Open Spaces and Empty Thoughts

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

“A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?” (Jeremiah 5:30,31 KJV).

What is God’s controversy with ancient Israel?

I once accompanied an older Christian on a shopping trip. As he entered the parking lot, an empty lane near the store caught our attention. He told me, “The Lord knew we were coming,” and proceeded to park his vehicle there. God allegedly had cleared the way for us to get a good parking space so we would not have far to walk!

With all due respect, foolishness needs to be called out as foolishness. God is not in the business today of giving us empty parking spaces close to stores. There is not one Bible verse to support it; it serves no eternal purpose. Yet, this is not an isolated incident. Religious tradition has conditioned us the world over to embrace all sorts of wild ideas—beliefs that have absolutely nothing to do with God’s Word to us. It is vain superstition and utter silliness. We have to think like mature Christians instead of small children. If our Christian life is to function as God intended, we must have a renewed mind (Romans 12:1,2).

In reference to “God knowing we were going to the store,” what should we conclude if there are no vacant parking spaces adjacent to the building? Did He not know we were coming? If He knew, why did He not give us an open spot? I have shopped many times and not found a space next to the store. Does God does not love me? Why does He not want me to have an open lane?

Today’s Scripture is God upset with Israel. They have let religious leaders so thoroughly confuse them. Not only that, they “love” it: they enjoy those religious “highs,” feel-good doctrines, emotional experiences, pathetic superstitions! Meanwhile, it does nothing for them but harm their souls. God is righteously angered that Israel has allowed herself to be contaminated. Dear friends, may we get into the Pauline Books, Romans through Philemon, and fill our heads and hearts with that!

Bible Q&A #490: “Who are the ‘fearful’ in Revelation 21:8?

Stuff

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back (Luke 17:31 KJV).

Friend, you may be surprised to learn that “stuff” is a Bible word. It is a generic term employed to refer to various bits of matter, materials, articles, or activities. These things may not be defined or determined, so such an unrestrictive noun is quite convenient. Observe this stuff!

Laban frenetically searched Jacob’s “stuff” for his idols but found them not (Genesis 31:37). Pharaoh told Joseph to bring his family from Canaan and to “regard not [their] stuff” because “the good of all the land of Egypt is [theirs]” (Genesis 45:20). The Mosaic Law issued instructions about what would happen if a man gave his neighbor “money or stuff” to watch and guard and it was stolen (Exodus 22:7). As the planning of the Tabernacle was underway, the Jewish people were forced to stop giving building supplies because the “stuff” they had already given was more than enough (Exodus 36:7). God spoke of a conspiracy to take forbidden items and hide them in the “stuff” of the camp of Israel (Joshua 7:11).

Saul, just after his anointing as Israel’s first king, was so timid that he hid among the “stuff” (1 Samuel 10:22). As David and his companions are fleeing King Saul’s angry face, 200 of them stay by the “stuff” to protect it (1 Samuel 25:13). First Samuel 30:24 has David saying, “For who will hearken unto you in this matter? but as his part is that goeth down to the battle, so shall his part be that tarrieth by the stuff: they shall part alike.” In cleansing a polluted room, Nehemiah threw out all the household “stuff” (Nehemiah 13:8). As a way of teaching Judah of their impending deportation to Babylon, God told the Prophet Ezekiel to prepare him “stuff” for moving his “stuff” (Ezekiel 12:3,4,7).

The Bible’s final reference to “stuff” is today’s Scripture. Here, “stuff” is just that—inconsequential and useless. It is to be abandoned when Israel must choose between retaining it and escaping the Antichrist defiling Jerusalem!!!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Why is Jesus Christ called ‘The Word of God?’

Vapour!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away (James 4:14 KJV).

A “vapour”—as in a mist or gas—may change into a solid or liquid. Likewise, our earthly life “vanisheth away!”

Dear friends, we never know when death will come, but we do need to prepare for it. It was never part of God’s original creation: the entrance of sin caused death. Adam’s rebellion originated the curse of sin, including death (see Genesis 3:1-24). Never blame God for what Adam did. Now, someone asks, “How can God punish us for something Adam did? Why do we have to suffer because of Adam?” This is best answered by seeing the other side of the issue.

God provided a way to escape the penalty of sin. In addition to physical death, there are also a spiritual death and the second death. Spiritual death is the soul’s separation from God during earthly living—this, however, can be rectified through faith in the Gospel. The second death is eternal (permanent) separation from God in the Lake of Fire. We sinners deserve this most horrible spiritual prison. However, God became a Man, Jesus Christ, who died for (to pay for) our sins. If we complain God punishes us because of Adam’s actions, then we might as well protest God justifying us because of Christ’s actions. See, it balances. Just as Adam is the federal head of sinners, so Jesus Christ is the federal head of saints. Romans 5:12-21 is interesting reading on the subject—the two federal heads, their activities, and their effects.

First Corinthians 15:3-4: “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:….” Acts 16:30-31: “And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”

Our latest Bible Q&A: “How are the Beast and the False Prophet ‘cast alive’ into the Lake of Fire?

The Awareness of a Temporary Earth

 Sunday, April 22, 2018

“And, Thou, O Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: they shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail” (Hebrews 1:10-12 KJV).

On this Earth Day, let us not confuse the creation with the Creator!

Today, people worldwide celebrate “environmental awareness.” According to the secular, naturalistic worldview, our planet and its sun could last many more billions of years. They claim that we have done so much damage to our planet—climate change, overpopulation, deforestation, pollution, et cetera—that we must change our attitude toward “mother earth” and change our lifestyles before we destroy her and civilization as we know it! You can sense the zeal in their message, can you not? While these people are sincere, they are wasting all of their time, energy, and resources on a temporary planet.

Let us be very clear that the Lord Jesus Christ placed man on the earth, especially the Garden of Eden, to “dress it and keep it” (Genesis 2:15). Adam was to take care of the Earth: he was God’s representative, God’s king, who had a divine commission to rule this planet for God’s glory (Genesis 1:26-28).

It was not long, however, before Satan distracted mankind from understanding God’s purpose for him. Adam began to focus on himself: like Satan, he began to “worship and serve the creature more than the Creator” (Romans 1:25). Thus began man’s continual downward spiral into spiritual ignorance. He would continually worship himself, as we well know today.

Today’s Scripture reminds us that, because of sin, this creation will pass away. The Lord Jesus Christ, however, will live forever. Why worship that which is temporary? It makes no sense! The Lord Jesus Christ gave you life, not the pagan goddess “mother earth.” Environmental awareness? Indeed, be aware that our world is temporary, as God will one day create “a new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1).

Benoni and Benjamin #7

Saturday, April 21, 2018

And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin (Genesis 35:18 KJV).

Dear friend, look and see—herein lies prophecy!

At the close of Peter’s life and ministry, the Holy Spirit wrote in 2 Peter chapter 3: “[9] The Lord is not slack concerning his promise [of Christ’s Second Coming], as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance…. [15] And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; [16] As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.”

Romans chapters 9-11 and 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 are the Apostle Paul’s divine explanations why the Second Coming and Millennium (“Benjamin”) have not yet followed Christ’s earthly ministry (“Benoni”). Of course, as Peter himself knew, some were failing to rightly divide the word of truth. So thoroughly confused in Scripture, they had created unspeakable spiritual destruction in themselves and their foolish audiences! (Sound familiar?)

In closing, perhaps you are saying, “How wonderful and insightful this was, Brother Shawn!” (I agree.) “I wish more people would see it!” (Indeed.) “So, why do they not see it? Has God not revealed it to them?” Friend, they can read as well as we, can they not? It is a heart problem—sin. The flesh, the natural man, sees this all as foolishness. It is easier to mock instead of study. When we look beyond Christendom’s superficial teachings, and refuse to be the lazy church members who do not (nor care to) understand the Bible, we actually have something fascinating to see in, and say about, it. Rather than wasting time with church tradition, superstition, and philosophy, we spend our time wisely by reading and studying (!!) Scripture.

Yea, we find amazing treasures in God’s Word when we look with the eyes of faith! 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Is Hebrews 13:3 a reference to the Body of Christ?

Benoni and Benjamin #6

Friday, April 20, 2018

And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin (Genesis 35:18 KJV).

Dear friend, look and see—herein lies prophecy!

When the Apostle Peter maintained Israel’s ancient (and puzzled!) prophets foresaw “the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow” (1 Peter 1:10,11), he referred to the prophecies of a suffering Messiah (Psalm 22:1-21; Psalm 35:1-28; Psalm 69:1-36; Isaiah 53:3-12; et al.) and a reigning Messiah (Psalm 2:4-9; Psalm 22:22-31; Psalm 45:6,7; Isaiah 9:6,7; Isaiah 11:1-16; Jeremiah 23:5-8; et al.). Like Peter, only after the first set of fulfilled prophecies do we understand it all.

The one mountain the prophets observed ahead turned out to be two mountains aligned. Once Peter and his contemporaries stood on the first peak, though, they recognized a separate and distinct peak still future. They had just experienced Messiah’s First Coming (“the sufferings of Christ”)—His rejection, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension to Heaven as a royal exile to sit at His Father’s right hand (Psalm 110:1; Acts 1:9-11; Acts 2:32-36). Now, in early Acts (Peter’s ministry), Messiah’s Second Coming is in view. The 12 Apostles, yea all the Little Flock, preach in early Acts, pleading with national Israel to repent of refusing Jesus and prepare for His return by trusting Him. Otherwise, these unbelievers will be consumed in His wrath when He returns to establish that earthly kingdom (“the glory that should follow”)!

As Israel was rapidly approaching that second mountain, something totally unexpected transpired. It was discovered that, while God had been revealing the prophetic program piecemeal, He had kept the mystery program totally secret. In addition to the prophets not understanding the details of one Messiah coming twice, they were completely unaware that a 2,000-year gap separated those comings. Here is the revelation Jesus Christ gave directly to the Apostle Paul. Then, in Acts chapter 15 (Galatians chapter 2), Paul taught Israel’s spiritual leaders about the extensive “mystery” valley below that no one had seen at all. Between the two “prophetic” mountain peaks was a major delay in Messiah’s Second Coming (Kingdom).

Rather than destroy all of Christ-rejecting mankind, Father God inserted between “Benoni” and “Benjamin” a parenthetical period of grace….

Benoni and Benjamin #5

Thursday, April 19, 2018

And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin (Genesis 35:18 KJV).

Dear friend, look and see—herein lies prophecy!

Great pain and tremendous sadness came when “Benoni” entered the world. His mother suffered and died in labor. Yet, his father named him “Benjamin:” Jacob received strength and comfort because a new life had resulted. Notice the interesting parallels.

Father God agonized and was grieved when Jesus Christ His Son became a Man. Christ so suffered, and graphically died, on Calvary’s cruel cross. Still, in the midst of death, life would spring forth! Jesus was resurrected “with power” (Romans 1:4). The universal symbol of strength is the right hand (remember the definition of “Benjamin?”). Jesus Christ did not exercise that authority at His First Coming. At His Second Coming, however, He will return “in his own glory” (Luke 9:26) to “sit in the throne of his glory” (Matthew 19:28; Matthew 25:31). This is the glory following His sufferings.

“Son of my sorrow” applies to Jesus Christ’s First Coming to Israel because it resulted in His rejection and death. Father God experienced such pain to see His Son endure that torture and wrath. “Son of the right hand” is Jesus Christ at His Second Coming. Currently “sitting on the right hand of power” (Matthew 26:64; Mark 14:62), He will wield that power from the Second Coming onward (Millennium and thereafter).

Do you remember where Benoni/Benjamin was born? Where did his mother Rachel die? Where did his father Jacob bury her? “Bethlehem, which is Ephrath,” says Genesis 35:19. It was no coincidence that God mentioned such details. Micah 5:2 would later predict: “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be RULER in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” Some 17 centuries after today’s Scripture, Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem Ephratah (cf. Matthew 2:1-6)!

History testifies that “Benoni” has already come: Jesus Christ has suffered and died. But, what of “Benjamin?” Why is Jesus Christ not reigning? Let us consider the 2,000-year delay….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “‘Whom no man hath seen, nor can see’—who is this in 1 Timothy 6:16?