Category Archives: Second Coming of Christ

Pentecost

And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:4)

God gave the Feast of Weeks, a.k.a. Shavu’ot, (Leviticus 23:15-22) as the fourth of the Feasts of the Lord and the last of the spring feasts. God gave seven feasts to be observed as holy (i.e., set apart, consecrated, dedicated) convocations where all males over the age of 20 were required to attend. Later in their history, the Jews added Purim to celebrate their divine preservation in Babylon/Persia (Esther 9:20-32) and Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, to celebrate the rededication of the Temple after Antiochus IV Epiphanes desecrated it in 165 B.C. These last two are rabbinical festivals and do not bear the same significance as the Feasts of the Lord. The Lord’s feasts not only have religious significance, but they are prophetic of the coming Messiah. Jesus fulfilled the four spring feasts (Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, and Pentecost) at His first coming; the fall feasts (Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and Feast of Tabernacles) He will fulfill at His second coming.

Pentecost, a.k.a. Feast of Weeks, a.k.a. Shavu’ot, came 50 days after the Feast of First Fruits (Leviticus 23:16). At First Fruits, the devotee would bring some of the sprouts of the barley crop to the priest as a thank (wave) offering to God for the promise of bountiful harvest. Jesus fulfilled this feast when He rose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:20). Forty days later (Acts 1:3), Jesus ascended to heaven, but before He did, He instructed His disciples (not just the apostles), “that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.  For John [the Baptist] truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence” (Acts 1:4-5, emphasis mine). Pentecost came ten days later. This was the barley harvest celebration. Prophetically, this feast looked forward to the birth of the Church.

On Pentecost, Luke records that the disciples, about 120 in number (Acts 1:15), were gathered together “with one accord” (Acts 2:1), “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them” (Acts 2:2-3, emphasis mine). This occasion reminds us of a similar manifestation in the Old Testament. When the children of Israel erected the tabernacle in the wilderness, “Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle” (Exodus 40:34, emphasis mine). Similarly, at the dedication of Solomon’s Temple, “Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the house. And the priests could not enter into the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD had filled the LORD’S house. (2 Chronicles 7:1-2, emphasis mine).

The tongues of fire resting upon each of the disciples at Pentecost proclaimed that no longer would the Spirit of God be confined to a manmade structure, but in a temple created by God. “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16, emphasis mine). At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit took up residence in the heart of every believer, and thus the Church of God (not the denomination that takes that name) was born.

This year, Pentecost falls on May 31, 2017. The year 2017 is significant to many who study end-times prophecy for a number of reasons, which I cannot go into detail at this time. One of these is that 2017 is a Year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25:8-13). Briefly, in 1917, the Balfour Declaration returned the land of Israel back to the Jews. Fifty years later, 1967, the Israelis recaptured their ancient capitol of Jerusalem. Since Jubilee is the time when all property reverts to its original owner, perhaps this year the Temple Mount will be returned to its rightful owners, the Jews.  This is the hope among many faithful Jews. All the instruments for the Temple are ready and even the priests are ready to take up their duties. The only thing missing is the Temple and the land on which the Temple is to be built. Perhaps this Jubilee will be the year that takes place.

There is also much talk about the Revelation 12 sign. Supposedly, on September 23, 2017 the constellation Virgo will appear “clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars” (Revelation 12:1). That Virgo appears clothed with the sun and the moon at its feet is an annual occurrence.  However, this year the constellation Leo will be accompanied by a conjunction of three planets, Mercury, Mars and Venus. Together with the nine major stars in Leo’s constellation, this grouping will form a crown of 12 stars above Virgo’s head. Supposedly, this particular configuration of heavenly objects has never before been observed, and it would only come about once every 7,000 years. In addition, Jupiter, the King Planet, entered Virgo’s “womb” on December 16, 2016, and will remain there 40 weeks, the normal length of human gestation. Then on September 23, 2017 (Feast of Trumpets), it is due to exit Virgo from between her feet (Revelation 12:5). Many prophecy teachers, while maintaining that they are not “date setting,” see this as a “possible” time for the Rapture of the Church. Other prophecy teachers see the Revelation 12 sign as merely analogous to Israel (the woman) giving birth to Jesus and His being taken up unto heaven.  Those that argue for the Rapture sign rightly point out that prophecies in the Bible often carry more than one meaning. Therefore, they suggest that the birth of this “man child” is the “body” of Christ, i.e. the Church, which is “caught up” (Greek: harpazō) or raptured up to heaven.

However, some suggest that Pentecost 2017 is also a good candidate for the Rapture. They conclude that since Jesus ascended ten days before Pentecost, He did not truly fulfill that feast, and that the “harvest” is yet ahead. Maybe so. Whether the Rapture takes place this year on May 31 (Pentecost), September 23 (Feast of Trumpets), or some other time, Jesus admonished us, “Occupy till I come” (Luke 19:14). The Apostle Paul informs us of a special reward that awaits those who anxiously look for Jesus’ return. “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8, emphasis mine). “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).

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Who Is Jesus?

Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; (Hebrews 1:3)

For the last 2000 years, people have asked that question, but for those who have “ears to hear,” the Bible provides the answer. “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets” (Hebrews 1:1).

From the very beginning, the Scriptures have pointed to Christ. “And the LORD God said unto the serpent … I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; [He] shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15, emphasis mine). Abraham received the promise: “… in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). Isaac received the same promise: “…in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 26:4), and the promise was passed on to Jacob: “…in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 28:14). Jacob (renamed Israel) prophesied “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be” (Genesis 49:10, emphasis mine). The scepter signifies rule. A “lawgiver” signifies absolute authority. This One would come from the tribe of Judah, and “the people” (meaning all the people, not just Israel) would be gathered unto Him. This is just in the book of Genesis!

Moses spoke of this Promised One. “And the LORD said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken. I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him” (Deuteronomy 18:17-18, emphasis mine). Job looked forward to the Promised One. He said, “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me” (Job 19:25-27, emphasis mine). The psalmists sang about Him. The prophets predicted His arrival with pinpoint accuracy. The prophet Daniel predicted His presentation to the very day! “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem [March 5, 444 BC][1] unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks [i.e. 49 years],[2] and threescore and two weeks [i.e. 434 years, 483 years total]: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks [483 years] shall Messiah be cut off [April 3, AD 33],[3] but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined” (Daniel 9:25-26, emphasis mine).

The prophets predicted His birth in precise detail. They predicted His teaching in parables and His healing miracles. They predicted every agonizing detail of His crucifixion and even His resurrection. “For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell [i.e. the grave]; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Psalm 16:10-11, emphasis mine). Not only would He rise again, but as the martyr Stephan reported, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56, emphasis mine).

Yes, but who was Jesus?

“God, … Hath in these last days [i.e. the days in which we live] spoken unto us by his Son [Jesus Christ], whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:1-3, emphasis mine).

He is “heir of ALL things.” The universe and all that it contains belong to Jesus Christ. “He made the worlds.” “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3, emphasis mine). “For by him 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” (Colossians 1:16, emphasis mine). He is the Creator and owner of all that exists.

He is “the express image” of God. “Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature” (Colossians 1:15, emphasis mine). “And the Word [i.e. Jesus Christ] 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” (John 1:14, emphasis mine). “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him” (John 1:18, emphasis mine). In other words, Jesus is the full expression of God in human form. “For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness [of the Godhead] dwell” (Colossians 1:19, emphasis mine). “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9, emphasis mine).

Jesus is the One “upholding all things by the word of his power.” He is “the Word.” “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God” (John 1:1-2, emphasis mine). “And he is before all things, and by him all things consist” (Colossians 1:17, emphasis mine). The Greek world translated “consist” is sunistaō, which means “to set together” or “hold together.” In other words, Jesus keeps the universe from flying apart!

Jesus is the Savior.  He “by himself purged our sins.” “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9, emphasis mine). “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, emphasis mine). Jesus, “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:6-8, emphasis mine). Is that not amazing! This He did so that, “as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12). The inverse is also true. “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18, emphasis mine).

Finally, Jesus is LORD. He is, and always has been, seated “on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us” (Romans 8:34, emphasis mine). {Who needs Mary!} “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God” (Colossians 3:1, emphasis mine). “Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens” (Hebrews 8:1, emphasis mine).  “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God” (Hebrews 10:12, emphasis mine). Jesus, “Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him” (1 Peter 3:22, emphasis mine).

Who is Jesus? He is God. He is Creator. He is sustainer of creation. He is Savior. He is Lord, and He is coming again. Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1-3, emphasis mine).

Reader, this is Jesus. Do you know Him? You can know Him. If you will sincerely ask Him to reveal Himself to you, He will. “The Lord [Jesus] is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9, emphasis mine). Just ask Him. Jesus said, “For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened” (Matthew 7:8, emphasis mine).

Notes:


[1]  Ed Hinderson & Thomas Ice, Charting the Bible Chronologically: A Visual Guide to God’s Unfolding Plan, (Eugene, OR, Harvest House Publishers, 2016), 98.

[2]  Ibid.

[3]  Ibid.

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In the Twinkling of an Eye

Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (1 Corinthians 15:51-52)

For several years now, but more so lately, the soon return of the Lord Jesus Christ, occupies my mind almost constantly – hopefully not to the point that I am so heavenly minded that I am no earthly good. As a matter of fact, the prospect incites a sense of urgency within me to share, or better, to warn, the lost around me, especially my loved ones, of the menacing peril that looms ahead for those left behind when Jesus returns for His Bride, the Church. Anyone rejecting Christ, whether by choice or by ignorance, faces seven years of unimaginable horror on earth, until Jesus returns as King of Kings and Lord of Lords to claim His Kingdom on earth for 1000 years (Revelation 20). During that awful period of seven years, people will still have the opportunity to repent and follow Jesus, but they may have to pay for that choice with their lives.

For believers who share my anticipation, I wonder what our call to “come up hither” (Revelation 4:1) will be like? In the starting verse above, the Apostle Paul says that we, if we are not “asleep,” will “be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52).  The Greek word translated moment is atomos, from which we get our English word “atom,” and it signifies the smallest, indivisible amount of time. Paul further defines the “moment” as “the twinkling of an eye.” The twinkling of an eye is faster than “the blink of an eye” which is 100-400 milliseconds.[1] I read somewhere that the “twinkling of an eye” is the amount of time it takes for light to enter the eye, hit the retina, and reflect back out;[2] it is a ridiculously small amount of time.

Paul tells us this event takes place “at the last trump.” John the Revelator, who enjoyed a “sneak preview” of this future event, said, “the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither” (Revelation 4:1, emphasis mine). Will we hear an actual trumpet call and automatically understand that we are being called home? In another place Paul says that, “the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God” (1 Thessalonians 4:16, emphasis mine). Will everyone on earth hear the sound? Perhaps they will, but only those for whom the call is intended will understand the meaning. I recall that when Jesus called Paul into service, “the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man,” (Acts 9:7, emphasis mine). In another place Paul says, “they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me” (Acts 22:9, emphasis mine). The connotation here is that, even though they heard the sound, they did not hear the voice with understanding. The communication was intended solely for Paul and no one else. That is what I think will happen at the Last Trump. Those who are His “sheep” will hear and understand the voice of the Shepherd. The rest may hear something, but not know what it is.

When that call comes, “the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, emphasis mine). In the twinkling of an eye, the decayed bodies of all the saints who are “asleep” (i.e., dead) will be reconstituted, and they will burst forth from their graves and take flight to meet Jesus in the air. In that same instant, “we [who are alive] shall all be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51); in the twinkling of an eye, our bodies will be transformed from mortal to immortal. Will we feel it? What sensation will we experience? Suddenly all aches and pains will cease. Wrinkled skin will return to the firm supple skin of our youth. Grey hair will return to its former natural vibrancy. Heads of skin will be restored to their former glory – without the dandruff! I imagine myself in front of the mirror checking my “gig line.” I look down to check a button I missed, and when I look back up, I am staring at my 30-year old self with a full head of wavy hair! Then in the next moment, my clothes fall off as I pass right through the roof of my house. I look down and watch my house grow smaller and smaller as I zoom skyward like in a Star Wars movie. I look up and see Jesus standing there in space with open arms to welcome me, and I look around me and see millions of others wearing white robes like mine going the same direction I am traveling – toward Jesus. And no one is old. No one is disfigured. No one is bent, broken, or blemished in any way. All those I see are perfect creations like the first pair God made in the Garden of Eden. It will happen in the twinkling of an eye!

Not everyone on earth will go. Behind will be all those who rejected God’s free gift of salvation to face the horrors of hell on earth for the next seven years. Reader, if you have not asked Jesus to be your Savior, you will be included with those who are left behind. Do not let another day go by without asking Jesus to save you. Invite Him into your heart today. In the twinkling of an eye, that matter will be settled, and you can rest secured in His love. Do it now!

Notes:


[1]  “How Fast Is a Blink of an Eye?” http://sciencing.com/fast-blink-eye-5199669.html/, accessed 04/18/2017.

[2]  Question posted at https://math.stackexchange.com/questions/48664/how-long-would-it-take-for-light-to-go-through-a-human-eyeball-and-back-to-the-o/, accessed 04/18/2017.

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The King Is Coming!

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. (Zechariah 9:9)

Around 1,987 years ago on a Sunday afternoon (Mark 11:11), Jesus rode into Jerusalem as prophesied by the prophet Zechariah. The Gospel writer, Matthew, quotes Zachariah in part, “Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass” (Matthew 21:5, emphasis mine). Matthew conspicuously omits Zachariah’s description of the coming King as “just, and having salvation.” Why the omission? Matthew Henry comments on Zachariah 9:9:

“He is a righteous ruler; all his acts of government will be exactly according to the rules of equity, for he is just. 2. He is a powerful protector to all those that bear faith and true allegiance to him, for he has salvation; he has it in his power; he has it to bestow upon all his subjects. He is the God of salvation; treasures of salvation are in him. He is servatussaving himself (so some read it), rising out of the grave by his own power and so qualifying himself to be our Saviour.”[1] (Emphasis mine)

Perhaps Matthew’s omission (as directed by the Holy Spirit) was purposeful. Granted, Matthew wrote after the fact from a vantage point of hindsight, yet the omission retained the prophetic formula of immediate and future fulfillment. Jesus did something similar when He applied Isaiah’s prophecy to Himself. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18-19). He deliberately omitted the remainder of Isaiah’s prophecy: “and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn” (Isaiah 61:1-2).  Jesus fulfilled the first part of Isaiah’s prophecy at His first coming; “the day of vengeance of our God” will be fulfilled at His second coming when He will set up His millennial kingdom and “comfort all that mourn.”

In the same way, Jesus entered into Jerusalem as the coming King, “lowly [meek], and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass” (Zechariah 9:9). “He came unto his own, and his own received him not” (John 1:11). In a matter of days, the adoring crowd crying, “Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord” (John 12:13) would turn into a raging mob shouting, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him … We have no king but Caesar” (John 19:15). They took the King and nailed Him to a cross.

Three days later, He conquered death and once again walked on earth. After forty days (Acts 1:3), He ascended to His throne having “purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3). However, He is not done. There remains prophecy yet unfulfilled. Many still mourn. Injustice still reigns. The Lord has not executed His vengeance and His creation still needs salvation. There is yet more to come.

The prophets spoke of God reigning on the earth. His Messiah will rule the world from the throne of David in Jerusalem. Jesus promised to return. “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:2-3, emphasis mine). This same Gospel writer was granted the great privilege of seeing things to come. “And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God … And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God … And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS” (Revelation 19:1, 11-13, 15-16, emphasis mine).

He will once again enter the gates of Jerusalem, this time on a white horse as a conquering king. “And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south” (Zechariah 14:4, emphasis mine). What an awesome sight to behold!

Lately, I have been hearing many modern prophets suggesting that this year, 2017, will be the year that Christ will return to rescue His people from “the wrath of God” that is to come upon the earth. Their reasoning, from a biblical standpoint, is sound. All the ones I listen to are quick to issue the disclaimer that they are not setting dates. Jesus clearly stated, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matthew 24:36); so I respect that note of caution by these prognosticators. However, I sense, because of what I observe happening all around the world, that what they are predicting may be true. For the Church, the return of Christ has always been imminent, but it is truer today than ever before in the history of the Church. The King is coming! Jesus is coming very soon. Personally, I am looking for and anxiously awaiting His return.

Reader, you will meet Jesus very soon. The best way to meet Him is to be one of His own. Very soon, Jesus will return for His Bride, the Church, the collective body of all who have placed their trust in Him. When that day comes, all the powers of hell will be unleashed upon the world. No place will escape or be immune. You will still have the opportunity to repent when that time comes, but you will suffer tremendously for it. Why not give your life to Jesus now and avoid the horrors that are to come. All you need to do is confess your sin and recognize your need for Him. Ask Him to save you. Invite Him into your heart. Give Him first place in your life; make Him the Lord (the “Boss”) of your life, and trust that He will keep His promise. The King is coming, but this time He will not be meek and lowly. Are you ready to meet Him?

Notes:


[1] Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, note on Zechariah 9:9.

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The Trinity

There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ephesians 4:4-6)

The Christian doctrine of the Trinity is a hard concept to grasp, much less explain cogently. Explaining the Trinity becomes even more challenging when the inquisitor is ignorant of Christian tenets. I experienced such a challenge this week when I received an email from a Jew who was curious about the topic. His email follows:

I just visited in your site. I’m a 40yo Jew from Israel. I understand that you guys [ICR] are Christians. When I ran into this:

“The Creator of the universe is a triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. There is only one eternal and transcendent God, the source of all being and meaning, and He exists in three Persons, each of whom participated in the work of creation.”

I wanted to ask you a religious question. What is the meaning of triune God? Since for me there is only “one eternal God”

What follows is my response to him. It makes sense to me, but more importantly, I hope it made sense to him. Here goes …

Wow! That is a tough one! “Triune” is really a compound word: “Tri” meaning “three” and “une” meaning “union” or “one.” It refers to the Christian doctrine of the “Trinity.” As a Christian, I understand the doctrine, and I believe that it is taught in the Bible – both Old and New Testaments. It is a difficult concept to explain even for a Christian, and it is one that must be accepted by “faith” just as our belief in an Almighty, invisible God must be accepted by faith.

For me to continue, you may need to lay your kippah aside and let go of any presuppositions you may have. Try to listen to what I have to say objectively.

First of all, the word “Trinity” is found nowhere in the Bible; however, the concept is clearly taught in both Old and New Testaments. It is most clearly taught in the New Testament from which Christians developed the doctrine. You might want to keep in mind that Jesus of Nazareth was a Jew and He was faithful to all of the Mosaic Law (Torah). All the writers of the New Testament, except for perhaps Luke, were also Jews. The Gospel writer, Luke, author of the “Gospel of Luke” and the “Acts of the Apostles,” was a Greek, but because of his familiarity with the Jewish religion, he may have been a Jewish proselyte; however, we have no solid evidence for that one way or another. All of these, including Jesus, put forth the doctrine of the Trinity.

So just what is the Trinity? It is the concept of a triune God. We believe in One God, not three, as we have wrongly been accused by Jews, Muslims, and several neo-Christian cults (Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons). There is only One God revealed as three distinct persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

To help you better understand this idea, think of yourself as a “triune” being. You have a mind, body and soul/spirit. All three are required for you to live. If your mind dies, your body will eventually cease to function, your spirit will depart, and your body will die. If your body dies, your spirit departs and your mind ceases to function, and if your spirit departs, your body and mind will cease to function. You are “three persons,” yet, you are one. People see your body and recognize who you are, but they cannot discern what goes on in your mind. People know you, but they do not really “know” who you are entirely because the “real” you is that invisible mind and spirit. The mind plans, the spirit motivates and the body carries out the directions of the mind. Your mind is you, your physical body is you, and your spirit is you, yet you are one, indivisible person.

The Bible teaches us that God created man in His own image. “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Genesis 1:26-27), There are many aspects of God’s nature inherent in man (i.e. human beings), but the triune nature of man demonstrates the triune nature of God. As acknowledged before, God is One revealed in three persons. In trying to relate the triune nature of God with that of man, the Father could be compared to the “mind” that plans and controls all activity of the Godhead. The Holy Spirit is the energizing, motivating element that puts the Father’s plans in action, and Jesus is the body that does the physical work to carry out the Father’s plans. Of course, God is infinitely greater than His creation, but in this, at least in part, we can see a “family resemblance.”

We find the first “hint” of the triune nature of God in the very first verse of the Bible. בראשׁית ברא אלהים את השׁמים ואת הארץ׃ (Genesis 1:1) God, Elohim, is a plural, masculine noun; however, bara is a singular, masculine verb. On face value, this would be incorrect grammar, however, it shows the plurality of the One God. Some would argue that God was using the royal “We.” Others say that this is just a way of expressing the limitless nature of God. Both of those are reasonable and plausible arguments, however the verse that follows introduces a second element. והארץ היתה תהו ובהו וחשׁך על־פני תהום ורוח אלהים מרחפת על־פני המים׃  (Genesis 1:2) In this verse, the Spirit (rûach) is presented as separate from God (Elohim). Why the distinction? The writer (Who I believe is God) could have simply said, “and God moved upon the face of the waters” and left off the “Spirit.” Why confuse the issue? God is not a God of confusion, so the distinction is intentional. Add to that the “self-talk” in vv. 26-27 – “Let us make … in our image, after our likeness” – speaking in the plural, and then in the next verse we read, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him” – speaking in the singular.

That is just for starters. You find many places (which I cannot cover here) in the Old Testament (Torah) where the LORD (HaShem) puts His Spirit in men to accomplish some special task. You also find many instances of God appearing to men in physical form as “the Angel of the LORD.” The way you can see that this is God and no ordinary angel, is because “the Angel of the LORD” takes personal responsibility for His actions, or for what He promises to do, and He accepts the worship of humans. We know that seeing God in His full glory would bring death to a man, yet Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Samson’s parents, and others saw God in physical form and did not die. These were all examples of Jesus in His pre-incarnate form. So we see that in the Old Testament, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all represented, but all are One God working together in unison. The prophet Isaiah reveals the Trinity this way: “Come ye near unto me, hear ye this; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord GOD, and his Spirit, hath sent me” (Isaiah 48:16). In this verse, the Son is speaking, and He claims that He has spoken from the beginning, i.e., Creation (Genesis 1:1). The Son asserts that He is being sent by the Lord God (Father) and His Spirit (Holy Spirit). Here we see the Trinity represented in one Old Testament verse.

The writers of the New Testament constantly referred to the Old Testament in their teachings. This is why Christians should not discard the study of the Old Testament. Without the Old Testament, the New Testament makes no sense. Anyway, John the Apostle was Jesus’ cousin and also related to Caiaphas, the high priest at the crucifixion of Jesus. John begins his Gospel this way: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:1-3), “Word” in the Greek is logos, which is a very complex word that includes reason, wisdom, logic. All the wisdom of God is contained in that one word. John affirms that the Word existed in the “beginning” and he identifies the Word as God. In fact, “the Word was God” literally appears in the Greek as “God was the Word.” And even though the Word was God, the Word was “with God.” Isn’t that strange? However, it is the Word that created “all things,” and from Genesis 1:1 we know that God (Elohim) created all things. A few verses later, John clearly identifies “the Word:” “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” (John 1:14). In Genesis 1, we learn that God (the Word) made man in His image. In John 1, we learn that the Word (God) made himself in the image of man – God in human form. Jesus Himself said, “I and my Father are one. Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him” (John 10:30-31). Their reaction was understandable given their perspective.

This is your Messiah (and mine), who came to live as a man without sin, so that He could offer Himself up on the cross to make atonement for the sins of all men. You may well ask, if Jesus is God, then how could He die? Remember earlier when I described the triune nature of man? Do you recall that I never referred to the spirit as dying? Rather, I referred to the spirit as “departing.” The flesh dies, but the spirit lives on. When Jesus died, His body was offered as the perfect sinless sacrifice that only could atone for all the sins of man, but the Father and the Holy Spirit (Elohim) did not die. However, three days later, the Spirit returned to Jesus’ lifeless body, He rose again, ascended back to His throne on high, and one day, very soon, your Messiah (and mine) will return again to establish His royal throne – the throne of David – in His Holy Temple in Jerusalem. I can hardly wait!

I know this was a lot of information. If nothing else, I hope I helped you to understand the Christian concept of the Trinity. It is all through the Torah, but as I said to start, you may need to set aside your kippah (i.e. traditions) to see it. If you would like to read more on this, here are a couple of articles that may be helpful to you:

http://www.icr.org/article/wonderful-truth-trinity

http://www.icr.org/article/20941

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Jesus’ Seven Discourses in John (3)

john5_19-40-authority-of-jesus

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. (John 5:24)

As Jesus returned to Jerusalem for the celebration of Purim,[1] Chapter Five opens with the account of the invalid by the Pool of Bethesda who Jesus healed. The healing once again stirred up the “Jews” who concerned themselves more with His breaking of the of the Sabbath than with the man’s welfare. The miraculous healing of the lifelong invalid demonstrated Jesus’ divine nature, and “Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:28; Luke 6:5). “And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day” (John 5:16). Unwilling to let an opportunity slip away, Jesus took time to instruct them on the source of His authority.

“Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise” (John 5:19, emphasis mine).Christians often get accused of believing in three gods because we hold a Trinitarian view of God stating that we believe in One God manifested in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God’s triune nature challenges the limits of our finite minds, and no definition devised by man can fully describe that nature. A weak comparison might be made from the nature of man considering that man was created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Like God, man possesses a triune nature composed of mind, body, spirit. The mind controls man’s activities. The body carries out the mind’s commands, and the spirit energizes and motivates man’s activities. Although often thought of as separate entities, the mind, body, and spirit must exist in unison for man to exist.

Knowing that Jesus, the Son, is fully God in every way, His statement sounds strange to our ears. He seems to say that the Father is a different person, separate and apart from Him. After all, when describing our own actions, we would not say something like, “the body can do nothing of itself but what it sees the mind do,” even though, in a certain sense, that is an accurate description of all our actions (unless we have some sort of neurological disorder that causes our body to act contrary to the mind’s control).

However, Jesus’ explanation required a third person description because to the Jews, God was wholly spirit and transcendent. They could not conceive of God in human form or that God could have a human “son” – a confusion that continues on to this day. “Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God” (John 5:18, emphasis mine). The Father, like our mind, determines what actions He wants to carry out, and the Son, like our body, carries out the will of the Father.“I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me” (John 5:30, emphasis mine).“The conclusion from our Lord’s argument is: If I have broken the Sabbath, so has God also; for I can do nothing but what I see him doing. He is ever governing and preserving; I am ever employed in saving.”[2]

Additionally, life comes from God. “For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will” (John 5:21). The word “quicken” is an archaic English word meaning, “to make alive.” The O.T. records at least two instances in which the Father raised the dead: the widow’s son through Elijah (1 Kings 22:17) and the Shunamite’s son through Elisha (2 Kings 4:32-35). The Son also raised the dead: the ruler’s daughter (Mark 5:35-42), the widow’s son at Nain (Luke 7:11-15), and Lazarus, at Bethany (John 11:14-44).“Here our Lord points out his sovereign power and independence; he gives life according to his own will – not being obliged to supplicate for the power by which it was done, as the prophets did; his own will being absolute and sufficient in every case.”[3] Jesus maintains this authority for all time. “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation” (John 5:28-29, emphasis mine). Jesus’ promise was meant for the near and distant future. “And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many” (Matthew 27:52-53, emphasis mine). There is still a time yet to come. “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, emphasis mine).

There is yet one final resurrection. You do not want to be part of that resurrection. “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell [i.e. the grave] delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works” (Revelation 20:12-13, emphasis mine). Jesus, as God, has the power to give eternal life, but you obtain it in this life.

Jesus judges based on how man treats Him. “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him” (John 5:22-23, emphasis mine). What we do with Jesus in this life determines the outcome of our eternal life. “For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man” (John 5:26-27, emphasis mine). God put on human flesh (John 1:14) so that man could relate to Him. “He is the Son of man.” “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared [i.e. explained, demonstrated, exegeted]him” to us (John 1:18, emphasis mine). We cannot know God the Father better than how we know God the Son. Therefore, when we reject the Son, we reject the Father; consequently, we reject eternal life.

Jesus now gets to the heart of the matter. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live”  (John 5:24-25, emphasis mine). The “dead” Jesus refers to here are those who are “dead in their sins.” “Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened [i.e. made alive] us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)” (Ephesians 2:5)

The Jews needed proof.“By what authority doest thou these things?and who gave thee this authority?” (Matthew 21:23).  They may not have verbalized those sentiments at this time, but they must have been thinking them. “If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true. There is another that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true” (John 5:31-32,). The law required the testimony of at least two witnesses to prove a matter (Deuteronomy 17:6; 19:15).  Jesus offered up John the Baptist as a witness, but the Jews rejected John’s message (John 5:33-35). Even so, Jesus offered a greater witness – His own works. “But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me” (John 5:36, emphasis mine). In addition, the Father bore witness of Him through the works that He performed (John 5:37-38). Nicodemus attested to this: “Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him” (John 3:2, emphasis mine). Furthermore, the Scriptures testified concerning Him. “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39, emphasis mine).

What more proof is needed? Jesus is Lord over the Sabbath. Jesus is Lord over Creation. He is the Lord and giver of life. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:18-20, emphasis mine). Creation itself gives sufficient testimony to remove any excuse not to believe; but God provided a greater witness through the Son of God, Son of Man Who, if rejected,will judge the unbeliever guilty without excuse.

Notes:


[1]  “Jesus Seven Signs in John (3)” https://erniecarrasco.com/2016/11/06/jesus-seven-signs-in-john-3/

[2]Adam Clark’s Commentary on the Bible Note on John 5:19.

[3]Ibid, on John 5:21.

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Damascus and Doomsday

Coming soon….

Here we are at the end of November, 2016 and prophetic possibilities are popping all around us. Israel is in the process of –as usual– being pressured as part  of trying to divide God’s…

Source: Damascus and Doomsday

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