Consider Your Ways, Israel! #1

Saturday, September 21, 2013

“Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes” (Haggai 1:5,6 KJV).

The Jews have built their houses, but they are apathetic that they have not finished JEHOVAH’S….

In the context of today’s Scripture, only a remnant of Jews has returned to Jerusalem from the Babylonian captivity (606-536 B.C.). Like Zechariah and Malachi, JEHOVAH has sent Haggai to instruct, encourage, and rebuke these post-exilic Israelis in Palestine. Both Haggai and Zechariah preached prior to Ezra, the priest-scribe who led a group of Jews from Babylon back to Jerusalem. Today’s Scripture, dated approximately 520 B.C., parallels Ezra 5:1.

Haggai, preaching to the returned Jews in Jerusalem and Judah, reminds them that though are now living again in the Promised Land, their lives are futile and empty (today’s Scripture). Some 15 years earlier, King Cyrus of Persia had granted the Jews permission to return to Jerusalem to rebuild Solomon’s Temple (destroyed 586 B.C. by the Babylonians). However, Gentile opposition to the Jews building at that site halted construction until the time of the context of today’s Scripture (Ezra 4:23,24 cf. Haggai 1:1,2).

The prophet Haggai rebukes the Jews in Jerusalem and Judah who have built their own homes, but who could not care less that JEHOVAH’S Temple is still unfinished, nearly two decades since its construction began. “Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the LORD’S house should be built. Then came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying, Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled [roofed, covered] houses, and this house lie waste?” (Haggai 1:2-4).

We will better understand the meaning of today’s Scripture by taking a closer look at the minor prophet’s book. Let us see why Israel’s strenuous labor is yielding little reward, and if she will reform her ways….

Good Riddance! #2

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

“Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you” (1 John 3:13 KJV).

God’s people have never been welcome here in “this present evil world” (Galatians 1:4) because He has never been welcome here. In short, if lost people could utter two words to us Christians after we have been raptured out, it would be, “Good riddance!”

Beloved, detrimental cultural shifts are occurring, especially since the last few years. Even here in the “Christian” United States, the Bible’s principles are being increasingly ignored. Our world has always been sinful, but here is the problem: the generations who grew up hearing at least some of God’s Word, are passing off the scene, and generations who know even less—almost nothing (!)—from the Holy Bible, are being born and reaching adulthood. Today’s youth are frightfully ignorant of Scripture, but this is nothing new in Scripture.

“And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel” (Judges 2:10). With Joshua’s generation (people of faith who saw God’s miracles in Egypt and the wilderness) now passed away, Israel’s new generation had only one way to go spiritually—south! The rest of the book of Judges documents their downward spiral into apostasy for the next 300 years: Israel just drifted further and further away from JEHOVAH, until His wrath finally fell upon them and they were deported out of the Promised Land via the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities.

Has our world learned nothing from Scripture?! God will not tolerate sin forever; the wrath that Israel felt, is not being poured out on us because we live in the Dispensation of Grace. Jesus Christ is so longsuffering, but He is also holy and righteous, and sin will be punished eventually—either at Calvary’s cross (for believers), or hell and the lake of fire (for lost people). The world hates Christians (today’s Scripture) because the world hates Jesus Christ! The lost world does not like the message we preach, for we stand in way of “progress”… this is why they want to bid us “good riddance…!”

Saint, Why Sayest Thou Nothing? #2

Monday, January 28, 2013

“Howbeit no man spake openly of him for fear of the Jews” (John 7:13 KJV).

You are not alone in being shy about witnessing for Jesus Christ….

The LORD sends the prophet Jeremiah to warn Judah and Jerusalem of God’s impending judgment, that the Babylonians are coming to take them captive, and to carry them back to Babylon. Once Jeremiah preaches, he learns just how stubborn and wicked the Jews are.

“O LORD, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived; thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed: I am in derision daily, every one mocketh me. For since I spake, I cried out, I cried violence and spoil; because the word of the LORD was made a reproach unto me, and a derision, daily. Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay” (Jeremiah 20:7-9).

The Jews, upon hearing God’s Word through Jeremiah, mock him. They do not want to hear what God has to say, so Jeremiah vows never again will he speak in the name of the LORD. Yet, notice, God’s Word had filled the heart of Jeremiah—it was like “a burning fire shut up in [his] bones”—and he could not stay silent for long. Soon, he was preaching God’s Word again! (Later, the Jews want to kill him, Jeremiah 26:8. Years later, he is thrown into a muddy pit and imprisoned, Jeremiah 38:6.)

Jeremiah is just one example in Scripture of God’s people being shy when sharing His Word with others. Sometimes, Jeremiah wanted to say nothing about God; other times, he spoke about God. Why is this? Why do believers not speak about God’s Word all the time? That is, why are we not bold all the time in witnessing? Why do we grow shy at times? One of the reasons is we fear the negative public reaction (see today’s Scripture).

But, there are other, more specific, factors involved, too.