Monthly Archives: November 2022

The Peace of Jerusalem

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee. (Psalm 122:6)

In Sunday School, our pastor is leading us through a study from John Owen’s book, Rules for Walking in Fellowship.

Owen was by common consent the weightiest Puritan theologian, and many would bracket him with Jonathan Edwards as one of the greatest Reformed theologians of all time. Born in 1616, he entered Queen’s College, Oxford, at the age of twelve and secured his M.A. in 1635, when he was nineteen. In his early twenties, conviction of sin threw him into such turmoil that for three months he could scarcely utter a coherent word on anything; but slowly he learned to trust Christ, and so found peace. In 1637 he became a pastor; in the 1640s he was chaplain to Oliver Cromwell, and in 1651 he was made Dean of Christ Church, Oxford’s largest college. In 1652 he was given the additional post of Vice-Chancellor of the University, which he then reorganized with conspicuous success. After 1660 he led the Independents through the bitter years of persecution till his death in 1683. —J. I. Packer[1]

In our pastor’s absence, I was asked to bring this Sunday’s lesson from the book. It is indeed a very good lesson entitled “Bearing One Another’s Burdens,” which is the 15th chapter in Owens’ book. At the end of the lesson, Owens gives directions on how to apply the principles in the lesson. For the first direction, Owens says, “A proper valuing, strong desire, and high esteem of the church’s prosperity, in every member of it (Ps. 122:6)” – (emphasis mine).

I do not know a lot about John Owens other than he was and is a highly regarded reformed theologian and Puritan preacher. I do not know what his views were on eschatology (the study of end times), however, in the quote above, his use of Psalm 122:6 in connection to the church is misapplied.

I do not want to disparage such a great man of God as John Owen, but the verse, when taken literally as it should be, is speaking of Jerusalem not the Church. A parallel between Jerusalem and the church can certainly be drawn here in the form of allegory, but to make a direct connection cannot be supported if one takes the words of Scripture literally. Jerusalem/Israel is not the Church, nor is the Church Jerusalem/Israel.

In Owens’ defense, he was living at a time when Israel did not exist and had not existed for over 1500 years. Many theologians of that time believed that God had rejected Israel for their rejection of their Messiah and that the Church had replaced Israel. However, not all theologians took that position. Those that did not hold to that “replacement theology” believed that God would restore Israel in the end times. They came to this conclusion from the clear, literal teaching of the Old Testament prophets. I do not know to which camp Owens belonged, so I will withhold judgement.

I will, however, attempt to point out the error in “replacement theology” as concisely as possible. When one studies the Old Testament prophets, one quickly finds God’s repeated promises to (1) scatter Israel to the four corners of the earth, (2) to draw them back into their own land, (3) to restore the nation of Israel once again, and (4) to save the remanent of Israel in the “latter days.” The following is just a small sample of God’s promises to Israel.

And the LORD shall scatter you [Israel] among the nations, and ye shall be left few in number among the heathen, whither the LORD shall lead you. (Deuteronomy 4:27)

And it shall come to pass, that as the LORD rejoiced over you [Israel] to do you good, and to multiply you; so the LORD will rejoice over you to destroy you, and to bring you to nought; and ye shall be plucked from off the land whither thou goest to possess it. And the LORD shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other; and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone. And among these nations shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest: but the LORD shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind: And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life: In the morning thou shalt say, Would God it were even! and at even thou shalt say, Would God it were morning! for the fear of thine heart wherewith thou shalt fear, and for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see. (Deuteronomy 28:63-67)

And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath driven thee, And shalt return unto the LORD thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul; That then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee. If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the LORD thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee: And the LORD thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers. And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live. (Deuteronomy 30:1-6)

And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. (Isaiah 2:2-4)

The remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God. For though thy people Israel be as the sand of the sea, yet a remnant of them shall return: the consumption decreed shall overflow with righteousness. (Isaiah 10:21-22)

Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west; I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth; Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him. (Isaiah 43:5-7)

Behold, these shall come from far: and, lo, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim. Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the LORD hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted. But Zion said, The LORD hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me. Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me. (Isaiah 49:12-16)

No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD. (Isaiah 54:17)

And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations. And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers. But ye shall be named the Priests of the LORD: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves. (Isaiah 61:4-6)

Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children. Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth? saith the LORD: shall I cause to bring forth, and shut the womb? saith thy God. Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all ye that love her: rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourn for her: (Isaiah 66:8-10)

At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the LORD; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart. In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I have given for an inheritance unto your fathers. (Jeremiah 3:17-18)

I will scatter them also among the heathen, whom neither they nor their fathers have known: and I will send a sword after them, till I have consumed them. (Jeremiah 9:16)

And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the LORD … Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that they shall no more say, The LORD liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; But, The LORD liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land. (Jeremiah 23:3-4; 7-8)

There are more. Ezekiel 36 speaks of the scattering and regathering of Israel to and from the nations. Ezekiel 37 presents Israel as a valley of dry bones that God brings together and raises up into a mighty army. In that chapter, God also promises that the “two sticks” (Judah and Israel, the divided kingdoms) will reunite as one.

All of these prophecies deal with the nation of Israel, not the Church. Why is this important? It is important because the integrity of God is at stake. If God can break His covenant with Israel, what guarantee is there that He will keep His promises to the Church? Face it, the “Church” these days these days is not a pristine virgin!

Therefore, because God is faithful, He will keep His promises to Israel and to the Church as well. Israel and the Church are two separate entities, but salvation is the same for both. When the psalmist, David, says “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem,” there is only One Peace that can effectively apply and that is the Prince of Peace, the Lord Jesus Christ.[2]

So, in a way, Owens was correct in applying the psalm to the Church by way of allegory, but not in a literal sense. We are to pray for the “Peace of Jerusalem” because only He can bring true peace to the world. When we pray for the “Peace of Jerusalem,” we pray that the Lord will soon come and set up His kingdom on earth. “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). As for the Church, the kingdom, in part, has already come and dwells within the heart of every believer and the Church as a whole by way of the Holy Spirit who gives us peace. Then, one day, perhaps very soon, we will enjoy His physical kingdom here on earth along with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I can hardly wait!

Dear reader, do you know the Prince of Peace? If not, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  About | John Owen

[2]  Isaiah 9:6

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I’m Thankful

Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all. Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all. Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name. (1 Chronicles 29:11-13)

We have once again arrived at that time of year when we set aside a special time to give thanks to God for all the blessings He has lavished on us. We can focus on the commercialization of the season; following right on the heels of that demonic “holiday” that glorifies death (which is highly commercialized). The focus then quickly changes to the “Holidays,” formerly known as Christmas, without even a cursory mention of Thanksgiving Day. Over the years, I have beaten this dead horse with no sign of revival. I have come to the realization that “it is what it is,” so all I can do is practice what I preach regardless of what others do.

Four years ago, I wrote “One Was Thankful” where I detail the attitude of gratitude, so there is no need for a rehash here. I would encourage my readers to follow the link and read the article. I think I did a fair job of handling the topic. In addition, I have other articles on Thanksgiving Day that I will share on Facebook throughout the week of Thanksgiving. For now, I want to share some of the things for which I am thankful.

First of all, I thank God for life. When God created man,[1] He breathed His breath into his nostrils.[2] What a precious gift, the breath of God, withheld from all other creatures. Only mankind has this special spark of life, and it is eternal. So special is human life that God demands capital punishment for that taking of human life. He even requires that of animals that take human life.[3] The psalmist put it like this: “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well” (Psalm 139:14). He goes on to describe God’s handiwork in the development of a baby in the womb,[4] which directly confronts those who would kill a baby at any stage of development. Every breath that I take, and every beat of my heart is a precious gift from God, which He can take whenever He wills.

Second, I thank God for eternal life. The Bible says that we all have sinned[5] and we are due the wages for that sin, which is death.[6] With no prospect of rectifying the matter on our own, God took on human flesh[7] and took the penalty of sin upon Himself in order so that we might be saved.[8] It seems too easy, but our only requirement is that we believe in Him and what He has accomplished by His death and resurrection by faith. I made that choice 66 years ago at the age of six and my faith in Him has only grown and has never disappointed. Because I know that my life is His, I know that when He comes to call His children home, or if He calls me home in death, I will be with Him for eternity in a place that I am sure is far more beautiful than that the Apostle John could describe.[9]

Third, I thank God for my wife. She blesses my life daily and has done so for over 34 years. I know she truly loves me even when I am not so loveable.

Fourth, I am thankful for family. I am thankful for Christian parents that were instrumental in leading me to Christ. I am thankful for my brothers and sister who love the Lord and for the love we have for one another. I am also thankful for my wife’s family who has taken me in as a real part of their family. We are family! And I am thankful that we all love the Lord and share that common bond.

Fifth, I am thankful for my church family. In my many years as a Christian, I have found that whenever I am among Christian, even those I have never met, I am among family; I never feel out of place. That sense of family is exponentially stronger in our local church. There we do share one another’s burdens and rejoice with the joy of others. We are truly brothers and sisters in Christ.

Finally, I am thankful for all the “stuff” with which God has blessed us (June and me). We have a house, our home. We have two, not-too-old vehicles. We have no debt. We have more clothes than our closets will accommodate. We have plenty of food to eat. We are blessed with good health. We live in a wonderful town filled with wonderful people. All of these things, as described in the leading verse above, come from the hand of God who richly blesses us even though we are undeserving. When God has so richly lavished His love on us, spiritually and materially, how can we be anything but thankful! God is good, and I am so thankful for Who He is and for His love for me. He loves you, too.

Dear reader, do you know this great and loving God? If not, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  Genesis 1:26-28

[2]  Genesis 2:7

[3]  Genesis 9:5-6

[4]  Psalm 139:15-16

[5]  Romans 3:10, 23

[6]  Romans 6:23

[7]  John 1:14; Philippians 2:5-11

[8]  Romans 5:8

[9]  Revelation 21-22

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The Red Trickle

And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 11:15)

Election Day came and went on Tuesday, November 8, and the anticipated “Red Wave” that was expected fizzled to a slow trickle. On the positive side, Republicans seem to have pulled out a very narrow majority in the House, while the Senate count remains undetermined. It appears that the Senate may win a one-seat majority, but because of outstanding returns (which raises suspicions of voter fraud again), the results may end up in a 50-50 Senate with the Democrat VP as the tiebreaker.

I do not foresee any prospect for improvement in our government. I do not say that as a pessimist. In fact, I see the decline of our nation as a source of optimism. How? I study end-times prophecy, and I see the decline in our nation and that of the western world as the fulfillment of end-times prophecy. In His Olivet Discourse,[1] Jesus foretold what we could expect as signs of His coming and the end of the age.

While we are not there yet, we can see (if we are paying attention) that those things are falling into place. One of the signs of the end of days describes a coming one-world government.[2] The foundations for a one-world government are already in place in the form of the World Economic Forum[3] and the United Nations. However, these entities cannot assume world power with a superpower like the United States getting in the way. Therefore, the USA needs to be neutralized, and we have many in our own government working to do just that.

To me, that is great news! Please do not think that I have no love for my country. I do. As I write this, we celebrate Veterans Day, and I am proud to have served in my country’s armed forces – in the US Navy. However, the nation I once served exists in name only today. I would love for our nation to turn around (repent), but I see no prospect of that. However, I have a greater hope because my eternal citizenship is in heaven. “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1).

Although the election results disappointed, I eagerly look for the coming of my Lord Jesus Christ. He is coming soon, and His kingdom will be one of righteousness and perfect peace. How soon? I do not know, but the darker this world gets, the closer we are to His return. In the meantime, we continue to serve, witness, and do what we know to be right so that when He does come, He will find us working at our assigned duties. “Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing” (Matthew 24:46).

We are living in the “last days,” and it is only a matter of time before the Lord says that it is enough, and He puts a final end to it all. Dear reader, are you prepared to meet the Savior when He comes to clean up this mess? If not, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21

[2]  Daniel 9:27; Revelation 13

[3]  The World Economic Forum (weforum.org)

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Who Got It Right?

After the Flood_Joseph_Anton_Koch

For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.. (Matthew 5:18)

Someone wrote to me with the following question: “Just wondering if you have done any research into the first civilization, according to science, known to man the Sumaritans [sic]. Their writings contain the original creation story that Moses and many others passed down?”

This is a common question that stems from the study of early world history that is based on evolutionary thinking. The inquirer is assuming that because the Sumerians wrote on clay tablets which have been preserved for thousands of years, that theirs is the oldest known written language, and that other cultures were incapable of writing.

The people before the Flood where highly intelligent people (Genesis 4:22-24) and probably had other methods of writing. It is quite possible that Noah had written records handed down from Adam, who died only a few hundred years before Noah was born. Noah’s grandfather, Methuselah, was alive around 250 years before Adam died. It is very possible that pre-Flood people wrote on papyrus or something like it so the genealogical record could be passed on. We might also consider the fact that God only gave Noah some general instructions for constructing the Ark (Genesis 6:14-16). I am sure you would agree that drawing out floor plans on clay tablets would have been rather cumbersome. So it seems reasonable that Noah had something more functional on which to draw his plans for the Ark.

The inquirer’s suggestion is based mostly on assumptions made by secular archeologists. Archeology is not an exact “science;” it is a “forensic” science that is highly subjective. Most secular archeologists are biased on the side of evolution, which influences their perception of what they discover. They assume that man “evolved” 100,000 years ago, and did not become “civilized” until sometime around 10,000 B.C. to 8000 B.C.

Since these “scientists” make assumptions based on evolutionary thinking, it is only fair that I be allowed to make some assumptions based on the biblical record. I am going to assume that Noah carried some sort of “paper” records on the Ark and continued to copy those records using the same medium. Paper records would not last thousands of years like those written on clay tablets, therefore, from our perspective, it “appears” that the Sumerian clay tablets are the oldest written record when in fact they are not, and they were actually pretty crude methods of writing even for their time. I will further assume that Noah and his descendants through Shem had more advanced methods of writing, albeit less durable than clay tablets. Writing on paper (papyrus) would require continual copying in order for the records to be preserved. Now, since no one can really corroborate either assumption, I will suggest that my assumption is just as valid as that of the evolutionary archeologists.

Having said that let me also suggest that the Sumerians, by the time they recorded their origins account and Flood story, had a distorted memory of those events. It is often suggested that Moses borrowed the Flood account from the Epic of Gilgamesh. But when one compares the Ark of Gilgamesh with the Ark of Noah, the two are completely different vessels. In fact, Gilgamesh’s Ark is built in the shape of a cube which would render the vessel extremely unseaworthy, while Noah’s Ark (or a model of it) has been laboratory tested and shown to be incredibly stable. What this shows is the Sumerians got it wrong and the Bible got it right.

The nature of such questions is the result of Satan’s unchanged tactic revealed in Genesis 3:1-5: (1) Create doubt in God’s Word: “Yea, hath God said …?” (2) Deny the veracity of God’s Word: “Ye shall not surely die,” and (3) Accuse God of keeping one from something better: “For God doth know that … ye shall be as gods.” His methods have not changed in over 6000 years, and sadly, even Christians fall for his lies. But the Author of the Bible says, “Till heaven and earth pass, one jot [the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet] or one tittle [the smallest distinguishing mark of a Hebrew letter] shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matthew 5:18). So, who got it right? Would you rather believe the words of men, or the Word of God?

 

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