Excruciating Thursday

Thursday, April 18, 2019

[Reader discretion advised: Christ’s sufferings are graphically described below.]

“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man” (Hebrews 2:9 KJV).

His three years of earthly ministry have expired, but His greatest work is yet to come!

During the all-night interrogation in the “kangaroo court,” His sentence is passed—execution by crucifixion. They have scourged, beaten, and punched Him. Covered in their spit, they laugh at Him, and strike His head with a rod to force on the crown of thorns. His back shredded, His skull possibly fractured, His beard ripped off. His massive blood loss weakens Him further. Having been stripped of His clothing, He struggles to carry His heavy cross to Mount Calvary: Simon must carry His cross for Him. The crowds watch Him, laughing and jeering. His little flock looks on in total shock.

They lay Him on the wooden cross, yanking His limbs to nail them in place. His bones unbroken, but exposed, and His limbs dislocated. They pierce His hands and feet with long spikes, severing the median nerve in the hands, causing permanent hand paralysis. They raise up that cross, and He hangs, slowly suffocating due to His own weight. Every breath becomes increasingly difficult, His lungs fill with fluid, His heart becomes progressively strained. Eventually, He cannot breathe, and thus dies.

Now imagine His spiritual suffering. Three hours into His crucifixion, His heavenly Father and the Holy Ghost have abandoned Him. For the first time ever, He is totally alone. Physical and spiritual darkness now cover the earth. The weight of all the world’s sin and sins of all time crushes His soul. God’s undiluted wrath falls upon Him, as it does on those suffering in hellfire. He cries out in agony. Hanging on that cruel cross, with His spiritual eyes, He observes Satan himself and all his evil creatures snickering and cheering. He looks out to see His disciples staring at His helpless disfigured body. Oh, if only they knew how His physical and spiritual bodies were being tormented, utterly tortured beyond imagination!

After six hours of excruciating pain, He finally lets Himself die….

Please check out our archived Bible Q&A: “Was Jesus Christ really crucified on Friday?

The “Habitation” of God’s Throne

Monday, April 8, 2019

Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face (Psalm 89:14 KJV).

Behold, a King like this world has never known!

The word “makown” (as in fixed place, foundation, dwelling place) appears in the Hebrew Bible 17 times; most occurrences are associated with God’s presence. It appears first in Exodus 15:17, when Israel has departed Egypt bound for the Promised Land: “Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place [makown], O LORD, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established.”

When then find it regarding Solomon’s Temple: “I have surely built thee an house to dwell in, a settled place [makown] for thee to abide in for ever” (verse 13). It is the “dwelling place” in verses 39, 43, and 49 (cf. Chronicles 6:2,30,39). Ezra 2:68 speaks of Zerubbabel’s Temple, built later, as “the house of God… set… up in his place [makown].” Heaven is called “the place of [God’s] habitation [makown]” (Psalm 33:14).

Psalm 104:5 refers to the “foundations [makown] of the earth,” those which make Earth permanent forever. Isaiah 4:5 speaks of the LORD creating “upon every dwelling place [makown] of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud of smoke by day, and the shining of a flame of fire by night….” (In light of all these, Daniel 8:11 speaks of the a counterfeit habitation, the “place [makown]” of the Antichrist that will be “cast down” [destroyed].)

Read today’s Scripture again: “Justice and judgment are the habitation [makown] of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face.” Compare that to Psalm 97:2: “Clouds and darkness are round about him: righteousness and judgment are the habitation [makown] of his throne.” Read these two chapters, as they describe the future reign of Jesus Christ in fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7:12-16; cf. Luke 1:31-33). His throne is founded upon “justice [righteousness] and judgment [lawfulness],” for He Himself has settled down in that fixed position. Such sits in contradistinction to the rulers of “this present evil world” (Galatians 1:4), those to be “cast down!” “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25).

What a Stiff Neck! #6

Friday, April 5, 2019

“For I know thy rebellion, and thy stiff neck: behold, while I am yet alive with you this day, ye have been rebellious against the LORD; and how much more after my death?” (Deuteronomy 31:27 KJV).

A Christian lady was expressing her frustration over her unsaved family members being “stubborn” as concerning believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. Or, in Bible terms, they are “stiffnecked.”

The Scriptures say, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Mankind refuses that truth: he resolutely believes he is good. Here, the lost person sees Jesus Christ as unnecessary. Commandments are viewed as “help” to get to God and merit His favor. A sinner, instead of realizing his or her “lostness,” stubbornly cleaves to works-religion. Man does not see himself as the evil monster he really is; he just cannot agree with God and take a negative view of himself. Falling for the strange delusion that he can keep God’s laws perfectly, his efforts replace (!) Christ’s finished crosswork. It is truly a miracle when the unsaved escape such trickery: that enlightenment comes through the Scriptures to a sincere heart.

God’s Word pronounces, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). Christ’s finished crosswork offends the Christian’s flesh (sin nature) as it upsets the lost person’s flesh (see above). Christians also obstinately cling to works-religion: they come to faith in Christ alone by grace alone through faith alone, knowing Calvary alone can save them, but then they labor to please God for rewards (material blessings, physical health, et cetera). It is truly a miracle when the Christian escapes such deception: that enlightenment comes through the Scriptures to a sincere heart.

Honestly, God does not want our “good works;” He desires our trust in Christ. Grace not works! Jesus Christ gave His life to us, not for us to then use a legalistic system to simulate it, but for Him to live it in and through us as we believe His words to us. It is our faith in His faith—His faithfulness not ours, His crosswork not ours, His efforts not ours! Let us cease being “stiffnecked!”

What a Stiff Neck! #5

Thursday, April 4, 2019

“For I know thy rebellion, and thy stiff neck: behold, while I am yet alive with you this day, ye have been rebellious against the LORD; and how much more after my death?” (Deuteronomy 31:27 KJV).

A Christian lady was expressing her frustration over her unsaved family members being “stubborn” as concerning believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. Or, in Bible terms, they are “stiffnecked.”

Scripture provides a portrait of the “stiff neck,” and it is anything but flattering. Firstly, it is antonymous to “yield yourself unto the LORD” (2 Chronicles 30:8; cf. 2 Chronicles 36:13). Secondly, it means to “resist the Holy Ghost” (Acts 7:51)—refusing to listen to His words and obey them (Jeremiah 17:23). Thirdly, it stems from the heart, an internal sin nature that is contrary to how God designed Adam to function before he fell in sin (Deuteronomy 10:16; cf. Jeremiah 17:9). Fourthly, it originates iniquitous and sinful deeds or actions (Exodus 34:9; cf. Mark 7:20-23). Lastly, it results in God’s judgment (Exodus 33:5).

On one hand, whenever God observes anything that fails to meet His righteous standard, He must act to enforce a penalty. He cannot look at sin (Habakkuk 1:13). On the other hand, He is merciful, gracious, and forgiving toward the sinner (Exodus 34:6,7). He can hold back the wrath they deserve, He can give them pity that they do not deserve, and He can cancel the spiritual debt they have incurred. If we study the above verses as to how “stiffnecked” Israel behaved, and His responses, we see both realities on full display.

When they sinned, when they drew back from His leading, when they did the exact opposite of His commandments, there was chastisement to reform them (if they were willing to listen). Yet, He never completely wiped them off the face of the Earth, did He? Many times they deserved it, but He spared them. Despite all they have done against Him, He still has a plan for them even now, to make them His own and bless them beyond belief!!!

Let us conclude this devotionals arc by seeing a parallel concerning God’s dealings with individuals today….

He Who Deserves Praise

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Praise ye the LORD. Praise the LORD, O my soul. While I live will I praise the LORD: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being (Psalm 146:1,2 KJV).

Why does the Psalmist exhort, “Praise the LORD?”

Let us continue reading: “[3] Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. [4] His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.” Our fellow man, no matter how “dedicated” or “promising,” will eventually fail and dissatisfy us.

The LORD God, JEHOVAH God, however, is ascribed 12 major triumphs: “[5] Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God: [6] Which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is: which keepeth truth for ever: [7] Which executeth judgment for the oppressed: which giveth food to the hungry. The LORD looseth the prisoners: [8] The LORD openeth the eyes of the blind: the LORD raiseth them that are bowed down: the LORD loveth the righteous: [9] The LORD preserveth the strangers; he relieveth the fatherless and widow: but the way of the wicked he turneth upside down. [10] The LORD shall reign for ever, even thy God, O Zion, unto all generations. Praise ye the LORD.”

He is Creator of all (verse 6), He keeps truth forever (verse 6), executes judgment for the troubled (verse 7), feeds the hungry (verse 7), frees the captives (verse 7), opens the eyes of the blind (verse 8), lifts the stooping (verse 8), loves the righteous (verse 8), preserves the strangers (verse 9), alleviates the orphans and widows (verse 9), turns the way of the wicked upside down (verse 9), and reigns forever (verse 10).

Actually, these underscore various aspects of Jesus Christ’s Second Coming. The Antichrist, an apostate king Israel demanded, has proved to be an utter disappointment: his promises were mere flatteries, worthless as he is. All the misery he caused, injustice he supported, and ruin he left behind, are reversed. Creation is liberated from Satan’s grip. The rightful King is now sitting on David’s throne in Jerusalem—His reign unending! “The LORD shall reign for ever, even thy God, O Zion, unto all generations. Praise ye the LORD.”

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Is it not enough that ‘I believe in God?’

A Saviour Who Will Save

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

“…Jesus Christ of Nazareth… Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:10,12 KJV).

Today’s Scripture tells us who alone can save man from the everlasting hellfire he deserves!

A frequent objection made against Christianity is that every religion has “good” members, and to ignore them and limit heaven to a few Christians is unfair. This is a defected notion. How does one arrive at a definite conclusion when there is no one standard to gauge everyone’s “goodness?” They are “good” according to whom, according to what standard? Remember, relative morality actually does not help the sinner—he may be a “better” sinner than another, but he is also a “worse” sinner than yet another, and whether “better” or “worse,” he is still a sinner!

The God of the Bible has a simple method for determining righteousness. Today, He sees two types of people—saints and lost people. While both groups were born in sins (Ephesians 2:1-3), “shapen in iniquity [in the womb]” (Psalm 51:5), and “condemned already” (John 3:18), only the saints have come to realize their lost state. Job asked in Job 9:2, “How should a man be just [righteous, acceptable] with God?” Saints have come to the acknowledgement that they needed God’s righteousness, that they had a massive sin debt that they could never satisfy, that their “righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6), that they could never possibly make themselves right before a holy God (He is the standard; Romans 3:23). The lost people, however, do not realize they are lost, for they believe their religious works “score points” with God and make up for their sinful deeds (2 Corinthians 4:3,4). They ignore the finished crosswork of Jesus Christ as sufficient payment for their sins (1 Corinthians 15:3,4).

Saints have come by faith to Jesus Christ, whose name literally means, “Anointed Saviour” (cf. Psalm 2:2; Matthew 1:21). As the writer of the book of Hebrews said, “[Jesus] is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him” (7:25). Literally, no world religion has such a “Saviour” as Jesus Christ!

Redeem the Year!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:15-17 KJV).

What great advice for 2019!

Despite 2,000 years of Bible schools and seminaries, 2,000 years of a completed Bible canon, 2,000 years of Bible reading in churches, several decades of “Christian” television and radio, and just over a decade of widespread use of “Christian” websites, how sad that Bible ignorance is still quite extensive (it is as if God never gave His Word to start with!).

Frankly, the Church the Body of Christ needs to wake up! The verse previous to today’s Scripture says, “Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light” (verse 14). Paul, loosely quoting Isaiah 60:1, reminded us that the spiritual ignorance that gripped Israel in Isaiah’s day seized Christians in his day—and it still grips Christians 20 centuries later. Feel-good sermons, enjoyable “worship” services, and rites, rituals, and ceremonies will NOT solve this problem—they exacerbate it!

“[God] will have all men to be saved…” (1 Timothy 2:4a). Do you want this New Year to count for God’s glory? First, you need to get saved from sins and hell! You need to become a Christian by trusting in and relying on Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for your sins (1 Corinthians 15:3,4). That is only part of God’s will for you, for 1 Timothy 2:4b continues, “[God] will have all men… to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” Now, God’s will for your Christian life is daily, personal Bible study to renew your mind, so your faith in those verses can cause God to work in your life—it will be His life, thus making you “perfect [spiritually mature], throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16,17).

Today’s Scripture urges us to buy back the time Satan has robbed from God (time created for God’s glory). By faith, we need to make that time glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by applying His Word, particularly Paul’s epistles of Romans through Philemon, to our lives. Have a good year in Christ! 🙂

You can download our free “One-Year Bible Reading Schedule.”

See our archived Bible Q&A: “What Scriptural advice can you give me for the New Year?