Tag Archives: Jesus

A King In Israel

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)

In my last article, I recounted the early history of Israel.[1] The period of the Judges lasted between 450 and 500 years (my estimation). The Book of Judges ends with this sad assessment: “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). Israel finally got a king to rule over them. By popular consent, God allowed them to choose a king for themselves, Saul, a Benjamite.[2] But Saul was not the king God had in mind for them. From the time Israel entered Egypt and prior to their enslavement, God had already determined that the king would come from the tribe of Judah.[3] This king’s reign would be eternal. “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).

Saul was a miserable failure as king. Only two years into his reign, he disobeyed God by doing things his own way rather than waiting on God’s direction. God took the kingdom away from Saul, “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king” (1 Samuel 15:23).

Not long after, Samuel the prophet anointed God’s choice for Israel’s king, a young shepherd boy, a young man of the tribe of Judah and resident of Bethlehem, David, the son of Jesse.[4] During David’s reign, Israel followed the Lord and the Lord helped David conquer most of the land God had promised to Israel. After 40 years on the throne, David’s son Solomon became king, and the spiritual state of the nation slowly started to degenerate again, in part due to the king’s own practice of marrying pagan women and bringing their pagan worship into the land and even participating in their practices himself.[5] It is said of Solomon that he was the wisest man alive, but his behavior brings that into question. However, toward the end of his life, he finally did wise up. He wrote, “Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity … Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:8, 13-14).

Regardless, the damage was done. The leaven already permeated the loaf. Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, rejected the advice of his old advisors, listening rather to his young cronies. This ended up dividing the kingdom with ten tribes to the north and only Judah and Benjamin remaining of David’s kingdom.[6] Both kingdoms soon fell into idolatry once more, Israel (the Northern Kingdom) first followed by Judah (the Southern Kingdom) later. Israel was conquered by the Assyrians and displaced from the land never to return. Judah fell to the Babylonians and was carried away to Babylonian captivity. After 70 years in Babylonian captivity, the Medo-Persian Empire under Cyrus allowed the Jews to return to their land to rebuild Jerusalem and their Temple.[7] However, Israel never really became an independent state again. They were always under some other nation’s thumb. For over 400 years, they longed for their promised Messiah of whom Daniel foretold, “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times” (Daniel 9:25). The day would come when their king would come and throw off the oppressive yoke of Gentile nations and make Israel great again, as in the days of David and Solomon.

After 400 years, nothing had changed. Then one Sunday morning their long-awaited king made His entrance. However, they did not recognize Him. They were expecting a strong military general that would overthrow the Romans and set up a kingdom equal to or greater than that of Solomon. Perhaps the expected king would expand their borders to include all the lands God had promised.[8] But rather than ride in on a white stallion with a flashing sword and dazzling armor, Jesus rode in on an unbroken donkey’s colt.[9] Rather than the pomp and pageantry of a conqueror’s parade, Jesus was greeted by the cheers of the poor and downcast. “And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest” (Matthew 21:9); and “Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest” (Luke 19:38). The religious leaders, those who should have recognized His presentation, considering the specificity of Daniel’s prophecy,[10] despised the thought of this lowly Galilean being king and rejected His claims to deity. “The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after him” (John 12:19). “And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples” (Luke 19:39). Had these kept silent, Jesus answered them, the very rocks would cry out in proclamation of His kingship.[11]

A few days later, their rejection would be complete as Pilate presented Jesus to them, “Behold your king!”[12] “But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar” (John 19:15, emphasis mine). Rejecting their true King, they preferred rather to remain under the thumb of their oppressors.

This came as no surprise to Jesus. Earlier He confided in His disciples, “Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour” (John 12:27, emphasis mine). His kingdom, at this time, was not an earthly one. His kingdom was not for the Jews alone, but “that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Before going to the cross, He made this promise. “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).

His disciples were naturally curious as to when that time would be. “And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3, emphasis mine). Jesus gave many indicators of His return at “the end of the world,” but He cautioned, “All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:8). Jesus spoke of wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes in different places, famines, and pestilences.

All these things are taking place today. The naysayers point out that these things have occurred throughout history. Peter foresaw such “scoffers.” “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 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 3:3-4). The truth is that these things have never occurred with such frequency and with such unity. The convergence of all of these signs is “unprecedented” (to borrow a term in frequent use these days). Consider the pestilence the world experiences today, the Wuhan virus. This bug has brought the world to a standstill and threatens not only the lives but the livelihoods of millions of people. The world’s economies are on the verge of collapse, and this is but one of the signs of which Jesus spoke.

The time is near. Soon there will be a King in Israel and His Kingdom is forever. Jesus will reign on earth for 1000 years.[13] The world seeks a one-world government ruled by fallible men. Jesus will bring a one-world government, “and he shall rule them with a rod of iron …” (Revelation 19:15). After that, in a recreated heaven and earth, He will reign forever in the “New Jerusalem.”[14]

Are you ready to live with King Jesus in His eternal kingdom? If you are not sure of your eternal destiny, read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  “No King In Israel” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2020/04/01/no-king-in-israel/

[2]  1 Samuel 10

[3]  Genesis 49:8-12

[4]  1 Samuel 16

[5]  1 Kings 11:1-8

[6]  1 Kings 12

[7]  2 Chronicles 36:22-23

[8]  Genesis 15:18-21; Exodus 6:4; Numbers 34:1-15; Joshua 1:4

[9]  Mark 11:2

[10]  Daniel 9:24-26

[11]  Luke 19:40

[12]  John 19:14

[13]  Revelation 20

[14]  Revelation 21

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No King In Israel

In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes. (Judges 21:25)

Thirty years after entering the Promised Land, Joshua died[1] without having accomplished that task God assigned the children of Israel, i.e., to rid the land of all its inhabitants. Even though God promised, “Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast” (Joshua 1:3-4). Before entering the Promised Land, Moses encouraged Joshua, “And the LORD, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed” (Deuteronomy 31:8). Joshua further encouraged the people, “Remember the word which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, saying, The LORD your God hath given you rest, and hath given you this land” (Joshua 1:13). The land was theirs for that taking. God had given it to them. They had only to “be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest” (Joshua 1:9).

Accounts differ about the time it took for the “conquest” of the land. Joshua 18-19 records the dividing of the “inheritance” which took place seven to eight years after they crossed the Jordan.[2] In the process of conquering the land, the children of Israel made some compromises that came back to bite them,[3] and they became battle-weary of fighting giants even though God did most of the fighting for them.

Joshua was getting old, and God told him so.[4] He was 40 years old when he first entered Canaan to spy out the land.[5] God punished the children of Israel for their rebellion and unbelief by making them wander in the desert for 40 years. So by the time he entered the Promised Land, Joshua was already 80 years old. At the end of his life, Joshua was 110 years old[6] making his time in the land 30 years. In all that time, Israel failed to take the land God had given them. In that time, they forgot God’s encouragement not to fear. Joshua’s own tribe, Ephraim, complained, “And the children of Joseph [Ephraim and Manasseh] said, The hill is not enough for us: and all the Canaanites that dwell in the land of the valley have chariots of iron, both they who are of Bethshean and her towns, and they who are of the valley of Jezreel” (Joshua 17:16). This was only seven or eight years after seeing all that God had done in the near past and now they feared the giants and their “chariots of iron”! And Joshua spake unto the house of Joseph, even to Ephraim and to Manasseh, saying, Thou art a great people, and hast great power: thou shalt not have one lot only: But the mountain shall be thine; for it is a wood, and thou shalt cut it down: and the outgoings of it shall be thine: for thou shalt drive out the Canaanites, though they have iron chariots, and though they be strong” (Joshua 17:17-18). However, they did not complete the task, choosing rather to live among the Canaanites.

Without taking inventory, much of the land God “gave” Israel remained unconquered and worse, they failed to dispel the Canaanites that lived in the land contented rather to dwell among the pagans, something God had warned against.[7]

Joshua died “And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel. And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim: And they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the LORD to anger” (Judges 2:10-12). It was not long, perhaps 40-70 years, and they forgot all about God.

By my estimation, the period of the Judges lasted about 467 years after the “conquest” of the land. In that time God would punish them for their idolatry by instigating their Canaanite neighbors against them. They would cry out to God, and God would send a “judge” to deliver them. Some of those “judges” were not all that upstanding. For example, Gideon, after defeating the Midianites, erected a golden ephod in his city, “and all Israel went thither a whoring after it: which thing became a snare unto Gideon, and to his house” (Judges 8:27). Then there was the womanizing Samson, a Nazarite,[8] who killed a lion with his bare hands and later ate honey out of the carcass of the animal and shared it with his parents.[9] Touching dead animals violated the Mosaic Law[10], especially for a Nazarite.

The Book of Judges is a tragic history of Israel’s constant fall into idolatry and their rejection of God. The history ends with a sad account of a Levite that traveled to Bethlehem to retrieve his concubine (not wife) that had been unfaithful to him.[11] The woman had fled to her father’s house and the father was happy to entertain the Levite for several days before dismissing him to return with his concubine. They left late in the afternoon arriving at Jebus (Jerusalem) as it was getting dark. A man offered them lodging for the night and while they were there, some “sons of Belial” (worthless fellows) of the tribe of Benjamin came asking for the traveler so they might have sex with him. The man of the house begged them not to do such a wicked thing and offered them rather his daughter and the Levite’s concubine. The men settled for the concubine and raped her all night long. In the morning, the Levite found her dead at the doorstep. In anger, he took up his concubine and carried her body home. When he got home, he cut her body up in twelve pieces and sent the dismembered body to all the tribes of Israel. That incited all the tribes of Israel to come against Benjamin to seek a settlement for the wrong done. However, Benjamin would not turn over the violators and refused to repent. The dispute ended in civil war and the near destruction of the tribe of Benjamin. Out of 25,100 fighting men of Benjamin, only 600 escaped alive. The rest of Israel mourned the desolation of Benjamin and the possibility of losing one of Israel’s tribes. The other tribes had sworn not to give any of their daughters to the Benjamites because of their wickedness, but their complete annihilation was inconceivable. Their resolution was to have something like a Sadie Hawkins dance where they permitted the Benjamites to come and kidnap their daughters. Sad, but true, and “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).

Toward the end of the period of the Judges comes the account of Ruth, a young Moabitess that lost her husband, Malon (meaning “sickly”) and returned with her widowed mother-in-law, Naomi, to Bethlehem. There she met Boaz, who was Naomi’s “kinsman-redeemer.” By law and by custom, Boaz was obligated to marry Ruth and “raise up seed” to his deceased next of kin, Malon. This he willingly did. As we read the account, Boaz was smitten with Ruth when he first laid eyes on her. Anyway, Boaz married Ruth, and she became the great grandmother of King David.[12] More than that, she entered the lineage of King Jesus.

Israel’s history is one of constant rebellion against God, but it is also a tribute to God’s patience, faithfulness, and love in spite of our rebellion and rejection. Beginning with the Fall, God had a plan for man’s redemption.[13] I think about our nation. This year marks 400 years since the landing of the Pilgrims on Plymouth Rock. Are we any different than the Israelites? Think of all God has given us. Think of all His blessings to our nation, and think of how we have rejected Him. No, we are no different. The Wuhan bug that threatens our lives and our economy has us hiding in our dens afraid to come outside for fear of catching Covod-19. Some say this is a punishment from God. Some hope that it will bring revival to our land. However, I have serious doubts about that. Remember how church attendance spiked when many feared the end of the world from Y2K? Remember how church attendance jumped after 9-ll? Those “revivals” were short-lived. We cannot even attend church services now, yet I know attendance at “cyber church” is at an all-time high. Praise the Lord! Some are being saved, however, once this is all behind us, things will return to normal and our nation will return its own form of idolatry – professional sports, entertainment of all sorts, the worship of money and material things, etc.

We are no different than the children of Israel. However, our God, is the same God of Israel. He is patient, faithful, and loving, and His plan is nearing its completion. Consider the world-wide effect of this pestilence. Think about the increased number and intensity of earthquakes in different places on the planet. Have you heard about the swarms of locust devastating crops in Africa and moving north? These are just some of the signs Jesus gave concerning the “end of days.” Soon Jesus will return and Eden will be restored. Are you ready to meet King Jesus? If not, visit my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  Joshua 24:29

[2]  “The Conquest of Canaan” – https://www.thesacredcalendar.com/book-of-joshua-conquest-of-canaan/

[3]  Unsanctioned (by God) alliances (Joshua 9)

[4]  Joshua 13:1

[5]  Numbers 13:8,16

[6]  Joshua 24:29

[7]  Deuteronomy 7:2-4

[8]  Numbers 6:2

[9]  Judges 14:5-9

[10]  Leviticus 5:2

[11]  Judges 19-21

[12]  Ruth 4:17-22

[13]  Genesis 3:15

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Wuhan Bug

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)

It saturates the news media ad nauseam. Of course, I refer to the Wuhan virus, aka coronavirus, aka covid-19 virus. The politically correct object to the association of the new bug with Wuhan China claiming that the term is racist and xenophobic. They protest so loudly that now the Chinese have taken up the outcry refusing to take responsibility for the pandemic.

However, the protest is misplaced since the source of the virus is Wuhan China. When news first broke, it was reported that the virus escaped from a bioresearch lab in Wuhan. Due to the mishap, “the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology released a new directive titled: ‘Instructions on strengthening biosecurity management in microbiology labs that handle advanced viruses like the novel coronavirus.’”[1] Since then, the media have quashed the story choosing rather to go with Chinese propaganda that the virus originated in Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan.[2] Supposedly, this coronavirus resides in the digestive tract of certain bats sold in the market, and it probably contaminated the meat through improper cleaning. At least, that’s the story.

The Wuhan lab is the only lab in China that handles “advanced viruses like the novel coronavirus.”[3] “Novel” suggests something new, something never seen before. You can read the New York Post article already noted (below) and draw your own conclusions, but I have my own suspicions. That lab serves no other purpose than to develop biological weapons for the Chinese military. To confirm my suspicion, following the escape of the virus, “the People’s Liberation Army’s top expert in biological warfare, a Maj. Gen. Chen Wei, was dispatched to Wuhan at the end of January to help with the effort to contain the outbreak.”[4] The Chinese genetically modified this virus to do what it does, and it got away from them. That explains why they refused help from the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Face it, the Chinese have no regard for human life. Their only interest is world dominance. The Chinese are not the only ones that have such goals. All Godless countries harbor the same desires. The Wuhan virus is just one of those “secret weapons” that got away from them.

Surely the reader has heard much about Covid-19. There is a lot of speculation about it because it is novel and our researchers are working day and night to get a handle on it. What is insidious about this virus is that a person can be infected with the Wuhan bug and not show any symptoms for up to 14 days. In the meantime, the carrier can infect others unknowingly. For this reason, the virus can spread rapidly as evidenced by the rapid spread of the pandemic around the world. While currently, the Wuhan bug is less prevalent than the flu, it is almost four times as deadly, especially for the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.

The panic caused by the Wuhan virus has resulted in some irrational actions taken by many here in the United States. President Trump wisely shut down travel to and from areas with widespread infections. He has been criticized by those on the left for this action. On the other hand, those on the left, like the leaders of Dallas County, have taken extreme measures by imposing a limit on large gatherings to fewer than 500 attendees. This in effect shuts down churches with congregations of over 500 from holding worship services. To be fair, the edict affects any large gatherings such as sporting events and concerts. People everywhere are cleaning out grocery store shelves by buying out toilet paper, disinfectant supplies, medicines, etc. as if preparing for Armageddon!

The fact is that one is relatively safe as long as one has not traveled to infected areas abroad or come in contact with someone who has. Otherwise, the same measures taken to prevent the flu are sufficient to prevent this disease.

Christians, of all people, should be the ones with “sound minds” and not react out of fear. That this pandemic has spread around the world so rapidly should not come as a surprise to us either. Jesus told us that such things would come in the last days just prior to His return. Jesus said, “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places” (Matthew 24:7, emphasis mine). By the way, have you heard about the biblical swarms of locusts that have devastated crops in the Middle East and Africa and are moving toward Europe? This can lead to famines. And the Coronavirus qualifies as “pestilences.” And according to Jesus, there’s more to come. He said, “All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:8, emphasis mine).

In Matthew 24, the “signs” of the last days that Jesus gave referred to the “great tribulation,”[5] i.e., the seven years prior to His return. We are not yet living in those times, but the fact that we see these things happening now should alert us to the proximity of that event.

The Christian who has placed his life in Jesus’ hands should be ready at any moment to hear the Savior say, “Come up here!”[6] To be ready means to actively tell others about salvation through Jesus Christ while time remains. At any moment, Jesus can call us home either by the Rapture or by the Wuhan virus. Either way, we have a great reward waiting for us. But, what about your friend or a loved one? Are they ready? If not, what are you doing about it?

Reader, if you don’t know Jesus, the Wuhan virus is the least of your worries. Why not give your heart to Jesus right now. Read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  “Don’t buy China’s story: The coronavirus may have leaked from a lab,” New York Post, February 22, 2020 — https://nypost.com/2020/02/22/dont-buy-chinas-story-the-coronavirus-may-have-leaked-from-a-lab/

[2]  “2019–20 coronavirus pandemic” — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2019%E2%80%9320_coronavirus_pandemic

[3]  New York Post, February 22, 2020.

[4]  Ibid.

[5]  Matthew 24:21

[6]  Revelation 4:1

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Suffering

We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; (2 Corinthians 4:8-9)

The Sunday school lesson I taught this morning, based in 2 Corinthians 4, asked, “How can I honor God in my suffering?” Who likes to suffer? Who wants to suffer? The title of the lesson congers up all kinds of images of suffering. We might suffer due to a loss of work. We could suffer from loss of health. We can suffer from the loss of a loved one or the breakup of a marriage. We suffer when our children go astray.

Life necessarily includes a certain amount of suffering, and while the manner in which we handle our suffering can produce a testimony that honors God, that is not exactly what Paul had in mind when he penned this passage to the church in Corinth. Paul sets himself as an example of suffering, but not in the way we might think. Let’s examine the passage more closely.

(2 Corinthians 4:7)  But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

What treasure to which Paul refers? It is a mystery veiled in the Old Testament to which the Jews were and still are blinded (2 Corinthians 3:14-18). At the beginning of Chapter 4, Paul explains that he has the task of unveiling the mystery (2 Corinthians 4:1) to the Jew first and also to the Gentiles (Romans 1:16). “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost. In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4). The “lost” cannot understand the Gospel because it is “spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). Of this treasure, Paul says,  “For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Corinthians 4:5). He is compelled to preach, “For God, … hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face [πρόσωπον – prosopon — in the presence] of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).

This treasure is kept in “earthen vessels.” By this Paul is referring to his physical body. “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7). The problem with “earthen vessels” – clay pots – is that they are fragile and easily broken. Consider the Fall. “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons” (Genesis 3:6-7). Man sinned resulting in physical and spiritual death and a curse upon God’s perfect creation.

Why place such a great treasure in such weak containers? When submitted to God, these fragile clay pots make is so “that the excellency of the power may be of God.” In that way, God receives the glory “and not of us.” Having this treasure hidden within comes at a cost. Paul, referring to himself as “we,” explains.

(2 Corinthians 4:8-9)  We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;

These two verses demonstrate that Paul suffered for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. A close examination of some key words makes this clear. The word translated “troubled” (θλίβω — thlibo) means to be “pressed, squeezed” – as a grape in a wine press. Yet, Paul is not “distressed” (στενοχωρέω — stenochoreo) meaning “crushed.” He is “perplexed” (ἀπορέω — aporeo) seeming “to have no way out;” “to be at a loss;” “to be without resources,” but not in “despair” (ἐξαπορέομαι — exaporeomai), that is, “to be utterly at a loss; or utterly destitute.” As long as God grants us breath, we can take comfort knowing that God will never abandon us. The psalmist says, “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread” (Psalm 37:25).

Paul states that he has been “persecuted” (διώκω – dioko), that is. “made to run or flee,” but not “forsaken” (ἐγκαταλείπω — egkataleipo), which means “to leave behind, abandon, desert.” He has been “cast down” (καταβάλλω — kataballo) – “to throw to the ground, prostate.” The implication is to be put down hard with violence, but he’s not been “destroyed” (ἀπόλλυμι — apollumi), that is, “to put out of the way entirely, abolish, put an end to ruin; to render useless; to kill.”

(2 Corinthians 4:10-11)  Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.

Paul bears the Gospel (the treasure) in his body – his “earthen vessel.” It is the Gospel is the message of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ outlined in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. The end to which he bears the Gospel is “that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our [his] body.” The word “manifest” (φανερόω) means “to render apparent;” “to make actual and visible, i.e., realized;” also “to make visible or known what has been hidden or unknown” That “mystery” hidden from the Jews – God’s salvation through Jesus Christ – reveals itself in Paul’s life as it should in the life of every true believer.

The words “live” and “life” are related. The Greek word translated “live” (ζάω – zaō , verb) means “to have true life and worthy of the name;” the “essence” of living. Like was the Greek word translated “life” (ζωή – zōē, noun) means “the absolute fullness of life, both essential and ethical, which belongs to God.” Jesus said, “… I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)

There is another Greek word translated “life” that expresses life to a lesser degree. The Greek word βίος means “the present state of existence,” biological life. This is just mere existence. Jesus spoke of this kind of life in His “Parable of the Sower” also known as the “Parable of the Soils” (more appropriately). Comparing the soil to people, Jesus explained,  “And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection” (Luke 8:14). These people did not have ζωή (zōē), but Paul did.

Still, he says that he is “alway delivered unto death.” The “death” to which he speaks is not the cessation of physical existence. He referred to death to self (Romans 6:4-5; 12:1-2; Galatians 2:20; Colossians 3:3), death to sin (Romans 6:1-2; 8:10; 1 Peter 2:24), and death to the law (Galatians 2:19). Paul summed up his attitude toward his “suffering” like this, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). Paul dies “for Jesus’ sake.”

Verses 10 and 11 repeat the same ending phrase: “that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body/mortal flesh” We “suffer” so that the “life of Jesus” in us may be apparent to the lost world around us.

(2 Corinthians 4:12-13)  So then death worketh in us, but life in you. We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak (quoting Psalm 116:10).

By putting his life to “death,” Paul helps others to find “life.” One commentary put it like this: “The “death” of Christ manifested in the continual “perishing of our outward man” (2Co_4:16), works peculiarly in us, and is the means of working spiritual “life” in you. The life whereof we witness in our bodily dying, extends beyond ourselves, and is brought by our very dying to you.” (Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary)

(2 Corinthians 4:14)  Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.

The One who raised up Jesus will do the same for us. Death is not the end. We have a hope beyond. We are joined to the “living” Christ. Paul is dead to the things of this world because he is joined to Christ. We should follow his example!

(2 Corinthians 4:15)  For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.

Paul’s suffering is for the sake of the church; it is for their benefit – “for your sakes.” The Greek word translated “abundant” (πλεονάζω – pleonazō) means “to do, make or be more, that is, increase.” The word “grace” (χάρις – charis) is “that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech.” The result of this “abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many “redound” (περισσεύω – perisseuō), that is, “to superabound (in quantity or quality), be in excess, be superfluous” “to the glory of God.”

(2 Corinthians 4:16)  For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.

Through his “suffering,” Paul presses on – “we faint not.” Paul expresses this sentiment when he writes to the church in Philippi. “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14). Not dissuaded by his circumstances, Paul notes that “though the outward man, [i.e., the physical body] perish, the inward man [i.e., the spirit] is renewed” (through the power of Jesus Christ in us).

(2 Corinthians 4:17)  For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;

Our suffering is small compared to our eternal reward. Our time on earth is but a nanosecond in the light of eternity. The “suffering” our Lord asks us to bear is but a “light affliction.” Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:29-30).

(2 Corinthians 4:18)  While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Everything in this life is temporal. What lies beyond in the unseen future is eternal. The writer to the Hebrews reminds is that following the Lord requires faith. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

Paul’s example of “suffering” had more to do with self-denial for the furtherance of the Gospel. Indeed, Paul suffered physical and mental anguish and material deprivation. His list of sufferings was long.

Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. (2 Corinthians 11:23-27, emphasis mine).

After all of this, he concludes,

I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (Philippians 4:12-13)

The answer to the question, “How can I honor God in my suffering?” is to die to self, live for God in all that we do, and trust Him to supply all your needs – especially when it comes to sharing the Gospel so that others may live. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).

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A Thousand-Year Day

But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. (2 Peter 3:8)

The retirement lifestyle is a new experience for me. So far, it feels like an extra-long vacation. I’m enjoying doing things in the middle of the week and in the middle of the day that were out of the question when I was tied to a nine-to-five job. I am also enjoying the absence of fighting rush-hour traffic.

On Friday of this week, I experienced an outing to the ICR Discovery Center for Science and Earth History, my former employer, with a group of senior adults from our church. Of course, I know the place inside and out, but it felt different to visit as a “guest.” Our visit was too short (only two and a half hours). After that, we boarded our bus bound for lunch at El Fenix, the oldest Tex-Mex restaurant chain in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Our driver took us to the one in Irving, Texas, not far from the Discovery Center.

In the course of conversation over lunch, a lady sitting at the table across from me asked me how I would respond to someone who thinks the Genesis creation account is a myth and argues for an old earth based on 2 Peter 3:8 (our verse above). Of course, attempting to change someone’s mind who is convinced that the miracle accounts in the Bible are myths will take some doing. Their main problem is that they have a very small view of God. They usually also have an overinflated view of man. However, their support for long ages based on 2 Peter 3:8 can be easily debunked.

Many use this verse to argue for long ages in the Genesis creation account. They wrongly interpret 2 Peter 3:8 to say, “one day is with the Lord a thousand years, and a thousand years is one day.” The Day-Age Theory[1] uses this interpretation to argue that the days of creation were 1000 years each making the creation event last 6000 years. Giving credit where credit is due, at least they are not arguing for millions or billions of years for creation. By their reckoning, Creation is about 12,000 years old. However, that raises the question; why does God need that much time to create? Furthermore, the purpose of the Day-Age compromise is to allow for evolution to take place, which brings up another question. Evolution requires death and suffering. How then can death be the penalty for sin[2] if death had taken place for thousands of years before the fall of man? And, how could God declare His creation “very good”[3] when He calls death “the enemy”?[4] Some concede that God used evolution to create. This raises yet another question. Why would God need to “experiment” on His creation in order to improve on it over time? Is He not all-knowing and all-powerful? Can God not simply speak things into being as described in the Genesis account of creation? The notion that God used evolution to create serves only to undermine faith in the power of God!

The resolution to the problem of misinterpreting 2 Peter 3:18 comes down to one word – “as.” Peter employs simile to describe the infinite nature of God. God created time; therefore, He is not bound by time. “Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands…But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end” (Psalm 102:25, 27). “For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night” (Psalm 90:4). What Peter is saying is that, to God, one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day. Peter is not attempting to define time for God, but rather he is expressing the timeless nature of God. Therefore, attempting to define the days of creation as 1000 years each based on 2 Peter 3:18, misrepresents both Peter’s message and the Genesis account of creation.

However, without being dogmatic, a parallel could be drawn between 2 Peter 3:18, the days of creation, and historical time. God created in six 24-hour days and rested on the seventh. According to biblical chronology, the earth (all of creation) is about 6000 years old, and we look forward to a final, seventh, 1000-year of rest with Christ’s reign over all the earth.

A visitor to the Discovery Center showed me something in the Prophet Hosea that I had missed although I had read that passage many times. It reads as follows. “I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early. Come [Israel speaking now], and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight” (Hosea 5:15-6:2, emphasis mine).[5]

In the previous verse, the Lord (Jesus) says[6] that He will destroy Ephraim [the Northern Kingdom, i.e., Israel] and Judah. Then He says that He will return to His place (heaven) until they acknowledge their offence (i.e., the rejection of their Messiah) and seek His face. For over 2000 years, the Jews were scattered all over the earth until recent times (1948), but they, for the most part, have failed to seek His face – they still reject Jesus as their Messiah. However, they will return to Him in the near future. Then in Verse 2 of Chapter 6, they (the Jews) say, “After two days he will revive us: in the third day he will raise us up…”

My friend, referring to 2 Peter 3:18, pointed out that Jesus was crucified around A.D. 30, which means that the year 2030 will be 2000 years – two days.  On the third day (1000 years), Jesus will restore Israel. Although we cannot be dogmatic about such things, my friend’s reasoning is sound and his conclusion logical. If his assessment proves correct, that means the seven-year Tribulation could begin in 2023. The Rapture of the Church can take place anytime between now and then. Again, we must be careful not to be dogmatic about these things, but as Christians, the Word instructs us that the return of the Bridegroom for His Bride is imminent[7] and we must be ready at all times, “and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).

Are you ready? If you are unsure, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  “Age of the Earth” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2018/10/14/age-of-the-earth-2/

[2]  Genesis 2:16-17; Genesis 3

[3]  Genesis 1:31

[4]  1 Corinthians 15:26

[5]  This quotation spans two chapters. The reader must keep in mind that the original text did not have chapter and verse divisions.  The first English Bible to include chapter and verse divisions was the 1560 Geneva Bible.

[6]  Hosea 5:14

[7]  “Imminent” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2020/01/12/imminent/

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Priests and Wine

And the LORD spake unto Aaron, saying, Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations: (Leviticus 10:8-9)

As a young adult being away from the watchful eye of my preacher father, I developed a problem with alcohol. No, I did not become an alcoholic, nor did I develop a habit of getting drunk – very often. I joined the Navy just before my 20th birthday, and I easily passed for 21, so I never encountered problems gaining admittance into bars. As a sailor, I felt encouraged to behave like a sailor and hit the bars with my Navy buddies. I tried hard not to allow myself to get drunk because I had seen how foolish drunks looked returning from “liberty” on a Friday night. I did not want to look like those guys!

The Holy Spirit strongly objects to His temples engaging in acts that do not pertain to them. As a result, I always experienced a twinge of guilt when I was out barhopping with my buddies. I could hear the Holy Spirit whisper in my ear, “My son, this is no place for you.” I attempted to atone for my sin by going to chapel on Sunday morning, but there I felt like a real hypocrite. As a result, I never felt comfortable in the bars or in church. I tried to rationalize my behavior by Scripture. The Bible does not say drinking is wrong. Even Jesus turned water into really good wine. The Bible only discourages getting drunk, and I was not doing that (except one or two times when a few got by me). However, the guilt never left me.

Finally, I yielded to the Holy Spirit. No more would I ride the fence. No longer would I “halt between two opinions.”[1] I determined never to touch any form of alcohol again, and so far, I have been faithful to that commitment. However, I still maintain that there is nothing “sinful” about having a glass of beer or wine with dinner as long as one practices moderation. Drunkenness is another matter altogether. Drunkenness is sin and is strongly discouraged in the Bible.[2] I have good Baptist friends who drink wine or beer occasionally, and I have no problem with that. If the Holy Spirit has not dealt with them as He did with me, what they do is between them and God. I love them and refuse to pass judgment on them. We are God’s children, and I think, as any parent, God deals with each one on an individual basis. “But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ … I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean” (Romans 14:10, 14).

With that said, I would like to offer some food for thought and let the Holy Spirit use it as He sees fit. As I read the 10th chapter of Leviticus this week, I came across the instructions God gave to Aaron, Moses’ brother and newly installed High Priest. The instruction had to do with the priests that entered the Tabernacle to minister before the Lord. “And the LORD spake unto Aaron, saying, Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations” (Leviticus 10:8-9, emphasis mine). The Hebrew word translated “wine” is yayin. It is “from an unused root meaning to effervesce; wine (as fermented); by implication intoxication,”[3] The Hebrew word translated “strong drink” is shêkâr, which is “an intoxicant, that is, intensely alcoholic liquor.”[4] Clearly, this is not talking about grape juice. It is worth noting that the prohibition was against drinking wine or strong drink, period. It is also worth noting that the prohibition specified serving in the Tabernacle. (Later the same would apply to the service in the Temple.) The prohibition did not apply to them when they were “off duty.”

I found that interesting, but how does that apply to us? Some will rightly point out that this was Old Testament Law which no longer applies to Christians of the New Testament era. Is that so? To those who reject the application of the Old Testament to our lives, allow me to remind you of what Jesus said, “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matthew 5:18). The New Testament did not exist when Jesus spoke these words; He referred to the only Scripture (Law) that existed in His time, the Old Testament. The Apostle Paul, who wrote 13 (arguably 14) of the New Testament books made countless references to the Old Testament. Every word of Scripture applies to us. We may be “under grace,” but that does not mean that the Law has become irrelevant. “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet” (Romans 7:7).

Well then, how does this prohibition given to Aaron and his sons, the priests of Israel, apply to us, who are “under grace”?

John, the beloved apostle, in his salutation to the seven churches of the Revelation said, “And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (Revelation 1:5-6, emphasis mine).

Later John observed the saints around the throne of God singing, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Revelation 4:11). “And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:9-10, emphasis mine).

Clearly, we who are born again (twice-born) and call ourselves “children of God” are “priests.” The job of a priest is to intercede between God and man (humans). A priest carries the petitions of man before God and takes the Word of God before men. Is that not what we do when we pray on behalf of others and share the Gospel with others? We are priests.

Now, as long as the priest is not ministering in the Tabernacle/Temple, he is free to drink wine or strong drink. So, we might assume that as long as we abstain on Sunday, when we go to church (the building), we are not in violation. Let us look at that a little closer.

In the Old Testament, God’s dwelling place was in the Temple. Even Jesus said as much. “And whoso shall swear by the temple, sweareth by it, and by him [God] that dwelleth therein” (Matthew 23:21). At the same time, Scripture is clear that God cannot be confined to a physical building.[5] “Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet” (Acts 7:48, emphasis mine). “God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands” (Acts 17:24, emphasis mine). In the Old Testament, God’s presence manifested in the Tabernacle and later in the Temple even though He is not confined to any one particular place. This has to do with God’s attribute of omnipresence.

The Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in the year 70 A.D., so, where does God reside now? “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17, emphasis mine). “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). As Christians, we confess Jesus as our Lord (Boss) and Savior and that His Spirit dwells/resides within us. If that is true, then we are the dwelling place, i.e., the Temple, of the Holy Spirit, and we are living temples not “made with hands.” We also acknowledge that the Holy Spirit is fully God. Therefore, because God dwells in us, we are living temples of God. Does God only dwell in His temples sometimes or always? Always, of course. God promises, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5); therefore we are always His temples. At the same time, we are priests of God. We are priests occupying God’s temples continually. Since God prohibits His priests from drinking wine or strong drink while ministering in His temple, then it follows that we should abstain from wine and strong drink at all times. God has not abrogated this command simply because we are now living under the New Testament. Rather, the command has taken on greater significance. That is something to think about.

Notes:


[1]  1 Kings 18:21

[2]  1 Corinthians 5:11; Ephesians 5:18

[3] Definition from Strong’s Complete Dictionary of Bible Words

[4]  Ibid.

[5]  1 Kings 8:27; 2 Chronicles 2:6

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Stiffnecked

And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people: (Exodus 32:9)

Stiffnecked—now there’s a word seldom heard today outside of careful Bible study. The English word, which should be hyphenated in modern English, appears only eight times in the Old Testament of the King James Bible and is really a translation of two Hebrew words: qâsheh and ‛ôreph (the nape of the neck). The first word, qâsheh, means “churlish, cruel, severe, obstinate, or stubborn.” This goes beyond simple hard-headedness. It characterizes an incorrigible, rebellious person, and it is not an attribute one would desire. Yet, in God’s evaluation of His Chosen People, He defined them as “stiffnecked.”

This assessment was not a rush to judgment on God’s part. These people earned the moniker. Consider how God acted on their behalf to free them from Egyptian bondage. God sent ten plagues against the Egyptians that effected only the Egyptians and spared the Israelites.[1] The final plague brought death upon every firstborn of every Egyptian household including their livestock. At the end of that plague, the Egyptians were only too happy to get rid of the Israelites and even sent them off with rich booty.[2] “And the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste; for they said, We be all dead men” (Exodus 12:33). Not long after they departed, Pharaoh changed his mind and followed in pursuit to bring them back to Egypt. Penned between mountains on one side and the Red Sea on the other, the Israelites witnessed God part the waters so they could cross over on dry ground. Then He closed the waters behind them and drowned the pursuing Egyptian chariots.[3] “And Israel saw that great work which the LORD did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the LORD, and believed the LORD, and his servant Moses” (Exodus 14:31).

Not long after this miraculous deliverance, the Israelites arrived at a watering hole with bitter water and immediately started complaining.[4] God had Moses cast a tree into the watering hole and the waters became sweet. Then God made a conditional promise. “If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee” (Exodus 15:26, emphasis mine).

Further down the road, they came to Elim and began complaining about their perceived lack of food. So God sent them manna (what is it? bread from heaven) and quail to eat.[5] Further along the way, they once again complained about the lack of water, so God provided water out of a rock.[6] God then defeated Amalek, the first enemy they encountered.

Then they arrived at Sinai, the Mountain of God. There, in the hearing of all the people, God gave them the Ten Commandments. They all heard the voice of God and were terrified. “And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die” (Exodus 20:19). Moses ascended the mountain and wrote down the rest of the Law.[7] (At this point one should note that this occurred prior to Moses’ first 40-day stent on the mountain.) “And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel … And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient” (Exodus 24:4,7 emphasis mine).

Hollywood movies have a way of distorting biblical accounts in ways that make them so memorable to the viewers that the Hollywood version supersedes the biblical narrative. In the movie, The Ten Commandments, Charlton Heston goes up the mountain to receive the Ten Commandments for the first time and returns to find the Children of Israel worshipping the golden calf. The movie plot kind of takes them off the hook a bit, because they did not know better; they did not have the Law. However, the biblical record shows that they were given the Law, written down by Moses, long before the golden calf incident, and they all agreed, “All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient” (Exodus 24:7).

After all of Israel affirmed that they would abide by God’s Law, Moses ascended the mountain once more and received the Law written on stone tablets and was there 40 days and 40 nights.[8] “And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God” (Exodus 31:18, emphasis mine). These tables not only contained the Ten Commandments. They contained all the Law that the Children of Israel heard directly from God to which they agreed to obey. In addition, God gave Moses instructions for the construction of the Tabernacle and all of its furnishings. Great detail was given for consecrating the priests and the apparel they would wear, especially that of the high priest.

While Moses delayed, the people got antsy and went to Aaron, Moses’ brother and second in command, and asked Aaron, “make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot [know] not what is become of him” (Exodus 32:1). As one reads the account, it becomes apparent that Aaron felt no coercion to comply with the request, nor did he hesitate. “And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me” (Exodus 32:2). Aaron, who was intimately involved in the liberation of the Children of Israel, and heard the Ten Commandments directly from the voice of God, soon forgot the first two. “Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth” (Exodus 20:3-4).

Before Moses learned of the idolatrous act, God already knew. “And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people” (Exodus 32:9). God threatened to destroy them all and start over with Moses, but Moses interceded on their behalf and the Lord relented from His anger.[9]

Moses descended the mountain and found a wild party going on around the golden calf. When Moses confronted Aaron about the idol, his answer was hilarious. “And I said unto them [the Israelites], Whosoever hath any gold, let them break it off. So they gave it me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf” (Exodus 32:24, emphasis mine). Imagine that!

This would not be the first exhibition of Israel’s stiffnecked behavior. Throughout their history, Israel chased after false gods. God would punish, Israel would repent, God would forgive, and Israel would sin again. This happened over and over. Once God banished them from the land for 70 years, and for a time, they appeared to learn their lesson. Then God sent their promised Messiah, and they rejected Him and nailed Him to a cross. Again, God banished them from the land for over 2000 years now. However, as God promised, He has restored them to the land; but the saga is not over. God is not finished with Israel.

The lesson we can learn from God’s dealings with Israel is that God is faithful. We can count on Him to do exactly what He says He will do. He keeps His promises. Before entering the Promised Land, Moses reminded the people, “The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations” (Deuteronomy 7:7-9, emphasis mine). Regardless of their stiffnecked character, God has kept and will keep His covenant with Israel. Knowing that gives us the assurance that God will be faithful in keeping His promise to us, “that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). God is faithful even to the stiffnecked.

Notes:


[1]  Exodus 7-12

[2]  Exodus 12:36

[3]  Exodus 14:10-31

[4]  Exodus 15:22-27

[5]  Exodus 16

[6]  Exodus 17:1-7

[7]  Exodus 20:22-23:33

[8]  Exodus 24:12-18

[9]  Exodus 32:10-14

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