Categorized! #7

Friday, April 29, 2022

And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night (Revelation 12:10 KJV).

Behold, the evil categorizer!

Addressing Israel’s believing remnant, both during the Acts period and Daniel’s 70th Week, the Apostle John communicates in 1 John chapter 2: “[1] My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: [2] And he is the propitiation [fully-satisfying payment or sacrifice] for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” We want to draw our attention to the title “advocate.” Jesus Christ is the believer’s defense attorney or intercessor, someone called alongside to help. (By the way, that Greek word is “parakletos,” rendered “Comforter” with respect to the Holy Spirit aiding the believer. See John 14:16,26; John 15:26; John 16:7.)

Though the nation Israel is sinful and has not kept the Old Covenant, that system of the Law of Moses was temporary (see Galatians 3:15-26). Once a believing remnant learns the lesson of the Law—that they would be blessed of God because of His grace instead of their goodness—they can serve as His kingdom of priests in the Earth. That was the LORD’S intention all along with the promise of the Abrahamic Covenant of Genesis 12:1-3, long before the Law of Moses was ever instituted. The New Covenant qualifies them to be heirs of the Abrahamic Covenant. When Satan interjects that Israel’s believing remnant is composed of sinners, unable to be God’s people in the Earth, Jesus Christ pronounces them innocent, for He has paid for their sins by shedding His sinless blood on Calvary’s cross! Their sin debt cancelled, Satan’s “categorizing” of them is invalid.

As members of the Church the Body of Christ, the same is true of us. “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses (Colossians 2:13).

Our two latest Bible Q&As: “How does the love of Christ ‘constrain’ us?” and “Should we pray to the Holy Ghost?

Israel: The Miracle Nation #10

Saturday, February 12, 2022

But Sarai was barren; she had no child (Genesis 11:30 KJV).

How will the LORD God prove Israel is His miracle nation?

According to the Bible, Romans 7:12: “Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.” The Law of Moses is definitely God’s Word. It expresses His righteousness and our failure to be perfect. No one in his or her own strength can become God’s child or do His will. Nearly 2,000 years of Jewish history—our Old Testament Scriptures—bear record of that fact. If we choose a performance-based acceptance system, we will receive nothing but curses from God. Yet, sin deceives us, and we assume we can perform to get the blessing. Human flesh always seeks to brag, but God’s grace will never accept it!

Romans chapter 4: “[1] What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh [human efforts], hath found? [2] For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. [3] For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. [4] Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. [5] But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” The Apostle Paul reaches back to Genesis 15:5, centuries before the Law of Moses was ever ratified. Here is God’s grace!

Human works, religious works, never delivered anyone from sin. The Law of Moses never saved anyone. All the Law can do is condemn, or show us we cannot do enough. It can impart no power to us to keep its rules and regulations! If sinners are to become God’s people—whether the nation Israel or the Church the Body of Christ—it will be entirely what God does on their behalf (grace!). Ultimately, it is Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork (His work, that which perfectly satisfies the Law’s righteous demands!) applied to their account as sufficient payment for their sins. The nation Israel has yet to learn this, but God will see to it that she does. In the meantime, friends, may we not be stubborn and learn it.

Israel: The Miracle Nation #9

Friday, February 11, 2022

But Sarai was barren; she had no child (Genesis 11:30 KJV).

How will the LORD God prove Israel is His miracle nation?

The Holy Spirit details how Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork will deliver the nation Israel in the ages to come. Consider the New Covenant in Hebrews 8:8-13: “For finding fault with them [law!], he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant [grace!] with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt [law!]; because they continued not in my covenant [law!], and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant [grace!] that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will [grace!] put my laws into their mind, and [I will] [grace!] write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will [grace!!!!] be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I [grace!!!!] remember no more. In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.”

Jeremiah 31:31-34, written 600 years before Christ, is now interpreted in light of Calvary. Israel’s sins committed under the Old Covenant—the Law of Moses—are now cancelled with the ratification of the New Covenant at Christ’s Second Coming (Hebrews 9:11-28; cf. Acts 3:19-21; Romans 11:25-29). “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;…. For by one offering he hath [grace!!!!] perfected for ever them that are sanctified” (Hebrews 10:10-12,14).

Let us summarize and conclude this devotionals arc….

Israel: The Miracle Nation #8

Thursday, February 10, 2022

But Sarai was barren; she had no child (Genesis 11:30 KJV).

How will the LORD God prove Israel is His miracle nation?

“Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them [the Jews] who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin(Romans 3:19,20). The Law of Moses was given, not to save anyone from sin, but to clearly define sin. If the “best” nation, Israel, is condemned, what hope do the world’s nations have in ever attaining God’s standard of righteousness? None! Hence, grace, not law, was the LORD’S original covenant with Israel. The Law was to teach stubborn Israel they needed a Saviour, for they could not save themselves.

Galatians chapter 3: “[18] For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise. [19] Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. [20] Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one. [21] Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law…. [24] Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”

Likewise, having used the Law to realize our need for the Saviour, we now receive by faith God’s blessings via His grace (what He can do for us through Christ’s finished crosswork). “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:30,31). “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:…” (Ephesians 1:3).

Israel will finally learn that yet future….

Israel: The Miracle Nation #7

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

But Sarai was barren; she had no child (Genesis 11:30 KJV).

How will the LORD God prove Israel is His miracle nation?

Israel’s patriarchs could not perform to obtain blessings from the LORD. Knowing the frailty (sinfulness) of their flesh, God had already promised to make them His people through the Abrahamic Covenant—through what He would do for them, on their behalf. Yet, at Mount Sinai, the Israelites wanted to make themselves God’s people. In their pride and self-righteousness, they actually thought their feeble religious works would adequately substitute God’s grace: “We can become the LORD’S people without His efforts” (totally ignoring they had been helpless to save themselves from sin thus far)! Here on Sinai, at Israel’s insistence, the LORD instituted the Law of Moses. They had not learned the lesson father Abraham did, father Isaac did, and father Jacob did. Now, they would literally spend centuries “learning the hard way,” failing to perform sinlessly and thereby receiving the Law’s curses and judgments.

Even into the Acts period—over 1,500 years after Moses at Sinai—Israel was still struggling in religion and still failing to overcome their sin problem. The Apostle Paul, once entangled in the same system of bondage (Philippians chapter 3), confessed in Romans 10:1-4: “[1] Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. [2] For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. [3] For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. [4] For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”

Equally confused were the Galatian saints (Christians!), mixing law and grace, ignoring grace and preferring law. Galatians chapters 3 and 4 reteach what Abraham learned, the exact lesson billions of souls worldwide refuse to realize today. They too have disregarded what God can do for us: they wrongly assume what they can do for Him in religion will make up for their sins. “Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?” (Galatians 4:21). Let us hear the law….”

Israel: The Miracle Nation #6

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

But Sarai was barren; she had no child (Genesis 11:30 KJV).

How will the LORD God prove Israel is His miracle nation?

Escaping Egypt, the Israelites knew they were free only because the LORD God had broken Pharaoh’s power, overridden Satan’s authority, overcome sin’s influence, and vanquished the world’s dominance. They voiced their gratitude by singing the Song of Moses (Exodus chapter 15). Repeatedly, from chapter 14 to the end of chapter 18, JEHOVAH God worked and Israel received the blessings. Over and over and over again, grace was shown to be infinitesimally superior, whereas the flesh was proven totally helpless and utterly useless. Whatever Israel needed to become God’s people in the Earth, God had supplied, God was furnishing, and God would provide.

After witnessing the all-sufficiency of God’s grace and the all-futility of their efforts, the Israelites must make a solemn decision at Mount Sinai. Exodus chapter 19 again: “[5] Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: [6] And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel. [7] And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the LORD commanded him. [8] And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the LORD.”

Oh, dear friends, what a terrible, foolish answer Israel gave in verse 8! “All that the LORD hath spoken we will do [works-religion!!!!].” Having thrown aside grace, they desire law. They prefer to become God’s nation in their own strength—and that arrangement was doomed before they ever uttered such nonsense. Not only had they not been able to do “all” God’s will prior, they had already outright disobeyed Him in chapter 16 (see verses 4,19-28)! Now, sin has deceived them. They actually believe they can work to get God’s blessings—the very blessings God already promised them through Abraham (apart from their works!!!), their very works that could never be perfect!!!! Moreover, billions are equally confused today….

Israel: The Miracle Nation #5

Monday, February 7, 2022

But Sarai was barren; she had no child (Genesis 11:30 KJV).

How will the LORD God prove Israel is His miracle nation?

Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob all learned the nation descending from them would originate and become God’s people only because of His grace. Man’s efforts could never accomplish the Abrahamic Covenant. Their performance was irrelevant—for they could all do nothing to accomplish God’s will.

Leaving Genesis and coming into Exodus, we find Israel in Egypt, suffering slavery and genocide under a malicious Pharaoh. It takes the LORD God’s power to free Israel, for she is unable to save herself. “The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name. Pharaoh’s chariots and his host hath he [grace!] cast into the sea: his chosen captains also are drowned in the Red sea” (Exodus 15:3,4). “And because he [grace!] loved thy fathers, therefore he [grace!] chose their seed after them, and [He] [grace!] brought thee out in his sight with his mighty power out of Egypt…” (Deuteronomy 4:37).

Having delivered them through the Red Sea (Exodus chapter 14), God also provides the Jews with potable water in the desert (chapter 15), feeds them with manna/bread (chapter 16), supplies them with more water and even military victory over the Amalekites (chapter 17), and finally imparts wisdom to the Jewish leaders (chapter 18). Here are six instances of God’s grace furnishing Israel with everything she needs—but could not provide for herself.

In chapter 19, at Mount Sinai, God makes an offer: “[3] And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel; [4] Ye have seen what I did [grace!] unto the Egyptians, and how I bare [grace!] you on eagles’ wings, and [I] [grace!] brought you unto myself. [5] Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed [law!], and keep my covenant [law!], then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: [6] And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.”

Let us see Israel’s choice….

Israel: The Miracle Nation #4

Sunday, February 6, 2022

But Sarai was barren; she had no child (Genesis 11:30 KJV).

How will the LORD God prove Israel is His miracle nation?

With Jacob fleeing from his older twin brother (unbelieving, violent) Esau, he leaves Canaan and travels far to the northeast to the home of their mother’s family. Once at Padanaram, Jacob is to meet with his uncle Laban, his mother Rebekah’s brother, and seek out a wife (Genesis 28:1-5). Jacob, spending 21 years working for his dishonest uncle (chapter 29), is delivered from repeated scams only because the LORD is on his side (see Genesis 28:15).

Read chapter 31: “[4] And Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah [his two wives, daughters of Laban] to the field unto his flock, [5] And said unto them, I see your father’s countenance, that it is not toward me as before; but the God of my father hath been with me. [6] And ye know that with all my power I have served your father. [7] And your father hath deceived me, and changed my wages ten times; but God suffered him not to hurt me.”

In chapters 29–30, Jacob’s four wives (Leah, Rachel, and their two servant girls, Zilpah and Bilhah) bear him 12 children—11 sons and one daughter. Benjamin will be conceived later (chapter 35). These 12 sons of Jacob become the heads of Israel’s 12 tribes. Notice how God regulates these births: “[29:31] And when the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren. [32] And Leah conceived, and bare a son, and she called his name Reuben: for she said, Surely the LORD hath looked upon my affliction; now therefore my husband will love me. [33] And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Because the LORD hath heard I was hated, he hath therefore given me this son also:…. [30:17] And God hearkened unto Leah, and she conceived, and bare Jacob the fifth son. [18] And Leah said, God hath given me my hire, because I have given my maiden to my husband…. [22] And God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb…. [24] And she called his name Joseph; and said, The LORD shall add to me another son.”

Again, Israel is God’s miracle nation….

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Israel: The Miracle Nation #3

Saturday, February 5, 2022

But Sarai was barren; she had no child (Genesis 11:30 KJV).

How will the LORD God prove Israel is His miracle nation?

At age 100 years, Abraham finally saw the birth of Isaac, the son God freely promised him (Genesis 21:5). Sarah was 90. The writer of Hebrews penned the following commentary: “Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable” (Hebrews 11:11,12).

However, Ishmael (the product of Abraham’s flesh) clashed with his younger half-brother Isaac (the result of God’s grace). With teenager Ishmael teasing little Isaac—the conflict between Hagar and Sarah now transferred to their respective sons—Abraham is forced to evict Hagar and Ishmael so Isaac can grow up in peace (Genesis 21:8-13; cf. Galatians 4:21-31). Again, works-religion (man’s efforts) and grace (God’s efforts) cannot coexist. The situation of Ishmael and Isaac is clear proof of this transdispensational (across the Bible timeline) truth. Had the LORD not enabled Abraham’s elderly body to produce seed, and Sarah’s aged womb to use that seed to bear a child, there would be no Isaac… and, thus, no Israel. Israel is God’s miracle nation.

Let us fast-forward several decades. Isaac is now 60 years old (Genesis 25:26), and he and his wife Rebekah have been childless for 20 years. (Does this not sound familiar?!) “And Isaac intreated [asked, pled] the LORD for his wife, because she was barren: and the LORD was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived” (Genesis 25:21). Yet, something is noticeably different here: Isaac did not repeat his parents’ folly. Whereas Abraham and Sarah connived, Isaac prayed because he depended on God’s grace! The LORD works, and twins Esau and Jacob are born to Isaac and Rebekah (verses 22-26), Jacob becoming the next heir of the Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 28:10-15). Jacob is the latest patriarch of Israel, and he too must learn Israel will result from God’s work not his own….

Israel: The Miracle Nation #2

Friday, February 4, 2022

But Sarai was barren; she had no child (Genesis 11:30 KJV).

How will the LORD God prove Israel is His miracle nation?

Taking matters into their own hands, Abram and Sarai schemed to “help” God do what He apparently failed to do! Using Hagar as a surrogate mother for Abram’s son seemed like a good idea—until they all began suffering the complicated problems resulting from their sin. Firstly, pregnant Hagar fought most bitterly with childless Sarai (Genesis 16:4-11). Abram fathering Ishmael meant Abram could still work in his flesh, perform and strive—and this system of law conflicted with God’s grace. Ishmael, the son of the bondwoman, is not God’s promised child and not the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant.

In chapter 17, some 13 years later, Abram is now 99 years old (verse 1). Having waited at least 25 years (but possibly as many as 50 years!) for the promise, Abram (like Sarai) is now unable to reproduce. Will this be a difficulty for the LORD? Of course not! Here, the LORD appears to him with a message. Abram is renamed “Abraham:” he was “high/exalted father,” but now he is “father of a multitude” (verses 4,5). God orders him to be physically circumcised, signifying his righteousness he has had by faith since chapter 12, and also denoting his cutting off from his flesh or abilities to “help” God (see Genesis 17:6-14; cf. Romans 4:9-22; Galatians 4:21-31).

With Sarai barren, and Abraham sterile, neither party can “assist” the LORD now! Having intentionally delayed until they are reproductively powerless, God in His grace intervenes (Genesis chapter 17): “[15] And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be. [16] And I will [grace!] bless her, and [I will] [grace!] give thee a son also of her: yea, I will [grace!] bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her…. [19] And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will [grace!] establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.”

Yet, Abraham’s flesh will again disrupt God’s plan for him….