The “Triumphal” Entry

Sunday, April 13, 2014

“All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass” (Matthew 21:4,5 KJV).

Do you ever wonder why Jesus Christ rode on a donkey the Sunday before His crucifixion?

In today’s Scripture (cf. Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:28-40; John 12:12-19), Jesus’s crucifixion on Calvary’s cross is just five days away. Leaving Bethany, He travels to Jerusalem (a mile to the northwest). Israel’s believing remnant in Jerusalem is excited to hear that Messiah is returning to “the city of the great King” (Psalm 48:2; Matthew 5:35); in anticipation, the great multitude throws their garments and palm branches on the ground. As Jesus enters the city, they cry out, “Hosanna [“O save!”]: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 21:9; Mark 11:9,10; Luke 19:38; John 12:13; cf. Psalm 118:26).

While often called the “Triumphal Entry,” there really was no victory being celebrated in today’s Scripture—the victory was to come later! What we need to realize is that Jesus Christ was humble (“meek”) here: as a King riding on a donkey into Israel’s capital city, He demonstrated He desired peace with Israel (a fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9). He had not come to destroy her, though He would have been just in doing so; He had come to save her from her sins, her enemies, and her satanic bondage (Matthew 1:21; Mark 2:17; Mark 3:22-30; Luke 1:68-75; Luke 9:55,56; Luke 19:9,10; Acts 3:24-26; et cetera).

Just a few days later, Jesus Christ appeared weak and defeated. He never fought back as the Roman soldiers mercilessly abused Him; He allowed Himself to be crucified on Calvary. It was His meek and lowly coming; now was not the time to pour out His wrath. He resurrected and ascended into heaven as a royal exile. Revelation 19:11 says Jesus Christ will return to Jerusalem on a white horse, a sign of war and wrath (Zechariah 14:1-4)—that will be His true triumphal entry, for He will conquer Satan’s world system forever!

Fishers of Men #1

Saturday, April 5, 2014

“And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes” (John 21:6 KJV).

Today’s Scripture foretells the greatest fishing trip Israel’s apostles will ever enjoy!

The Bible book we call “The Gospel According to John” is the fourth and final record of Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry. John is starkly different from the so-called “Synoptic Gospels” (Matthew, Mark, and Luke): the Apostle John emphasizes aspects and events of Christ’s earthly ministry that Matthew, Mark, and Luke usually entirely disregard.

John 1:11-13 introduces the theme of the Book of John: “He [Jesus Christ] came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 20:30,31 elaborate: “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”

When moving the Apostle John to write his Gospel record, the Holy Ghost selected specific events of Christ’s earthly ministry, eight unique miraculous demonstrations through which Jesus taught Israel various doctrines (our King James Bible calls these miracles “signs”). These signs communicated to Israel that Jesus Christ was their Messiah/Christ, the Son of God, and that He had the ability, the power, to equip them to function as “the sons of God,” men and women who could work with God and delight in accomplishing His earthly purpose and program.

In our next few studies, we want to focus on the eighth and final sign of Jesus as recorded in John’s Gospel record. This sign, noted in today’s Scripture, is the key to understanding God’s purpose and plan in forming the nation Israel….

A Heart Transplant for Israel #5

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh(Ezekiel 36:26 KJV).

The Great Physician must perform this surgery if His beloved patient is to live!

Recall the Holy Spirit’s words to Israel as He spoke them through the Prophet Stephen in Acts 7:51-53: Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. 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: who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.”

These specific words certainly caught Israel’s attention. “When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on [Stephen] with their teeth” (verse 54). Israel’s religious leaders were greatly angered: “How dare Stephen liken us to Gentiles [‘stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears’] and how dare he call us ‘betrayers and murderers!’” They became so berserk they began chewing on Stephen! His next few words (verses 55,56), even more “offensive,” caused them to cry out, close their ears, run upon him, throw him out of Jerusalem, and stone him to death (verses 57-60)!

As Stephen stated before he died at their hands, throughout the Old Testament, Israel repeatedly broke God’s laws. Through His (their) prophets, God warned them of coming judgment. Nevertheless, Israel’s fathers persecuted—imprisoned and/or murdered—JEHOVAH’S prophets because they hated His Word the prophets spoke. Here in Acts chapter 7, Israel has not only betrayed and murdered Jesus their Messiah (God the Son), their unbelief has culminated to rejecting God the Holy Ghost and murdering His spokesman Stephen (cf. Matthew 12:31,32).

Let us proceed to discover how Stephen’s final comments (quoted above) enlighten us as to the meaning of Israel’s physical circumcision, and how it explains the necessity of Israel’s heart transplant….

A Heart Transplant for Israel #4

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh(Ezekiel 36:26 KJV).

The Great Physician must perform this surgery if His beloved patient is to live!

Crucified on Calvary’s cross, slowly dying a most excruciating demise, Jesus interceded on behalf of His beloved nation, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). They knew they were killing their Messiah (it was impossible to accidentally overlook the hundreds of Old Testament Messianic prophecies that Jesus fulfilled in His few short years on earth). Israel intentionally ignored those fulfilled prophecies, lest they agree with God. Their “desperately wicked, deceitful heart (Jeremiah 17:9) caused them to act irrationally—they were spiritually insane, out-of-control (sinners “make haste to shed innocent blood;” Isaiah 59:7).

A year after Calvary, the Holy Spirit indicted Israel through the Prophet Stephen (just before they murdered him, too): “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. 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: who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it” (Acts 7:51-53). Paul, quoting the Prophet Isaiah, “But to Israel he [the LORD] saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying [rebellious] people” (Romans 10:21; Isaiah 65:2). In Old Testament times, in Christ’s earthly ministry, and even in Acts, Israel had a heart problem!

Spiritually, Israel was just as opposed to God’s Word as the Gentiles who worshipped vain idols. Jews and Gentiles were equally stubborn—the old sin nature worked mightily in both races. In order for God to use Israel (and later on, us Gentiles), He would have cut out that heart of sin that all descendants of Adam have. That old sin nature would have to be surgically removed.…

A Holy Nation #7

Sunday, January 26, 2014

“For I am the LORD that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy” (Leviticus 11:45 KJV).

Today’s Scripture summarizes a book most burdensome to many.

When Messiah (Jesus) finally came to the nation Israel, the fifth course of judgment was still operating: Israel was still scattered worldwide and under Gentile domination (here, the Roman Empire). JEHOVAH knew that He had to keep His covenant—Israel was to be punished for breaking it. The devil had one goal: continue to work in and through Israel’s religious and political leaders to prevent Jesus Christ from assuming David’s throne, and stop Him from delivering Israel (and earth) from his captivity. Satan had Israel exactly where he wanted her, and he was not about to give up the nation without a fight—and fight he did!

King Herod attempts—but fails—to kill young Jesus by murdering Jewish babies age two and under (Matthew 2:1-20). Once Jesus begins His three-year earthly ministry 30 years later, Israel’s religious leaders denigrate and persecute Him and His followers. Satan is still doing everything he can to hinder Jesus from converting Israel. The battle intensifies and culminates: Israel’s religious leaders finally conspire with the Roman government to have Jesus killed. When Roman governor Pontius Pilate asks Israel, “Shall I crucify your King?,” Israel’s chief priests (leaders) reply, We have no king but Caesar (John 19:15)!

Messiah Jesus (knowing something no one else does) does not fight the muscular soldiers who grab Him, punch Him repeatedly, spit in His face, force a crown of thorns on His head, curse at Him, mercilessly scourge Him with whips, drive long spikes into His hands and feet, and display Him on a cross for everyone to see and mock. Satan beholds and delights in the spectacle; he can keep ruling over Israel because her rightful King is slowly dying. Just before Jesus Christ allows Himself to die, He remembers that Israel will become holy as He intended, that His death will literally become the “deathblow” to Satan.

Satan will certainly be surprised to discover God’s wisdom….

No Room for the Messiah

Monday, December 23, 2013

“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7 KJV).

Today’s Scripture is a shameful reality—Israel has “no room” for her Messiah.

Every Jew knew the Messianic promise of Isaiah 7:14: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Each Jew had heard its parallel verse: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). They knew Micah 5:2: “Bethlehem Ephratah… yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”

For nearly seven centuries, Jews read the above verses. They knew that God would one day send their Messiah, who would establish His kingdom in the earth. However, when Joseph brought Mary, who was heavy with child, to Bethlehem of Judaea, precious few took notice. Their hearts were so hardened by sin, much of the nation Israel could not care less. Here was a pregnant virgin, living in Bethlehem, within the time frame of the Messiah’s arrival as prophesied by Daniel 9:25-26, and there was the Messiah’s star of Numbers 24:17 appearing to signify His coming (Matthew 2:2). It was so obvious that Mary’s Baby was Israel’s long-promised Messiah-King! Alas, sinful Israel would not have Him!

How Israel “received” Jesus Christ as a Baby typified what they would do to Him later for the rest of His earthly life. They had no room for Him in the inn, so they invited Him—the Lord of glory—to lie in a lowly trough out of which livestock eat (today’s Scripture)! When He offered Himself to Israel 33 years later, Israel argued, “We have no king but Caesar” (John 19:15). God was not surprised, for He had preplanned what He would do at that point….

The Prince of Peace, Born in the Middle East

Saturday, December 21, 2013

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6 KJV).

Ironically, God’s wisdom ordained the birthplace of the Prince of Peace to be the contentious Middle East….

Almost from the very beginning of time, the Middle East has been a battleground, the chief war zone of good and evil. Originally the peaceful home of Adam and Eve, today it is the most contentious region on the globe. Because of Adam’s sin, what was a paradise is now known as the area where man joined Satan in his rebellion against God. Adam and Eve utterly failed to reign over the earth for God’s glory (Genesis 1:26-28). Instead they united with the opposition, and were banished from God’s presence and the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:23,24).

“Wherefore, as by one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and death by sin” (Romans 5:12). Verse 14 says that Adam “is the figure of him that was to come.” God would send another Man, Jesus Christ, and He would accomplish what Adam failed to do: glorify God on the earth by dispossessing it from Satan, and reigning in righteousness. This is the “government” spoken of in today’s Scripture.

“For if by one man’s [Adam’s] offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ” (verse 17). Adam plunged the human race into sin and made it God’s enemy; Jesus Christ offers mankind eternal life, forgiveness of sins and a reconciled relationship with God! This was God’s goal in sending Jesus Christ.

As our world desperately continues to seek peace, let us remember there will be no peace on earth until the Prince of Peace returns to His nation, Israel, and rids our planet of Satan and his policy of evil (the root of the Middle Eastern turmoil). At Christ’s Second Coming, there will be peace on earth (Luke 2:14), and especially in the Middle East.