Roll Call in the Heavens

Monday, June 2, 2014

“Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth” (Isaiah 40:26 KJV).

Today’s Scripture explains how the Almighty Creator calls His universe to order!

As NASA’s Voyager 1 space probe was exiting our solar system in 1990, technicians turned its camera around to take a most stunning snapshot, “Pale Blue Dot” (search the internet for the image). From a distance of 3.7 billion miles (6 billion kilometers)—roughly 40 times the distance between the Earth and the Sun—Voyager 1 captured a photograph of a literal blue speck suspended in a vast field of blackness. It was truly “Earth viewed against the grand scheme of things!”

As Earth rotates on its axis, sunlight disappears, night falls, and God “bringeth out their host by number” (today’s Scripture). We “lift up [our] eyes on high,” and see a few thousand dots of light—stars, spheres of bright gas—but we are viewing the heavens through a ridiculously-small window. One estimate of the number of stars in our universe is a number that exceeds the sum of the sand grains on all of Earth’s beaches!

Today’s Scripture provides a most striking illustration. JEHOVAH, the Lord Jesus Christ, “calls roll” regarding the quadrillions upon quadrillions of stars appearing in the celestial sphere at night; as less sunlight is seen, more stars shine. They appear as He calls them individually. “He telleth [or, counts] the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names” (Psalm 147:4). Yes, the God of the Bible has a name for every single star!

The context of today’s Scripture is the Prophet Isaiah’s discourse about JEHOVAH, Israel’s God, versus pagan idols that Israel foolishly worships (chapters 40-48). JEHOVAH asks in the verse prior to today’s Scripture, “To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One” (verse 25). It is a rhetorical question in light of today’s Scripture. The answer is, “Only JEHOVAH can call roll in the heavens!” 🙂

Messiah’s Feet Shod with Majesty

Monday, May 6, 2013

And [John the Baptist] preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose (Mark 1:7 KJV).

What did John the Baptist mean in today’s Scripture when he mentioned Jesus’ sandal straps?

God the Father commissioned John the Baptist to undertake a special ministry: “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light” (John 1:6-8).

John the Baptist was Christ’s forerunner, a prophet instructed to herald the arrival of Israel’s Messiah-King, Jesus, the “Light.” Matthew 3:3 expounds: “For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias [Isaiah 40:3], saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” “The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it” (Luke 16:16). The message John preached was the gospel of the kingdom: “And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2). John is announcing to Israel that her long-promised Messiah is about to present Himself to her, so she needs to accept Him.

During Bible times, one of the jobs of the servant was to untie and remove his master’s sandals. In today’s Scripture (cf. Luke 3:16), sinful John confessed to Israel that he is so lowly compared to the magnificent and holy Messiah Jesus whom is he is preaching, that he, as Jesus’ servant, is not worthy of even stooping down and untying his Lord’s sandals (John did not think he was good enough to perform one of the lowest types of service!). In fact, John declared in Matthew 3:11, “whose shoes I am not worthy to bear”—John said he was unworthy of also picking up Jesus’ shoes!

John cautioned Israel not to take Jesus’ arrival lightly (which they still did, despite that warning). Sadly, Israel ignored John’s message that even Jesus’ feet were shod with majesty.

A Wise King for Israel

Saturday, January 26, 2013

“Blessed be the LORD thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because the LORD loved Israel for ever, therefore made he thee king, to do judgment and justice” (1 Kings 10:9 KJV).

Today’s Scripture has a dual application—Solomon… and Jesus Christ.

Verse 1 says, “And when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the LORD, she came to prove him with hard questions.” This Gentile queen is coming to Jerusalem, to see for herself if the rumors about Solomon’s kingdom are true.

The queen of Sheba brings with her many gifts, and she speaks with Solomon (verse 2). He answers all of her hard questions, and she witnesses his wisdom, his cuisine, his house, his wealth, his clothing, and his diligent servants… “there was no more spirit in her” (verses 3-5). She was so amazed at the magnificence of Solomon’s kingdom that she felt faint!

“And she said to the king, It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom. Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard. Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom” (verses 6-8). She then praises the LORD, that He has given Israel such a wise king, someone who will take care of His people Israel and render justice in their midst (today’s Scripture).

Now, 1,000 years later, when Jesus chides Israel’s apostate religious leaders, notice what He declares: “The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here(Matthew 12:42).

Think about Christ’s words. The awesome kingdom Israel enjoyed under Solomon is nothing compared to the glorious earthly kingdom that Jesus Christ will establish for Israel one day. Wow! 🙂

A Glimpse of the Kingdom of God

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

“But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:27 KJV).

What did the Lord mean in today’s Scripture?

Our Lord is speaking of three apostles in particular, as the next verses (28-36) explain. In the verse previous to today’s Scripture, He spoke of Himself “coming in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels” (verse 26).

Notice how Matthew and Mark record that verse: “Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom” (Matthew 16:28). “And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power” (Mark 9:1).

If we consider today’s Scripture in light of Matthew 16:28 and Mark 9:1 (above), we understand that these verses describe Christ’s glorious Second Coming to establish His earthly kingdom. Reading Matthew 16:28–17:8, Mark 9:1-8, and Luke 9:27-36, we realize that Jesus, in today’s Scripture, is referring to the Apostles Peter, John and James, who saw His radiant body on the Mount of Transfiguration. Essentially, Peter, John, and James saw a preview of Christ coming in His glory at His Second Coming to set up His kingdom on earth. The Lord’s appearance was glowing white, and His clothes were whiter than bleached garments!

Matthew 25:31 says: “The Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:” Paul, in 2 Thessalonians 2:8, refers to “the brightness of [Christ’s] coming.” Peter, describing Christ’s kingdom, writes in 1 Peter 1:11, “the glory that should follow.” Many years after Christ’s earthly ministry, John later saw some of that glory when he later just before he wrote the book of the Revelation: “and [Christ’s] countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength” (1:16).

What a glorious day Christ’s Second Coming will be!

The Person of the Year

Monday, December 31, 2012

“Wherefore God hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11 KJV).

Behold, 2012’s “Person of the Year!”

At every year’s end, society selects a “person of the year,” someone who, either for better or for worse, influenced the past year’s events the most. While often considered an honor, some of the candidates are less than commendable. This is never the case for the true “Person of the Year!”

As intelligent creatures, we (should) realize that we have an intelligent Creator God. As Christians, we (should) value that which God honors. As Pauline dispensationalists, we (should) know what God’s Word teaches about Himself and His purpose and plan for us and for creation as a whole. Who is this Creator? What (or whom) does God esteem? Why did God create the heaven and the earth? The answer to all three questions is… JESUS CHRIST!

Sinful man does not like it, but Jesus Christ will be praised forever. The atheists, religionists, skeptics, non-Christians, agnostics, and all the other naysayers will be disappointed, for “the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” is supreme. In fact, just before they are cast into the lake of fire, banished from His presence forever, they will bow before Jesus Christ, and admit His authority!

This past year, Jesus Christ was faithful, accomplishing amazing things in our lives. Some of us He saved this past year; He saved us from death, sin, hell, and ourselves. He saved us from false teaching: He gave us spiritual nourishment, daily renewing our minds as we studied and believed His Word, the King James Bible. He brought us joy, peace, and comfort in the midst of our trials and heartaches. Indeed, like He does every year, the Lord Jesus Christ has impacted the world the most… and to Him alone be the glory! 🙂

Dear saints, as we now close another year in the writing ministry, we have some fascinating daily Bible studies planned for next year. If you have any Bible questions or suggestions that you would like me to write about in a devotional or full-length Bible study, send the comments to me at arcministries@gmail.com. Thank you.

Do We All Worship the Same God? #5

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

“Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: they have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not: they have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat” (Psalm 115:4-7 KJV).

Two common misconceptions are: (1) everyone worships the same God, and (2) everyone will eventually make it to heaven. Today’s Scripture answers both with a resounding “NO!”

King David extols the LORD for His faithfulness: “If it had not been the LORD who was on our side; now may Israel say; if it had not been the LORD who was on our side, when men rose up against us: then the waters had overwhelmed us,…. Blessed be the LORD, who hath not given us as a prey to their teeth. Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 124:1-4a,6,8).

David understood that Israel’s military victories were because faithful JEHOVAH was on their side: “[Israel’s] help [was] in the name of the LORD,” because He “made heaven and earth.” Their Almighty Creator God was unlike the idols of today’s Scripture; those idols could do nothing, for Israel or for the heathen (who lost to Israel militarily because they served helpless idols). Thus, the context of today’s Scripture again exhorts Israel to trust in the all-powerful LORD, who “made heaven and earth” (Psalm 115:9-12,15, but especially 15).

Just as Israel was weak without the faithful LORD in physical battles, we have no spiritual victory apart for the faithful Lord Jesus Christ. Only the Lord Jesus Christ died for our sins, our unfaithfulness; in Him alone is there spiritual life. No religion or idol can provide forgiveness of sins or a way to heaven. “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). Unless we bypass pagan idols and come by faith through the Lord Jesus Christ alone, we are neither worshipping the one true God nor going to heaven.

An Abomination and a Delight #2

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

“The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD: but the prayer of the upright is his delight” (Proverbs 15:8 KJV).

In today’s Scripture, we read of an abomination to the LORD and a delight of the LORD.

According to Jeremiah 9:23,24, the prophet warned Israel’s southern kingdom: “Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory [brag] in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.”

Paul loosely quoted Jeremiah in 1 Corinthians 1:29-31: “That no flesh should glory in [God’s] presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: that, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”

Prayer is simply us “pouring out [our] heart before [God]” (Psalm 62:8). We talk to God about the events in our lives, and how His written Word relates to those circumstances. We should know for what to pray, but “we know not what we should pray for as we ought” (Romans 8:26). Some events are just too complicated to express in words. Thus, as verse 26 continues to explain, the Holy Spirit “helpeth our infirmities [weaknesses]… the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” When we pray, the Holy Spirit brings to our minds the applicable verses that we read and studied, and thus enables us to speak to God in prayer more effectually.

Today’s Scripture explains that God delights in hearing the prayers of the “upright” (His believers). He enjoys hearing His saints value His Word by their speaking to Him about their lives in light of His Word. As Jeremiah and Paul stated, God delights in us glorying in that which He values. After all, in prayer, we should boast in God’s Word, in the wonderful things He has done for us.

Tremble, Thou Earth, at Thy Creator’s Presence

Thursday, October 11, 2012

“Tremble, thou earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob” (Psalm 114:7 KJV).

Psalm 114 provides a glimpse of God’s power over creation.

“When Israel went out of Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language; Judah was his sanctuary, and Israel his dominion. The sea saw it, and fled: Jordan was driven back. The mountains skipped like rams, and the little hills like lambs. What ailed thee, O thou sea, that thou fleddest? thou Jordan, that thou wast driven back? Ye mountains, that ye skipped like rams; and ye little hills, like lambs? Tremble, thou earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob; which turned the rock into a standing water, the flint into a fountain of water” (Psalm 114).

The above psalm is a brief narrative of God delivering Israel from Egyptian bondage, and her subsequent journey to the Promised Land. Notice at least three instances where the LORD demonstrated His power over creation:

  • Verse 3a: “The sea saw it, and fled” refers to God miraculously parting the Red Sea so Israel could pass on dry ground (Exodus 14:21,22).
  • Verse 3b: “Jordan was driven back” portrays God miraculously damming the Jordan River when Israel’s priests stepped into it, allowing the nation (following the priests) to enter into the Promised Land, due north of the Dead Sea (Joshua 3:7-17).
  • Verse 8: “[God] Which turned the rock into a standing water, the flint into a fountain of waters” recalls God miraculously causing water to gush forth from the rock, quenching Israel’s thirst (Exodus 17:1-7; Numbers 20:1-13). Interestingly, Psalm 114 alone—not Exodus and Numbers—identifies that rock as flint.

As the psalmist inquired, what “ailed” (troubled) the Red Sea, and the Jordan River, to do what they did? It was their Creator, the Lord Jesus Christ! They obeyed His commands. The whole earth—especially the “mighty” mountains, hills, rivers, and seas—trembled in reverence of their mighty Creator.

And yet, for us, “He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8). WOW!

Recession-Resistant Riches

Sunday, September 9, 2012

“Riches profit not in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivereth from death” (Proverbs 11:4 KJV).

Remember, recession-resistant riches reside in our Redeemer, Christ Jesus.

Economic turmoil is plentiful: widespread unemployment, low-wage job growth, rising healthcare costs, government overspending and bailouts, and skyrocketing poverty. What a mess!!! Remember our Lord’s declaration? “For ye have the poor always with you…” (Matthew 26:11).

We in the Dispensation of Grace are instructed to work (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12) and save our money (2 Corinthians 12:14). However, Jesus Christ told His Jewish disciples, living in Israel’s kingdom program, to do the opposite: “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell that ye have, and give alms [goods/money to the poor]; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Luke 12:32-34). These Jews were to seek first “treasures in the heavens,” not earthly possessions.

In Acts 2:44-47 and Acts 4:32-37, Jesus’ disciples obeyed His instructions by selflessly selling their possessions, giving the money to the apostles, who then established a common fund for all kingdom Jewish saints to use. Why? “Riches profit not in the day of wrath” (today’s Scripture). Had our dispensation not opened, they would have experienced the seven-year Tribulation, God’s wrath, when the world’s economy would ultimately collapse, making material riches worthless (Revelation chapter 18). (By the way, this is still future.)

Paul never instructs us to sell our possessions as Israel did, but we too should not be attached to our (temporary) material possessions. Our spiritual riches in Christ (especially righteousness, our right standing before God) are more important than physical possessions. They are everlasting and they “deliver [us] from [spiritual] death” (today’s Scripture). Likewise, believing Israel’s spiritual blessings (especially righteousness) are also everlasting, delivering them too from spiritual death (hell and the lake of fire, God’s ultimate wrath).

“For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).

The Great LORD God #2

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

“Wherefore thou art great, O LORD God: for there is none like thee, neither is there any God beside thee, according to all that we have heard with our ears” (2 Samuel 7:22 KJV).

As King David of old praised his LORD God, so do we!

The prophet Nathan has just relayed God’s Word to King David, the Davidic Covenant (verses 12-16), God’s promise to make one of David’s descendants an everlasting King of Israel. Today’s Scripture is a portion of a prayer that David offers to the LORD, thanking and praising Him for what He has done for him and Israel thus far, and what He will do for them in the future (verses 18-29).

David, once a lowly shepherd boy (1 Samuel 16:11), is now the mighty king of Israel. Moreover, his “house” (royal lineage) will transcend the eons of eternity: Jesus Christ, David’s descendant, will establish His earthly kingdom at His Second Coming, and He will reign over Israel forever (Luke 1:31-33).

Israel, once a group of about 75 people (Exodus 1:5), left Egypt being at least two million strong: when viewed from a distance, the Jews “covered the face of the earth [horizon]” (Numbers 22:5)! In David’s day, about 500 years after departing Egypt, they have multiplied even further.

Notice the verse following today’s Scripture: “And what one nation in the earth is like thy people, even like Israel, whom God went to redeem for a people to himself, and to make him a name, and to do for you great things and terrible, for thy land, before thy people, which thou redeemedst to thee from Egypt, from the nations and their gods?” (verse 23).

Moses told Israel: “For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. The LORD did not set his upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people” (Deuteronomy 7:6,7).

Lowly David, weak Israel, made mighty by the great LORD God.