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!

Israel Blinded Thrice! #2

Tuesday, August 18, 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 Lord Jesus Christ conducted His earthly ministry for three years in Israel. Yet, they overwhelmingly rejected Him as Messiah-King. Consequently, He began to gradually withdraw from public ministry, dealing with just believers. He quotes today’s Scripture twice—Matthew 13:14-16 and John 12:37-41. Read from John: “[37] But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: [38] That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? [39] Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, [40] He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.

Again, God removes whatever spiritual light Israel had and willfully refused. She is blinded a second time (beginning with Jesus’ parables). That darkness will not be removed until God gives her a sign (another miraculous demonstration designed to teach doctrine). Following Israel’s blinding in Christ’s earthly ministry, God sends Israel the sign of Christ’s resurrection, as per Matthew 12:39,40: “[39] But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas [Jonah]: [40] For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

After Christ’s resurrection, the Holy Spirit preached to Israel through the 12 Apostles (see Acts chapters 2–7). Israel is enlightened, having another chance to believe! Alas, she persists in unbelief again, still refusing to trust the Gospel of the Kingdom. God blinds her a third and final time….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Does Acts 7:6 have a mistake?

Israel Blinded Thrice! #1

Monday, August 17, 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 Prophet Isaiah’s ministry preceded the Assyrian and Babylonian Captivities. For approximately 750 years, the Jews have ignored the Law of Moses by worshipping and serving idols. God’s prophets (messengers) have been repeatedly ignored. Since Israel has habitually broken the covenant, there are repercussions—a series of five judgments or chastisements predicted in Leviticus chapter 26.

JEHOVAH God orders Isaiah to preach to his fellow Jews. Since they have overwhelmingly ignored God’s Word up to this point, Isaiah’s message will be one to condemn them, to remove whatever spiritual light they have been given but obstinately refused. There is now a spiritual blinding of Israel (today’s Scripture). That blindness will not be lifted until God gives Israel a sign, a miraculous demonstration intended to teach doctrine.

Following the blinding of Israel in Isaiah’s day, God sends the nation a sign: that sign is the virgin conception of Jesus Christ 700 years later. Turn to Isaiah 7:14: “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” If you read the context, King Ahaz of Judah is like most Jews—in rank unbelief (verses 10-14). Israel will be released from her blindness once the sign of Christ’s conception is evident.

Israel was given the chance to believe God’s Word during Christ’s First Coming, His birth and earthly ministry (Matthew 1:18-25). However, in response to the spiritual light of Christ’s arrival (Matthew 4:12-17), Israel chose to remain in unbelief. While there was a believing remnant, as always, Israel nationally rejects the LORD Jesus. They refused to believe the Gospel of the Kingdom—that Jesus is Christ/Messiah/King. As with Isaiah, God responded by blinding them. Then, He gave them another sign so the blindness could be lifted and they could believe….

A Naughty Tongue! #7

Wednesday, July 15, 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!

Moving into “the ages to come” (Ephesians 2:7) Bible Books, Hebrews through Revelation, we see Israel’s prophetic program accomplished. Whatever evil work Satan began in the Earth with Adam and man’s Fall 6,000 years ago, he continues that labor until Jesus Christ returns to destroy the lie program and establish a new world system, one of truth and righteousness.

Re-read James 3:1-8. The peak of Satan’s lie program is man repeating the falsehoods his evil world system originates. Just as God communicates His truth, so Satan counterfeits it with erroneous information. When God’s messengers speak, the Devil commissions his preachers to contradict and discredit. Once the Antichrist arrives, man’s “naughty tongue” will literally be “singing his praises.” Jewish believers in Jesus Christ will be disparaged, wrongly accused of teaching error because the Antichrist will be seen as the true Messiah. Here are the “wise,” “righteous,” and “good” of Proverbs. Additionally, the Antichrist’s followers will be believing and spreading his deceit. These are the “fools,” “sinners,” and “wicked” of Proverbs.

Now, read some of James’ parallels. “Not rendering evil for evil, or railing [criticism] for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew [avoid] evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it” (1 Peter 3:9-11). “But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption;…. For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error” (2 Peter 2:12,18). “These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage” (Jude 16).

Even as members of the Body of Christ, we should guard our tongues….

A Lost Generation! #8

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them (2 Corinthians 4:3,4 KJV).

What this “lost” generation needs is to be found!

As Jesus Christ conducted His earthly ministry, He remarked, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24). He commissioned His 12 Apostles: “Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 10:5-7). The nation Israel was “lost,” removed from the path JEHOVAH God had for her. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).

“From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). Christ proceeded to bring Israel back to Him by preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom. He was her long-promised Messiah/Christ-King-Saviour-Redeemer. Individual Jews were to “repent,” change their mind about their idolatry, and trust Him as the Son of God and heir to David’s throne. He performed miraculous demonstrations to validate His Gospel message: “And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people” (Matthew 9:35).

Likewise, when the Apostle Paul began his ministry in Acts chapter 9, the resurrected, ascended, and glorified Jesus Christ commissioned him: “Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me” (Acts 26:17,18). It is through Paul’s ministry and message that we Gentiles can be saved….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Does God suffer from Alzheimer’s disease?

Christ Liveth in Me

Sunday, April 12, 2020

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 KJV).

“He is risen” is not a simple blasé cliché!

When Jesus’ disciples came to His tomb on that glorious Sunday morning nearly 2,000 years ago, they were startled to find it empty! Angels inform them that He has resurrected, but they are still in shock (Matthew 28:1-8; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-8). Jesus Christ Himself must later explain the Scriptures to them regarding what happened those last few days (Luke 24:44-46).

However, until Paul’s ministry, Christ’s finished crosswork is not preached as good news for salvation. Peter and Israel’s other apostles simply preach that Jesus Christ is now resurrected to “sit on [David’s] throne” (Acts 2:30)—that is bad news for much of Israel, for they still reject Him, weeks and months after His resurrection and ascension. Throughout early Acts, Israel’s apostles warn her that Jesus Christ is coming back to judge them.

When we come to the Apostle Paul’s ministry, we learn that we Gentiles can benefit from Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork. Israel’s rejected Messiah is now our way to heaven! Yes, Israel hated Him, and demanded that He experience the most awful method of execution devised, but God allowed it in order to accomplish His will. Satan attempted to hinder God’s will by having Christ killed, but all that did was provide the method whereby God could save us pagan Gentiles. Calvary’s finished crosswork frees us from Satan’s evil system and gives us a chance to be God’s people (Acts 26:17,18)!

As people who have trusted Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for our sins, that crucifixion is our death to self and sin, and that resurrection is our raising to walk in newness of life—His life (today’s Scripture; cf. Romans 6:1-11)!

Indeed, Jesus Christ is alive, and He lives in and through those who walk by faith in God’s Word to them, Paul’s epistles of Romans through Philemon! 🙂

HAPPY EASTER!

*Adapted from a larger Bible study by the same name. That study can be read here or watched here.

Messiah’s Joy Amidst Calvary’s Grief #1

Friday, April 10, 2020

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2 KJV).

Do you ever wonder what our Lord Jesus Christ was thinking about while He hung there on Calvary’s cross?

Psalm 22:1-21 provides us with a glimpse of Jesus’ thoughts as He endured that awful crucifixion: He is greatly tormented physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Various verses in Psalm 69 provide additional insight, especially as death begins to close in on His soul. Written about 1000 B.C., these and other “Messianic psalms” graphically describe assorted events in our Lord’s earthly life (in this case, His crucifixion)… centuries before they occurred!

What Jesus Christ thought about while suspended on Calvary’s cross was the Holy Scriptures. He had faith in the Old Testament passages that applied to Him. No matter what happened to Him, He knew it was His Father’s will, and His Father would be glorified. As He stated earlier, “Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup [of Thy wrath; Revelation 14:10] from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt (Mark 14:36). “…The Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him (John 8:29bc).

Do you realize what today’s Scripture is saying? Jesus Christ felt immense physiological and spiritual pain, but He thought about the overall view: for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame” (cf. Psalm 16:8-11). Yes, the Old Testament spoke of His suffering, and those Scriptures must be fulfilled, but it also testified of His glorious kingdom that would follow, and those Scriptures also were to be fulfilled in due time! “…The sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow” (1 Peter 1:11). While it did not diminish the extent of His distress and suffering, Jesus Christ kept in memory the glory His Father would give Him once He had endured the crucifixion (Philippians 2:8-11). It gave Him such joy. He felt grief unspeakable, but He also had joy unfathomable!

Our archived Bible Q&A: “Where was Jesus during the three days between His death and resurrection?

Without Blemish and Without Spot #3

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

“But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:…” (1 Peter 1:19 KJV).

How was Israel to see Jesus Christ was “without blemish and without spot?”

Passover/Calvary is two days away (Matthew 26:1,2). Israel’s chief priests, scribes, and elders connive to deceitfully arrest and murder Jesus. At Simon the leper’s house in nearby Bethany, Mary pours ointment on Jesus’ head (unknowingly preparing Him for burial). Judas Iscariot schemes with the chief priests to betray Christ for 30 silver pieces (verses 14-16). Jesus eats an early Passover with His 12 Apostles (verses 17ff.). On the Mount of Olives, He prays, before being betrayed and apprehended. His unjust, nighttime trial concludes late the next morning. Sentenced to death (!), He is crucified at 9 A.M.; He lets Himself die by 3 P.M. (Mark 15:25-38).

Israel could have verified Jesus as Messiah-Redeemer during those four days between Palm Sunday and Calvary. Rather than wrongdoing, He cleansed the defiled Temple, demonstrated God’s power, preached the truth, upheld the pure Mosaic Law, defended and expounded the Hebrew Bible, and exposed Israel’s perverted religious leaders. Scripture testifies of Christ Jesus during His last days: “the innocent blood” (Matthew 27:4), “just [righteous]” (Matthew 27:19), “I find no fault in this man” (Luke 23:4), “I… have found no fault in this man… No, nor yet Herod…” (Luke 23:14,15), “I have found no cause of death in him” (Luke 23:22), “this man hath done nothing amiss [no wrong]” (Luke 23:41), “I find in him no fault at all” (John 18:38), “I find no fault in him” (John 19:4). (Cf. Matthew 27:23; Mark 15:14; Luke 23:22; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15; Hebrews 7:26; 1 Peter 2:22; cf. today’s Scripture)

Matthew 27:24,25: “When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. Then answered all the [Jewish] people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.Israel knew Pilate was correct; however, they could not care less that Jesus was innocent. Like all other sinful (deceived) children of Adam, they refused God’s sinless Son as their King: they demanded He be crucified as an imposter (John 19:15)!

Without Blemish and Without Spot #2

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

“But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:…” (1 Peter 1:19 KJV).

How was Israel to see Jesus Christ was “without blemish and without spot?”

Christ rides the donkey into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday (Matthew 21:1-11). (Passover, His death, is about four days away [cf. John 12:1,12-16].) Entering the Temple, He cleanses it of the thieves who had been utilizing “God’s religion” to deceive and rob His people; there, He heals the blind and lame (Matthew 21:12-14). Israel’s religious leaders grow envious when children praise Him (verses 15,16).

Sleeping in nearby Bethany for the night, Jesus returns to Jerusalem in the morning to curse the barren fig tree (verses 17-22). God will never reinstitute the Mosaic Law, for it has produced no spiritual fruit in Israel. In the Temple, Israel’s religious leaders demand of Christ where He received His authority, and slyly dodge His subsequent question about John the Baptist (verses 23-27). He then issues three stinging parables: they do not follow God as they claim (verses 28-32), they willfully reject and scheme to murder His Christ—yes, He knows!! (verses 33-46), and they further refuse to believe on Him (22:1-14).

The Pharisees collaborate to get Jesus to say something incriminating before the Temple crowds (verse 15): they send delegates to ask Him about paying taxes (verses 16-22). The Sadducees then attempt to trick Him with a resurrection riddle (verses 23-33). A lawyer of the Pharisees finally asks Him about the great Law commandment (verses 34-40). Christ answers all three issues wisely! He asks them a question now, which they cannot answer; they are silenced (verses 41-46). Matthew chapter 23 follows—His severest censure of these false religious leaders (cf. John chapter 8)! He finally curses unbelieving Jerusalem, declaring that God’s house has become her house. Exiting the Temple, He walks to the Mount of Olives; in Matthew chapters 24 and 25, He delivers His magnificent end-time “Olivet Discourse.” Calvary is soon!

Indeed, when Israel was appraising the Passover lamb for slaughtering, sinless Jesus entered Jerusalem. He was the true Passover lamb, “a lamb without blemish and without spot” (today’s Scripture), to be sacrificed for us sinners (1 Corinthians 5:7). Would Israel sacrifice Him in faith? Or, in unbelief? Let us see….

Without Blemish and Without Spot #1

Monday, April 6, 2020

“But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:…” (1 Peter 1:19 KJV).

How was Israel to see Jesus Christ was “without blemish and without spot?”

In Exodus chapter 12, JEHOVAH God through Moses commanded the Jews to observe Passover, the perpetual memorial to Him delivering them from Egyptian bondage: “[3] Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house: [4] And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb.

“[5] Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: [6] And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. [7] And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it. [8] And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.”

On Abib 10th (roughly April), each Israeli house selected a young male lamb, sheep or goat, “without blemish.” After confining it to scrutinize it for any disability or illness, they killed it in the evening of the 14th. At the time, no one realized that Father God had laid this out as a template for Jesus Christ’s final days. With the so-called “triumphal entry” of early Matthew chapter 21, Christ enters Jerusalem. He will remain in (or near) Jerusalem until His arrest and crucifixion. In these three or four days leading up to Calvary’s cross, He can be examined, tested to see if He fits the type laid out in the Passover-lamb prophecy. We now contemplate His activities during His last week alive….