The Jews’ Feasts #3

Friday, July 18, 2019

After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem (John 5:1 KJV).

Thrice, and only in John’s Gospel Record, we read a unique expression. What is it, and why is it significant?

Judaism as it existed in Jesus’ day was certainly not the unadulterated Word of God given at Mount Sinai. During the 15 centuries since Moses, the rabbinical scholars had corrupted it. Ironically, what God had given to Israel to indicate her sin problem was now the very system she was using to advertise her “righteousness!”

Take, for example, Matthew chapter 9: “[10] And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. [11] And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? [12] But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. [13] But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

Did you notice how the Pharisees considered others to be “sinners?” These religious leaders themselves were—they assumed—to be without sin! Such Old Testament “scholars” so totally void of Scriptural understanding! What had they been reading? They had the Hebrew Bible (our Genesis through Malachi) but they had read it through the lens of religious tradition. Hence, they could not see what they should have seen. Yea, they did not want to see what they should have seen.

Read this sardonic rebuke the Lord Jesus had for Israel’s religious leaders in Matthew 23:23: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” They focused on dividing the tiny herbs and spices into tenths—their tithes as instructed by Moses!—but they ignored the more important principles of the Law. Judgment, mercy, and faith (!) were absent from these religionists’ hearts and lives. Indeed, it was no longer God’s religion….

Bible Q&A #630: “What does the Bible say about lunar exploration and settlement?

The Jews’ Feasts #2

Thursday, July 18, 2019

After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem (John 5:1 KJV).

Thrice, and only in John’s Gospel Record, we read a unique expression. What is it, and why is it significant?

Friend, you have doubtless seen religious busyness. People are quite active in attending church services, participating in water baptisms, partaking of communion, walking aisles, knocking on doors and “proselytizing,” shaking preachers’ hands, listening to and uttering confessions, reciting prayers, reading denominational literature, singing and dancing, clapping and raising their hands, giving large donations to this group and that group, and so on. It all appears so decent and spiritual. Surely, God is pleased, right? Well, not exactly. How much of all that is done with an intelligent understanding of God’s Word to them? Frankly, very, very, very little!

Romans 14:23 concludes with, “for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” This concept is wise Christian advice regardless of the issue. What would God want us to do here or there, in this situation or that? The verse answers it. If we cannot point to a clear verse from the rightly divided Bible, and say on the basis of that verse that we are a taking certain course of action, it is best to reconsider our options. Faith is simply believing God’s Word to you. If that is the definition of “faith”—and it is—then there is actually almost no faith among most so-called “Christians.”

No matter the denomination, the average church member depends too heavily on clergy. It is far easier to let others think for us, and most convenient to say, “Let the preacher study the Bible. He can tell me what it says and what I am supposed to believe.” Hence, doctrinal confusion and Bible illiteracy are so pervasive within Christendom. The preacher is only interested in telling us what the denomination says, what the denomination says the Bible says, and not what the Bible really says. (Many have learned this “the hard way,” shocked to finally realize their denominational leaders withheld a great deal of Bible truth from them!!)

What is passed off as “Christianity” today is often anything but. Likewise, the religion in Israel during Christ’s day was not pure Judaism….

The Jews’ Feasts #1

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem (John 5:1 KJV).

Thrice, and only in John’s Gospel Record, we read a unique expression. What is it, and why is it significant?

Back in Leviticus chapter 23, some 15 centuries earlier, JEHOVAH God had instructed the nation Israel through Moses to observe seven annual feasts. These were holy days—holidays—meant to teach them doctrine. Focus on their collective title as it appears: “Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts…. These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons…. These are the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD, a burnt offering, and a meat offering, a sacrifice, and drink offerings, every thing upon his day:…. And Moses declared unto the children of Israel the feasts of the LORD (Leviticus 23:2,4,37,44; cf. 2 Chronicles 2:4; Ezra 3:5).

These are “the feasts of the LORD” (or “the feasts of JEHOVAH”). Now, let us make a stark comparison. Today’s Scripture speaks of “a feast of the Jews.” Turn to John 6:4 to read, “And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh.” Finally, John 7:2: “Now the Jews’ feast of tabernacles was at hand.” Whose feasts have they become? Surely, they are not the LORD God’s feasts anymore! Now greatly watered down, God the Holy Spirit no longer wants association with these holidays.

The apostate Jews have made those feasts glorify themselves. It is nothing but empty religion, corrupted with the traditions of men. Years later, Paul, having escaped that evil system, writes in Galatians 1:13: “For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it….” It is not God’s religion butthe Jews’ religion!”

Indeed, if God the Holy Spirit spoke audibly today, He would say, “Christianity has been diluted to become Christendom!” Yes, dear friends, the professing Body of Christ has gone the way of apostate Israel….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Who or what are the ‘seven Spirits’ found in Revelation?

The Echo Heard Round the World #5

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

“So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia. For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing” (1 Thessalonians 1:7,8 KJV).

Do you see the “echo” in today’s Scripture? (Do you see the “echo” in today’s Scripture?)

Paul and his ministry companions traveled to Thessalonica (a city in Macedonia) and they preached the Gospel of Grace to lead pagan idolaters to faith in Jesus Christ: “[9] For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; [10] And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.”

Sadly, some people can hear or read the Gospel dozens of times and do nothing with it. If they do happen to believe it, they seldom have fruitful Christian lives that reflect their conversion. This was certainly not true of the newly-saved Thessalonian saints. They believed and their testimony spread throughout Macedonia (northern Greece) and Achaia (southern Greece). Verse 3 again: “Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father.” The “work of faith” was they had “turned to God from idols,” the “labour of love” was they went on to “serve the living and true God,” and the “patience of hope” was they were “wait[ing] for his Son from heaven.”

The message of God’s grace went forth from Paul and his ministry companions, and the Thessalonians “echoed” that message through their lifestyle. It was not an imitation of Christ’s life but a resounding of His life. Heathen souls in neighboring regions and elsewhere were hearing that echo, and they too were coming to the one living and true God, also laying aside their worthless idols. This was the occasion of Paul, Silas, and Timothy writing 1 Thessalonians. May our testimony, brethren, “echo” likewise! 🙂

The Echo Heard Round the World #4

Monday, July 15, 2019

“So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia. For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing” (1 Thessalonians 1:7,8 KJV).

Unfortunately, dear friends, the Greek Bible (especially the wrong Greek one) has been utilized to “beat up” common church members. The multisyllabic Greek terms and their complicated linguistic rules are rattled off from the pulpit. Most people in the pew struggle to grasp the English Bible, so the dull Greek lessons lead to more discouragement and eventual tossing out of English and Greek Bibles alike! The Greek language is not evil. However, when it falls into the wrong hands (read that “unbelieving hands and hearts!”), it inflicts indescribable damage on God’s precious words and people. Here is how to properly use Greek in Bible study.

Draw your attention to “sounded out” in today’s Scripture. In Greek, it is “execheo.” (Can you spot the “echo” yet? Can you spot the “echo” yet?) The root word, “echeo,” appears in Luke 21:25 as waves “roaring” and 1 Corinthians 13:1 as “sounding” brass (instrument). “Echeo” is derived from “echos,” rendered news “noised” abroad (Luke 4:37), the “sound” of the Holy Spirit’s coming (Acts 2:2), and the “sound” of the trumpet blown at Mount Sinai when Moses received the Law (Hebrews 12:19). (Notice the “echo” yet? Notice the “echo” yet?)

After hearing grace doctrine from Paul, the Thessalonians believed on Christ unto eternal life. Their lives had been changed forever: “[6] And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost. [7] So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia. [8] For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing.” Literally, God’s Word “echoed” from the Thessalonians….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Why did Jesus curse the ‘poor’ fig tree?

The Echo Heard Round the World #3

Sunday, July 14, 2019

“So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia. For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing” (1 Thessalonians 1:7,8 KJV).

Do you see the “echo” in today’s Scripture? (Do you see the “echo” in today’s Scripture?)

Reflecting on the Thessalonians’ conversion, Paul and his ministry companions (Silas and Timothy) knew they had passed from eternal death to eternal life (verses 3 and 4, the context of today’s Scripture): “Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.”

Here is the explanation: “[5] For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. [6] And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost.” As we saw earlier, in Acts chapter 17, great persecution came on these new saints in Thessalonica. God’s Word had prospered, and the Devil made sure his people did what they could to obstruct the work of the Holy Spirit. Yet, these saints endured the hardship!

Lastly, here is the result: “[7] So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia. [8] For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing. [9] For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; [10] And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.”

Yes, the Gospel of Grace went forth, and it “echoed” round the world….

The Echo Heard Round the World #2

Saturday, July 13, 2019

“So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia. For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing” (1 Thessalonians 1:7,8 KJV).

Do you see the “echo” in today’s Scripture? (Do you see the “echo” in today’s Scripture?)

The Apostle Paul and Silas visited Thessalonica in Acts chapter 17: “[1] Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: [2] And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, [3] Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. [4] And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.

“[5] But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. [6] And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; [7] Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus. [8] And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things. [9] And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go. [10] And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.”

Paul preached the Gospel of the Grace of God to these Thessalonians—Christ’s finished crosswork as sufficient payment for their sins (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)—and they believed that message unto eternal life. Satan was sorely upset, for an impressive transformation had resulted….