The Accursed Thing! #4

Monday, January 17, 2022

But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against the children of Israel (Joshua 7:1 KJV).

Just what is this “accursed thing?” How will it affect the Israelites here in “time past?” What does this say about their fate in “the ages to come?”

Having inflicted capital punishment on the culpable party (Achan and his family), the LORD commands Israel to attack Ai once more, with the Jews finally overthrowing the city (Joshua 8:1-29). We will recall Israel’s prior beating at Ai was because of Achan’s sin concerning the “accursed thing” (re-read Joshua 7:11-13, if necessary). For now, what we need to take away from these passages is this simple fact: until Israel’s sin is addressed, she will not have any victory. (We will expand upon this concept later.)

Let us go back to Achan’s confession. What exactly did he do wrong? We let him tell us: “And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done: When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it” (Joshua 7:20,21). Yet, Joshua’s instructions had been: “But all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron, are consecrated unto the LORD: they shall come into the treasury of the LORD” (Joshua 6:19). Achan took the precious metals he found in Jericho, and he kept them for himself instead of giving them to JEHOVAH God. He coveted, stole from God, and lied to cover it up (Joshua 7:11), before being ultimately forced to tell the truth when it was too late.

Yet, re-read Achan’s admission of guilt again. He also took a “goodly Babylonish garment,” something quite beautiful… an object connected to Satan (!) worship….

The Accursed Thing! #3

Sunday, January 16, 2022

But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against the children of Israel (Joshua 7:1 KJV).

Just what is this “accursed thing?” How will it affect the Israelites here in “time past?” What does this say about their fate in “the ages to come?”

The following morning, the LORD identifies and condemns the guilty party to death (verses 14-18). Continue reading: “[19] And Joshua said unto Achan, My son, give, I pray thee, glory to the LORD God of Israel, and make confession unto him; and tell me now what thou hast done; hide it not from me. [20] And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done: [21] When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it.

“[22] So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran unto the tent; and, behold, it was hid in his tent, and the silver under it. [23] And they took them out of the midst of the tent, and brought them unto Joshua, and unto all the children of Israel, and laid them out before the LORD. [24] And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had: and they brought them unto the valley of Achor. [25] And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the LORD shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones. [26] And they raised over him a great heap of stones unto this day. So the LORD turned from the fierceness of his anger. Wherefore the name of that place was called, The valley of Achor, unto this day.”

Now, Israel is no longer cursed….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Can you explain Exodus 8:9, ‘Glory over me…?’

The Accursed Thing! #2

Saturday, January 15, 2022

But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against the children of Israel (Joshua 7:1 KJV).

Just what is this “accursed thing?” How will it affect the Israelites here in “time past?” What does this say about their fate in “the ages to come?”

Having conquered mighty Jericho, Israel attacks a smaller city, Ai. The verses following today’s Scripture read: “[2] And Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Bethaven, on the east of Bethel, and spake unto them, saying, Go up and view the country. And the men went up and viewed Ai. [3] And they returned to Joshua, and said unto him, Let not all the people go up; but let about two or three thousand men go up and smite Ai; and make not all the people to labour thither; for they are but few. [4] So there went up thither of the people about three thousand men: and they fled before the men of Ai. [5] And the men of Ai smote of them about thirty and six men: for they chased them from before the gate even unto Shebarim, and smote them in the going down: wherefore the hearts of the people melted, and became as water.”

Strange! Ai, weaker than Jericho, should have lost to the Jews yet did not. The LORD explains: “[11] Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled [lied, pretended] also, and they have put it even among their own stuff. [12] Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they were accursed: neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you. [13] Up, sanctify the people, and say, Sanctify yourselves against to morrow: for thus saith the LORD God of Israel, There is an accursed thing in the midst of thee, O Israel: thou canst not stand before thine enemies, until ye take away the accursed thing from among you.

Israel is in trouble….

The Accursed Thing! #1

Friday, January 14, 2022

But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against the children of Israel (Joshua 7:1 KJV).

Just what is this “accursed thing?” How will it affect the Israelites here in “time past?” What does this say about their fate in “the ages to come?”

When the Jews entered the Promised Land from the east under Joshua’s command, the first city they conquered was formidable Jericho, on the western banks of the River Jordan. This is chronicled in chapter 6 of the Book of Joshua, complete with the famous account of the wall of Jericho miraculously falling down after Israel marched around it for seven days. Just prior to the fall of the wall, Joshua issued some solemn advice to his nation.

“[17] And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the LORD: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent. [18] And ye, in any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing, lest ye make yourselves accursed, when ye take of the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it. [19] But all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron, are consecrated unto the LORD: they shall come into the treasury of the LORD.”

Now, verses 23 and 24: “And the young men that were spies went in, and brought out Rahab, and her father, and her mother, and her brethren, and all that she had; and they brought out all her kindred, and left them without the camp of Israel. And they burnt the city with fire, and all that was therein: only the silver, and the gold, and the vessels of brass and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD.” Alas, as today’s Scripture indicates, Achan was quite foolish in his dealings with Jericho, and all Israel will suffer for it….

Bowed Together! #8

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

“And he [the Lord Jesus] was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity” (Luke 13:10-12 KJV).

What lesson is the Holy Spirit conveying through this passage of the Holy Bible?

Recall the Sabbath Day was to serve as Israel’s weekly reminder to contemplate God’s work during the Creation Week and subsequent rest (cf. Genesis 2:1-3; Exodus 20:8-11). Every Saturday, the Jews were to stop their labors and remember God’s purpose and plan for Creation. Why had the LORD rested that first Sabbath? His work completed, it was time for Him to enjoy the Heavens and the Earth! Alas, sin entered the world through Adam in Genesis chapter 3. Whatever God intended for Creation has yet to be fulfilled. Israel had been formed to take Adam’s place in the Earth, but she too rebelled and willfully followed Satan!

Sabbath rest ultimately looks toward Millennial Kingdom rest, when all Creation is delivered from Satan and sin, and God’s original purpose in Creation is finally brought to pass (see Hebrews 3:7–4:11). Therefore, the Lord Jesus Christ performed a series of Sabbath miracles—including the healing of the “bowed together” woman—to highlight the deliverance connected to His earthly kingdom.

Upon hearing God’s wonderful promises to sinful Israel, Satan objects in Isaiah 49:24, “Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered?” Verses 25 and 26: 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. And I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own blood, as with sweet wine: and all flesh shall know that I the LORD am thy Saviour [!] and thy Redeemer [!], the mighty One of Jacob.

“And when he had said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed: and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him” (Luke 13:17).

Bowed Together! #5

Sunday, January 9, 2022

“And he [the Lord Jesus] was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity” (Luke 13:10-12 KJV).

What lesson is the Holy Spirit conveying through this passage of the Holy Bible?

Luke states the “folded” woman of today’s Scripture has lived with her debilitating medical condition for “eighteen years.” The significance of this is simple. In Bible numerics, 12 represents Israel and six indicates man. Israel coupled with man’s abilities or religious efforts results in incapacity not righteousness! Whereas Israel sees herself as “okay”—lavish Jerusalem Temple, humbling ceremonies, pious rituals, complicated rites, copious amounts of rabbinical traditions, strict rules and regulations—the Lord examines her to find a dreadful sight. All He sees is perversity, crookedness, inability. In her own “strength,” she is weak, incapable of being upright, powerless to become God’s kingdom of priests in the Earth.

Thankfully, the Great Physician has not only correctly diagnosed her, He also has the cure she so desperately needs. Re-read today’s Scripture: “And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity.From the lips of the Lord Jesus, the living and life-giving words of God go forth: “For the word of God is quick, and powerful…” (Hebrews 4:12). In these spoken words of the Creator, there is health for the “folded” woman—yea, Israel! Through the Divine revelation given her, her spine is restored, she straightens up, and she walks naturally for all to see!

What we have here is a lesson most plain: Israel’s justification is through the New Covenant, not the Old Covenant. She will be declared righteous or right in God’s sight, not by her reliance on her sinful flesh but by depending on the LORD imputing His own righteousness to her. Through His grace, the Lord Jesus Christ unburdens His beloved nation, doing for her what she could never do for herself….

The Misunderstood Messiah #5

Thursday, December 30, 2021

“Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God” (John 8:41 KJV).

Did you ever notice the magnitude of the insult put forth toward Jesus Christ in today’s Scripture?

Once Christ replied with sound doctrine (verses 42-47), Israel’s religious leaders simply resorted to name-calling again (verse 48): “Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?” A Samaritan was half-Jew/half-Gentile, and “the Jews [had] no dealings with the Samaritans” (John 4:9). Notice Jesus was insulted twice more—they called Him a “Samaritan” and “devil possessed.” Throughout the rest of John chapter 8, Israel’s religious leaders continue arguing with Jesus and nearly stone Him to death (verse 59)!

Why did Jesus not simply “zap” these religionists and instantly throw them into hellfire? They belittled and blasphemed Him several times in this one account, and then attempted to murder Him, but rather than Jesus killing them with His spoken word (which would have been justified), He only conversed with them. Why?

Remember, when the Apostles James and John saw how the Samaritans refused to accommodate Jesus, they asked Him if He wanted them to call down fire from heaven and consume those sinners, He replied, “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them” (Luke 9:55,56). This First Coming of Christ was His “meek and lowly” coming: He did not come to judge man’s sins, but to die for them!

Even today, God is still not pouring out His wrath on wicked mankind (2 Corinthians 5:19), creatures who still snicker at Jesus Christ, deceive others in His name, persecute His saints, ignore His Word, and “rub His nose” in their sins. Lost mankind is wasting God’s grace and mercy that He is offering so freely. When His grace is finally exhausted, the undiluted wrath that has accumulated will finally be poured out (His Second Coming). May we trust Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour now so we have our sins forgiven now, lest we face that angry, righteous God in judgment (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9)!

For more information, you may also see our archived Bible Q&A: “Did God ‘rape’ Mary?

The Word Was Made Flesh

Saturday, December 25, 2021

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us…” (John 1:1,14 KJV).

On this Christmas Day, we reflect on the incarnation of Jesus Christ.

The candidate who could solve man’s sin problem had to meet two requirements. He had to be God, and He had to be man—a “God-Man.” It had to be God, because God’s righteousness had to be satisfied, but it also had to be man, for it was man who had sinned. God’s righteousness was offended, since “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). But, it was also a man who had sinned, “As by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12).

Consider Philippians 2:5-8: “Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” In short, heaven’s best—Jesus Christ—came to save earth’s worst—us! In summary, Jesus Christ was born to die for us.

Brethren, the salvation that we enjoy today in Christ could not be possible without the shed blood of Christ on Calvary’s cross, and the shed blood of Christ could not be possible without the incarnation of Christ! God is a Spirit (John 4:24), and in order for Him to shed sinless blood, He had to first have blood. Thus, it behooved Jesus Christ to take upon Himself the form of a man. It was at this time of year that God the Son entered the virgin Mary’s womb, possessing a body that was conceived by the Holy Ghost.

Remember, “The Word was made flesh” (today’s Scripture) so we could have an opportunity to be “made the righteousness of God in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Merry Christmas!

*Adapted from a larger Bible study with the same name. It can be read here or watched here.

Emmanuel’s Tabernacle

Friday, December 24, 2021

“Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us” (Matthew 1:23 KJV).

Using the Scriptures, we can date the birth of Emmanuel, Jesus Christ.

John the Baptist’s father, Zacharias, was a priest, “of the course [order] of Abia [Abijah]” (Luke 1:5). Under King David, Israel’s priests were organized into 24 courses (1 Chronicles 24:7-19). A priest from each course served a week in the Temple ministration (and thus served one week twice a year). Israel’s calendar began with Abib/Nisan, equivalent to March 16-April 15 (Exodus 12:1,2; Exodus 13:4). Passover was observed on April 14, starting Israel’s religious calendar.

Passover week (The Feast of Unleavened Bread) lasted from April 15-21. The first course of priests served in the Temple around this time. Zacharias’ course, Abijah, was the eighth course after Passover (1 Chronicles 24:10), thus placing Zacharias’ service roughly eight weeks after Passover (or June 17-23). This was the time when the angel appeared to Zacharias to announce John’s conception (Luke 1:8-22). Once Zacharias and his wife Elisabeth leave the Temple and go home, Elisabeth conceives John (late June; Luke 1:23-25).

Six months after Elisabeth conceived John in late June (Luke 1:26), Mary conceived Jesus—in late December. Contrary to religious tradition, the birthday of Christ is not December 25. Late December is the time of Christ’s conception. The conception of Christ in Mary’s womb, not Mary’s conception in her mother’s womb, is the biblical immaculate conception: it was Christ’s conception, not Mary’s, that was sinless (Luke 1:35).

If a perfect human gestation lasts 280 days (9 months), late September/early October is the time of Christ’s birth. During this time of year, recall that God had Israel observing the Feast of Tabernacles, when Jews would dwell in “booths” (tents, tabernacles) for seven days (Leviticus 23:39-44).

While Israel was observing Tabernacles in September/October, God was born as a man (Jesus Christ) of the virgin Mary, and dwelt (“tabernacled”) with them! Sadly, very few Jews paid any attention to Jesus, “Emmanuel,” “God with us” (today’s Scripture). The rest of Israel ignored “God dwelling among them” (John 1:14).

For more information, see our archived Bible Q&A: “Was Jesus born on the 25th of December?

You may also see our other archived study: “Why do people use ‘Xmas’ instead of ‘Christmas?’

The Prince of Peace, Born in the Middle East

Thursday, December 23, 2021

“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.