His Son #3

Friday, October 21, 2016

“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:1-3 KJV).

What can today’s Scripture teach us?

In a fragmentary fashion and in assorted ways, JEHOVAH God used the prophets to speak to Israel’s patriarchs—Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Jacob’s 12 sons, David, Solomon, et cetera—about His purpose and plan for them. The Book of Hebrews is written to the descendants of Israel’s fathers. It has no relation to us Gentiles or the Church the Body of Christ. Never forget, friends, the Book of Hebrews continues the prophetic program that began in the “Old Testament.” We study Hebrews, but are always mindful it does not speak to or about us.

According to the writer of Hebrews, penning during the Acts period, the God who spoke to Israel’s fathers by the “Old Testament” prophets is not speaking by them anymore. He has spoken to Israel by His Son. As Jesus Himself declared, “The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it” (Luke 16:16). John the Baptist’s ministry was a transition, or “bridge,” from the Law and the Prophets, to the earthly ministry of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. God’s earthly kingdom, long preached by the “Old Testament” prophets as coming, is on the verge of being established during Christ’s earthly ministry. (Hebrews, written during Acts, looks back at Matthew through John.)

“Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand [near]: repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:14,15). That Gospel of the Kingdom was simply Jesus was “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16)….

His Son #2

Thursday, October 20, 2016

“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:1-3 KJV).

What can today’s Scripture teach us?

For some reason known only to Him, God the Holy Spirit chose not to reveal the human instrument He moved to write the Book of Hebrews. So, rather than squabbling about the man’s identity, all we need to know about its writer is found in the first word—God!

JEHOVAH God, Israel’s God, for centuries, had sent prophets to communicate more and more of His Word to her. “Time past” here in this context (Hebrews 1:1) denotes Abraham’s call all the way up to John the Baptist’s ministry (about 2,100 years). It started with Abraham because he was Israel’s father, and it ended just before John the Baptist’s ministry began (we will look at this verse later). For now, just know this was a time of piecemeal revelation to Israel—“at sundry times.” It involved various angelic appearances, handwriting, visions, dreams, miracles, fire from heaven, and so on—“in divers manners.”

First Peter chapter 1 says of the “Old Testament” prophets who, with limited understanding, tried to make sense of it all: “[10] Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: [11] Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.” Notice this reference to Christ’s First Coming (earthly ministry—“the sufferings of Christ”) and His Second Coming (“the glory that should follow”).

With the passing away of such “piecemeal” prophetic ministries, Father God sent His Son as His Spokesman to Israel. Whatever those holy men spoke prophetically, Jesus would come (Matthew through John) and repeat, explain, and add to it….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Was the Law of Moses given by the LORD, or by angels?

His Son #1

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:1-3 KJV).

What can today’s Scripture teach us?

The Book of Hebrews opens with these three verses. We would do well to notice this is the Epistle to the Hebrews. This will greatly help us understand today’s Scripture. Throughout church history, Bible expositors and church members alike have gotten into much trouble and suffered tremendous confusion because they took verses written to and about Israel, and forced them onto us (the Church the Body of Christ).

For many centuries prior to the Book of Hebrews, for several hundred years before the early Acts period, for many centuries before Christ’s earthly ministry, Father God had sent numerous prophets to Israel concerning His coming Son. Through the preaching of those holy men, He was preparing His nation to identify their Messiah when He arrived. Yet, Israel became increasingly unbelieving and stubborn. Suddenly, God began to speak more and more about His coming wrath as well.

As the Book of Hebrews tells us in today’s Scripture, Israel’s “last days” (the final stages of her program) commenced with the earthly ministry of Christ. Some 800 years before Jesus, the Prophet Joel (2:28-32) predicted those “last days.” First would be the outpouring of God’s Spirit on believing Israel (fulfilled in Acts chapter 2). Then there would be the outpouring of God’s wrath on unbelieving Israel (still awaiting fulfillment, but would have come in early Acts). In Acts 2:14-36, Peter the Apostle preached to Israel that Joel’s prophecy was coming to pass, and that wrath was coming! They must “repent and be baptized… in the name of Jesus Christ.” God’s Son, whom their prophets foretold would come, has come, and they have rejected Him, nailed Him to Calvary’s cross, and still refuse to hear Him….

Zechariah and Dispensationalism

Thursday, July 23, 2015

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off: and he shall speak peace unto the heathen: and his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth” (Zechariah 9:9,10 KJV).

What can the Prophet Zechariah teach us about dispensational Bible study?

A half-dozen Old Testament passages combine Jesus Christ’s two comings: these prophets saw one coming. In hindsight, however, we see two prophesied comings. Why were two comings not originally apparent? (There were two secret comings hidden between!)

Today’s Scripture describes Messiah coming twice: first, He came meek and lowly, and then He will return in power and glory. These two comings are according to prophecy, “that which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:21). The Old Testament prophets were unaware of two additional comings of Jesus Christ to divide the two prophesied comings—one coming to start our Dispensation of Grace (save Saul of Tarsus and start the Body of Christ) and one to end it (save the Body of Christ from enduring the seven-year Tribulation). These are the two comings according to mystery, that “which was kept secret since the world began” but was manifested through Paul’s epistles (Romans 16:25,26).

Today’s Scripture (cf. Matthew 21:1-9) first predicts Jesus Christ riding the donkey into Jerusalem, the “Triumphal Entry” (First Coming). Then, it mentions His glorious return to destroy Israel’s enemies, bring everlasting peace, and establish His earthly kingdom over the Gentiles (Second Coming). Zechariah knew nothing of our Dispensation of Grace and the Body of Christ. The mystery was not only “hid in God” (Ephesians 3:9), but also completely hidden from Israel’s prophets. God kept a secret from Satan—He would use Calvary’s crosswork to form the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:6-8). The Dispensation of Grace (and its two comings) was also withheld from the Old Testament prophets, including Zechariah. Wow!

A Holy Nation #6

Saturday, January 25, 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.

As per the Old Covenant, increasingly sinful Israel would endure five rounds of escalating chastisement from God, many divine attempts to reform the wayward nation (see Leviticus 26:14-39). The last course of judgment (verses 27-39) involved Gentile armies (Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks, Medes, Persians, and Romans) overrunning and defeating Israel, killing her people, taking off to foreign lands most of the rest of the Jews as prisoners of war. The Promised Land would be desolate of Jews. Israel would lose her Davidic kingdom, and the pagan Gentiles would rule over her instead. God was bound by His Word to weaken and curse His beloved nation!

Just before, during, and after that fifth course of judgment began, God sent His prophets to speak and write to Israel. The “Major Prophets” (Isaiah through Daniel) and the “Minor Prophets” (Hosea through Malachi) concentrate on two general themes: God’s judgment and Israel’s deliverance. These prophets clearly warned that, due to her disobedience, Israel would have many terrible days ahead (and the worst are yet to come!). Yet, these prophets surely comforted that, due to JEHOVAH’S faithfulness, Israel would have many wonderful days ahead (and the best are yet to come!).

Israel had forsaken JEHOVAH and His covenant, worshipped pagan idols, and legally, God declared her as sinful, worthy of His wrath and unworthy of His blessings—she had become Satan’s people. She was everything but the “holy nation” God wanted her to be (see today’s Scripture). The devil surely thought he had JEHOVAH defeated: “Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive? But thus saith the LORD, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children” (Isaiah 49:24,25).

There was hope: JEHOVAH promised that Messiah would come and deliver Israel from Satan….

Consider Your Ways, Israel! #1

Saturday, September 21, 2013

“Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes” (Haggai 1:5,6 KJV).

The Jews have built their houses, but they are apathetic that they have not finished JEHOVAH’S….

In the context of today’s Scripture, only a remnant of Jews has returned to Jerusalem from the Babylonian captivity (606-536 B.C.). Like Zechariah and Malachi, JEHOVAH has sent Haggai to instruct, encourage, and rebuke these post-exilic Israelis in Palestine. Both Haggai and Zechariah preached prior to Ezra, the priest-scribe who led a group of Jews from Babylon back to Jerusalem. Today’s Scripture, dated approximately 520 B.C., parallels Ezra 5:1.

Haggai, preaching to the returned Jews in Jerusalem and Judah, reminds them that though are now living again in the Promised Land, their lives are futile and empty (today’s Scripture). Some 15 years earlier, King Cyrus of Persia had granted the Jews permission to return to Jerusalem to rebuild Solomon’s Temple (destroyed 586 B.C. by the Babylonians). However, Gentile opposition to the Jews building at that site halted construction until the time of the context of today’s Scripture (Ezra 4:23,24 cf. Haggai 1:1,2).

The prophet Haggai rebukes the Jews in Jerusalem and Judah who have built their own homes, but who could not care less that JEHOVAH’S Temple is still unfinished, nearly two decades since its construction began. “Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the LORD’S house should be built. Then came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying, Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled [roofed, covered] houses, and this house lie waste?” (Haggai 1:2-4).

We will better understand the meaning of today’s Scripture by taking a closer look at the minor prophet’s book. Let us see why Israel’s strenuous labor is yielding little reward, and if she will reform her ways….