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!

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?

The Three E’s of Bible Study

Sunday, November 9, 2014

“So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading” (Nehemiah 8:8 KJV).

Can you name the three “E’s” of Bible study?

In Nehemiah’s day, 150 years after God deported Judah and Jerusalem to Babylon (their chastisement for centuries of pagan idolatry), the priest-scribe Ezra led some Jews from Babylon to Jerusalem. After Jerusalem’s wall is completed under Nehemiah’s supervision, Ezra preaches to Israel from Moses’ writings (probably Leviticus and/or Deuteronomy). Men are standing with Ezra, explaining God’s Word to Israel. The people are moved, convicted, realizing their sins before God; they are instructed to do right in God’s sight; and they finally obey JEHOVAH’S words by keeping His Feast of Tabernacles (verses 9-18).

Hence, whenever God’s Word is opened and thoughtfully read, these three events should always occur:

  1. ENLIGHTENMENT—“to give spiritual light to; instruct.” Paul prayed for all believers: “[17] That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: [18] The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,…” (Ephesians 1:17,18).
  2. EDIFICATION—“to instruct or benefit; uplift.” “Edify” is derived from two roots, the first meaning, “to build,” and the second, “house, temple.” The idea is building a structure of sound doctrine inside a person’s soul. Paul and Timothy wrote, “…we speak before God in Christ: but we do all things, dearly beloved, for your edifying (2 Corinthians 12:19). “For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority, which the Lord giveth us for edification, and not for your destruction, I should not be ashamed” (10:8).
  3. ENCOURAGEMENT—“to put courage in; to inspire with courage, spirit, or confidence.” Paul wrote to downcast Timothy, “Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands” (2 Timothy 1:6). “[S]tand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; and in nothing terrified by your adversaries…(Philippians 1:27,28).

Big Brother Versus Heavenly Father #4

Thursday, November 7, 2013

“…for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” (Hebrews 13:5c,6 KJV).

Big Brother is watching; Heavenly Father is, too!

A brief survey of the Old Testament Scriptures reveals God’s chief nation in the earth, Israel, refused to submit to His will. Like sinful Adam, Israel had no interest in governing earth for God’s glory. Israel’s recurrent breaking of the Mosaic Law had a consequence: she could not be a kingdom of priests” (Exodus 19:3-6).

In Leviticus 26:27-39, God had warned them that, after repeated chastisements and subsequent habitual disobedience, His final judgment on them would be that Gentile nations would defeat them in battle, and carry Israel out of her Promised Land. Israel’s monarchy would be lost, and not restored until Messiah-King would come (Ezekiel 21:26,27).

The culmination of this judgment against Israel was when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon successfully thrice invaded Jerusalem. During the last invasion (586 B.C.), Jerusalem was utterly destroyed, God’s Temple was burned to the ground, and the remaining Jews taken captive to Babylon (see 2 Chronicles 36:5-21).

Some Jews returned to the Promised Land after the Babylonian exile, such as with Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. Nevertheless, the majority of the Jews are still scattered worldwide, still without a Davidic kingdom. By the time Jesus Christ came, Babylon, Media-Persia, and Greece had already ruled over Israel. In Jesus’ day, the Roman Empire was oppressing Israel.

Ezekiel 21:26,27 said that Israel would not receive her crown again until her Messiah came. When Jesus finally arrived, and Pilate told Israel, “Behold your King!,” the Jews released themselves from their national heritage as they publicly declared, “Crucify him… We have no king but Caesar” (John 19:14,15). By rejecting Jesus their King and demanding His crucifixion, they hindered God’s earthly kingdom from being established (again!).

During the early Acts period, most of Israel still rejected Jesus’ right to David’s throne. The last week of Daniel’s prophecy, Israel’s spiritual cleansing and God’s wrath, would be postponed so God could commence another program… ours….