Their Vanities #5

Friday, August 18, 2017

“They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation” (Deuteronomy 32:21 KJV).

What are these “vanities?”

Speaking to the apostate (anti-Jesus, idol-worshipping) Jews, especially Israel’s religious leaders, the Lord Jesus said in Matthew 21:43: “Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” This “nation” is the “foolish nation” of today’s Scripture (the “Little Flock” of Luke 12:32). In the eyes of their lost and idolatrous Jewish relatives, they are “foolish” for believing JEHOVAH God’s Word (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:14; Acts 26:24; Acts 4:13).

In 1 Peter 2:8-10, the Apostle Peter spoke to “new Israel,” that believing Jewish remnant: “[8] And [Jesus Christ is] a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient [unbelieving]: whereunto also they were appointed. [9] But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; [10] Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.”

Every Jew should have had a personal relationship with the one true God. After all, JEHOVAH God had promised Israel various covenants He had not given the Gentile nations (cf. Romans 9:4,5 and Ephesians 2:11,12). Alas, most Israelites preferred to worship idols (cf. today’s Scripture). This will be true even after our dispensation. God will consume them in His wrath (seven-year Tribulation and Second Coming), leaving the believing Jews to enter His earthly kingdom and become His priests (Millennium).

Unbelieving Jews will be permanently cut off from the God whom they could have had as their own. With Him accepting believing Jews, it will make the unbelieving Jews “jealous” (He was supposed to be their God by covenant relations too). As the unbelieving Jews replaced Him with idols (“vanities”), so the Lord Jesus Christ will replace them with believing Jews.

Bible Q&A #410: “Why does the King James Bible say, ‘pisseth against the wall?’

Their Vanities #4

Thursday, August 17, 2017

“They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation” (Deuteronomy 32:21 KJV).

What are these “vanities?”

Recall the two sets of parallel phrases: “that which is not God” with “their vanities,” and “those which are not a people” with “a foolish nation.” Now, we are particularly interested in the latter set. Who are these “not a people,” this “foolish nation?”

Deuteronomy chapter 32 (today’s Scripture and its context) is “the Song of Moses.” Some of Moses’ parting words to the nation, it covers Israel’s history and future (prophecy, events beyond our day). Today’s Scripture points to the future by first pointing to the past. Remember, Israel was to be God’s nation of priests. Every Jew was to have a spiritual relationship with JEHOVAH God, that every Israelite, in a coming earthly kingdom, would share the message of his God with the Gentiles/nations (see Genesis 12:1-3, Isaiah 60:1-3, Isaiah 61:6, Zechariah 8:20-23, Matthew 28:18-20, Luke 24:47-48, Acts 1:8, et cetera).

Jeremiah 2:11, almost 1,000 years after Moses spoke today’s Scripture, says that Israel worshipped idols and abandoned the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: “Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit.” God actually gave Moses the insight to see Israel’s apostasy that Jeremiah witnessed centuries later. Today’s Scripture takes it a step further though. God will still get a Jewish people for His name. He will reach within the nation Israel and pull out a believing remnant. That believing remnant will become “new Israel,” His kingdom of priests.

Notice what the Lord Jesus said in Luke chapter 12: “[31] But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. [32] Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” In contrast to the idolatrous Jews, His followers would be that “foolish nation,” heirs of that earthly kingdom. Just as unbelieving Jews had given Him up for idols, He will give them up for believing Jews….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What does ‘joined hard’ mean in Acts 18:7?

 

The Comforter and Teacher

Sunday, May 28, 2017

“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” (John 14:26 KJV).

The Holy Bible is a progressive revelation: God gradually made known His Word to mankind throughout history. He knew the end from the beginning, but He chose not to tell the end at the beginning. As the end came closer, it became clearer. Here, we see the “New Testament” Scriptures predicted—God the Holy Spirit’s method of comforting, coming alongside to aid and strengthen, God’s people.

When God the Father sent the Holy Spirit in Acts chapter 2, the Spirit caused Israel’s believing remnant—especially the 12 Apostles—to remember everything that Jesus taught them during the previous three years (His earthly ministry). See today’s Scripture. They did not have to rely on fallible human memory; they had the omniscient, omnipotent Holy Ghost guiding their minds and hearts, giving them the final pieces of information needed to understand their prophetic program.

The early Acts period (chapters 1-7) and the Bible Books of Hebrews through Revelation provide details not found in Genesis through Malachi and Matthew through John. The Lord Jesus predicted in today’s Scripture that Israel’s Little Flock would receive the capstone of knowledge as touching the prophetic program. They would see how everything fit together so beautifully, and they would be able to appreciate what God had planned in eternity past. Despite everything that Satan and evil men would do to sabotage God’s plan for the Earth, they would be unable to overcome Him.

Compare today’s Scripture to what Jesus spoke later, John 16:12-14: “[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.” In our Bible, inspired and preserved by the Holy Spirit, we see the result of the prophetic program too!

Sifted Saints #5

Monday, March 13, 2017

“And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:31,32 KJV).

What is Satan’s goal here?

In his final meeting with the Ephesian church elders, Paul through the Holy Spirit issued a grave warning in Acts chapter 20: “[28] Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. [29] For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. [30] Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. [31] Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. [32] And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.”

Notice how Satan “sifts” members of the Body of Christ by having them overlook “the word of [God’s] grace” (verse 32). Thus they follow the Law, available in many forms—that is, 38,000 denominations! Splinter group after splinter group develops, until the distinction is no longer “Christian versus non-Christian,” but increasingly “this denomination versus that denomination.” So many precious Christian souls are entangled in such confusion and division!

As Satan attempted to “divide and conquer” the Little Flock, Israel’s believing remnant, so he uses a similar strategy with us the Church the Body of Christ today. Remember, he attacked the Little Flock by focusing on its chief Apostle (that is, Peter). With Peter discredited, the Little Flock would collapse. Likewise, we see Satan attacking the Church the Body of Christ by concentrating on its leading Apostle (namely, Paul). There are “doctrines of devils” today aimed at questioning Paul’s grace doctrines, Romans through Philemon (1 Timothy 4:1-16)—people using the Bible but not “rightly dividing” it (2 Timothy 2:15). With the Bible not rightly divided, the Christians are divided and conquered!

Sifted Saints #4

Sunday, March 12, 2017

“And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:31,32 KJV).

What is Satan’s goal here?

“Simon, Simon” underscores the seriousness in Jesus’ voice. After delivering to Peter the grim news about Satan wanting to split up the Little Flock—mainly by attacking its leadership, the 12 Apostles—the Lord comforts His chief Apostle. Not many people notice, but the Lord, in today’s Scripture, revealed that He had prayed specifically for Peter ahead of the impending ordeals. But I have prayed for thee….” (We do not read the actual prayer, although it preceded today’s Scripture.) Jesus prayed for Peter (remember, “thee,” singular), rather than the whole group (“you,” plural, as in modern versions).

“[T]hat thy faith fail not….” We are not to suppose that Peter’s faith will be unwavering (because, as we know, it was not). The implication is that he will fall; hence, his “converting,” or turning around, will be necessary. However, because of Jesus’ prayer, Peter’s denial of God’s only begotten Son will not be continuous. “[A]nd when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” We know that, after he denied Christ, Peter went out and “wept bitterly” (Luke 22:62; cf. Matthew 26:75; Mark 14:72). Although not recorded in the Bible, we can assume that Peter was “converted” (moved from denier to embracer) sometime after.

When Peter would be turned around, re-oriented toward the right way, Jesus told him to strengthen his brethren. Those brethren would be vulnerable to Satan’s further assaults, but with Peter, their leader, now restored in faith, they would be also rescued from additional spiritual harm. Peter could encourage them to remain having faith in Christ. In fact, he will go on to declare to them the news of the resurrected Christ (Luke 24:34)! As a powerful, Holy-Spirit-filled Apostle, he will go on to lead the 11 Apostles of Jesus Christ into the Book of Acts. Except Judas, none of the Apostles were permanently lost to Satan. In short, the Lord Jesus’ prayer was effectual!

The Devil, however, still employs “divide and conquer” to hinder believers in Christ today….

Sifted Saints #3

Saturday, March 11, 2017

“And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:31,32 KJV).

What is Satan’s goal here?

It is the night of the Lord Jesus’ arrest; He has less than 24 hours left to live. In today’s Scripture, He issues some very solemn statements to His 12 Apostles. As He speaks, He bears in mind that Satan’s schemes against Him are already coming together in other parts of Jerusalem. There is worse news to come, but He does not tell His disciples yet.

According to the succeeding verses, Jesus and His Apostles will finish eating. Suddenly, and mysteriously, Judas will leave the meal. (The 11 Apostles will assume he is going out to purchase items for the feast, or to give something to the poor—John 13:21-30.) Jesus and His disciples, singing a hymn, will go out to the Mount of Olives (Luke 22:39; cf. Matthew 26:30). They will see Judas return, leading a mob, coming to the Garden of Gethsemane to take Jesus into custody (Luke 22:47-53). In other words, this is how the 11 Apostles will learn that Judas is the traitor. As Jesus is arrested, the Bible says that all of His followers will flee in fear: “Then all his disciples forsook him, and fled” (Matthew 26:56; Mark 14:50).

During the Lord’s trial, Peter, hiding afar in the shadows, will publicly deny knowing Christ not once, not twice, but THREE times (Luke 22:53-62; cf. Matthew 26:69-75; Mark 14:66-72; John 18:15-18). Peter was the leader of the 12 Apostles (see Matthew 16:19), and often their spokesman. Now, he will gravely stumble. With one Apostle (Judas) the traitor, and another Apostle (Peter) now the denier, the remaining 10 Apostles will be severely tested to cave in as well. Potentially, all of them, being fallible humans, can permanently forsake Christ Jesus. This is a very real possibility that the Lord Jesus foresees in today’s Scripture, well in advance. His Apostles will, not surprisingly, be unfaithful. However, He reminds them that He has been loyal to them, and that, consequently, Satan will not conquer or destroy them….

Sifted Saints #2

Friday, March 10, 2017

“And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:31,32 KJV).

What is Satan’s goal here?

Friends, Satan (Hebrew, “Adversary”) is very strategic in his endeavors. Yea, he is much more intelligent than most of us give him credit for; he employs whatever underhanded means he can to accomplish his end. The Lord Jesus explains to us in today’s Scripture that Satan has “desired”—begged intensely—to “sift” these Messianic Jews. We can see the Devil employing here the age-old military strategy “divide and conquer.”

But, before we proceed any further, we will take time to acknowledge the superiority of the King James Bible to modern English versions. Notice the second-person pronouns found in today’s Scripture. While many have been conditioned to complain about the Authorized Version’s usage of “thee,” “thou,” and “ye,” they have not been trained in the original Bible languages to know enough about the issue to comment.

Today’s Scripture again: “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” Please notice that, while Jesus is clearly speaking to Simon Peter, he is speaking about more than Peter. The word “you” in older English is plural (a group); the word “thee/thou/thy” is singular. As with biblical Hebrew or biblical Greek, older English distinguishes between second-person singular (one person) and second-person plural (two or more). Contemporary English, however, does not—it simply uses “you” in both cases. Thus, modern English versions obscure the King James distinction in today’s Scripture.

Mindful of the above facts, now we see Satan wants to “sift as wheat” not simply Peter—as modern English versions teach—but rather the group of Jewish believers in Jesus Christ. Scripture already chose wheat as symbolic of Messianic Jews in Israel (Matthew chapter 13, verses 24-43, for example). In addition to what has already come before today’s Scripture, Satan will see to it that Jesus’ Apostles are further separated….