When The King Prays

“And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up unto the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD.  And Hezekiah prayed unto the LORD, saying,

‘O LORD of Hosts, God of Israel, that dwellest between the cherubims, Thou art the God, Thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth: Thou hast made heaven and earth.

Incline Thine ear, O LORD, and hear; open Thine eyes, O LORD, and see: and hear all the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent to reproach the living God.  Of a truth, LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations, and their countries, and have cast their gods into the fire: for they were no gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone: therefore they have destroyed them.

Now therefore, O LORD our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that Thou art the LORD, Thou only.’ ” Isaiah 37:14-20 (KJB)

The enemy was at the gates of Jerusalem. Threatening letters had been sent, mocking letters and words had been written and said for the people on the wall to hear.  The purpose was to cause them to fear.

Fear has a way of crippling, and handicapping the victim. Fear makes victims of its prey.  Fear is a coward which is a sneak; because it creeps in unseen, and often unheard until it strikes.

We all deal with it.  Notice what Hezekiah did when he received the fearful, mocking letter from the king of Assyria; he went to thee LORD, laid out the letter before Him and prayed.

God heard the king’s prayer and sent word to him, by way of the prophet; and God took care of the mocking king; and over night killed 185,000 of the soldiers of Assyria.

What is attacking you today? Have you put your faith and trust in the Lord by believing what  He says about His Son Jesus the Christ? Jesus died on the cross for your sins, He was buried, and He rose again.  When you know Jesus you have access to the very throne of God (Hebrews 4:16).

When fear from the enemy comes in, you now have the authority of Heaven to take your case to the  Throne.

 

Undone

“In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple.

Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.  And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory.  And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.

Then said I, ‘Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of Hosts.’” Isaiah 6:1-5 (KJB)

I read these words again this morning and I will share something with you which I wrote and posted here about 10 years ago.  The following is written as though the prophet Isaiah was speaking the words…

Prophet’s Possible Perspective

The king Uzziah had died, and I had gone to the temple to pray and seek the Holy One of Israel. My heart was broken, and I grieved over my kings death. I must have needed to know that this was not the end. I needed to know there is my God who is holy, sovereign, and has everything under control.

My, what a sight to behold. The temple lit up in the most glorious light. That is what God’s presence will do. Seraphims; servants of the most High’s presence; had appeared and announced the thrice holy GOD. “Holy, holy, holy”, they had declared “is the LORD of Hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory”. The most wondrous and powerful decree any servant of GOD could ever declare. I was awed by His Presence.

“And the posts of the door was shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.’ So I said: ‘Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have see the King, the LORD of hosts.’” Isaiah 6:4-5 (NKJV).

I am learning that when God shows up things can and are often shaken up a bit. The shaking really begins in our own hearts. My heart and life has definitely been shaken a bit. I must say that I needed to see that the true King is the LORD of hosts. My how much more assurance does a man need than that.

This presence of the LORD was much needed. I learned by this that when you are in the presence of genuine holiness, that of GOD, that you see yourself as you truly are. There are woes that need to be announced against an ungodly people, but I see that I am ungodly; I am undone; I am a man of unclean lips; I am dwelling with people of unclean lips. We are an unclean people.

The best part of this is that though I am undone and unclean the most High revealed Himself to me. What a wonderful, holy, holy, holy LORD.

“And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain” Hebrews 12:27 (KJV).

The Prophet from Galilee…

…And much more than the Prophet (Deuteronomy 18:15).

“Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, ‘Of a truth this is the Prophet.’ Others said, ‘This is the Christ.’ But some said, ‘Shall Christ come out of Galilee?’ Hath not the Scripture said, ‘That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was?’ So there was a division among the people because of Him.”  John 7:40-43  (KJB)

In my math I was taught 2 plus 2 equals 4.  I do not understand what people, when it comes Jesus Christ, cannot put two and two together.  All of these thoughts are correct.

Jesus was and is that Prophet.  Jesus did come from Galilee.  He is from the seed of David, and born in Bethlehem (Isaiah 11:1;  Matthew 2:1; Luke 2:4).

Much of the division over Jesus Christ. even in 2019, is because many do not put it all together from Scripture.  Jesus is everything Scripture says.  He is in fact the central Character of Scripture.

Rejoice in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

The Ministry of the New Born Prophet

“And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying,
‘Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for He hath visited and redeemed His people, and hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David; as He spake by the mouth of His holy prophets, which have been since the world began: that we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; to perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember His holy covenant; the oath which He sware to our father Abraham, that He would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him, all the days of our life. And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways; to give knowledge of salvation unto His people by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the Dayspring from on high hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.’
And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel.”  Luke 1:67-80  (KJB)

The ministry of the prophet John was strong and in the Spirit of the Lord heralding the Lord Jesus as the Messiah of Israel; and preparing many in Israel to receive Him.

That is the ministry of the Biblical preacher and pastor in 2019; declaring the Lord Jesus, His life, His death on the cross, His burial, and His resurrection.  If we let ourselves stand in the way…  Well you finish the sentence.

Lift up the Dayspring.  He is Jesus.

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.

When Truth Has Fallen in the Street

“Therefore is judgment far from us, neither doth justice overtake us: we wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in darkness. We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes: we stumble at noonday as in the night; we are in desolate places as dead men. We roar all like bears, and mourn sore like doves: we look for judgment, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far off from us. For our transgressions are multiplied before Thee, and our sins testify against us: for our transgressions are with us; and as for our iniquities, we know them; in transgressing and lying against the LORD, and departing away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood. And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey: and the LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment.” Isaiah 59:9-15

There is a problem with being a prophet of God. One is that what ever he prophesies is what he will endure, receive and go through as well as the people he warns. Whether it is a prophecy for good; or a prophecy for judgment he will endure it as well.

The above verses are a confessional prayer/statement to the LORD, and to the nation. Note that Isaiah includes himself in the confession “Judgment [Justice] is far from us”, “but we walk in darkness”, and “we grope”, “we had no eyes”, “we stumble”. You get my point I am sure.

Even though the prophet had probably not committed these atrocities, these sins he includes himself in the array, because this was his nation, his people, and God had been offended by the sins of the people; the kings, princes, nobles and all.

Where we have sinned let us confess it and forsake it. Let us turn our backs on sin; not on God. Let us forsake evil and sin, not our God. Let us stand for truth, though it may be fallen in the street. Though we turn our backs on evil and sin; though we may become a prey because we do so. Let us do so.

“”If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

The cleansing means that we turn our backs on sin, to not live it in repetition.

God Does Not Lie

“He said unto him, I am a prophet also as thou art; and an angel spake unto me by the word of the LORD, saying, Bring him back with thee into thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water. But he lied unto him.” 1 Kings 13:18 (KJV)

The North and South has divided into two kingdoms. Judah is ruled by Rehoboam, a son of Solomon. Jeroboam rules the northern kingdom called Israel; and has led Israel into idolatry, even to the worship of calves set up in Bethel and Dan.

There are two unnamed prophets in this text. One has come with the word of God to Jeroboam of his fall, and as a sign the altar was torn, and the ashes on it spilled onto the ground, just as the man of God had said.

The man of God had been given a direct commandment from God to turn and go home without eating or drinking, and to go home a different way than that which he came.

The prophet of our verse above had heard of the prophet from his sons who were present at the altar when it was torn, and went to him with a lie.

As I read this today I was reminded of the apostle Paul’s words to the Galations,

“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” Galations 1:6-9

One way to discern what is from God; He never changes His word. God’s Word is stable, steadfast, and sure.  Men lie. God does not.

The Anointed King

“And king David said, Call me Zadok the priest, and Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada. And they came before the king. The king also said unto them, Take with you the servants of your lord, and cause Solomon my son to ride upon mine own mule, and bring him down to Gihon: and let Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him there king over Israel: and blow ye with the trumpet, and say, God save king Solomon. Then ye shall come up after him, that he may come and sit upon my throne; for he shall be king in my stead: and I have appointed him to be ruler over Israel and over Judah.” 1Kings 1:32-35 (KJV)

The kingdom of David was fairly well at peace, until the king committed adultery with Bathsheba, and murdered Uriah. Following that tragedy in the life of David his judgment was continuing conflict within his own family.

Adonijah, a son of David, tries to set himself up as king (1 Kings 1:5); and Nathan the prophet comes to Bathsheba to warn her. It has already been stated that God loved Solomon (2 Samuel 12:24), and has been promised the kingdom.

Notice how David sends Solomon out declaring him king, rather than Adonijah; “…Cause Solomon my son to ride upon mine own mule…” Absalom was not the new king of Israel; he was dead. Adonijah was not the new king of Israel; he is too full of himself.

Just as the first two kings were anointed by a prophet and a priest; so too is Solomon. The new king, anointed by God was Solomon. This is the family dynasty of kings into which Jesus the King of all kings has been born; and He ever lives.  Jesus Christ will reign forever.

Trust Jesus the Christ, Son of God and God the Son King in your life.

A Prophet of the LORD

“And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the LORD. And the LORD appeared again in Shiloh: for the LORD revealed Himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the LORD.” 1 Samuel 3:19-21 (KJV)

At this point of time with the people of Israel God is not pleased with those who are the spiritual leaders of the nation. Eli had two sons, Hophni and Phineas who were very immoral with them and treated the Lord and His offerings with contempt. This was so even to the point of the judgment of death, the taking of the ark of the covenant by the Philistines; and the departure of the “glory of God” from Israel (4:10-22).

Before this judgment came upon them the LORD provided them a prophet, Samuel. The word of the LORD came to Samuel. He was not familiar with the voice of God, and needed instruction. The LORD God still reveals Himself through the word of the LORD.  The LORD will do nothing accept He reveal through His servants the prophets (Amos 3:7).  His Word speaks quite clearly to all who will read it, believe it and heed it; an today.

His Living Word is Jesus Christ His only begotten Son. The crucified, buried, resurrected, and coming again King of kings and Lord of lords.

The glory of God may be gone from the nation, but not from His prophets, and His faithful people. Believe His word. Believe God. Believe His Son.

Fear Not the gods of America

“And it came to pass, when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD because of the Midianites, that the LORD sent a prophet unto the children of Israel, which said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I brought you up from Egypt, and brought you forth out of the house of bondage; and I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of all that oppressed you, and drave them out from before you, and gave you their land; and I said unto you, I am the LORD your God; fear not the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but ye have not obeyed My voice.” Judges 6:7-10 (KJV)

We need to remember what God had done for Israel. Israel needed to remember what God had done for Israel; and to see what He was doing for Israel. God does not forsake His covenant with His people. God’s people often forsake Him, though.

There had been several years from the previous Judge of Israel. A Judge was simply a leader chosen by God to deliver Israel from their oppressors. He or she was chosen by God when the people were crying out for God to help.

In this case God sends them a prophet. God will very often not make a move until He sends a prophet to let the people know of their sins, and what He is about to do.

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

Note the message of the prophet to Israel, “…Fear not the gods of the Amorites…” They had turned their backs on the One who had blessed them to the surrounding deities which put them into the bondage of the surrounding populace.

Just for thought. Has that happened to today’s professing Church?  Turn back to GOD the Lord of the Universe who has made all things.  Repent of your sins, believe Him.

O, how we need to turn to Jesus the Christ, Son of the Living God; believe Him, and He alone will deliver us.

The Prophet of God, and God’s Word

“But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.” Deuteronomy 18:20-22 (KJV)

Moses has just spoken to them of a Prophet to come (verses 15-19) and that Prophet was one who was more than a prophet. He would be the Son of God; the promised and coming Messiah of Israel. We know Him as Jesus Christ. We know that He spoke all that the Father gave Him to speak; even unto His life.

The above verses are guidance to the people of God for all ages to discern the true from the false prophet. It makes no difference if they speak in the name of God. What matters is that what they speak come to pass even as they spoke it. If it fails that test; it is not, and they are not from God.

We have been given a two fold test thus far to determine whether a prophet or a preacher is from God. Yesterday’s post (Deut. 13:1-5) deals with the prophet who speaks, what he speaks comes to pass, but he leads people away from God. Today of the prophet who claims to speak for God; or not; and what he says does not come to pass. The words the prophet of God speaks comes to pass, and do not fail.

God will always fulfill His word. Not one word will fail (Matthew 24:35).

Putting Evil Away

“If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear Him, and keep His commandments, and obey His voice, and ye shall serve Him, and cleave unto Him. And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.” Deuteronomy 13:1-5 (KJV)

The prophet or preacher of God, the man of God is to speak the word of God. Anything contrary to the word of God is a lie. The man or woman who says God said something which God has not said is worthy of death.

I would say that God gave these verses partly due to men like Balaam who sought reward from Balak the Moabite king and people who sought to curse the children of Israel, and to lead them astray at Baalpeor (Numbers 25).

I have in my mind another prophet who stood against the prophet of God, Jeremiah. Hananiah stood against Jeremiah, and the word of God. Jeremiah pronounced that Hananiah would die within the year; and Hananiah the false prophet died that year (Jeremiah 28:11-17).

Putting evil away is through the preaching of the Word of God, and doing what God says.  The man of God has a great responsibility with the word of God. We are not to twist it to please people; including ourselves. We are to proclaim it as God has spoken it. Pleasing the people to draw a crowd does not please God. The word of God is written for us to read, to hear, and to heed. See 2 Timothy 2:15.

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.

Thus saith the Lord GOD 013014

“And He said unto me, ‘Son of man, stand upon thy feet, and I will speak unto thee.’ And the Spirit entered into me when He spake unto me, and set me upon my feet, that I heard Him that spake unto me. And He said unto me, ‘Son of man, I send thee to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that hath rebelled against Me: they and their fathers have transgressed against Me, even unto this very day. For they are impudent children and stiffhearted. I do send thee unto them; and thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD. And they, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, (for they are a rebellious house,) yet shall know that there hath been a prophet among them.'”  Ezekiel 2:1-5

Thus Saith the LORD God… 012414

“And it came to pass, when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD because of the Midianites, that the LORD sent a prophet unto the children of Israel, which said unto them, ‘Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I brought you up from Egypt, and brought you forth out of the house of bondage; and I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of all that oppressed you, and drave them out from before you, and gave you their land; and I said unto you, I am the LORD your God; fear not the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but ye have not obeyed My voice.'”  Judges 6:7-10

The Least in the Kingdom of Heaven is Greater than John

“What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind? But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses.  But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet.  For this is he, of whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send My messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.’  Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.  And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.  For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.  And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.  He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.”  ~Jesus (Matthew 11:7-15)

Urgent!!!

“Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, ‘Jeremiah, what seest thou?’ And I said, ‘I see a rod of an almond tree. Then said the LORD unto me, ‘Thou hast well seen: for I will hasten my word to perform it.'” Jeremiah 1:11-12 (KJV)

There are a few times the almond tree, and rod are mentioned in Scripture.  Aarons rod was an almond rod (Numbers 17:8) Other times the word “Almond” is used in the Old Testament are found  in Genesis 43:11;  Exodus 25:33, 34; 37:19, 20;  Ecclesiastes 12:5, and our text today.

Four of those are references to the actual tree or fruit or to an article made in the likeness of an almond, such as a bowl.

Aaron’s rod budded showing life; it was also evidence that Aaron was God’s appointed man for the time.

The prophet has been called to proclaim the Word of God to a sinful and rebellious people. He has been told by God, that he has been known by Him even before he was conceived in the womb of his mother. Jeremiah the prophet has been told to speak every word God puts in his mouth.

Now comes the time to check his vision. “Jeremiah, what do you see?” (1:11) “I see a branch of an almond tree.” If a man is going to proclaim the Word of the Lord GOD, then he must be able to see what God is about to do, or at least what he desires to do.

Here is what God says about the seeing of the almond tree branch. “You have seen well, for I am ready to perform My word”. (v. 12)

The almond tree was an early tree. It wakened from its dormancy earlier than any other tree. The thing Jeremiah saw God used to tell him that the Word of God was going to be done just as God declared it through him, and it would be very quickly. It would be earlier than any other.

The message of God’s Word would be faithfully preached by the prophet, but not without sorrow and pain. There would be no delay. Jeremiah must hasten to the work of his ministry.

Just how close are we to the time we will see the fulfilling of the final prophecies of the Word of God. They are at the door. Jesus could return for His Bride at any moment. Do not delay to call on His name in repentance for sin, and trust completely in Him for salvation.

The picture of the almond tree for Jeremiah was a message that God was going to perform His word quickly.  We live in an era of time very similar to Jeremiah’s.  It is a time for the preacher to preach the Word; not back away, nor soft pedal it; but deliver it with urgency.  The time we have is short.

As Jesus Christ was on the cross, suffered, bled and died there that tree brings forth life.  The message of Jesus is the message with urgency.  Believe Him and live.  Continue in unbelief and perish.  That is the only choices we have.

Could it be that the cross was made from an almond tree?

The Preacher and His Preaching

I am thankful for the pastors/preachers who faithfully stand in their places of preaching and deliver the word of God to the people God has  placed in their charge.  Elijah felt he was all alone, that there was no one else who was faithful in all of Israel.  Man of God never feel that way.  You are not alone.

However, there are pastors who want to leave their people feeling good, encouraged, and entertained.  Most of the “feeling good” is about themselves; and the preacher neglects to preach for the glory  of the Lord, the correction of sin.  We must preach the word of the LORD.  There is nothing else to preach.

Jeremiah was evidently called as a young man, and from a family of priests.  When God came to him he was uncertain, calls himself a child, and unable to speak.  However, notice what GOD says to him…

“Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child.’ But the LORD said unto me, ‘Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee,’ saith the LORD. Then the LORD put forth His hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, ‘Behold, I have put My words in thy mouth. See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.”  Jeremiah 1:6-10 (KJV)

The preacher must be faithful to preach the word.  Rightly divide or interpret the word, and according to the whole of the word of God.  No verse of Scripture stands alone; it must me interpreted in the light of all other Scripture.  We cannot interpret Scripture according culture; culture must be understood and interpreted by Scripture.  When culture, society, government, human law, or science contradict Scripture; Scripture is right and true.  If the preacher does not believe that or practice that then repent, or get out of the pulpit, and quit deceiving the people with your lies.

The prophet/preacher is a messenger of God.  Called by God we must speak what God says.  We must preach it without fear or favor of men or women.  We must preach it if it means our lives, our homes, friends, our employment or acceptance of other people.

The main message of the Word of God is the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Christ died for ours sins, was buried, and He bodily arose from the grave three days later.  He took the wrath of sin that was deserved by us, suffered the judgment of our sin from His Father, becoming sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21) that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.  The Righteous Son of God was made unrighteous; that the unrighteous might be made Righteous.  In His resurrection Jesus overcame the power of sin, death (which is the penalty for sin) and hell (eternal condemnation).  When you preach Jesus and the cross, the burial and bodily resurrection you preach the word of God.

Where is the prophet to preach?  Where ever God opens the door of opportunity.  If that means a church with small number of people to the sidewalk in front of the White House, or the steps of the United Nations building on the U.S. Supreme Court; or front of an idol in a foreign land.  God gives the words when the man of God is faithful to His Word.  Preach the Word (2 Timothy 4:1-4).

Through the Bible in a Year – 022413

THROUGH THE BIBLE IN A YEAR

Things That Really Count
Numbers 11 – 30

In our world today everything is digital. What does that mean. Some how the “experts”, at least those in the know about such things have figured out how we can have cell phones digitally; with their towers digitally; televisions are digital now; the computers are digital.

A “digit” is defined in the MIRRIAM/WEBSTER DICITONARY as “any of the figures 1 to 9 inclusive and usually the symbol 0.”

Some how the numbers 1 and 0 are the link to it all. When you have the right equipment you can place those numbers in “cyber space”, pull them out with a CD player, DVD player, or HDTV picture, and you have music, movies in your home and over the air, sattelite TV.

We look in the Bible and we see Digital is nothing new with God. Numbers or Digits do count with God.

1. The People Count;

2. The Sacrifices Count;

3. Disobedience Counts toward Judgment (Chapters 11-16);

  • We see complaining of hunger in the numbers (11);
  • We see unbelief in the numbers (12-14);
  • We see envy of leadership (16);

4. There is a Prophet who Counted for Profit (23-25);

5. The Rock in the Wilderness Counts (20:7-11; Exodus 17:6; 1 Corinthians 10:4);

6. The Inheritance Counts for All (26-30; Romans 8:16-17).

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Redeeming Love of God (Hosea 4:11-19)

God’s Controversy With His People 3

This will be the final study for chapter 4.

“Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the heart.
My people ask counsel at their stocks, and their staff declareth unto them: for the spirit of whoredoms hath caused them to err, and they have gone a whoring from under their God.”  Hosea 4:11-12 (KJV)

The Amplified Bible says of verse eleven, “Harlotry and wine and new wine take away the heart and the mind and the spiritual understanding.”  The Living Bible paraphrases, “Wine, women and song have robbed My people of her brains.”

Does anything ever really change?  It does not seem so.  The problem of Israel is a problem within the United States of America today.  Alcohol and the use of alcohol; maybe I should say abuse of alcohol; drug consumption.  The over active, perverse and uncontrolled sex drives of humanity; along with the abuse of alcohol and other drugs robbing the mind of control, influencing the decision making process, having people doing things they would not normally do.  With a clear mind – clear of drugs at least – one can be expected to make rational decisions.  Under the influence of beverage alcohol no one wants to take responsibility; and no one wants to point out the blame, or take blame for their actions.

This is how verse twelve reads in The Living Bible,  “For they are asking a piece of wood to tell them what to do.  ‘Divine Truth’ comes to them through tea leaves!  Longing after idols has made them foolish.  For they have played the harlot, serving other gods, deserting Me.”

Instead of taking their heart ache to God they seek a bottle.  Instead of a lasting, fulfilling, and meaningful relationship through marriage (One man, one woman), God’s way they follow their own lust, and go to destruction.  It is not only destruction of the person, it destroys the family, the State, the Nation and the World.

“They sacrifice upon the tops of the mountains, and burn incense upon the hills, under oaks and poplars and elms, because the shadow thereof is good: therefore your daughters shall commit whoredom, and your spouses shall commit adultery.  I will not punish your daughters when they commit whoredom, nor your spouses when they commit adultery: for themselves are separated with whores, and they sacrifice with harlots: therefore the people that doth not understand shall fall.” Hosea 4:13-14

Men need to learn that their wives and children soon follow their example.  In this way wives and daughters of Israel became polluted.  The fathers had not taken their God-given leadership roles in leading their families to righteousness; instead they led them to perversion, and their immorality would be their judgment.

“Though thou, Israel, play the harlot, yet let not Judah offend; and come not ye unto Gilgal, neither go ye up to Bethaven, nor swear, ‘The LORD liveth.’  For Israel slideth back as a backsliding heifer: now the LORD will feed them as a lamb in a large place.  Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone.  Their drink is sour: they have committed whoredom continually: her rulers with shame do love, ‘Give ye.’  The wind hath bound her up in her wings, and they shall be ashamed because of their sacrifices.” Hosea 4:15-19

“Listen up Judah.”  Hosea probably sees some of the Judeans in the crowd at the gates, and warns them of the plight of Israel.  For clarity “Ephraim” is another name for the Northern kingdom of Israel.

Bethel is now called “Bethaven”.  The place had gone from “The house of God”,  to the decadence of “The house of deception”.  Gilgal and Bethaven were places of calf worship.  To go to these places of idolatry, and declare, “The LORD liveth” was an evil act of hypocrisy, and was despised by God.

They loved their shame rather than the glory of God.  Their glory is God.  They refuse the way of God, thus, they incur the wrath of God upon themselves.

Paul the apostle writes to Timothy; a young pastor, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”  Let those today who claim “I am a disciple of Christ” or “I am a Christian” depart from this iniquitous society.  How can we do that?  By not participating in the wicked, mind killing, mind stealing acts of the world and society.

If you have been in this way of life there is hope for all who will trust in the finished work of Christ on the cross – His death, His burial and His resurrection.  He has promised also to come again.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Elijah, and a Still Small Voice

Following the victory at Mt. Carmel Elijah has ran from Jezebel, in fear of losing his life; then, prays for God to take his life.  Depression, fear, and doubt has crept into the man of God’s life.  However, as I can look at this and see it God is by no means silent with Elijah.

God sends an angel and provides food and water for him (1 Kings 19:5-8), and then, he goes for forty days and nights in the strength of that bread and water.  Now, only God can give a man the physical energy and strength to make that type of journey with no other physical bread or water.  Moses did it on Mt. Sinai, evidently twice at least (Exodus 24:18; 34:28).

The LORD led Elijah to Mt. Horeb called the Mount of God, which is Mt. Sinai where Moses had been with God.

Elijah was in need of a learning experience, as many of us are at times.  We are pretty given to believing that God only moves dramatically, and visibly, and always powerfully; but that is not always so.  God will move in His own way and His own time; and it may not be through answering by fire.

The man of God, the prophet came to a cave, and he made his lodging there.  That is when the word of the LORD came to him again,

“And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and He said unto him, ‘What doest thou here, Elijah?’  And he said, ‘I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.’  And He said, ‘Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD.’  And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: and after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.”  1 Kings 19:9-12 (KJV)

Maybe, after the victory Elijah was expecting God to remove Ahab and Jezebel from the kingdom, or some kind of powerful and miraculous thing; but it did not happen.  We do not know what was in the mind of the man of God, but he ran for his life.  God asks Elijah, “What are you doing here?”.  It is kind of like He asked Adam in the garden, “Where are you?”  Have you ever had someone ask you a question they knew the answer to; only to get you to think things through.

The LORD and His prophet are in session together, and Elijah tells the LORD that he is the only one of the prophets of the LORD left.  He has felt that way since before the victory on Carmel (1 Kings 18:22).  He had much to learn yet.

The LORD sends the prophet out of the cave, to stand and witness events the LORD would cause to pass before him.  A strong wind which tore the mountain, and broke the rocks of the mountain; then, an earthquake; then a fire.  In all three of these catastrophic means we are told, “the LORD was not in” them.  There came that “still small voice”, and Elijah covered his face;

“And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, ‘What doest thou here, Elijah?'” 19:13

The wind, the earthquake and the fire did not spark much action from Elijah; but when he heard the still small voice he covered his face.  Surely he must have realized his fear, and realized the voice was that of God at work in his life.

He was still feeling as though he were the only prophet of God left in the land.  God tells Elijah to go and call Elisha the son of Shaphat (19:16) to be prophet in his place.  He also tells him that there are “seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal…” (v. 18)

It would seem that God is about to do something spectacular in the life of Elijah.  Even in our doubts and fears God is with us.  He still speaks to us.  Just because there is nothing dramatic with falling fire happening in our lives does not mean that we are forsaken; it is really the time for us to hear that “still small voice” and believe.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 74 – The Crucified, Buried, and Resurrected Lord

From Day 1 of my 90 days of reading through the Bible I have endeavored to stress in this post the message of Jesus.  In the first 14 chapters of Genesis we  can see Jesus and through all the first five books of the Bible.  The books of History we see Jesus.  In the books of Poetry (Job, Psalms, etc.) we see Jesus.  In the Prophets we see Jesus; and we see Him coming the first time to suffer, to be buried and to die, and be bodily raised to life again.

We recently began reading the part of the Bible that is the fulfillment of the Old Testament, and that is the New Testament and beginning in Matthew we have gotten to the last of the gospels which entail the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ the Son of the Living God.  Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all give us accounts of the life of Jesus.  None contradict the other.  They complement one another.  Together they give us the complete account of the humanity, deity, power, purity, holiness, love, mercy, and grace of the Incarnate God.

My reading today was John 17  through Acts 5.  That is right only ten chapters.  Just to let the reader know.  I did some calculations of the numbers of chapters remaining, along with the numbers of days, and in order to give myself some reading through all 90 days; I will now be reading a minimum of 10 chapters with an eleventh every three days or so.

The reading today began with our Lord’s Prayer.  It is the one I call the Lord’s Prayer.  The one that has the title “The Lord’s Prayer” is actually a model prayer which He used to teach His disciples how to pray.  John 17 is the Lord Himself praying to the Father.  He is praying for the glory of the Father to be done.  He is also praying for His followers to be one, as the Father and Son are one (vv. 11, 22-23). I have written more thoroughly on the Lord’s Prayer at this link.

In the final chapters of the gospel of John, just as in the other gospels, we read of the trial, conviction, crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus; with some differences in each account.  Some who seem to have an agenda on disproving the Scriptures and that Jesus is indeed the Son of God, and God the Son try to tell us that these differences are contradictions; but that is not so.  When there is an automotive accident on a street corner, and there are witnesses – let’s say there are four witnesses, one at each corner; each witness will have a different view of the accident, and will have a different way of telling their eye witness account of the accident.  When there is a difference in their testimony is someone lying?  Not necessarily.  When you put all the testimony together you will come to the full account of the story.  The same is true with the gospel of Jesus Christ; only the best part about the four Gospels is that they are inspired by the Spirit of God.  Thus, completely without error.

We get into the Acts of the Holy Spirit, often called The Acts of the Apostles, and we see by the hand of Luke that Jesus is ascending into the presence of the Father.

“And when He had spoken these things, while they beheld, He was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight.  And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, ‘Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? 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 1:9-11 (KJV)

In the Acts we also see Peter with a new found boldness, and courage, that can only be explained by the evidence of the bodily resurrection of Jesus.  He has witnessed the resurrected Christ; his life has been changed, and that is true of any one who ever meets the resurrected Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God.  Your life is changed.  You were a sinner, and you are now Just in the eyes of God, and declared by Him to be “Saint”.

The apostles, as well as Jesus, had only one set of Scriptures to read; and that was the Old Testament.  When someone tells you, “I believe only the New Testament” or “I live only by the New Testament”; then, they are telling you really that they have a problem of faith.  Hear what Peter declares concerning Moses and the Prophets,

“For Moses truly said unto the fathers, ‘A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; Him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever He shall say unto you.  And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that Prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.  Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days.  Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, ‘And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.  Unto you first God, having raised up His Son Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.”  Acts 3:22-26

That is right.  The only Bible Jesus and the apostles, and the early church had to read was the writings of Moses, or the Law, the Prophets, the History, and the Poetry of Scripture.  We are blessed to have the continued Scripture of the New Testament – the revealing or unveiling of the Old Testament.

Trust in the Lord Jesus Christ today, and be saved from your sins, death, hell and the grave.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Embracer

Some of you will  probably notice that these are reposts from November 2007.  I thought it might do us all some good to read again.  Be blessed.

WHO IS HABAKKUK?

The meaning of the name “Habakkuk” is derived from a Hebrew word which means “embrace” or “embracer”. It seems in my mind that this is a name which fits him to a tee. He may have been a Levite engaged in the temple choir, and had a great concern for the direction his people were taking, away from God.

Let me quote here from the Criswell Study Bible. “Realizing Israel’s iniquity and need for punishment, Habakkuk is perplexed with the moral dilemma of how a holy God could employ the more deplorably wicked Chaldeans to chastise His Children.” I can understand his dilemma. In looking at God’s holiness, though, I would have to say, that He is more concerned with His glory, than He is with how things may appear to us. To continue the quotation from Criswell – “God responds by asserting His sovereign prerogative as to the choice and the timing of His retribution. Though it may appear unreasonable, His way is best. Thus the prophet learns that to believe what God says and to heed His warning is to be numbered among the righteous who shall live by faith (2:4). Consequently, Habakkuk’s theme is faith triumphant over apparent difficulties.”

Habakkuk was a prophet who had a heart for God’s people, and a heart for God. That is after all what a prophet. He speaks with God about the people, their sins and problems. He speaks with the people of God, His Word, His way, and the direction of their lives.
The prophecy of Habakkuk was a “burden”, ‘a heavy load’, and that is due to the message contained here. The prophet prophesied near the beginning of the Babylonian exile. The people were going to face severe judgment. Habakkuk did understand that judgment was coming by God from an unholy source.

Are we, who are Christians, in the United States of America not also facing judgment from an unholy source?

Habakkuk was a prophet who cared, yet spoke the truth. Bless the Lord. May every pastor and preacher of God’s Word, and the gospel do the same.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Spurgeon – Go Again Seven Times

The following is the evening devotion by Charles H. Spurgeon from Morning and Evening for September 28.

1 Kings 18:43
Go again seven times.

Success is certain when the Lord has promised it. Although you may have pleaded month after month without evidence of answer, it is not possible that the Lord should be deaf when His people are earnest in a matter which concerns His glory. The prophet on the top of Carmel continued to wrestle with God, and never for a moment gave way to a fear that he should be non-suited in Jehovah’s courts. Six times the servant returned, but on each occasion no word was spoken but “Go again.” We must not dream of unbelief, but hold to our faith even to seventy times seven. Faith sends expectant hope to look from Carmel’s brow, and if nothing is beheld, she sends again and again. So far from being crushed by repeated disappointment, faith is animated to plead more fervently with her God. She is humbled, but not abashed: her groans are deeper, and her sighings more vehement, but she never relaxes her hold or stays her hand. It would be more agreeable to flesh and blood to have a speedy answer, but believing souls have learned to be submissive, and to find it good to wait for as well as upon the Lord. Delayed answers often set the heart searching itself, and so lead to contrition and spiritual reformation: deadly blows are thus struck at our corruption, and the chambers of imagery are cleansed. The great danger is lest men should faint, and miss the blessing. Reader, do not fall into that sin, but continue in prayer and watching. At last the little cloud was seen, the sure forerunner of torrents of rain, and even so with you, the token for good shall surely be given, and you shall rise as a prevailing prince to enjoy the mercy you have sought. Elijah was a man of like passions with us: his power with God did not lie in his own merits. If his believing prayer availed so much, why not yours? Plead the precious blood with unceasing importunity, and it shall be with you according to your desire.

Let’s avail in prayer.

-posted by Tim A. Blankenship

Beauty is a Fading Flower

Chapter 28 of Isaiah the prophet begins a series of “Woe” against Israel and Judah, Jerusalem; and within these woes are also promises, encouragements to lead them back to YaHWeH the Eternal, Self-Sufficient One who called them to Himself.

The Northern kingdom called Ephraim in our text was prideful and fell.  The “Woe” is warning Judah of her fall should she fail to repent and turn again to the LORD.  The problem with Judah was they were putting more faith in the power of politics, and the politicians of their day than in the LORD, thus were failing to heed God’s leadership.  Just as Israel’s pride brought them down so too would the pride of Judah bring them down; like the beauty of the fading flower.

“Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower, which are on the head of the fat valleys of them that are overcome with wine!  Behold, the Lord hath a mighty and strong one, which as a tempest of hail and a destroying storm, as a flood of mighty waters overflowing, shall cast down to the earth with the hand.  The crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephraim, shall be trodden under feet: and the glorious beauty, which is on the head of the fat valley, shall be a fading flower, and as the hasty fruit before the summer; which when he that looketh upon it seeth, while it is yet in his hand he eateth it up.  In that day shall the LORD of hosts be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty, unto the residue of his people, and for a spirit of judgment to him that sitteth in judgment, and for strength to them that turn the battle to the gate.” Isaiah 28:1-6 (KJV)

Ephraim had a problem with parties, drinking inebriating drinks, and their leaders all conspiring to do the same.  Their judges, priests and others; along with their prophets in drunkenness (v. 7); making rule and law in their soberless state of mind.  Is it much different in today’s USA?  Not at all.  Warren Wiersbe quotes a U.S. government official in his book on Isaiah “Be Comforted”  as having said,

“We have three  parties in this city [Washington D. C.]: the Democratic party, the Republican party, and the cocktail party.”

I don’t doubt that to be true.  I wonder how many of our leaders go into their Congressional sessions, Senate sessions, and even investigations under the influence of alcohol?  Is it any wonder that our nation is in the bankrupt condition it is in.  The beauty of the United States and her glory is quickly fading and will continue until the Lord Jesus returns or their is revival in the land.

In verse sixteen we read,

“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.”

When God’s people are resting upon the LORD, trusting in Him there will be no need to fear or flee from what is coming into the world, or a nation.  Our hope, our only hope is in the LORD.  It is not in returning to new tax structures, political ideologies, or even only to making right laws.  We need to return to the fear of the LORD, and set our hearts on Him alone.

The LORD has said, “I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation…” and that is not just an Old Testament thought, but one of Paul the apostle’s writings as well (Romans 9:33).  That Stone was rejected, tried, beaten, mocked, and finally hung on a brutal cross where He bled and died for the sins of the world.

In verse 21 God says He will do a “strange work”.

“For the LORD shall rise up as in mount Perazim, He shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that He may do His work, His strange work; and bring to pass His act, His strange act.”

Just what is this “Strange work”, “Strange act”?  It appears to be that God will allow His people’s own sin to be their judgment.  Even the prophet Jeremiah says,

“Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee…” Jeremiah 2:19a

Maybe like your mother letting you gorge yourself on that jar full of cookies, after telling you two or three times, “Only one!”, and then you end up feeling deathly ill, throwing up, and in bed the rest of the day.  Moses said, “Be sure  your sins will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).

One thing we can be assured of, and that is that God does His work; His strange work, His strange act in the order it should be in.  That is the prophet’s message in verses 23 – 29;

“Give ye ear, and hear my voice; hearken, and hear my speech. Doth the plowman plow all day to sow? doth he open and break the clods of his ground?  When he hath made plain the face thereof, doth he not cast abroad the fitches, and scatter the cummin, and cast in the principal wheat and the appointed barley and the rie in their place?  For his God doth instruct him to discretion, and doth teach him.  For the fitches are not threshed with a threshing instrument, neither is a cart wheel turned about upon the cummin; but the fitches are beaten out with a staff, and the cummin with a rod.  Bread corn is bruised; because he will not ever be threshing it, nor break it with the wheel of his cart, nor bruise it with his horsemen.  This also cometh forth from the LORD of hosts, which is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working.”

Isaiah uses the illustration of the farmer plowing and sowing seeds.  It is done in an orderly manner.  The ground is plowed and prepared then each type of seed is sown according to its own fashion.  The fitches and cummin [seeds for condiment purposes] are scattered or broadcasted around on the ground.  Wheat and barley are sown in  rows.  They are all threshed in different fashion as well.  Some of the harvest grains are threshed by beating, some are rolled with a crushing wheel.  I hope you see the picture.

God’s judgment will not always be the same for everyone.  It will, however, come due, and there will be judgment according to God’s own grace and mercy.  Remember that the judgment we are talking about is not on the world, but upon God’s own people.  Peter the apostle wrote,

“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)

Isaiah’s warning Israel and Judah is also a warning to those who are Christians.  Get right with God, and be right with God always.  Trust in the Lord Jesus Christ with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.  Love Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship

A Vineyard of Red Wine

The title above comes from verse two of Isaiah 27.  It is a far cry from the verses of chapter five of the prophet.  A vineyard in chaos, worthy of destruction, and to grow without care and protection from its owner.

“In that day sing ye unto her, A vineyard of red wine.” Isaiah 27:2 (KJV)

I know nothing of the flavor of “red wine”, but I have drank the sweet flavorful juice of the red grape, and it is fabulous.  That is what the LORD and the prophet Isaiah is telling us.  No more will Israel be judged, but, rather she will be fruitful, flavorful, and sweet.  She will blossom as a rose and her enemies will be put away.

The LORD says, “I will keep it night and day” (v. 3).  Then to leave no doubt of whom He is speaking He says,

“He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root: Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit.”  Isaiah 27:6

Through the many years Israel has departed from the LORD and through those many years God has chastised them, and continues to chastise them.  God is working in the nation to bring them to the place where they will love Him, and He will prosper them greatly; just as He has promised for all these years.  Not one word of God will fall, or fail.

“Hath He smitten him, as He smote those that smote him? or is He slain according to the slaughter of them that are slain by Him?  In measure, when it shooteth forth, thou wilt debate with it: he stayeth his rough wind in the day of the east wind.   By this therefore shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged; and this is all the fruit to take away his sin; when he maketh all the stones of the altar as chalkstones that are beaten in sunder, the groves and images shall not stand up.”  Isaiah 27:7-9

The LORD will not have mercy on those who had or have no mercy on the people of Israel.  He will show them no favor (v. 11).  There will be no grace [favor of God] toward those who have rejected Him and His people.  When will this come to pass.  I don’t know.  I believe it will be soon; and by that I don’t mean tomorrow or even next year; but within the years of God’s own timing.

In that time all God’s people of Israel will gather to worship their Messiah around the throne in Jerusalem;

“And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall beat off from the channel of the river unto the stream of Egypt, and ye shall be gathered one by one, O ye children of Israel.  And it shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the LORD in the holy mount at Jerusalem.”  Isaiah 27:12-13

One of the things that Christians and unbelievers can learn from this is that God will carry through with His promises.  Not one word shall fall to the ground.  “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35).  Rest assured Christian.  Repent and believe unbeliever.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Wells Of Salvation

Though chapter twelve is a  short one it is full of song.  In fact it has two songs.  They are songs of the deliverance of Israel for the final time.  It is of a time yet future.  The prophet Isaiah shares with Israel/Judah that there is coming a day when they will be praising the LORD of host; the Holy One of Israel.

“And in that day thou shalt say, O LORD, I will praise Thee: though Thou wast angry with me, Thine anger is turned away, and Thou comfortedst me.  Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; He also is become my salvation.  Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.  And in that day shall ye say, Praise the LORD, call upon His name, declare His doings among the people, make mention that His name is exalted.  Sing unto the LORD; for He hath done excellent things: this is known in all the earth.  Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion: for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee.”  Isaiah 12:1-6 (KJV)

Some things which I want to point out-

  1. The people recognize the LORD’s anger, now in that future day forgiveness;
  2. The people, the prophet recognize the LORD  is their salvation;
  3. The LORD shows Himself doubly able to save in the phrase “LORD JEHOVAH” through this song.
  4. The people will “draw water out of the wells of salvation”
  5. There will be praise in the mouth of the people when they see the Holy One of Israel in their midst.

This is very relevant for the Christian of our day, any day as a matter of fact.  We always need to remember that the LORD hates disobedience which is sin, and all sins committed or sins of omitted obedient acts; and with our Lord there is forgiveness.  We must always remember that God is my salvation.  Remember the name of the prophet Isaiah means “God is salvation”.  The Lord’s use of the double “Jehovah” assures us that He is God, He is awesome, He is all powerful, all Present, all knowing, invisible, unexplainable, and immutable [unchanging].

According to John’s gospel chapter 4 we could see that those who know Jesus Christ are in a sense “Wells of salvation” –

“Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”  John 4:13-14 (KJV)

Until Jesus comes we have within us the water of everlasting life flowing from our hearts and lives because of the work of Jesus Christ on His cross.

We look forward to that day when Israel will look upon Him whom they have pierced and be saved.  We are delighted, full of excitement, when one lost sheep comes into the fold of our Lord.

There will be singing in that glorious day.  Let everyday of your life be a musical.  Sing unto the LORD.  Be that overflowing well of salvation you are called to be as a Christian.

-Tim A. Blankenship

And There shall Come Forth a Rod…

This and future articles on Isaiah will be posted here at Fire and Hammer.    On Sunday evenings at Carr Lane Baptist Church I am preaching through the book of Isaiah, only in a “survey” type fashion.  I pray the Lord’s Spirit will guide you in the study of His Word.

“And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: and the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD…”  Isaiah 11:1-2 (KJV)

If we take a moment and consider the title of this post we might take a thought toward created things; and that would not be wrong to do.  It is however necessary that we see the Creator becomes a created being in the “stem of Jesse”, “a Branch” and later on in the chapter (v. 10) “root of Jesse”
What we see of this one who will come from “the stem of Jesse” is that He is “a rod”, and “a Branch” shall grow out of His roots.  This is a deep rooted prophecy of the coming of the Messiah of Israel.  It speaks of His humanity.  It speaks of His humility, and from whence He comes.
His life is lived in the “Spirit of the LORD” and that Spirit rest upon Him and I don’t believe it to be wrong to say, here, even within Him.  Holy wisdom, spiritual understanding, and divine counsel and power comes only from the Spirit of God.  When we have a good and healthy relationship and fellowship with the LORD, then there will also be a right reverent fear of the LORD as well.
In verse 4 we find that this Individual will, “with righteousness” judge the poor.  Could this be the “Poor in spirit to which Jesus refers in Matthew 5:3?  He will destroy the wicked with “the breath of His lips” (Revelation 1:16; 19:15).
In the future kingdom of this King there will be peace throughout the whole earth; even within the animal kingdom (vv. 6-9), and such knowledge increasing unlike anything we have ever known (v. 9).
This “root of Jesse” is an ensign or banner to the nations that are on earth.  They will seek Him and find Him, and all His people [Israel] will come to Him from the ends of the earth (vv. 10-12).  The return of Israel to the LORD will be even greater, more spectacular than was the first exodus from Egypt.
Be ready for our LORDs return.  Jesus is coming soon.
-Tim A. Blankenship

Observations From Numbers – 021711

Today’s reading from Numbers 25 – 27.

Chapter 25 deals with Israel’s sin at Peor or Baalpeor; chapter 26 tells us the numbers of the men age twenty and over; and chapter 27 tells us of Moses view into the Promised Land, because he was not going to be allowed to enter the land due to his rebellion in the striking of the rock; rather than speaking to it, as GOD has said.

Since we looked at Balaam in yesterday’s study let’s finish up with Balaam today.

In chapter 25 we have the people of Israel sinning grievously against GOD.  They were joining themselves with the people of Moab.  Moab hated Israel and wanted them cursed well now they brought a curse upon them.

“And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab.  And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods.   And Israel joined himself unto Baalpeor: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel.” 25:1-3

Where does Balaam fit into this picture?  We need to look ahead in the book of Numbers.

“Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD.” 31:16

It has every appearance of telling us that Balaam saw he could not curse Israel, but he sees a weakness in them, and counsels Balak to send and invitation to, at least some of the people, to allow them into Israel’s camp.  Bringing their demon worship with them, they lead many into adulterous worship against the Creator of the universe.

We see also in chapter 31 and verse 8 that Balaam was slain by the sword.  He was a wicked prophet for hire.

The great thing about chapter 25 that we need to see is the zeal for GOD shown by Phineas (vv. 7-8).  Because of this sin 24,000 people died as a result of a plague.  Because of the zeal for GOD and His righteousness; the work of Phineas, the grandson of Aaron, the plague was stopped.  Far more people could have died were it not for Phineas.

In a time when there are businesses for the promotion of adultery, online  and otherwise, there needs to be many more with the zeal of Phineas; rushing in where angels fear to tread; not taking lives, but with the message of God’s Word, warning of the destruction that is coming into lives due to so much immoral behavior.

In this time as Christians we have a responsibility to share the love of Jesus Christ; yet loving enough to confront; especially any brethren who call themselves Christian who are dabbling in immoral behavior; participating in things that destroy families, marriages, and lives of children; and calling them to turn back to GOD.

Please read Numbers 25 – 27.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Words Without Profit/Prophet

The business man; no certain one, no certain company; or even a preacher or pastor tells their people, “All is well.  The business is growing”.  What is not mentioned is that decay, death, despair is all around.
For a business that may mean the ruin of that company.  Layoffs, closing the plant, or the whole company, bankruptcy.  For a church – closing the doors because the church never saw the Light of the Lord but listened to the lying words of their “pastor”.

The words of Jeremiah the prophet speak loudly to us today.

“Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit.  Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not;  And come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations.”  Jeremiah 7:8-10 (KJV)

The life of knowing the LORD has no part in turning from Him.  We grow in Him – in Christ Jesus the Son of the Living God who died for our sins, was buried and rose; and He forever lives.  Because He lives we live, therefore our lives are to show forth His life.

The life of Jesus Christ is a life without sin, obedience to God the Father, glorifying our Creator in what we say and do.  When the Bible teacher focuses on living your life now and telling how good human kind is [self] then that is “lying words” and the prophet says, “…that cannot profit”.  It is as though mixing muddy water with clean to clean it up.  All you have is muddy water; or an ungodly life which takes the glory that belongs only to God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Eat Heartily

Today we look into the Prophets of the Old Testament.  These men were truly men of God who stood firm against the evil of their day; which was not unlike our own day.  We look into the prophet Jeremiah.

“Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and Thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by Thy name, O LORD God of hosts.”  Jeremiah 15:16 (KJV).

The Word of God seems to have  been precious/dear to all those prophets of the Old Testament.  They all mention it in one way or another, and they endeavor to live by it and be pleasing to the LORD God.  There were times that the Word of God was not being proclaimed, nor was what they had preached being heard and practiced.  At those times were the times when God was being silent.

The prophet Jeremiah had a heart for God and His Word.  The Word was not lost except to the people, because they had not, nor would not hear it.  God brought Jeremiah to His Word.  Jeremiah devoured the Word, and found it to be “…the joy and rejoicing of mine heart”.  The Word of God is dear to those whose hearts are with the God of the Word.

Do you enjoy God’s silence?  I do not.  Is God really ever silent when we have His written word by our side, in our hand, and before our eyes?  Only if we do not hear it and apply it to our lives.  Let’s endeavor to be as Jeremiah.  When we “Find” the Word; let’s eat it heartily, then joy and rejoice in it.

When God is silent is the time for personal heart searching, praying, crying out to Him; and He will hear.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Early Church and the Testimony of Scripture

Acts 7:1-60

Stephen, a spirit filled deacon, a servant of the early church, and serving tables; had stood up and preached the message of Jesus Christ, and was being called a “blasphemer”.  In Acts 6:8-15 we see the beginning of chapter seven and Stephen’s sermon of the testimony of Scripture and the history of the Jewish people.

The charge of “blasphemy” is a serious charge, especially in Israel, during these early days.  In some countries it is still a serious charge and often paid with the death of the accused or guilty.  Blasphemy is the calling someone God who would be human, or using the name of God to proclaim a message that was not of God.  In Stephen’s case all he had apparently done was quote the words Moses had written concerning the Prophet who was coming, and proclaimed Jesus as the Prophet, and preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.

When the true gospel of Jesus is preached it reveals Him in His true character, ie., God-man.  How could a man stop storms, walk on water, raise the dead?  No mere man would willingly go to a cross of death in the place of a sinful world; Jesus did.  No mere man has ever been raised to life in His own power; Jesus has.  To these Jewish leaders Stephen was a blasphemer, because He had proclaimed Jesus as deity – the God-man.  Thus, they sought to put Stephen on trial.

In verse eleven of chapter six we find them bringing in false witnesses against him.  Sound familiar?

THE TESTIMONY OF ABRAHAM AND THE PATRIARCHS (vv. 1-8).  Stephen, filled with the Spirit of God confronts them with their own Scriptures and history.

The history of Abraham is one of the nation of Israel.  Without Abraham there would be no Israel.  Abraham is the man whom God chose to use to birth the nation.  He was a man of faith, and his faith grew.

Called out of Ur of the Chaldeans he left the life he knew to go to a land he had never seen, and did not go where he was going.  All he knew was that he had met God, and God told him to “Get”, and he got going.

Stephen is not answering to the charge of blasphemy; he just gets into the Scriptures proclaiming to them, what they probably do not want to hear.  He gives it to them anyway.  Some preacher I once heard made this statement after telling about being caught in a mob, “When you have an angry crowd, and they are trying to do you bad; then preach”, at least something along that line.  I would not say that is what Stephen is doing, but even if he is, it does not negate the message.

The land was promised to Abraham and he never so much as received one acre of it; with the exception of a tomb for Sarah, and himself (Genesis 23).  Yet, he still believed, trusted the Lord and is an example of great faith to all followers of Jesus Christ today.

Isaac was/is the promised son of Abraham’s faith.  Isaac also received the promise of the land, and of being a great nation; as did his son Jacob as well.

The message of Abraham is faith.  The history of Abraham is faith.  He left all to go where he knew not where.  He faced famine in that land almost immediately upon arriving, yet even though he left the land, he returned and is called the “friend of God”.  The ultimate test of his faith was when God called on him to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice, and in that he was faithful.

THE TESTIMONY OF THE PATRIARCH’S ENVY, JOSEPH, AND EGYPT (vv. 9-16).  When we find that Abraham was counted righteous by God, according to Scripture, we also find that God gave Abraham a bit of prophetic knowledge.  In Genesis 15 we read,

“And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.”  Genesis 15:13-14 (KJV)

In verse 6 of Genesis fifteen we find these words,

“And he [Abraham] believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”

He was not counted or reckoned “righteous” because of his good works, or for anything he had done, but because God had spoke and he acted on it believing God.

Joseph, the son of Jacob, the first born son of Rachel; Jacob’s beloved wife; was a dreamer of dreams.  These dreams were not brought on by eating too much pizza, or from some dose of crazy weed, but they were from God.  As a dreamer of God dreams he also had an understanding of dreams.  Because of some of his dreams the other brothers got jealous of him.  According to his dreams the brothers and the whole family would one day bow at his feet.

Joseph may not have realized the significance of his dreams.  The significance was that what he was dreaming was going to be the fulfillment of God’s promise/prophecy to Abraham in bringing a nation out of Egypt.  The significance was that God was working through the evil conduct of his brothers.  You may flinch at that thought, but God is sovereign over all things, and so don’t think for a minute that evil thwarts the will of God; in fact He uses it to accomplish His purposes and will.  That in no way means He approves it, causes it, or empowers it; it only means that man has a freewill, and God uses man’s freewill to accomplish His own.

The Psalmist wrote of Joseph:

“He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant: Whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron: Until the time that his word came: the word of the LORD tried him.” Psalm 105:17-19 (KJV)

Verse 19 in particular is the one we need to see.  “Until the time that his word came the word of the LORD tried him.”  From the time Joseph was sold by his brothers into slavery, into Egypt, to Potiphar, then to prison, then freed; there was probably a total of about twenty years.  Do you think Joseph had ever dreamed that he would go through all these trials?  I really doubt it.  Joseph, however, remained ever faithful.  There appears to be no doubts, no complaints, no anger toward God, no heart of vengeance against his brothers (though some may want to disagree with that when he comes face to face with his brothers).  All the time Joseph was waiting for the word of the LORD to come to pass.  Oh, how the Christian today needs that type of faith; that “waiting faith”; that faith that waits on God, and His time and place.

THE TESTIMONY OF MOSES, THE RED SEA, AND THE WILDERNESS (vv. 17-36).  The time between the last verse of Genesis and the birth of Moses, recorded in Exodus 2 is near to 400 years; nearing the promise and prophecy of God to Abraham in Genesis 15.

The descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have grown to quite a large number in those 400 years.  They have become so numerous that the Pharoah who rules at the time of Moses’s birth is a tyrant toward Israel, has no memory of Joseph, and doesn’t care for the people at all; but fears their numbers.  This tyrant Pharoah orders the death of all baby boys born to the Hebrews.  The mother and father of Moses hid him for a period of three months, and then finally put him in a “ark of bulrushes” placed it in the Nile River, along the shore, and floating down near the place where the princess of Egypt bathed; was found and adopted by her.  Only the sovereign LORD could work something like that out.

The Hebrew people were enslaved, and treated like livestock or worse.  They were not allowed to worship God; and maybe only a few really knew about YHWH [YaHWeH].  We know that they did have homes to live in, though what condition we are not aware.

Moses was taken out of the water of the Nile and named Moses by the daughter of Pharoah.  “Drawn out” is the meaning of his name and it is a perfect fit for him.  We see him all his life being “drawn out”.  He was “drawn out” of the water.  He was “drawn out” to his own people.  He was “drawn out” to the desert/wilderness.  He was “drawn out” to serve Jethro for forty years.

For forty years Moses was in Egypt learning the ways of Egypt.  For forty years he was in the desert with Jethro learning the ways of the desert/wilderness.  After delivering the children of Israel from Egypt he spent forty more years in the wilderness preparing  them for life in the Promised Land.

We complain if we must wait a minute or two at a traffic light.  Lord help us.  How we need to learn to wait, and trust the LORD with His word, His church and His people.  Moses had to learn the lesson of waiting on God.  He supposed that when he killed the Egyptian that the people would know that he was God’s deliverer, but it was not the time, and Moses had to leave Egypt to be prepared.

A THOUGHT:  Joseph, by God’s providence, was in Egypt to prepare Egypt for the world famine, and to prepare Israel to become a nation.  Moses fled from Egypt to be prepared to return to Egypt, and deliver the people from the world.

In the wilderness the new nation saw the mighty hand of God the LORD.  When they did not see a way God made a way across the Red Sea.  The LORD delivered them from their enemies by causing the Sea to collapse in upon the soldiers of Egypt, killing them all.  The Almighty provided them water, meat to eat and He provided them with bread from heaven – “Manna” meaning “What is it?”

THE TESTIMONY OF ISRAEL’S REJECTION, REBELLION, AND CAPTIVITIES (vv. 37-50).  Moses testified of One who would come, a Prophet, the Prophet of prophets.  Stephen reminds his listeners, persecutors of the prophecy of Moses and his teachings.  Hear the words of the prophet Moses concerning the 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…” Deuteronomy 18:15 (KJV).

While Moses was in the wilderness with the people we find them many times rejecting his leadership, such as while he went up on Mount Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments from the Lord.  They built a golden calf to worship in the place of God.  Our impatience is somewhat astonishing.  God says something and we do the opposite.

We Christians have been accused by some who refer to themselves as atheist or agnostic of being “makers of our own god”, and they mean that of the world religions as well.  With the latter I would agree.  The God of Creation who created all that is is not a god of man’s own making, however.  No man has ever imagined a god who is Almighty, All-Knowing, All-Present, All-Powerful, and Immutable.  No man has ever invented a god who condemns sin and wickedness, and provides a means of fellowship, relationship, justification, sanctification, and  being glorified together with him in an eternal home.  No man has ever created a god that would send his only son to die for the sins of the world.  The God of Christianity is the Creator of the universe, and all that is in it; and He loved us so much He did send His Son to die on a cross for our sins, was buried, and He rose again bodily from the grave and was witnessed by over 500 eyewitnesses.

All the gods of man’s creation allow them to behave and act any way they choose.  The god’s of men cause the immorality of all the world.  The god’s of men’s own making is what causes wars and strife.  Every individual without Jesus Christ is their own god; and will one day crumble, fall at the feet of Jesus, and be cast from His presence into eternal fire.

The “golden calf” for those people of Israel was a reminder of their lives back in Egypt.  They had been freed from its bondage, yet they still cling to it, even to the point of desiring to return and continue as slaves.  Even the gods people worship today, the images, are images which puts no guilt on them, or would make them question their actions.  The world hates any guilt, or shame.  That is one of the things, however, which is needed in the world; ie., guilt and shame. It can be the “straw that broke the camel’s back” and turn them toward the only One who can cleanse them and forgive all their sin.

When people turn to Wall Street, Dow, or other stocks and bonds, etc. for their security; then they have turned their back on God.  Christian we may be in a financial crisis in this nation [USA], however, there is a greater crisis that many do not even realize.  That crisis is a Spiritual crisis.  With greed ruling the day through the lies of satan; there is a genuine spiritual need for God.  Whether it is believed or not; there is only one way to God and heaven, and that is the way He has provided; and that way is by way of the cross of Jesus Christ, his burial and resurrection.

Oh, how we need to understand the fulness, power, vastness, and glory of our God.  The nation of Israel is still in rejection of their God, His Son and their future foretold by God.

THE TESTIMONY OF ISRAEL’S REJECTION OF JESUS AND THE HOLY SPIRIT (vv. 51-54).  These men to whom Stephen was speaking were just as the prophets which foretold the coming of the Prophet, the Messiah, their Deliverer.  “Stiffnecked and uncircumcised heart” shows a rebellious attitude and an unclean heart of these people.

All Stephen did was proclaim to them the truth of their own history, confront them with Jesus, their betrayal of him, and how they had “murdered him” (v. 52).

THE TESTIMONY OF STEPHEN A PERSECUTED, MARTYRED SOUL FOR JESUS CHRIST (vv. 55-60).  When the angry men heard the message delivered by faithful Stephen they proceeded to kill him.

The Word of God works as a sword, a “twoedged sword”.  In the book of Hebrews we read,

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 (KJV)

In other words; that means God will make things uncomfortable  for you until He gets you where He desires you to be; if you are His own.  When you are God’s He will not allow you to remain in sinful behavior.

These men hated Stephen and his words that he spoke, then, they proceeded to kill him.

The deacon never sought to strike back.  His last words before his dying breath was, “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge”, and then he “fell asleep”.  The stones which were hurled at Stephen, hitting his body, were stones of identity.  It is not without merit to mention that in the Revelation is mentioned a stone,

“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.” Revelation 2:17

Stephen had his stones, and they were stones of blessing because as he was dying he looked into heaven and could see glory;

“Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.”

O, for the passion of our people like Stephen had.  For a fire to burn in our hearts for people who are bound in religion, but hate Jesus Christ, and refuse His death, burial and resurrection, by continually trying to earn their way to God’s presence and favor.  Preaching to the religious may not get you any popular vote, but you will see God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

These are the study notes for a sermon preached on October 05, 2008.

Jesus, God-Man, Servant

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

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

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

Study of Mark 1:1-20:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Lord Of Joy

There is a need in our world for real joy.  Not joy which is temporary, and because of an increase of wealth, or peace of man; but rather the “peace of God which passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:67).  The world is plagued with sorrow upon sorrow.  Earthquakes, fires, tornadoes, cyclones, sicknesses, disease, hatred, financial collapse.  We do not need to hear much more about it do we?   There is only One who can give us this real, abiding  joy, and He is the one who is the Light that we read about in the previous two verses of this prophet.  The One who brings the light to the “people who walked in darkness”.

“Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.  For thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian.  For every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood; but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire.”  Isaiah 9:3-5 (KJV)

The  prophecy of  Isaiah was written in the eighth century B.C. so this was approximately 150 years or so before the Babylonian captivity of which Jeremiah writes, and Ezekiel.  Jeremiah was written around the time of the captivity, it covers the time shortly before captivity, and the beginning of the captivity.  Ezekiel the prophet himself was one of the captives writting from Babylon.  The reason I mention those things is because Isaiah is giving a prophetic statement in the above verses.  He warns so often of a captivity that is coming upon Judah and Israel, but then, he gives hope by telling of the return of the captives, and wonderful blessings far beyond a believer’s expectations.

A big portion of this chapter is given to hope.  Verses one through seven are the verses of hope.  In our present verses we see that the prophet is recognizing the fulfillment of God’s Word toward Abraham, His covenant He made with him and with Isaac and Jacob.  “You have multiplied the nation”, is the LORD’s confirmation of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the promise to the nation of Isaiah’s time of its fulfillment.  He has promised that their descendants will be multiplied as numerous as the “sands of the seashore” (Genesis 22:17).

With them comes the joy that has been missing.  Joy of seeing the promises of God fulfilled, and it does have a way of inspiring our hearts and lifting us above our life situation, no matter what burden has been placed on our shoulders.  There will be rejoicing in the cities, the provinces, the homes, and all the land will be rejoicing, and the prophet likens it to soldiers who have won a victory and taken much spoil.

There will come a day, a future day from Isaiah, when God will free Israel from Assyria, Babylon, Persia, and any other nations which have carried them away, and oppressed her.  As in the days of Gideon when he was used by God to deliver them from the burden of Midian, so to will there be a breaking of the yoke again;

“And the three hundred blew the trumpets, and the LORD set every man’s sword against his fellow, even throughout all the host: and the host fled to Bethshittah in Zererath, and to the border of Abelmeholah, unto Tabbath.  And the men of Israel gathered themselves together out of Naphtali, and out of Asher, and out of all Manasseh, and pursued after the Midianites.”  Judges 7:22-23 (KJV)

Reminding us of the mighty power of God to deliver from our enemies.  Though the enemy of the Christian is not any human being, the threat of the enemy is still real.  Our enemy is the devil, the enemy of Jesus Christ and His Father.  Our enemy is to be fought with the Word of God and prayer.  We ought to never lift our hands or physical weapons aganst a fellow human being except to save life; whether if be our own, our family, or a neighbors.  Then, only when we have no other  choice.  There is freedom to the follower of Jesus Christ.  Freedom from sin and its bondage, and freedom from death; and a life to live for all eternity in the presence of Jesus Christ.

There will come a day in the life of the nation of Israel when soldiers of the earth will stand against them, and God will defeat their enemies.  Their carcases will be devoured by the vultures, and the weapons of the enemies warfare will be burned in fires.  What a joyous victory our Lord will have.  What a great victory the world will experience as the earth will experience the renewing of the One who came bringing this light to the world nations, and  to the nation called Israel.

True peace and joy can only be found through faith in Jesus Christ and His death on the cross for our sins, His burial carrying our sins and their condemnation and guilt far, far away: never to be laid on us again; and believing that God has raised His Son from the dead.  Jesus also said, “I will come again, and receive you unto myself…” John 14:3b.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Blossoming Light

The people of Israel, including the Southern kingdom of Judah and Zebulun, Naphtali, and Galilee were a people who had been given great light.  The light had shined brightly upon them when they were delivered from Egypt.  They walked out of their captivity with great wealth given to them by their captors practically begging them to leave, and they left with payment for the 430 years of labor they had performed for the nation in which they had once found solace, food, and a home.

After their departure from Egypt they found themselves wandering in the desert, guided by the Pillar of Cloud by day, and the Pillar of Fire by night; which was the LORD God.  There were times that the Fire took up the rear guard, and protected them from enemy assault.  They had witnessed the power of God parting the Red Sea, and they crossed over it on dry land, and after safely crossing the walls of water came together crushing the Egyptian army which was pursuing them through the divide.  After questioning God’s provision of the Promised Land, and its being the land of milk and honey, they took the advice of 10 men they had sent to survey the land, and had told them, “We can’t do it.  There are giants in the land, and we are as grasshoppers in their sight” (Read Numbers 13).  Then, because of their unbelief the whole nation, is condemned to wander through the desert for 40 years.  Why?  God had delivered the children of Israel from Egypt in a matter of a few days; He would take forty years to get Egypt out of Israel.

When the forty years were accomplished, they then, stood on the banks of the Jordan River, crossed over just as God told them, trusted the LORD God, and He gave them the land.  However, their faith was not perfect.  After many years of failing, and trusting; and trusting and failing, they found themselves separated from the land, and in the throes of enemy bondage, and that is the place they really find themselves to this day having never fully returned to their God given lands.  Yes!  There is a nation of Israel, but they are still dominated by Gentile rule (United Nations, and the United States of America).

They are a people to whom God gave a great light, and that light went dim, and even went out, at the least, covered  by the ashes of the fire.  Underneath there is a hot coal, waiting for the fuel to spring to life.  O, how sad it is for a people who had light to find themselves in darkness.  There is hope for the nation.

Hear the Word of God through the prophet Isaiah –

“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.”  Isaiah 9:2 (KJV)

Back in the land following the return from Babylonian captivity to the Roman invasion, they are a land still in darkness until One who came gave them the Light.  The Light shined so brightly that they were blinded by His glory.  It was one of those cases where they “could not see the forest for the trees.”  All they had to do was listen, and receive the message which He proclaimed, but many refused, and even crucified the Light; thinking they had done God a service.  Thus the nation remained and still remains in darkness.

Isaiah presents this prophecy as though it has already happened.  Why does he do this?  First of all because what ever God says will happen; will happen just as He has said, and in the way He has said.  Not one word He has spoken will return to Him void (Isaiah 55:11).  He will accomplish what He pleases.  The prophet has not only given promise of the Savior coming, but there is promise of Him coming again in the verses which follow.

Matthew quotes these verses (1 & 2) as being prophecies of the Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 4:13-15.

With the power of Christ waning in many professing the name of Jesus would it not be a safe say that the power is fading because the light that shines is growing dim.  Jesus told the Church at Ephesus, “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”  Revelation 2:5 (KJV)  Any church or professing Christian leader needs desperately to stand and demonstrate their love for Jesus Christ, His Word, His Church, and the Gospel of Christ.

We have been given great Light.  However, if we give in to our culture, its pluralism, and begin speaking politically correct to win the hearts of the enemy of God, then, we become Biblically corrupt; and spiritually bankrupt, with no message that will convert a condemned people.  When we do that the light has gone out.  The salt is good for nothing but to be trampled under the feet of men (Matthew 5:13)

We were in darkness at one time, but we have the great Light of Christ.  “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven”, Jesus said.  We are told to let the light shine, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that multitudes are going to notice, and surrender to God’s will for their lives.

The way the light continues to burn is by continually adding good fuel to the fire.  The fuel is works of the Spirit of God — the reading and diligent study of God’s Word, fervent prayer, and an obedient life committed to the way of the Lord; done through the faith in Christ Jesus and His finished work on the cross.

Today is the greatest day to let your light shine, and the Light of Jesus Christ in us is the Light in the darkness of this world.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Light For The Darkness

There are many people in this world who are living in darkness.  In January of 2007, and December of that same year in the cities and counties surrounding the place I live, there had been ice storms which caused trees to fall, tree limbs to snap and fall onto power lines; and because of that thousands and thousands of homes, businesses, people were left without light and heat.  These events happened again this past Winter (2009) in most of Northern Arkansas, and other areas. This type of darkness comes to an end by renewing electrical power.  Sadly there were some who died as a result of these trials and icy circumstances.

There is,  however, an even icier situation going on in the world.  It is a situation where light is available, but no one wants it.  Many turn cold-heartedly away from the truth of light and darkness, and choose the darkness and cold rather than sight and warmth.  There is an answer to the distress of many people, and it can be found in the truth and light of the Word of God.

Hear the word of the Prophet:

“Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations.” Isaiah 9:1 (KJV)

This, of course, is the beginning of a prophetic statement of One who will come and bring light to these two tribes who at a time before had been in great darkness.  The MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE notes on this verse, “Zebulun…Naphtali…Galilee. Zebulun and Naphtali on the northern border in NE Galilee W of the Jordan River were the first to suffer from the invasion by the Assyrian king (2 Kin. 15:29), marking the beginning of dark days for Israel.” p. 968.  The whole northern kingdom of Israel had been wicked from their beginning, turned away from God set up golden calves as idols for their gods in the cities of Bethel and Dan, and were plunged into darkness.  They needed light, and they would receive light.

Zebulun and Naphtali may have been the first to experience the conquering power of the Assyrian king, but they would also be the first to experience the Light that was coming into the world.  If you will remember, Galilee is the place our Lord Jesus was raised by a godly mother and a man who taught Him as though he were His father.

When you realize you are in darkness it is time to call the power company, inform them of your plight, and then they will come and help you.  In the case of spiritual darkness you must first realize your spiritual darkness, and eternal plight, call on the Lord of Light who is Jesus Christ of whom the prophet preaches, and He will give you light.

The people in Springfield, Missouri; Joplin, Missouri; Harrison, Arkansas; Green Forrest, Arkansas, and surrounding cities, and counties eventually got their power back, had light, had heat, and were glad to get back into a warm bed at night and wake the next morning to a warm home.  This thing called “electricity” is a wonderful thing for giving light to darkness, and heat to warm the cold, and cool the heat of a hot Summer day. It does nothing however for eternity.  It is the greatest thing in the world to awake everyday in the Light of Jesus Christ, and know that your whole life is in His light, and that the power of eternity and eternal life is His.

-Tim A. Blankenship

You Shall Be Called…

Prophet’s Possible Perspective

It grieves me so much to see this city, Jerusalem, in the state which it is in. It was such a beautiful city. It was a faithful city. Faithful to the LORD, and His Word. She has become a prostitute! There was fair judgment in business and in the court of the king, but now there are professional killers which run the city.

O, city of Jerusalem, your worth as silver has become nothing but cast out trash; the sweetness of your wine mixed with water, diluted and worthless. There is no more joy in the city. What can one do without worth or joy?

The rulers have done righteously in some cases before, but now they merely live for themselves. They themselves, are not only dwelling with thieves, but are thieves themselves. They receive bribes from those who have it to pay, of course, giving them special favor. They love receiving those special gifts which encourage them to see things the donor’s way. The cause of the orphaned child and the widowed woman with no means of support mean nothing to the rulers any longer. They have turned their back on those in need.

The Mighty One of Israel has come and said, “Ah, I will relieve myself of those who are opposed to Me. I will be rid of my enemies. I will turn my hand upon you, and purge you of all the trash, and remove all that is worthless in you.’

‘I will restore faithful judges, like you had at the first, and restore wisdom to those who give counsel, and afterwards you will be called, ‘The city of righteousness, the city of faithfulness’ again.’

‘This will not come without pain, sorrow, and separation. There will only be redemption at a price which many of you never thought possible for the city or our nation. There will be people returning to the land because they were forced to leave, then allowed to return; and they will do so in righteousness. The one’s who have forsaken me shall be destroyed. The one’s who sinned in transgression and the one’s who looked on and did nothing to call people back to me. They both shall be consumed by the judgment which is coming.’

‘These, are those who worshipped around the altars of the godless. They will find themselves ashamed of the oaks which formed their gods. There will be nothing but confusion by the worship of your goddess gardens. You will be as the oak whose leaves has faded and has no life: just like the gods which are made from them; and like a dried up garden which has had no water.’

‘Those who many saw as strong shall become weak. So weak that a tiny cord of string could hold him, and the one who would make the thread is like a spark, making a fire, and the fire will cause them to burn together, and none will be able to put it out.”

O, the judgment of God is always just and right. It breaks my heart to see the city which was once so lovely sit in rebellion against the Mighty and Holy One of Israel. As you can see, though. He is the God of Salvation.

I rest in the promise that one day in God’s plan the city will be called “The city of righteousness, the faithful city.  It will come through judgment, but it will come.  Blessed be the name of the Mighty One of Israel, the LORD of hosts.

“How is the faithful city become an harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers.  Thy silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water: Thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves: every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them.  Therefore saith the Lord, the LORD of hosts, the mighty One of Israel, Ah, I will ease me of mine adversaries, and avenge me of mine enemies:  And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin: And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning: afterward thou shalt be called, The city of righteousness, the faithful city.  Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness.  And the destruction of the transgressors and of the sinners shall be together, and they that forsake the LORD shall be consumed.  For they shall be ashamed of the oaks which ye have desired, and ye shall be confounded for the gardens that ye have chosen.  For ye shall be as an oak whose leaf fadeth, and as a garden that hath no water.  And the strong shall be as tow, and the maker of it as a spark, and they shall both burn together, and none shall quench them.” Isaiah 1:21-31 (KJV)

-Tim A. Blankenship

Eat The Good Of The Land

Prophet’s Possible Perspective

The Holy One so wants to open our minds to reason with Him. It seems to me that His heart must break at the sight of sin in the hearts and lives of His people. I pray that I will never forget that He is the Holy One of Israel.

“Reason” seems to be a forgotten thing with the people of my day. They are more concerned with emotions, feelings, amusements, comforts, entertainment. Anything that requires thought is a nuisance that we can live without in the minds of some of my people.

It is, however, time for God’s people to begin thinking of their spiritual plight. Reason is a good thing. God is telling us to think, to reason with Him. The idea is to see His way of things. It is good, if we are going to walk with God, be godly, that we think His thoughts and not our own.

O, how our sins must be like scarlet to Him. How He longs to forgive and cleanse us, and to make us as white as snow. He desires, longs, to make what is crimson, to be as wool. He is a gracious God. He is the Holy One.

The Holy One desires what is best for His people. He has promised the good of the land to all who are willing and obedient. If we refuse and go our own way there only awaits destruction.

HEAR, O HEAR, THE WORD OF THE LORD –

 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:  But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.” Isaiah 1:18-20 (KJV)

Tim A. Blankenship

Beheading a Prophet

“At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus, And said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him. For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother Philip’s wife. For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her. And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet. But when Herod’s birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod. Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask. And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist’s head in a charger. And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath’s sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her. And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison. And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother. And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus. When Jesus heard of it, he departed thence by ship into a desert place apart: and when the people had heard thereof, they followed him on foot out of the cities.” Matthew 14:1-13 (KJV)

The third sermon given by Jesus according to the Gospel of Matthew has just been delivered by our Master. After the parables of chapter 13 Jesus returns to His home town, and they will not receive Him for who He is. They are too familiar with Him as a child who grew up in the area. This does not mean that He was known as an “honery or mean and vicious, rude or trouble maker child”, but that they are familiar with the family, and that they saw nothing special about Him in His youth and childhood. Part of this may have been due to their own blindness, because after all Mary was a mother before the wedding celebration.

The fame of Jesus had grown though. Herod had heard of Him. This is not Herod the Great who is responsible for killing the male children 2 years and under after the birth of Jesus. This is Herod the Tetrarch.

Mat 14:1 – At that time Herod the tetrarch,…. Not Herod the Great, in whose reign Christ was born, and who slew the infants of Bethlehem, but his son; this was, as the Jewish chronologer rightly observes, ‘Herod Antipater, whom they call טיתרקי, “the tetrarch”; the son of Herod the First, and brother of Archelaus, and the third king of the family of Herod.’” From John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible, e-Sword edition.

Herod has already put John the Baptist to death, and then, we are given more of the details of the matter. He supposed that Jesus was John risen from the dead. He sure wasn’t with the news of the day, or that would not have even crossed his mind. Herod is most likely overcome with guilt for his murderous action of beheading the prophet. John had directly proclaimed to Herod that to take his brother Philip’s wife was an act of adultery; and because of this had him imprisoned. He was fearful to have him put to death, because he feared the people; they thought John was a prophet, which he was.

What he would not do because of fear of a crowd he was able to do through the lust of his heart. The power of the lust of the heart fueled and fed by the dance of the daughter of the wife he had gotten by adultery, which the prophet had warned him of was also bringing on guilt. As it should.

The terror and reproach of conscience, which Herod, like other daring offenders, could not shake off, are proofs and warnings of a future judgment, and of future misery to them. But there may be the terror of convictions, where there is not the truth of conversion. When men pretend to favour the gospel, yet live in evil, we must not favour their self-delusion, but must deliver our consciences as John did. The world may call this rudeness and blind zeal. False professors, or timid Christians, may censure it as want of civility; but the most powerful enemies can go no further than the Lord sees good to permit. Herod feared that the putting of John to death might raise a rebellion among the people, which it did not; but he never feared it might stir up his own conscience against him, which it did. Men fear being hanged for what they do not fear being damned for. And times of carnal mirth and jollity are convenient times for carrying on bad designs against God’s people. Herod would profusely reward a worthless dance, while imprisonment and death were the recompence of the man of God who sought the salvation of his soul. But there was real malice to John beneath his consent, or else Herod would have found ways to get clear of his promise. When the under shepherds are smitten, the sheep need not be scattered while they have the Great Shepherd to go to. And it is better to be drawn to Christ by want and loss, than not to come to him at all.

—Matthew Henry Concise

Parties, especially those which are known for having liquor, drugs, and dance will be parties where the debaucherous activities go unbridled, and due to mind altering “spirits” will end in the changing and/or ending of lives. You can almost be certain that this party was laden with an unlimited supply of liquor; either wine or strong drink [hard liquor]. The party which Herod orchestrated would end in the ending of the prophet’s physical life, and a life ridden with guilt and fear for Herod, and maybe for all those who had a hand in the death of the man who warned them of their sin. This adulterous wife of Herod knew the heart of her “husband”; that is was filled and fueled by unbridled lust. She too hated John the Baptist. She hated the prophet for his message of adultery against them both. She wanted him dead and would get it by any means possible; even to the lusty use of her own teenage daughter. (There is nothing which tells us the age of her daughter, but still being under the care of her mother one would assume that she is still at home and at least in her teen years.)

John the Baptist had become outraged by the flagrant sin of a leader of the nation of Israel. There was first of all a very incestuous problem within the family with girls marrying their father’s brother, etc. This was the case with Herodias. Philip was her uncle – her father’s brother – and that being the case Herod Tetrarch would have also been her uncle. This thing was being done openly and no one was challenging it or crying out against it; but John did, and was imprisoned and later lost his life because of it.

Where is the courage for our day Christian pastor, preacher of the Gospel? There are people in many of our churches who are committing the act of adultery by unlimited divorce, and remarriage. For no legitimate reason they leave one to go to another. Where are the cries of adultery. One pastor I know and who was my pastor for a while, about six years, once said, and I am not sure this is verbatim, “I was reading this about John the Baptist, realized he lost his head for calling it adultery, therefore I have no business performing marriages of people who have been divorced”. As far as I know he has stuck to that, and I have taken that as my stand as well. Not too long ago I was having a conversation with an older pastor concerning divorce and remarriage. I told him my stand and that I had held to that since near the beginning of my preaching. He told me, “If one of your daughters or sons get a divorce and want to remarry, and they come to you to do the ceremony, you will change your thinking.” I told him “No I won’t, because my kids have more respect for me than to ask, and even if they did my answer would be NO!” My oldest son told me, “I would be too ashamed to come and ask.” When you take stands like that you will lose favor with family, relatives, and friends. Whom are we called to please, God or man, God or family when it comes to morality, and right and wrong? It grieves my heart to tell them that I cannot, or will not, but it is a conviction that I have and will continue to hold. It grieves me even more that someone who knows me, and my conviction would bother to ask.

The Baptist chose God and His Word, even at the expense of imprisonment and his life. We, if we are to be the people of God can choose no lesser way.

The news of the death of the prophet got to Jesus, and it grieved His heart, and He went away to a deserted place for Himself and the disciples. This departure seems to come after the disciples had spent several days out preaching the gospel of the kingdom; by reading this in its context, and following, Mark 6:30-31, and Luke 9:1-10 the departure to a “deserted place” was a different time than for the beheading. Remember John the Baptist was the one who came before Jesus to prepare the way. Are we preparing the way for Christ’s return as He has called us to do so? He is coming back. What condition will the hearts and lives of those to whom we have preached be in? What is the condition of our own heart and life toward God?

-Tim A. Blankenship

Astonished and Wondered

For sometime Jeremiah had prophesied that judgment was coming if there was no repentance. Now it was “At the door”, and the priests and the prophets – the false ones – were going to be “Astonished and Wondered” about what was coming on them. They were in darkness. They could not see the wrath and judgment of God. They could not hear the message of God’s Word. They were themselves in the darkness of the people.

“The lion has come up from his thicket, and the destroyer of nations is on his way. He has gone forth from his place to make your land desolate. Your cities will be laid waste, without inhabitant. For this, clothe yourself with sackcloth, Lament and wail. For the fierce anger of the LORD has not turned back from us. ‘And it shall come to pass in that day,’ says the LORD, ‘That the heart of the king shall perish, and the heart of the princes; and the priests shall be astonished, and the prophets wonder.” Jeremiah 4:7-9 (NKJV)

The lion here, of course, is reference to Babylon, and that fits because archealogical pictures show the Babylonian symbol of power was a winged lion, at the royal palace, and in the city around it. The lion has been waiting for such an oppportunity to come and invade this proud and idolatrous people. The lion is an animal of stealth. The male, of course works off of fear. In the New Testament we have these words spoken, “…your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour…” (1 Peter 5:8). Nebuchadnezzar was a destroyer of nations, and none could stand against him, even God’s people, due to their idolatry and lack of repentance.

Nebuchadnezzar was coming toward Jerusalem, and he would leave it desolate, laid waste, and without any inhabitant. The people of Jerusalem were thinking that Jeremiah could not be right. “This was, after all, God’s city; with God’s temple, and God’s people. He would not allow it to be overthrown, defeated and left in such a way”. Had not God promised that the kingdom of David was an everlasting kingdom?

False security rest in immoral hearts who are not trusting in the Lord, living as they please, and believe that God cannot judge them because of His promises. Can we not see that He judges His people, His children because of the promises made. True security rest in the morality of a cleansed heart and forgiveness that causes the forgiven to live holy lives for the glory of the LORD. It is not a matter of commandment or law, except that law of God that is written in the heart of the child of God.

Jeremiah calls for their repentance. Time and time again he calls for repentance; “…clothe yourself with sackcloth, lament and wail…” was a call for humility before God, recognizing one’s sinfulness, and need of mercy and grace. Where is the call for repentance for the children of God today. As Christians we claim to be the children of God, people of God, the Bride of Christ, the Church, the Body of Christ; and yet there is little to no lamentation, or mourning, or weeping. There is no sorrow over our sins, little lone the sins of a lost and wicked world.

Some have asked and are asking is God judging America? It seems this question is being asked especially with the overwhelming flooding of our country, hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, and crop devastation due to such. The answer to the question is YES! It started when we began tolerating sexual immorality. The judgment started with homosexuality becoming an excepted practice. Hear what Paul the apostle says,

“For though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their thinking became nonsense, and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man, birds, four-footed animals, and reptiles. Therefore God delivered them over in the cravings of their hearts to sexual impurity, so that their bodies were degraded among themselves. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served something created instead of the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. This is why God delivered them over to degrading passions. For even their females exchanged natural sexual intercourse for what is unnatural. The males in the same way also left natural sexual intercourse with females and were inflamed in their lust for one another. Males committed shameless acts with males and received in their own persons the appropriate penalty for their perversion. And because they did not think it worthwhile to have God in their knowledge, God delivered them over to a worthless mind to do what is morally wrong. They are filled with all unrighteousness, evil, greed, and wickedness. They are full of envy, murder, disputes, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, arrogant, proud, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, and unmerciful. Although they know full well God’s just sentence—that those who practice such things deserve to die —they not only do them, but even applaud others who practice them.” Romans 1:21-32 (HCSB).

This judgment is due to a departure from the Living God to worship things, self-worship; magnifying the created over the Creator. Because of this God gives them up to their depraved minds, and look at what follows. Men with men, women with women. That is the judgment of God on the United States of America, the world and all who will stand and be advocates for evil. Unless there is a mass repentance, and soon, there is no hope for America to stand as the free nation that it once was. God is sending a foreign power to take us, and it may not be by force, but by a religious power through our democracy. Then, child of God, we will be under the rule of a government that hates Christ, and the true God, and those who follow Him. In truth all the governments of men hate God’s rule, including that government that calls itself “Democracy”. The democracy of the United States is gradually working against all that is holy, godly and righteous and just.

The anger of the LORD never turns away from us. The LORD is angry with the wicked everyday (Psalm 7:11), and yet He is merciful. There are going to be those who will say, “Well this prophecy is for the nation of Israel/Judah. It is not for America and the Church of our Lord Jesus.” They are correct, however, Paul the apostle tells us that these Old Testament writings are for an example for us; “Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.” 1 Corinthians 10:6 (KJV) and “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” 1 Corinthians 10:11 (KJV). It would be good for you to read all of chapter 10 to get the full extent of what Paul is speaking. We are to learn from the sins of the nation of Israel.

The leaders of the nation would fear greatly the roar of the lion of Babylon. He has a track record of victory, and of being mean, vicious, and quite arrogant. It is the lying priests, and the deceiving prophets – false prophets – who will be Astonished and Wondered by the events of Jeremiah’s  prophecy.  In our day and the USA, there is a great amount of lying and deceitful prophets, and priests, who claim to be of God, but are filled with lying spirits.  God will have His way in all the nations of the world. One day every nation will come before God and give an account of its treatment of the Nation of Israel, and they will also give an account of the way of their hatred toward God. We can rest assured that God will win.

-Tim A. Blankenship