Jesus, Please Leave! #1

Monday, June 17, 2019

“And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coasts” (Matthew 8:34 KJV).

Friend, what would you do if the Lord Jesus Christ Himself happened to knock on your front door or ring your doorbell?

It is a sad commentary indeed. When Christ showed up in the midst of His own kinsmen, the Bible says, “And she [His mother, the virgin Mary] brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn(Luke 2:7). A few years pass, and the wise men have come from the east to worship young Jesus. “When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him(Matthew 2:3). Was Israel ready for her Messiah? Of course not! Did the inhabitants of Jerusalem welcome its rightful King with open arms? Certainly not! Truly, rank unbelief led to outright refusal.

Over 30 years later, Matthew 8:20 reports: “And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath no where to lay his head.” In other words, the foxes and birds have homes where they are accepted and can rest. However, Jesus has been overwhelmingly rejected. In the very place where He should have settled “at home,” there was no room for Him! Did you know that, at the very beginning of His ministry, the convicted Jews attempted to throw Jesus off a cliff (Luke 4:28-31)?!

Doubtless, a believing remnant followed Jesus when He conducted His earthly life—Mary His mother, Joseph His step-father, Anna and Simeon, John the Baptist, the 12 Apostles, Mary Magdalene, Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathaea, Lazarus and his sisters Martha and Mary, and so on. However, it was indeed a remnant, a little flock” (Luke 12:32): most Jews refused to believe on Him. Their attitude culminated in John 19:15, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him…. The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar!”

Calvary’s cross is just moments away. Yet, we pause the narrative and go back in time, focusing on today’s Scripture….

The Comforter #5

Friday, March 29, 2019

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever (John 14:16 KJV).

Who is this “Comforter?” What are His roles?

John 14:17 says the Holy Spirit will “dwell with [believing Israel], and shall be in [them].” Contrary to popular belief, the indwelling Spirit is not unique to our Dispensation of Grace. Through the Prophet Ezekiel, the LORD God had promised centuries earlier, “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. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them” (36:26,27).

Beloved, our flesh is weak. (Right?) Despite our best efforts, we cannot live the Christian life. Only Jesus Christ can live His life—whether in Israel’s prophetic program or our mystery program. As the nation Israel will be the expression of Jesus Christ’s life in the earth in the ages to come, so we the Church the Body of Christ will be the manifestation of His life in the heavenly places. It is not we duplicating His life but rather He Himself living in and through us. There is no imitation; it is the actual life of Christ!

How exactly does Christ live in and through us though? Does He unexpectedly take control of our bodies and manipulate us as puppets? (No!) Is there some mysterious, hair-raising, gentle breeze? (No!) Bolts of lighting striking the back of our neck? (No!) The Holy Spirit wrote the Bible (2 Peter 1:20,21; 2 Timothy 3:16,17). When we trust Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour, the Spirit of God indwell and seals us (Ephesians 1:12-14). We become “an holy temple in the Lord, an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:21,22). He strengthens or fortifies us internally as we walk by faith in His Word to us, Romans through Philemon (Ephesians 3:16). Hence, daily Bible study—yea, daily dispensational Bible study—is so critical. Without the Comforter grounding us using God’s Word, neither Israel nor we can be vessels of Christ’s life!

Our two latest Bible Q&As: “What is ‘the mark of the Beast?’” and “Why is ‘666’ the number of the Beast?

The Comforter #4

Thursday, March 28, 2019

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever (John 14:16 KJV).

Who is this “Comforter?” What are His roles?

In the 40 days following His resurrection, Jesus Christ opened the Scriptures so His Apostles could better comprehend them. All they had at the time was Genesis through Malachi (see Luke 24:44-48), but it was enough to get them going without Him. Those “Bible classes” resulted in the Apostle Peter’s astonishing grasp of obscure Old Testament Scripture as seen in Acts 1:16-20!

Just before He ascended into Heaven, Jesus said, “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high(Luke 24:49). The parallel passage is Acts chapter 1, verses 4 and 5: “And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.”

As sworn, the “Comforter” arrived in Acts chapter 2: “[1] And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. [2] And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. [3] And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. [4] And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Here, the Holy Spirit enabled the Apostles to speak in human languages they never formally learned, that their Jewish brethren visiting from foreign lands would understand God’s Word in their native dialect!

Over in Ephesians 3:16, we see Paul praying for us Gentiles in the Dispensation of Grace, “That he [God] would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;….” Here, the Holy Spirit functions as our fortifier, our “Comforter,” our Helper….

The Comforter #3

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever (John 14:16 KJV).

Who is this “Comforter?” What are His roles?

As Christ conducted His earthly ministry, He was present bodily to fortify His disciples. Now that He was leaving to go to Calvary’s cross, eventually returning to Heaven to His Father, He was training them for His absence. Howbeit, they would not be totally alone. He would ask His Father to send “another Comforter” (today’s Scripture). This Person, “the Spirit of truth,” would “dwell with [them],” and would be “in [them]” (verse 17). Jesus would not leave them “comfortless” (verse 18).

In chapter 15, the Lord Jesus says the Holy Spirit “shall testify of me: and ye shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning” (verses 26,27). Chapter 16 speaks of the Holy Spirit coming once Christ departs (verse 7). Through the Apostles’ preaching, He will “reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: [9] Of sin, because they believe not on me; [10] Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; [11] Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.” He enables them to proclaim God’s truth—especially facts from Christ’s earthly ministry.

Finally, Christ discloses how the Holy Spirit will pen our “New Testament” Scriptures: “[12] I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. [13] Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. [14] He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. [15] All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.”

The Holy Spirit will take Christ’s words from His earthly ministry, expand on them, and then cause them to be written down so we can have them now. As He is the “Comforter” of the Little Flock, so He is our “Comforter,” strengthening God’s people regardless of the dispensational change….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Are the Jews supposed to still get circumcised in the Dispensation of Grace?

The Comforter #2

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever (John 14:16 KJV).

Who is this “Comforter?” What are His roles?

Today’s Scripture lies in the section (13:1–17:26) in which the Lord Jesus is in the upper room with His disciples at evening. They eat the Passover and then the Last Supper. In just a few hours, He will go out to the Garden of Gethsemane where He will be betrayed and arrested. Ultimately, the following morning, they will execute Him on Calvary’s cross. These chapters are thus His parting words to Israel’s believing remnant. He reveals to them things to come—both short-term and long-term. There is good news and bad.

The central piece of good news is the coming of “the Comforter” (first mentioned in today’s Scripture): “[16] And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; [17] Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. [18] I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you…. [26] But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”

While the word “comfort” often invokes the thought of cheering up a sad person, there is a much wider meaning in this unit of Scripture. At the heart of “comfort” is “fort,” from the Latin term (fortis) meaning “strong.” “Fortitude” is the related concept. Tough times are coming for Israel’s Little Flock, heirs of God’s earthly kingdom (Luke 12:31,32), so they need power to endure. They will be endowed with Divine strength—“the Comforter!” The Greek word is “parakletos,” which simply means “called alongside, especially to help.” God’s Word defines “the Comforter” as “the Holy Ghost,” the third Member of the Godhead, who will enable Israel to work in Christ’s absence.

The strength will come about via God’s Word, the truth that “the Spirit of truth” speaks to these saints….

The Good Man #5

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful (Psalm 1:1 KJV).

How is this an apt introduction to the Book of Psalms?

Onward to verse 5: “Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.” This points back to verse 4: “The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.” Psalm 1—yes, all the Book of Psalms—foresees the end-times. In view especially are the two comings of Christ: the first is His suffering on Calvary’s cross, and the other is His reigning in the Kingdom. (Remember, there is no Dispensation of Grace revealed until Paul’s ministry. We the Church the Body of Christ are not under consideration here!)

In between Calvary and the Kingdom is a time of fiery wrath. This is the warning found in John the Baptist’s message near the close of Matthew chapter 3. Unbelievers will not survive that Second Coming. Notice 2 Thessalonians chapter 1: “[6] Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; [7] And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, [8] In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: [9] Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power…..”

With the ungodly fallen in God’s wrath, the sinners will not be among “the congregation of the righteous.” This “congregation” is the Messianic Church, God’s believing remnant found within apostate Israel. That “Little Flock” will inherit His earthly kingdom (Luke 12:32). We find them in Matthew 16:16-18, but they go as far back as Psalm 22:22 (cf. Hebrews 2:11,12). These Messianic Jews—those who trust Jesus as Messiah—will survive God’s wrath (the very wrath that consumed their unbelieving relatives). We now better appreciate Psalms, where it fits on the Bible timeline and how its narrative flows from beginning to end….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Are the flames of fire in Hell literal?

Refuge! #7

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Then ye shall appoint you cities to be cities of refuge for you; that the slayer may flee thither, which killeth any person at unawares (Numbers 35:11 KJV).

Look closely! Could there be something prophetic here?

To spare Israel absolute annihilation, God graciously provided a loophole in the Mosaic Law. If one ignorantly killed another, the slayer could flee to a city of refuge and escape the avenging relative’s hand. The deceased person’s relative could not harm him in that special city.

Similarly, prophetically, the Antichrist is the avenger of blood, coming to punish national Israel for rejecting her Messiah (Jesus Christ) (Isaiah 10:5,6; John 5:43). Thankfully, individual Jews can flee to a (figurative) “city of refuge.” The Little Flock will survive God’s judgment: membership therein (via water baptism) is protection from “the wrath to come” (Matthew 3:1-12; 1 Peter 3:20,21).

Throughout early Acts, God the Holy Spirit constantly indicted Israel for killing her Messiah. They were worthy of His wrath! However, He downgraded the charge from murder to manslaughter. Israel was spiritually ignorant when she crucified Jesus, thus allowing her opportunity to flee to refuge—Israel’s believing remnant. In Acts chapters 2-5, Israel was offered a renewed opportunity of repentance.

“That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec” (Hebrews 6:18-20). Believing Jews in Israel’s kingdom program have “fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us.” Having trusted Jesus as Messiah, they will enter His earthly kingdom when He returns to redeem them nationally at His Second Coming (cf. Hebrews 12:25-29).

“And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God (Zechariah 13:9).