Indecisive Israel #11

Sunday, September 17, 2017

“Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:14,15 KJV).

Whom shall Israel follow? (It depends on their circumstances!)

Recall the Jews’ two chief sins that led to their idolatry during the Book of Judges. Firstly, they did not cleanse the land of all its idolatrous, heathen inhabitants, disobeying what JEHOVAH God had commanded them through Moses (Exodus 22:20; Exodus 23:23-25; Deuteronomy 13:12-15; Deuteronomy 20:16-18; et cetera). Satan used these Gentiles to corrupt the land, and they contaminated Israel once left there. Secondly, the Israelites married those pagans, something God also clearly prohibited in the Mosaic Law (Exodus 34:10-17; Deuteronomy 7:1-6; et al.). Such intimate relationships further perverted Israel. She compromised and was ultimately neutralized.

Centuries after Judges ended, the Prophet Elijah stands on Mount Carmel. King Ahab and Queen Jezebel have influenced Israel (Northern Kingdom) to adopt Baal worship as its official religion. In the famous account of Elijah exposing Baal as a dead idol and JEHOVAH as the one true God, 1 Kings 18:21 says: “And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.” Imagine! Over 200 years after Judges closed, Israel is still waffling between Baal and JEHOVAH!

Beyond our day, Israel will reach “rock bottom” spiritually. Accepting the Antichrist and his false religious system (revived Baal worship!), unbelieving Israel is thus destroyed in God’s wrath during the Tribulation. Finally, the Lord Jesus Christ returns at His Second Coming to forgive national Israel, make atonement for her sins, restore her unto Himself, and make believing Israel His kingdom of priests. Eternally joined to JEHOVAH God, Israel will never again be indecisive!

Now, we conclude this devotionals arc….

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The True God Revealed

Monday, July 17, 2017

“Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10 KJV).

Rest—and see the true God manifest!

Today’s Scripture sits in a prophetic psalm. We see God delivering Israel’s believing remnant from her enemies in the final days of the seven-year Tribulation, and God’s wrath manifested in nature: “[1] God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. [2] Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; [3] Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.”

We see the establishment of God’s earthly kingdom, Him dwelling with Israel in the land of Palestine: [4] There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. [5] God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.”

There is a flashback to Christ’s fiery wrath at His Second Coming: “[6] The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.” We see Him on the Earth once more, conquering His enemies and bringing in everlasting peace: “[7] The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah. [8] Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth. [9] He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.”

Finally, we see Jesus Christ exalted among the nations, proving Himself to be very God and their “gods” but worthless, dead idols. The reader is urged to simply rest and contemplate who is God and who is not: “[10] Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” Israel’s believing remnant replies, repeating verse 7 and concluding the psalm: “[11] The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.”

When God Sings

Sunday, May 7, 2017

The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing (Zephaniah 3:17 KJV).

Behold, God is singing! Why is He so joyful?

We have heard various people sing (some much better than others… hahaha). In Bible days, people heard angels singing—what majestic sounds they must have heard! Still, what would it be like if God Himself sang? Can you imagine how melodious those lyrics would be? Think of His voice thundering, set to music played by angelic beings. Human words would surely fail to describe that experience. One day, God will indeed sing for joy.

Today’s Scripture actually finds Israel in a dilemma. She has broken God’s Covenant of Law—the Mosaic Law—and is thus under divine judgment (the fifth course of judgment identified in Leviticus chapter 26). Sin and Satan have captured her. Gentile nations are still oppressing her. She is void of political and spiritual strength. Her Promised Land abounds with her enemies.

“The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save….” Israel is helpless, but her God is returning to deliver her (prophetically, Christ’s Second Coming). The Lord Jesus Christ will literally and physically present Himself to Israel, to live and reign with the Jews on Earth. They will become His kingdom of priests, as prophesied, to take His Word and salvation to the Gentiles. In light of all this, “[God] will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.

JEHOVAH God is thrilled that Israel, the nation once the object of His wrath and judgment, has now become His people. She has been restored to Him—resurrected, re-gathered, sins forgiven, His laws in her heart, and so on. She is now the chief kingdom/nation in Earth: God’s purpose and plan for her is now fulfilled. “The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this” (Isaiah 9:7). God is very passionate in accomplishing mighty things with Israel, and He will have every right to sing when He keeps His promises to her!

Daniel, His Friends, and Separation #6

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself (Daniel 1:8 KJV).

Every Sunday School child knows about Daniel and his three companions (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego). Unfortunately, today, few adults practice what these precious children knew!

The idolatrous system that continually ensnared the nation Israel throughout the “Old Testament” is still with us. Ultimately, beyond our day, it will purge Israel of all unbelievers. Numerous “Old Testament” historical narratives, including today’s Scripture, preview what Israel will experience in the last days. Daniel’s Record will be very profitable to the circumcision (Jewish) saints during Daniel’s 70th Week—or “the seven-year Tribulation.” During that period after our Dispensation of Grace, Israel’s believing remnant is urged to follow Daniel’s example—remain separate from the Antichrist’s false religious system. Those believers in Christ will see themselves pictured in Daniel chapter 1, as well as his other writings (chapters 3 and 6, for example—separating from Satan’s evil system and suffering for it at the hands of wicked men).

Bible Books Hebrews through Revelation delineate the various aspects of Israel bearing the end-times scenario. For example, we see the suffering Jewish saints being encouraged in the Book of 1 Peter. “Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen” (1 John 5:21)—the whole Book highlights the stark differences between Jewish saints and Jewish unbelievers. The Revelation underscores Antichrist’s rise and fall, Jesus Christ returning to deliver Israel into her earthly kingdom (exactly like the miraculous deliverances of believing Jews throughout the Book of Daniel).

Complimenting Daniel’s pattern, the Apostle John wrote to Israel in light of the destruction of Antichrist’s political-religious systems: “[4] And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. [5] For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities” (Revelation 18:4-5). God will undoubtedly judge that evil world system, so, brethren, let us remember to also keep separate from it!

Given Versus Came #6

Monday, February 27, 2017

“For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17 KJV).

One is distant; the other is near.

While we have merely scratched the surface, we conclude this devotionals arc by reading the context: “[1] In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. [2] The same was in the beginning with God…. [14] And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. [15] John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. [16] And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. [17] For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” Israel did not need Law—hundreds of rules and regulations she could never keep. She needed grace, “grace for grace,” abounding grace—what God would do to make her His people (see verses 12,13).

Long before Israel demanded the Mosaic Law, God had promised her father Abraham that He would make of Abraham’s seed a nation of people for His name (see Genesis 12:1-3). The New Covenant qualifies Israel to receive the blessings of that Abrahamic Covenant. Moreover, that New Covenant cancels the sin debt accumulated under the Old. In the New Covenant, God puts His Spirit in the Jews and causes them to keep His laws. I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people (Jeremiah 31:33; Hebrews 8:10). “And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them (Ezekiel 36:27).

We see here a glimpse of Israel functioning as God’s “kingdom of priests” in the Millennium, Christ’s Second Coming onward. Messiah’s Law is much stricter than the Mosaic Law (see Matthew chapters 5-7). However, the New Covenant, unlike the Old, provides Israel with forgiveness for her past transgressions and the ability (indwelling Holy Spirit) to never, ever to repeat them!

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But Not For Ever

Saturday, November 19, 2016

“And I will for this afflict the seed of David, but not for ever” (1 Kings 11:39 KJV).

Such bad news… albeit it is only temporary!

Friend, at some point in your association with Christian circles, you have surely heard the expression “the divided Jewish kingdom.” What had begun as a small tribe with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, exploded into a nation of at least two million people escaping Egypt. Moses, followed by Joshua, and then a dozen judges, all governed Israel for about four centuries. Samuel the Priest-Prophet took over, before Israel demanded the LORD through Samuel give them a king like every other nation had. Saul was Israel’s first king, followed by David, and then David’s son Solomon. Today’s Scripture was spoken in the latter part of Solomon’s reign. The kingdom of Israel will soon be split in two!

King Solomon, although (famously) endowed with divine wisdom, was nevertheless a sinner, a man prone to failure like us all. He had an insatiable desire for women, especially foreign women, those from heathen (idolatrous) backgrounds. Eventually, he had relations with 1,000 (!) women, all of who enticed him with their respective idols. Satan had successfully found a “hole” in Israel’s spiritual life, and he exploited it as much as possible. Read the 38 verses previous to today’s Scripture. While it broke the LORD’S heart to see David’s son so deceived, He had to punish wicked Israel!

The Prophet Ahijah came to Solomon’s servant, Jeroboam, with some shocking news. JEHOVAH God was giving him (Jeroboam) the ten northern tribes of Israel (verses 26ff.—known as “Israel”). For David’s sake, God promised to leave to his sons the two southern tribes and Jerusalem the capital (collectively called “Judah,” after the leading tribe). As soon as Solomon died several years later, Jeroboam returned from Egypt and took over Israel’s 10 northern tribes. Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, was made king of the southern kingdom. Israel’s once-united government had lost its Davidic dynasty. But not for ever,” JEHOVAH’S promise echoes.

“JESUS… the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob [all 12 tribes] for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:31-33).

The Depths of the Sea

Thursday, October 6, 2016

“He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19 KJV).

What are these “depths of the sea?”

Earth’s oceans are very mysterious. Great depths, extreme pressure, and immense darkness hinder us from thoroughly exploring them. Actually, we know more about the Moon—or even Mars (!)—than we do about our own planet’s oceans! Scientists have discovered only a fraction of the species that exist in our oceans. Various deep trenches and innumerable caves and crevices are hiding places for who knows what! Average ocean depth on Earth is about 2.3 miles (12,100 feet / 3.7 kilometers). The deepest part of our Earth’s ocean basins is Challenger Deep, the southern part of the Marianas Trench, located in the western Pacific Ocean. Challenger Deep has been measured to have a depth of nearly 7 miles (36,200 feet / 11 kilometers)!!

Near the close of his book, the Prophet Micah wrote today’s Scripture. Having talked throughout about Israel’s coming judgment (historically, from our view, they were the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities), as well as her coming Messiah to rescue her from her sins and her enemies (still future, even from our view), Micah concludes the book with the Abrahamic Covenant: “Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old” (verse 20). The Abrahamic Covenant was God’s first and foremost agreement with Israel (Genesis 12:1-3). No matter what Israel would do, no matter how deep into sin and idolatry she would go, that covenant was unconditional. It would hold because of God’s faithfulness.

When writing about Father God taking care of Israel’s sins, the Holy Spirit declares He will throw all of Israel’s sins into “the depths of the sea.” (Think of Challenger Deep!) Those sins will never be brought up again. Neither Israel’s human enemies nor Satan will ever find them. God will never again hold them against Israel! The New Covenant will take care of those sins forever (Jeremiah 31:34; Hebrews 8:12; Hebrews 10:17). “I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more!”