What Child Is This? #4

Sunday, December 2, 2018

“O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms” (Psalm 95:1,2 KJV).

The final verse of the classic Christmas carol highlights today’s Scripture.

“This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing:
Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.”

As the shepherds and angels gathered around Baby Jesus’ manger, we can only wonder what immense joy filled their hearts. In that world of old—plagued by the same basic problems of our modern world—He was a Beacon in the dark and a Solace in the misery. They undoubtedly sang right in the midst of all those farm animals! They were so thrilled to see God working in their presence. They were now standing before His baby crib!

Sinners today are greatly encouraged—yea, urged—to come by faith to God’s Son, Jesus Christ, right this moment. They are not to come by faith to His crib, for He is no longer a Baby. Rather, they are to come by faith to His cross, where He gave up that life for us! “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). What we need to do is rely exclusively on Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork, His shed sinless blood and His resurrection, as sufficient payment for our sins.

As with Jesus’ birth, for those who do not want to see anything, they do not see anything. Those who see are people who want to see. It has nothing to do with God hiding anything from anyone. What did Jesus tell the Jews? “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:17).

Although Jesus Christ is not physically here today, we can still haste to bring Him laud. We can praise Him highly in a public context. First, we can believe on Him and His finished crosswork. Then, we can tell others how they too can be saved through Calvary!

ATTENTION: Our new seven-hour Bible study series—“The Feasts of JEHOVAH”—is now available on YouTube. These lessons are approximately 65 minutes each, totaling 7 1/2 hours. They are quite advanced, as they build on our five-lesson series “Israel’s Covenants” I taught a month ago. It is best to watch all seven videos in order, as they are progressive. May you be edified, encouraged, and enlightened! Enjoy!! Praise our Lord Jesus Christ! Watch them here.

What Child Is This? #3

Saturday, December 1, 2018

“But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:20,21 KJV).

The third verse of the classic Christmas carol highlights today’s Scripture.

“So bring Him incense, gold, and myrrh,
Come, peasant, king, to own Him.
The King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.
Raise, raise a song on high,
The virgin sings her lullaby
Joy, joy for Christ is born,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.”

While commonly assumed the wise men came to visit Baby Jesus in the manger in Bethlehem, a careful study of Matthew chapter 2 shows us that they met Jesus in Joseph’s house in Nazareth, when He was as much as two years old (verse 16). The Bible never specifies “three” wise men or three “kings,” either. Regardless of their number, these wise men, Gentiles from the East, came to Jerusalem looking for Israel’s King. Upon hearing the wise men, King Herod and all of Jerusalem were “troubled” (verse 3). Israel should be ready to receive her Messiah-King, but she is not. Gentiles are seeking Israel’s King, and they, the Gentiles, are ready! How odd!

The wise men learn that Israel’s Messiah was born in Bethlehem-Judah (verses 4-6), but a “star” (angel) leads them to Nazareth (verses 7-10). Verse 11: “And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.” Jesus is a King, so the wise men have brought gold to Him. They have brought Him frankincense because He is a Priest. Myrrh has been brought to Him because He is a Prophet. Gentiles treat Israel’s King with more respect than Israel does!

Nothing has changed today. Some reject Jesus Christ while others accept Him. The songwriter, as does this author, urges people to accept Him!

Enlightening the Ethiopian Eunuch #7

Sunday, October 28, 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?

Friend, you will most likely agree with the next statement. There is nothing more exasperating than having a Bible, reading it and reading it and reading it, and yet getting nothing out of it. Millions upon millions upon millions of poor, precious souls find themselves in the same predicament. They faithfully attend church services weekly or even daily, they hear the Bible read or sung, and yet they gain as much insight into God’s Word as if there never was a Bible! What is the first step in understanding and enjoying Scripture?

Philip was entrusted with the ability of interpreting God’s Word whereas the Ethiopian eunuch was not. What made the difference? Acts 8:29 says that the Holy Spirit was involved: He was operating in and through Philip! In stark contrast, the eunuch was filled with nothing but religious tradition and human viewpoint. The eunuch learned firsthand that philosophy and man’s opinions are no substitute for God’s wisdom (1 Corinthians 2:1-16)! Philip is a believer in Christ and the eunuch is not; the former has the Holy Spirit, and the latter does not. Yet, the eunuch was seeking the truth, and God honored that heart attitude.

“I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God,” the eunuch proclaimed in verse 37. Through Philip, the Holy Spirit had personally taught him from the Isaiah scroll. He had seen truths he would have never known otherwise. Verse 39 closes with his water baptism, and when the Spirit of the Lord snatches up Philip to preach elsewhere, the eunuch goes on his way “rejoicing.” What delight the eunuch now has as he goes on home to Ethiopia! “I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil” (Psalm 119:162).

Two Rocks #8

Sunday, June 10, 2018

For their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges (Deuteronomy 32:31 KJV).

There are two rocks in Scripture—one good and one bad. Friend, which is your foundation?

Hebrews chapter 3 reveals that God sees Israel as two houses overall: “[1] Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; [2] Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house. [3] For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house. [4] For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God. [5] And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; [6] But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.”

One house is historical: Israel under the Old Covenant, the Mosaic Law, a “weak and beggarly” system (Galatians 4:9) because Israel was a nation of sinners always falling short of God’s righteous standards (Hebrews 8:7-13). She repeatedly engaged in idolatry (“rocks”). The other house is prophetic: Israel under the New Covenant, God making her His people by Christ’s finished crosswork (1 Peter 2:3-10; cf. 1 Peter 1:2-5,13-25). She will never again be idolatrous.

Isaiah 51:5 anticipates new Israel, what Hebrews 3:6 calls “the house of Christ:” “Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the LORD [the Rock!]: look unto the rock [!] whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged.” God generated Israel’s bloodline with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jacob’s 12 sons. He delivered them from Egypt to become the nation Israel. They are to see Him as He really is (the Rock that their ancient ancestors refused to build on because their counterfeit “rocks,” or idols, had distracted them). Jesus Christ said Israel had better build on the right foundation (Him, the Rock, and His words), or experience spiritual destruction (Matthew 7:24-27)!

Two Rocks #7

Saturday, June 9, 2018

For their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges (Deuteronomy 32:31 KJV).

There are two rocks in Scripture—one good and one bad. Friend, which is your foundation?

Decades after Calvary, the Holy Spirit wrote to the Jewish kingdom believers in 1 Peter 2:3-10: “[3] If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. [4] To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, [5] Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. [6] Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.

“[7] Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, [8] And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. [9] But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; [10] Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.”

God will take Israel’s believing remnant and form a house in which He will manifest His life forever. Jesus Christ, the Rock, will serve as the house’s foundation (cf. Matthew 16:16-18). This “Little Flock” will be the new Israel, the heirs of God’s earthly kingdom (Luke 12:31,32; cf. Matthew 21:42-46). All unbelieving Jews—those depending on the counterfeit “rock” (idols)—will be judged and destroyed during the seven-year Tribulation and at Christ’s subsequent fiery Second Coming (Matthew 7:24-29; Matthew 13:37-43). Israel’s Little Flock will enter the Millennium as God’s kingdom of priests, fully capable of carrying His Word to the Gentiles, that the Gentiles give up their rocks (idols) and believe on the Rock as well….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Do we live in the ‘Church Age?’

Benoni and Benjamin #7

Saturday, April 21, 2018

And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin (Genesis 35:18 KJV).

Dear friend, look and see—herein lies prophecy!

At the close of Peter’s life and ministry, the Holy Spirit wrote in 2 Peter chapter 3: “[9] The Lord is not slack concerning his promise [of Christ’s Second Coming], as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance…. [15] 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; [16] 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.”

Romans chapters 9-11 and 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 are the Apostle Paul’s divine explanations why the Second Coming and Millennium (“Benjamin”) have not yet followed Christ’s earthly ministry (“Benoni”). Of course, as Peter himself knew, some were failing to rightly divide the word of truth. So thoroughly confused in Scripture, they had created unspeakable spiritual destruction in themselves and their foolish audiences! (Sound familiar?)

In closing, perhaps you are saying, “How wonderful and insightful this was, Brother Shawn!” (I agree.) “I wish more people would see it!” (Indeed.) “So, why do they not see it? Has God not revealed it to them?” Friend, they can read as well as we, can they not? It is a heart problem—sin. The flesh, the natural man, sees this all as foolishness. It is easier to mock instead of study. When we look beyond Christendom’s superficial teachings, and refuse to be the lazy church members who do not (nor care to) understand the Bible, we actually have something fascinating to see in, and say about, it. Rather than wasting time with church tradition, superstition, and philosophy, we spend our time wisely by reading and studying (!!) Scripture.

Yea, we find amazing treasures in God’s Word when we look with the eyes of faith! 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Is Hebrews 13:3 a reference to the Body of Christ?

Benoni and Benjamin #6

Friday, April 20, 2018

And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin (Genesis 35:18 KJV).

Dear friend, look and see—herein lies prophecy!

When the Apostle Peter maintained Israel’s ancient (and puzzled!) prophets foresaw “the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow” (1 Peter 1:10,11), he referred to the prophecies of a suffering Messiah (Psalm 22:1-21; Psalm 35:1-28; Psalm 69:1-36; Isaiah 53:3-12; et al.) and a reigning Messiah (Psalm 2:4-9; Psalm 22:22-31; Psalm 45:6,7; Isaiah 9:6,7; Isaiah 11:1-16; Jeremiah 23:5-8; et al.). Like Peter, only after the first set of fulfilled prophecies do we understand it all.

The one mountain the prophets observed ahead turned out to be two mountains aligned. Once Peter and his contemporaries stood on the first peak, though, they recognized a separate and distinct peak still future. They had just experienced Messiah’s First Coming (“the sufferings of Christ”)—His rejection, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension to Heaven as a royal exile to sit at His Father’s right hand (Psalm 110:1; Acts 1:9-11; Acts 2:32-36). Now, in early Acts (Peter’s ministry), Messiah’s Second Coming is in view. The 12 Apostles, yea all the Little Flock, preach in early Acts, pleading with national Israel to repent of refusing Jesus and prepare for His return by trusting Him. Otherwise, these unbelievers will be consumed in His wrath when He returns to establish that earthly kingdom (“the glory that should follow”)!

As Israel was rapidly approaching that second mountain, something totally unexpected transpired. It was discovered that, while God had been revealing the prophetic program piecemeal, He had kept the mystery program totally secret. In addition to the prophets not understanding the details of one Messiah coming twice, they were completely unaware that a 2,000-year gap separated those comings. Here is the revelation Jesus Christ gave directly to the Apostle Paul. Then, in Acts chapter 15 (Galatians chapter 2), Paul taught Israel’s spiritual leaders about the extensive “mystery” valley below that no one had seen at all. Between the two “prophetic” mountain peaks was a major delay in Messiah’s Second Coming (Kingdom).

Rather than destroy all of Christ-rejecting mankind, Father God inserted between “Benoni” and “Benjamin” a parenthetical period of grace….