Praise and Thanks to the LORD

Thursday, June 30, 2016

“And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the LORD; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid” (Ezra 3:11 KJV).

Just imagine Israel’s joy as the Temple is being reconstructed!

The Babylonian armies had come many decades earlier and destroyed Jerusalem. Solomon’s Temple, the house of the LORD, the magnificent center of Israel’s religious life, was burned to the ground! The Jews of the southern kingdom (Judah) were violently carried away to Babylon (2 Kings 25:1-21; 2 Chronicles 36:14-21).

JEHOVAH God commissioned Persian King Cyrus the Great to rebuild His Temple (Isaiah 44:28—written nearly two centuries previous to Cyrus!). Obeying Cyrus’ decree, Zerubbabel leads some of his Jewish brethren from Babylon back to Jerusalem to begin the construction (2 Chronicles 36:22,23; Ezra 1:1-11). These Jews have given of their material riches to construct the Temple. As chapter 2 of Ezra says: “[68] And some of the chief of the fathers, when they came to the house of the LORD which is at Jerusalem, offered freely for the house of God to set it up in his place: [69] They gave after their ability unto the treasure of the work threescore and one thousand drams of gold, and five thousand pound of silver, and one hundred priests’ garments.”

In today’s Scripture, they are excited that they have now laid the foundation for this new Temple. Literally, they are “re-laying the groundwork” for their Mosaic religion. They want JEHOVAH’S presence to return to them. They desire for Him to dwell in Jerusalem with them as He did before their Babylonian captivity/exile. It is a very emotional time. The older men, those who had seen Solomon’s Temple before it was destroyed over 50 years earlier, observe the construction of this new Temple’s foundation and they “wept with a loud voice” (verse 12)! They recognize that they had sinned (leading to their punishment in the captivity) but their God has been faithful in bringing them back into the Promised Land. Not because of their faithfulness, but because of His!

Pray While It is Still Legal?

Friday, May 13, 2016

“Then the king said unto me, For what dost thou make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said unto the king…” (Nehemiah 2:4,5 KJV).

What can Nehemiah teach us in today’s Scripture?

Recently, I noticed a parked vehicle with the bumper sticker, “Pray while it’s still legal.” Even if prayer were completely outlawed in the United States, or anywhere else in the world, that would not at all intimidate the Bible believer. Outlawed prayer would most certainly be a problem for “traditional Christians,” however.

See, dearly beloved, religion has dumbed-down prayer to the point where it is rarely pleasing to Father God. Since denominational teaching has watered down prayer, most can think of nothing more than kneeling, bowed heads, closed eyes, folded hands, raised arms, prayer beads, prayer books, et cetera. They have missed the issue of prayer entirely. Prayer is repeating to God what His Word tells you; prayer is not repeating what others wrote about the Bible. Remember, they may have incorrectly interpreted Scripture to write that prayer you want to recite! Furthermore, prayer is not about the posture of the physical body; it is all about the attitude of the spiritual heart.

In today’s Scripture, Nehemiah was unhappily serving before Persian King Artaxerxes (verses 1-3). Far away was un-walled and ruined Jerusalem—Babylon had destroyed it 150 years earlier. Attempting to cheer him up, Artaxerxes asked Nehemiah what he desired. Certainly, Nehemiah, standing before the king, had no time to kneel, raise his hands, whip out a prayer card, or be excused to enter some “prayer closet.” So, Nehemiah prayed right there on the spot, silently. In that time of limited divine revelation, he sought God’s wisdom as to how to respond. The king never noticed Nehemiah praying!

So, friends, if prayer is ever outlawed here or elsewhere, that really will not hinder us Bible believers. Silent prayer in all circumstances is fine. Father God will certainly hear us, and that is all that matters. Just look at today’s Scripture. By the way, if you want to find out what happens with Nehemiah, read the rest of the chapter… or perhaps his whole book!

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!

Malachi and Dispensationalism

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

“Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts” (Malachi 3:1 KJV).

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

A half-dozen Old Testament passages combine the two comings of Jesus Christ: from these prophets’ perspective, it appeared to be one coming. From our perception, however, we can look back and see two comings were planned. Why were two comings not originally apparent? (There were two secret comings hidden between!)

Today’s Scripture describes Messiah coming twice: the first time Israel denied and crucified Him, but the second time Israel will delight in and crave Him. 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). What the Old Testament prophets did not know was that there would be 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).

In today’s Scripture (cf. Mark 1:1-3), John the Baptist announces Christ’s earthly ministry (First Coming). Then, Israel accepts Jesus Christ to establish the New Covenant and the Millennial Kingdom on Earth (Second Coming). Is there any hint of our 2,000-year-long Dispensation of Grace? No, Malachi knew nothing of our Dispensation of Grace and the Body of Christ. The mystery was not only “hid in God” (Ephesians 3:9), but it was also completely hidden from the prophets of old. God kept a secret from Satan, and it was how 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) that involved the Body of Christ was also withheld from the Old Testament prophets, including Malachi. What a marvelous Book the Bible is!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Why could Moses not enter the Promised Land?

When the LORD Turns Israel’s Captivity #5

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

“That then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee” (Deuteronomy 30:3 KJV).

In today’s Scripture, Moses prophesies Israel’s glorious future restoration!

We read in Isaiah 5:13: “Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge: and their honourable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst.” And 2 Chronicles 29:9: “For, lo, our fathers have fallen by the sword, and our sons and our daughters and our wives are in captivity for this.” And Ezekiel 39:23: “And the heathen shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity: because they trespassed against me, therefore hid I my face from them, and gave them into the hand of their enemies: so fell they all by the sword.”

The above Scriptures (and many others) were written in light of Assyria and Babylon carrying the idolatrous Jews away captive to foreign lands. Israel and Judah knew exactly why JEHOVAH was so angry. For centuries, He had warned them to reform (with no success). They would no more defile His Promised Land with their idolatry (Leviticus 18:24-30)!

Ezra 9:7, spoken after the Jews’ exile to Babylon, and the Jews’ partial return to Jerusalem, says: “Since the days of our fathers have we been in a great trespass unto this day; and for our iniquities have we, our kings, and our priests, been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, and to a spoil, and to confusion of face, as it is this day.”

When Jesus came, He would have delivered Israel from her captivity amongst the nations. He was so willing to rescue Israel from that fifth course of judgment (God’s wrath and her exile), to save her from her sins, and deliver her from Satan’s bondage. Jesus Christ was ready to be their King and reverse their captivity (thus fulfilling today’s Scripture). But Israel refused Him: “We have no king but Caesar!” (John 19:15). So, Israel waits even today to be released from that captivity….

The Word Wearied With the Wicked’s Words

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Ye have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment?” (Malachi 2:17 KJV).

Today’s Scripture could have been written to our profligate society today!

The Prophet Malachi had a ministry to Israel about 400 years before Christ. Post-Babylonian-exile Israel, while not as wicked as it was centuries before God sent them away captive to Assyria and Babylon, is nonetheless still plagued with spiritual, economic, and societal problems.

Through the Prophet, the Holy Spirit rebukes His people—especially the priests in chapter 2 (today’s Scripture)—of their wayward behavior. They then ask Him what they are doing wrong, and God replies each time. Malachi’s short book, only four chapters, is compiled around six objections and six divine answers. Today’s Scripture is the fifth. God never grows tired in the sense of doing work and then feeling “drained.” Existing outside of our universe, He is not bound by our time-space continuum. But, today’s Scripture says that God can and does grow tired of people talking about Him in a very foolish way.

Just as you eventually have enough of someone slandering you, or trampling your name underfoot, and you finally react, God has grown sick of the Jews saying that He approves evil, them saying that He delights in those workers of iniquity. Furthermore, God has grown sick of the Jews asking where He is, if He will show Himself and punish them for their wrongdoings. They challenge JEHOVAH to retaliate! Chapters 3 and 4 proceed to explain how Messiah Jesus is coming: “But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: and he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purge the sons of Levi…” (3:2,3).

Messiah Jesus came once, and He will be back again one day! He will punish the additional 2,000 years of man’s “wearisome words!”

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Will we know if a loved one is not in heaven with us?

The Jews Are Coming!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

“And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive” (Jeremiah 29:14 KJV).

Jerusalem, the Jews are coming, the Jews are coming!

From 606 B.C. to 536 B.C., Judah was captive in Babylon. JEHOVAH told them that after those 70 years (Jeremiah 25:11-12; cf. Daniel 9:2), He would bring these Jews back to Jerusalem; He would not leave them hopeless, for He still had marvelous plans for them despite their unbelief and disobedience (Jeremiah 29:10-11, the context of today’s Scripture).

The Jewish Bible, which ends with 2 Chronicles, concludes with Israel back in her homeland (chapter 36): “[20] And them that had escaped from the sword carried he away to Babylon; where they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia: [21] To fulfil the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years. [22] Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, [23] Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the LORD God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? The LORD his God be with him, and let him go up.”

These two Jewish expeditions from exile to Jerusalem are recorded in the Bible books of Ezra and Nehemiah. Still, many Jews are still scattered worldwide today, and certainly not enjoying God’s earthly kingdom as they should have.

Jeremiah 29:11 is Israel’s hope in such a hopeless condition!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Why do the wicked prosper?