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!

Oft Reproof, Much Hardening

Sunday, September 2, 2018

“He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy” (Proverbs 29:1 KJV).

Behold, sinfulness intensifies as God’s Word is continuously spurned!

Matthew 14:6-10 says Israel tolerated John’s death (beheading): “But when Herod’s birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod. Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask. And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist’s head in a charger. And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath’s sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her. And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison.”

Mark 15:9-15 declares Israel demanded Jesus’ death (crucifixion): “But Pilate answered them, saying, Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews? For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy. But the chief priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them. And Pilate answered and said again unto them, What will ye then that I shall do unto him whom ye call the King of the Jews? And they cried out again, Crucify him. Then Pilate said unto them, Why, what evil hath he done? And they cried out the more exceedingly, Crucify him. And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified.”

Acts 7:57-60 reports Israel caused Stephen’s death (stoning): “Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, 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. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. 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.”

The Jewish people became increasingly opposed to God’s Word to them, hardening their own heart. Indifference—permitting God’s messenger to be killed—ultimately became outright bloodthirstiness—actively participating in the killing of another spokesman! Beware, friend, sin begins “small” but grows exceedingly!

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)!