior of Judah, Jerusalem, and the cities. Do you not suppose that though we have the names of the cities named He is referring to the occupants of those cities? Cities are made up of people. When Abraham was asking mercy for the “cities of the plain” (Genesis 13:12; 18:23-33), was he not pleading for mercy for the people; especially of Lot? I believe that to be so. The Lord does acknowledge that the heathen who are at the east were His aid for the affliction of His people.

God always desires His people to be at peace with Him, and as long as we are He protects us, keeps us, holds us, even will keep us healthy; but when we turn from Him and begin worshipping other things; those walls of protection, provision, and power come tumbling down. When those walls are down the enemy comes in, devours and captures us, and for God this is as an affliction to lure us into returning to Him. There are times, as well when God Himself will allow His people to be tested, as in the case of Job, in order to strengthen our faith, and in the end He will bless us. Am I saying what some of Job’s friends said concerning Job. They accused him of being unrighteous, therefore he was being judged by God, and all he had to do was repent. My summation of this kind of situation is the one who is going through these trials will know. They will know whether this is judgment for a sin or sins they have committed or if it is a trial from God. The latter one may not be realized until the trial is over, and maybe not until eternity with Jesus. None of us have the right, nor the authority to tell another individual Christian, “What you are experiencing is the judgment of God for sin in your life”, especially if we do not know of any sin in their life that may be the cause of the judgment. When we have known a fellow Christian’s life; when we have seen them live faithfully for the Lord, and they begin to experience hardships, sicknesses, financial ruin and collapse our summation of the matter should be that this is a test of God, and we should let them know that we will be there to help them in any way we possibly can; and that we will be praying for them. We do need to remember that as with the people of Judah so with Christians of today; God will do whatever it takes to make us holy.

God says, “I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies: My house shall be built in it, and a line shall be stretched forth upon Jerusalem”. Jerusalem is the city of God. It is the place where mercy and grace has been displayed to the world, by the death of God’s own Son, for our sins. The MacArthur Study Bible note for verses 16 and 17 state, “Not only would the temple be rebuilt which at that time had only foundations (cf. Hag. 2:18), but the city itself would again expand due to the prosperity (cf.Is.40:9,10). The wall was completed 75 years later. God would again comfort Jerusalem (cf.Is.40:1,2; 51:3, 12), and would again choose it as the place of His earthly throne (cf. Ps. 132:13). This will be fulfilled in the millennial kingdom of Messiah (cf. Rev. 20). Given the fact tht the returning Jews lost sight of their priorities (cf. Hag. 1:1-12), this message reaffirmed God’s plan. It should be noted that the millennial kingdom will provide the presence of God in Jerusalem (Ezek. 48:35), a glorious temple (Ezek.40-48), a rebuilt Jerusalem (Jer. 31:38-40), the nations punished (Matt. 25:31-46), the prosperity of Judah’s cities (Is. 60:4-9) the blessedness of the people (Zech. 9:17), and the comfort of Zion (Is.14:1).” MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE, NKJV, p.1340.

According to Scripture it is apparent that God will not fail in His promises and dealings with His Old Testament people. He will bring them to Christ Jesus their Messiah. “For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fulness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: ‘The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and he will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; for this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins'” Romans 11:25-27 (NKJV).

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Man and the Horses

THE MAN AND THE HORSES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

The LORD is In His Temple

The Fifth Promise

“But the LORD is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him.” Habakkuk 2:20

We have looked at the previous four promises from chapter 1:3; 2:3, 4, 14, and the final one now in 2:20. These are wonderful promises. It is especially wonderful that the final promise is one which gives us assurance that the LORD is in His temple. There is assurance in that, because, that tells us that He is still in control.

From the MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE we read, “2:20 holy temple. A reference to heaven, from where the Lord rules (Ps. 11:4) and answers the prayers of those who seek Him (1 Kings 8:28-30: Ps. 73:17).” p. 1321.

It seems that there is something here very personal for the follower of Christ as well. Since the Father who is in His holy temple sent His Son, and His Son died on the cross for our sins, and He rose again; He then sent His Spirit to dwell within all those who are His. “Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” Romans 8:9a (NKJV). Jesus Christ is in you who know Him and are known by Him. The LORD will not leave His temple.

“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NKJV).

When all the earth comes to realize that God is the Supreme Ruler all will be silent before Him. The Psalmist wrote, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10. In the New Testament we read, “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and those on earth, and of those under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:10-11 (NKJV).

The worship of idols always requires much noise, adulation, because they have nothing to offer. Thus much false fire. The God who made the heavens, the earth and all things in it and on it cries for our silence. Let Him be glorified by His own glory. On Habakkuk 2:20 the CRISWELL STUDY BIBLE states: “2:20 “But” signifies a striking contrast with the nothingness of idols. Jehovah the invisible God is occupying His holy temple, ready to intervene omnipotently for the deliverance and protection of His people and the destruction of their enemies. He inspires solemn adoration and profound silence (cf. Ps.68:5; Zeph. 1:7; Zech. 2:13)” p. 1047 KJV.

Only false gods [idols] require much hoopla, and noise. Our God, Father of Jesus is the light of His own glory. Rest in Him who is in His temple.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

Called To Return

CALLED TO REPENTANCE

 

The purpose and reason for this study is to give Biblical evidence and support for the restoration and renewing of the Nation of Israel. There are many prophecies throughout Scripture which gives this support, however, this one may be the strongest. I find it sad to hear Christians who would tell us and who are teaching the masses that “the Nation of Israel is no more” or “God is finished with the Nation of Israel”. My decree as it has been for many years, and as I search all of the Bible, and see all the promises starting with Abraham, then David, and Solomon is this; “If God falls short of fulfilling the promises to Israel, then, we as Christians have no sure promise of eternity either”.

It is certain; God falls short of nothing. His promises will be fulfilled, both to Israel and to the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is promise from God even in Zechariah’s name; it means “YaHWeH Remembers”. He did not forget Israel in their exile to Babylon, nor will He forget her in the Last Days.

Zechariah and Haggai were contemporaries. They both preached to the returning exiles to Jerusalem around the time of the rebuilding of the temple around 536 B.C., and had ceased due to the haters and critics, and then, around 520 BC they began to preach to encourage them to get with the rebuilding once again. Zechariah is most likely the younger of the two prophets. They were both sent by God to be encouragers of the builders, and to have them move their hearts and lives in repentance toward God. “Haggai’s primary purpose was to rebuild the temple; his preaching has a tone of rebuke for the people’s indifference, sin, and lack of trust in God. He was used to start the revival, while Zechariah was used to keep it going strong with a more positive emphasis, calling the people to repentance and reassuring them regarding future blessings. Zechariah sought to encourage the people to build the temple in view of the promise that someday Messiah would come to inhabit it.” THE MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE p.1337.

“In the eighth month, of the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying, The LORD has been very angry with your fathers. Therefore say to them, Thus says the LORD of hosts; Return to me’, says the LORD of hosts, ‘and I will return to you”, says the LORD of hosts. “Do not be like your fathers, to whom the former prophets preached, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts; Turn now from your evil ways, and your evil deeds”. But they did not hear, nor heed Me, says the LORD. Your fathers, where are they? and the prophets, do they live for ever? Yet surely My words and My statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not overtake your fathers? So they returned and said, “Just as the LORD of hosts determined to do to us, according to our ways, and according to our deeds, so he has dealt with us.” Zechariah 1:1-6 (NKJV).

While the people have just returned from exile, as the prophet of God that he is, he calls immediately for repentance. This is usually the first message of the prophets of God. This is an observation which only the LORD could or even would give. No false prophet ever calls for repentance, or a return to God. Zechariah’s prophecy ministry begins around 520 BC.

God gives the message to this prophet, and the first word He gives is, “Return to Me, and I will return to you”. He had first reminded them of their “fathers” who had forsaken Him, and served idols. Even though the people of God often have forsaken the Lord, God still is merciful, and longs for His people to return to Him. That is true within the Church as well. There are Christians who are in the world and carnal [of the world], and not living or walking in the glory of the Lord of life. His call to them is, “Come out from among them and be separate”.

The evidence of God’s judgment upon those who will not hear and heed the message of God’s Word is the exile. The ‘fathers’ of the exiles had loved and enjoyed their comforts, their security, their economy had been good, or so they thought. There was an enemy lurking at their door, they turned a deaf ear to God’s prophets, and many died and many went into captivity, and many lingered behind in poverty. When things look good, peaceable, comfortable, and secure be careful it is about to change. “When they say “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman.” 1 Thessalonians 5:3 (NKJV).

What is applicable for Israel is applicable for the Christian as well. Repent. We must return to our God. The Psalmist has written, “It is time for Thee, LORD, to work: for they have made void Thy law.” Psalm 119:126. With our economy having been good for so many years, and the cows have all gotten fat, the eagles are no longer soaring through the air hunting their food but feasting on dead chickens; could it be that the judgment of the USA is not far around the corner? We are having our society saturated with false gods, false doctrines, and false security; and some are wondering, “Where is God in all of this?” The answer to that question is, He is near, and will soon be here. When a nation has gone from being the “bread basket” of the world, feeding the world, to a food to fuel consumer, making our own food prices skyrocket, then the judgment of God is already upon us.

The LORD would be Just in the destruction of Israel. And He would be just as Just if He were to destroy us all. However, He will not due to the promises of His Word, and the shed blood of His Son Jesus Christ. He has instead called for those who are His, “Return to Me; and I will return to you.”

-by Tim A. Blankenship

 

Waters Cover the Sea

The Fourth Promise

 

I have written a little bit on this previously in the article on the third woe.

In chapter 2:12-14 I wrote of verse 14, “There is a prize in these verses. ‘For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea’. The leaders and rulers of Babylon sought to build a great kingdom by the shedding of blood, and taking what belonged to others, and often at the expense of their lives. There is a Kingdom coming in which there will be no war, but only peace. The peace of God that passes all understanding. Notice the vastness of this “knowledge of the glory”; it is “as the waters cover the sea”. How much do the waters cover the sea? The sea is water, thus this filling with the knowledge of the glory covers the whole realm of the Kingdom. All the bloodshed, and such will have been done away. Jesus Christ will reign supremely. The knowledge of His glory will fill the earth.”

For the remainder of this article I want to place here the quotes from two Study Bibles. The first will be the MacArthur Study Bible New Kings James Version; and the other is Nelson’s NKJV Study Bible.

“2:14 filled. In contrast to the self-exaltation of the Chaldeans, whose efforts come to naught, God promised that the whole earth would recognize His glory at the establishment of His millennial kingdom (cf. Num. 14:21; Ps. 72:19; Is. 6:3; 11:9).” MacArthur Study Bible, p. 1320

“2:14. God’s future kingdom on earth will feature a reign of righteousness (see Is. 2:1-4; Mic. 4:1-5). All humanity on the renewed earth will know the Lord and live in accordance with His will. The structures of human systems, adequate as they are for the present, will fall under God’s judgment because they encourage a spirit of independence from Him. knowledge: What Satan fraudulently promised in Gen. 3:5, God will deliver. The glory of the LORD speaks of the full manifestation of His person, significance, presence, and wonder. The true knowledge of God in the time of His kingdom on earth will be like the waters–all embracing, inescapable, and fully enveloping.” Nelson’s NKJV Study Bible p.1523.

Loving the appearing of the Lord, we long for and expect His soon return in setting up His kingdom on the earth. It will be a wonderful and glorious kingdom where we will receive the knowledge of the LORD. That knowledge will be full. Longing for that day.

 

The King Withdraws

The King Withdraws

 

“But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all; And charged them that they should not make him known: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my Spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory. And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.” Matthew 12:15-21 (KJV)

Jesus knowing the conspiracy going on among the religious leaders thought it wise to withdraw from the area, because He knew it was not the right time for His death. There were, however a great multitude of people who followed him, and this because they were fascinated with His gift of miracles. Jesus was not leaving because He was fearful, but knew full well He needed to be out of the reach of the vile and tormented hearts of the religious leaders.

We are told that, “He healed them all”. It seems that it was speaking of only those who were in the multitudes following. There was still multitudes of people through out all Israel who were not healed of their sicknesses and infirmities.

There are other points in the gospels where Jesus speaks to silence the desire to tell others of Him. Here is one of them. The reasons for the commandment of silence are probably numerous. One which might be so is that of being God’s will and timing is of the utmost importance. The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus could not be done in haste, but it must be done in order. Jesus’s sole priority is to do the will of His Father, and it would be done. In one place Jesus told a healed leper, “See that you tell no one…” (Matthew 8:4); in Matthew 16:20 Jesus tells His disciples, “…that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ.” After healing a deaf mute in Mark 7:36 we are told, “Then He commanded them that they should tell no one…”. For the most part it seems that this was so the Scriptures might be fulfilled. Jesus took great care to see that God’s Word was fulfilled to the letter. Some might see this as personal manipulation on Jesus’s part, it is not manipulation, but rather living it out to its fulness. He desires that His followers – disciples – have that same living out of the Word of God in our lives.

He gives us the reason for this commandment of not telling when He says, “That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet…”. God’s glory and God’s Word are very important to God and His Son Jesus. The Psalmist wrote, “For You have magnified Your word above all Your name.” Psalm 138:2b (NKJV). The Psalmist also wrote, “Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven.” Psalm 119:89. Someone has said, “God said it; I believe it; so that settles it”. I think this way, “God said it; that settles it; and that is still true whether I believe it or not”.

Let’s examine what is meant by the prophecy of Isaiah in chapter 42:1-4, and is quoted here in Matthew. Jesus is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy as the Servant/Messiah. His coming the first time was not going to be like what the religious leaders had believed. They were expecting a politician, a general of war, a deliverer from Roman government. Jesus, as the fulfillment of this prophecy was quiet, peaceable, gentle, meek, etc. As the prophecy says, “He shall not strive, nor cry, neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets.” That is not to say that people did not hear His teachings and preaching; many heard but did not believe. He did not try to stir up a revolution or force His power on any. As a matter of fact there is evidence that many tried to come to Him and force Him to be their king (John 6:15). There is coming a time when Jesus will rule and reign as King on the earth, but the time has not yet come.

Of the “bruised reed” and the “smoking flax”, The MacArthur Study Bible notes,

12:20 bruised reed…smoking flax. The reed was used by shepherds to fashion a small musical instrument. Once cracked or worn, it was useless. A smoldering wick was also useless for giving light. These represent people who are deemed useless by the world. Christ’s work was to restore and rekindle such people, not to ‘break’ them or ‘quench’ them. This speaks of His tender compassion toward the lowliest of the lost. He came not to gather the strong for a revolution, but to show mercy to the weak. Cf. 1 Cor. 1:26-29.” From p. 1414 New King James Version edition of The MacArthur Study Bible.

Our Lord Jesus Christ came the first time to give His life as a payment for the sins of mankind. He paid that debt in full. He will return a second time to take vengeance on those who deny Him, and the world will be once and for all delivered of all evil. The name of Jesus is the name in which all people and nations, tribes and tongues can put their faith and trust. The whole world can find peace in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

Protection That Falls

THE PROUD MAN’S PROTECTION

“Woe to him that coveteth an evil covetousness to his house, that he may set his nest on high, that he may be delivered from the power of evil!  Thou hast consulted shame to thy house by cutting off many people, and hast sinned against thy soul.  For the stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall answer it” Habakkuk 2:9-11 (KJV).

In this woe of lamentation concerning coming judgment upon the one’s whom God has used to chastise His children we have the continuation of the first. You could say this goes with the territory of covetousness. The Proud Man of Babylon has killed, maimed, claimed as his anything and everything which is God’s. He is basically fearful of the judgment which will come on him.

Surely there is no one who could think they can kill, maim, stomp upon, and take what belongs to God as their own, and think that they have no retribution coming. There is the law of sowing and reaping which is pretty common to all mankind. You do reap what you sow. Yeah. Even God declares that law (Galations 6:7).

With each victory of the Babylonians there was a new, and loftier home built, or at least greater security added to what they had. Each victory over their enemy/victim meant even more security systems for them. “That he may set his nest on high…” and “He may be delivered from the power of evil.” My how the wicked fear when everything is going their way. For every victory there is a new enemy. For every enemy there is a new alliance between the enemies. For every enemy there is the need for stronger and better walls [security].

These new securities cried out against them. The MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE notes for verses 9-11 states, “The second charge, of premeditated exploitation borne out of covetousness, was a continuation of vv. 6-8. The walls of their houses, built with stones and timbers taken from others, testified against them (v. 11). For the notes on verse nine the MSB states, “set his nest on high. Wanting to protect themselves from any recriminations their enemies might seek to shower upon them, the Chaldeans had sought to make their cities impregnable and inaccessible to the enemy (cf. Is. 14:13,14).”

The thing the child of God – today’s Christian – can learn from this is that we must be just in our dealings with others. When we do so we have no fear. When we are unjust there will be fear and the utmost, urgent need for security; because God will not be our security. We will have left His arms and shadow of His care. When we practice mercy, justice; this is what God has promised those who will look to Him; “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” Micah 6:8 (KJV)

THE SOVEREIGN KING

THE SOVEREIGN KING

And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; 15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. 21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. 22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. Revelation 3:14-22 (KJV)

In closing the letters to the seven churches we come to the final church of Laodicea. This was a wealthy city, and thus, believed themselves to be in need of nothing. This attitude had gotten into the church, thus the need for the letter. In this letter we will see the sovereignty of Jesus Christ and His power in working with spiritual fervor, or the lack of it, and His immediate position to those who say they have no need.

“And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;”
Jesus reveals Himself as “The Amen”, which means “So be it”. What ever Jesus has said, or is about to say will deffinitely come to pass. He is the God of truth. He is truth, fixed and sure.

Jesus is the One who has, possesses and owns everything. “The earth is the LORD’S and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.” (Psalm 24:1).

Again Jesus is presenting a characteristic of Himself which the church needs. As Sovereign He owns and possesses all things.

He reveals Himself as the very source of all creation. “…The beginning of the creation of God…” declares in fact that He is the Creator, not a created being (John 1:3; Col ossians 1:16). He is the source of the needs the Laodicean people did not realize they had. Paul was familiar with Laodicea. The epistle of Colossians was sent to Laodicea for them to hear and read concerning the deity of Jesus, and other matters.

“I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.”

In these verses we see what Jesus has to say to the congregation of Laodicea. It is not pleasant or good. He mentions no good works, no good doctrine, there is absolutely no commendation, but condemnation, with a call to “Repent” and “…Open the door…” as the only hope.

This is a church which only acted as a thermometer. It only registered the temperature around it. It was no more than a stagnant water or a dead body. Its environment was all it registered. A thermostat is used for raising or lowering the temperature. Every child of God should be like a thermostat.
When we look through Scripture we find that there are three spiritual temperatures;
1. The burning heart. This heart yearns for the Word of God and loves to hear the exposition of God’s Word. You find an example of this heart in Luke 24:32.
2. The cold heart. This heart is just not interested in spiritual things. It finds greater pleasure in the world than in God’s words. An example of this heart is found in Matthew 24:12.
3. The lukewarm heart. This is the heart who is comfortable and complacent. It is the worst condition of the three. This individual or church will not be committed to do anything much. May or may not be a regular worshipper. We find this example in our text (v. 15). You never know where this type of people or church stands on any issue or debate.

The John MacArthur Study Bible note on verse 16 states,

“Nearby Hierapolis was famous for its hot springs, and Colosse for its cold, refreshing mountain stream. But Laodicea had dirty, tepid water that flowed for miles through an underground aqueduct. Visitors, unaccustomed to it, immediately spat it out. The church at Laodicea was neither cold, openly rejecting Christ, nor hot, filled with spiritual zeal. Instead, its members were lukewarm, hypocrites professing to know Christ, but not truly belonging to Him (cf. Matt.7:21ff).”

Jesus says of this church, “You make me sick”. They are willing to sacrifice truth for peace.

If they would have been hot Jesus would have commended them. If they would have been cold, He would have rebuked them and heated them up. As they were lukewarm, they did not even realize they had a need. Everything was going their way. They had money, notoriety, rich jewels. They had everything other people in the city had – including the presence of the absence of Jesus. They did not even know Jesus was not there.

When things are going good, and we get comfortable, let us make certain Jesus is present no matter what the cost may be. If we are comfortable we must be careful not to grow complacent to the needs we may have as well as the needs of those around us. The greatest need the world around us has is that they see Jesus Christ in those who are His – for the church to be the Church – and not living as the world.

“Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.”

The church needed to be made aware of their comfortable complacency. Because of the material riches they had been blessed with they had drifted into lukewarmness and had become a negative testimony for Christ.
Lukewarmness happens when blessings are many and the worship of Jesus slacks off. Pride and self-satisfaction is the ruin of many individuals and churches.

The city was one of vast wealth and the church has been a recipient as well. They had “Need of nothing” and were blind to their real need. They were able to handle things themselves. Their blindness kept them from seeing their nakedness, and poverty. Spiritual blindness leads to spiritual bankruptcy.
These people were clothed in the richest of garments materially, yet without the righteous garment of Jesus, they had nothing of God. They were clothed in “Fig leaves” before the eyes of God.

Blindness is sometimes caused by poor diet – malnutrition. Warren Wiersbe said, “Diet has bearing on the condition of one’s eyes, in a spiritual sense as well as a physical one.” They had feasted heavily on material things and were fat and lazy. They had neglected the Word and worship of God in Christ and were blind as a bat without sonar, in Spirit. Poor, miserable, blind and naked.
They needed cleansing. They needed to stand for Jesus to show the world the difference one’s life has in Christ. This would lead to persecution, for the Scripture says, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12).

They needed to be clothed in the white and righteous garments of Jesus. In Jesus they would have true riches; “Gold tried in the fire” or persecution and trials of faith in Him. God, raiment, and sight that is for eternity, rather than that which the moth and rust eat away, corupts and fails.

Laodicea was known for an eye ointment for helping sight problems. This ointment could not help them see Jesus, their true need, however. Jesus offers the ointment of the Holy Spirit who gives sight to the spiritually blind.
Jesus’s words in verse 19 are directed to a small remnant within this church who are in Christ. They have sadly backsliden, yet Jesus warns them to repent. His chastening hand brings His children out of the lie of self-satisfaction into a satisfying fellowship with Himself.

“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”
The saddest statement of these letters, and possibly in all of scripture is the proximity of Jesus in relation to this church.
1. He is near, but not in;
2. He is knocking at the door; the one’s inside unaware of His absence;
3. He is asking to come in.

This was more a social club than a church. If the One who instituted the Church is not in the church, then, it is not the Church. It does not matter how loud a group yells they are a church. What does matter is, where Jesus is in relation to them. Likewise, it matters not how loud the individual declares He is a christian, it does, however, matter the proximity of Jesus in relation to that individual.

For those who will open the door and let Him in there is great fellowship and feasting in His presence and glory.

“To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. 22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”

The promise to the “Overcomer” is an eternal one. To sit with Jesus on His throne (Ephesians 1:3; 2:6). He has called us to be overcomers, placed in us His Spirit who seals us to that great day. Why do we want to persist in our own way, knowing that the riches of Jesus are ours through overcoming faith in Him?

Now is the time to hear. Hear the Spirit as He directs you to Jesus. Hear Him as He rebukes you of your sin and your backsliden condition.

Many individuals and churches are in the Laodicean condition. We need not stay there. If the Laodicean church did not repent they were judged. If the Church today does not repent of its comfortable complacency judgment will come on all who do not overcome.

In conclusion, this is the only church that had no commendation said of it. It was soundly rebuked for its lukewarmness. It was a “church” which made Jesus sick. Jesus was not even present in the church. He was outside, asking to come in, but they were not listening.

Let none of us who are in the Body of Christ get to the place where we do not even notice the absence of Jesus. What do we have if Jesus is not present in our gatherings as a local congregation? We have a social gathering, and some Christians who need repentance. What do we have if an individual does not have the presence of Jesus? A lost individual, or a backsliden Christian. Jesus is Lord. He establishes His Church. It is Jesus who decides who will sit with Him on His throne. He is THE SOVEREIGN KING.

Edited and tagged by t.a. 03/29/10