The Holy Land

Thursday, September 3, 2020

“And the LORD shall inherit Judah his portion in the holy land, and shall choose Jerusalem again” (Zechariah 2:12 KJV).

A common expression in Christian parlance, what exactly is “the Holy Land” anyway?

The phrase appears just once in the King James Bible. Nevertheless, the idea is not isolated to today’s Scripture. Dating back to ancient times, even pagan idolaters have understood the Middle East as special. Of course, before there was a Bible, early man had verbally passed down from generation to generation the news of the Garden of Eden being in modern Iraq (see Genesis 2:14, the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers).

Isaiah (chapter 40) speaks of the LORD as Creator: “[21] Have ye not known? have ye not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth? [22] It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:….” God intended the universe to be His house!

Among the hundreds upon hundreds of billions of celestial bodies, God placed “the blue marble” (planet Earth). “For the LORD hath chosen Zion [Jerusalem]; he hath desired it for his habitation. This is my rest for ever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it” (Psalm 132:13,14). Of course, Adam and Eve sinned and never saw God’s earthly kingdom. Many centuries later, the LORD brought Israel out of Egypt: “Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation” (Exodus 15:13). Verse 17: “Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O LORD, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O LORD, which thy hands have established.” The words “sanctuary” (think “saint!”) and “holy” are synonymous, meaning “set apart for God’s purposes.” Alas, Israel also sinned, also never seeing that kingdom.

Yet, the Prophets foretell: “The LORD is there” (Ezekiel 48:35). Jesus is thus called, “Emmanuel, God with us” (Matthew 1:23; Isaiah 7:14). Today’s Scripture is Israel and her (His) land finally restored at Christ’s Second Coming, His (her) Millennial Kingdom!

Death! #8

Monday, May 18, 2020

“In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Genesis 3:19 KJV).

It is a morbid topic, but a reality we know all too well….

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Sin has “wages” (payments): physical death (soul and spirit separated from physical body), spiritual death (soul and spirit separated from God on Earth—can be remedied by faith in Christ!), functional death (believer separated from Christian living), and second death (soul and spirit separated from God in the Lake of Fire—permanent!).

We enter this world “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us [resurrected us, given us life and energy] together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved; )…” (verse 4). Thus, God through Christ overcomes spiritual death. The “eternal life” of Romans 6:23 especially emphasizes subsequent Christian living. If we as believers want deliverance from daily sinful conduct, we read and trust chapters 6–8. Thus, God through Christ conquers functional death.

Some of the Church the Body of Christ will physically die, but not all. Those believers alive at the Lord’s return—the Rapture, the resurrection, “the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:18-25)—will never experience physical death. “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed…” (1 Corinthians 15:50-58; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). Living or dead, all Christians will receive a new body. Thus, God through Christ overcomes physical death. “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile [sinful, corrupt, subject to death] body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself” (Philippians 3:20,21).

“Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? (John 11:25,26).

Death! #7

Sunday, May 17, 2020

“In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Genesis 3:19 KJV).

It is a morbid topic, but a reality we know all too well….

Second Timothy 1:9-11 states: “[9] Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, [10] But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: [11] Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.” As saints, people who trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour, we have a hope that, when this earthly life ends with death, it is really not the end!

First Corinthians chapter 15 speaks of resurrection life: “[18] Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. [19] If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. [20] But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. [21] For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. [22] For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. [23] But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. [24] Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. [25] For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. [26] The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.

The Bible labels death an “enemy.” It was not in God’s original design in creation. Adam’s sin caused it. Therefore, the Lord has gloriously conquered it before (Christ’s bodily resurrection), and He will magnificently overcome it again (all subsequent bodily resurrections). Let us summarize and conclude this devotionals arc….

Death! #6

Saturday, May 16, 2020

“In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Genesis 3:19 KJV).

It is a morbid topic, but a reality we know all too well….

While physical death is certain, He [The LORD] will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it” (Isaiah 25:8). “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt” (Daniel 12:2). Through His power demonstrated at Calvary’s cross, Almighty God will physically raise the dead.

The Bible speaks of the bodily resurrection of the saints: “[4] And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. [5] But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. [6] Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years” (Revelation chapter 20).

Turning to 1 Corinthians chapter 15, we see a special bodily resurrection as pertaining to us, the Church the Body of Christ: “[50] Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. [51] Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, [52] In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” Due to the Lord’s “special working,” some in human history will not physically die….

Death! #5

Friday, May 15, 2020

“In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Genesis 3:19 KJV).

It is a morbid topic, but a reality we know all too well….

Genesis 35:18 says physical death occurs when the soul separates from, or exits, the body of flesh and blood. What becomes of the physical body? Exactly what Genesis says, the rest of the Scripture repeats so eloquently.

“They shall go down to the bars of the pit, when our rest together is in the dust(Job 17:16). “His bones are full of the sin of his youth, which shall lie down with him in the dust (Job 20:11). “All flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust(Job 34:15). “Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust (Psalm 104:29). “All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again(Ecclesiastes 3:20). “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7).

Scripture also speaks of physical death more bluntly, as in Job 21:26: “They shall lie down alike in the dust, and the worms shall cover them.” Of course, these “worms” are maggots, indicative of the decaying or rotting process. Job 24:19,20: “Drought and heat consume the snow waters: so doth the grave those which have sinned. The womb shall forget him; the worm shall feed sweetly on him; he shall be no more remembered; and wickedness shall be broken as a tree.” Yet, we bring to mind that classic Bible passage of hope: “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).

Due to sin, physical death is a part of life. Nonetheless, the saint is aware of another reality—bodily resurrection….

Death! #4

Thursday, May 14, 2020

“In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Genesis 3:19 KJV).

It is a morbid topic, but a reality we know all too well….

Only after an arduous lifetime of backbreaking work does man’s soul finally separate from his physical body. He would “return unto the ground.” The LORD God added, for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” While the Book of Genesis is frequently dismissed as figurative or allegorical myth, we cannot help but see this as literal history. Are we not physically placed into actual ground at our burial? Why, yes. There is no other way to look at Genesis: it says what it means and it means what it says.

Draw your attention to the wording: “for out of it [the ground] wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” We compare this to Genesis 2:7, Adam’s creation: “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Job 4:19 speaks of man, “How much less in them that dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, which are crushed before the moth?” And, Job 10:9 is directed to God, “Remember, I beseech thee, that thou hast made me as the clay; and wilt thou bring me into dust again?” “For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust (Psalm 103:14). 

Adam’s physical body was indeed literally derived from the ground or dirt. The name “Adam” is from the Hebrew word meaning “red, ruddy.” God used preexisting material—a reddish clay, evidently—to shape the first human body. This is not at all far-fetched. An interesting scientific fact is presented here—and, again, we have no other option but to take Genesis literally. Elements found within Earth’s crust are also necessary for life, and they actually form the human body: oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, sodium, chlorine, magnesium, and so on. Once the human body dies, its component elements return to the soil as well….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “How shall Elijah ‘restore all things?’

The Awareness of a Temporary Earth

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

“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).

The More Powerful Words #8

Saturday, October 12, 2019

“By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth” (Psalm 33:6 KJV).

Sinful man needs to learn the lesson of today’s Scripture!

Like all 150 Psalms, the 33rd Psalm is a song highlighting the LORD God’s goodness. We will read its first 11 verses (today’s Scripture in context), but you are strongly encouraged to finish the chapter in your own personal study.

“[1] Rejoice in the LORD, O ye righteous: for praise is comely for the upright. [2] Praise the LORD with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings. [3] Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise. [4] For the word of the LORD is right; and all his works are done in truth. [5] He loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the LORD.

“[6] By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. [7] He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: he layeth up the depth in storehouses. [8] Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. [9] For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast. [10] The LORD bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: he maketh the devices of the people of none effect. [11] The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.”

“Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.” Indeed, we “stand in awe” of the Lord Jesus Christ! Compared to us, He speaks the more powerful words. His speech can—and does—accomplish infinitesimally more than our utterances. Above all, His “counsel” “standeth for ever:” in the end, unlike our writings, His Word will never pass away. Lastly, He will outsmart all of His enemies, and what He has determined will be realized throughout the endless ages to come. It does not matter how much opposition sinful creatures (Satan and man!) muster, God’s purpose and plan for His creation will come to pass! 🙂

The More Powerful Words #7

Friday, October 11, 2019

“By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth” (Psalm 33:6 KJV).

Sinful man needs to learn the lesson of today’s Scripture!

We give our “enlightened” lectures at scientific conferences. Also, we publish our philosophical articles in prestigious, “scholarly” journals. However, since we have no power in and of ourselves, our words are weak. We cannot use them to create something from nothing. Not even today’s most vocal anti-Bible boasters have enough hot air to generate a new universe!

Friends, considering the above, never should we equate ourselves to our Creator, the Lord Jesus Christ. Since we know deep down inside that we are created beings, if we rebel against that reality, we live in a fantasyland or world of delusions. We think we are our own god—believing what we want, saying what we want, and doing what we want. Folly!

Romans chapter 1: “[17] For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. [18] For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; [19] Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.

“[20] For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: [21] Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. [22] Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, [23] And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.”

Verse 25: “Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.” Yes, it is just as true today as it was 20 centuries ago. Actually, we really have not advanced too much. We are still the same old wretched sinners….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Does the New Covenant take away Israel’s free will?

The More Powerful Words #6

Thursday, October 10, 2019

“By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth” (Psalm 33:6 KJV).

Sinful man needs to learn the lesson of today’s Scripture!

While we better understand our world than our predecessors did, that does not (!) mean we can explain everything with perfect, irrefutable knowledge. Through additional experimentation, scientists daily refine their views: the scientific method is faulty because our minds are imperfect. In light of new evidence, even scientists disprove and discard their own long-held ideas. They do not have all the answers. Consequently, friend, never (ever, ever, ever!) let them convince you “science has toppled the Bible’s authority.” Instead of commenting on Someone else’s work and then denying His existence, since we are “god” (in our mind), perhaps we had better prove our existence. Let us go beyond merely describing God’s work, and actually repeat it!

Genesis chapter 1: “[1] In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. [2] And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. [3] And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. [4] And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. [5] And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

“[6] And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. [7] And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so… [9] And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.”

Finish reading Genesis chapter 1, the more powerful words. The God of the Bible spoke everything into existence, friends! God did not take preexisting atoms to make everything; through His spoken word, He created the atoms themselves from nothing, and then used them to form specific matter (today’s Scripture).

Is sinful man grateful for his Creator? No….