Israel Blinded Thrice! #3

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

“And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed” (Isaiah 6:9,10 KJV).

Friend, did you know this passage is applicable to three particular times in Israel’s history?

The Holy Spirit was poured out on Israel’s believing remnant in Acts chapter 2, bearing witness of Christ’s resurrection by performing miracles through the Little Flock. Yet, national Israel remained in unbelief, persecuting the Apostles and Prophets—Peter, John, Stephen, et cetera. Christ raises up a new Apostle, Paul, to begin the Dispensation of Grace and the Church the Body of Christ. Israel continues opposing God’s work through the rest of Acts.

With Acts closing, Paul quotes today’s Scripture in chapter 28: “[25] And when they [the Jews] agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, [26] Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive: [27] For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.”

Read Romans 11:6-10,25-27 (cf. Isaiah 29:10). God again removes whatever spiritual light Israel had and willfully refused. Israel’s blindness will not be lifted until God gives her a sign, another miraculous demonstration intended to teach doctrine. Following the blinding of Israel in our dispensation, God will send Israel a sign, Christ’s Second Coming, as in Matthew 24:30: “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” At Christ’s return, as per Romans 11:25-27, Israel is nationally enlightened and converted, and enters the Millennium!

World Lost! #5

Thursday, August 6, 2020

“Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons; Specially the day that thou stoodest before the LORD thy God in Horeb, when the LORD said unto me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children” (Deuteronomy 4:9,10 KJV).

Some have cried out, “This world is going to hell in a handbasket!” Others have exclaimed, “We have lost our country!” Surely, surely, they are all correct!

In 2 Kings chapter 2, we read of a strange event that occurred circa 900 B.C. The Prophet Elijah has just gone up into Heaven, and the Prophet Elisha is now functioning as his successor. Notice: “[23] And he [Elisha] went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. [24] And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them. [25] And he went from thence to mount Carmel, and from thence he returned to Samaria.”

Regarding the bears consuming these youth, see Moses’ warning concerning the third course of chastisement (Leviticus 26:21,22). The “little children”—not necessarily toddlers or preschoolers—could have been as old as teenagers. Whatever their age, they unashamedly ridiculed God’s spokesman. Such an attitude was learned at home, where Jewish parents failed to obey Moses’ instructions in today’s Scripture. Those mothers and fathers taught their children to have, not faith in the LORD, but patent unbelief! By the time of the murders of John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, and Stephen many centuries later, the nation Israel had already long forgotten the covenant they made with JEHOVAH God at Mount Sinai….

Note: In order to bring a special study tomorrow, we will temporarily break away from this devotionals arc….

World Lost! #4

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

“Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons; Specially the day that thou stoodest before the LORD thy God in Horeb, when the LORD said unto me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children” (Deuteronomy 4:9,10 KJV).

Some have cried out, “This world is going to hell in a handbasket!” Others have exclaimed, “We have lost our country!” Surely, surely, they are all correct!

Upon first glance, we marvel at Stephen’s graphic death in Acts chapter 7. His Jewish nation picked up rocks and murdered him in cold blood! However, the experienced Bible student expected this. Draw your attention to the verses that immediately preceded his demise: “[51] Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. [52] Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: [53] Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.”

Firstly, Israel had just demanded Jesus Christ’s death by crucifixion a year prior (verse 52). Secondly, they had previously permitted King Herod Antipas to execute Christ’s forerunner, John the Baptist (Matthew 14:1-12). Therefore, Stephen’s homicide was absolutely predictable. Re-read Acts 7:51,52. Stephen indicts his Jewish nation for repeating the sins of their patriarchs. “As your fathers did, so do ye.” “Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted?” “…[A]nd they have slain them [the prophets]….” In other words, prior to those three deaths (John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, Stephen), the nation Israel had an anti-God attitude throughout the Old Testament. The Jews mercilessly mistreated or killed every preacher the LORD God sent to them—and, as Stephen said, “like fathers, like sons.” Despite her beautiful religious outward appearance, Israel could not hide her internal sickness of sin….

Saints, please remember us in your monthly giving—these websites do cost money to run! 🙂 You can donate securely here: https://www.paypal.me/ShawnBrasseaux, or email me at arcministries@gmail.com. Do not forget about Bible Q&A booklets for sale at https://arcgraceministries.org/in-print/booklets-bible-q-a/. Thanks to all who give to and pray for us! By the way, ministry emails have really been backed up this year. I am handling them as much as humanly possible. Thanks for your patience. 🙂

World Lost! #3

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

“Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons; Specially the day that thou stoodest before the LORD thy God in Horeb, when the LORD said unto me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children” (Deuteronomy 4:9,10 KJV).

Some have cried out, “This world is going to hell in a handbasket!” Others have exclaimed, “We have lost our country!” Surely, surely, they are all correct!

The Prophet Stephen, led by the Holy Spirit, spoke in Acts chapter 7: “[51] Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. [52] Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: [53] Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.” How will Israel respond?

“[54] When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. [55] But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, [56] And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. [57] Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, [58] And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. [59] And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. [60] And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep [died physically!].”

This is the result of nations who reject the one true God….

A Naughty Tongue! #6

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

“A wicked doer giveth heed to false lips; and a liar giveth ear to a naughty tongue” (Proverbs 17:4 KJV).

In today’s world of widespread social media, “wicked doer,” “false lips,” “liar,” and “naughty tongue” are all appropriate nouns!

Recall Matthew 12:24, when the Pharisees wrongly accused Jesus of casting out devils by drawing on Satan’s power. Christ thus told His Apostles in Matthew chapter 10: “[24] The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. [25] It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub [Satan!], how much more shall they call them of his household?” That is, “Whatever hateful language they applied to Me, expect worse for yourselves!”

King David, representing Israel’s believing remnant, wrote 1,000 years earlier: “For the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of the deceitful are opened against me: they have spoken against me with a lying tongue…. Let this be the reward of mine adversaries from the LORD, and of them that speak evil against my soul (Psalm 109:2,20). The Prophet Jeremiah, over 600 years before Christ, was falsely slandered: Then said they, Come and let us devise devices against Jeremiah; for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come, and let us smite him with the tongue, and let us not give heed to any of his words” (Jeremiah 18:18).

The Prophet Stephen was also unjustly criticized. “Then they suborned [bribed, enticed] men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God…. And [they] set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law:…” (Acts 6:11,13). Finally, the Apostle Peter wrote to believing Israel in 1 Peter 2:12: “Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.” Also, chapter 4, verse 4: “Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you:….”

Back to James chapter 3….

Sound Doctrine Versus Fables #5

Sunday, April 28, 2019

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables (2 Timothy 4:3,4 KJV).

First comes the intolerance toward sound doctrine. Then, and only then, arrives the tolerance toward fables.

Watch the order in 1 Timothy chapter 4: “[1] Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; [2] Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;….” These are not lost or unsaved people. They are Christians (!). Having been in the faith, they have now deserted it! They originally embraced sound Bible doctrine. Since then, they have gradually drifted, having been “seduced” or drawn away with various ideas. Verse 3 says these tenets involve religion’s forced celibacy and dietary restrictions. God’s Word calls them “doctrines of devils.” Such individuals speak lies in hypocrisy—they appear and sound good, but they are as false as false can be.

In his last epistle, the Apostle Paul wrote somber words: “This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes” (2 Timothy 1:15). Awaiting execution, at the close of his 35-year ministry, he confessed that the vast majority of Christians in Turkey had abandoned his message. God’s grace had been deliberately tossed aside; Christ’s finished work at Calvary’s cross had been relegated to an inferior status. Man’s efforts—legalism, commandment-keeping—were now at the forefront. Works-religion corrupted the Church the Body of Christ 20 centuries ago. Yes, the professing “church” intentionally (!) apostatized 2,000 years ago!

Even after our dispensation ends, the nation Israel will follow her ancient pattern and the attitude of most today. A radical departure from sound Bible doctrine—a “falling away”—will give rise to the satanic Antichrist (2 Thessalonians 2:3). In this and all cases, it is a willful renouncement of the truth. They knew correct information at first, but having rejected the light and understanding God provided them, they are plunged into spiritual darkness and madness. Friends, may we not be as they….

Sound Doctrine Versus Fables #4

Saturday, April 27, 2019

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables (2 Timothy 4:3,4 KJV).

First comes the intolerance toward sound doctrine. Then, and only then, arrives the tolerance toward fables.

Recounting Israel’s centuries of unbelief, Stephen preached in Jerusalem (Acts chapter 7): “[41] And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands. [42] Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness? [43] Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon.”

In Exodus chapter 32, just delivered from Egyptian slavery, the Jews fashioned a golden-calf idol while Moses was up on Mount Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments (the first of which forbad idolatry). Since they insisted on false religion, God “turned” (Acts 7:42): He “gave them up to worship the host of heaven.” Here is astrology—worshipping stars, planets, the sun, and the moon (and the evil spirits thereby represented). Amos 5:25-27, which Stephen cited, reveals that the Jewish people were guilty of such devil worship throughout the 40 years of wilderness wanderings. They carried Moses’ Tabernacle (JEHOVAH God’s house) and a counterfeit tent (for their pagan sky/star-gods)! Since they rejected His Law, He gave them over to that silliness.

Friends, we should certainly not look down our nose at ancient Israel. Why? Today’s churches are often repeating such sins. They have compromised with the evil world system to some degree (usually, a very large degree). Having cast aside the truth, they are rife with error. They do not rely on the Bible alone; their “culture,” “traditions of men,” “philosophical speculations,” and such notions push aside God’s Book. Again, the order found in today’s Scripture is quite clear. Truth discarded, fables embraced….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Why is the Bible Book of ‘Ecclesiastes’ thus named?

What is God Doing? #23

Sunday, January 27, 2019

“Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; what canst thou know? The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea” (Job 11:7-9 KJV).

What exactly is God doing? Can we say? Or, must we remain clueless?

Christian friend, have you ever wished the Lord Jesus Christ would hurry up and come back, and rid us of all these challenges besetting our society? Sure, we all have (and still do, oftentimes). Why has He not returned yet, even after 2,000 years of believers praying for it? Will He ever come back? When? What is taking Him so long? Has He forgotten? Is He lazy? Can He not sense the urgency? Has He turned a blind eye to the evil waxing worse and worse? Has He closed His ears to the cries of the oppressed?

God’s wrath, dear readers, would have actually been poured out on our planet 20 centuries ago. Jesus Christ should have returned long ago. Historically, it would have occurred in early Acts. The Prophet Stephen declared in Acts 7:55,56: “But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.” Psalm 110:1 had predicted 1,000 years earlier: “The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” As soon as sitting Christ stood at His Heavenly Father’s right hand, that meant He was returning to judge His enemies in undiluted rage (cf. Acts 2:33-36; Acts 3:19-23, especially the unbelievers being “destroyed” in verse 23).

John the Baptist forewarned of “the wrath to come” (Matthew 3:7-12), so did Jesus Christ (Matthew 13:36-43), Peter (Acts chapters 2 and 3), and Stephen (Acts chapter 7). They preached that Divine punishment would transpire within the lifetime of their audiences. Yet, it never came—and, as you know, we are waiting for it still. Why? The God of the Bible is deliberately doing something different today….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Should we pray for God to ‘guide the surgeon’s hands?’

Enlightening the Ethiopian Eunuch #2

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet (Acts 8:26-28 KJV).

Why and how can this Ethiopian eunuch be enlightened?

The events of Acts chapter 8 show us Israel’s prophetic program breaking down. With Stephen’s death by stoning in chapter 7, Israel falls: her national leadership has blasphemed the Holy Spirit for the last time, and that will not be forgiven (Matthew 12:31,32; cf. Acts 7:51-60). The Bible narrative subsequently focuses on Philip’s ministry (chapter 8). Like Stephen, Philip was one of the seven Jerusalem elders the 12 Apostles appointed in Acts 6:1-6.

Leaving Jerusalem, Philip travels to Samaria (central Israel, between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea) to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom (see Acts 8:1-13). The Samaritans are not full-blooded Jews—namely, they are half-Gentile (cf. John 4:9,12). Yet, unlike Jerusalem, they eagerly hear and believe God’s Word (Jesus is Christ). By entering these incidents into the record of Scripture, God rebukes Jerusalem for unbelief.

After preaching in Samaria, the angel of the Lord instructs Philip to travel to southern Israel to visit an African man, a Gentile (today’s Scripture). This eunuch (government official) is returning home to Ethiopia after worshipping in Jerusalem. Sitting in his chariot, he reads the Book of Isaiah (no doubt a copy from northern Africa).

“[29] Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. [30] And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? [31] And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.” Philip did not shy away from that calling. He “ran thither”—he was excited!! Furthermore, the eunuch (unlike the Jews in Jerusalem) wants to learn and believe God’s Word….

Spurning God Thrice

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

“But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people” (Romans 10:21 KJV).

The God of the Bible is a Trinity—three separate and distinct Persons all equally God. Behold, this was highly advantageous to the nation Israel!

THE FATHER REJECTED. John 1:6 says, “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.” “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight” (Mark 1:3). Father God sent John the Baptist to be the forerunner of His Son. He announced Messiah’s arrival to Israel, yet Israel permitted King Herod to behead John. Nevertheless, God extended mercy to evil Israel. Judgment did not fall.

THE SON REBUFFED. Jesus said in Matthew 12:32: “And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him:….” “Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified. And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified” (Matthew 27:22,23). On Calvary’s cross, “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). At His Son’s request, Father God was merciful to wicked Israel. Judgment did not fall.

THE SPIRIT REJECTED. Matthew 12:31,32: “Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men…. whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.” With the Holy Spirit coming in Acts chapter 2, Israel was given one final year of mercy. Israel must repent and trust Jesus Christ, for He is returning in wrath to punish their unbelief. Through the 12 Apostles, God the Holy Spirit pled with Israel until chapter 7. Stephen, full of the Holy Ghost, preached before Israel’s leadership. They stoned him! As Jesus said, this would not be forgiven (cf. Hebrews 6:4-6).

Strangely, judgment did not fall, even here. God changed dispensations, delaying that wrath to fall beyond our day! That individual Jews and Gentiles be saved from Divine judgment, He began Paul’s ministry, the Dispensation of Grace!