The Hebrew Bible

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me (Luke 24:44 KJV).

In today’s Scripture, after His resurrection, the Lord Jesus Christ opens the minds of His apostles so that they understand what happened to Him on Calvary (His suffering, death, burial, and resurrection, as foretold by the Old Testament prophets; cf. Acts 8:26-35 and 1 Peter 1:10,11). Notice how He made specific reference to the organization of the Old Testament Scriptures.

The Hebrew Bible that exists today in Judaism is identical to the one of which Jesus spoke in today’s Scripture. Like in Jesus’ day, it is divided into three elements: “the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms.” Basically, it is the text of our Old Testament, just with combined books and a different book order. For instance, Chronicles is the last book in the Hebrew Bible, whereas the last book of our Old Testament is Malachi.

Moreover, there are 24 books in the Hebrew Bible compared to our 39 Old Testament books. (This is because 1&2 Samuel was originally one book; same with Kings and Chronicles.) (Ezra and Nehemiah comprise one book, not two like in our Old Testament.) (Hosea to Malachi is one giant book.)

These 24 books of the Hebrew Bible, as Jesus indicated, are divided into three sections:

  1. The Torah/the Law/Chumash—Moses’ five books of Genesis to Deuteronomy
  2. The Prophets/Nabum—Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the twelve minor prophets of Hosea to Malachi
  3. The Writings/Psalms/Kethubim—Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah, and Chronicles

Notice how the above list correlates with today’s Scripture: “(1) in the law of Moses, and (2) in the prophets, and (3) in the psalms.” What is missing? The apocryphal books! According to Jesus Christ, and today’s Hebrew Bible, Rome’s seven to thirteen apocryphal books were never part of the Old Testament.

Save Thyself and Thy Audience!

Monday, November 21, 2011

“Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (1 Timothy 4:16 KJV).

Timothy, according to 1 Timothy 1:1,2, was already saved (having trusted in Jesus Christ’s shed blood and resurrection). So, why did Paul write in today’s Scripture that Timothy could save himself and those who heard him?

Paul instructed Timothy to continue in sound Bible doctrine (see 1 Timothy 4:12-15). In doing so, Timothy would save himself from false teaching (religion), and Timothy teaching the Bible “rightly divided” would save others from false teaching. Hell and religion destroy your soul. You need to be saved from both.

Today, sound Bible teaching is scarce, even within many so-called “Bible-believing” churches. Over 2,000 years’ worth of church tradition and human viewpoint have muddled and obscured the Bible’s glorious truths. Many Christians quote the Bible, claiming passages given to someone else (Israel).

There are many true, Holy Spirit-indwelt believers whose souls have been saved by Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork, but who have never been saved from false teaching. The Galatians were saved from hell, yet they did not believe sound doctrine. So, they struggled to obey Israel’s program (Galatians 3:1-3).

We want to save ourselves from disappointment and deception. Our faith should rest in God’s Word to us, not God’s Word to someone else (Israel). Moreover, we should not trust in man’s word, but God’s Word.

How do we save ourselves and our audience from vain religious tradition and denominationalism? The Bible says in 2 Timothy 2:24-26: “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.”

The key to saving thyself and thy audience from false teaching is to study, believe, and teach the Bible God’s way, using dispensational Bible study, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

Religion’s Untold Riches Revealed

Sunday, November 20, 2011

“And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not” (2 Peter 2:3 KJV).

Remember when our Lord Jesus Christ drove extortionists from the Temple in Matthew 21:12,13 (cf. Mark 11:15-18; Luke 19:45-47)? Sadly, nothing has changed since then, beloved.

When asked about the wealth of the world’s largest church, one official smugly replied, “Only God knows!” Indeed, God does know and those church leaders will give an account to God for every single cent they extorted from their followers!

Mega-church leaders literally resort to wheelbarrows because their collection plates are too few and too small. Although exposed as false teachers and charlatans, some televangelists continue raking in millions annually. Note also the “unholy hands on God’s Holy Word,” continually revising the Bible and copyrighting it (thereby securing fame and fortune).

If you pay enough, churches will pray enough! Notice Jesus’ rebuke in Matthew 23:14: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation” (cf. Mark 12:40; Luke 20:47). Like religious leaders today, they hypocritically uttered “long prayer” (for money).

Certainly, a man of God should be paid his wages: “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward” (1 Timothy 5:17,18).

However, there is abuse: men who are “covetous” and “greedy of filthy lucre [extorted money]” (1 Timothy 3:3,8; Titus 1:7). Observe elaborate multimillion-dollar cathedrals, the “Christian” leader who “loves God” while claiming that she “deserved” her private jet, and the famous preacher who currently gives 90% (“reverse”) tithes. Just imagine being able to live off a mere one-tenth of your annual income! Outrageous.

In today’s Scripture, the Apostle Peter mentions false teachers (religious leaders) who covet their audience’s bank accounts. The damnation of these liars who speak “feigned [fake, hypocritical] words” is sure!

The Vacuum

Saturday, November 19, 2011

“And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26 KJV).

During the past few days, a tragic situation has unfolded. An internet acquaintance of mine and dear saint, just 31 years old, shortly after communicating with me electronically, passed away in a tragic house fire. Instantly, his wife and children lost both their home and their husband-father. Now, saints are donating money and supplies. Why are they doing this?

In today’s Scripture (and its context of verses 12-27), God the Holy Spirit gives an analogy. Just as our physical bodies and its members (organs, limbs, et cetera) are interconnected, the Church the Body of Christ (all present-day Christians) and its members (individual Christians) are linked.

The indwelling Holy Spirit unites us as members of the Body of Christ. When one Christian suffers, the Holy Spirit inside of each of us grieves. He causes us to have sympathy for that Christian. The love of Christ that drove Him to Calvary’s cross operates within us, the believers. It is a selfless, unconditional love, that seeks another person’s highest good. In Philippians 2:1-11, Paul urges us believers to have the same (self-sacrificing) mind that Jesus Christ had.

The verse preceding today’s Scripture is: “…but that the members should have the same care one for another” (verse 25b). God’s grace teaches us to “seek another’s wealth” (1 Corinthians 10:24). Human nature is selfish, but as Christians, when we let Christ live His life in us, He will seek the highest good of all with whom we interact. God’s grace teaches us to seek another person’s benefit, not ours.

Just as this unnamed family has a vacuum in its heart, we too have a vacuum. We mourn as they mourn and pray for them in this time of suffering. When these tragedies happen, God’s Word works within saints so they help with prayer and donations.

But, just as we mourn the lost of that saint, we rejoice with his family as he is now dwelling in the presence of the Lord, to be seen again!

We Suffer Persecution

Friday, November 18, 2011

“…Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: being defamed, we entreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day” (1 Corinthians 4:12bc,13 KJV).

Contrary to the damnable teachings of prosperity theology, the Christian life is not always pleasant and carefree. In today’s Scripture, the Apostle Paul explains we “suffer” persecution. While “suffer” means “endure pain,” its older English definition was “allow, permit.” Both definitions are applicable here.

In Acts 24:5, lost people called Paul a “pestilent fellow.” Jesus told His Jewish disciples: “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you… I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (John 15:18,19). The lost world hated Jesus Christ so much that they preferred a murderer’s release as opposed to Jesus’ release (Matthew 27:15-22; Mark 15:7-15)!

The Apostle Peter, writing to Jewish believers, the little flock, who will endure the seven-year Tribulation: “But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified” (1 Peter 4:13,14).

Christians are the outcasts of society. Compared to the world, we think differently, we act differently, and we even look different. Accordingly, we are targets of their criticism. Christians down through the past 20 centuries have suffered some rather graphic treatment, far too explicit to mention here. This evil world system has never been God’s friend, so it will certainly be unfriendly to us Christians.

In fact, today’s Scripture tells us that the world will treat us Christians like “filth” and “offscouring” (trash, scum, castaways). We are called names, ostracized, and we may be imprisoned or even tortured and executed, but we are privileged to “suffer for righteousness’ sake” (1 Peter 3:14)!

Beloved, we suffer persecution… for God’s glory!

A Great Cloud of Witnesses

Thursday, November 17, 2011

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1,2a KJV).

In today’s Scripture, the author of Hebrews encourages believing Jews to endure the adversity and persecution of the future seven-year Tribulation.

The “great cloud of witnesses,” not our loved ones watching us from heaven, is actually the people of faith of chapter 11—Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, et cetera. God promised them an earthly kingdom (Matthew 25:34), yet Hebrews 11:39 says, “And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise.” These saints are still waiting to see their kingdom, thousands of years later!

Believing Jews living during the seven-year Tribulation will be reminded of those saints of old who endured persecution and yet God was faithful in delivering them (Hebrews 11:33-38). These Tribulation saints are encouraged to endure those seven years—“the race” of today’s Scripture—by following the ensamples of the saints of old (that “great cloud of witnesses” of God’s faithfulness).

Hebrews 13:5,6 says: …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 is not written to us members of the Church the Body of Christ, but we are comforted in that just as God will not forsake those Jewish believers enduring the horrible Tribulation, He will not abandon us in Christ (Romans 8:35-39).

God will keep His promise to those saints to bring them through the Tribulation and into their earthly kingdom, so we can be sure He will keep His promises that He made to us in Paul’s epistles! If God will comfort those believing Jews during the worst period of human history, surely, God will comfort us in our Dispensation of Grace, to one day deliver us and usher us into our heavenly kingdom. 🙂

Special Devotion to the Virgin Mary?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

“And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked” (Luke 11:27 KJV).

Religion encourages us to direct “special devotion” to Mary, Jesus’ mother, but slyly reassures us that Marian devotion is not equivalent to worshipping God. Is this true? What does our Lord Jesus Christ think of any Marian devotion?

In the context of today’s Scripture (verses 1-26), Jesus is teaching. One woman is so amazed at the Lord Jesus’ doctrine that she begins to praise Mary, Jesus’ mother, not Jesus! Notice that this lady exalted Mary, giving her the “special devotion” that religion gives Mary today: “blessed is the womb and the breasts of Mary!” Such a statement originates from pagan goddess worship (and accompanying fornication) of ancient Egyptian and Babylonian religions.

Notice how Jesus responds: “But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it” (verse 28). Recognize that Jesus immediately rebuked her: He corrected her. Our Lord Jesus knew that Mary was being exalted to a goddess’ position, and He clearly refused it with “Yea rather….” In other words, Jesus said, “Rather than singling out Mary for special attention, recognize that all who trust in God are blessed.” Notice Jesus never designated Mary to any special position whatsoever (Matthew 12:46-50; Mark 3:31-35; Luke 8:19-21).

Our dear religious family members and friends need to realize that Mary is no superhuman or goddess. Although God used her body to generate the human body of Jesus Christ, the Bible never presents Mary as an object of worship. No believer in the Bible ever prayed to Mary. According to the Bible, God clearly hates all Marian devotion.

Marian devotion is blasphemous because it robs Jesus Christ of devotion. It was what God did through Mary that matters. Mary did nothing for our salvation. She is not our mediatrix, savior, or mother, so why does she deserve devotion? According to God’s Word, she does not.