The Heavenly Places #4

Monday, June 5, 2017

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12 KJV).

Why does Ephesians conclude with this description of the war between good and evil?

Parroting the misguided claims of so-called “Bible authorities,” critics complain about the King James’ italicized words. The phrase “heavenly places” is heavily derided because the original Greek does not have “places.” Thus, people refuse to quote the Authorized Version verbatim here—they prefer “heavenlies.” “Places” is needed to construct a complete English thought; therefore, our 1611 translators rightly inserted it. Upon removing “places,” we rob ourselves of an important link.

Revelation 12:7-9: “[7] And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, [8] And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. [9] And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” Friend, did you notice “place” in verse 8? It means a “room, position, dwelling.” Satan and his fallen angels functioning in heaven today (today’s Scripture) will be tossed out onto the Earth halfway through the future seven-year Tribulation. (Recall the “Old Testament” references about God and Satan both working in the heavenly places, with God cleansing those regions of evil. The Revelation is the capstone.)

With the heavenly places vacated of evil beings, Father God installs us the Church the Body of Christ into those positions of power (refer to the “heavenly” references in Ephesians—1:3-12, 1:20-23, 2:6-7, 3:10-11). Colossians chapter 1: “[16] For by him [Christ Jesus] were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:… [20] And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth [using Israel], or things in heaven [using us the Body of Christ].”

Now, we wrap it up….

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!

A Friend Forever

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: 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 13:5,6 KJV).

While today’s Scripture is to and about the nation Israel, there is a parallel with us today in the Dispensation of Grace. Let us see what it is!

Recently, I dealt with a despairing child. One “friend” had “stolen” another friend from her. Now, those two friends were associating… and ignoring her. My advice to her was that dissolved friendships are a part of life (this was her first direct experience of it). Sometimes, friendships can be repaired; other times, they cannot. Even after we reach adulthood, envy and self-centeredness divide us and our friends. My additional advice to her was though her friends disappoint, leave, and abandon her entirely, she still has the Lord Jesus Christ, one who never disappoints, leaves, or abandons. Israel has been granted such a promise in today’s Scripture.

To fully appreciate today’s Scripture, we must remember that the Book of Hebrews relates to end-times prophecy (see Hebrews 1:1,2; Hebrews 2:3-5; Hebrews 10:25-31; Hebrews 12:25-29; Hebrews 13:12-14; et cetera). It especially deals with Jews living in the future seven-year Tribulation, the Antichrist’s reign. This satanic political leader will institute his infamous “mark of the beast,” a special relationship needed to buy or sell in his economy (Revelation 13:16-18). Since Messianic Jews who believe in Christ will reject the Antichrist, they will also reject his “mark,” thus causing them inevitable economic hardships (namely, famine and homelessness). It will also break apart their families, unbelievers shunning believers in Christ (Matthew 24:9,10; cf. Matthew 10:21,31-37).

In the midst of their financial struggles, their “friends” and family abandoning them, the Lord speaks to Israel’s Little Flock, these circumcision believers, in today’s Scripture. They should be content with what they have. Most importantly, they should be thankful they have HIM, ever, ever, EVER faithful to them. He will provide them with the spiritual stability needed to get them through their troubles, until He returns for them. We have the same promise—a Friend in Christ forever! 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What does 1 John 1:8 mean, ‘We deceive ourselves?’

Sparrows and Saints

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

“Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29-31 KJV).

A noted atheist once openly ridiculed “soft-hearted” God for “weeping” when a sparrow fell. What is our answer to such a fool?

Today’s Scripture says, in New Testament times, two sparrows were worth one “farthing” (also called an assarius). A “penny” (also called a denarius) was a laborer’s daily wages (Matthew 20:2). The assarius was about 1/16th of a penny. Imagine your wages for working 1/16th of a day. That was the price of two sparrows. Halve that to get the price of one sparrow. One would only have to work 1/32nd of a day to buy one sparrow. You could work a full day and buy 32 sparrows. In other words, sparrows were inexpensive in terms of human assessment. But, in the Lord Jesus’ estimation, every little sparrow was valuable. The Father would notice when an “insignificant” sparrow would “fall on the ground” (assuming death). After all, that sparrow was the descendant of the original birds He had directly created via His spoken word. He never intended even one animal to die! Death was man’s doing, not God’s!

Yet, even “many sparrows” (despite God’s value of them) were nothing compared to His believers. “Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.” Take time today to read Matthew chapter 10 very closely. You can see the Lord Jesus Christ preparing His 12 apostles (and, more generally, believing Israel) to experience very difficult times. They will have to endure the extreme pressures of the coming Antichrist’s rule. Friends, that future persecution of Israel’s Little Flock is beyond our comprehension. For following Jesus Christ, all will lose family members and friends. They will also lose their homes, clothes, employment, and access to food. Some will lose their lives.

What the Lord Jesus skillfully did in today’s Scripture is encourage believing Israel, paraphrased, “Just as My Father notices an inexpensive sparrow dying, He will notice you suffering and dying for His Son’s name! He is watching everything and will punish your persecutors in due time!”

The Precious Blood of Christ #4

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

“Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:18,19 KJV).

God the Father and God the Holy Ghost think the blood of Jesus Christ is “precious.” And you?

The verse immediately following today’s Scripture says: “Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you….” The “who” is Jesus Christ; the “you” is Israel. Again, Christ’s death was planned before the foundation of the world. The triune Godhead decreed it before sin had even entered… before man had even been created!

From the establishment of the Mosaic Law all the way up until Christ’s earthly ministry—about 1,500 years—Israel had been trained every year to remember the innocent lamb whose blood was shed at Passover (Exodus 12:4,5). That blood saved Israel from God’s wrath in Egypt. Beloved, innocent Jesus dying at Passover centuries later was no coincidence! When Israel saw Jesus die during their Passover feast, they should have realized it—for all those centuries, that Passover lamb represented Him! Alas, most of Israel was blind. They had no faith in the verses He fulfilled, so they did not recognize who He was. Praise God, however, a small group of Jews believed in Jesus as Messiah! They are “the little flock” (Luke 12:32). Peter is writing to them in the epistle from which today’s Scripture is extracted.

In addition, a similar believing Israeli remnant will live during the future seven-year Tribulation. They will follow that epistle of 1 Peter as well. In verses 6 and 7 (context of today’s Scripture), believing Israel is “in heaviness through manifold temptations” and experiencing “a trial of [their] faith.” Having separated themselves from apostate Israel following Antichrist, they are experiencing severe hardships and horrific persecution. Their families have been torn apart: their relatives are now their enemies. They are waiting for Jesus Christ’s Second Coming to end those awful seven years. Today’s Scripture says they have been purchased, with a heavy price, for His glory….

The King of Glory

Monday, September 12, 2016

Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah (Psalm 24:10 KJV).

Just who is “this King of Glory,” “the LORD of hosts?”

While the Psalms are often “devotionalized”—used for “everyday inspiration”—they are actually a series of songs God has used (and will use) to teach the nation Israel doctrine (especially prophecy). For example, in Psalm 22, we see Israel’s Messiah suffering on Calvary’s cross (verses 1-21) and then reigning in His glorious earthly kingdom (verses 22-31). Psalm 23 illustrates Israel’s believing remnant, suffering persecution during the seven-year Tribulation, anticipating that coming kingdom that will eclipse their distress. Today’s Scripture is the last verse of Psalm 24, the closure of the triplet (Psalms 22-24). Psalm 24 is the arrival of Israel’s Messiah, the Lord Jesus, JEHOVAH God, as He returns to Earth to destroy Israel’s enemies. He enters the city of Jerusalem for Father God to crown Him as King of Earth’s governments. This is His REAL triumphal entry!

Psalm 24 in its entirety: “[1] The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. [2] For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods. [3] Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? [4] He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. [5] He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. [6] This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob. Selah. [7] Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. [8] Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. [9] Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. [10] Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah.”

What a day it will be when Jesus Christ is crowned as Earth’s King for all to see! 🙂

Not Intimidated But Exhilarated

Thursday, June 23, 2016

“Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4 KJV).

Therefore, onward in Christ we go!

Not long ago, a girls softball team lost a game 5-15. After this discouraging loss, their coach told them the opposing team was “beatable,” but that they had allowed the opposing fast-throwing pitcher to intimidate them. The losing team disagreed: the winning team was not “beatable” as their coach suggested. Yet, the next day, they practiced and determined within themselves to win the rematch. How excited the former “losing” team was to win 7-2! They were stunned to learn that the team that seemed “unbeatable” was actually beatable!

Recently, I had a discussion with a discouraged sister in Christ. People had done her much wrong. Her Christian life was still greatly damaged. Satan had had—and was having—a great time destroying her life. I reminded her of today’s Scripture: “…Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” She could not help but reply, “Amen, brother!”

Friends, we are surely in a spiritual battle—the most important war ever. Yes, many are sleeping while it is being waged, but there is a conflict between God and Satan, good and evil, over the eternal souls of men and women and boys and girls! As Christians, we see Satan as “unbeatable.” Wielding so much influence, using so many allies, and implementing so many schemes, he seems invincible. No wonder so many poor Christian souls just throw up their hands in complete helplessness and hopelessness!

Like the aforementioned girls softball team, they are focusing on the opposition and ignoring their provisions. They have been equipped to fight the battle in Christ, but they focus too much on the enemy and they ignore their commander’s instructions. Israel’s believing remnant will endure a very difficult and wearisome time during Daniel’s 70th Week; despite the innumerable false prophets (verses 1-3), the Holy Spirit through the Apostle John exhorts believing Jews to remember that the Creator God is in them, and He is more powerful than Satan who is in the world (1 John 5:19)! Let us remember likewise. 🙂