The Awareness of a Temporary Earth

Monday, April 22, 2019

“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).

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Who or what are the ‘Cherethites’ and ‘Pelethites?’

Christ Liveth in Me

Sunday, April 21, 2019

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which 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 KJV).

“He is risen” is not a simple blasé cliché!

When Jesus’ disciples came to His tomb on that glorious Sunday morning nearly 2,000 years ago, they were startled to find it empty! Angels inform them that He has resurrected, but they are still in shock (Matthew 28:1-8; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-8). Jesus Christ Himself must later explain the Scriptures to them regarding what happened those last few days (Luke 24:44-46).

However, until Paul’s ministry, Christ’s finished crosswork is not preached as good news for salvation. Peter and Israel’s other apostles simply preach that Jesus Christ is now resurrected to “sit on [David’s] throne” (Acts 2:30)—that is bad news for much of Israel, for they still reject Him, weeks and months after His resurrection and ascension. Throughout early Acts, Israel’s apostles warn her that Jesus Christ is coming back to judge them.

When we come to the Apostle Paul’s ministry, we learn that we Gentiles can benefit from Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork. Israel’s rejected Messiah is now our way to heaven! Yes, Israel hated Him, and demanded that He experience the most awful method of execution devised, but God allowed it in order to accomplish His will. Satan attempted to hinder God’s will by having Christ killed, but all that did was provide the method whereby God could save us pagan Gentiles. Calvary’s finished crosswork frees us from Satan’s evil system and gives us a chance to be God’s people (Acts 26:17,18)!

As people who have trusted Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for our sins, that crucifixion is our death to self and sin, and that resurrection is our raising to walk in newness of life—His life (today’s Scripture; cf. Romans 6:1-11)!

Indeed, Jesus Christ is alive, and He lives in and through those who walk by faith in God’s Word to them, Paul’s epistles of Romans through Philemon! 🙂

HAPPY EASTER!

*Adapted from a larger Bible study by the same name. That study can be read here or watched here.

A Brokenhearted Father

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

And the king said unto Cushi, Is the young man Absalom safe? And Cushi answered, The enemies of my lord the king, and all that rise against thee to do thee hurt, be as that young man is. And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son! (2 Samuel 18:32,33 KJV).

What parenting lesson can we learn here?

It is an understatement to say that King David was emotionally shattered. His son Absalom had been killed—murdered by some of David’s impulsive military officials (verses 9-17). Upon hearing of Absalom’s slaying, he probably reflected on his parental shortcomings that had led up to this most disastrous outcome. Indeed, he had not been a good father to any of his children.

Amnon, David’s firstborn, raped his sister Tamar (David’s daughter), but David neither consoled Tamar nor punished Amnon (2 Samuel 13:1-21). When Absalom murdered his brother for assaulting his sister, Absalom fled to a foreign land for three years (verses 23-39). Only after being pressurized did David finally send for Absalom from exile (2 Samuel 14:1-24). Nevertheless, when Absalom returned to Jerusalem, David did not see him in-person for two years (2 Samuel 14:28). After meeting his father, Absalom eventually incited a coup and David had to flee his throne (2 Samuel chapters 15–17).

In the chapter of today’s Scripture, David commanded his servants to bring Absalom alive (verses 5,12). Instead, they killed the young man! It was such a terrible, heart-wrenching life that David could have caused his son to avoid. Absalom’s many transgressions could have been minimized had his father taken the opportunity to follow Deuteronomy 6:7 and Deuteronomy 11:19. We find similar wording in Ephesians 6:4: “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture [care] and admonition [instruction] of the Lord.” Alas, it was too late for poor Absalom to hear God’s words from his father’s lips—he was dead!

Friends, what we can learn here is to train our children in the Scriptures, before their lives are ruined or tragically cut short.

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What advice can be given to Christians coping with the death of another saint?

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).

The Comforter #5

Friday, March 29, 2019

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever (John 14:16 KJV).

Who is this “Comforter?” What are His roles?

John 14:17 says the Holy Spirit will “dwell with [believing Israel], and shall be in [them].” Contrary to popular belief, the indwelling Spirit is not unique to our Dispensation of Grace. Through the Prophet Ezekiel, the LORD God had promised centuries earlier, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them” (36:26,27).

Beloved, our flesh is weak. (Right?) Despite our best efforts, we cannot live the Christian life. Only Jesus Christ can live His life—whether in Israel’s prophetic program or our mystery program. As the nation Israel will be the expression of Jesus Christ’s life in the earth in the ages to come, so we the Church the Body of Christ will be the manifestation of His life in the heavenly places. It is not we duplicating His life but rather He Himself living in and through us. There is no imitation; it is the actual life of Christ!

How exactly does Christ live in and through us though? Does He unexpectedly take control of our bodies and manipulate us as puppets? (No!) Is there some mysterious, hair-raising, gentle breeze? (No!) Bolts of lighting striking the back of our neck? (No!) The Holy Spirit wrote the Bible (2 Peter 1:20,21; 2 Timothy 3:16,17). When we trust Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour, the Spirit of God indwell and seals us (Ephesians 1:12-14). We become “an holy temple in the Lord, an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:21,22). He strengthens or fortifies us internally as we walk by faith in His Word to us, Romans through Philemon (Ephesians 3:16). Hence, daily Bible study—yea, daily dispensational Bible study—is so critical. Without the Comforter grounding us using God’s Word, neither Israel nor we can be vessels of Christ’s life!

Our two latest Bible Q&As: “What is ‘the mark of the Beast?’” and “Why is ‘666’ the number of the Beast?

The Comforter #4

Thursday, March 28, 2019

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever (John 14:16 KJV).

Who is this “Comforter?” What are His roles?

In the 40 days following His resurrection, Jesus Christ opened the Scriptures so His Apostles could better comprehend them. All they had at the time was Genesis through Malachi (see Luke 24:44-48), but it was enough to get them going without Him. Those “Bible classes” resulted in the Apostle Peter’s astonishing grasp of obscure Old Testament Scripture as seen in Acts 1:16-20!

Just before He ascended into Heaven, Jesus said, “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high(Luke 24:49). The parallel passage is Acts chapter 1, verses 4 and 5: “And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.”

As sworn, the “Comforter” arrived in Acts chapter 2: “[1] And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. [2] And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. [3] And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. [4] And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Here, the Holy Spirit enabled the Apostles to speak in human languages they never formally learned, that their Jewish brethren visiting from foreign lands would understand God’s Word in their native dialect!

Over in Ephesians 3:16, we see Paul praying for us Gentiles in the Dispensation of Grace, “That he [God] would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;….” Here, the Holy Spirit functions as our fortifier, our “Comforter,” our Helper….

The Comforter #3

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever (John 14:16 KJV).

Who is this “Comforter?” What are His roles?

As Christ conducted His earthly ministry, He was present bodily to fortify His disciples. Now that He was leaving to go to Calvary’s cross, eventually returning to Heaven to His Father, He was training them for His absence. Howbeit, they would not be totally alone. He would ask His Father to send “another Comforter” (today’s Scripture). This Person, “the Spirit of truth,” would “dwell with [them],” and would be “in [them]” (verse 17). Jesus would not leave them “comfortless” (verse 18).

In chapter 15, the Lord Jesus says the Holy Spirit “shall testify of me: and ye shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning” (verses 26,27). Chapter 16 speaks of the Holy Spirit coming once Christ departs (verse 7). Through the Apostles’ preaching, He will “reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: [9] Of sin, because they believe not on me; [10] Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; [11] Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.” He enables them to proclaim God’s truth—especially facts from Christ’s earthly ministry.

Finally, Christ discloses how the Holy Spirit will pen our “New Testament” Scriptures: “[12] I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. [13] Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. [14] He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. [15] All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.”

The Holy Spirit will take Christ’s words from His earthly ministry, expand on them, and then cause them to be written down so we can have them now. As He is the “Comforter” of the Little Flock, so He is our “Comforter,” strengthening God’s people regardless of the dispensational change….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Are the Jews supposed to still get circumcised in the Dispensation of Grace?