Diminish Not a Word! #3

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Thus saith the LORD; Stand in the court of the LORD’S house, and speak unto all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the LORD’S house, all the words that I command thee to speak unto them; diminish not a word: (Jeremiah 26:2 KJV).

No matter how offensive they are, we never water down God’s words for anyone!

Return to the context of today’s Scripture: “[8] Now it came to pass, when Jeremiah had made an end of speaking all that the LORD had commanded him to speak unto all the people, that the priests and the prophets and all the people took him, saying, Thou shalt surely die. [9] Why hast thou prophesied in the name of the LORD, saying, This house shall be like Shiloh, and this city shall be desolate without an inhabitant? And all the people were gathered against Jeremiah in the house of the LORD. [10] When the princes of Judah heard these things, then they came up from the king’s house unto the house of the LORD, and sat down in the entry of the new gate of the LORD’S house. [11] Then spake the priests and the prophets unto the princes and to all the people, saying, This man is worthy to die; for he hath prophesied against this city, as ye have heard with your ears.

“[12] Then spake Jeremiah unto all the princes and to all the people, saying, The LORD sent me to prophesy against this house and against this city all the words that ye have heard. [13] Therefore now amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the LORD your God; and the LORD will repent him of the evil that he hath pronounced against you. [14] As for me, behold, I am in your hand: do with me as seemeth good and meet unto you. [15] But know ye for certain, that if ye put me to death, ye shall surely bring innocent blood upon yourselves, and upon this city, and upon the inhabitants thereof: for of a truth the LORD hath sent me unto you to speak all these words in your ears.”

Read the rest of the chapter. Whereas Judah’s apostate religious leaders despised Jeremiah and God’s undiluted words, the common Jews appreciated them….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “How are we God’s ‘workmanship?’

Diminish Not a Word! #2

Friday, May 28, 2021

Thus saith the LORD; Stand in the court of the LORD’S house, and speak unto all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the LORD’S house, all the words that I command thee to speak unto them; diminish not a word: (Jeremiah 26:2 KJV).

No matter how offensive they are, we never water down God’s words for anyone!

Knowing man’s sinfulness, God advised Jeremiah: “diminish not a word.” Jeremiah was just as human as we are, so he was tempted to make God’s words more attractive to pagan idolaters. When Jeremiah entered his ministry, the LORD had warned him his people would “fight against” him (1:19). Behold the conflict!

Read chapter 20: “[1] Now Pashur the son of Immer the priest, who was also chief governor in the house of the LORD, heard that Jeremiah prophesied these things. [2] Then Pashur smote Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the stocks that were in the high gate of Benjamin, which was by the house of the LORD. [3] And it came to pass on the morrow, that Pashur brought forth Jeremiah out of the stocks. Then said Jeremiah unto him, The LORD hath not called thy name Pashur [“liberation”], but Magormissabib [“terror on every side”].” Jeremiah delivered God’s words in chapter 19, and subsequently suffered physical abuse. He was beaten and then placed in the “stocks” (hands and feet held between hinged wooden boards, for everyone to see and ridicule).

Verses 7-9: “O LORD, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived; thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed: I am in derision daily, every one mocketh me. For since I spake, I cried out, I cried violence and spoil; because the word of the LORD was made a reproach unto me, and a derision, daily. Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.” Discouraged, tired of the ridicule, Jeremiah refused to preach. Yet, God’s words seethed in his inner man and he started talking again!

Now we get to today’s Scripture, where Jeremiah’s people oppose God’s words once more….

Diminish Not a Word! #1

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Thus saith the LORD; Stand in the court of the LORD’S house, and speak unto all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the LORD’S house, all the words that I command thee to speak unto them; diminish not a word: (Jeremiah 26:2 KJV).

No matter how offensive they are, we never water down God’s words for anyone!

It is human nature for anyone to “tone down” the Scriptures, to re-translate and/or re-interpret them so they are more pleasing to sinful eyes and ears. We would expect unsaved people to treat God’s Word with such utter disregard and disrespect. However, we Christians can be guilty of this practice too. Bible translators, preachers, and teachers especially need to exercise great caution not to fall into this trap. Fearing negative reactions, we tend to avoid or obscure “inconvenient” Bible truths. In doing so, we appeal to our lost and/or denominational relatives, friends, neighbors, and acquaintances.

Circa 600 B.C., the LORD God commissioned the Prophet Jeremiah to preach chapter 26 during the start of King Jehoiakim’s reign. Jehoiakim, one of Judah’s final monarchs, was a pagan idolater and poor spiritual example for his wicked nation in Jerusalem. God’s intention in giving Jeremiah’s message was, “If so be they will hearken, and turn every man from his evil way, that I may repent me of the evil, which I purpose to do unto them because of the evil of their doings” (verse 3). This message will be anything but “feel-good!”

“[4] And thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the LORD; If ye will not hearken to me, to walk in my law, which I have set before you, [5] To hearken to the words of my servants the prophets, whom I sent unto you, both rising up early, and sending them, but ye have not hearkened; [6] Then will I make this house like Shiloh, and will make this city a curse to all the nations of the earth. [7] So the priests and the prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah speaking these words in the house of the LORD.”

Jeremiah faithfully preached every word God gave him. Let us see how Jerusalem’s religious leaders respond to his sermon….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Can you explain Daniel 7:12?

Lessons from the Ark of the Covenant #7

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

“…[T]he ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant;” (Hebrews 9:4 KJV).

What can we learn from the Ark of the Covenant?

About 500 years after Moses, the Jerusalem Temple replaced the Tabernacle. Second Chronicles chapter 5: “[6] Also king Solomon, and all the congregation of Israel that were assembled unto him before the ark, sacrificed sheep and oxen, which could not be told nor numbered for multitude. [7] And the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the LORD unto his place, to the oracle of the house, into the most holy place, even under the wings of the cherubims: [8] For the cherubims spread forth their wings over the place of the ark, and the cherubims covered the ark and the staves thereof above. [9] And they drew out the staves of the ark, that the ends of the staves were seen from the ark before the oracle; but they were not seen without. And there it is unto this day. [10] There was nothing in the ark save the two tables which Moses put therein at Horeb, when the LORD made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of Egypt.

What happened to the golden pot of manna and Aaron’s rod that budded? Scripture is silent. Regardless, by Solomon’s time, only the two stone tablets of the Ten Commandments remained. When the Babylonians invaded Jerusalem and destroyed its Temple 380 years later, the Ark of the Covenant was not among the treasures pillaged. It disappeared, but that does not matter. God Himself will institute a new covenant, replacing that old religious system, erasing Israel’s sins through Calvary, and dwelling with them forever in the Person of Jesus Christ (Millennial Kingdom onward).

“And it shall come to pass, when ye be multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, saith the LORD, they shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of the LORD: neither shall it come to mind: neither shall they remember it; neither shall they visit it; neither shall that be done any more” (Jeremiah 3:16). Israel has finally learned the lessons from the Ark of the Covenant! (Have we?)

Lessons from the Ark of the Covenant #6

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

“…[T]he ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant;” (Hebrews 9:4 KJV).

What can we learn from the Ark of the Covenant?

The LORD God had Israel save (in chronological order): the golden pot of manna, the stone tables or tablets of the Ten Commandments, and Aaron’s rod that budded. By having them stored in the Ark of the Covenant for safekeeping, JEHOVAH God used them as teaching aids: despite Israel’s sin and rebellion, He would be faithful in keeping His promises to them!

Firstly, her people questioned whether God had their best interests in mind, so He rained down manna from Heaven. A sample of that bread was to be kept in a container. Secondly, Moses had not yet descended the mount with the Ten Commandments when the Jews fashioned a golden-calf idol to worship! Moses broke the stone tablets, but God had him hew out two new ones and God re-wrote those tables. Lastly, the nation defied Moses and Aaron, doubting they were God’s chosen leaders. Hence, Aaron’s rod that budded was a sign the priesthood belonged to the tribe of Levi—particularly Aaron and his sons.

On top of the Ark of the Covenant was the Mercy Seat, where God’s “Shekinah” glory abode. Literally, the only thing that was between God’s presence and these objects/souvenirs of rebellion was the animals blood applied once a year! Hebrews 9:7,11,12,14 reveals the type/antitype: “[7] But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people:… [11] But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; [12] Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. [14] How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”

Let us conclude this devotionals arc….

Shortcut!

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

And [Jesus Christ] would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple (Mark 11:16 KJV).

While there is no shortcut to spiritual maturity, there is one to spiritual immaturity!

To better understand today’s Scripture, we must examine it within its context: “[12] And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he [Jesus Christ] was hungry: [13] And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet. [14] And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it. [15] And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves; [16] And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple. [17] And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves.”

As in modern society, so religion was “big bu$ine$$” in ancient Israel. The apostate religious leaders had allowed dishonest merchants to sell sacrificial animals in the Jerusalem Temple complex. (All were receiving a large sum of money!) As Jesus pointed out, they made His House—the place where He was to be worshipped—a “den of thieves.” They treated His House lightly, irreverently, and He therefore drove them out! Unique to Mark’s Gospel Record (today’s Scripture), they also used the Temple complex as a shortcut. Instead of walking around it, they would shorten their journey by utilizing the Temple as an ordinary thoroughfare. Again, this was disrespectful to God. Consequently, Christ blocked their entrance and forced them to go the long way!

Israel’s ungodly behavior in the Temple demonstrated her national spiritual immaturity. As opposed to being humble saints skillful in God’s Word, they were ungrateful materialists expert in hypocrisy and fraud! Dear friends, may we not repeat their errors.

Our latest Bible Q&A: “How did Israel manipulate Moses to murder Messiah?

Thieves in the Temple

Monday, February 15, 2021

And he went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought; Saying unto them, It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves (Luke 19:45,46 KJV).

There were swindlers in “God’s house” then—just like today!

Recently, I heard from a man whose elderly father had just died. The late man had a clear testimony of salvation in Jesus Christ. (I talked with him years back.) Yet, a cult had captivated him, and he had moved far away from his family to attend “church services” there. For over a decade, he supported that woman preacher financially. When he graduated to Heaven, his son took over his estate and went through his personal records. As it turned out, that dear soul was giving a mandatory 25% of his annual income to that church. According to his last will and testament, 40% of his remaining fortune will go to fund the “church”—leaving his son very little inheritance!

Sadly, religion is “big bu$ine$$.” The amount of wealth taken from people under the guise of “church,” “Bible,” and “God” is far greater than the sum of every bank heist, every company embezzlement, and every purse-snatching. Surely, the Lord will absolutely not let people get away with such dishonesty. In fact, according to today’s Scripture, He exposed them in—and evicted them from—the Jerusalem Temple.

They were charging outrageous amounts for sacrificial animals… the very offerings the poor people needed to purchase for worship as per the Mosaic Law. Furthermore, officials working under the priests exchanged foreign currencies for the Jewish shekel—and they gave back far less than the equivalent. That is, “Do not defile God’s house with your pagan coins bearing idolatrous images! Come ‘exchange’ them for the shekel, and buy your sacrifices from us. Our fees are ‘quite reasonable!’” (Such hypocrisy.)

Hence, after today’s Scripture, “And [Jesus] taught daily in the temple. But the chief priests and the scribes and the chief of the people sought to destroy him, And could not find what they might do: for all the people were very attentive to hear him.” How furious they were once Jesus put them out of bu$ine$$!

Wonderful Things!

Saturday, February 13, 2021

And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them. And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the son of David; they were sore displeased, And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise? (Matthew 21:14-16 KJV).

The Lord Jesus has just a few days left to live, and He is doing some “wonderful things….”

In “the city of the great King” (Matthew 5:35; Psalm 48:2), the place from which the LORD’S Word should have flowed to the nations (Isaiah 2:3), Herod’s Temple Complex characterized spiritual ignorance and unbelief. To highlight Israel’s condition in conjunction with her Temple—the hub of her false religion—we find in today’s Scripture “the blind and the lame.” Nationally speaking, the Jews can neither see with spiritual eyes nor walk with spiritual legs. God admonished, “Hear, ye deaf; and look, ye blind, that ye may see” (Isaiah 42:18). The Prophet confessed, “Neither have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets” (Daniel 9:10).

Foreseeing Israel’s national sight restored at Christ’s Second Coming, the Prophet penned, “And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness” (Isaiah 29:18). JEHOVAH God promised Israel in that day, “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). To prove He was Israel’s Messiah, Jesus performed the miracles of today’s Scripture: “…your God will come… he will come and save you. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart…” (Isaiah 35:4-6).

What will be more marvelous than the physically blind seeing and the lame walking in the Temple, is Israel—long dead, blind, crippled, and cast away—will see and walk again in the Earth! Hallelujah!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Can you explain, ‘We are in the world but not of the world?’

Found Out and Fractured in Twain #26

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

“But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23 KJV).

Doubtless, we never want to sensationalize or exaggerate. However, the fact remains, some dark days are ahead for the United States and the rest of the world. What can we Bible-believing Christians do?

The Jerusalem Temple of Christ’s earthly ministry was Herod’s Temple, named after Herod the Great who renovated and expanded Zerubbabel’s Temple built some 500 years earlier in the Books of Ezra, Haggai, and Zechariah. (Attempting to kill the Christ Child, this was the King Herod who, in Matthew chapter 2, slaughtered the Bethlehem children ages two and under.) Herod’s Temple had already taken nearly 50 years to enlarge and decorate by the time of John 2:20. Construction lasted another three decades!

Mark 13:1 relates: “And as he [Jesus] went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!” At the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, archaeologists have unearthed massive limestone and marble blocks forming its walls. Golden plates covered the main edifice’s entire eastern wall, so the structure shimmered with the rising sun. Ancient Jewish historian Josephus wrote, “Whatever was not overlaid with gold was purest white.” Herod the Great even donated a golden cluster of grapes—an ornament as tall as a man!

In addition to the gigantic Temple complex—a series of buildings that were a world wonder—the Jews had their rites, rituals, and ceremonies. Washing their hands several times daily, fasting throughout the week, praying for hours every day, faithfully giving alms (donations to the poor), hearing and reciting their Old Testament verses and singing the Psalms each Sabbath, physically circumcising their male babies, and so on; no other group was more pious! Yet, it was here in their main religious center where they repeatedly challenged the Son of God, especially with potentially-embarrassing trick questions (Matthew chapters 21–22; Mark chapters 11–12; Luke chapters 19–20).

Although deeply religious, they ultimately crucified—yea rather, outright murdered—Jesus their Messiah in unbelief! Calvary was neither surprising nor accidental; it was the culmination of centuries of deliberately refusing God’s words. Similarly, America’s new culture did not spring up overnight….

The Handwriting on the Wall #12

Monday, October 12, 2020

In the same hour came forth fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king’s palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote (Daniel 5:5 KJV).

What great Bible truths can we learn from Daniel chapter 5?

People often inadvertently quote Scripture when they say, “the handwriting on the wall.” The English phrase refers to a bad omen, an indication that something terrible will happen. Indeed, just as the fifth chapter of Daniel shows, JEHOVAH God was offended when King Belshazzar used His holy vessels for a pagan, drunken orgy! Having been God’s instrument in judging sinful and idolatrous Judah, now Babylon’s fate was sealed… and God certified that doom with a cryptic inscription. As someone once aptly stated, “Daniel chapter 5 is a picture of the world’s last Saturday night!” (The heathen party literally died thereafter.) Eventually, sin will have its payday: God is not mocked. That is the first chief fact to grasp from this passage.

Belshazzar sought illumination and peace in religion and education, but these spiritualists and intellectuals could not help him see or comprehend God’s Word. The LORD’S prophet, Daniel, had to intercede. Religious scholarship and secular education are no (!) substitutes for God the Holy Spirit. Hence, so many “good, knowledgeable men” are of no (!) use understanding and interpreting the Holy Bible. If they lack the indwelling Holy Spirit, they are not qualified to be Bible teachers and expositors. It is that simple. They would be far better saying nothing! Here is the second major fact we can ascertain from these verses.

Before we close, let us consider a third and final point. Looking into the future, we see old Babylon’s fall in Daniel chapter 5 anticipates the day when new Babylon under the Antichrist falls (Revelation chapters 17–18; Jeremiah chapters 50–51). Historical Babylon being overthrown previews its permanent destruction at Christ’s Second Coming. The Lord Jesus will allow Israel to return to the Promised Land, just as Cyrus King of Persia (conqueror of ancient Babylon) commissioned their regathering in the land of Canaan five centuries before Christ’s earthly ministry. As the handwriting on the wall demonstrates, Babylon still awaits a more terrible fate!