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?

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….

A Better Covenant #2

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah (Jeremiah 31:31 KJV).

Look, the New Covenant—a better covenant!

Notice the appellations “house of Israel” and “house of Judah.” They first appeared in Scripture in 1 Kings 12:21: “And when Rehoboam was come to Jerusalem, he assembled all the house of Judah, with the tribe of Benjamin, an hundred and fourscore thousand chosen men, which were warriors, to fight against the house of Israel, to bring the kingdom again to Rehoboam the son of Solomon.”

Since King Solomon pursued heathen women and corrupted himself and the nation Israel with pagan idolatry, God initiated the second course of chastisement after his death (1 Kings 11:1-13,26-42; 1 Kings 12:1-19). Israel’s government, her “power,” was weakened (Leviticus 26:18,19). The kingdom was split between its 10 northern tribes (taking the name “Israel”) and two southern tribes (assuming the designation “Judah”).

That divided kingdom existed during the time of the Prophet Jeremiah, some 300 years later. Jeremiah preached just before and during the fifth course of chastisement—the Babylonian captivity (Leviticus 26:27-39). However, his message also focused on Israel’s hope, her eventual return to the Promised Land after being exiled in foreign (Gentile) territories. This re-gathering and restoration of Israel is found in the chapter containing today’s Scripture.

“[31] Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: [32] Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD:….” The Law of Moses, the contract into which Israel entered on Mount Sinai 900 years prior to Jeremiah, demanded Israel’s exclusive worship of JEHOVAH God. “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). Time and time and time again, they broke that covenant, disobeyed God’s Word, and came under His curse. As a wife being unfaithful to her husband, Israel ran after idols and cheated on JEHOVAH God, bringing upon herself unspeakable judgment….

LORD, Defend!

Thursday, March 14, 2019

For thus hath the LORD spoken unto me, Like as the lion and the young lion roaring on his prey, when a multitude of shepherds is called forth against him, he will not be afraid of their voice, nor abase himself for the noise of them: so shall the LORD of hosts come down to fight for mount Zion, and for the hill thereof. As birds flying, so will the LORD of hosts defend Jerusalem; defending also he will deliver it; and passing over he will preserve it (Isaiah 31:4,5 KJV).

Behold, God ultimately delivers Jerusalem!

Zechariah chapter 12: “[2] Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem…. [8] In that day shall the LORD defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the LORD before them. [9] And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.”

At His fiery Second Coming, Christ flies from the third heaven, through outer space, and penetrates Earth’s atmosphere. From the air, He fights the Antichrist and his allies attacking Jerusalem (Revelation 16:14-16; Revelation 19:11-21). Isaiah chapter 31 continues, “[8] Then shall the Assyrian [Antichrist] fall with the sword, not of a mighty man; and the sword, not of a mean man, shall devour him: but he shall flee from the sword, and his young men shall be discomfited. [9] And he shall pass over to his strong hold for fear, and his princes shall be afraid of the ensign, saith the LORD, whose fire is in Zion, and his furnace in Jerusalem.”

Zechariah 14:1-4: “Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east….”

The Sins of the Times! #6

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come (2 Timothy 3:1 KJV).

Friend, you have surely heard of “the signs of the times,” but do you know anything about “the sins of the times?”

“For the Jews required a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom” (1 Corinthians 1:22). “Except ye [Israel] see signs and wonders, ye will not believe” (John 4:48). Rather than seek “signs of the times”—which is Jewish (are we the nation Israel?) and prophetic (are we not in the mystery program?)—we perceive the sins of the times. These are, first and foremost, spiritual sins, false religion increasingly counterfeiting Christianity (see 2 Timothy 3:6-17).

“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry [forced religious celibacy!], and commanding to abstain from meats [mandated religious fasting!], which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth” (1 Timothy 4:1-3). “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables (2 Timothy 4:3,4).

Never do Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, predict some great, worldwide revival before the close of the Dispensation of Grace. It will not come, friends. In fact, the opposite is true (see above verses). This world will one day meet an angry, holy God—that cannot be avoided (it is only delayed!). False religion cannot be stopped and our self-serving society will not be destroyed until Jesus Christ returns. Our Christian duty—yea, privilege—is to preach the Gospel of Grace and teach grace principles while we are here, while our Dispensation of Grace is still open, to reach the precious few willing to hear and believe. How urgent (!!) it is that lost souls be saved from that horrible wrath to come; how pressing (!!) it is that Christian souls be saved from the rampant deception! Go out and get the Message of Grace out!!! 

Our latest Bible Q&A: “‘If any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant?’

The Sins of the Times! #5

Monday, March 11, 2019

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come (2 Timothy 3:1 KJV).

Friend, you have surely heard of “the signs of the times,” but do you know anything about “the sins of the times?”

“Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (verse 5). Strangely, people actually (mis)use Scripture to justify their sins. They deny sound Bible doctrine, but readily misquote and/or mishandle God’s Word to teach and do their pleasure. God has given them over to their delusions: they think they are worshipping Him, following His will, but nothing could be further from the truth. We are to “turn away” from or avoid such individuals!!

Someone may inquire as to why Paul spoke of the perilous times in the future tense—“perilous times shall come.” Were not the sins of verses 2-4 present when Paul wrote those words 20 centuries ago? Indeed, those actions are really the “norm” for our dispensation! Yet, society’s conditions are worsening: such sins are not new, only intensifying and multiplying for four reasons.

Firstly, God’s grace through Calvary has been offered and rejected for 2,000 years. The more the world has heard of God’s love for them, the more they have grown to hate Him like never before and progressively hardened to His will (Proverbs 29:1). Secondly, more sects, cults, religions, and denominations have arisen to further corrupt society’s thinking: false teaching has had an extra 200 decades since Paul to proliferate. The sins of the flesh will grow more rampant because the sound doctrine to fight them has been pushed aside for religious lies.

Thirdly, larger populations mean more sinners are present to influence each other in wickedness. Lastly, the longer sin remains unpunished, the more widespread it becomes (Ecclesiastes 8:11). People are abusing God’s goodness and forbearance by continuing to willfully sin, when they should believe on His Son before they are judged in His righteous wrath (Romans 2:3-11)!

As this dispensation winds down, we become more and more removed from the Fall (when man first abandoned his Creator) and increasingly closer to the zenith of Satan’s policy of evil (the Antichrist, the man of sin, the son of perdition). Man is becoming more hostile toward God and himself….

The Good Man #6

Friday, March 1, 2019

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful (Psalm 1:1 KJV).

How is this an apt introduction to the Book of Psalms?

The final verse of Psalm 1 reads, “For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.” Here is a suitable ending for the Book’s opening chapter. Read it in its entirety now.

“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.”

The 150 psalms found in the Book of Psalms feature two types of people—believers (“righteous”) and unbelievers (“ungodly”). They speak of Divine wrath and Divine rule—the Second Coming followed by the Millennium. God the Holy Spirit urges the nation Israel to be prepared for both major events. Lost souls will perish at the Second Coming of Christ; their course of life will lead to utter and eternal destruction, physical and spiritual. Believers in Jesus Christ, however, will survive and continue on into His 1000-year reign: their spiritual health and growth will increase throughout the endless ages to come. The remaining 149 psalms are spoken (technically sung) in light of all these events.

Praises upon praises of JEHOVAH God erupt throughout the Book. Believers rejoice in His goodness, faithfulness, wisdom, justice, power, and so on. In other words, they are the very people represented by the good man of the opening psalm! Eternity will ring with their singing and playing of musical instruments—we will join in with them! 🙂

Bible Q&A #585: “Must I have a degree in music to sing or play an instrument at a local church?