Refuge! #7

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Then ye shall appoint you cities to be cities of refuge for you; that the slayer may flee thither, which killeth any person at unawares (Numbers 35:11 KJV).

Look closely! Could there be something prophetic here?

To spare Israel absolute annihilation, God graciously provided a loophole in the Mosaic Law. If one ignorantly killed another, the slayer could flee to a city of refuge and escape the avenging relative’s hand. The deceased person’s relative could not harm him in that special city.

Similarly, prophetically, the Antichrist is the avenger of blood, coming to punish national Israel for rejecting her Messiah (Jesus Christ) (Isaiah 10:5,6; John 5:43). Thankfully, individual Jews can flee to a (figurative) “city of refuge.” The Little Flock will survive God’s judgment: membership therein (via water baptism) is protection from “the wrath to come” (Matthew 3:1-12; 1 Peter 3:20,21).

Throughout early Acts, God the Holy Spirit constantly indicted Israel for killing her Messiah. They were worthy of His wrath! However, He downgraded the charge from murder to manslaughter. Israel was spiritually ignorant when she crucified Jesus, thus allowing her opportunity to flee to refuge—Israel’s believing remnant. In Acts chapters 2-5, Israel was offered a renewed opportunity of repentance.

“That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec” (Hebrews 6:18-20). Believing Jews in Israel’s kingdom program have “fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us.” Having trusted Jesus as Messiah, they will enter His earthly kingdom when He returns to redeem them nationally at His Second Coming (cf. Hebrews 12:25-29).

“And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God (Zechariah 13:9).

Refuge! #6

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Then ye shall appoint you cities to be cities of refuge for you; that the slayer may flee thither, which killeth any person at unawares (Numbers 35:11 KJV).

Look closely! Could there be something prophetic here?

The LORD God was very careful to make sure that His land—the Holy Land—was not defiled with the shedding of innocent blood. Therefore, He set up the cities of refuge. If someone killed another accidentally, the slayer could flee to a city of refuge. Once a court of law determined it to be manslaughter, the slayer would be returned to that city of refuge. If he left that city before the high priest died, the deceased person’s family could kill the slayer. (Consult Numbers 35:9-32 if necessary.)

Pay close attention to verses 33,34: “So ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: for blood it defileth the land: and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it. Defile not therefore the land which ye shall inhabit, wherein I dwell: for I the LORD dwell among the children of Israel.” Jesus Christ was “the innocent blood” (Matthew 27:4). Since Israel rejected and killed her Messiah, God will send an avenger of blood to cleanse His land of the evildoers.

Hence, the Apostle Peter preached to unbelieving Israel in Acts 3:22,23: “For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people” (cf. Deuteronomy 18:15,18,19). The “prophet” is Jesus Christ; unbelievers “destroyed” refers to the seven-year Tribulation (the reign of Antichrist—the avenger of blood!). Such Divine wrath carries all the way to Christ’s Second Coming.

The Little Flock preaches to unsaved Jews throughout early Acts. They must repent (recognize Jesus as Messiah) and be water baptized, to join Israel’s believing remnant. Those in the Little Flock will survive God’s wrath that is coming to rectify the shedding of Christ’s innocent blood….

Our two latest Bible Q&As: “Who are the ‘saints’ in 1 Thessalonians 3:13?and How many angels will be with Jesus Christ when He returns?

Satisfied in Superstition #3

Monday, August 20, 2018

“Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you” (Acts 17:22,23 KJV).

Why is there rampant spiritual ignorance today?

Genesis 11:1-9 describes the postdiluvian (after Great Flood) nations assembling in Shinar (Babylon, or modern Iraq) to “build [them] a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven.” Nimrod led the construction of this Tower of Babel—an international, political-religious system. (Its antitype is the Antichrist’s [future] Whore of Babylon described in Revelation chapters 17-18.) The LORD God gave those nations over to their preference—Satan worship, pagan idolatry, one-world religion (an amalgamation of all spiritual ideas). There, the nations fell as Adam had. Again, it was a willful rejection of God’s truth and a plunge into spiritual darkness (cf. Acts 14:15,16): “[God] in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways.” Hence, the Gentile (non-Jewish) nations originated.

With Genesis chapter 11 closing and chapter 12 opening, the LORD God began forming a special nation—Israel. Beginning with Abram/Abraham, Israel will accomplish what Adam and the nations deliberately declined to do. They are the vessel whereby God will fulfill His earthly purpose. He thus expects and commands Israel to avoid her neighbors’ heathen beliefs and idolatrous practices. Read Deuteronomy 4:16-19, but especially notice verse 19: “And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the LORD thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven.” Indeed, at Babel, God gave the nations over to the gods and goddesses of superstition.

Sadly, Israel did not keep herself pure either. Eventually, when her Redeemer (Jesus Christ) came, she was so polluted with error that she crucified Him in unbelief. She persisted in that unbelief, that rejection of God’s Word, until He placed her on the same spiritual level as He had put the Gentiles 2,000 years previous. Now we get to today’s Scripture….

Growing in Grace #7

Friday, August 17, 2018

“But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen” (2 Peter 3:18 KJV).

What does it mean to “grow in grace?”

“Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.” Peter thus bids farewell to the Circumcision Saints, supplying them with the information needed to avoid the “error of the wicked.” These various doctrinal and practical sins—false teaching, confusion, doubt, non-dispensational Bible study, and so on—are to be replaced with an updated view of God’s program for man.

Israel’s Little Flock is to grow in the doctrines of grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ as revealed to the Apostle Paul. They must appreciate why their earthly kingdom has been momentarily suspended (but certainly not abolished!!). Despite ignorant mockers’ accusations, God’s promise to send His Son again stands firm. He has not forgotten about Israel; He has merely postponed her program to operate our mystery program. Rather than pouring out wrath, He is offering mercy to the whole world—Jews and Gentiles alike (Romans 11:25-32)!

Dear brethren, if God wanted the Circumcision Saints long ago and yet future to be “established in the present truth” (1:12), how much more does He desire it for us? After all, “the present truth” is that we (the Church the Body of Christ) and the mystery program have currently/presently interrupted and delayed Israel’s prophetic program. We are the reason why the Antichrist has not yet been revealed. The Dispensation of Grace, the Body of Christ, prevents the prophetic program from operating (see 2 Thessalonians 2:1-14).

At the Rapture, our gathering together unto Christ in Heaven, our dispensation will close, causing the prophetic program to recommence. The Antichrist will rise, reign for seven years, and ultimately be destroyed by Jesus Christ at His Second Coming. Here, unbelievers are judged, including the scoffers who assumed that fiery wrath was fiction! Finally, Israel becomes God’s kingdom of priests, redeemed and ready to enter the Millennium. May we “grow in grace” too! 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Should we call a minister ‘reverend?’

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?’

Benoni and Benjamin #4

Wednesday, April 18, 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 Moses wrote today’s Scripture, he had no idea what underlying truths the Holy Spirit was communicating through him. Since the Bible is a progressive revelation, the LORD God had not (yet) revealed the complete picture. First Peter chapter 1 comments on this reality: “[10] Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: [11] Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.”

For centuries, Israel’s prophets asked about and studied meticulously the Old Testament Scriptures, trying (unsuccessfully) to piece together just how Messiah would come to them. The Apostle Peter is writing to people living after our Dispensation of Grace. Like those in early Acts long ago, they too await the Second Coming of Christ to destroy the Antichrist and usher in the Millennial Kingdom. These “circumcision” (Jewish) saints, Israel’s “Little Flock,” have been promised God’s earthly kingdom (Luke 12:31,32). They see in totality what their ancestors struggled to grasp: one Messiah is coming twice!

Peter looks back on Calvary, when Messiah Jesus came, was rejected, crucified, shed His blood, and resurrected (1 Peter 1:19,21; 2:4-8). These are “the sufferings of Christ.” Peter also looks forward to Messiah Jesus coming again. Here, He will be glorified and reign as Israel’s King, Israel being His “kingdom of priests” (1 Peter 2:9-12). This is “the glory that should follow.”

How do these verses parallel the events of today’s Scripture? “Benoni” (“son of my sorrow”) and “Benjamin” (“son of the right hand”) are, respectively, the First and Second Comings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Grief would come before joy, the cross will precede the crown, the tree would come before the throne, the sufferings will precede the glory, and the Child would come before the Son. Again, Moses could not see it, but he was writing a template, and what a pattern it is….

Salient!

Monday, March 5, 2018

But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ (1 Peter 3:14-16 KJV).

Without further delay, we need to be striking in our handling of suffering.

The Holy Spirit wrote today’s Scripture concerning end-times persecution: Israel’s believing remnant will suffer immensely under the Antichrist. The Lord Jesus commented in Matthew chapter 24: “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another” (verses 9,10). Verse 21 is worse: “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since [!!!!] the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be [!!!!].”

In the midst of such dreadful torment and slaughter, God the Holy Spirit wants the Little Flock to be “ready always” to have an “answer” (Greek, apologia—a defense, as in apologetics) when someone will ask them for a reason of the hope in them. They are to be salient, prominent, for their endurance. Just what enables them to bear unparalleled pressure from the Adversary (Satan, embodied in the Antichrist)? How can they tolerate all the opposition, resist the majority, challenge this seemingly omnipotent tyrant, and not be crushed internally by hopelessness?

The answer was already provided in chapter 1: “[5] Who are kept [protected] by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. [6] Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: [7] That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing [Second Coming] of Jesus Christ:….”

Paul’s epistles provide us our defense!