Fury Turned Away? #7

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

And tarry with him a few days, until thy brother’s fury turn away; Until thy brother’s anger turn away from thee, and he forget that which thou hast done to him: then I will send, and fetch thee from thence: why should I be deprived also of you both in one day? (Genesis 27:44,45 KJV).

How does this “fury” compare to Almighty God’s anger?

The Holy Spirit, in Acts chapter 7, pled with Israel’s unbelieving leaders one final time. After one year of post-Calvary ministry, they still refuse conversion: “[55] But he [Stephen], 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….”

Why did they kill Stephen? How did he upset them? They knew their “Old Testament” Scriptures, the prophecies about Messiah standing at God’s right hand. Isaiah 3:13: “The LORD standeth up to plead, and standeth to judge the people.” Psalm 68: “[1] Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered: let them also that hate him flee before him. [2] As smoke is driven away, so drive them away: as wax melteth before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God. Finally, Psalm 110:1: “The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.”

Messiah would sit at the LORD’S right hand only until it would be time to rise/stand and return in wrath and judgment. (In an earlier study, we saw Peter quoted Psalm 110:1 in Acts 2:34-36, approximately a year prior to Acts chapter 7.) Convicted by the message of God’s wrath coming on them, Stephen’s audience mercilessly kills him. At the end of Peter’s life, 2 Peter chapter 3, scoffers are asking about that “looming” wrath of God that should have come some 30-plus years earlier. So, where did God’s wrath in Acts chapter 7 go? Peter provides an interesting explanation….

Fury Turned Away? #6

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

And tarry with him a few days, until thy brother’s fury turn away; Until thy brother’s anger turn away from thee, and he forget that which thou hast done to him: then I will send, and fetch thee from thence: why should I be deprived also of you both in one day? (Genesis 27:44,45 KJV).

How does this “fury” compare to Almighty God’s anger?

In Acts chapter 3, the Holy Spirit preached through the Apostle Peter: “[18] But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. [19] Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. [20] And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: [21] Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.

“[22] For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. [23] And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people” (verse 23). The “destruction,” of course, is the consuming “baptism with fire” John the Baptist warned unbelieving Israel about in Matthew 3:7-12 years earlier. Acts 3:20 above forecasts this coming of Christ.

One full year after Calvary, the Prophet Stephen, standing before Israel’s wicked and unbelieving leaders, concludes his lengthy sermon. Acts 7 reports: “[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.” Jesus Christ is standing in preparation to come back and judge the wicked Jews who still reject Him and contradict the Holy Spirit! God’s wrath is closer than ever, and Stephen’s guilty audience is outraged to hear of it….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Who are the ‘these’ in the ‘more than these’ of John 21:15?

Rise Up, LORD! #6

Wednesday, November 18, 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?

In Acts chapter 7, a window into the third heaven was opened, and Stephen, standing on Earth, saw Jesus finally standing at His Father’s right hand. When Stephen told Israel what he saw, they recalled their Old Testament prophecies and were convicted. Remembering the closing warning of Peter’s sermon on Pentecost just a year earlier (Acts 2:33-40), these lost Jews knew God’s judgment against their persistent unbelief was coming.

Today, 2000 years later, strangely, we can declare that wrath never came. Not because God was bluffing, but because He interrupted that prophetic program and introduced our mystery program. God wanted to demonstrate His wisdom. While Israel was uncooperative with Him in reaching the lost and dying Gentiles, He would still reach them without Israel. He would save and use one of Stephen’s murderers, Saul of Tarsus, commissioning him as the Apostle Paul of the Gentiles. Jesus Christ did return, but not in wrath. He returned in grace, mercy, peace, and love to save Paul (1 Timothy 1:13-16). (But, that, friends is another marvelous story we must forgo here!)

Had Israel entered the Promised Land under Moses in faith, Jesus Christ would have come to reign over them (note Exodus 15:17,18). Alas, they did not and He did not. How Israel saw JEHOVAH God cleansing His land of pagans so they (His people) could enter in, they were getting a glimpse of JEHOVAH God coming to finish the job at Christ’s Second Coming. Except, at the Second Coming, not only will that wrath be directed toward lost Gentiles, but also toward lost Israel. Only redeemed Israel—her Little Flock—will go into the land. The descendants of Abraham who reject Jesus Christ, they are His enemies, and have nowhere to go but to God’s punishment against their sin, eternal hellfire.

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Why did Cornelius have to hear Peter’s preaching?

Rise Up, LORD! #5

Tuesday, November 17, 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?

Stephen, in Acts chapter 7, one year after Calvary and Pentecost, preached to Israel’s unbelieving leadership: “[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. [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.”

Sadly, many preachers and commentators have poorly handled verses 55 and 56. Why was Jesus standing? Was it to receive Stephen into heaven? (Ridiculous!) The Bible says He was standing to pour out His wrath on unbelieving Israel! Lost Jews knew it, and they, convicted, picked up stones and killed Stephen. The Holy Ghost now rejected, now blasphemed against, Israel has nowhere else to go (Matthew 12:31,32). Jesus Christ was moments away from returning to Earth in Acts chapter 7. He was not only coming to destroy His Gentile enemies in His Promised Land (cf. today’s Scripture), but His Jewish enemies, too (Acts 3:19-23)!

For more information, you can see our study, “Why did Jesus Christ stand in Acts 7:55-56?

Satan and Dispensationalism #16

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

“For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:” (Ephesians 3:1,2 KJV).

Satan knows that Dispensational Bible Study is the key to understanding God’s Word. Thus, he denies it and corrupts it every chance he gets!

While Acts is certainly not easy reading, theology has complicated it. Historical rather than doctrinal, “The Acts of the Apostles,” simply documents Israel’s overwhelmingly negative response to God’s Word preached by the Apostles.

In Luke 13:6-9, Jesus spoke a parable. Please read it in your own time. We can only interpret it here. Father God planted a fig tree (Mosaic Law) in His vineyard (Israel’s land). For three years, Christ’s earthly ministry, God sought any righteousness in Israel. But, no spiritual fruit was there! The Law could only identify and condemn sinners—it had no power to make them right before God. Father God was ready to destroy Israel’s religious life. Jesus intervened, “Father, give them one more year before You cut it down.”

Confirming the parable, Israel ignored Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry, and demanded His crucifixion. But, Jesus intervened at Calvary, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). So, Father God gave Israel a one-year opportunity to repent, to think differently, and turn from their vain works-religion. That one year was Acts chapters 1-7. The 12 apostles preached their hearts out, desperately trying to convert stubborn Israel. It was useless. Finally, in Acts chapter 7, Stephen, filled with the Holy Ghost, accused Israel of persistent unbelief and rebellion. He was stoned to death! Jesus Christ was arising in the third heaven, to return in wrath and destroy those apostates (Acts 7:55,56; Psalm 110:1)! Israel had blasphemed the Holy Ghost, and could not be forgiven (Matthew 12:31,32). She had nowhere to go now but hell!

Leading Israel’s rebellion against Jesus Christ was Saul of Tarsus, one of Stephen’s challengers. Saul would become the Apostle Paul. The only way to save such a wicked man as Saul was for God to radically depart from Israel’s program and covenants. The Dispensation of Grace came to save Saul first (1 Timothy 1:12-16)!

Peter and Dispensationalism #3

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

“And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:15,16 KJV).

What can the Apostle Peter teach us about dispensational Bible study?

In early Acts, Peter preached that Messiah Jesus would return to destroy those Jews who incessantly rejected Him (Acts 2:32-40; Acts 3:19-26). The Prophet Stephen said he saw Jesus Christ standing at His Heavenly Father’s right hand in the third heaven, ready to come and judge apostate Israel (Acts 7:55,56). In a fit of rage, unbelieving Israel killed Holy-Spirit-filled Stephen… with Jesus-hating Saul of Tarsus encouraging and approving (7:57–8:3). Saul, along with the other Israeli Jesus-haters, should have been immediately consumed, burned up in God’s wrath. Yet, no wrath came! Why?

Thirty years later, Saul, now the Apostle Paul, reflecting on his salvation experience in Acts chapter 9, wrote in 1 Timothy 1:12-16: [12] And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; [13] Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. [14] And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. [15] This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save [not punish!!!!] sinners; of whom I am chief. [16] Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.”

As Peter learned (cf. today’s Scripture), God had given those Christ-rejecters in Israel yet another chance to escape that wrath. Paul was first to be saved into the Church the Body of Christ. As God operates our Dispensation of Grace, grace, love, mercy, and all longsuffering will dominate, thereby delaying divine wrath!

Peter and Dispensationalism #1

Sunday, August 2, 2015

“And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:15,16 KJV).

What can the Apostle Peter teach us about dispensational Bible study?

God’s impending judgment is connected to the Old Testament prophecies of Israel’s coming Messiah (Deuteronomy 32:22-43; Psalm 2:4-5; Psalm 68:1-8; Isaiah 34:1-15; Jeremiah 25:29-33; Joel 1:1–2:32; Nahum 1:1-8; Zechariah 14:12; et al.). Hence, John the Baptist, just before Messiah (Christ) Jesus began His earthly ministry, warned his audience of that “wrath to come,” when Jesus would baptize Israel “with fire,” “to burn up the chaff [lost Jews] with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:7-12). Jesus Himself forewarned of this future “burning,” this “fire,” when angels would gather unbelieving sinners and “cast [them] into a furnace of fire,” a place with “wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:30,40-42,49,50). At that Second Coming of Christ, the Jesus-rejecters (Matthew 24:37-41) and the Jewish-haters would be consumed and tossed into the lake of fire (Matthew 25:30,41-46).

In early Acts, Peter urged Israel—who had just crucified Jesus—to quickly repent and accept Jesus as Lord and Christ because He was coming back to judge His foes—them (Acts 2:32-40)! One year later, Stephen said he saw Jesus standing at His Heavenly Father’s right hand, ready to return and pour out that wrath on still-rebellious Israel (Acts 7:51-55). Literally moments away from God’s wrath falling on wicked mankind, just before Jesus Christ came back in “flaming fire” to take vengeance on rebels (2 Thessalonians 1:8,9), He returned in grace and mercy, to save the leader of Israel’s rebellion—Saul of Tarsus. Yes, God took Satan’s chief man and made him the Apostle Paul!

Writing near his life’s end, Peter did not instruct his audience to read the Old Testament or Four Gospels to learn about that delay in wrath. Why? We only learn the mystery from Paul, which is exactly where Peter directed his readers in today’s Scripture!