Placebo #4

Sunday, October 10, 2021

“That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD: Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits:” (Isaiah 30:9,10 KJV).

What is a “placebo?” Can we find it in the spiritual realm?

In the Book of Daniel, the LORD God foretells the world’s governments while David’s throne is lost to Gentile political powers. During this “time of the heathen” (Ezekiel 30:3) or these “times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24), no son of David governs Israel from Jerusalem; see the curses of Leviticus 26:18-19 and 27-39. When King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon progressively weakened Judah militarily and politically circa 606 B.C., the final three sons of David or kings of Jerusalem served (until Jerusalem’s fall in 586 B.C.). Messiah/Christ Jesus, the ultimate Son of David, sought to reclaim his throne from non-Jews (Ezekiel 21:25-27). Howbeit, Israel refused, for, in their unbelief and sin, they exclaimed, “We have no king but Caesar!” (John 19:15).

With Messiah rejected and heading to Calvary to die, a counterfeit king of Israel will sit on David’s throne (cf. John 5:43; 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12). “And in his estate [the political office of the king of Syria/Turkey that precedes him] shall stand up a vile person, to whom they shall not give the honour of the kingdom: but he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries [halaqlaqqot]…. And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries [halaqa]: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits” (Daniel 11:21,32).

On the “campaign trail,” the crafty Antichrist shares a “feel-good” message with Israel—particularly promising her peace with her enemies. Yet, most disastrously, once she is disarmed and unsuspecting, he authorizes these ancient Gentile foes to assault her, thus revealing himself to be the traitor he was all along: “He hath put forth his hands against such as be at peace with him: he hath broken his covenant. The words of his mouth were smoother [halaq] than butter, but war was in his heart: his words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords” (Psalm 55:20,21).

Israel is now in receipt of her desire (!) of today’s Scripture….

Seven Men Named Before Birth #5

Friday, August 6, 2021

“A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold” (Proverbs 22:1 KJV).

Who are the seven noteworthy men in Scripture named before their births?

As we have seen now, in each of these situations, man’s sinful flesh is at work but God’s faithfulness overcomes it. Abraham (and especially) Sarah schemed to have a child their way (through Hagar) instead of God’s way (through Sarah). Then, Hagar was punished because of the ensuing domestic conflict; regardless, God blessed Abraham’s child through Hagar, Ishmael, for the LORD “heard” (took notice) of her dire predicament.

When joyous Abraham and skeptical Sarah finally did have a son, Isaac was appropriately named because of the “laughter.” The Abrahamic Covenant now had an heir. Although King David had illicit relations with Bathsheba, and that resulting child died, the LORD was faithful in giving them another son, Solomon, whose alternate name Jedidiah meant “beloved of JEHOVAH.” It was through this boy that God would achieve the Davidic Covenant: a son of David would reign over Israel forever. King Jeroboam of the Northern Kingdom was a pagan idolater; he caused the 10 northern tribes to stumble in heathenism. A son of David, King Josiah, destroyed Jeroboam’s religious system and instituted spirituality “founded of JEHOVAH.”

Though idolatrous Israel deserved her Babylonian Captivity, the LORD used Cyrus King of Persia to “possess the furnace” (overthrow Babylon), thereby freeing the Jews and letting them return to the Promised Land. Father God sent John the Baptist to announce the entrance of His Son: He had not forgotten His covenants with Israel, but would “favor” them according to His grace and fulfill those promises despite the nation’s rank unbelief. Finally, Jesus Christ Himself took upon human flesh, to shed His blood and become “JEHOVAH-Saviour”—first and foremost of Israel, but ultimately for the whole world!

One final note worthy of our consideration. Looking at the list another way, we can read the following message: “Being heard of God results in laughter, JEHOVAH has beloved and founded, the furnace/oppressor is possessed/conquered, for JEHOVAH is gracious and Saviour.” These are certainly descriptive of Jesus Christ’s ministry—what He will do especially for Israel.

Seven Men Named Before Birth #3

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

“A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold” (Proverbs 22:1 KJV).

Who are the seven noteworthy men in Scripture named before their births?

As per the fifth course of chastisement in the Law of Moses, the idolatrous nation Israel was removed from the Land of Canaan via Gentile deportations and captivities (Leviticus 26:27-46). In the case of Judah, the Southern Kingdom, Babylon was its home for 70 years, circa 606–536 B.C. (Jeremiah 25:11,12; Jeremiah 29:10,11;  2 Chronicles 36:20,21). However, before Babylon thrice invaded and ultimately conquered Jerusalem, God promised a deliverer who would defeat/possess Babylon and grant the Israelites permission to return to the Promised Land and rebuild Jerusalem and its Temple.

“That saith of Cyrus [“possess the furnace,” King of Persia], He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid. Thus saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut;…” (Isaiah 44:28–45:1). Some 150 years after Isaiah, Cyrus—also called “Darius the Median”—fulfilled this prophecy concerning him (cf. Daniel 5:30,31; Daniel 9:1,2; 2 Chronicles 36:22,23; Ezra 1:1-3).

During the ministries of the Old Testament prophets, Israel repeatedly disregarded God’s messengers and remained in unbelief. Thus, the LORD warned He would eventually stop sending preachers to Israel (Amos 8:11-14). With Malachi’s ministry concluding, the Hebrew Bible was closed circa 400 B.C. No Scriptures were written either. (This is how we know the Apocryphal books are forgeries!) Finally, after four centuries of silence, God spoke to Israel again through John the Baptist’s ministry: “But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John [the Baptist, “favored of JEHOVAH”] (Luke 1:13). Even after all this time, God in His grace still favors ungrateful Israel, and will still fulfill the covenants He promised them!

Now, the last man on our list, the greatest Man, the God-Man….

Confession Confusion #6

Saturday, June 26, 2021

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9 KJV).

Lo, the chief proof-text of the “short-account system!” (And how to look at it afresh, without [!] denominational eyeglasses!)

By the time of John the Baptist’s ministry and Christ’s earthly ministry, national Israel is still apostate (refusing God’s Word) but a believing remnant (the Little Flock) is confessing their sins and their forefathers’ sins. Recall Matthew 3:6 and Mark 1:5. Ever since Moses 16 centuries prior, Israel has failed to “do” “all that the LORD hath spoken” (Exodus 19:1-8). The Jews have been habitually idolatrous, violating their agreement with JEHOVAH God at Sinai. Experiencing the fifth course of judgment or chastisement (Leviticus 26:40-46), they must confess their sins so as to be delivered into God’s earthly kingdom and enjoy the Abrahamic Covenant! Yet, as previously noted, religious Israelites refuse to learn the lesson of the Law of Moses (see their sin problem). Regarding all other Jews “sinners,” they believe they have no sins to confess and thus refuse John’s water baptism (Matthew 3:7-9; Luke 3:7,8; Luke 7:29,30; cf. Matthew 9:10-13; Mark 2:15-17; Luke 5:29-32).

Today’s Scripture addresses these Jews who suppose themselves to be sinless, “good enough” in their works-religion: “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:7-10). First John 1:9 is written to unbelievers in Israel! Now, look at 1 John 2:12: “I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake.” Here is Israel’s believing remnant, the Little Flock.

Having now established the context of 1 John 1:9, let us summarize and conclude this devotionals arc….

Confession Confusion #5

Friday, June 25, 2021

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9 KJV).

Lo, the chief proof-text of the “short-account system!” (And how to look at it afresh, without [!] denominational eyeglasses!)

Obeying Leviticus 26:40-42, Daniel, Ezra, and Nehemiah all confessed sins in light of the Babylonian Captivity. “And I prayed unto the LORD my God, and made my confession, and said, O LORD, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments;…. And whiles I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the LORD my God for the holy mountain of my God;…” (Daniel 9:4,20).

“O LORD God of Israel, thou art righteous: for we remain yet escaped, as it is this day: behold, we are before thee in our trespasses: for we cannot stand before thee because of this…. Now when Ezra had prayed, and when he had confessed, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, there assembled unto him out of Israel a very great congregation of men and women and children: for the people wept very sore…. Now therefore make confession unto the LORD God of your fathers, and do his pleasure: and separate yourselves from the people of the land, and from the strange [pagan/heathen/idolatrous] wives” (Ezra 9:15; 10:1,11).

“Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father’s house have sinned (Nehemiah 1:6). “And the seed of Israel separated themselves from all strangers, and stood and confessed their sins, and the iniquities of their fathers. And they stood up in their place, and read in the book of the law of the LORD their God one fourth part of the day; and another fourth part they confessed, and worshipped the LORD their God” (Nehemiah 9:2,3).

Hence, John the Baptist’s converts were also confessing their sins….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What is ‘surfeiting?’

Confession Confusion #4

Thursday, June 24, 2021

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9 KJV).

Lo, the chief proof-text of the “short-account system!” (And how to look at it afresh, without [!] denominational eyeglasses!)

Continue reading Leviticus chapter 26, the fifth course of chastisement commencing: “[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.”

When Israel finds herself under Gentile dominion and dispersed throughout foreign lands (Assyrian and Babylonian Captivities circa 700/600 B.C.), God tells her how to be restored to Him: “[40] If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they trespassed against me, and that also they have walked contrary unto me; [41] And that I also have walked contrary unto them, and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity: [42] Then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land.”

Confession of sins is Israel’s admission of guilt of breaking the Old Covenant, worshipping and serving idols. Once she humbles herself and acknowledges her sin problem (learning the lesson of the Law of Moses), then God by His grace delivers her into the New Covenant….

The 12 Princes of Israel

Sunday, June 13, 2021

These are those that were numbered, which Moses and Aaron numbered, and the princes of Israel, being twelve men: each one was for the house of his fathers” (Numbers 1:44 KJV).

Behold, the Old Testament basis for the 12 Apostles!

Today’s Scripture is the first of several references in the Book of Numbers to “the 12 princes of Israel.” Here are others. “This was the dedication of the altar, in the day when it was anointed, by the princes of Israel: twelve chargers of silver, twelve silver bowls, twelve spoons of gold:…” (7:84). “Speak unto the children of Israel, and take of every one of them a rod according to the house of their fathers, of all their princes according to the house of their fathers twelve rods: write thou every man’s name upon his rod…. And Moses spake unto the children of Israel, and every one of their princes gave him a rod apiece, for each prince one, according to their fathers’ houses, even twelve rods: and the rod of Aaron was among their rods” (17:2,6).

Since Israel’s 12 tribes lost their political might during the Assyrian and Babylonian Captivities, the LORD promised in Isaiah chapter 1: “[26] And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning: afterward thou shalt be called, The city of righteousness, the faithful city. [27] Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness.” At Christ’s return, He will reinstate Israel’s 12 princes.

Hence, the Lord Jesus told His 12 Apostles in Matthew chapter 19: “[27] Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? [28] And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.He repeated in Luke 22:28-30: “[28] Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. [29] And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; [30] That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Was Jesus the ‘young man’ in Mark 16:5?

Lessons from the Ark of the Covenant #7

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

“…[T]he ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant;” (Hebrews 9:4 KJV).

What can we learn from the Ark of the Covenant?

About 500 years after Moses, the Jerusalem Temple replaced the Tabernacle. Second Chronicles chapter 5: “[6] Also king Solomon, and all the congregation of Israel that were assembled unto him before the ark, sacrificed sheep and oxen, which could not be told nor numbered for multitude. [7] And the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the LORD unto his place, to the oracle of the house, into the most holy place, even under the wings of the cherubims: [8] For the cherubims spread forth their wings over the place of the ark, and the cherubims covered the ark and the staves thereof above. [9] And they drew out the staves of the ark, that the ends of the staves were seen from the ark before the oracle; but they were not seen without. And there it is unto this day. [10] There was nothing in the ark save the two tables which Moses put therein at Horeb, when the LORD made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of Egypt.

What happened to the golden pot of manna and Aaron’s rod that budded? Scripture is silent. Regardless, by Solomon’s time, only the two stone tablets of the Ten Commandments remained. When the Babylonians invaded Jerusalem and destroyed its Temple 380 years later, the Ark of the Covenant was not among the treasures pillaged. It disappeared, but that does not matter. God Himself will institute a new covenant, replacing that old religious system, erasing Israel’s sins through Calvary, and dwelling with them forever in the Person of Jesus Christ (Millennial Kingdom onward).

“And it shall come to pass, when ye be multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, saith the LORD, they shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of the LORD: neither shall it come to mind: neither shall they remember it; neither shall they visit it; neither shall that be done any more” (Jeremiah 3:16). Israel has finally learned the lessons from the Ark of the Covenant! (Have we?)

That They All May Be One! #5

Monday, March 22, 2021

Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me (John 17:20,21 KJV).

What exactly is this unity?

All 12 tribes were safe and secure under King David. After idolatrous King Solomon’s death, however, the 10 northern tribes branched off to form the Kingdom of Israel, and the two southern tribes became the Kingdom of Judah. While Judah remained loyal to the Davidic dynasty for the next 350 years, Israel had a succession of various dynasties ruling it. Ultimately, the Assyrians overthrew Israel circa 722 B.C., and the Babylonians conquered David’s family in 586 B.C. with the fall of Jerusalem. No son of David has ever reigned in Israel since.

In Luke chapter 1, the Angel Gabriel informed Mary the virgin she was to be the mother of the Saviour: “[31] And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. [32] He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: [33] And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” This points back to God’s promise made to David 10 centuries prior (cf. 2 Samuel 7:12-17; Isaiah 9:6,7). The house of Jacob is still broken, politically devastated, but with the Messiah comes unity for the Jewish people.

The curse of the Old Covenant brought division, yet the blessing of the New Covenant brings harmony: “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: 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 [disobeyed], although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD:….” (Jeremiah 31:31,32). JEHOVAH God will reunify all 12 tribes under David’s dynasty….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Should we have a ministry to people who abuse us?

Glory Days #5

Sunday, March 14, 2021

For the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody (Isaiah 51:3 KJV).

Behold, the glory days—both past and future!

Today’s Scripture awaits the day when the LORD consoles Zion (Jerusalem). Not only has she suffered the terrible effects of the curse established in Genesis chapter 3, God has judged her for her people’s idolatry. Gentiles have entered her land, ravaging it with war and destruction. Her people have been taken away captive for their transgressions, their disobedience to the Old Covenant (Mosaic Law) punished. Read Leviticus 26:27-46.

“And the LORD said unto me, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A plumbline. Then said the LORD, Behold, I will set a plumbline in the midst of my people Israel: I will not again pass by them any more: And the high places of Isaac shall be desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste; and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword” (Amos 7:8,9; Israel’s Assyrian Captivity). “In all your dwellingplaces the cities shall be laid waste, and the high places shall be desolate; that your altars may be laid waste and made desolate, and your idols may be broken and cease, and your images may be cut down, and your works may be abolished” (Ezekiel 6:6; Judah’s Babylonian Captivity a century later).

However, there is the hope of Israel’s restoration at Christ’s Second Coming: “Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the LORD hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem. The LORD hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God” (Isaiah 52:9,10). “And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in” (Isaiah 58:12).

Earth’s former glory days—the Garden of Eden—will return. When the Lord comes back, the planet will revert to pre-Fall conditions….