Category Archives: Second Coming of Christ

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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Rosh HaShanah

feast-of-trumpets

Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation.  (Leviticus 23:24)

Today, October 3, 2016, is Rosh HaShanah, the first month and day of the Jewish civil year. It is the seventh month (Tishri) of the ecclesiastical year which begins on Nissan 1, sometime in early spring.

Rosh HaShanah is also known as the Feast of Trumpets, and it is celebrated by the daily sounding of trumpets leading up to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, ten days later. This year, that day begins on the evening of October 11, 2016.

Most Christians are unfamiliar with the Jewish feast days that are observed in keeping with the Law given to Moses on Mt. Sinai. These are not your run-of-the-mill festivals. They were ordained by God and are collectively known as the “Feasts of the Lord;” therefore, they are solemn observations. The first four feasts occur in the spring beginning with Passover, and the last three take place in the fall ending with Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles (or “Booths”).

For the Christian, these feasts offer a picture of Christ. Jesus “fleshed out” the first four feasts at His first advent. Arguably, He has yet to fulfill the final three. Consider the following and how these feasts represent the ministry of Christ:

  1. Passover – Jesus is crucified as the Lamb of God taking away the sins of the world.
  2. Unleavened Bread – Leaven represents sin. Jesus, with the sins of the world on Him, is removed from the “house” (Jerusalem) and buried outside the city walls in a tomb.
  3. First Fruits – This feast celebrated the “promise” of the coming harvest. It was observed by waving the first sprouts of the fields before the Lord. Jesus rose from the dead on this day with the promise of a great harvest to follow.
  4. Feast of Shavuot (Pentecost) – Fifty days after First Fruits celebrated the barley harvest. Jesus ascended into heaven 40 days after First Fruits, and 10 days later the Holy Spirit fell upon “the Church” – the disciples – and 3000 souls were saved that day (Acts 2:41) – truly a great “harvest.”
  5. Rosh HaShanah – The Feasts of Trumpets was a “Holy Convocation” and a gathering in of all of God’s people. Christians may see this as the “Rapture” where “the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
  6. Yom Kippur – The Day of Atonement was the day when the people of God repented of past sins and the High Priest entered the Most Holy Place, the Holy of Holies, into the very presence of God to pour the blood of the sacrifice for the whole nation on the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark contained the tablets of God’s Law that was violated, and the blood covered the infraction. Each Christian, being a “priest” (Revelation 1:6; 5:10; 20:6), now enters into the very presence of God offering the blood that was shed for them by Christ. Through His blood, our sins are covered, i.e. atoned for.
  7. Sukkot – The Feast of Tabernacles was a seven-day celebration remembering the time when God’s people were wandering in the wilderness dwelling in tents. Now they have come into the Promised Land and live in permanent dwellings. For the Christian, who are in the world but not of the world (John 17:14-16), this represents Christ’s reign on earth as King of Kings and Lord of Lords beginning with His millennial kingdom on earth and beyond into eternity.

I’ve said this before. Each year around time, I start looking up and listening for the trumpet to sound. Yes, I know that the Rapture can occur at any time, but to me it seems logical that it would be consistent with God’s calendar. Of course, God is not obligated to follow my line of reasoning. At any rate, this time of year causes me to pray ever more earnestly that God would call us home and fix this really messed up world once and for all.

However, at the same time, it causes me even greater concern because I know that those who are left behind will literally experience hell on earth for the next seven years, not to mention for eternity. I have two sons with their wives that are lost and hell bound. My youngest son has two daughters, my granddaughters, that by now have reached the age of accountability. My heart aches for them knowing what is ahead unless they repent and turn to Christ as their personal Savior. I have nieces and nephews and other relatives who are lost. I have friends and acquaintances who are doomed to an eternity in hell. That is not a pleasant thought. So, on the one hand I long to go and be with the Lord right now, but on the other hand, I am deeply concerned for those that will be left behind. The longer the Lord delays His return, the more time and opportunity they have to alter their course.

The Lord 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. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. (2 Peter 3:9-10, emphasis mine)

On the other hand, the longer He delays the more time for unbelievers to scoff: “And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” (2 Peter 3:4).

Even so, come Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:20)

Shanah Tovah!

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If My People

solomons-temple

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)

Fear hangs like a dark, menacing storm cloud over our nation. Insecurity saps the courage of our people to venture into the unknown. Anger and hostility ignite flames of anarchy in our streets and everyone yearns for a savior. Our nation is deeply troubled. Anyone with any sense of awareness can see it. Many feel helpless to stem the tide, while many others tenaciously cling to the hope that the downward spiral can be arrested and reversed through a spiritual awakening and revival. The latter frequently quote, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14, emphasis mine).

The passage quoted intends for “God’s people” to collectively storm the gates of heaven petitioning God on behalf of our wicked and sinful nation. The petition is conditional and incumbent upon “God’s people,” not the general populous, but who are God’s people and where are they?

Before I respond to that question, I need to restate what have emphasized in the past concerning this particular verse in Second Chronicles that is so often quoted. Regarding the United States of America, the verse is taken out of context and misapplied. The Second Chronicles begins with Solomon’s ascension to the throne of Israel and the building of the first temple in Jerusalem. At the completion of Temple, the priests placed the Ark of the Covenant in its place in the Holy of Holies (2 Chronicles 5:1-12) and “the glory of God” in the form of a cloud that filled the temple in such a way that the priests could not minister in the place (vv. 13-14). As the dedication service continued, Solomon prayed and asked God to “Hearken therefore unto the supplications of thy servant, and of thy people Israel, which they shall make toward this place: hear thou from thy dwelling place, even from heaven; and when thou hearest, forgive” (2 Chronicles 6:21, emphasis mine). Solomon’s plea for God’s forgiveness goes beyond individual sins and extends to the sins of nation collectively.

And if thy people Israel be put to the worse before the enemy, because they have sinned against thee; and shall return and confess thy name, and pray and make supplication before thee in this house; Then hear thou from the heavens, and forgive the sin of thy people Israel, and bring them again unto the land which thou gavest to them and to their fathers. When the heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; yet if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou dost afflict them; Then hear thou from heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants, and of thy people Israel, when thou hast taught them the good way, wherein they should walk; and send rain upon thy land, which thou hast given unto thy people for an inheritance … If they return to thee with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their captivity, whither they have carried them captives, and pray toward their land, which thou gavest unto their fathers, and toward the city which thou hast chosen, and toward the house which I have built for thy name: Then hear thou from the heavens, even from thy dwelling place, their prayer and their supplications, and maintain their cause, and forgive thy people which have sinned against thee. (2 Chronicles 6:24-27, 38-39, emphasis mine)

Notice that Solomon’s request specifies God’s people (Israel), the Temple (this house), Jerusalem (the city), and the nation (their land). “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. And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the LORD upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever” (2 Chronicles 7:1-3, emphasis mine).

Obviously, God approved of the Temple and the offerings presented there. The dedication of the Temple took place in the midst of the Fall Feasts. Scripture tells us that it was “in the seventh month” (2 Chronicles 5:3). The Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Ha Shanna) was celebrated on the first day of the seventh month (Leviticus 23:24). Then on the tenth day of the month, they observed the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur – Leviticus 23:27). That was followed by the Feast of Tabernacles (Succoth) fifteen days later (Leviticus 23:34), which was celebrated for seven days. Solomon dedicated the Temple on the eighth day (2 Chronicles 7:9), and the celebration lasted through the Day of Atonement for seven days. The dedication ended in time to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles, which lasted an additional seven days (1 Kings 8:65-66). “And on the three and twentieth day of the seventh month he sent the people away into their tents, glad and merry in heart for the goodness that the LORD had shewed unto David, and to Solomon, and to Israel his people.” (2 Chronicles 7:10).

It is in this context that God responds.

And the LORD appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for an house of sacrifice. If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place. For now have I chosen and sanctified this house, that my name may be there for ever: and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually.  (2 Chronicles 7:12-16, emphasis mine)

As specific as Solomon’s prayer was, so was God’s response. Note that God is responding to Solomon’s prayer: “I have heard thy prayer.” Solomon’s prayer request focused on the Temple, Jerusalem, and the “nation” of Israel as noted above. In response, God says that He has “chosen this place to myself.” His people which are called by His name is the nation of Israel collectively. If they sin, which they did and which resulted in expatriation for the northern  kingdom and Babylonian captivity for Judah, and they humble themselves, repent and seek God, then He will heal their land. Note also that the prayer must either originate in that place or be directed toward that place. We see this exact scenario when Daniel recognizes that the 70-year captivity had been met (Daniel 9:1-19).

Christians these days have adopted 2 Chronicles 7:14 as their own and applied it to what is currently going on in the United States of America. They rightly claim we are “God’s people.” You will not arouse an argument from me on that point. The New Testament repeatedly teaches that we are the children of God. “But 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). However, the claim ends right there. Where is God’s Temple right now? “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). What borders mark the land of God’s people? Americans claim the United States. Are there no Christians in Australia, Canada, China, France, Great Britain, etc.? What of all the Christians being martyred in the Middle East and Africa, are thy not God’s people, and do they not have the right to intercede on behalf of their land?  God’s “grafted in” people have no land here on earth. “For our conversation [i.e. citizenship] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).

It seems somewhat hypocritical that many Christians today want to reject the Old Testament Law claiming that we are “under grace” – those things no longer apply – and yet will take this verse, completely out of context and force it apply to 21st Century America. Sorry, folks, it will not work. There is still a nation of Israel with whom God is dealing. To date, the majority of Israelis are secular. Many are agnostics or atheists. There exists a small minority of “completed Jews” in the land, but with laws against proselytizing, their numbers remain small. Israel exists to show God’s faithfulness to His promises, and in the end, those who survive the Great Tribulation that is coming, “they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn” (Zechariah 12:10), and they will be saved.

So, what can the Christian get out of 2 Chronicles 7:14? Taken in context, we can rest in the assurance that God does hear the prayers of His people, and He does answer according to His will.

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