Israel Blinded Thrice! #1

Monday, August 17, 2020

“And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed” (Isaiah 6:9,10 KJV).

Friend, did you know this passage is applicable to three particular times in Israel’s history?

The Prophet Isaiah’s ministry preceded the Assyrian and Babylonian Captivities. For approximately 750 years, the Jews have ignored the Law of Moses by worshipping and serving idols. God’s prophets (messengers) have been repeatedly ignored. Since Israel has habitually broken the covenant, there are repercussions—a series of five judgments or chastisements predicted in Leviticus chapter 26.

JEHOVAH God orders Isaiah to preach to his fellow Jews. Since they have overwhelmingly ignored God’s Word up to this point, Isaiah’s message will be one to condemn them, to remove whatever spiritual light they have been given but obstinately refused. There is now a spiritual blinding of Israel (today’s Scripture). That blindness will not be lifted until God gives Israel a sign, a miraculous demonstration intended to teach doctrine.

Following the blinding of Israel in Isaiah’s day, God sends the nation a sign: that sign is the virgin conception of Jesus Christ 700 years later. Turn to Isaiah 7:14: “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” If you read the context, King Ahaz of Judah is like most Jews—in rank unbelief (verses 10-14). Israel will be released from her blindness once the sign of Christ’s conception is evident.

Israel was given the chance to believe God’s Word during Christ’s First Coming, His birth and earthly ministry (Matthew 1:18-25). However, in response to the spiritual light of Christ’s arrival (Matthew 4:12-17), Israel chose to remain in unbelief. While there was a believing remnant, as always, Israel nationally rejects the LORD Jesus. They refused to believe the Gospel of the Kingdom—that Jesus is Christ/Messiah/King. As with Isaiah, God responded by blinding them. Then, He gave them another sign so the blindness could be lifted and they could believe….

The Bible’s Season of New Life

Monday, April 13, 2020

“God that made the world and all things therein… he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;” (Acts 17:24,25 KJV).

May we never forget the true meaning of Eastertime!

Satan is the master counterfeiter: from Genesis to Revelation, the Scriptures reveal how the devil schemes to “be like the most High” (Isaiah 14:14). Whatever God does, Satan defiles that work by introducing false doctrine, distracts mankind from God’s truth by mimicking His actions, discourages God’s people from His ministry by using incorrect thinking patterns, and so on. Why? Satan wants the worship that God alone deserves (Matthew 4:8-10; Luke 4:5-8).

Consider Christmastime. Centuries before Christ, Satan had pagans worshipping the birth of the sun god in early winter—near the date that Jesus Christ (God the Son) took upon human flesh in the virgin Mary’s womb! Now, consider Eastertime. Centuries before Christ, Satan had pagans worshipping fertility deities and new life in early spring, near the date that Jesus Christ (God the Son) died for our sins and resurrected victoriously over sin, death, hell, and Satan to give us new life! (To Satan’s delight, today’s average church member is not mindful of relevant sound Bible doctrine during Christmastime and Eastertime—the devil’s distractions have never lost their efficacy!)

The God of the Bible instituted in Israel a festival, Passover (the killing of a spotless lamb and its bloodshed in early spring), while they were still in Egypt (Exodus chapter 12)—Passover’s annual observance reminded them of JEHOVAH delivering them from Egyptian slavery unto new life. Israel did not understand its meaning until 1,500 years later. The true Passover lamb, Jesus Christ, died and shed His sinless blood during that annual Passover feast (early spring), and He resurrected in new life to give them spiritual life and liberty.

Yes, the pagans may have “hijacked” this time of year for the devil’s glory, but we can disregard their ignorance: spring is God’s season for new life. We can still use this season to bring the God of the Bible glory by remembering that He has given us physical life (today’s Scripture), and He offers us new life (that is, spiritual life) through Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection! 🙂

The Misunderstood Messiah #4

Sunday, December 29, 2019

“Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God” (John 8:41 KJV).

Did you ever notice the magnitude of the insult put forth toward Jesus Christ in today’s Scripture?

Society’s anti-Bible, anti-Christian attitude is nothing new. While today’s Bible-believing, Bible-quoting Christian is accused of “hate speech” and “bigotry,” the “non-narrow-minded” face no repercussion for their slandering of the Lord Jesus Christ and their trampling His Word under foot. Due to sin, the world is upside down, and when the Christian attempts to expose it, he or she is to blame. The world wants Romans 3:4 to read, “Let every man be true, but God a liar!”

Like the (self-righteous) Pharisees of old, lost mankind, despite religious participation, has no capacity to stop sin. Never become angry at the world and never let their behavior puzzle you. Sinners do nothing but sin: by nature, man literally knows nothing but sin. As Jesus said to the lost Pharisees, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do” (John 8:44a). What they need is not simply to stop their activity (sins); they need a new nature from God! Today’s Scripture demonstrates the Pharisees’ willful ignorance of their sinful state.

Like the (“educated”) Pharisees of old, lost mankind, despite several degrees, has no capacity to understand the Bible. The Pharisees studied their Old Testament scrolls, yet they were equivalent to today’s average seminary graduate—years of Bible “study” and no (!) Bible understanding. Today’s Scripture demonstrates the Pharisees’ willful ignorance of one of hundreds of Old Testament prophecies that foretold Jesus Christ’s coming. They had plenty of philosophy and religion, but they had no capacity to understand and appreciate the Bible. People today do not need degrees to comprehend the Bible; they need the Spirit of God! “But the natural [lost] man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned [judged, evaluated]” (1 Corinthians 2:14).

Let us summarize and conclude this devotional arc….

The Misunderstood Messiah #3

Saturday, December 28, 2019

“Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God” (John 8:41 KJV).

Did you ever notice the magnitude of the insult put forth toward Jesus Christ in today’s Scripture?

The Pharisees are personally attacking the reputation of Jesus Christ, attempting to humiliate Him by saying, “We be not born of fornication.” After denigrating His virgin conception (that is, His deity), they exalt themselves by declaring, “We have one Father, even God.” What irony!

Notice Jesus’ response: “If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me” (verse 42). Had these Pharisees really known God on an intimate level, they would have understood His Word (that is, their Old Testament Scriptures) prophesied the coming of the Man they were now ridiculing. Had these religionists believed the prophecy that God had sent His only begotten Son, they would not have insinuated that Jesus was “born of fornication.” They would have known what He meant by the words, “I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.”

Alas, God’s Word was “foolishness” to their dead souls (1 Corinthians 2:14). Jesus explained why they misunderstood Him: “Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God” (John 8:43,47). They could hear the sound of Jesus’ voice, but could they hear with comprehension? Nay, they were spiritually dead, not of God like they claimed. Thus, Jesus told them, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it” (verse 44).

The Pharisees were spreading lies about Jesus Christ because they were lost. Lost mankind has not changed one bit….

The Misunderstood Messiah #2

Friday, December 27, 2019

“Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God” (John 8:41 KJV).

Did you ever notice the magnitude of the insult put forth toward Jesus Christ in today’s Scripture?

Like the Bible scoffers of today, those during Christ’s earthly ministry rejected the notion of the virgin conception of a human (His own conception).

“Then Joseph her husband, being a just [righteous, fair] man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily” (Matthew 1:19). Joseph, still wondering what happened to Mary, decides to divorce her in secret to spare her from becoming a public spectacle. Suddenly, an angel appears to Joseph in a dream and informs him that the Holy Ghost has generated the Christ child in Mary (verse 20).

Imagine the humiliating rumors that circulated: “Mary was a pregnant virgin before she consummated her marriage to Joseph.” The story just did not make sense to most. Evidently, the general Israeli public, unwilling to believe God’s fulfilled Word, believed Mary was unfaithful to Joseph. That gossip lingered for over three decades, which is why the Pharisees said to Jesus what they did in today’s Scripture: “We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.” In other words, they called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, an illegitimate child, and they claimed they were God’s children! (You can sense the vicious attitude these self-righteous religionists had toward our Lord Jesus, another attempt to intimidate Him into silence, seeing as to they are all in the Temple and a crowd of people is listening to this entire conversation.)

At this point, we need to remember that Satan is actively working in and through these Pharisees. Jesus Christ’s deity is being questioned and His credibility is being attacked, which causes those in the Temple to doubt God’s Word (thereby leaving room for Satan’s error to creep in). Our Lord is aware of this, but He does not waver in His Father’s Word. Let us see how He wisely responds to this insult….

The Misunderstood Messiah #1

Thursday, December 26, 2019

“Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God” (John 8:41 KJV).

Did you ever notice the magnitude of the insult put forth toward Jesus Christ in today’s Scripture?

During this time of year, we are mindful of the incarnation of God the Son, Jesus Christ, how He added humanity to His preexisting deity. We know of His virgin birth—or more precisely, His virgin conception—and how it resulted in Him being able to shed His sinless blood to pay for our sins.

The Holy Ghost fashioned Jesus Christ’s physical body in the virgin Mary’s womb (Matthew 1:20; Luke 1:35), and this lack of a human father resulted in the absence of a sin nature in Jesus Christ. To the unbeliever, the Bible rejecter, such a concept is preposterous. (God and man never “speak the same language” anyway [1 Corinthians 2:14]!) Like today, during Jesus’ earthly life, lost mankind scoffed at the notion of His virgin conception: they reasoned in their own “wise” minds, “Surely, a human father was involved.” In today’s Scripture, we see just a glimpse of this mockery that Jesus Christ experienced throughout His earthly life.

In the context of today’s Scripture (the previous 40 verses), the Pharisees have been extensively, yet unsuccessfully, attempting to trap Jesus in His words and discredit Him. Jesus declares how they reject His words and want to kill Him (verse 37). When He tells the Pharisees that they “do that which [they] have seen with [their] father” (verse 38), they arrogantly appeal to their Jewish bloodline, “Abraham is our father” (verse 39), as if being Jewish guarantees them sinless perfection.

Jesus Christ counters their comment with, “If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham. But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham” (verse 40). Today’s Scripture is a continuation of Jesus’ reply, and their rebuttal follows, an insult that makes a mockery of His virgin conception….

The Word Was Made Flesh

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us…” (John 1:1,14 KJV).

On this Christmas Day, we reflect on the incarnation of Jesus Christ.

The candidate who could solve man’s sin problem had to meet two requirements. He had to be God, and He had to be man—a “God-Man.” It had to be God, because God’s righteousness had to be satisfied, but it also had to be man, for it was man who had sinned. God’s righteousness was offended, since “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). But, it was also a man who had sinned, “As by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12).

Consider Philippians 2:5-8: “Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” In short, heaven’s best—Jesus Christ—came to save earth’s worst—us! In summary, Jesus Christ was born to die for us.

Brethren, the salvation that we enjoy today in Christ could not be possible without the shed blood of Christ on Calvary’s cross, and the shed blood of Christ could not be possible without the incarnation of Christ! God is a Spirit (John 4:24), and in order for Him to shed sinless blood, He had to first have blood. Thus, it behooved Jesus Christ to take upon Himself the form of a man. It was at this time of year that God the Son entered the virgin Mary’s womb, possessing a body that was conceived by the Holy Ghost.

Remember, “The Word was made flesh” (today’s Scripture) so we could have an opportunity to be “made the righteousness of God in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Merry Christmas!

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

Emmanuel’s Tabernacle

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

“Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us” (Matthew 1:23 KJV).

Using the Scriptures, we can date the birth of Emmanuel, Jesus Christ.

John the Baptist’s father, Zacharias, was a priest, “of the course [order] of Abia [Abijah]” (Luke 1:5). Under King David, Israel’s priests were organized into 24 courses (1 Chronicles 24:7-19). A priest from each course served a week in the Temple ministration (and thus served one week twice a year). Israel’s calendar began with Abib/Nisan, equivalent to March 16-April 15 (Exodus 12:1,2; Exodus 13:4). Passover was observed on April 14, starting Israel’s religious calendar.

Passover week (The Feast of Unleavened Bread) lasted from April 15-21. The first course of priests served in the Temple around this time. Zacharias’ course, Abijah, was the eighth course after Passover (1 Chronicles 24:10), thus placing Zacharias’ service roughly eight weeks after Passover (or June 17-23). This was the time when the angel appeared to Zacharias to announce John’s conception (Luke 1:8-22). Once Zacharias and his wife Elisabeth leave the Temple and go home, Elisabeth conceives John (late June; Luke 1:23-25).

Six months after Elisabeth conceived John in late June (Luke 1:26), Mary conceived Jesus—in late December. Contrary to religious tradition, the birthday of Christ is not December 25. Late December is the time of Christ’s conception. The conception of Christ in Mary’s womb, not Mary’s conception in her mother’s womb, is the biblical immaculate conception: it was Christ’s conception, not Mary’s, that was sinless (Luke 1:35).

If a perfect human gestation lasts 280 days (9 months), late September/early October is the time of Christ’s birth. During this time of year, recall that God had Israel observing the Feast of Tabernacles, when Jews would dwell in “booths” (tents, tabernacles) for seven days (Leviticus 23:39-44).

While Israel was observing Tabernacles in September/October, God was born as a man (Jesus Christ) of the virgin Mary, and dwelt (“tabernacled”) with them! Sadly, very few Jews paid any attention to Jesus, “Emmanuel,” “God with us” (today’s Scripture). The rest of Israel ignored “God dwelling among them” (John 1:14).

For more information, see our archived Bible Q&A: “Was Jesus born on the 25th of December?

You may also see our other archived study: “Why do people use ‘Xmas’ instead of ‘Christmas?’

No Room for the Messiah

Friday, December 20, 2019

“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7 KJV).

Today’s Scripture is a shameful reality—Israel has “no room” for her Messiah.

Every Jew knew the Messianic promise of Isaiah 7:14: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Each Jew had heard its parallel verse: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). They knew Micah 5:2: “Bethlehem Ephratah… yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”

For nearly seven centuries, Jews read the above verses. They knew that God would one day send their Messiah, who would establish His kingdom in the earth. However, when Joseph brought Mary, who was heavy with child, to Bethlehem of Judaea, precious few took notice. Their hearts were so hardened by sin, much of the nation Israel could not care less. Here was a pregnant virgin, living in Bethlehem, within the time frame of the Messiah’s arrival as prophesied by Daniel 9:25-26, and there was the Messiah’s star of Numbers 24:17 appearing to signify His coming (Matthew 2:2). It was so obvious that Mary’s Baby was Israel’s long-promised Messiah-King! Alas, sinful Israel would not have Him!

How Israel “received” Jesus Christ as a Baby typified what they would do to Him later for the rest of His earthly life. They had no room for Him in the inn, so they invited Him—the Lord of glory—to lie in a lowly trough out of which livestock eat (today’s Scripture)! When He offered Himself to Israel 33 years later, Israel argued, “We have no king but Caesar” (John 19:15). God was not surprised, for He had preplanned what He would do at that point….

For more information, see our archived Bible Q&A: “What was the ‘Star of Bethlehem?’

The Virgin Conception of Christ

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14 KJV).

While Christendom speaks of the “virgin birth of Christ,” according to today’s Scripture, a more accurate term would be the “virgin conception of Christ.” There was nothing unusual about Christ’s birth; it was His conception that was unique because there was no human father!

Interestingly, today’s Scripture has been the point of controversy for over a century (to Satan’s delight!). Some modern Bibles (RSV, NRSV, et al.) translate the Hebrew word here translated “virgin” as the vague “young woman,” thereby leaving room for the heretical idea that Joseph was Jesus’ biological father (and denying Christ’s deity)! If someone ever tells you almah (the Hebrew word translated “virgin”) can mean “young woman” or “virgin,” they are right, but point out that the key to choosing the right translation is not up to a translator, but rather the Holy Ghost!

The author of Matthew’s Gospel, filled with the Holy Ghost, knew which translation—“young woman” or “virgin”—was what God had intended in Isaiah 7:14. If we want to know what God meant in Isaiah 7:14, why not ask God?

“Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, “Behold a virgin shall be with child…” (Matthew 1:22,23a). The Greek word translated “virgin,” parthenos, can only mean “virgin,” not “young woman.” Isaiah was prophesying a virgin, indicated by the words “firstborn son” (Matthew 1:25; Luke 2:7) and “Joseph knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son” (Matthew 1:25). Isaiah 7:14 meant “virgin,” as indicated by Luke 1:34, for Mary “knew not a man.” Again, the Bible is clear that Joseph was not Jesus’ biological father.

Matthew 1:23 indisputably proves that almah in Isaiah 7:14 did not simply mean a “young woman,” who may or may not be sexually pure, but “a virgin,” a woman who never had any sexual intercourse. The Holy Ghost, not Joseph, was the Father of Jesus’ body (Matthew 1:18-20).

For more information, see our archived Bible Q&A: “What is the real Immaculate Conception?