Joy to the World! #3

Thursday, December 13, 2018

“For the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody” (Isaiah 51:3 KJV).

The third verse of the classic Christmas carol highlights today’s Scripture.

“No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.”

God’s Word to Adam just after he sinned included the following pronouncement, “…[C]ursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee” (Genesis 3:17,18). This is part of the “bondage of corruption” of which Romans 8:21 speaks. Sin tainted creation. Thorns and thistles began to grow, making Adam’s labor in the field even more grueling. Paradise was indeed lost… but not forever!

When God created the heaven and the earth, He selected a special location on Earth as His home. Exodus 15:17,18 say: “Thou shalt bring them [Israel] 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 LORD shall reign for ever and ever.” Isaiah 40:22 says God “stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in.” While Adam’s sinful actions delayed God’s earthly kingdom, God would take care of those mistakes and still accomplish His original intention.

Israel’s mistakes further delayed God’s earthly kingdom. However, God will restore Earth’s ecology to its original, pre-Fall (pre-sin) conditions. This is true especially of Zion, Jerusalem, which will be the global and universal capital city. There will be joy and gladness, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody. All believers in heaven (Body of Christ) and earth (redeemed Israel) will join the angels in song. The curse has been lifted, and Jesus Christ has been exalted (Isaiah 11:1-9)!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “How would God have us view veterans?

Joy to the World! #2

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

“Sing unto the LORD with the harp; with the harp, and the voice of a psalm. With trumpets and sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the LORD, the King. Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. Let the floods clap their hands: let the hills be joyful together Before the LORD; for he cometh to judge the earth: with righteousness shall he judge the world, and the people with equity” (Psalm 98:5-9 KJV).

The second verse of the classic Christmas carol highlights today’s Scripture.

“Joy to the earth! the Saviour reigns;
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat the sounding joy.”

When Adam sinned, sin entered the world, and death by sin (Romans 5:12), plunging creation into suffering. What God had intended to last forever was now languishing away and dying off! “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth together in pain until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit…” (Romans 8:22,23).

We humans, pinnacles of God’s creatures, are so ungrateful to our Creator. Even in such a fallen state, our universe is amazingly complex and it is a miracle it even functions at all with its abounding impediments! Rather than praising our Creator for giving us life, we complain about our “problems” and then write books, display billboards, and give lectures about His “non-existence.” We mock His name, laugh at His Bible, stick out our tongues at Him, and wag our fingers in His face. Newsflash—God will not tolerate that forever!

In His own time, Almighty God will make all things right. That means getting rid of that which (and who) is wrong/evil. As 1 Timothy 6:14,15 say: “…the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;” No matter what mankind does—cooperate with Him by faith, or protest by throwing a tantrum in unbelief—God has already determined what He is going to do. Jesus Christ, whether people like it or not, will be King over all creation!

The Ark of the Covenant

Monday, October 15, 2018

Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant (Hebrews 9:4 KJV).

Why did the Ark of the Covenant (box, casket) contain these items?

  1. Golden pot of manna — Israel, just out of Egyptian bondage, complains that they have nothing to eat in the wilderness. Whining that the LORD God has delivered them just to starve them to death, they desire to return to Egypt! In His providence, God rains down bread from Heaven. He commands that a sample of this manna be stored in the Ark as a memorial (Exodus 16:1-36, particularly verses 32-34).
  2. Aaron’s rod that budded — A certain segment of Jews rebel against Moses and Aaron, God’s leaders of Israel (Numbers 16:1-50). So as to prove Aaron is His high priest, God assigns an almond rod to each tribe. Levi’s rod bearing Aaron’s name (Aaron is of the tribe of Levi) blossoms and bears almonds, signifying that Aaron is the genuine priest (Numbers 17:1-13, especially verses 10-11).
  3. Two tables of stone — These are God’s codified 10 Commandments, the result of Israel wanting works-religion, a performance-based acceptance system, instead of remaining with grace (God’s gifts to them simply offered out of His benevolence). Such cold, dead, rocky slates are the heart of the Old Covenant, whose demanding laws expose Israel’s sin problem (Deuteronomy 10:1-5, particularly verse 5).

Friend, did you notice the recurring idea? Are all mementos of specific times in Israel’s history when she rebelled (sinned) against JEHOVAH God. They were kept in the Ark, whose lid was the Mercy Seat. Above it was the Shekinah glory, God’s presence, between the cherubim (Exodus 25:10-22). On the Mercy Seat—on the annual Day of Atonement—Israel’s high priest sprinkled the bullock’s blood (Leviticus 16:2,14).

What was literally between God’s presence and Israel’s sin (the broken commandments, her never-ending rebellion) was shed blood. They could not see it, but, looking back, we can. Shed blood—namely, Christ’s (future) finished crosswork on Calvary—was keeping a holy, offended God from consuming sinful Israel all those 1,500 years (Romans 3:25; Hebrews 9:14,15)!!

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?

Refuge! #5

Friday, October 12, 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?

Scripture often likens God unto a refuge, a place of safety and shelter where His people can go during vexing times. “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them” (Deuteronomy 33:27). “The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence” (2 Samuel 22:3).

“The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble” (Psalm 9:9). “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). “Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast” (Psalm 57:1). “But I will sing of thy power; yea, I will sing aloud of thy mercy in the morning: for thou hast been my defence and refuge in the day of my trouble” (Psalm 59:16). “I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust” (Psalm 91:2). “In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge (Proverbs 14:26).

“For thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall” (Isaiah 25:4). Jeremiah 16:19: “O LORD, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction….” (See also Psalms 14:6, 46:7, 46:11, 48:3, 59:16, 62:7-8, 71:7, 91:9, 94:22, 142:5).

Finally, Hebrews 6:18: “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:…..” Israel can find refuge in Christ….

Refuge! #4

Thursday, October 11, 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?

Many are astonished to learn that God did not set the nation Israel aside at Calvary’s cross. Although she deliberately executed His beloved Son, He extended to Israel a renewed opportunity of repentance in early Acts. He poured out His Holy Spirit on her believing remnant (Acts chapter 2). Those believers preached to unsaved Israel to repent and be water baptized in the name of Jesus Christ (verse 38). Divine wrath had not yet been poured out.

The Holy Spirit declares through the Apostle Peter in Acts chapter 3: “[12] …Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this [lame] man to walk? [13] The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. [14] But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; [15] And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses. [17] And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. [18] But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.”

Verse 17 is highly notable. Indeed, Father God has honored His Son’s request in Luke 23:34. He has demoted the indictment of Israel from murder to manslaughter. They were spiritually ignorant, blinded; hence, they put Him to death. Premeditated killing (murder), according to the Mosaic Law, is punishable by death. Israel deserves death (destruction)! Thankfully, though, God took advantage of a loophole in the Law!! As a “manslayer unaware,” Israel may flee to “the cities of the refuge.” To where should she run? She must abscond by faith to the Little Flock, for the avenger of blood is impending….