A Better Baptism #4

Saturday, September 21, 2019

“For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:13 KJV).

Behold, the only baptism that counts for eternity!

God the Holy Spirit declares through the Prophet Ezekiel in chapter 36: “[18] Wherefore I poured my fury upon them for the blood that they had shed upon the land, and for their idols wherewith they had polluted it: [19] And I scattered them among the heathen, and they were dispersed through the countries: according to their way and according to their doings I judged them…. [24] For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. [25] Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.”

As per the Mosaic Law (Leviticus chapter 26; Deuteronomy chapter 28), God instituted five courses or phases of chastisement or curses for Israel disobeying His commandments. As the Jews continued to worship and serve pagan gods, so JEHOVAH God disciplined them to try to reform them. The fifth and final stage of judgment was Israel exiled from the land of Palestine and scattered worldwide amongst the Gentiles. Ezekiel lived during the opening decades of that Babylonian Captivity. As the Holy Spirit promised to drive Israel from the Promised Land, so He would be faithful in bringing them back.

Approximately two centuries after Ezekiel, the Holy Spirit calls Israel to repentance through the Prophet Malachi. Chapter 3, verse 7: “Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts.” How do they “return” to the God of Abraham? Here enters the ministry and message of John the Baptist! Ezekiel 36:25 again: Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.” How shocked we are to see this water baptism….

A Mind to Work! #5

Friday, May 24, 2019

So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work (Nehemiah 4:6 KJV).

It is a verse from Israel’s ancient records, but the underlying principle is most beneficial to us if we are willing to hear and believe it.

Nehemiah chapter 4 continues, “[7] But it came to pass, that when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and the Arabians, and the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites, heard that the walls of Jerusalem were made up, and that the breaches began to be stopped, then they were very wroth, [8] And conspired all of them together to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder it.

“[9] Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them. [10] And Judah said, The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed, and there is much rubbish; so that we are not able to build the wall. [11] And our adversaries said, They shall not know, neither see, till we come in the midst among them, and slay them, and cause the work to cease. [12] And it came to pass, that when the Jews which dwelt by them came, they said unto us ten times, From all places whence ye shall return unto us they will be upon you. [13] Therefore set I in the lower places behind the wall, and on the higher places, I even set the people after their families with their swords, their spears, and their bows.

“[14] And I looked, and rose up, and said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, Be not ye afraid of them: remember the LORD, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses. [15] And it came to pass, when our enemies heard that it was known unto us, and God had brought their counsel to nought, that we returned all of us to the wall, every one unto his work.”

In the face of intensifying opposition, God’s people were determined to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls. Satan would not be successful in deterring them….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Are Matthew 3:11 and 1 Corinthians 12:13 speaking of the same Spirit baptism?

A Mind to Work! #4

Thursday, May 23, 2019

So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work (Nehemiah 4:6 KJV).

It is a verse from Israel’s ancient records, but the underlying principle is most beneficial to us if we are willing to hear and believe it.

The Jews under Nehemiah’s direction build the sections of the wall of Jerusalem (chapter 3). Also, they reconstruct the various gates or entryways. In spite of the opposition and snide remarks from their enemies (2:19), God’s people are not deterred. They have determined not to let Satan get the advantage.

Watch how chapter 4 opens: “[1] But it came to pass, that when Sanballat heard that we builded the wall, he was wroth, and took great indignation, and mocked the Jews. [2] And he spake before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, What do these feeble Jews? will they fortify themselves? will they sacrifice? will they make an end in a day? will they revive the stones out of the heaps of the rubbish which are burned? [3] Now Tobiah the Ammonite was by him, and he said, Even that which they build, if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stone wall.

“[4] Hear, O our God; for we are despised: and turn their reproach upon their own head, and give them for a prey in the land of captivity: [5] And cover not their iniquity, and let not their sin be blotted out from before thee: for they have provoked thee to anger before the builders. [6] So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work.” (Here is today’s Scripture, please notice.)

Sinful Gentiles, men cooperating with Satan, continue to make fun of God’s work. The LORD has ordered Jerusalem and its walls to be rebuilt, so the Devil has naturally taken the opposing view. Verse 7, “But it came to pass, that when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and the Arabians, and the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites, heard that the walls of Jerusalem were made up, and that the breaches began to be stopped, then they were very wroth,….” Satan is relentless….

A Mind to Work! #3

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work (Nehemiah 4:6 KJV).

It is a verse from Israel’s ancient records, but the underlying principle is most beneficial to us if we are willing to hear and believe it.

Nehemiah chapter 2 continues: “[9] Then I came to the governors beyond the river, and gave them the king’s letters. Now the king had sent captains of the army and horsemen with me. [10] When Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, heard of it, it grieved them exceedingly that there was come a man to seek the welfare of the children of Israel. [11] So I came to Jerusalem, and was there three days….”

“[17] Then said I unto them, Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach. [18] Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me; as also the king’s words that he had spoken unto me. And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work. [19] But when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian, heard it, they laughed us to scorn, and despised us, and said, What is this thing that ye do? will ye rebel against the king? [20] Then answered I them, and said unto them, The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build: but ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem.”

When Israel’s enemies (Arabs, Palestinians) heard that a man, Nehemiah, had returned to Jerusalem to seek Israel’s best interests, those adversaries became willing tools of Satan. They laughed at Nehemiah and his Jewish brethren, attempting to discourage them from rebuilding the city wall. Nehemiah correctly responded, “The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build: but ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem.” He had already trusted God’s Word, and they were heartened to rebuild….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Is it permissible for us to be proud of our accomplishments?

A Mind to Work! #2

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work (Nehemiah 4:6 KJV).

It is a verse from Israel’s ancient records, but the underlying principle is most beneficial to us if we are willing to hear and believe it.

Nehemiah, a Jew, lived 450 years before the Thessalonians of Paul’s ministry. He was in Persia (modern Iran), born there after the Babylonians captured and exiled Judah nearly 150 years prior. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had ransacked Jerusalem, and burned its walls and Temple. Nehemiah is despondent, depressed to learn that Jerusalem still lies in ruins after all these decades. (Read Nehemiah chapter 1.)

Persian King Artaxerxes asks Nehemiah why he is unhappy. Chapter 2: “[3] And [Nehemiah] said unto the king, Let the king live for ever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ sepulchres, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire? [4] Then the king said unto me, For what dost thou make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven. [5] And I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers’ sepulchres, that I may build it.

“[6] And the king said unto me, (the queen also sitting by him,) For how long shall thy journey be? and when wilt thou return? So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time. [7] Moreover I said unto the king, If it please the king, let letters be given me to the governors beyond the river, that they may convey me over till I come into Judah; [8] And a letter unto Asaph the keeper of the king’s forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the palace which appertained to the house, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall enter into. And the king granted me, according to the good hand of my God upon me.”

The LORD God has granted Nehemiah favor with Artaxerxes. Now, Nehemiah can return to rebuild Jerusalem and especially its walls….

Outlandish Women! #5

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? yet among many nations was there no king like him, who was beloved of his God, and God made him king over all Israel: nevertheless even him did outlandish women cause to sin (Nehemiah 13:26 KJV).

Just who are these “outlandish women?”

Today’s Scripture transpires 150 years after the Jews were exiled from Canaan. Moving westward, leaving Babylonian captivity, tens of thousands return under Zerubbabel and then Ezra (Ezra chapters 2 and 7). Nehemiah follows with another Jewish company some years later. These re-gatherings of Israel; and the re-buildings of Jerusalem, its walls, and its Temple; is the general context of today’s Scripture. Ezra, a priest-scribe, leads Israel’s religious improvements in Canaan. A decade later is Nehemiah’s ministry—the reconstruction of Jerusalem’s city walls (which Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar had leveled and burned a century earlier).

In the last chapter of Nehemiah, the Prophet corrects various abuses of the resettled Jews. For example, they have permitted a Gentile to live in the Temple Complex (verses 7-9)! Moreover, they are not supporting the Levites (priestly tribe) as the LORD commanded through Moses (verses 10-14). Also, they are violating the Sabbath (verse 15-22).

Finally, today’s Scripture in context: “[23] In those days also saw I Jews that had married wives of Ashdod, of Ammon, and of Moab: [24] And their children spake half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak in the Jews’ language, but according to the language of each people. [25] And I contended with them, and cursed them, and smote certain of them, and plucked off their hair, and made them swear by God, saying, Ye shall not give your daughters unto their sons, nor take their daughters unto your sons, or for yourselves. [26] Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? yet among many nations was there no king like him, who was beloved of his God, and God made him king over all Israel: nevertheless even him did outlandish women cause to sin. [27] Shall we then hearken unto you to do all this great evil, to transgress against our God in marrying strange wives?

Intermarriage with idolaters—remember Solomon?—was the very reason God removed the Jews from Canaan. Unfortunately, returned Israel is repeating those sins. Nehemiah is rightly troubled….

Outlandish Women! #4

Monday, February 18, 2019

Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? yet among many nations was there no king like him, who was beloved of his God, and God made him king over all Israel: nevertheless even him did outlandish women cause to sin (Nehemiah 13:26 KJV).

Just who are these “outlandish women?”

In the centuries following Solomon’s expiration, the Jews increasingly apostatized. The rest of the second round of judgment, plus the third and fourth, came (Leviticus 26:19-26). Not only did idolatrous Solomon mislead Israel while alive, his pagan idolatry was still corrupting the nation 300 years after he died!

Second Kings 23:13 remarks, “And the high places that were before Jerusalem, which were on the right hand of the mount of corruption, which Solomon the king of Israel had builded for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Zidonians, and for Chemosh the abomination of the Moabites, and for Milcom the abomination of the children of Ammon, did the king defile.” King Josiah, a descendent of Solomon, reformed Jerusalem by purging it of Solomon’s vain religious system.

The fifth and final round of judgment or chastisement on sinful (idolatrous) Israel was eviction from the land of Canaan. Leviticus chapter 26 again: “[27] And if ye will not for all this hearken unto me, but walk contrary unto me; [28] Then I will walk contrary unto you also in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins. [29] And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat. [30] And I will destroy your high places, and cut down your images, and cast your carcases upon the carcases of your idols, and my soul shall abhor you.

“[31] And I will make your cities waste, and bring your sanctuaries unto desolation, and I will not smell the savour of your sweet odours. [32] And I will bring the land into desolation: and your enemies which dwell therein shall be astonished at it. [33] And I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you: and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste.”

These expulsions are the Assyrian captivity (2 Kings chapter 17) and the Babylonian captivity (2 Kings chapter 25). All that said, we can better appreciate today’s Scripture….