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

Smallness Approved

It has been quite some time since dealing with the prophecy of Zechariah, but I am back to it today.  The portion we look at in this study is while the Angel of the LORD is speaking with Zechariah concerning the temple which was built in the remnant’s return from Persia, and the Babylonian captivity.

There are people who seem to think that smallness is a bad thing, and some in Zechariah’s day were seeing the foundation of the rebuilt temple as smaller than the previous one, which was Solomon’s Temple, and it was significantly smaller.  Let us consider the significance of “Smallness” in life.  We all start out as wee little babies, that is no secret; but then grow into monsters sometimes to build majestic empires in our own names.  Smallness is not bad, especially when God is in.  In the case of churches; there are many more small churches, than there are large Mega-churches (if there is really such a thing).  When I speak of churches here I mean the people, the congregation which makes up the Church.  Let us not despise the blessing of “Smallness” as God leads us.

“Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto you. For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth.” Zechariah 4:8-10 (KJV)

The Word of the LORD came to Zechariah; and this is the angel of the LORD who has been speaking with him since the beginning (v. 5, 1:11, 12); saying that Zerubbabel would lay the foundation of the “house” and would “finish it”.  This is during the time of Ezra (Ezra 5:1-2).  The people complained of the temple being so small in comparison to Solomon’s, and not so glorious (Haggai  2:1-9).  Reading Zechariah and Haggai we see that God endorses, designs, and approves this smaller temple.

Zerubbabel’s finishing the temple; though “Smaller” and “less glorious”; was evidence that the LORD of hosts had sent the angel to Zechariah.  There will be rejoicing in the presence of the LORD, and no one should despise the “small things” which the LORD has designed, and approved.

“The plummet” is the measuring line which Zerubbabel used in measuring and laying out the foundation.  The “seven eyes” is the fulness of the LORD’s Spirit in the rebuilding of this temple.  He is delighted in it.  He is glorified in it, and will be glorified in the future temple of the returned Messiah, the King of kings.  In the writings of the Chronicles of the kings it is written;

“For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.” 2 Chronicles 16:9 (KJV)

The “Eyes of the LORD” are eyes of peace and love to those who yield to His power and glory.  He knows every heart, and every thought, and sees every deed of mankind.  He does show Himself strong for those whose hearts are perfect toward Him.  The remnant returning to Jerusalem, and rebuilding the temple were blessed by God the LORD in their obedient faith to Him.  Those who return to the LORD in faith will be blessed for their obedient faith in that future day, and every day they will return to Him.

Let us not be down trodden with concerns about the size of our churches, businesses, or our “kingdoms”, but rather be blessed in knowing that God approves the work of “Small things” when they are done in obedience to Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Mountain Will Move

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

We look now at the seventh verse of this chapter:

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

Not By Might…

It would seem that the prophet Zechariah was asleep at the approaching of the angel who is speaking with him through this prophecy. The prophet has written,

“And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep” Zechariah 4:1 (KJV)

It could be that the prophet has just been awed and overwhelmed by the things he has just heard and seen in chapter three. and now there is more to the prophecy.

In the verses of chapter four we find a message which is familiar with the Revelation of Jesus Christ. It is also familiar with the five books of the Law of Moses. The candlestick was a light for the tabernacle in the wilderness, and within the Temple after it was built. It was the daily task of the priest to keep olive oil in the bowls of the candlestick so it would never go dark. In the Revelation there is a candlestick [Lampstand] for each of the seven churches. Or is there?

The prophecy continues,

“And said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof: And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof.” (vv. 2-3 KJV).

The original menorah of the temple was one candlestick [lampstand] with seven branches, and each had a small bowl for the oil, and a wick for the burning to provide the light. It seems that what the prophet is viewing is heavenly. Does the Word of God not tell us that the design for the tabernacle came from heaven?

Where in the tabernacle and the temple the refueling of the branches was the duties of the priests; we have a picture here of a never ending supply of oil going to the branches from the two olive trees. There is evidently two pipes to supply the seven pipes which provide the oil (v. 12). From “two olive branches” come the two pipes; from these two – one from each side – come the provision of oil for the light of the candlestick.

Jesus said, “Out of your bellies shall flow rivers of living water”, an abundance, an overflow, never ending supply. The supply is God’s and is His to fulfill.

“So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord? Then the angel that talked with me answered and said unto me, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.” (vv. 4-6 KJV).

It was the daily duties of the priests of Israel to tend to the oil of the lampstand, the bread, and the incense of the altar. Theirs was a task without end. However, when Jesus Christ came, lived, died on the cross, was buried, and bodily rose from the dead; the task of the priesthood is done. Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory fulfilled in these acts the work that was only pictured, foreshadowed, typical of the priesthood of Israel.

By the Holy Spirit, which is given by the Lord Himself, there is a never ending supply from God of power to overcome sin, darkness, wickedness, and every vile deed. There is power to live righteously, justly, holy, and given entirely to the Lord and His work.

We have seen in chapter three the introduction of Joshua the high priest, and now we find a king. Now, isn’t that a wonderful picture. Jesus Christ the holy, just and undefiled High Priest who became our sin offering Himself; and risen to life as the King of kings; full of grace, and power, and glory.

The might, the power of men such as Joshua and Zerubbabel is not sufficient to endure the task of the salvation of men, and the salvation of Israel. Thus it has been given, “Not by might, nor by power but by My Spirit, saith, the LORD of hosts.”

In Jesus Christ the risen Lord of glory there is a never ending supply of the oil of the Spirit of God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

 

Sorrow Of Heart

We have all at one time or another, and maybe more times than not experienced SORROW OF HEART. Why do we experience these things? Our financial condition? Our health? The health of a friend or relative? A family problem or situation, etc.? Have we ever really experienced SORROW OF HEART for the spiritual condition of our nation, our family, or friends? Probably not as often as we should have.

 

Jeremiah experienced sorrow for his people. They had drifted away from God and in some things, just flat out rejected God, His Word, His prophets, and His law. They had decided that the Law of God was a reproach to them (See chapter 6). Have you ever heard anyone say something like this, “If it taste good, looks good, smells good, sounds good or feels good; its wrong”. That is really just a snide comment against God and His Word. God spells out clearly in His Word what is right and what is wrong, and these are based on His right and wrong. There are some things which are right or wrong in their time and place. For example; God has decreed that the “Marriage bed is undefiled” (Hebrews 13:4), so the right time for the marriage act is with one’s spouse following the wedding, and it is right and good. It is wrong, however, to assume the marriage bed without the benefit of marriage – one man and one woman; that too is clearly defined by Scriptures.

The only reason the word of God could be a “reproach” is because one wants to live their life free of any boundaries. You and yours and everyone around you will be the ones your actions will affect.

 

Hear the words of the prophet:

 

“For My people are foolish, they have not known Me. They are silly children, and they have no understanding. They are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.” Jeremiah 4:22 (NKJV)

     

When people begin departing from the LORD after they have received the knowledge of Him, their path is always downward. They may have a great education, a great job, a marvelous house in which to live. They may have all that is necessary for living in this life, but without God, they are perishing.

 

The prophet is grieved by the condition of the people’s hearts. God is grieved by the condition of the people’s hearts and lives. God even says, “My people are foolish…” How can anyone who has ever truly known God depart from God, never return? They are educated but not in God. God goes on and says, “They are silly children…”. God sees those who believe and trust Him as His children, and we are; however, we are silly children when we choose to do our own thing, and get away from our Father.

 

The prophet Hosea said,

 

“Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.” Hosea 4:1 (KJV)

     

The prophet Hosea continues,

 

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children. Hosea 4:6 (KJV)

     

Is it any wonder that people turn away from the LORD when they do not care to read, study, and apply His Word to their lives? The writer of Proverbs wrote, “Where there is no vision the people perish” Proverbs 29:18, or as the NKJV records it, “Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but happy is he who keeps the law.” When the Word of God grows cold in your life, so will your love for God, righteousness, and holiness.

 

People who refuse God, His Word, and His revelation are “wise to do evil”, should we all not rather be wise to do that which is good and godly; and that is doing all that we do for the glory of the LORD. Personal attention, or popularity, or power, and/or prestige is out of the picture when all we are seeking is the glory of the LORD.

 

Being wise to do good will end a whole lot of mess in relationships. Families, churches, communities, countries, and the world will be a better place when the glory of the LORD is everyone’s goal.  According to Scripture (Romans 3:10ff) we all fall short of the glory of God, but His Son, Jesus Christ was His glory and through faith in His finished work on the cross, and the power of His bodily resurrection, that glory is restored.

-Tim A. Blankenship

God’s Servant, The Branch

The visions of Zechariah are directed toward the future restoration of Israel following their full chastisement from the LORD.

In chapter three we have seen the priest Joshua in dirty garments. These garments are of the Aaronic priesthood of the people of Israel. They have been dirtied by their gross departure from the living God, to include the worship of manmade images which imitate created beings. They have dirtied by their participation in the cultures surrounding them. Despite this God, the LORD of hosts in all His grace provides them and all people a way to Himself.

We find in the verses of this study that God in grace does offer the privilege of the priesthood back to Israel/Judah as a people of priests, and it is not because of their greatness or great lives, but because of the wonderful grace of God.

“And I said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head. So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD stood by. And the angel of the LORD protested unto Joshua, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; If thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge, then thou shalt also judge my house, and shalt also keep my courts, and I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by. Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee: for they are men wondered at: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH. For behold the stone that I have laid before Joshua; upon one stone shall be seven eyes: behold, I will engrave the graving thereof, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day. In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, shall ye call every man his neighbour under the vine and under the fig tree.” Zechariah 3:5-10 (KJV)

This “mitre” or “turban” was part of the High Priest dress, and was inscribed with the words, “Holiness to the LORD (Exodus 28:36-37; 39:30-31). This turban was a symbol of the return of the priesthood to the people. Remember this is something that is yet future. It has not happened yet because Israel is still in a state of rebellion against God. When they return to Him He will then return to them their correct status with Him. In His grace He has been moving, sovereignly moving, in other nations and people; through their trials, suffering and tribulations to bring them back to Himself.

How can this happen? We see in the verse above, “And the angel of the LORD stood by”. It has been stated before that this “angel of the LORD” is quite possibly the pre-incarnate Son of God, Jesus Christ. We have Him protesting, or admonishing which means, “reprove with warning”. The Word from our Lord is that they need to walk in the ways of the LORD, keep His commands, and then they shall be “judge in My house”. That point makes me think of the apostle Peter’s inspired words, “For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel”.

As Christians, we are a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9), given a responsibility to others to show them the way to God. If our witness is not what will magnify the Lord Jesus, then we shame His name. Paul said, “If we would judge ourselves we would not be judged”, so let’s begin at our own house to deal with sin, our own sin. When we are given too much to our culture and society, then we have no testimony; we have no conviction; we have no fire for cleansing, and we have no power for the gospel to affect and change lives. Maybe this is what is meant too, by the words, “They are men wondered at…”. We may have people who preach against us, who seem to hate who we are and what we stand for; but they respect us when we do not behave as they behave, and show love toward them.

Upon the death of Jerry Falwell there were words spoken by men who had had battles with our brother, yet they showed respect for him in their final words for him. Because of a man who stood by his convictions and faith. Can that be said of you and I? I pray so.

“My servant the BRANCH.” This is a prophetic word for the coming of the Lord Jesus. Actually there are two prophetic words or phrases used here. The first one “My servant” comes from the prophet Isaiah. See Isaiah 42 – 53 and Ezekiel 34:23-24. This term speaks of the submissive, obedient heart of the Savior who became man. Jesus, as a man, yielded to the Father, and fulfilled the Father’s will. The BRANCH shows His rise from a poor and humble beginning to receive “All things placed under His feet” from the Father.

“The stone…” is also Messianic and speaks of the stone which was rejected becoming the headstone or cornerstone.

“The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. This is the LORD’S doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.” Psalms 118:22-23 (KJV)

“Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken.” Isaiah 8:13-15 (KJV)

“Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.” Isaiah 28:16 (KJV)

“Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.” Daniel 2:35 (KJV)

“Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.” Daniel 2:45 (KJV)

There are several New Testament references to this as well. The stone here is seen as revered and having “seven eyes” which speaks of His Omniscience (All-Knowing), and that not one thing, even the falling of a sparrow from the sky or one of the hairs falling from our head passes His attention. He knows every deed we have done, or left undone.

The people of the Nation have a promise from God that in one day all these things will be accomplished, ie., all these promises which He has spoken and given them through His grace. It is God who says, “I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day”; not the prophet, not me; but the LORD Himself.

Has anyone seen any of this take place of this day – August 13, 2008? I don’t think so. As a matter of fact there is nothing in history which has recorded such an event for the Nation of Israel or the world. It is coming; and we can in fact rest peacefully in the knowledge that God will not let one of His words be voided by the complications of our human lives.

The hope of Israel can be found only in their Messiah Jesus Christ. The only hope for you and I, can only be found in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The only hope for the world, is found only in the one the “earth dwellers” love to hate, and His name is Jesus the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Cleansed – Clothed in Rich Robes

In the previous verses (3:1-2), Joshua the high priest, and Satan stood beside him, before the angel of the LORD, who is most likely our Lord Jesus Christ.

Satan’s position beside Joshua is the position of accusation. Joshua represents the nation of God’s people. The devil, Satan, is not only the accuser of Israel, but the accuser of the brethren of Jesus Christ – the Church (Revelation 12;10). he was even the accuser of Jesus Christ. He is accusing Jesus in Matthew 4 when he says, “If you are the son of God…”, saying it twice within the event of Christ’s temptation, then, the third temptation questions His loyalty by bidding his worship for himself..

The accusations of the devil may be, and are true of Joshua and of Israel – the one he represents. The “filthy garment” definitely show us that to be true as a picture. The nation has defiled itself and made herself vile and filthy.

“Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the Angel. Then He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, ‘Take away the filthy garments from him.’ And to him He said, ‘ See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes.” Zechariah 3:3-4 (NKJV)

Joshua the high priest standing before the LORD must have felt the shame of the garments, and the accusations of the devil, but the LORD does not condemn him; He gives him a clean garment (v. 5). We first notice that word is given to those who were with the Angel, “Take away the filthy garments…”.

These filthy garments were probably the typical high priestly garments worn by them to conduct their priestly duties. These were filthy, and in this can be seen a likeness to Isaiah’s words, “…and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags…” (Isaiah 64:6). The nation was full of righteousness; the problem was it had nothing to do with the righteousness of God; only self-righteousness. They were filthy due to the pretense and hypocrisy of their attempts at worship and involving their worship to foreign gods; they were idolatrous, backslidden, and this included the prophets, the priests and the people (Isaiah 24:2; Jeremiah 5:30-31); and the prophet Hosea said, “And there shall be, like people, like priest: and I will punish them for their ways, and reward them their doings” (Hosea 4:9).

God was not pleased with the priesthood of Israel, nor of the nations as a whole. That is the reasons for their continued captivities, and their recent returning to their promised land. They are still under judgment for their rejection of their Messiah Jesus.

That judgment will be changed, as this filthy garment is taken away and discarded, their iniquities will pass from them, and a new garment is given them. “Take away the filthy garments…” sounds similar to the call of Paul the apostles “Put off…” in Colossians 3:8; “Put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth…” and “Lie not to one another seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds” (Colossians 3:9).

Though the “Take away…” is done by God and is seen as grace and mercy and a total work of God, and probably is a great picture of salvation, deliverance, and the “iniquity” passing from them is purely a work of God; the “change of raiment” (KJV), is a clear act of justification. When there has been the change of life through faith in Jesus Christ; an exchange of our filthy garments for His clean garments – rich robes; we are then given the power and presence of the Spirit within to put off those vile things that interfere with our Christian walk. The old is taken away before the new is applied.

The grace of God is clearly seen in the Old Testament as in the New. There is a picture, type, shadow, a “Scarlet thread of redemption” seen all the way through to the cross of Jesus Christ. From Genesis 1 through Revelation 22 we see Jesus the Christ. Our sins and the accuser is by our side condemning us, but the grace and blood of Christ takes it all away, and He clothes us in His righteousness. Blessed be the name of the LORD.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Joshua, The High Priest

In beginning this chapter there are five characters shown which we are to identify. The first is the LORD; then; the Angel of the LORD; then Satan; the angel who is speaking to the prophet; and Zechariah, the prophet. Zechariah is the one who is viewing the vision which is being written.

“Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him. The LORD said ot Satan, ‘The LORD rebuke you Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?” Zechariah 3:1-2 (NKJV)

The one who shows Zechariah that the high priest is Joshua is the angel who has been communicating with him so far. Just where Joshua fits in is only to be figured out from the study of these verses.

Joshua, the High Priest has come out of captivity with the first returning group. He is named by the prophet Haggai, as being the “son of Jehozadak, the high priest” (Haggai 1:1), and by Ezra the scribe (Ezra 3:2; 5:2). This is clearly an actual High Priest who is representing the nation of Israel, being restored to their land.

The Angel of the LORD must be a Theophany, or as I have stated previously, a pre-incarnate manifestation of Jesus Christ. This seems to be quite the picture. The High Priest Joshua standing before the Theophany of Christ, and Satan – the devil – standing at the right hand of Joshua. Satan is standing there in opposition to him. The devil hates the people of Israel, and he hates any of the Church of Jesus Christ. He stands opposed to any and all who will stand with the LORD and His Word, and His Son.

Joshua, also stands before the LORD in “filthy garments” (v. 3). This is significant in that Joshua the priest represents the nation; they too are filthy with their worship of idols, and their empty attempt to maintain their worship of God. When you turn from the LORD to worship anything else it is clear hypocrisy to “maintain” the empty worship attempts. The nation had committed spiritual adultery against the LORD, despised the sacrifices, despised the Sabbaths, despised their feast days, and worst of all despised the LORD God who had delivered them out of Egyptian bondage, and kept them secure.

God, the LORD, would do a mighty work in them again. He would deliver them from their filth, and filthy garments, restore them to their lands, and remove the reproach of the devil.

One thing I want to point out is that it seems some what odd that the LORD would say, “the LORD rebuke you Satan!” Maybe it is the power of His name, or the use of His name that causes the devil to flee. The Psalmist did write, “For You have magnified Your word above all Your name.” (Psalm 138:2). It only shows that His Person and His name are equal. His Word is as good as His name.

These are all reassuring words for a nation which has come out of captivity. For them to have the Word of the LORD revealed to them concerning their future surely would give them hope, increase their faith, and draw them nearer to the LORD. Things are happening with the nation just as the prophets before the captivity had said. Isaiah warned them of it happening. Jeremiah warned them it was coming, and both tell us they would return. Jeremiah revealed that they would be in captivity for seventy years (Jeremiah 25:11-12; 29:10), and Daniel the prophet put great hope in this promise (Daniel 9:2, 24).

Satan has gone to great extremes to extinguish the people of Israel. There are examples in the Old Testament. Their wicked practices caused them to turn their backs on the LORD, thus, the LORD sent their enemies to conquer them, and humble them, to call on His holy name. My, how stubborn we human beings can be. Over and over and over again the LORD seeks them out, calls them to return to Him, and many times, for a short time they have; and there has always been a remnant of those who were faithful to continue with the LORD.

Into captiviity they were taken. Many times beaten, flogged, ravaged, and always pillaged for the gold and silver of the temple and other possessions. The LORD’s rebuke of Satan is powerful, and he is unable to combat the Word of the LORD. When we have an example of the LORD Himself speaking His Word to rebuke the devil, we can certainly do no better.

“A brand plucked from the fire…” is speaking of the nation and their being in the fire of the trials of captivity. Yes! We can even look through Scripture and find that many of them that went into captivity made good for themselves. They began to fit right into the society of Babylon, and Shushan, and there were many who had become so successful there they did not want to leave. They had turned their backs on the true God, honoring other gods, and were quite comfortable living in captivity. They were the “brand plucked from the fire”.

The previous paragraph shows us strongly the peril Christians face as we conform to society rather than being transformed by the renewing of our minds. Paul the apostle wrote many years following the return of the captives to Jerusalem, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2 (NKJV). Woe be to the Christians today who become so comfortable, lethargic, and complacent to what goes on around us. We are pressured every day to conform to the idea of many gods, many roads, or ways to heaven, and don’t be so narrow minded. Just conform. Just get along. Don’t rock the boat.

We have this assurance that the LORD has rebuked Satan. He can do nothing to one of God’s children without the permission of our Heavenly Father. Satan desired to sift Peter as wheat, but the Lord Jesus prayed for Peter (Luke 22:31-32). We too have an Advocate with the Father. His name is Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God. We too have been plucked from the fire. Our High Priest is Jesus. Joshua, as many of you know is the Hebrew name for Jesus. The names mean, “The Lord is salvation”.

-Tim A. Blankenship

 

Sing and Rejoice

Sing and Rejoice

The Jewish people of the captivity of Babylon have been called to vacate Babylon and their lands. God is about to rain down judgment upon them because of their harsh and cruel treatment of the people. It is so sad when we find the people of God in compliance with the world, and must be dragged out of their state of complacency, apathy or comfort. Remember Lot and his family (Genesis 19:15-17).

The promises to the people who would return to Jerusalem and the land of promise was that they would be singing and rejoicing. This promise was for the people of that day and for their return to the land, but remember it has future meaning as well, and we must be assured that though the nation of Israel may have their land now, it is still being tread under foot by Gentile lords. So, the promise has never been fulfilled to the letter; but be assured God’s Word will not return to Him without the accomplishment of His intended purposes.

Let us hear the words of the prophet Zechariah:

“Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion! For behold, I am coming and I will dwell in your midst,’ says the LORD. ‘Many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and they shall become My people. And I will dwell in your midst. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me to you. And the LORD will take possession of Judah as His inheritance in the Holy Land, and will again choose Jerusalem. Be silent, all flesh, before the LORD, for He is aroused from His holy habitation!” Zechariah 2:10-13 (NKJV)

I don’t know how many people realize it, but the Bible is full of songs. It mentions many things concerning singing and music. For an example, there is one whole book of songs. It has been called the “Hymn Book of the Bible”; at least by me. It is the book of Psalms. There is at least one Psalm that is given to the people of Israel in Babylon – Psalm 137. The singing and rejoicing the prophet is speaking of is songs of rejoicing. “We’re going home” could be the title of the song they might sing.

With the words of the prophet God says to the people, “I am coming and I will dwell in your midst…” Is this the words of the prophet or is the prophet speaking for God? It seems clear to be the words of God. A promise of God that He has not forsaken them. It would not mean much to these people to have the prophet assuring them that he was going to be in their midst. The prophet tells us that these are, in fact, God’s words; they can be trusted.

There is a promise here that has not been completed. “Many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and they will become My people.” Now, we know that with Israel being hidden [as concerning the work and promises of God for a time] He is working through another people, and many Jewish people have become a part of this work – I am speaking of the Church of Jesus Christ, the Bride of Christ which is made of people of all tribes and nations of people. There is coming a time, however, when all nations will go and seek the Lord in Jerusalem, because that will be His throne.

Again, He promises to “Dwell in your midst”. Who is the One who is with us? Immanuel means God with us. Jesus Christ is Immanuel. He is with His people in the Church today, through His Holy Spirit; and there will be a day when we stand before Him face to face, and will SING AND REJOICE in His bodily presence. By this bodily presence of Jesus the people of Israel will know the presence of the One who became man, and died for the sins of Israel and the whole world. They will see Him, and believe and be saved.

The LORD mentions taking possession of His inheritance in the twelfth verse. Now, those who don’t believe in a millennial reign of Jesus Christ have to take this verse and forget about the literal fulfillment of the first coming of Jesus, and then spiritualize this one to come to that conclusion. Maybe the first coming was only spiritual; maybe there was no physical Jesus; maybe there was no body of Jesus that died on the cross: maybe the resurrection was only spiritual, like the JW’s say; maybe it was all spiritual. In this verse (12) is the only place in the Bible where the term “Holy Land” is used. The land of Israel only become holy when our Lord is sitting on the throne of David and glorified.

The final verse of the chapter calls for the silence of “all flesh”. When we see God, there will be no time for speaking; we will all be in awe of Him. Silence is golden when we need to hear Him, and not be demanding of Him. This is a time for God’s people, Christians, to be hearing God, and not making demands of Him like so many believe they can do. “He is aroused from His holy habitation” He has come down from His abode in glory, put on human flesh and died for our sins, carried away our filth, condemnation and guilt in His burial, and has risen victoriously from the grave and came out bodily, ascending to His Father sitting at His right hand interceding for us. He is returning from that abode, will set up His kingdom on earth, and He will reign from His throne from Jerusalem.

Come quickly Lord Jesus.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Get Out of Babylon

Get Out of Babylon

 

There were several Jews who had chosen to remain in the places of their captivity. They had grown comfortable, even complacent, and apathetic. They had made homes for themselves, but were going to be coming under judgment if they did not get out of “Babylon”. God was about to pour out, to rain down His judgment on the nation(s) that had so badly treated His people.

The following verses speak of the then captive people of “Babylon”, but even looks further into the future of the nation of Israel. It is future even of today’s world and time.

Hear the word of the Lord:

“Up, up! Flee from the land of the north,’ says the LORD: ‘for I have spread you abroad like the four winds of heaven,’ says the LORD. ‘Up, Zion! Escape you who dwell with the daughter of Babylon.’ For thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘He sent Me after glory, to the nations, which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye. For surely I will shake My hand against them, and they shall become spoil for their servants. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me.’” Zechariah 2:6-9 (NKJV).

There is surely more here in these verses than just a warning to the people in Babylon of Zechariah’s day to flee their current captors. The phrase, “I have spread you abroad like the four winds of heaven…” seem to imply they are all over the world. Babylon would have been most of the known world of that time. They were, or had been the dominant world power, but that was about to quickly subside. It had already fallen to the Persians, and would soon fall to the Greeks, and then be conquered by the Romans. God’s people were to be back in their homeland before Babylon fell.

The glory of the LORD would be seen in the fall of Babylon. Israel is the “apple of God’s eye”, and to touch His people outside of God’s hand of approval was to bring judgment on themselves. The glory of the LORD was not, or had not been seen in their captivity, but He was about to free them all, send them home, and secure His glory before the eyes of the people of Babylon and the watching world.

In procuring the glory of the LORD, the Babylonians became a spoil to the ones who had formerly been their servants. Remember when Israel left Egypt. The people gave them gold, silver, jewels, and precious gems. They were given much bounty. The same is true as they came out of Babylon.

If we will look at the present state of Jewish people we would see that many are currently in the land of Israel, and almost under duress by the nations of the world. There are also many of the Jewish people who are still all over the world. Many live here in the United States of America, many in Russia, Canada, and other parts of the world. They are “spread abroad like the four winds of heaven…”, but there will come a day, and probably very soon, when God will call them all to return to their promised land. They will receive spoils from those they have served, and then the world will know that the “LORD is God”; or as the prophet Ezekiel says it, “Then they will know that I am the LORD”; written some sixty plus times in Ezekiel’s prophecy.

There is a word from the LORD in these verses for today’s Christian as well. At a time when there seems to be a spirit of mingling with the sins of the world, an evil of co-habitating with wickedness whether it be in couples living together before marriage, or just going along to get along this is an evil that has come into the Christian family, and we do not hear the Word of the LORD, which the apostle Paul has spoken, “Come out from among them, and be separate,,’ saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.” (2 Corinthians 6:17). The false teachers are telling us we have to be like the world to win the lost of the world; but that is a lie from hell. Here we are told clearly, specifically to “Come out from among them…”. Hear the Word of the Lord, and “Get Out of Babylon”.

My what a mighty and powerful God we serve. His Word is coming to pass. Will you join Him in it, ie., in His work; or will you bow out? As for me and my house we will join Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Inhabited Without Walls

Inhabited Without Walls

 

There is much conflict in and around the city of Jerusalem. There is political conflict between, Hebrews, Catholics, and Muslims over who the city belongs to. My answer to that is not diplomatic, or politically correct, but it is Biblically correct. It belongs to the Hebrews.

It was given to them by God Himself in the book of Genesis 15. God even set their boundaries. “To your descendents I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates–” (NKJV). That should leave absolutely no question. It belongs to the Jewish people, though the time of that fulfillment is yet sometime in the future. They will have peace in Jerusalem, and that peace and protection will be from Almighty God.

Hear the words of the prophet of God:

“And there was an angel who talked with me, going out; and another angel was coming out to meet him, who said to him, ‘Run, speak to this young man, saying: ‘Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls, because of the multitude of men and livestock in it. For I,’ says the LORD, ‘will be a wall of fire all around her, and I will be the glory in her midst.’” Zechariah 2:3-5 (NKJV).

The future for Israel is not so dismal. They will one day experience peace from the Almighty hand of God. This is the Word of the LORD.

Nothing like this has ever been seen in the history of Jerusalem, at least since Solomon, and remember this is going to come from a “greater…than Solomon…”. However, there is coming a false peace for the City by the lies, promises, and covenant with the man who is the chief agent of the serpent – the master of lies and deception.

A similar picture is given in the final verse as that of the children of Israel journeying through the wilderness. As they were travelling through the treacherous desert the Lord was protecting them, and guiding them. He says, “I will be a wall of fire all around her…”. In the Exodus He was a pillar of fire by night. It was this same pillar of fire which stood between the Israelites and the massive Egyptian army, protecting them from danger of death at the hands of the soldiers (See Exodus 14:19-24).

There may be some who will say, “This is a prophecy which has already happened”. Nothing of such a magnitude as this has ever transpired. The Jewish people will come to their land from every nation. The City of Jerusalem will be enlarged beyond the old walls. In fact there will be no human built walls. No walls of stone. No walls of concrete. No walls made of barbed wire or any kind of wire.

People have gotten angry with the Israeli government for erecting fences, or walls. In the day of God’s peace there will be no walls, except the “Wall of fire” which is God [YHWH] surrounding her, protecting her, and her people from harm. Anyone who would dare lift even a single finger against Jerusalem will face the fire of the Almighty.’

The most glorious thing about this City at this time yet to come will be the presence of the glory of the LORD in the midst of her [Jerusalem]. God Himself will be the glory of Jerusalem. That means that Jesus Christ will be their Lord, Savior, and King. For there is no glory for Jerusalem apart from Jesus Christ.

The prophet Isaiah wrote by the Spirit of God:

“Then your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.” Isaiah 58:8 (NKJV).

The message of Isaiah was for them to repent, and get right with God. When they get right with God; and at God’s time, not man’s, then, and only then, will the glory of the LORD be their rear guard.

Those who are in Christ Jesus today have Him as the “rear guard”. We are safe and secure in His arms.

-Tim A. Blankenship

 

Taking a Measure

This week’s being the celebration of Israel’s 60th Anniversary, as a recognized nation among the United Nations, this is a fitting reminder of God’s hand on the nation that will one day rise up as the one, to whom all nations will go.  God’s richest blessings on Israel, and may they hear and receive their Messiah Jesus.

Taking a Measure

In the book of Daniel the false king Belshazzar saw “handwriting on the wall”. It was interpreted by Daniel as meaning, “You have been weighed in the balances and found lacking”. Belshazzar had blasphemed the LORD God by desecrating the articles of the LORD’s Jerusalem temple.

Some could look at this measuring line and possibly see a means of judgment, but when you look at the context of the message it is not of judgment, but a word of future glory for the city.

Hear the Word of the Lord through Zechariah the prophet:

“Then I raised my eyes and looked, and behold, a man with a measuring line in his hand. So I said, ‘Where are you going?’ And he said to me, ‘To measure Jerusalem, to see what is its width and what is its length.’” Zechariah 2:1-2 (NKJV).

According to some this man, the surveyor, could be the Angel of the LORD, which in most scholar’s understanding means, that this “Angel of the LORD” is a manifestation of the Lord Jesus Christ (pre-incarnate). The measuring is evidence of the Lord’s heart for the city of Jerusalem and the people of the city.

Just ask any builder; any responsible, accurate, careful builder will take measurements before they begin the actual building process. It would be quite foolish to measure as this gives us the picture, without an intent and purpose for building. It is sure evidence that God’s plan; and it is plan A, for He has no plan B; is to rebuild the city of Jerusalem, its temple, and recall His people – the Hebrews to this glorious place. It will see a glory even greater than that of Solomon; because a greater than Solomon is here (Matthew 12:42).

The city and the temple which God has designed for the reign of His Son will be the most glorious of cities and temples. Nothing will compare to it.

Who is the man with the measuring line? It would appear to be the pre-incarnate Christ giving hope, guidance, and assurance to the prophet and his people. We are not given the dimensions, but we can know that it will be practically immeasurable.

Surely this must be a word telling us of the restoration and rebuilding of Jerusalem and the temple.

-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

The Just Faith

The Third Promise

“Behold the proud, his soul is not upright in him; but the just shall live by his faith.” Habakkuk 2:4 (NKJV).

The first promise is found in 1:5, the second promise is in 2:3. I have already written on those. The first has to do with God doing a work, “Which you would not believe, though it were told you.” The second of a vision for an appointed time, and “Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry”. When God gets ready to carry out the message and intent of His Word it will not tarry.

Our promise number three is a short one but so powerful. It deals with “Faith”. The first thing I see is concerning the “Proud”. According to Proverbs 6:16 & 17 “A proud look” is one of the seven things which God hates. It seems that the reason for that is; where there is a person full of themselves there is no room for God. Pride can lead to a multitude of sins.

QUESTION – Who are the “Just”? The word “Just” is often used as a synonym for “Righteous” or “Righteousness”. The “Just” are all those who have been declared just by the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is said of Noah that “Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” Noah had done nothing to deserve that favor. He was numbered among the wicked before the flood. God had seen that all mankind was wicked, but… One man, Noah, and his family were saved from the deluge by grace. God, by delivering Noah, has declared him “Just”.

Who are the “Just”? Those whom God chooses as His own. Because of God’s grace He chose Noah to build an ark and by doing that provided salvation for all mankind. In the New Testament is written, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us.” Titus 3:5 (NKJV).

Looking now at the phrase, “Shall live”. The implication is strongly made that those who are “Just” shall live. They shall live evidently by a certain way, and that way we will look at in just a moment. If we are declared “Just” by the living God, through His Son Jesus Christ and His payment for our sin on the cross, there must be something which happens to the believing individual. They “Shall live”. That in itself would be good enough to cause us to have joy and peace well up in our heart and soul, and that is great, however, there is more here than a simple emotional feeling. It is life that glorifies Jesus Christ, and magnifies the Father, and His Word.

“He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” John 3:36 (NKJV).

Everlasting life is the gift of God to all who will believe – that is an action word – and believe solely in Jesus for salvation. When we come to believe in Jesus He gives us faith. There is the word that makes this the promise it ought to be. We are told in the New Testament, “Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” Hebrews 11:6 (NKJV).

That certain way the “Just shall live” is “by his faith”. If you are a female it would be “by her faith”. “So then, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” Romans 10:17. The apostle Paul also wrote by the Spirit of God;

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10 (NKJV).

It would seem that the one’s who have turned toward Jesus Christ and trusted His finished work on the cross, His death, burial and resurrection, and believe He is coming again have been given faith by God, and by that faith He gives us the means of living the life of grace He has called and equipped us to live.

It would also seem to me that anyone who teaches that you can be saved, and continue living a life contrary to Christ, His Word, and the Father is going to have a very hard time facing the Lord in eternity. The Third Promise is; “The just shall live by his faith”. This verse is found in Romans 1:17 as well. It is a New Testament principle, and practice. Believing Jesus, and living by the faith He gives us says we will live the life he has prepared for us beforehand; and by faith “We should walk in them”.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

It Will Not Tarry…

THE SECOND PROMISE

“For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.” Habakkuk 2:3 (KJV).

 

Habakkuk is seeing a vision of God. He has had many a question. God wants to reassure the prophet that what He has told him will come to pass just as He has said. He must wait for it. It will come, and it will not tarry.

How many times do we grow impatient for the way of the Lord? We know He has promised something and we wonder, “When?” We even lose hope for a while, and we try to intervene, and then, that may end up delaying the promise because of our unbelief, or at least when it seems longer in coming we feel we are the cause of delay. We must learn and know God has an appointed time for every event. One day it will occur just as He has promised.

 

Think of God’s promise to Abraham for a son. For many long years he and Sarah waited, yet no son. Until, one day Sarah had this “brilliant” idea. “Why don’t you sleep with my servant girl, have a baby by her and fulfill God’s will for us”. Believe it or not Abraham conceded and they had a son. This was not in accord with the promise of God. Any time we try and jump ahead of God we bring trouble on ourselves.

God’s vision is for an appointed time. God will fulfill His promises. The following is a quote from my study of the first four verses of chapter two:

“Verse three tells the prophet that the vision God has given has an appointed time. It may seem as though it is being delayed, but it has a time of its own – by God. When its time comes it will not delay. It will not ‘tarry’. When God’s time for carrying out His promises come; they will be fulfilled, and to the letter. There are many who because, the rapture of the Church, or the glorious appearing of our Savior has not yet occurred think it is not literal, or that it has already happened. It will happen – in God’s time (His appointed time), and it has not happened yet. It will, and will not tarry. This is just as a means of illustrating, but it does make the point – God’s Word will be fulfilled completely.”

 

The Lord is merciful and gracious. That is something for which all people should be grateful. When God does judge sin He judges it completely. He will not leave any of it. When He judged the earth the first time by flood every soul of man was destroyed, except for eight. Except for those on the ark every flying fowl died, and every walking fowl. Every beast of the field. It was tragic to say the least, but God will not tolerate sin.

That same thing is true in His people. The word He has spoken will come to pass. He judged the Nation of Israel and Judah. They had turned their back on Him, worshipped other gods, lived in iniquity, and offered children in the fire. His promise is, “Write the vision… For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.”. Note the emphasis put within this promise of the fulfillment of this Word from God. It is an appointed time – God’s time not ours. At its appointed time it shall speak, and then, no one will call it a “Lie”. This is an assurance of the truth of God’s Word. Though it may seem long in coming, “Wait for it” – in other words with enduring patience keep on living your faith (“But the just shall live by his faith”). Just because the promise seems long in coming does not give us license to live in rebellion against God and His Word. It should be motivation to live by faith. Again the assurance is given “It will surely come”. The fulfillment of God’s promise; both for cleansing judgment and for renewing. And, once again, the assurance that it does not “Tarry”. It will be at God’s “appointed time” – no sooner, no later.

 

Many of God’s promises that have not yet been fulfilled for Israel will yet be fulfilled. Yet, there are many who want to continue to tell us that God is finished with Israel as a Nation, and that these promises are for the “New Israel” meaning the Church. These promises to Israel the Nation will be fulfilled. They are not just spiritual promise, but literal physical promises of returning to the land of promise. Of a literal King who will forever sit on the throne in Jerusalem. Those promises will come, and they will not tarry. It will come in God’s appointed time. In the meantime keep living by the faith God has given you.

The greatest promise of all is the return of Jesus Christ.  Before He died on the cross for the sins of the world Jesus said, “I will come again, and receive you unto Myself…” (John 14:3).  On the cross He took the sins of the world, the sins of mankind upon Himself, became sin for us, was judged by His Father, enduring the wrath of sin that belonged to you and me, dying, forsaken by His Father, victorious over the enemy, was buried carrying our sins as far away as east is from west, and casting them into the deepest parts of the sea.  He then, after three days, rose bodily from the grave, then forty days later was seen ascending into the clouds, and those who witnessed were told, “…This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11).  When He comes He will not tarry.  Even so, Come Lord Jesus. 

-by Tim A. Blankenship

Habakkuk’s Questions

HABAKKUK’S QUESTIONs

Habakkuk 1:1-4

“The burden which Habakkuk the prophet did see. O LORD, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save! Why dost thou shew me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance? for spoiling and violence are before me: and there are that raise up strife and contention. Therefore the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth.” Habakkuk 1:1-4 (KJV)

When we think of a burden we think of a load. When you are driving a automobile it has more get up and go when only you, and nothing else, is in it. If you load it down – a truck or car; it just does not have the same performance.

Now, is that the type of “burden” the prophet is writing of. Some translations call this an “oracle”, but it seems to me that there is something more here than mere words. If it is the mere speaking of words, it is an utterance of doom. So why have a problem with “Burden”. To answer the question – it is similar. It was not a physical load. It caused him to ask questions. It eventually caused him to “see God” as righteous in His dealings, and always just in His judgments.

Habakkuk has been accused of accusing God of three different things –

  1. God is indifferent – like He does not even care;

  2. God is inactive – He sees the corruption, sickness and disease, immorality and debauchery, and does nothing about it;

  3. God is inconsistent – He seems to judge wickedness in some cases, but not in the ones the prophet sees.

Are these things so? Is that what Habakkuk really means? These certainly are not true. When we look at these verses it is quite clear that the prophet is speaking to God/YHWH, has these burdens and questions, and really just wants to know what is going on. He does not understand. Like so many of us today, in 2007, we do not understand why it seems that the wicked prosper, and the righteous suffer. The prophet was not really going to like God’s answer either.

The prophet’s first question – “O LORD, how long shall I cry and Thou will not hear?” NOTE: The KJV has these as exclamations. It seems more reasonable to see them as questions. Remember, punctuation was added by others. It is not the inspired text.

The Baker’s Encyclopedia of The Bible – “The main purpose of Habakkuk’s prophecy is to explain what a godly person’s attitude should be toward the presence of evil in the world. It also addresses God’s justice in punishing moral evil.” (pg. 907).

Baker’s Encyclopedia of The Bible also sees two complaints from the prophet –

In verses 1-11 of chapter one including the questions the prophet asks, and how God could use a wicked and vile people such as the Chaldeans to judge His people;

Chapter 1 verses 12 through chapter 2 verse 5 – wondering how God – since He is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity can use these Chaldeans and why He does not judge these godless people.

The prophet’s second question – “…Even cry out unto Thee of violence, and Thou will not save?” Of course, these seem to be related in dealing with the same complaint of the above mentioned reference.

A third question – “Why dost Thou show me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance?”

The prophet seems to see no justice or judgment on the sin of God’s people. It seems to the prophet that the wicked trample all over the righteous and nothing is done –

  1. There is no law – it is powerless;

  2. There is no righteous judgment;

  3. The wicked overpower the righteous;

  4. The wrong people suffer.

It just seems to me in reading and studying these words of the prophet that nothing has changed with God’s people. We still fall into sin. There are still some who are burdened about sin, and asking the same questions. Somehow, we in the United States of America think that judgment cannot come from an outside source. Remember 9-11-01?

God’s judgment is still not without precedence in any age; even our own.