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….

Sifted Saints #1

Thursday, March 9, 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?

The chief priests and scribes have already conspired to kill the Lord Jesus: “[1] Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover. [2] And the chief priests and scribes sought how they might kill him; for they feared the people.” (One of Jesus’ Apostles will assist in His arrest shortly.)

Judas Iscariot has already undergone a radical transformation: “[3] Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve. [4] And he went his way, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray him unto them. [5] And they were glad, and covenanted to give him money. [6] And he promised, and sought opportunity to betray him unto them in the absence of the multitude.”

Verses 7-20 say Jesus and His 12 Apostles have already prepared for and observed the Passover, as well as partaken of the meal later called “the Lord’s Supper” (1 Corinthians chapter 11). The Lord has already told them something quite startling: “[21] But, behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table. [22] And truly the Son of man goeth, as it was determined: but woe unto that man by whom he is betrayed!” (Judas Iscariot sat there silently, knowing Jesus was speaking of him.)

There had already been an outbreak of petty bickering among the Apostles: “[23] And they began to enquire among themselves, which of them it was that should do this thing. [24] And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest.” As soon as they had heard about one of them betraying the Lord, they all argued about who would do it. They had all boasted about how “dedicated” they were to Christ. Pride had already popped up once again (Matthew 18:1; Matthew 20:20-28; Mark 9:33-37; Luke 9:46-48).

But, as today’s Scripture says, Satan is just getting started with attacking the 12 Apostles….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What does ‘fetch a compass’ mean?

His Son #10

Friday, October 28, 2016

“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:1-3 KJV).

What can today’s Scripture teach us?

The Holy Spirit led the writer of the Book of Hebrews to state God’s Son “uphold[s] all things by the word of his power.” Jesus Christ’s words are infinitely powerful, mighty words never to be taken lightly. In fact, our massive (!) universe is held together—yea, came into existence from nothing—because Jesus Christ spoke the words, “Let there be…!” Consequently, Father God admonishes Israel to listen to His Son speaking. That Son will be crowned King of Heaven and Earth one day. Anyone not submitting to His authority will spend eternity in the Lake of Fire! (Friends, those who reject Jesus Christ today will go to that same place of everlasting torment!)

Although sons and daughters of Adam, the Jews could be cleansed of their sins, and thus be qualified to participate in the glorification of God’s Son in the Earth. Jesus Christ came and “by himself”—omitted from the modern versions!—“purged [Israel’s] sins.” His rich, royal, sinless blood was shed for them, that He might “wash” them from their sins (Revelation 1:5). In the early Acts period, Jews were to come by faith in Jesus as God’s Son, having repented of their wayward thinking (idolatry), and then being water baptized in Jesus Christ’s name to serve as His kingdom of priests (Acts 2:38). All that the Prophets have foretold will be fulfilled one day, with believing Jews becoming “sons of God” because they listened to and believed the words of God’s Son (John 1:11,12)!

“Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him” (Psalm 2:12). 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Do Matthew 10:10, Mark 6:8, and Luke 9:3 contradict?

The Converted Nation and The Translated Word #5

Friday, February 5, 2016

“He sheweth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel. He hath not dealt so with any nation: and as for his judgments, they have not known them. Praise ye the LORD” (Psalm 147:19,20 KJV).

Herein do we see God’s head of the nations—Israel!

God’s original covenant with Israel, the Abrahamic Covenant, was unconditional. He would graciously make her a channel of blessing to the nations without her religious efforts (Genesis 12:1-3). Nevertheless, Israel preferred religion, so God gave it: the Mosaic Law was “added because of transgressions” (Galatians 3:19). The Law was a conditional covenant—that is, dependent upon Israel’s obedience or disobedience to all of God’s commandments.

As with Abraham fathering Ishmael instead of waiting for God’s promised son, Isaac (Genesis chapters 16 and 17), God proved to Moses and the succeeding Jewish generations that Abraham’s nation must depend on Him to accomplish His will for them rather than their futile struggles. Instead of realizing they were sinners like the Gentiles, Israel grew prideful of her relationship with the one true God. Jews thought they were better than the nations, not realizing of course that God had given them His Word so they could share it with the nations.

Thankfully, Galatians 3:14-25 says that Israel’s sins committed under the Mosaic Law economy do not cancel the Abrahamic Covenant. In Israel’s program, Jews who acknowledge their sins and their need for Jesus Christ, they will inherit the Abrahamic Covenant. By virtue of Christ’s shed blood, the New Covenant is how God will one day cancel Israel’s sin debt and cause them to become His people (Ezekiel 36:22-38; Hebrews 8:8-13; Hebrews 10:1-39), His kingdom of priests (1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 1:6; Revelation 5:10).

Zechariah 8:22,23 predicts: “Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the LORD. Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you(cf. Isaiah 2:2,3; Habakkuk 2:14)! 🙂

*NOTE: Saints, after a two-year delay, we have finally launched our new flagship ministry website, arCGraceMinistries.org! Here, you will find our Statement of Faith, links to all seven of our ministry websites, as well as news items, and information on how to purchase our (new) Bible study booklets now in print!

Return, LORD! #6

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

And it came to pass, when the ark set forward, that Moses said, Rise up, LORD, and let thine enemies be scattered; and let them that hate thee flee before thee. And when it rested, he said, Return, O LORD, unto the many thousands of Israel (Numbers 10:35,36 KJV).

Dear friends, we have reached the end of our 12-day devotionals arc!

Some 3,500 years after Moses spoke, with the completed Bible in our hands, we see today’s Scripture in the grand scheme of things. It was not just idle words. Rather, it uses the past to provide a glimpse of the future. Today’s Scripture is a small-scale preview of the large-scale events yet to be. Jesus Christ will “rise” from His Father’s right hand in heaven, to come to Earth and purge His Holy Land of all Jewish and Gentile participants in Satan’s policy of evil. Furthermore, Jesus Christ will “return” to Israel, His Messianic Jews, to bring them into the earthly kingdom their ancestors refused millennia ago.

After Jesus Christ stood in Acts chapter 7, He sat back down. No wrath came because He temporarily postponed that program to initiate ours. Throughout our Dispensation of Grace, the last 2,000 years, He has been sitting at His Father’s right hand (Colossians 3:1). One day, when our dispensation ends, He will stand again, to judge His enemies at His Second Coming. After He rids the land of Palestine of all unbelievers—Jews and Gentiles—and consigns them to eternal hellfire (Matthew 13:37-43), all that remains are Israel’s believing remnant and those Gentiles who blessed them (Matthew 25:31-46). They enter God’s kingdom “prepared for them [from] the foundation of the world” (verse 34).

David wrote interesting words in Psalm 3: “[7] Arise, O LORD; save me, O my God: for thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone; thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly. [8] Salvation belongeth unto the LORD: thy blessing is upon thy people. Selah.” God will not only save believing Israel from the attacks of her unbelieving brethren, but also from her Gentile persecutors. He will bring them into His kingdom, His “rest” (“Selah” is Hebrew for “pause”). But, that all relates to Israel’s program, not what God is doing today in our mystery program.

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Why are all the tribes of Israel not listed in Revelation 7?

Return, LORD! #5

Monday, November 23, 2015

And it came to pass, when the ark set forward, that Moses said, Rise up, LORD, and let thine enemies be scattered; and let them that hate thee flee before thee. And when it rested, he said, Return, O LORD, unto the many thousands of Israel (Numbers 10:35,36 KJV).

What does today’s Scripture mean?

The Berean Bible student notices “return.” Jesus Christ ascended into heaven 2,000 years ago as a royal exile. Israel, favoring and worshiping idols, rejected and crucified Him instead. After our dispensation closes, Israel’s believing remnant will be enlightened. They will return unto God. They will pray for their Messiah-King to come back to and for them. “Our Father which art in heaven,… Thy kingdom come,” Jesus taught Israel to pray (Matthew 6:9,10).

Since Israel left JEHOVAH first, she has to return to Him first, that He return to her. She was unfaithful to Him by worshiping and serving idols. He did not leave her—she left Him! “If thou wilt return, O Israel, saith the LORD, return unto me: and if thou wilt put away thine abominations [idols] out of my sight…” (Jeremiah 4:1). “The remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God” (Isaiah 10:20,21) “And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart” (Jeremiah 24:7).

Once Israel returns to God, Jesus Christ, who went to heaven to receive the kingdom from His Heavenly Father, He will “return” and establish that kingdom on Earth for Israel’s sake (Luke 19:12). James talked about this “return” of Christ to Israel, which will occur once God quits forming us, the Church the Body of Christ (Acts 15:16). Psalm 80: “[14] Return, we beseech thee, O God of hosts: look down from heaven, and behold, and visit this vine;…[19] Turn us again, O LORD God of hosts, cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.”

With Israel’s believing remnant forsaking their pagan idols during the seven-year Tribulation, recognizing Jesus as legitimate instead of an impostor, they will be redeemed and cleansed to enter their kingdom once Christ “returns!”