Spiritual Cardiosclerosis #4

Sunday, April 18, 2021

“And the LORD said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go” (Exodus 4:21 KJV).

Exactly what is “spiritual cardiosclerosis?” How can we avoid this invisible, destructive malady?

During Christ’s earthly ministry, Israel’s religious leaders were stricken with spiritual cardiosclerosis: “And when he [Jesus] had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other” (Mark 3:5). Instead of believing on Jesus as Christ—who had demonstrated His Messiahship via innumerable healing miracles—they rejected Him in unbelief! Alas, even the disciples fell prey to that terrible affliction of spiritual cardiosclerosis.

“For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened (Mark 6:52). When Jesus walked out on the water of the Sea of Galilee to meet the disciples in their ship, they were amazed at His ability to calm the storm that had troubled them for so long! Having forgotten His miracle of feeding the 5,000 several hours prior, they still found it hard to accept His extraordinary power. After miraculously feeding the 4,000 later, Jesus warned His disciples about the “leaven” of false doctrine deceiving and contaminating Israel. Lacking spiritual eyes to see spiritual truth, they assumed He was speaking of literal leaven or physical bread. “And when Jesus knew it, he saith unto them, Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? perceive ye not yet, neither understand? have ye your heart yet hardened?” (Mark 8:17).

The Lord Jesus even spoke of spiritual cardiosclerosis as causing divorce: “He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts* suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so” (Matthew 19:8). “And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart* he wrote you this precept” (Mark 10:5). (*In the New Testament, this is the translation of the Greek “sklerokardia,” from which we derived our English equivalent.)

When Messiah arrived, Israel was hardhearted….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “How can Luke 2:1 report ‘all the world’ was subject to Caesar Augustus?

The Withered Right Hand #5

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

And it came to pass also on another sabbath, that he entered into the synagogue and taught: and there was a man whose right hand was withered (Luke 6:6 KJV).

What can this account of the withered right hand teach us?

Israel’s Sabbath-Day observance was to remind them of the Creation Week, their role in God’s purpose and plan for creation (recall Exodus 20:8-11). They were God’s earthly people, and obligated to keep the Law of Moses, of which the Sabbath was the sign. By deliberately performing a miracle on Saturday, Jesus was pointing to His Millennial Reign, what the Sabbath previewed (cf. Hebrews 4:1-10). Israel would be restored to service! Every week, the Jews were to meditate on God’s Word, the Hebrew Bible, and be mindful of the LORD’S will for them. Alas, they became too preoccupied with their religious works. They were therefore unable to appreciate Christ healing the withered right hand on the Sabbath!

“And looking round about upon them all, he [Christ] said unto the man, Stretch forth thy hand. And he did so: and his hand was restored whole as the other. And they were filled with madness [insanity!]; and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus (Luke 6:10,11). “Then saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other. Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him (Matthew 12:13,14). “And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other. And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him (Mark 3:5,6).

Here is the callousness or mercilessness of people obsessed with religion; they rejoice not in God’s deliverance of suffering sinners. After seeing Christ heal the man, they are outraged He has broken their religious rule, and thus begin plotting Jesus’ execution! Saints, may we not be foolish as they were. Let us have eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to believe the value of the withered right hand made whole! 🙂

The Withered Right Hand #4

Monday, April 12, 2021

And it came to pass also on another sabbath, that he entered into the synagogue and taught: and there was a man whose right hand was withered (Luke 6:6 KJV).

What can this account of the withered right hand teach us?

Today’s Scripture (cf. Matthew 12:10; Mark 3:2) says it was the Saturday Sabbath. JEHOVAH God had given Israel the Fourth Commandment through Moses, chapter 20 of Exodus: “[8] Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. [9] Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: [10] But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: [11] For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.”

Through the centuries after Moses, Israel began to move away from the written Law of Moses and emphasize the so-called “oral” Law of Moses. In fact, rather than worshipping the LORD on the Sabbath, the Jews were worshipping the Sabbath itself. According to rabbinical tradition, unless concerning a life-threatening situation, medical aid was not to be rendered on the Sabbath. Therefore, when a man with a withered right hand appeared in a synagogue (Jewish place of worship), the local religious leaders saw this as a perfect opportunity to set a trap for Jesus!

“And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him [Christ], saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him” (Matthew 12:10). “And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him” (Mark 3:2). Today’s Scripture in context again: “[6] And it came to pass also on another sabbath, that he entered into the synagogue and taught: and there was a man whose right hand was withered. [7] And the scribes and Pharisees watched him, whether he would heal on the sabbath day; that they might find an accusation against him.”

Blinded by their vain religious tradition, apostate Israel refused to see the significance of the withered right hand healed….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What is the ‘flood’ of Joshua chapter 24?

The Withered Right Hand #3

Sunday, April 11, 2021

And it came to pass also on another sabbath, that he entered into the synagogue and taught: and there was a man whose right hand was withered (Luke 6:6 KJV).

What can this account of the withered right hand teach us?

Today’s Scripture—Luke—stresses it was the “right” hand, the Bible’s (and universal) symbol of strength or power. Notice this sampling of verses. “Thy right hand, O LORD, is become glorious in power: thy right hand, O LORD, hath dashed in pieces the enemy” (Exodus 15:6). “Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great” (Psalm 18:35). “That thy beloved may be delivered; save with thy right hand, and hear me” (Psalm 60:5). “O sing unto the LORD a new song; for he hath done marvellous things: his right hand, and his holy arm, hath gotten him the victory” (Psalm 98:1).

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness” (Isaiah 41:10). “And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!” (Matthew 27:29). “Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God” (Luke 22:69). “Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31). “Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him” (1 Peter 3:22).

Whereas the LORD has a mighty right hand, Israel’s right hand is weak and crippled. Yea, nationally and spiritually, she is dehydrated or dried—lifeless. Sin and false religion have done their work well. Now powerless, Israel must rely on the Lord Jesus Christ to restore her to life and service in the Earth….

The Withered Right Hand #2

Saturday, April 10, 2021

And it came to pass also on another sabbath, that he entered into the synagogue and taught: and there was a man whose right hand was withered (Luke 6:6 KJV).

What can this account of the withered right hand teach us?

Having looked at Luke’s version and Matthew’s description, we read Mark’s report in chapter 3: “[1] And he [Christ Jesus] entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand. [2] And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him. [3] And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth. [4] And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace. [5] And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.”

Whether in Matthew, Mark, or Luke, the Lord Jesus heals a man who has a withered right hand. Let us deal with it being “withered” first. “Xeran” is the Greek word in Matthew and Luke; “exerammenen” is Mark’s preferred term. Of course, we can all guess that the man’s hand is dried up or shriveled. In Mark 11:20, the same idea is conveyed when Jesus cursed the fig tree and it “dried up from the roots.” Also, in Revelation 16:12, the Euphrates River is “dried up.” Hebrews 11:29 speaks of the Red Sea drying up for Israel to escape Egyptian bondage in Moses’ day. Taking all these similar ideas and lumping them together, we can define the man’s hand as without any water or other biological “juices.” Water in Scripture, as you might have supposed, symbolizes life. His hand is unable to work properly because it is functionally dead. The hand, of course, pictures ability or power. Moreover, the man himself is a portrait of the nation Israel. God’s nation in the Earth is unable to work His will as intended….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What is ‘the matrix’ in the King James Bible?

The Withered Right Hand #1

Friday, April 9, 2021

And it came to pass also on another sabbath, that he entered into the synagogue and taught: and there was a man whose right hand was withered (Luke 6:6 KJV).

What can this account of the withered right hand teach us?

Let us read today’s Scripture in context: “[6] And it came to pass also on another sabbath, that he [Christ Jesus] entered into the synagogue and taught: and there was a man whose right hand was withered. [7] And the scribes and Pharisees watched him, whether he would heal on the sabbath day; that they might find an accusation against him. [8] But he knew their thoughts, and said to the man which had the withered hand, Rise up, and stand forth in the midst. And he arose and stood forth. [9] Then said Jesus unto them, I will ask you one thing; Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? to save life, or to destroy it? [10] And looking round about upon them all, he said unto the man, Stretch forth thy hand. And he did so: and his hand was restored whole as the other.”

Matthew’s version, chapter 12: “[9] And when he was departed thence, he went into their synagogue: [10] And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him. [11] And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? [12] How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days. [13] Then saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other.”

Before we get to explaining the specifics of the withered right hand, we must first consult Mark’s account for additional information. Doctrine is being communicated here, so let us be careful to grasp it….

The Bible’s Season of New Life

Monday, April 5, 2021

“God that made the world and all things therein… he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;” (Acts 17:24,25 KJV).

May we never forget the true meaning of Eastertime!

Satan is the master counterfeiter: from Genesis to Revelation, the Scriptures reveal how the devil schemes to “be like the most High” (Isaiah 14:14). Whatever God does, Satan defiles that work by introducing false doctrine, distracts mankind from God’s truth by mimicking His actions, discourages God’s people from His ministry by using incorrect thinking patterns, and so on. Why? Satan wants the worship that God alone deserves (Matthew 4:8-10; Luke 4:5-8).

Consider Christmastime. Centuries before Christ, Satan had pagans worshipping the birth of the sun god in early winter—near the date that Jesus Christ (God the Son) took upon human flesh in the virgin Mary’s womb! Now, consider Eastertime. Centuries before Christ, Satan had pagans worshipping fertility deities and new life in early spring, near the date that Jesus Christ (God the Son) died for our sins and resurrected victoriously over sin, death, hell, and Satan to give us new life! (To Satan’s delight, today’s average church member is not mindful of relevant sound Bible doctrine during Christmastime and Eastertime—the devil’s distractions have never lost their efficacy!)

The God of the Bible instituted in Israel a festival, Passover (the killing of a spotless lamb and its bloodshed in early spring), while they were still in Egypt (Exodus chapter 12)—Passover’s annual observance reminded them of JEHOVAH delivering them from Egyptian slavery unto new life. Israel did not understand its meaning until 1,500 years later. The true Passover lamb, Jesus Christ, died and shed His sinless blood during that annual Passover feast (early spring), and He resurrected in new life to give them spiritual life and liberty.

Yes, the pagans may have “hijacked” this time of year for the devil’s glory, but we can disregard their ignorance: spring is God’s season for new life. We can still use this season to bring the God of the Bible glory by remembering that He has given us physical life (today’s Scripture), and He offers us new life (that is, spiritual life) through Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection! 🙂

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Excruciating Thursday

Thursday, April 1, 2021

[Reader discretion advised: Christ’s sufferings are graphically described below.]

“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man” (Hebrews 2:9 KJV).

His three years of earthly ministry have expired, but His greatest work is yet to come!

During the all-night interrogation in the “kangaroo court,” His sentence is passed—execution by crucifixion. They have scourged, beaten, and punched Him. Covered in their spit, they laugh at Him, and strike His head with a rod to force on the crown of thorns. His back shredded, His skull possibly fractured, His beard ripped off. His massive blood loss weakens Him further. Having been stripped of His clothing, He struggles to carry His heavy cross to Mount Calvary: Simon must carry His cross for Him. The crowds watch Him, laughing and jeering. His little flock looks on in total shock.

They lay Him on the wooden cross, yanking His limbs to nail them in place. His bones unbroken, but exposed, and His limbs dislocated. They pierce His hands and feet with long spikes, severing the median nerve in the hands, causing permanent hand paralysis. They raise up that cross, and He hangs, slowly suffocating due to His own weight. Every breath becomes increasingly difficult, His lungs fill with fluid, His heart becomes progressively strained. Eventually, He cannot breathe, and thus dies.

Now imagine His spiritual suffering. Three hours into His crucifixion, His heavenly Father and the Holy Ghost have abandoned Him. For the first time ever, He is totally alone. Physical and spiritual darkness now cover the earth. The weight of all the world’s sin and sins of all time crushes His soul. God’s undiluted wrath falls upon Him, as it does on those suffering in hellfire. He cries out in agony. Hanging on that cruel cross, with His spiritual eyes, He observes Satan himself and all his evil creatures snickering and cheering. He looks out to see His disciples staring at His helpless disfigured body. Oh, if only they knew how His physical and spiritual bodies were being tormented, utterly tortured beyond imagination!

After six hours of excruciating pain, He finally lets Himself die….

Please check out our archived Bible Q&A: “Was Jesus Christ really crucified on Friday?

That They All May Be One! #10

Saturday, March 27, 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?

Contrary to popular belief, the harmony or accord of which Jesus spoke in John chapter 17 was not Bible believers setting aside doctrine so as to unite with heretics and apostates. Rather, it was the reunification of the peoples of Israel and Judah, the divided kingdoms joined together as they were in the days of David. Through the Apostles’ preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom—Jesus is Christ, the Son of David—their converts would return to Father God and thus submit to the Davidic dynasty as before. Ultimately, this will occur during the Millennium.

Re-read John chapter 17: “[16] They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. [17] Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. [18] As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. [19] And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.” We must not throw away sound Bible doctrine, for true Christian unity is based on the truth (cf. Ephesians 4:3-6). Thus, it is impossible to make all beliefs equivalent: all religions and denominations cannot be accepted without reservation. The Bible is specific in its teachings; therefore, we conclude doctrine matters (Romans 16:17,18; Galatians 1:6-9; 1 Timothy 6:3-5; 2 Timothy 3:1-5; 2 Timothy 4:1-4; Titus 3:9-11; et al.). Remember, the division between Israel and Judah occurred because of Solomon’s false religions, epitomized as: “Doctrine does not matter. Let us all gather around any and every god. All religions are the same anyway!”

Nay, brethren, we bring to mind the stern warning in Scripture: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?” (2 Corinthians 6:14,15).

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What does ‘by and by’ mean?

That They All May Be One! #9

Friday, March 26, 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?

One purpose of the New Covenant is to rejoin Israel and Judah, redeem them through Jesus Christ’s shed blood, and forgive their sin debt incurred under the Old Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34; cf. Hebrews 8:8-13; Hebrews 10:1-39). Sin split them from God, and also divided them into two kingdoms and two nations. Yet, God’s grace will cover those transgressions and restore all 12 tribes under one King, the Lord Jesus Christ, to become one born-again nation. Returning to the Promised Land, they never again leave it because of Gentile captivity (Jeremiah 32:36-44; Ezekiel 36:16-38; et al.).

Although unbelieving, High Priest Caiaphas was used of the Holy Spirit to describe Jesus’ impending death: “And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad (John 11:49-52).

Believers from Israel and Judah, dispersed worldwide, will be made one people through Christ’s finished crosswork: “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd (John 10:16). Again, it was this prophetic unification of Israel and Judah underlying Jesus’ prayer in today’s Scripture. Speaking of that Millennial reconciliation and blessing of Israel and Judah, Psalm 133:1 exclaims, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”

Let us summarize and conclude this devotionals arc….