When the LORD Turns Israel’s Captivity #2

Saturday, April 18, 2015

“That then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee” (Deuteronomy 30:3 KJV).

In today’s Scripture, Moses prophesies Israel’s glorious future restoration!

God, some 4,000 years ago, deeded much of “the Middle East” to Abram and his descendants: “Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates” (Genesis 15:18). Concerning his son Isaac’s birth, God told Abraham (notice his new name): “And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God” (Genesis 17:8). So why does Israel today not have all of that land, from Egypt to the Euphrates (central Iraq)? Why does Israel currently have a sliver along the eastern Mediterranean Sea?

Firstly, 500 years after Abraham, God warned Israel through Moses: after four rounds of persistent wickedness (mainly idolatry) and four sequences of divine judgment, the fifth course of chastisement would be deportation out of the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 28:62-68; cf. Leviticus 26:27-46). Israel would live amongst the Gentiles, hear foreign languages, be surrounded by heathen customs (which they had already largely embraced anyway), and serve cruel heathen governments. Many centuries after Moses, idolatrous Israel came under Assyrian, Babylonian, Median-Persian, Greek, and Roman powers. Even today, Gentiles (especially the Palestinians and Arabs, and their sympathizers) still harass Israel.

Secondly, when Messiah Jesus came to Israel “to confirm [or fulfill] the promises made unto the fathers” (Romans 15:8), they wanted God’s physical blessings and deliverance from Rome—they did not want God to deal with their sin problem (Mosaic-Law breaking). National Israel refused King Jesus, demanding His crucifixion, thus delaying their earthly kingdom that would have fulfilled God’s covenant with Abraham.

Thirdly, with unbelieving Israel scattered amongst the nations, God has momentarily paused her program. Through Paul’s ministry and epistles, we learn of the dispensational change—God is forming the Church the Body of Christ today. When our program ends, and Israel’s program continues, God will rescue Israel from her satanic and Gentile captivity….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Why did Jesus weep when Lazarus died?

God’s Perfect Timing

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

“But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Galatians 4:4,5 KJV).

As today’s Scripture indicates, the birth of Jesus Christ was no accident—God planned its exact moment from eternity past.

When God placed the first man, Adam, on earth, He purposed that man would “subdue [control] it,” to “have dominion” over it and everything on it (Genesis 1:28). Nevertheless, Adam sinned by joining Satan in his rebellion against God. Because of sin, man was now unable to accomplish on earth what God originally created him to do. God left the human race a promise, however, that there would come a Man, who would do what Adam failed to do. Instead of cooperating with God’s adversary like Adam had, this “seed of the woman” would “bruise [Satan’s] head” (Genesis 3:15).

Traveling up through the Scriptures, we see how God lays the groundwork for that seedline. In Genesis 12:1-3, or 2,000 years after Adam’s sin, we read God’s covenant with Abraham, that through Abraham a nation, Israel, will be born, and salvation and blessing will flow to the Gentiles through Israel. The seed of the woman becomes the seed of Abraham (Galatians 3:16).

In 2 Samuel 7:12-16, and 1,000 years after Abraham, we read of God’s covenant with King David, that “his seed” will inherit his throne and reign forever. The seed of the woman and of Abraham becomes the seed of David.

About 1,000 years after David, Matthew 1:1 speaks of Christ’s birth, and declares, “…Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” This is exactly what God had promised for thousands of years!

Jesus Christ’s birth was not some haphazard event of nature. God the Father had preplanned the exact moment of the incarnation of His Son, Jesus Christ (today’s Scripture). Over a period of some 4,000 years, the three members of the Godhead worked to bring about the birth of man’s Redeemer, a plan they had even before man was created! Amazing!

Silent Building #2

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

“And the house, when it was in building, was built of stone made ready before it was brought thither: so that there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was in building” (1 Kings 6:7 KJV).

God is doing something similar today, very quietly too….

Long ago, beginning with Abraham, God set the Jews apart to be His special people (Israel became a nation in Egypt). Letting the Gentiles go their way of ignorance (Romans chapter 1), He dealt solely with the nation Israel (Romans chapter 2). Beginning with the Ten Commandments (Exodus chapter 20), but throughout the Old Testament, JEHOVAH God constantly warned Israel not to pollute herself with false doctrine. He was building her into a marvelous nation, His kingdom of priests to reach the (Gentile) nations. Israel was not to sabotage that plan by forsaking Him and following pagan idols and bad doctrine.

Moses, just before dying, advised His people in Deuteronomy 4:1-2: “[1] Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers giveth you. [2] Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.”

Simple! Simple! Simple! Israel was not to add and not to take from God’s Word. Israel did not listen. Before we point fingers at Israel, professing Christianity has added to and taken from the revelation the ascended Jesus Christ gave to the Apostle Paul, Romans through Philemon. They are not content with God’s grace as Paul presents it; they toss that away. Instead, they prefer everything He gave Israel—water baptism, tongues, tithing, miraculous demonstrations, Sabbath day, rules and regulations, angels, and so on.

When Solomon’s Temple was being erected (today’s Scripture), it did not go up haphazardly. Its elements fit together perfectly. Lest we upset God’s perfect plan for us the Church the Body of Christ, we are not going to carelessly use worthless building materials, elements that do not belong there and will actually weaken the structure….

Riches and the Four Gospels #1

Friday, August 1, 2014

“And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” (Luke 18:24,25 KJV).

Understandably, “health-and-wealth” preachers and teachers never quote Jesus’ words in today’s Scripture!

Mass media (television, radio, and internet) have been effectual means in sharing the Gospel of the Grace of God and sound Bible teaching with the masses. Nevertheless, just as tares (weeds) sprout among wheat, there are many charlatans dominating such “Christian” programming. Just as Simon the sorcerer “bewitched” the people of Samaria with counterfeit (satanic) miraculous demonstrations (Acts 8:9-11), millions upon millions are still under the spell of false religion that literally parades as “Gospel truth.”

In the last few decades, the professing church has gravitated more and more toward megachurches and “feel-good” messages. We see and hear on television, on radio, and on the internet, teachers and preachers who tickle ears with such common taglines as, “God wants to supernaturally cancel all your debts,” “God wants to deposit thousands into your bank account,” and “God wants you healed not sick.” (Then, they urge you to send in a “generous seed donation” so “God” can deposit millions into their bank accounts!)

Christendom often quotes Jesus’ earthly ministry, but when they push for “wealthy Christian living,” they have to look elsewhere in Scripture. Today’s Scripture is an obvious embarrassment to the “God-wants-you-wealthy” crowd, for since what Jesus said was true, God would actually be giving you riches in order to keep you out of His kingdom! Yea, lest the church program be jeopardized, Christendom is rather forced to go back to the “Old Testament” Scriptures and use rich Abraham (Genesis 13:2), wealthy King Solomon (1 Kings 3:13), and prosperous Job (Job 1:3; Job 42:10-12) as examples.

Still, this begs another question: God certainly blessed Abraham, Solomon, and Job with material riches, so why did Jesus tell His audience in today’s Scripture that material riches were detrimental (disadvantageous) to their salvation?

Let us be Bereans and search the Scriptures (Acts 17:10,11)….

Iniquity Not Yet Full #1

Monday, May 12, 2014

“But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full” (Genesis 15:16 KJV).

Today’s Scripture expressly declares why the God of the Bible “takes His time” when dealing with sinful mankind.

“Where is the promise of Jesus Christ’s coming?” From believers still asking in faith (cf. Matthew 24:3) to scoffers still asking in ridicule (cf. 2 Peter 3:3,4), it has been queried ad nauseam. How sad a commentary—it is one of many questions to which the Bible already gave answers many, many centuries ago!

In the context of today’s Scripture, Abram—whom God will rename “Abraham” in chapter 17—is nomadic, travelling and camping throughout the land of Canaan, the Promised Land, much of today’s Middle East. Here, JEHOVAH God personally and formally deeded that real estate to Abraham and his descendants, the nation Israel, as an everlasting possession (Genesis 15:1-21; cf. Genesis 17:8).

Moreover, God informs Abram of the future: “And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full” (verses 13-16, today’s Scripture within its immediate context).

God tells Abram that his seed, the nation that will come from his bowels, cannot inherit and dwell in the Promised Land yet. Israel must spend 400 years down in Egypt, most of that time in slavery. Entering Egypt as a tribe of less than 100 people, Israel will return to Canaan (the Promised Land) as a nation of some two million! Why this four-century delay? God’s Word could not be plainer—the original inhabitants of Canaan had not sinned enough yet for Him to displace them and install the Jews (today’s Scripture).

How patient is our God….

A Heart Transplant for Israel #11

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

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(Ezekiel 36:26 KJV).

The Great Physician must perform this surgery if His beloved patient is to live!

Israel’s religious leaders, representative of the nation, wrongly believed that all that was required of them was to be Abraham’s biological children (that is, physically circumcised). They ignored that they had to be “born again” (see John 3:1-8). In addition to the physical birth that God gave Israel when He rescued them from Egyptian slavery (Exodus 4:22; 1 Kings 8:53; Hosea 11:1), they were to have a spiritual birth, salvation from the bondage of sin (see John 3:1-8; John 8:33-59).

Moses, in his final sermon to Israel, said: “If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the LORD thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee: and the LORD thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers. And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live (Deuteronomy 30:4-6).

God’s Word meant nothing to most Jews because they did not have a circumcision of the heart (they were still dead in their sins, headed for eternal hellfire). If they were to be used of God, they had to have the faith, righteousness, and spiritual circumcision their father Abraham had.

Just as the Prophet Jeremiah later reminded Israel that God’s wrath was coming—the Babylonians would take them out of the Promised Land for at least 70 years—Moses said God (Jesus Christ at His Second Coming) would regather Israel, bring her back into her land, spiritually circumcise her, and make her a kingdom of priests, a nation He could finally use forever and ever in the earth. Today’s Scripture will thus be fulfilled….

A Heart Transplant for Israel #10

Monday, March 31, 2014

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(Ezekiel 36:26 KJV).

The Great Physician must perform this surgery if His beloved patient is to live!

God instituted physical circumcision with Abraham to show him that his posterity—the nation Israel that would come through his son Isaac, grandson Jacob, and 12 great-grandsons (Israel’s 12 tribes)—would not come about due to Abraham’s (fallible) human performance, but JEHOVAH’S divine power. In every way, Israel would be God’s nation, God’s creation; contrariwise, the (uncircumcised) Gentiles were under Satan’s control (Ephesians 2:1-12).

Once physical circumcision was incorporated into the Mosaic Law (Leviticus 12:3), its underlying spiritual truth (spiritual circumcision) was overlooked. Israel worshipped physical circumcision instead of remembering what really mattered—the spiritual circumcision it symbolized. Jews bragged about their physical circumcision (today’s equivalent is, “Look, we joined the church, confessed our sins, gave a tithe, got water baptized…!”). The Scriptures say that while this generated “the praise of men,” the circumcision that God ultimately looked for in a Jew was regeneration, a cutting off of the Adamic nature, dead to sin and able to be used of JEHOVAH (Romans 2:28,29).

The Prophet Jeremiah, rebuking Israel for her apostasy and warning her of God’s impending chastisement (the Babylonian invasion and captivity just a few decades away), preached: “For thus saith the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns. Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem” (4:3,4). Moses urged Israel, Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked [rebellious toward God’s Word]” (Deuteronomy 10:16).

Israel had their physical foreskins removed, but they still had a heart problem—they had not submitted to God’s righteousness and were rebelling against God’s will for them (sin; Jeremiah 17:9). They were still attached to their sin nature, and until they confessed (admitted) their wickedness, God could not give them the heart transplant they so desperately needed….

A Heart Transplant for Israel #9

Sunday, March 30, 2014

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(Ezekiel 36:26 KJV).

The Great Physician must perform this surgery if His beloved patient is to live!

In the prophetic program, God deals with a Jew on a two-fold basis—personal and national. For example, God wanted every individual Jew to be a priest (Isaiah 61:6; Revelation 1:6; Revelation 5:10) so that the entire nation Israel would be a “kingdom of priests” (Exodus 19:5,6; 1 Peter 2:5,9). In Jesus Christ’s earthly kingdom (yet future), Israel is to become God’s chief nation in the earth, a holy nation, the agency whom God will use to reach pagan Gentiles with His salvation (Zechariah 8:20-23; Matthew 28:19,20; Acts 1:8; et al.). However, Israel cannot lead others to salvation unless she herself is saved from Satan and her own sins.

Recall that when God promised childless Abraham a son (and a nation, Israel; Genesis 12:1-3), and did not bring it to pass until many years later, Abraham grew impatient. After waiting for a decade and still no child from God, Abraham listened to his wife and fathered a son, Ishmael, through her handmaid (Genesis 16:1-6). Twelve years later, God appeared to Abraham and instituted his physical circumcision (Genesis chapter 17). A year later, God gave Abraham, aged 100 and unable to father children, a son, Isaac, through his wife Sarah (Genesis chapter 21).

Galatians says that Ishmael was “born after the flesh” (4:23,29)—Abraham’s performance—while it says that Isaac was born “by promise, born after the Spirit” (4:23,29)—God the Holy Ghost’s performance. If God could ever use a nation born of Abraham, it could never come by human performance (Abraham’s sons were sinners, Adam’s sons)—that nation’s creation would have to be solely God’s working. Physical circumcision was God teaching Abraham and his seed through Isaac that they were dead to the flesh, sin (their performance), and the very reason they existed as a nation was because of what He did for them, not because of what they did for Him….

A Heart Transplant for Israel #8

Saturday, March 29, 2014

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(Ezekiel 36:26 KJV).

The Great Physician must perform this surgery if His beloved patient is to live!

Israel wrongly believed they had automatic righteousness because they had JEHOVAH’S laws. They called Gentiles “sinners” and they overlooked their own shortcomings. In fact, the Scriptures say that the Gentiles, who did not have God’s laws, lived up to at least some of those standards; Israel, who had God’s laws, behaved just as badly or worse (Romans 2:1-27)! This ungodly behavior of Israel made Gentiles especially opposed to Israel’s God.

The Apostle Paul elaborated that Israel’s physical circumcision did not matter eternally unless it had an underlying spiritual (inward) circumcision. God wanted Israel to be physically and spiritually circumcised. “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter [the Law]; whose praise is not of men, but of God” (Romans 2:28,29). Israel’s outward circumcision was actually the symbol of the spiritual circumcision God would accomplish for them!

“For the Jews require a sign” (1 Corinthians 1:22a). Remember, physical circumcision was “the sign” of the Abrahamic Covenant; it was “a seal of the righteousness of the faith which [Abraham] had being uncircumcised” (Romans 4:11). Physical circumcision reminded Israel of the faith they were to have in God’s Word, the faith that their father Abraham had. That faith Abraham had caused God to declare him righteous, cut off from Adam’s fallen nature, spiritually circumcised (Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:3).

Hence, physical circumcision indicated that Israel was God’s people (to be used for His glory). However, He could not use them (as sinners) until He also gave them a spiritual circumcision, a “circumcision of the heart(Romans 2:29). Today’s Scripture shows how the Old Testament prophets foretold that God purposed to severe Israel from their Adamic sin nature….

A Heart Transplant for Israel #6

Thursday, March 27, 2014

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(Ezekiel 36:26 KJV).

The Great Physician must perform this surgery if His beloved patient is to live!

In Genesis 17:10-14, where physical circumcision first appears in Scripture, God promised Abraham: “This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you…. and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.”

The Apostle Paul explained the significance of Israel’s physical circumcision by explaining what Abraham’s physical circumcision meant before God: “For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted [imputed, credited] unto him for righteousness…. Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:” (Romans 4:3,9-11).

Abraham believed God’s promise to him, and although Abraham was a sinner, God looked at Abraham’s faith in His Word to him and He considered Abraham righteous (right standing before God). Paul is quoting Genesis 15:6. Sometime later, in Genesis chapter 17, God instituted physical circumcision for Abraham and his seed. According to Romans 4:11 (bolded above), that physical circumcision symbolized the righteousness God offered to Abraham and his seed….