Consider Your Ways, Mankind! #5

Monday, September 30, 2013

“Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:29,30 KJV).

Mankind, in his natural state, is apathetic to JEHOVAH’S desire to build a temple… using him….

Ephesians 6:12 talks about “spiritual wickedness in high places” (the Greek word here rendered “high” is translated “heavenly” in Ephesians 1:3 and Ephesians 2:6). “Behold, he putteth no trust in his saints; yea, the heavens are not clean in his sight” (Job 15:15; cf. Job 25:5). Satan has corrupted the heavens (outer space) with sin, and he will not be banished from there and cast down to earth until a future date (Revelation 12:7-10).

“The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD’S: but the earth hath he given to the children of men” (Psalm 115:16). God had given the earth to man in order to keep earth out of Satan’s hands, but Adam sinned and Satan’s policy of evil, which rebellion started in heaven, infiltrated earth. Both the heavens and earth are corrupted by sin. Until we come to the salvation and ministry of the Apostle Paul in Scripture, we only read about God’s purpose and plan for the earth. God, until revealing it to and through the Apostle Paul, was silent about how he would restore the heavens unto Himself (Colossians 1:16-21).

Through Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, alone, we learn God’s purpose and plan regarding the heavenly restoration. The ascended Lord Jesus Christ will use the same pagan Gentiles He had given over to Satan back in Genesis chapter 11, He will save them from their sins and give them a place in heaven (Ephesians 1:3; Ephesians 2:6,7), even giving them bodies to function in outer space and replace Satan’s minions (2 Corinthians 5:1). This is the story of the pagan Greeks to whom Paul spoke (today’s Scripture)—it is our story, too!

No one would have guessed that God would use formerly idolatrous Gentiles such as us to be His vessels, His temple, to glorify Himself in the heavens forever…!

Consider Your Ways, Mankind! #4

Sunday, September 29, 2013

“Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:29,30 KJV).

Mankind, in his natural state, is apathetic to JEHOVAH’S desire to build a temple… using him….

Satan’s rebellion against God, which started in heaven, then infiltrated the earth with the fall of man. Adam—actually all of mankind—was to be God’s vessel in fulfilling His will in the earth (Genesis 1:26,28), but Adam sinned and failed (Romans 5:12). God then created the nation Israel to do in the earth what Adam failed to do (Exodus 19:5,6), but Israel also sinned and failed (Jeremiah 31:32).

Once Israel reached the point where she adamantly and continually rejected God’s will for her—the culmination of her unbelief was Acts chapter 7 with the stoning of the prophet Stephen—God set into motion a plan for the heavenly places, a plan that He had kept secret during the entire time He was revealing to man His purpose and plan for earth (Romans 16:25 cf. Acts 3:21).

In today’s Scripture, the Apostle Paul is preaching in Athens to remind these lost pagans that their idols of silver, gold, and stone that they have invented and carved and molded, are the results of their spiritual blindness. God, having given these Gentiles over to Satan in Genesis chapter 11 (so He could form the nation Israel in Genesis chapter 12 with Abraham), is now reaching out to them through the fall of Israel and through Paul’s ministry (Romans 11:11-13).

Paul urged these Gentiles, whose spirits were dead in their trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1-3) and whose souls were darkened by Satan the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:3,4), to receive the light of God’s Word that he is preaching to them. They are to recognize their error, change their mind (repent), and start thinking of the triune God as the living and true God, not as some worthless, inanimate idol.

By faith, they are to submit to the construction of JEHOVAH’S new temple….

Consider Your Ways, Mankind! #3

Saturday, September 28, 2013

“Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:29,30 KJV).

Mankind, in his natural state, is apathetic to JEHOVAH’S desire to build a temple… using him….

When preaching about Jesus Christ returning to earth one day and bringing “the times of restitution [restoration] of all things,” the Apostle Peter confessed that this coming of God to establish an earthly kingdom was what “God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began (Acts 3:19-21). From the time the Lord Jesus put man on the earth until the salvation and ministry of the Apostle Paul, the Bible’s focus is God’s purpose and plan for the earth. God wanted the earth to be His “temple,” His dwelling place!

In the book of the Revelation, the Apostle John wrote about the future: “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God (Revelation 21:1-3). This will be the fulfillment of Messiah’s title “Immanuel,” “God with us” (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23). Again, the hope of believers in Israel’s program was not dying and going to be with God in heaven, but being resurrected to have God come down to earth and live with them (Job 19:25-27)!

Daniel 2:35,44 speak of Jesus Christ’s kingdom as one that will “fill the whole earthand will last forever and ever. Exodus 19:3-6, Isaiah 2:1-3, and Zechariah 8:20-23 demonstrate the earthly nature of Israel’s kingdom. Sin has continually delayed the establishment of this “temple” of God….

Consider Your Ways, Mankind! #2

Friday, September 27, 2013

“Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:29,30 KJV).

Mankind, in his natural state, is apathetic to JEHOVAH’S desire to build a temple… using him….

“For by him [the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ] were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him” (Colossians 1:16). God created and placed angels in heaven to serve Him there, and He created and placed man on earth to serve Him there.

Man was to govern earth for God’s glory as Genesis 1:26,28 explain: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. And God blessed them [Adam and Eve], and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish [fill up] the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”

Psalm 8:4,7-9 elaborate: “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: all sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas. O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!

Adam was to prepare earth for God to come down and dwell on, but Adam sinned, delaying the construction of that “temple….”

Consider Your Ways, Mankind! #1

Thursday, September 26, 2013

“Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:29,30 KJV).

Mankind, in his natural state, is apathetic to JEHOVAH’S desire to build a temple… using him….

Job, the oldest Bible book (predating Moses and his books of Genesis to Deuteronomy), summarizes the hope of every believer who lived in the “Old Testament” economy (although, technically, this was also the hope of believers in Christ’s earthly ministry and the early Acts period):

“For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me” (Job 19:25-27).

As a representative of the believers living in Israel’s program, Job shows us that the hope the believer in the God of the Bible had was not to go to heaven, but rather to be resurrected bodily to live forever in an earthly kingdom with that God reigning. As opposed to them expecting to go to heaven upon death, these saints expected heaven to come down to earth (literally, “heaven on earth”)! This was the hope believers had prior to the salvation and ministry of the Apostle Paul.

In early Acts, the Apostle Peter offered to Israel that earthly kingdom which was “spoken by the mouth of all [God’s] holy prophets since the world began(Acts 3:21). That earthly kingdom was the heart of “the Gospel of the Kingdom” that John the Baptist preached, that Jesus Christ Himself preached in His earthly ministry, and the Gospel that He commissioned Israel’s 12 apostles to preach (Matthew 3:2; Matthew 4:17; Matthew 9:35; Matthew 10:7; Matthew 24:14; Mark 1:14; et al.).

Note how Peter says that God’s promise of that earthly kingdom goes right back to Adam, the first man. That kingdom prophesied “since the world began” is still postponed.…

Consider Your Ways, Israel! #5

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

“Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes” (Haggai 1:5,6 KJV).

The Jews have built their houses, but they are apathetic that they have not finished JEHOVAH’S….

Thus far, we have seen the Scriptures that demonstrate the complacency of the post-exilic Jews living in Jerusalem and Judaea. They had forgotten about JEHOVAH’S unfinished Temple because they had forgotten about JEHOVAH. In His mercy, grace, and longsuffering, He sent prophets to preach His Word to those Jews, to the intent that they would see their error and turn to Him.

The Jews considered their ways, and they believed the Word of God that Haggai and Zechariah the prophets preached to them. “And the elders of the Jews builded, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they builded, and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel…” (Ezra 6:14; cf. Ezra 5:1,2; Haggai 1:12-15). God’s Word encouraged them and, by faith, they finished the Temple about four years after construction resumed under Darius the Persian king (Ezra 4:24 cf. Ezra 6:15). As an interesting historical side note, circa 500 years later, Herod the Great refurbished that Temple, which Temple existed during Christ’s earthly ministry, and which Temple the Romans destroyed in A.D. 70.

Although these Scriptures were not written to us or about us, we can appreciate them in their rightful place in God’s inspired Word. Moreover, there are parallels to these Scriptures regarding the Bible books written to us and about us—Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon. In the next 10 studies, two companion devotional arcs, we will look at how these Scriptures from the books of Ezra and Haggai help us to better understand and appreciate the purpose and plan that the Lord Jesus Christ has for us….

Consider Your Ways, Israel! #4

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

“Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes” (Haggai 1:5,6 KJV).

The Jews have built their houses, but they are apathetic that they have not finished JEHOVAH’S….

Although JEHOVAH is displeased with Israel for not completing His Temple, and while He has caused a severe economic depression in Judah and Jerusalem (verses 1-11), He, through the prophet Haggai (and Zechariah, too), encourages Israel to put Him first—and get rid of that curse—by completing His Temple!

Verses 12-14 document Israel’s response: “Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the LORD their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the LORD their God had sent him, and the people did fear before the LORD. Then spake Haggai the LORD’S messenger in the LORD’S message unto the people, saying, I am with you, saith the LORD. And the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and did work in the house of the LORD of hosts, their God….”

Ezra 5:1,2 supplement Haggai’s words: “Then the prophets, Haggai the prophet, and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied unto the Jews that were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, even unto them. Then rose up Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and began to build the house of God which is at Jerusalem: and with them were the prophets of God helping them.”

By faith, Israel is encouraged in God’s Word, and thus resumes building her God’s Temple….