A Recipe for Disaster

Monday, November 26, 2018

For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it (Hebrews 4:2 KJV).

Can we possess God’s Word and it not benefit us?

From the time He created man and placed him on Earth, the God of the Bible has extended a message for man’s faith and obedience. While a written Bible was not always available to man, there was God’s spoken Word. That message changed through time because man changed. These individual Divine revelations are “dispensations,” each applicable only for a limited time.

In today’s Scripture (actually beginning back in chapter 3), the writer of the Book of Hebrews recalls Israel’s history. JEHOVAH God had promised them the land of Canaan, but they refused to enter (Numbers chapters 13–14). Hebrews reveals their problem: “So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief (3:19). They did not believe God’s Word to them. No faith!

A person can own a Bible, carry it around, flip through it, read it daily, memorize it, tell others about it, hear it preached at church, and still be out of God’s will and still lack His power. No matter the dispensation, personal faith is always most important before God: “But without faith it is impossible to please [God]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).

“For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe (1 Thessalonians 2:13). Faith is the key to activating God’s Word in our lives. Once we believe the verses we read or hear, God the Holy Spirit works in us and then outwardly: “…To be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man” (Ephesians 3:16). He makes the verses a reality in our lives, that we reflect the grace doctrine we believe, and thus He benefits us! 🙂

Refuge! #7

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Then ye shall appoint you cities to be cities of refuge for you; that the slayer may flee thither, which killeth any person at unawares (Numbers 35:11 KJV).

Look closely! Could there be something prophetic here?

To spare Israel absolute annihilation, God graciously provided a loophole in the Mosaic Law. If one ignorantly killed another, the slayer could flee to a city of refuge and escape the avenging relative’s hand. The deceased person’s relative could not harm him in that special city.

Similarly, prophetically, the Antichrist is the avenger of blood, coming to punish national Israel for rejecting her Messiah (Jesus Christ) (Isaiah 10:5,6; John 5:43). Thankfully, individual Jews can flee to a (figurative) “city of refuge.” The Little Flock will survive God’s judgment: membership therein (via water baptism) is protection from “the wrath to come” (Matthew 3:1-12; 1 Peter 3:20,21).

Throughout early Acts, God the Holy Spirit constantly indicted Israel for killing her Messiah. They were worthy of His wrath! However, He downgraded the charge from murder to manslaughter. Israel was spiritually ignorant when she crucified Jesus, thus allowing her opportunity to flee to refuge—Israel’s believing remnant. In Acts chapters 2-5, Israel was offered a renewed opportunity of repentance.

“That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec” (Hebrews 6:18-20). Believing Jews in Israel’s kingdom program have “fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us.” Having trusted Jesus as Messiah, they will enter His earthly kingdom when He returns to redeem them nationally at His Second Coming (cf. Hebrews 12:25-29).

“And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God (Zechariah 13:9).

Refuge! #6

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Then ye shall appoint you cities to be cities of refuge for you; that the slayer may flee thither, which killeth any person at unawares (Numbers 35:11 KJV).

Look closely! Could there be something prophetic here?

The LORD God was very careful to make sure that His land—the Holy Land—was not defiled with the shedding of innocent blood. Therefore, He set up the cities of refuge. If someone killed another accidentally, the slayer could flee to a city of refuge. Once a court of law determined it to be manslaughter, the slayer would be returned to that city of refuge. If he left that city before the high priest died, the deceased person’s family could kill the slayer. (Consult Numbers 35:9-32 if necessary.)

Pay close attention to verses 33,34: “So ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: for blood it defileth the land: and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it. Defile not therefore the land which ye shall inhabit, wherein I dwell: for I the LORD dwell among the children of Israel.” Jesus Christ was “the innocent blood” (Matthew 27:4). Since Israel rejected and killed her Messiah, God will send an avenger of blood to cleanse His land of the evildoers.

Hence, the Apostle Peter preached to unbelieving Israel in Acts 3:22,23: “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. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people” (cf. Deuteronomy 18:15,18,19). The “prophet” is Jesus Christ; unbelievers “destroyed” refers to the seven-year Tribulation (the reign of Antichrist—the avenger of blood!). Such Divine wrath carries all the way to Christ’s Second Coming.

The Little Flock preaches to unsaved Jews throughout early Acts. They must repent (recognize Jesus as Messiah) and be water baptized, to join Israel’s believing remnant. Those in the Little Flock will survive God’s wrath that is coming to rectify the shedding of Christ’s innocent blood….

Our two latest Bible Q&As: “Who are the ‘saints’ in 1 Thessalonians 3:13?and How many angels will be with Jesus Christ when He returns?

Refuge! #5

Friday, October 12, 2018

Then ye shall appoint you cities to be cities of refuge for you; that the slayer may flee thither, which killeth any person at unawares (Numbers 35:11 KJV).

Look closely! Could there be something prophetic here?

Scripture often likens God unto a refuge, a place of safety and shelter where His people can go during vexing times. “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them” (Deuteronomy 33:27). “The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence” (2 Samuel 22:3).

“The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble” (Psalm 9:9). “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). “Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast” (Psalm 57:1). “But I will sing of thy power; yea, I will sing aloud of thy mercy in the morning: for thou hast been my defence and refuge in the day of my trouble” (Psalm 59:16). “I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust” (Psalm 91:2). “In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge (Proverbs 14:26).

“For thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall” (Isaiah 25:4). Jeremiah 16:19: “O LORD, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction….” (See also Psalms 14:6, 46:7, 46:11, 48:3, 59:16, 62:7-8, 71:7, 91:9, 94:22, 142:5).

Finally, Hebrews 6:18: “That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:…..” Israel can find refuge in Christ….

Refuge! #4

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Then ye shall appoint you cities to be cities of refuge for you; that the slayer may flee thither, which killeth any person at unawares (Numbers 35:11 KJV).

Look closely! Could there be something prophetic here?

Many are astonished to learn that God did not set the nation Israel aside at Calvary’s cross. Although she deliberately executed His beloved Son, He extended to Israel a renewed opportunity of repentance in early Acts. He poured out His Holy Spirit on her believing remnant (Acts chapter 2). Those believers preached to unsaved Israel to repent and be water baptized in the name of Jesus Christ (verse 38). Divine wrath had not yet been poured out.

The Holy Spirit declares through the Apostle Peter in Acts chapter 3: “[12] …Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this [lame] man to walk? [13] The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. [14] But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; [15] And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses. [17] And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. [18] But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.”

Verse 17 is highly notable. Indeed, Father God has honored His Son’s request in Luke 23:34. He has demoted the indictment of Israel from murder to manslaughter. They were spiritually ignorant, blinded; hence, they put Him to death. Premeditated killing (murder), according to the Mosaic Law, is punishable by death. Israel deserves death (destruction)! Thankfully, though, God took advantage of a loophole in the Law!! As a “manslayer unaware,” Israel may flee to “the cities of the refuge.” To where should she run? She must abscond by faith to the Little Flock, for the avenger of blood is impending….

Refuge! #3

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Then ye shall appoint you cities to be cities of refuge for you; that the slayer may flee thither, which killeth any person at unawares (Numbers 35:11 KJV).

Look closely! Could there be something prophetic here?

The LORD God commanded Joshua, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying, Appoint out for you cities of refuge, whereof I spake unto you by the hand of Moses: That the slayer that killeth any person unawares and unwittingly may flee thither: and they shall be your refuge from the avenger of blood” (Joshua 20:2,3). If someone in time past killed another accidentally—namely, without premeditation—that manslayer could seek safety in one of the “cities of refuge” (today’s Scripture). These six cities were strategically placed throughout the land of Israel: they were easily accessible, especially since the paths to them were cleared and maintained. Such facts will prove highly important to our discussion later (your patience is greatly appreciated).

Once again, remember the difference between “manslaughter” and “murder.” The Oxford English Dictionary defines “manslaughter” as “the crime of killing a human being without malice aforethought, or in circumstances not amounting to murder.” In stark contrast, “murder” is “the unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another.”

When Messiah Jesus visited Israel during His three-year earthly ministry, He was overwhelmingly mocked, rejected, and finally crucified. It was downright murder, an intentional killing, for they had already repeatedly schemed to take His life (Matthew 12:14; Matthew 26:3-5,14-16; Mark 11:18; Luke 22:2; John 7:1; John 8:59; John 10:31; John 11:51-54; et cetera). They would not have Him reign over them, they would not admit their sin problem, and they would not relinquish their vain religious system. Christ’s crucifixion was no accident, but a carefully orchestrated event resulting from Israel’s religious leaders conspiring with the Roman government (Psalm 2:1-3; Acts 4:25-28).

Therefore, we are startled to read Luke 23:34. As Christ hangs on Calvary’s cross, greatly suffering and slowly dying, “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.” In an unfathomable act of compassion toward Israel, the Lord Jesus utters something astonishing. He wants His Heavenly Father to consider this—not murder!—but manslaughter, a killing done in ignorance….

Refuge! #2

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Then ye shall appoint you cities to be cities of refuge for you; that the slayer may flee thither, which killeth any person at unawares (Numbers 35:11 KJV).

Look closely! Could there be something prophetic here?

The Mosaic Law stipulated killings be investigated following Numbers chapter 35. If murder, the murderer was executed; conversely, if an unintentional killing, the slayer was sheltered in one of Israel’s six cities of refuge.

“[26] But if the slayer shall at any time come without the border of the city of his refuge, whither he was fled; [27] And the revenger of blood find him without the borders of the city of his refuge, and the revenger of blood kill the slayer; he shall not be guilty of blood: [28] Because he should have remained in the city of his refuge until the death of the high priest: but after the death of the high priest the slayer shall return into the land of his possession. [29] So these things shall be for a statute of judgment unto you throughout your generations in all your dwellings.

“[30] Whoso killeth any person, the murderer shall be put to death by the mouth of witnesses: but one witness shall not testify against any person to cause him to die. [31] Moreover ye shall take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer, which is guilty of death: but he shall be surely put to death. [32] And ye shall take no satisfaction for him that is fled to the city of his refuge, that he should come again to dwell in the land, until the death of the priest. [33] So ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: for blood it defileth the land: and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it. [34] Defile not therefore the land which ye shall inhabit, wherein I dwell: for I the LORD dwell among the children of Israel.”

Thus, JEHOVAH God instructed Israel through Moses that, once they entered the Promised Land, they were to reserve six cities of the Levites (Levi was the priestly tribe). Joshua obeyed in Joshua 20:1-9 (cf. Joshua 21:13,21,27,32,36,38). In doing this, God was laying groundwork for something marvelous….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Are we Pauline dispensationalists anti-Jewish?