Not the End; The Fulfillment

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
  Matthew 5:17-20  (KJB)

Remember this you who make an end of the Law and the Prophets.  These are the words of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount

Words of the Prophets – Isaiah (2)

All Nations Will Flow Unto It

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

Words of the Prophets – Jeremiah (4)

The World By His Wisdom

Jeremiah 10 –

“Hear ye the word which the LORD speaketh unto you, O house of Israel:  Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.  For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.  They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.  They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.  Forasmuch as there is none like unto thee, O LORD; Thou art great, and Thy name is great in might.  Who would not fear Thee, O King of nations? For to Thee doth it appertain: forasmuch as among all the wise men of the nations, and in all their kingdoms, there is none like unto Thee.  But they are altogether brutish and foolish: the stock is a doctrine of vanities.  Silver spread into plates is brought from Tarshish, and gold from Uphaz, the work of the workman, and of the hands of the founder: blue and purple is their clothing: they are all the work of cunning men.  But the LORD is the true God, He is the living God, and an everlasting king: at His wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide His indignation.  Thus shall ye say unto them, The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens.  He hath made the earth by His power, He hath established the world by His wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by His discretion.  When He uttereth His voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens, and He causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; He maketh lightnings with rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of His treasures.  Every man is brutish in his knowledge: every founder is confounded by the graven image: for his molten image is falsehood, and there is no breath in them.  They are vanity, and the work of errors: in the time of their visitation they shall perish.  The portion of Jacob is not like them: for He is the former of all things; and Israel is the rod of His inheritance: The LORD of hosts is His name.

Gather up thy wares out of the land, O inhabitant of the fortress.  For thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will sling out the inhabitants of the land at this once, and will distress them, that they may find it so.  Woe is me for my hurt! My wound is grievous: but I said, Truly this is a grief, and I must bear it.  My tabernacle is spoiled, and all my cords are broken: my children are gone forth of me, and they are not: there is none to stretch forth my tent any more, and to set up my curtains.  For the pastors are become brutish, and have not sought the LORD: therefore they shall not prosper, and all their flocks shall be scattered.  Behold, the noise of the bruit is come, and a great commotion out of the north country, to make the cities of Judah desolate, and a den of dragons.  O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.  O LORD, correct me, but with judgment; not in Thine anger, lest Thou bring me to nothing.  Pour out Thy fury upon the heathen that know Thee not, and upon the families that call not on Thy name: for they have eaten up Jacob, and devoured him, and consumed him, and have made his habitation desolate.”  Jeremiah 10:1-25 (KJB)

Words of the Prophets – Hosea

For Lack of Knowledge

“Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.  By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood.  Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languish, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven; yea, the fishes of the sea also shall be taken away.  Yet let no man strive, nor reprove another: for thy people are as they that strive with the priest.  Therefore shalt thou fall in the day, and the prophet also shall fall with thee in the night, and I will destroy thy mother.

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to Me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.  As they were increased, so they sinned against Me: therefore will I change their glory into shame.  They eat up the sin of My people, and they set their heart on their iniquity.  And there shall be, like people, like priest: and I will punish them for their ways, and reward them their doings. For they shall eat, and not have enough: they shall commit whoredom, and shall not increase: because they have left off to take heed to the LORD.  Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the heart.” Hosea 4:1-11 (KJV)

The Certainty of GOD’S Word

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Justice for All that Were Slain Upon the Earth

Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.

And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all. And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee; and the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived. And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth. Revelation 18:20-24 (KJV)

Remember what I said in previous posts, about the world’s rejoicing and God’s rejoicing.

He is speaking here to all the saints of God (“holy apostles and prophets”). Rejoice because God’s righteousness is being vindicated. We rejoice not over the condemnation of a lost soul, but for justice, and that God is glorified.

Babylon – religious, economic, and political – is utterly destroyed, to rise no more.

She will sink like the “great millstone” never to rise again. There is a similar story in Jeremiah 51:61-64. Jeremiah wrote against Babylon and had a young man read it to Babylon, and when finished reading the “book” to “bind a stone to it, and cast it into the midst of Euphrates”. Jeremiah’s faith in God and His Word was sure. Babylon will fall. The Word of God continues.

The pronouncement of the angel, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen” is in the past tense. Just as surely as God said it, it shall be done.

The merchants will buy “no more at all” (v. 14); the city “shall be found no more at all” (v. 21); music “shall be heard no more at all in thee”; “no craftsman… shall be found any more in thee”; the work of the mill “shall be heard no more at all… (v. 22); “the candle… no more at all…”; wedding ceremonies “…no more at all…” (v. 23). Seven times is complete and final. God’s Word is true.

In looking at these verses we could have a very convincing description of our own nation. Capitalism, when not restrained by God’s Spirit, can breed greed, selfishness, and lust for power, yet, I believe it is the best economic system mankind has going for it when kept in check by the Spirit of God, not government. Babylon, very well, could be capitalism run amuck because of the absence of God’s restraining influence.

Because some chose to stand for Christ, the world of Babylon slew them. O, what a bloody city.

Here is a parallel to the Babylons of Scripture: The first is historical and found in Genesis 11 prepared to maintain the union of the world – overthrown by God through confusion of language and scattering of people. The second is ecclesiastical, symbolized by the woman of Revelation 17 proposes common worship and religion uniting all religions into one world church, and much advocated in our day by some of those in the reprobate church which will be destroyed by the beast in Revelation 17:16, thus fulfilling the will of God. The third is political, symbolized by the “great city” of Revelation 18, attempts domination of the world, by common market and world government. These are destroyed at Jesus’s second coming in power and great glory. EVEN SO COME LORD JESUS.

BABYLON IS FALLEN, IS FALLEN – Justice will come to those who have given their lives for the cause of God, His word, and His work. Stop trusting in the “Babylonish garment” (Joshua 7:21); the material things of this world, like gold, silver, garments, houses, and land, and trust the One who has already won the victory.

Jesus Christ the Son of God, God the Son is the One who died on the cross for us, was buried, and rose again.  He is the One who is now preparing to return and make all things right.

Purpose Driven Holiness and Awe

“And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever. And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, saying, We give Thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because Thou hast taken to Thee Thy great power, and hast reigned. And the nations were angry, and Thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that Thou shouldest give reward unto Thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear Thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth. And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in His temple the ark of His testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.”  Revelation 11:15-19 (KJV)

This seventh and final trumpet ushers in the seven vials of wrath. Although they are not mentioned until chapter fifteen there is a break in the judgments to reveal some things that will happen during the latter half of what is often called “The tribulation period” – the latter half is referred to as “Great tribulation” (2:22).

There were voices saying that the Lord is King and “He shall reign forever and ever”. This only means God has allowed sin to run its course, and “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh” (Psalm 2:4). It seems that this would fit chronologically with chapters 19 and 20.

The Lord Jesus will take possession of the property which He died to redeem. At the last trump, the Lord takes what is His. Praise Him.

The same “twenty-four elders” of chapter four are in Heaven worshipping the Lord of glory.

They are awed by His awe-inspiring power over sin and evil and the vanquishing of all wickedness from the earth.

How do they worship Him?

  1. They recognize His power – Almighty;
  2. They praise His eternalness and immutability [Unchangingness];
  3. They recognize Him as Judge – both to reward His servants and punishment upon the wicked. Worship to God is simply given by recognizing Him for who He is.

“The nations were angry” takes us back to Psalm 2:1-3. The wrath of the nations is powerless and vain – for man’s own selfish revenge. God’s wrath is not for revenge, but to dispell sin, and His wrath is powerful and purposeful.  When we think of God and His love we must always remember that God is holy and no sin can stand in His presence; therefore because He is holy He does judge sin; our sin.  We must also remember the cross, for it was there that all our sin was laid on Him to be sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21).

There is a great need for the fear of God in our day. It does not matter what the false prophets are saying about “God is love” – a half-truth is a lie. God is love, but He is also hating sin and judges it. He is wrathful. That is the truth. He is to be feared – held in awe.  A few years ago I stood upon a portion of the Rocky Mountains and I said, “This is awesome”.  A few years later I stood on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, and wept with tears and said, “This is so awesome”; however, when I look into the Word of God, and I see Him in His Son Jesus I weep and rejoice at His Awesomeness, because there is no awe, such as His AWE.  He made the mountains,  the Grand Canyon, and all that there is.  He is holy and AWESOME.

The original temple. The one in Heaven. The one used to model the “Wilderness tabernacle” after. The one where God in His glory dwells. It is opened. The way to God is open today. The way into the holiest of all is through the Lord Jesus Christ. This reminds us not to take for granted God’s open door.

Within the temple, there was seen the “Ark of the testament”. The ark of God. This was the “Ark of the covenant” behind the veil, in the “Holy of Holies”. It contained the Ten Commandments, a bowl of manna, and Aaron’s rod which budded.  It is, in fact, the testimony of God dwelling among men; and that is Christ Jesus

Those who know God have received Jesus – the Bread of Life; Jesus – the fulfillment of the law written in the heart, and Jesus – the resurrection to new life. Talk about the temple being open, access to God, we have it. At least for now.  The day of the closing door, however, is drawing close.

Because many refuse God’s open door to Himself judgment upon the Christ-haters and sin lovers is certain. The lightnings, voices, thunderings are mentioned in 4:5. “Earthquake and great hail” is added to this sentence.

It seems that the very source of our salvation is also the source of judgment upon the wicked. We have the choice to be saved now or be judged through eternity. Bless the Lord.

The two witnesses of verses 1-14 who are yet to come will be empowered by God. So are all of those who know Jesus today, by the presence, glory, and power of God’s Spirit who lives within. The door is open. We too are the witnesses of God.  Let us never forget that His holiness and awe is with purpose.

Greater Voice, Greater Name

“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; being made so much better than the angels, as He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.” Hebrews 1:1-4 (KJV)

The greatest theme throughout all of Scripture is the person and name of Jesus.  He is the central character and person of the whole of the Bible including the Old Testament.  The first few verses of Hebrews tells us about the One who is the reason, and cause for all good things, including the creation of all that is.

When the Lord GOD spoke in the ages previous to the New Testament He spoke through the law and the prophets.  The people would not hear them in many cases.  They would persecute, and even kill those men who opposed the people’s own lawless agendas; and spoke God’s word concerning their hearts, souls, and minds.

To redeem mankind God sent His only Son – the One whom He sent who “in these last days” has spoken to us through.  To answer a question that one might ask; “When did the last days begin?”:  the answer to that question is; when Jesus came the first time as a baby in the manger.  I would have no argument with someone who would say that “The last days began on the day of our Lord’s crucifixion or resurrection”.  At either rate, it is closely tied to the appearance of the Incarnate God Jesus Christ.

These verses are a great strengthening to the teaching of the divinity of Christ.  He is the brightness of the glory of God.  He is the express image, or exact representation of the person of God.  God is a person, not a power; though He certainly is a power to be reckoned with.  He is God.  Our Creator.  Our Sustenance.  Our Strength.  Our Sword.  Our Shield.  Our Hope.

If anyone refuses the words of Jesus they refuse their last and final chance for life with Him through all eternity.  Believe Him today.  Receive Him.  Follow Him.

The Just LORD in the Midst…

“Woe to her that is filthy and polluted, to the oppressing city! She obeyed not the voice; she received not correction; she trusted not in the LORD; she drew not near to her God. Her princes within her are roaring lions; her judges are evening wolves; they gnaw not the bones till the morrow. Her prophets are light and treacherous persons: her priests have polluted the sanctuary, they have done violence to the law. The just LORD is in the midst thereof; He will not do iniquity: every morning doth He bring His judgment to light, He faileth not; but the unjust knoweth no shame.” Zephaniah 3:1-5 (KJV)

The prophet states, speaking of the LORD, “He will do no iniquity”.  Iniquity is lawlessness, wickedness, and there is no evil within the LORD of all creation.  Iniquity is in the hearts of those whom God created in His image, after His likeness; because of Adam’s and Eve’s rebellion in the beginning.  Reading the Bible you can see the iniquity of man progressively attacking the very work and character of God; to no avail, of course.

The “Her” of whom the prophet references is the city of Jerusalem, the oppressing city.  She would not hear the prophets’ warnings.  The false prophets would not correct her, and the priests were vile and did not teach, or wrongly taught the law and Scripture.

Some thoughts from the ESV Study Bible…

3:3 Among those who should lead the city aright, but have in fact turned against her, are its officials, the civil authorities (1:8;  1 Chron. 28:1), and judges, those in charge of settling legal disputes (Ex. 18:13, 22).  Instead of showing benevolence, thse leaders were acting as roaring lions, ferocious beasts possessing great power, about to seize prey (Amos 3:4), and as evening (or desert) wolves, known for their ravenous appetite (Gen. 49:27).  Leaders, rathere than guarding their flock, devour it.

It is iniquity to disobey the word of the LORD.  It is iniquity to fail to love the LORD, His Son, and His word.

Will you hear the word of the Lord today, believe it concerning His law, His commandments, His Son and His cross, burial, and resurrection? That is the beginning place – at the cross of Jesus Christ the Son of God, God the Son.

 

Surely the Lord GOD…

“Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? Shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it? Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets. The lion hath roared, who will not fear? The Lord GOD hath spoken, who can but prophesy?” Amos 3:6-8 (KJV)

Amos was a contemporary prophet with Isaiah, Hosea, and others.  It is not known if they all knew one another or not, but I would not be surprised if they did.  They were burdened for their people.  I want us to think about these words written by Amos.  Like most of the prophets of God no one wanted to hear what they had to say, but a prophet of God has a mandate from God to speak the word of God, whether anyone will listen and hear or not.

Trumpets were used in Jerusalem for various reasons.  Warning for which the prophet speaks above.  Calling assemblies.  Calling the tribes together, and they would give a distinguishing sound for each purpose; and the people recognized and knew which sound was for what.

Warning was what the prophet Amos was giving.  He was the sound of the trumpet.  There is a time to be afraid.  The time for the people of God to fear is when we get away from God, because we no longer love Him, His Son, and no longer hear and do His commandments; in that order.  Hear what Jesus the Son of God, God the Son; our Savior says about this…

If ye love Me, keep My commandments. John 14:15
If ye keep My commandments, ye shall abide in My love; even as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love. John 15:10

It is not good for the child of God to fear; but when we get away from God, loving Him and His commandments, then we had better fear, be afraid, and get on our knees in repentance; then we can get up and face the wicked world without fear.  We can know that God has it all in hand.  We will know that the evil, and calamity, afflictions, injustices, lack of peace, are all in His hands, and that He will work it all out for His glory and our good.

We can know too, that everything that God will do, or is doing His prophets will will be speaking forward to His people.  Besides that; most of what God; if not all of what God is doing in the world is revealed to us through the written book called the Bible.  There is no new word from God.

People of God… It is best that we fear God, or we will fear everything else.  When we fear God, we will fear nothing else.

God has made a way for us to enter His holy, righteous presence; and that is through the death of Jesus His Son on the cross, His burial, and resurrection.  You have sinned against holy God.  Receive His gift of salvation, and come into His presence.

The Gospel at Work

The apostle Paul is defending himself; and it is yet to be determined what his penalty will be for preaching the gospel to the hard hearted religious leaders who hated Jesus.  Accusations are hurled of “Heresy”, and maybe to the religious Jew, with their strict adherence to the Law; it probably was.  None the less the gospel of Jesus Christ is the truth.

Hear Paul’s defense (Acts 24:10-21)…

“But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets: and have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.” Acts 24:14-15 (KJV)

Paul did not deny the heresy charges, but rather confirmed what he believed concerning the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Romans 9:32-33).

Paul had not changed his belief’s concerning the Law and the Prophet, he had only received the One of whom the Law and the Prophets had spoken.  His name is Jesus the Messiah of Israel; and that is not what the religious establishment wanted to hear.

Thing we Christians need to realize is that no matter what kind of thing happens in our lives we must be ready to present the gospel of Jesus, without fear, favor or compromise.  On trial for our faith?  Share the gospel.  Laying in a hospital bed?  Share the gospel.  Stopped for speeding?  Respect the officer, and share the gospel.  Before the traffic court Judge?  Take your medicine, and share your faith – if not by words, at least by your actions toward the verdict.  You get the point.

Your life; whether there is a chaotic event, or no specific event in your life; is a witness.  Make it a good one.  When your life testifies to the genuineness of your faith, then share the words.

The Only Bible They Had

Several years ago I read a book by Philip Yancey titled “The Bible Jesus Read”, and it opened my eyes concerning the Scriptures.  I began looking at the Bible in a whole new way.

When we read the New Testament which is the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ to mankind, we see Jesus.  The Old Testament was the only Scriptures which Jesus had, and the only Scriptures which the apostles had; because the New Testament was only a work in progress.

Many a New Testament Christian in our day wants to shun the Old Testament, and not even use it for reading, or study; however, the Christian does herself, or himself a great disservice by doing so.  Let us look at the last five verses of Acts 18…

“And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly. And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace: for he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the Scriptures that Jesus was Christ.” Acts 18:24-28 (KJV)

Apollos was a Jew who was an eloquent speaker, and “Mighty in the Scriptures” meaning that he was quite familiar with them, could quote much, if not the whole of them, and defend them.  He, in our day, might have been called an “Apologists of the Scriptures”.  However, this is not about Apollos.  I want us to focus on the Person of the Scriptures.

After Priscilla, and Aquila had “Expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly” then the Scriptures did a work in him, and by his greater understanding and the presence of the Holy Spirit convinced other Jews that Jesus was the Christ.

The Scriptures, the Old Testament, is about Jesus the Christ – the Messiah of Israel, the Savior of all mankind.  Some have said that you can find Jesus Christ on every page of the Old Testament.  In the Law;  In the Prophets;  In the Historical books;  In the Wisdom/Poetry books you find Jesus.

Someone put it this way:  “The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed; and the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed.”

The human author of the Revelation of Jesus Christ has written;

“And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”” Revelation 19:10 (NKJV)

When we read the Old Testament we read of Jesus who was to come to die for the sins of the world; then to return as a reigning King.  When we read the New Testament we read of Jesus who had come, who died on the cross for our sins, was buried, and arose from the grave; and has said, “I will come again, and receive you unto myself…” (John 14:3).  So, as Christians, we await His return.  Be ready by getting into the Scriptures, and grow in Him.

The LORD and His Truth

“When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, and said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, and cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” Acts 7:54-60 (KJV)

Stephen was one of the seven men chosen by the Jerusalem Church to serve the people (Acts 6:5).  He was a man full of the Holy Spirit, loving the Lord Jesus and His Word with a passion to share the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with all.

This event in the life of Stephen begins in chapter six shortly after the Church ordains him as one of the seven.  He begins telling the religious elite, the priests and all about their origin as a nation (vv. 1-8a); he reminds them of their envy and their bondage (vv. 8b-36); he told them of Jesus of whom Moses and the Prophets proclaimed (vv. 37-53);  he told them of the crucified, buried, and resurrected Savior whom they had rejected, and is now seated at the right hand of God the Father;  he taught them of the forgiveness of Christ upon the cross (vv. 57-60) by showing it himself as he died, saying, “Lay not this sin to their charge”.

Why did Stephen die?  Why was he stoned to death by an angry mob?  Because of his love for God, His Son Jesus, His faith in Him, and His love for the Word of God which is the Truth of God.

Love for God means loving His Word, His truth, and that comes through the faith of the death, burial and resurrection of His Son Jesus.

You do not know, nor trust, nor love God the Father or God the Son unless you love His truth.  See what Jesus said in John 14:21.

The Power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

“Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.” Acts 3:6-8 (KJV)

Peter and John, the apostles of Jesus Christ were going into the temple at the time of prayer, and there was a lame; a crippled man, at the gate begging for money, in order that he might live.

Too many times emphasis is put on the miracle, rather than the Giver of the grace of the miracle.  In this case, as in the case of all true miracles the Giver is God in and through His Son Jesus; and in the above situation through the Holy Spirit in Peter and John.

The greatest miracle that has happened to me is the day Jesus became my Lord and Savior as He gave me grace to believe that His Son Jesus died on the cross for my sins, was buried, and arose bodily from that grave.  He lives today.

That is the message of this event in Acts.  Jesus is alive.  He is being preached to His own people, and some are receiving the gospel of Christ as the Spirit of God opens their blinded eyes, and heals their lame feet.

Note the words of Peter as he preaches…

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 3:25-26

See also Romans 1:16

Prophets Speak – Christmas Day One Hundred Forty and Five

“They have lied about the LORD, and said, ‘It is not He. Neither will evil come upon us, nor shall we see sword or famine. And the prophets become wind, for the word is not in them. Thus shall it be done to them.'” Jeremiah 5:12-13 (NKJV)

The people in Jeremiah’s day were not believing the LORD, thus they lied about Him, by denying His word.  If one does not believe the Word of God they are in affect calling God a liar…

“He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son.” 1 John 5:10

What do I want for Christmas today?

To be forgiven for the times I have not believed the Word of God; and I have been forgiven; and I want you to confess your sin of calling God a liar, by your unbelief, rejection of His truth, and today begin believing Him, trusting every word He says, and believe the testimony that God has given us His Son Jesus Christ.

Jesus Speaks – Christmas Day One Hundred Eighty and Eight

Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:17-20 (KJV)

It would appear that the fulfilling of the “Law and the prophets” is the ultimate fulfillment of Righteousness; according to the words of Jesus.  We see that Jesus is the fulfillment, because we have no Righteousness except through Him.

What do I want for Christmas?

I want the righteousness of Christ to reign in my life, so that others might see Him in me, be convicted of sin, turn from their sin to Christ, calling on His name for salvation.

There is no righteousness which exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, except that of Jesus.

Camp Delight – Christmas Day Two Hundred and Six

What do I want for Christmas?

Today being the final day of Youth Camp at Baptist Hill in Mt. Vernon, Missouri; I want the Camp Cooks to continue to be blessed through this day, and they are being; and that the youth at camp have been brought nearer to Jesus than they were previously, and all who will might find faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior.

Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves. No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me. Not that any man hath seen the Father, save He which is of God, He hath seen the Father. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on Me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” John 6:43-51 (KJV)

Day Three Hundred Twenty and One

What do I want for Christmas?

I want to want what is best for you and others; whether it be wealth, good health, family, peace, justice, love, grace, etc.; over what I want for myself.

Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12 (NKJV)

The Proof of Truth

There were a few times when I was a kid, that I got to use whitewash. Some may be asking, “What is whitewash?” I do not remember what the ingredients in it are, but I remember it was used by many people to put a cheap covering over a hard looking building, fence, or barn. It only had an appearance of looking good for a rain or two; then it was a mess.

Jesus referred to “Whited sepulchres” in Matthew 23:27; which is reference for covering, putting a false appearance on a tomb making it appear to be something it was not. He likens them to being “Whited sepulchres”.

The prophet Ezekiel speaking to the captives in Babylon is used by God to confront them of their trust they had placed in false prophets; and not in the LORD.

“Because, even because they have seduced My people, saying, Peace; and there was no peace; and one built up a wall, and, lo, others daubed it with untempered morter: say unto them which daub it with untempered morter, that it shall fall: there shall be an overflowing shower; and ye, O great hailstones, shall fall; and a stormy wind shall rend it.” Ezekiel 13:10-11 (KJV)

The “Untempered morter” is whitewash. The “Peace” the false preachers had proclaimed was untempered mortar and could not give strength to the wall they claimed they had for safety. It was a crumbling wall, daubed with color, but no real mortar.

The truth of this matter is that false teachings will not stand the test of truth. God is truth. One’s who claim to speak for God better be sure that God has spoken to them. Those who claim to have a word from God, and that word is not fulfilled; does not come to pass has not spoken for God.

For some reason it seems that false teachers who are always making people applaud themselves, never lift up the name of the Lord; and are always trying to increase their profit, by fleecing the sheep. It does not seem it is ever done without asking for a “Seed gift” or some other name.

Their words are like the whitewash. It cannot stand the rains of God’s judgment. The wall of false teaching will come crumbling down.

Here is the mortar that holds all of God’s truth together: Jesus Christ died for your sins, He was buried, and He rose again from the grave. He is returning again some day to receive all who believe in Him to Himself; and so shall we ever live with the Lord (John 14:1-6; 1 Corinthians 15:1-6; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

Vain Preaching versus Biblical Preaching

“Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD. They say still unto them that despise Me, The LORD hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you.” Jeremiah 23:16-17 (KJV)

The word of God was despised in Jeremiah’s day. They claimed to hear it. They claimed to believe it. The prophets of whom God is speaking through Jeremiah were those who went by their own visions and dreams; not the Word of God.

No visions of men or women can be trusted when they in fact go against what God has spoken and said through the written word. God says, “The words of the prophets… they make you vain…” These prophets spoke comfort, encouragement, and peace when the priests, and prophets were living in idolatry, and adultery, and lusts.

They were crying “Peace, peace”; and there was not peace. The enemy was all around. Most of the people were following the liars, deceivers, and frauds. God’s judgment through Babylon was just outside the gate.

It is vanity for the preacher to preach peace, love, encouragement, and comfort without dealing with sin, and pointing the lost, condemned and dying to Jesus Christ and His finished work of the cross – His death, burial and resurrection. Paul the apostle wrote by the Spirit of God,

“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:18

The cross is the means of your salvation, and the salvation of the world; for those who will believe.

O people, the earth is in trouble; you are in trouble without Christ. Evil abounds. Grace still abounds more, but not to the neglect of dealing with our sins, through the cross of Jesus.

There will be no personal peace, no comfort, no encouragement, until Jesus is your personal Lord and Saviour.

Be Bold, Be Brave, Be Courageous

“Therefore thus saith the LORD, If thou return, then will I bring thee again, and thou shalt stand before Me: and if thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as My mouth: let them return unto thee; but return not thou unto them. And I will make thee unto this people a fenced brasen wall: and they shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee: for I am with thee to save thee and to deliver thee, saith the LORD. And I will deliver thee out of the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem thee out of the hand of the terrible.” Jeremiah 15:19-21 (KJV)

You have experienced rejection by family, friends, and others. You know what it is like to stand alone on an issue, on morality, against immorality, or some political matter; don’t you?

The days of Jeremiah the prophet were filled with contempt from his family, and class of people. Jeremiah is from a family of priests. He could possibly have been a high priest of Israel one day, but God the LORD had something else in mind. Jeremiah was seeing the spiritual adultery, and physical adultery of the priesthood, and the people. Yeah! There was immorality, idolatry, ungodliness among those who called themselves, “God’s people”.

The call from God for Jeremiah was to call their attention to God, to their immoral acts, their departure from the living God, to serve idols. They rejected the prophets words; which were God’s; and threatened him, at times with death.

Jeremiah has been speaking with the LORD, and acknowledges that he has “found” God’s word, and “Thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart” (v. 16). Yet, the prophet is troubled by the rejection of his people, and the priesthood; and he vents to God, feeling that God has failed him (v. 18).

The verses above (vv. 19-21) are God’s words to the prophet for faith, patience, and encouragement. For Jeremiah to be a “Fenced brazen wall” means God will make him bold, courageous, strong in the face of opposition to the Word. Nothing will be able to penetrate it. It might be called “Stubborn holiness” by many who do not understand.

Just about he same words are spoken to Isaiah and Ezekiel (Isaiah 50:7; Ezekiel 3:8-9).

As Christians we are not to be stubborn and unmovable toward God, His Spirit or His Word; but we do need to be that “Fenced brazen wall” against the things that are against God, His Spirit and His Word.

We are to stand against evil; anything that is against God, His Spirit and His word is evil; and we must stand adamantly opposed to it. Stand in Christ Jesus the one who set His mind on the cross and died for you and me.

The Word of God at Work

“And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people;) and when he opened it, all the people stood up: and Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground. Also Jeshua, and Bani, and Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place. So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.” Nehemiah 8:5-8 (KJV)

The book Nehemiah speaks of in the verses is the Word of God, the law, the commandments. Of course it was in the form of a scroll. When he opened the book in the sight of the people, they stood to their feet. It was a matter of respect for God and His Word. They were believing it. God had told them through the prophets that they would go into captivity, and then return after 70 years. Thus, they had indeed.

The temple had been rebuilt. The wall around Jerusalem was restored. They would worship, and glorify the LORD.

There is much need today for the people of God to believe the Book; the Word of God. We need for the people of God to respect the Book. We ought to stand when it is read. Even more importantly we need to hear what is read, and apply it to our daily lives. It is the Word of God that gives us life. It is by the Word of God that we are to live.

Notice that the spiritual leaders read “distinctly” = clarify; “gave a sense” = explaining the meaning; and “caused them to understand”. These are matters of responsibility of every pastor and preacher of the Word of the LORD. And to teach the people to do so too.

Hide the word of God in your heart that you might not sin against Him (Psalm 119:11).

Theirs Is the Kingdom

Matthew 5:1-12 conclusion…

 

“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” Matthew 5:10-12 (KJV).

These two have the tendency and practicality of standing together, so I will include them together. What is your position in relation to persecution? If you are a normal, red blooded American, then you probably don’t like it, won’t tolerate it, and would despise wherever it came from. Nobody likes persecution, and most people would seek means of staying away from it. There are however, reasons to stand your ground, and face the trials of persecution. The best reason of all is for the person of Jesus Christ. When you are living by faith in Christ you will suffer persecution; “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” 2 Timothy 3:12 (KJV).

Anyone who has heard of “The Voice of the Martyrs” knows that there are many cases of persecution going on in the world today. There are many instances of Christians suffering because of their faith in Jesus Christ. Many of them have turned from Islam to face angry parents, employers, city leaders, and supposed defenders of peace and placed on trial, rejected by their families, fired from their jobs, and treated ruthlessly by the police. Let me be clear that it is not only Islam which persecutes those who turn to Christ. It is also Hindus, and various other religions of men. Stand firm in the faith; stand firm.

The “Blessed(s)” in these two statements are not just toward anyone who stands firm in what they believe. The object of their belief is of utmost importance. If one is to receive these “Blessed”, then it will be because of their stand for “Righteousness” and that only comes through faith in Jesus Christ. Righteousness – simply put; means being right with God. No one – man, woman, boy or girl; and no matter what the color of their skin – is right with God except through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

If you are being persecuted because of your faith in Jesus, then, be assured that there will be a day of reward in Heaven. You are in good company. They also persecuted the prophets. Jeremiah was thrown into a pit; he was beaten and mocked by his own people. It is said by tradition that it was Isaiah the prophet who is mentioned in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews as being “Sawn asunder”, and some say it was while he was stuffed into a hollowed out tree. When it comes to Jesus Christ; in Him alone you have reason to “Rejoice and be exceeding glad”, but also in knowing that you are in a great company of others who suffered for righteousness sake through Jesus.

After looking at these “Beatitudes” can you see that this is not a thing attainable by human desire? There is deffinitely fulfillment in the lives of those who live the life of the “Beatitudes”, but it is only possible by grace through faith in Jesus.

The Teaching of the Father

“Murmur not among yourselves. No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall be all taught of God.’ Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto Me. Not that any man hath seen the Father, save He which is of God, He hath seen the Father. Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on Me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”  ~Jesus (John 6:43-51)

The Making of The Preacher

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-by Tim A. Blankenship

Words for Christian Living 060413

“Now to Him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: to God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen.”  Romans 16:25-27 (KJV)

We must always remember that the “Scripture of the prophets” of whom Paul writes are the Old Testament prophets.  They indeed, tell us much about Jesus Christ and His gospel.  The only Scripture Jesus read, and which Paul read was the Old Testament.  Grow in it too.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Redeeming Love of God (Hosea 4:4-10)

God’s Controversy With His People 2

“Yet let no man strive, nor reprove another: for thy people are as they that strive with the priest.  Therefore shalt thou fall in the day, and the prophet also shall fall with thee in the night, and I will destroy thy mother.
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to Me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.  As they were increased, so they sinned against Me: therefore will I change their glory into shame.  They eat up the sin of My people, and they set their heart on their iniquity.  And there shall be, like people, like priest: and I will punish them for their ways, and reward them their doings.  For they shall eat, and not have enough: they shall commit whoredom, and shall not increase: because they have left off to take heed to the LORD.” Hosea 4:4-10 (KJV)

Verses 4 through 6 as well as the following four verses are directed toward the priests and prophets.

The priests and the prophets were told not to accuse the people, because they, themselves were at fault.  This, by no means takes any personal responsibility away from the people, for they too are guilty.  The greatest fault lies with the priests and prophets, because they had failed to teach the Law of God.  Why?  Because they rejected God’s law.  Their “Mother” [Nation] would be destroyed.  Church leadership which fails to proclaim the Law of God, the Word or God with its rebukes and warnings; as well as its blessings and promises is remiss in doing the work and will of God; thus rejecting God and His Word.

The preacher/prophet may fail to meet the expectations of the people, but if he fails to proclaim God’s Word he wreaks havoc upon himself, and the people.  If the priests (Every born again believer) fails to warn the lost of his/her condemnation, and fails to pray for the lost to be reconciled to God, then, we bring shame on ourselves and eternal havoc and ruin on those whom we have failed to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In verses 7 through 10 the condemnation continues upon the priests.

It appears that as God blessed the priests (and nation) they began to be comfortable, and sin against God.  It is not sin to be comfortable, or to live in comfort.  The sin is while in comfort we forget, forsake, and do not praise the LORD.

The priests received offerings from the people.  Possibly a sin offering is implied by verse eight.  These meat offerings were to be eaten by the priests, and their families – as a means of support – and rather than rebuking the people for their sin, encouraged them to continue in sin.  Maybe not with words, but in the absence of words of rebuke.  So, just as the priests are condemned because they reject the law of God, the people are condemned because of their willful ignorance of God.  They loved their sin too much to find out what the will of God was.

There would be no satisfaction, no fulfillment in their indulgence of sin.  They would not be a fruitful people.  Even though they thought that enjoying the fulfilling of their lust through hedonistic temple acts would guarantee many children and bountiful harvest; it would not be so.  The reason God gives is, “Because they have left off to take heed to the LORD.”

There is much sin within the churches of the United States of America in the 21st century.  Yet, we have an awesome and wondrous Saviour.  His name is Jesus.  He died for us because He loves us.  He loves us too much to leave us the way we are.  He will do whatever it takes to make us holy.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Redeeming Love of GOD

Hosea’s Call, Circumstances, and Marriage

Several years ago I did a study of Hosea.  I spent a few days in the church I pastored teaching in special services for that purpose; and I was also invited by my home church to come for a week of services to teach the book of Hosea.  It was the year that our Convention – the Southern Baptist Convention – had Hosea as the Winter Bible Study.  This was a study i thoroughly enjoyed, was encouraged by, and prayerfully have grown through; and more since that time.

We will be in this study for some time.  I will endeavor to keep the studies readable and short.  I pray God’s richest blessing on you, as you read and hear the word of the LORD.

“Hosea was the second of God’s spokesmen known as eighth-century prophets.”  Amos was the first, and he and Hosea were contemporaries, both preaching in the Northern kingdom also know as Israel, or Ephraim.  Isaiah and Micah preached to the Southern kingdom, usually called Judah, during this same century.

There are two main divisions to the book: 1) Hosea’s marriage, and 2) Hosea’s message.  There are four prominent themes:  1.)  God’s love,  2.)  the sin of God’s people,  3.)  God’s judgment, and  4.) hope.

“Hosea 1-3:5 emphasizes God’s faithful love in spite of the people’s unfaithfulness to Him.  Hosea 4 – 7:16 shows God’s indictment of the sins of unfaithful Israel.  Hosea 8 – 10:15 stresses the sure judgment that awaited Israel because of their stubborn refusal to repent.  Hosea 11 – 14:9 presents the hope that God’s healing love will eventually lead some to repentance and renewal.”  From the WINTER BIBLE STUDY for this study.

Let us begin by reading chapter 1 verse 1,

“The word of the LORD that came unto Hosea, the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel.” Hosea 1:1 (KJV)

If you will note the kings of the kingdom of the South – Judah; Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah.  Three of these kings “did what was right in the eyes of the LORD”; one did not – that was Ahaz (2 Kings 15:30-34; 16:1-4; 18:1-3).  Joash, fit in with Ahaz.  For those who might think leadership in the nation does not have anything to do with morality, or blessing beware.

Sometimes hearing the Word of the LORD is through our circumstances.  The spiritual and moral attitude of Israel was one of not only spiritual adultery against God, but adultery of the flesh as well.  Because of this it might have been quite difficult for a man to find a woman who was morally and physically pure.  Does that sound relevant to our times?  Through these circumstances of life Hosea heard the Word of God.

“The beginning of the word of the LORD by Hosea. And the LORD said to Hosea, ‘Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the LORD.  So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim; which conceived, and bare him a son.”  Hosea 1:2-3 (KJV)

The Northern kingdom was a kingdom which had departed from the LORD from their inception (1 Kings 12:16-33).  If you were to study the kings of the Northern kingdom there is not one king of whom the Scripture says “Did right in the eyes of the LORD”, not one.

Remember, also, the moral circumstances of the land in that day.  There was much idolatry; all connected to Baal worship.  There was temple prostitution, used in “worship” of Baal, pleasure oriented god who was made after the image of man.  The  prostitution was both male and female; or heterosexual and homosexual abomination.  The people of the era believed these adulterous practices would bring s harvest of bounty, the rains would be plentiful.  Many a young woman and many a young man was convinced that to present themselves as a prostitute for Baal was her duty and an honor.  Many a married – betrothed woman would go to Baal’s temple and engage in this behavior believing that to do so would make her womb fruitful and bear many sons.

Hosea loved a woman named Gomer who – possibly after the wedding –  began these pagan rites of worship.  God definitely used this  in speaking to Hosea.  Hosea learned in this the pain, the heart break of God in Israel’s departure from Him.

“And the LORD said unto him, ‘Call his name Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, and will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel.  And it shall come to pass at that day, that I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel.”  verses 4-5 (KJV)

As a result of this marriage there was a son born to Hosea and Gomer.  God told Hosea to name him Jezreel.  Jezreel means “God sows”.  In this case God is saying that He is going to sow judgment.  Jezreel is a city approximately 55 miles North of Jerusalem.  It is in an area known as the “Plain of Jezreel [Megiddo]”.  A place where much blood has been shed, and much will yet be shed in that plain (See Revelation 19:11-21).

At this time the house of Jehu will be judged, because of their father’s sin (See 2 Kings 10:29-31).  It seems that Hosea has no doubt about Jezreel being his son.

And she conceived again, and bare a daughter. And God said unto him, ‘Call her name Loruhamah: for I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel; but I will utterly take them away.  But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them by the LORD their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen.’
Now when she had weaned Loruhamah, she conceived, and bare a son.  Then said God, ‘Call his name Loammi: for ye are not My people, and I will not be your God.'” verses 6-9 (KJV)

The next child that was born was a daughter.  Lo Ruhamah means “No mercy”.  Do you suppose Hosea may have began to realize that his wife was unfaithful at this time.

Then Gomer had a third child, and God called him Lo Ammi meaning “Not My people”.  Was Hosea coming to understand the heart of God?  His heart- ache, pain, and anger with adulterous affairs, with worldliness among His people?

“Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, ‘Ye are not My people,’ there it shall be said unto them, ‘Ye are the sons of the living God.’  Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land: for great shall be the day of Jezreel.” verses 10-11 (KJV)

Speaking through the circumstances of Hosea’s day God has spoken words of judgment and rejection.  However, we see in these last verses of the chapter that there is hope.

In these verses God promises that He is not through with Israel.  This is truly a hope and promise of THE REDEEMING LOVE OF GOD.

What does God promise?

  1. They shall be “accountable – without number” (v. 10);
  2. …Those “Not My people” declared to be “Sons of the living God” (v. 10);
  3. …There shal be a gathering of Judah and Israel (v. 11);
  4. …They shall have one head – “The root of David” (v. 11; Jeremiah 30:8-9);
  5. …They are told to refer to one another as “brother” and “sister” (2:1).

We will look at number five further in the next study.

When we look at Israel, the Northern kingdom, God’s promises to them; then we can know and rest in the assurance of God’s promises that His Word is being fulfilled; even today.  The whole law and the prophets is revealed fully in the person of Jesus Christ.  He suffered the agony, suffering, rejection of death, was buried, and rose again bodily from the grave; justifying all who will believe Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship

When the LORD has not Spoken

And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, ‘Son of man, say unto her, ‘Thou art the land that is not cleansed, nor rained upon in the day of indignation.  There is a conspiracy of her prophets in the midst thereof, like a roaring lion ravening the prey; they have devoured souls; they have taken the treasure and precious things; they have made her many widows in the midst thereof.  Her priests have violated My law, and have profaned Mine holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they shewed difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from My sabbaths, and I am profaned among them.  Her princes in the midst thereof are like wolves ravening the prey, to shed blood, and to destroy souls, to get dishonest gain.  And her prophets have daubed them with untempered morter, seeing vanity, and divining lies unto them, saying, ‘Thus saith the Lord GOD,’ when the LORD hath not spoken.  The people of the land have used oppression, and exercised robbery, and have vexed the poor and needy: yea, they have oppressed the stranger wrongfully.  And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before Me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.  Therefore have I poured out Mine indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath: their own way have I recompensed upon their heads,’ saith the Lord GOD.”  Ezekiel 22:23-31 (KJV)

There is One who stands as our hedge of protection and is the one Man who stands in the gap between God and men; the Man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy2:5).

-T.A.

The Time is NOW

Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying, ‘Son of man, behold, they of the house of Israel say, ‘The vision that he seeth is for many days to come, and he prophesieth of the times that are far off.’  Therefore say unto them, ‘Thus saith the Lord GOD; ‘There shall none of My words be prolonged any more, but the word which I have spoken shall be done,’ saith the Lord GOD.'” Ezekiel 12:26-28 (KJV)

There is never any time such as the present to hear the Word of God and believe what He has said, and is saying.

-T.A.

The Sweetness of His Word, and His Presence

And when I looked, behold, an hand was sent unto me; and, lo, a roll of a book was therein; and He spread it before me; and it was written within and without: and there was written therein lamentations, and mourning, and woe.  Moreover He said unto me, ‘Son of man, eat that thou findest; eat this roll, and go speak unto the house of Israel.’  So I opened my mouth, and He caused me to eat that roll.  And He said unto me, ‘Son of man, cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee.’  Then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness.”  Ezekiel 2:9 – 3:3 (KJV)

How important is the Word of God?  For the Christian it is the very sustenance of life and faith.  For the world it is just as important as is the Creator.

-T.A.

Music, Singing and GOD

A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet upon Shigionoth.  O LORD, I have heard Thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive Thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.”  Habakkuk 3:1-2 (KJV)

There is much that could be said about music and singing and for that matter GOD.  Habakkuk, at the beginning of his prophecy was asking questions.  It was like he was blaming God for not watching over His people, protecting them, but letting the enemies of the earth run rough shod over them.

At the end of his prophecy he uses a term which is probably related to music somehow.  It is not quite clear what the meaning of “Shigionoth” is.  God, however, must enjoy music and singing; and I know that the human race enjoys it very well.  Billions of dollars have been spent on buying recordings over the past 50 years in order for us to be able to drive down the road, put in a tape, a CD, plug in an iPod, or a jump drive, and listen to our hearts content.

Yesterday morning I heard on a radio program that NASA has discovered a “Plasma ring” around our planet; and within that ring are radio waves.  Evidently NASA sent up listening devices, and recorded sounds within that Plasma ring.  It almost sounds like a form of music.  Our Creator has made the earth to sing.

For more from Habakkuk you may want to follow this link to a post from February 28, 2008 here at Fire and Hammer.

The greatest song ever sung was in the death of God’s only begotten Son dying to pay the sin debt of the human race.

-T.A.

Jealous GOD, Vengeance, and His Enemies

The burden of Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite.
God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on His adversaries, and He reserveth wrath for His enemies.”  Nahum 1:1-2 (KJV)

It is too bad when there are some who claim to know GOD, and do not and cannot see Him as being “Jealous”.  He is the defender of His own glory.  He is  the defender of His own worship.  There is no other to worship, and he holds all who will not follow His prescribed plan accountable.

It is so much better to rest in His grace, under the cross of Jesus Christ; His only begotten Son; and see Him in His love and grace.  It is far better to be His friend, child, and worshipper than to be an enemy under His judgment.

O, Come to the cross where all of God’s vengeance for His enemies was poured out upon His only begotten Son.

-T.A.

The Enemy Within

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

Someone once said, “We have found the enemy, and he is us.”  I do not remember where I heard that or who said it; however, it can be so true; for a nation, a family, community, State, church; and as in the above case; the people who are called by God’s name.

When those who call themselves by God’s name oppose the very Word of God; they become the enemy within, and wreak judgment upon their families, and rob God of the glory that belongs solely to Him.  These same people will begin listening, then, to anyone who will give them comfortable words, lifting them up emotionally; and deny the truth of the Word of God.

Listen people.

-T.A.

 

Those Who Walk With GOD

Hear this word that the LORD hath spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying, ‘You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.  Can two walk together, except they be agreed? Will a lion roar in the forest, when he hath no prey? Will a young lion cry out of his den, if he have taken nothing?  Can a bird fall in a snare upon the earth, where no gin is for him? Shall one take up a snare from the earth, and have taken nothing at all?  Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? Shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?  Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets.  The lion hath roared, who will not fear? The Lord GOD hath spoken, who can but prophesy?”  Amos 3:1-8 (KJV)

Walking with the LORD might be considered a difficult endeavor; however, there is only one thing that it takes; and that is believing God.  Believing Him means that I agree with what He says; and without doubt, without wavering, without fear I trust everything that He says.  We must remember that He is the One who has even made it possible for man to walk with Him.

The LORD stepped down from heaven; in the person of His Son Jesus, and died for our sins.  By His death on the cross He bridged the gap that was between GOD and mankind, making it possible to walk with Him.

One of the blessings and fruits of walking with God is that He reveals “His secret” to His servants the prophets.  We are not all prophets, but through the prophets of Scripture, such as Amos we can better know GOD and walk with Him.

-T.A.

 

Elijah and Elisha

It has been several weeks since posting anything on Elijah.  I will finish up with this post and one more following.

As you recall the ministry of Elijah was as a prophet of fire.  It seems that the fire of the LORD was upon his life.  He heard God.  He spoke what God commanded him to speak; without fear or favor; and was not intimidated by kings or princes.  You might say he was a bit intimidated by an evil queen; shown by his running for his life, rather than by confronting her.

After Elijah ran from Jezebel (1 Kings 19:1-3) he is told by God to anoint Hazel king over Syria, and Jehu king of Israel; and lastly to anoint Elisha prophet “…In  thy room.”   Meaning of course; to take the place of Elijah.  The ministry of Elijah may have been cut short due to his fear and running from the evil queen.

Let’s look a little at the man whom Elijah anointed in his stead.  Elisha was plowing with a dozen yoke of oxen.  He was probably in charge of his father’s field; and himself had command over one yoke in particular; but was the leader of 11 [eleven] other yoke.  There was a total of 24 head of oxen, and at least twelve men, including Elisha.  It is quite clear that Elisha was a farmer and evidently a fairly well to do one at that with twelve yoke of oxen; and hired servants.

“So he departed thence, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth: and Elijah passed by him, and cast his mantle upon him.  And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah, and said, ‘Let me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow thee.’  And he said unto him, ‘Go back again: for what have I done to thee?’  And he returned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the oxen, and gave unto the people, and they did eat. Then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him.”  1 Kings 19:19-21 (KJV)

First of all Elijah would have known that his ministry was nearing an end.  Second, he would have known that the word of God would continue to be proclaimed.  Third, this was probably God’s way of showing Elijah that he was not the only one who could or would preach the word.

Notice some things about Elisha.  First of all he was busy doing the work of his life’s training – he was busy at laboring.  Secondly, he recognized the messenger of God’s word and was willing to leave all for God’s sake and for God’s glory.  Third,  he was showing responsibility in “burning the bridges” behind him to show his commitment to the service of Elijah and the LORD.  In the sacrifice of the oxen, he committed himself to the LORD’s work, and following the life of the  prophet of God.  In short Elisha did what needed to be done, and he did it with the haste that was necessary.

May the God of all glory and power get the Christian of the 21st century to be committed to serve the LORD with such devotion and diligence.

-Tim A Blankenship

Who Jesus says He Is

I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.”  Revelation 1:8 (KJV)

In Matthew 16 Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do men say that I am?”  The disciples gave many various answers, including Elijah, or one of the prophets,  then Jesus asked them, “Who do you say that I am?”  Peter jumped in with, “You are the Christ, Son of the living God.”  Jesus told him, “Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father which is in Heaven.”  He was applauding Peter for his answer, for it was the correct one.

Some say that Jesus never said that He is the Son of God.  He has, He did, and He is.

Yet, He is much more than the Son of God.  He too is eternal; from Alpha [Beginning] and Omega [Ending].  That is not the beginning and/or ending of God, but of all that He has made.  Who did Jesus say that He is?

Alpha and Omega.  See Jesus for who He says he is; for who the Father says He is; for who His works say that He is.  He is the Incarnate God; crucified, buried, and bodily resurrected, and returning King.  He is the Saviour and King of the universe.

-T.A.

Reconciled By the Cross of Christ

Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: but now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
For He is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in Himself of twain one new man, so making peace; and that He might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: and came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.  Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”  Ephesians 2:11-22 (KJV)

The only hope of the world, and its people is the cross of Jesus Christ.  It is the only means by which mankind can be or will be reconciled to God.

-T.A.

The House Left Desolate

Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.  Verily I say unto you, ‘All these things shall come upon this generation.  O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!  Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.’  For I say unto you, ‘Ye shall not see Me henceforth, till ye shall say, ‘Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.”  Matthew 23:34-39 (KJV)

The nations of Israel and Judah, though brought back together as one by Jesus’s time; they were also still neglectful in hearing the word of the LORD, and tried to kill the message with the messenger.  God’s message cannot be killed.  He will fulfill His Word to the letter.

The house of the temple in Jerusalem was left desolate, because the One who filled it and blessed with His presence walked out the door, and has not yet returned to it.  He does live in the hearts of His children; and will one day return to earth to reign in the world in His physical form.

-T.A.

 

God’s Word Today 082112

“In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, ‘the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping: they shall go, and seek the LORD their God.  They shall ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherward, saying, ‘Come, and let us join ourselves to the LORD in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten.’  My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their restingplace.  All that found them have devoured them: and their adversaries said, ‘We offend not,’ because they have sinned against the LORD, the habitation of justice, even the LORD, the hope of their fathers.  Remove out of the midst of Babylon, and go forth out of the land of the Chaldeans, and be as the he goats before the flocks.” Jeremiah 50:4-8 (KJV)

For many years I have heard people talk about the “Ten lost tribes of Israel”.  That seems; with the above verses in mind; that there is no such thing.  God has the people of the Northern kingdom of Israel, and the Southern kingdom of Judah as one.  It would seem to me that they have been one since they returned from the Babylonian captivity.

-T.A.