Who Are The Teachers?

ezra

Before answering the question in this blog title, I felt needed to identify–find out who the teachers are in the body of Christ.  So let’s look at the Book of Ezra together to observe some distinguishing qualities.

EZRA’S RESUME: 

First of all, Ezra wasn’t the one who had the Temple rebuilt.  That was Zerubbabel.  He wasn’t the one who had the wall built around Jerusalem to protect the inhabitants.  That was Nehemiah.  Ezra wasn’t responsible for the things made from stone.

Then who was he?

Ezra was a PRIEST, a direct descendent of the line of Aaron.  Because of his lineage, he could have functioned as a HIGH PRIEST.  Yet we probably better know him as a “SCRIBE”, a teacher of God’s Word (Ezra 7:6).

Ezra is often called the “father of Judaism” and ancient rabbis said, “If Moses hadn’t received the Law of God, Ezra would have.”

He was the author of the following books:  1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and some scholars have suggested he may have written Ester as well.

Ezra was responsible for the establishment of the SYNAGOGUE.  This was a system to help the people learn the Law of Moses in a setting near their homes on a weekly basis, rather than just going to Jerusalem three times a year.  This would become the basis for Christians of having church each week.

We actually don’t get to meet the man named EZRA until Ezra 7–where we see one of the unique characteristics of a teacher’s life.

“For the hand of the Lord his God 

was upon him.”

(Ezra 7:6-b.)

“THE HAND OF GOD” –

Psalm 63:1-8 Amplified Bible:

[1] O GOD, You are my God, earnestly will I seek You; my inner self thirsts for You, my flesh longs and is faint for You, in a dry and weary land where no water is.  [2] So I have looked upon You in the sanctuary to see Your power and Your glory. [3] Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You.  [4] So will I bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name.  [5] My whole being shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.  [6] When I remember You upon my bed and meditate on You in the night watches.  [7] For You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings will I rejoice.  [8] My whole being follows hard after You and clings closely to You;  Your right hand upholds me.” 

Psalm 63 is a song of David.  But it could have very well been a Psalm of Ezra, or what that matter, yours and mine too.

WHAT IS THE “HAND OF GOD”?article-1169776-046ECDC9000005DC-372_634x475

It is another way of displaying the POWER OF GOD; it is how God gets His work done in our lives.

So what moves the ‘hand of God”?

I noticed an interesting thing about God’s hand being on Ezra.  Ezra didn’t just think this was some sovereign move of God which he had no part in. He realized there were certain things that moved God’s hand–

Ezra 7:9-10:

[9] On the first of the first month he started out from Babylon, and on the first of the fifth month he arrived in Jerusalem, for upon him was the good hand of his God.

[10] For Ezra had prepared and set his heart to seek the Law of the Lord [to inquire for it and of it, to require and yearn for it], and to do and teach in Israel its statutes and its ordinances.

A “prepared heart”–

PREPARED  kuwn, Hebrew word. (hipul); to establish, to set up, accomplish, do, make firm; to fix, make ready, prepare, to direct toward (moral sense); to arrange, order.

HEART – lebab, Hebrew word; inner man, mind, will, heart, soul, understanding.

Ezra 7:10 NASB –  “set his heart”

Ezra 7:10 NLT –  “determined to” 

Ezra 7:10 NIV –  “devoted himself”

It all starts right here my friends–with YOUR HEART.  If you don’t want God to work in your life. He won’t.

BECOMING A DEVOTED STUDENT–

When I was a student in school, my concept of success in  study was to “just get by.”  I would do the minimum amount required to gain approval from my parents.  In High School, this idea worked fairly well maintaining a “B” average.  But when I went to college…the “just getting by” plan didn’t work.  After 3 1/2 years of stumbling around academic target practice, trying to decide what my future profession would be–with little help from parents, friends, and school counselors–I dropped out of school.  I came to the general conclusion–I just wasn’t going to be a STUDENT.

The Change that Occurred in My Life…

After becoming a born-again believer in Jesus at age 30, and as I matured in Christ over the years, God’s hand wasn’t in my life and I had become frustrated in being a servant in His service.

As I grew in spiritual maturity, I began to become a student of God’s Word as Ezra became and as a result of God’s POWER, His hand, I became a TEACHER of God’s truth.

Ezra became a TEACHER of God’s truth and restored a nation of believers in a right relationship with God.

COMMUNICATING GOD’S WORD EFFECTIVELY IN THE WORLD TODAY–

Much like in Ezra’s day, as he thirsted after God’s holiness and insights and then communicated it effectively to others should be all of our goals.  Our reputation as TEACHERS is at stake as was Ezra’s.  How did he get that reputation?  “having God’s hand on him” (Ezra 7:6).  

We LEARN by the words given…

Ezra was a TEACHER who was well-studied and diligent in knowing God’s teachings.  Ezra’s REPUTATION was one of being known [and not to just the “religious” ] as a STUDENT of God’s law and because of his studious mindset, God’s hand was on him.

You might be thinking right now, “I’m not a teacher.  It’s just not my spiritual gift.  I didn’t go to bible school or seminary or have I taken an online bible college class.  There isn’t a teaching certificate on the wall. 

Let me counsel and guide your thoughts here, taking you to the apostle Paul’s instruction to  a young man by the name of Timothy:

“Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth”  (2 Timothy 2:15 AMP).

**Note:  “The best teacher is one who is always a student and always learning.” ~ Dr. Howard Hendricks’ “Learning Professor”.

A TEACHER’S RESPONSIBILITY:

Dr. Hendricks felt it was the RESPONSIBILITY OF THE TEACHER to teach people to learn, not the students.

Hendricks tells of a professor who made a great impact in his life.  He passed the teacher’s home many times–early mornings or late at night, and often saw him pouring over his books.  One day Hendricks asked him, “Doctor, I would like to know what is it that keeps you studying?  It seems you never cease to learn.”  His answer:  “Son, I would rather have my students drink from a running stream than from a stagnant pool.”

“STUDYING” GOD’S WORD wasn’t enough for Ezra–

EZRA devoted himself–prepared himself–set his heart to–STUDYING.  He was zealous, relentless in his study of God’s Word. Nothing superseded his study time.  He digested it in his heart and in doing so, it changed him so much that he became DEVOTED to observing what he learned.  He LEARNED and then put it into practice in his own life.

I’ve often thought to myself over the years, wouldn’t it be nice to see the results of my effort before committing the effort.  But take a moment to look at EZRA’s success–

THE RESULT FROM STUDYING–

Others noticed his effort and because of his passion he earned a reputation; his REPUTATION to those who would listen.

EZRA was not only studious but a TRAINER, TEACHER of people who probably followed these principles.

The RESEARCH INSTITUTE OF AMERICA gives us a list of requirements for those who train–teach others.  I keep this list in a notebook on my desk for reference and reminders for my own teaching: (by Donald Kirkpatrick)

#1.  DESIRE TO TEACH.

#2.  KNOWLEDGE OF THE SUBJECT.

#3.  ABILITY TO COMMUNICATE.

#4.  PATIENCE.

#5.  SENSE OF HUMOR.

#6.  TIME TO DO A THOROUGH JOB.

WE ALL HAVE A GOD-GIVEN RESPONSIBILITY TO TEACH:

No, sorry. It is NOT just the responsibility for the pastor.  After JESUS’ resurrection and exaltation, He sends his disciples out with the mandate to perpetuate His teaching:

“Go then and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  TEACHING them everything that I have commanded you…”  (Matthew 28:19-20).

THE SALVATION MESSAGE:

“For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the word that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that WHOEVER BELIEVES IN (trusts in, clings to, relies on)  Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life”  (John 3:16).

OBEDIENCE IN TEACHING–

EZRA 7:10 says a teacher is to PREPARE, SEEK, and to coin a phrase from Madison Avenue,  “…and (‘just’) do it!”

Ezra knew enough that it wasn’t enough just to KNOW God’s Word, yet we don’t let it affect our behavior, fooling ourselves.  We need to LEARN to OBEY what God says:

“Let the word [spoken by] Christ (the Messiah) have its home [in your hearts and minds] and dwell in you in [all its] richness, as you TEACH and admonish and train one another in all insight and intelligence and wisdom [in spiritual things and as you sing] psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody to God with [His] grace in your hearts”  (Colossians 3:16).

“BUT [as for] you, TEACH what is fitting and becoming to sound (wholesome) doctrine.  URGE the older men…  Bid the older women…  So that they will wisely train (teach) the young women…”  (Titus 2:1-4).

 SHARING IN OBEDIENCE–

EZRA 7:10 further gives us our responsibility as God’s disciples:

“…and to teach in Israel statutes and its ordinances.”

TO TEACH – Hebrew word lamad – to learn, teach, exercise in, train.

STATUTES – choqstatute, ordinance, limit something, prescribed, due.

JUDGEMENTS – mishpat – judgements, justice, ordinance.

Ezra’s RELATIONSHIP with the Word wasn’t just about living a better life for himself.  He knew he needed to share–COMPELLED–to share, to communicate God’s Word with those around him.

“So we are Christ’s ambassadors, God making His appeal as it were through us. We [as Christ’s personal representatives] beg you for His sake to lay hold of divine favor…”  (2 Corinthians 5:20).

We are PLENIPOTENTIARIES (Ambassadors) and as God’s representatives we have a responsibility–

According to Dictionary.com, the definition given for the noun AMBASSADOR reads:

A diplomatic official of the highest rank, sent by one sovereign or state to another as its resident representative (ambassador extraordinary) an authorized messenger or representative.

“But I’m not a teacher in any stretch of the imagination!”

By your definition, perhaps not.  But with God’s hand on your shoulder, you have entered the priesthood and by His definition…you are teachers.

If you are a Christian father, God’s Word says you are a TEACHER:

“Fathers don’t over-correct your children or make it difficult for them to obey the commandment. Bring them up with Christian teaching in Christian discipline”  (Ephesians 6:4 – J.B. Phillips New Testament).

LIVING THE EZRA EXAMPLE IN OUR FAMILY AND THE COMMUNITY:

We as Christians need to practice daily Ezra’s example–

#1.  We need to have a REPUTATION like Ezra’s as God’s hand was on him.

#2.  We need to STUDY God’s word with diligence and have a Godly reputation with those around us.

#3.  We need to be DEVOTED to God’s teachings and have a Godly reputation.

#4.  We need to have a reputation so Godly that earthly rulers see and testify about our example.

#5.  We need to be walking sermons and not just talking sermons with no action.  “DO IT”

#6.  We need to be PRIESTS that trust God with all of our heart, mind and soul.  A reputation of being confident in God 100%.

WHO ARE THE TEACHERS TODAY?  The responsibility has been given to you and I.  So, let us all…

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CREDITS:

Photo Images:  Google Images and Photo Pin.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible except where noted.

English/Hebrew translation and definitions:  Expository Dictionary of Bible Words – Stephen D. Renn, Editor.

  

A Congregation of Two

TEXT: Luke 24:13-35 – The Events After the Resurrection

An EMPTY Tomb

An EMPTY Tomb

This last week during my morning bible reading, I decided to read in the first four Gospels [Matthew, Mark, Luke and John] the Scriptures pertaining to the DEATH, BURIAL, RESURRECTION of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.  I tried to place myself in that time frame–observing the events of Holy Week:  Palm Sunday, the Last Supper, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday.

The evidence was plain–or was it?  How would I have reacted, and how strong would my faith have been on that particular Sunday morning?

I hoped that I would have been a “on fire” disciple/follower of Jesus–not doubting, strong in the words and teachings of my Teacher.

Or, would I have been disappointed in His death–His burial in a borrowed empty tomb–certainly not accomplishing and fulfilling the things I thought Jesus came to do.

With all those thoughts buried in my thoughts and imagination, I decided to re-read the events that took place AFTER the Resurrection.

THE EMMAUS TWO AND THE UNSEEN STRANGER –

ROAD TO EMMAUS

ROAD TO EMMAUS

I am almost certain, you’ve all heard this story in the Gospel of Luke before–based on what happened on a 7-mile walk from Jerusalem.  It is the very heart of the Gospel which highlights the LIVING HOPE found only in the RESURRECTION of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The apostle Paul wrote to his friends at Corinth…

“If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.  But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who are asleep”  (1 Corinthians 15:19, 20 NASB).

But on that first Easter day, that LIVING HOPE was far from being established in the experience of two people mentioned in Luke 24:13-35.

We’ve just celebrated together Resurrection Sunday 2015.  Let’s try to put ourselves in their shoes for a time as they set out on their 7-mile journey.

IT WAS A HEARTBREAKING EXPERIENCE –

Have you ever noticed that some of the saddest words in our language begin with the letter D?  For example: disappointment; doubt; disillusionment; defeat; despair AND death.  All are summed up in the words of CLEOPAS and his companion to the stranger who joined them on the Emmaus road.  They had left the events of Good Friday behind them, yet what had occurred was still fresh in their memories.

Does that happen to you? It does me.  I try to put disappointing events that happened in the past behind me–don’t want to talk about them, don’t want to relive them and then all of a sudden, I replay the entire scenario to someone else.  I keep picking the scab over and over again and the wound never seems to heal over.

The News Reports Were In– 

Christ’s tomb was empty and did nothing to alter their thinking, it only confused them.

The congregation of two summed up the situation neatly in Luke 24:21:  “we were hoping that it was He Who would redeem and set Israel free.”

HUMAN HOPE is a fragile thing, and when it shrivels up, it’s difficult to revive.  HOPELESSNESS as a disease of the human spirit is hard to rewire.

Sickness overtakes someone you love, it goes on and on–you pray for a cure, your friends pray for a cure, and despair sets in. It becomes almost impossible to HOPE for recovery; even afraid to HOPE because of not being able to cope with another letdown.

The Emmaus Two–

This congregation of two men, created a wall of HOPELESSNESS around them, entrapped in their own misery.  We had hoped…” BUT…

What they were saying is, “We don’t expect it now, but we once did.  We had it, this thing called HOPE, but now it’s gone.”

Has something or someone come between your relationship with God?  If so, take in the words of the Emmaus story because the heart-breaking experience was only the beginning!

The Travelers Made Their Weary Journey Home–

A child's Sunday School class drawing

A child’s Sunday School class drawing

A stranger suddenly accompanied them along the way.  It was going to be one of the most wonderful walks in history!  We know, of course, it was the risen Jesus, but somehow these Jesus followers didn’t have a clue who He was.  In fact Luke tells us “they were kept from recognizing Him.”

They weren’t allowed to recognize Him for a purpose.  It was so that they might be in the same position as the church some 2,000 years later.

The stranger starts the conversation by asking a question:  “What are these words that you are exchanging with one another as you are walking?”  (verse 17).  So they poured out their sad story to someone who seemed so willing to listen.

The way Jesus dealt with the situation is a lesson for us–to help those who have lost HOPE.  They NEED companionship–they NEED a listening ear before a stream of “good advice.”

Let’s LOVE them by LISTENING, accepting the way they feel.  The last thing they need is a brisk “cheering up” talk or being told to “snap out of the funk.” There will be a time later to point them to a way of HOPE, to the One in whom HOPE is to be found.

But first things first.  They need someone just like you to listen to their story–someone who has “skin on.”

THE HEART-SEARCHING EXPERIENCE –

The congregation of two spokesman, Cleopas, expressed surprise by being asked what was worrying them,  “Are You the only one visiting Jerusalem and unaware of the things which have happened here in these days?”  (verse 18).

There seems to me a note of suspicion in the voice of Cleopas, but Jesus continues patiently and innocently asks,

“What things?”  

“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.  “who was a prophet…”

Notice in verse 19, they said,  “He was…” past tense.  Their experience of Jesus was in the past, thinking they were alone in the world.  The CROSS had taken Him from them.

We’ve all heard exciting testimonies of what JESUS has done in their past–but what about the present?  The past is history.

The question we all must face, is JESUS “a present bright reality” to those who give their experience to you and me?  Do we always recognize Him beside us?

LIFE has many distractions:

HARD WORK–ROUTINE–TIREDNESS–BAD HEALTH–

All can grind us down to carry us on mechanically, never lifting our eyes or minds from the dust of the road we’re traveling on.

We become unaware of the GLORY and STRENGTH found in His presence with us.

“I love To Tell The Story…of JESUS and His love” – [An Old Hymn]

THIS STORY in Luke can give us HOPE that JESUS is still there.  He’s the UNSEEN “STRANGER”, walking with us, listening to us and, if we’re willing to hear His voice, revealing Himself to us.

THE CONGREGATION OF TWO–

JESUS took their sorrow, their bewilderment and gave them a heart-ing experience.  How did Jesus do that?  He pointed them to GOD’S WORD–The Scriptures.

Luke tells us in verse 27, 

“And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, Jesus explained to them what was said in ALL the Scriptures concerning Himself.”

What? The Old Testament? Yes!

JESUS must have given the EMMAUS TRAVELLERS the greatest Old Testament explanation in history–to A Congregation of Two.

What a wonderful anticipation of Jesus at Calvary as He shared Old Testament revelation: the fall of mankind; the apparently victorious Satan in the form of a serpent– told that the SEED, the offspring of the woman “will crush your head and you will strike his heel” (Genesis 3:15).

The problem for the disciples was how to make sense of the CROSS, how to accept it.  Jesus helped them do that, showing them that the CROSS itself was the creative act of God.

THE CROSS of SHAME & SUFFERING had become the CROSS OF REDEMPTION for all who would come to Jesus in repentance and faith.

cross-steps-to-peace-photo-604x270

When Jesus arrives on the scene of our lives, He’s probing our thoughts; it’s the PURPOSE of blessing us.  But how do we respond?  Do we, like the two disciples from Emmaus, welcome His approach in letting Him minister to us?

Sometimes the things He points out are uncomfortable.  Do we really want Him to keep looking and explaining what previously baffled us?

Cleopas and his companion accepted the gentle rebuke that Jesus made,  “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe all the prophets have spoken”  (verse 25).

Maybe, the key word here is “ALL”.  It wasn’t that they hadn’t read the prophets of old, but perhaps they’d read the Scriptures selectively…out of context…concentrating on those parts that spoke of a conquering Messiah–being kind to His enemies–be victorious.

The passages that spoke of a suffering servant didn’t fit with their expectation and they’d tended to skip over those parts.

When they now were given the explanation from the Scriptures they reacted positively, and in fact they wanted more, which led them to…

A HEART SEARCHING EXPERIENCE –

The two-hour journey from Jerusalem to Emmaus seemed like five minutes on that Sunday.  So wrapped-up in conversation with the Lord they hadn’t yet recognized Him.

Luke tells in VERSE 28:  “And they approached the village where they were going, and He acted as though He would go further.”

JESUS is so gentle with us.  He won’t force Himself where He’s not really wanted as He awaited their invitation to come in.

God gives the world the greatest and most precious GIFT, the Gift Of Free Will–we can use it to invite JESUS into our hearts and souls or…allow Him to pass on.

God gave a test to the Congregation of Two to see if the disciples had more appetite of the things of God.  And they did.  We are told,  And they urged Him, saying “Stay with us, for it is getting toward evening, and the day is now nearly over”  (verse 29).

That’s the sort of INVITATION that Jesus can’t resist:  “And He went in to stay with them.”  

A basic meal was quickly made ready for their guest.  The bread is on the table and the moment for Jesus’ reveal has come.  How does JESUS do it?

“He took the bread, gave thanks, broke it and

began to give it to them.”

THE ACTION of the breaking of the bread–

They saw His hands–they were different from the breaking of the bread and feeding of the Five Thousand, and the Last Supper.  They were the nail-pierced hands of JESUS.  In an instant they knew Him.  And in an instant, He’s gone!

Why did Jesus have to disappear at that moment?  Couldn’t the Lord stayed longer?

He could have but He didn’t because all part of the education, the continued teaching was to last 40 Days on Earth–how to manage without His bodily presence from now on; exactly the same as we have to do some 2,000 years after.

But JESUS is with us still by His Spirit.  He is with us as we fellowship with Him in WORSHIP, and in OBEDIENCE to His command, remembering Him in the “breaking of bread” service.

Christ Is Risen From The Dead!

Christ is the SAVIOR!  Christ is the HOPE of the world!

The TWO DISCIPLES in this story lost no time in retracing their steps to Jerusalem (yes, another 7 miles!) in excitement to SHARE the Good News.  May that be our experience after Resurrection Sunday and for the rest of our life.


BLOG CREDITS:

BIBLE TRANSLATION FOR THIS POST:  New American Standard Bible (NASB)

PHOTO CREDITS (Various): Photo Pin; Google Search Images and OTHER saved photos.

Sermon Notes: Owen Bourgaize Emmaus Experience.

The PRINCE OF PERSIA Is Alive and Well!

The Text is DANIEL 10:13-11:1 –

The first 12 verses of Daniel Ten in Review–

DANIEL had been in mourning and prayer for three weeks.

[1] IN THE third year of Cyrus king of Persia, a revelation was given to Daniel (who was called Belshazzar – his Babylonian name). Its message was true and it concerned a great war. The understanding of the message came to him in a vision.  [2] At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. [3] I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until three weeks were over”  (Daniel 10:1-3 NIV Bible).

Some Bible scholars think Daniel was in mourning because so few Jews had returned with Ezra from the exiles in Jerusalem.

persian-empire-2

THE PERSIAN EMPIRE DURING THE TIME OF DANIEL

 

Others believe the FAST was because Ezra had faced severe opposition in the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem.

DANIEL didn’t go back with Ezra’s group of exiles.  When the Jews went into captivity by the Babylonians, Daniel was but nineteen years of age.  In Chapter 10, he is now about 84 years old and perhaps thought he could better serve the returning exiles from his high position in the current government.

PRAYING AND FASTING:

After praying and fasting for twenty-one days, Daniel is standing near the Tigris river with some other guys and see an angelic messenger.  The others didn’t see the angel, but they did become very afraid and ran away (vv. 4-8).

The words describe here in Daniel reminded me of the apostle Paul’s experience on the road to Damascus when meeting not an angel, but Christ Jesus. Paul visualized the event, but the ‘other guys’ heard but couldn’t see a thing (Acts 9:3-7).

Once alone, the angel told DANIEL,  Daniel 10:12 (The Message Bible):

“Relax Daniel,” he continued “don’t be afraid.  From the moment you decided to humble yourself to receive understanding, your PRAYER was heard, and I set out to come to you.”

When we PRAY, many times we want the answer NOW!  

Daniel prayed and fasted every day during this time…without an immediate answer… and noticed when God’s messenger arrives, the comfort that is given by the angel:  “relax”; “don’t be afraid”; your prayer was first heard… when you decided to humble yourself.”  

WOW!  I don’t know about you, but what insights into the forthcoming answers in my prayer life.

“HUMBLE” myself first to “RECEIVE understanding” to my requests.  My PRAYERS will be heard and angel are sent!

THE PRINCE OF PERSIA – Daniel 10:13 (The Message Bible):

In the spirit realm

In the spirit realm

“But I [the angel] was waylaid by the angel-prince of the kingdom of Persia and was delayed for a good three weeks. But then Michael, one of the chief angel-prince, intervened to help me. I left him there with the prince of the kingdom of Persia.”

The angel-messenger that has come to Daniel gives the reason for his delay over the last 3 weeks.  In Daniel’s persistent, steadfast and fervent prayers, his God-sent answers were being held up by… “the prince of the kingdom of Persia.”

Who is this prince?  

Certainly no human could withstand an angel, because we know from Scripture that angels are incredibly powerful.

In 2 Chronicles 32:21, in the days of king Hezekiah we read…

“And the Lord sent an angel, who cut off all the mighty warriors and commanders and officers in the camp of the king of Assyria…”

THE PRINCE OF PERSIA is not a man on earth, but in fact, someone in the spiritual realm.

Looking at the suggestions given in Scripture, we can see these princes in the spirit world.  In fact, there is an entire hierarchy and authority among angels and demons.

According to Ephesians 3:10, there are “…the angelic rulers and authorities (principalities and powers) in the heavenly sphere.”

In Chapter 6 of Ephesians, Paul seems to list a number of these positions (Eph. 6:12 AMP):

“…despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere.”

Again, to the Colossians, Paul wrote that JESUS created all things…

“in heaven and on earth, things seen and things unseen, whether thrones, dominions, rulers, or authorities…”  (Col. 1:16).

THE DEVIL has been given a title in the spiritual realm–

Three times JESUS called him,  “…the ruler of the world…”  (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11).

And the apostle Paul refers to him as “…the prince of power of the air…”  (Ephesians 2:2).

Now although “RULER” and ‘PRINCE” are different English words, the same Greek word (AR-khone) is used in all the referenced verses.

So by using deductive reasoning from the Scriptural evidence found–if Satan is the prince of the entire world, the power of the air, it stands to reason that the PRINCE OF PERSIA is a demonic entity which had authority over this part of the world–the nation of PERSIA.

In my detective research, I found something very intriguing that might correspond to the world events occurring today in the world:

“FARSI” ( “Persian”) is the official language of Iran.  Persians come from the eastern regions of the Middle East (NOTE: Above Map) – [*See Footnote [i] ].

MICHAEL–

This story of conflict we’re reading about between Daniel’s angel and the prince of Persia is evenly matched–until reinforcement shows up on the scene.  That reinforcement is MICHAEL, one of the chief princes (this is the first time that Michael is mentioned in Scripture).

Elsewhere in the Bible we learn that he disputed with the devil himself over the body of Moses (Jude 1:9) and that he and his angels wage war against the devil and his angels in the Tribulation period (Revelation 12:7).

Chief Princes–

According to the book of Jude, Michael is an ARCHANGEL: The compound word “archangel” are two Greek words, “AR-kho” and “ANGelos,” when combined, mean “chief angel,” or “ruler of angels.” [*See Footnote [ii] ].  

The word archangel is not found in the Old Testament, only the New Testament.

Although the two times that the archangel is mentioned in Scripture (1 Thessalonians 4:16; Jude 1:9), they are both in singular form (“the archangel”) but that doesn’t mean we should think of Michael as being the only one in charge or the “head honcho.” Remember, this angel in Daniel 10, calls him “one of the chief princes.”

So, whether he is the 5-Star General, or one of several generals, he is definitely a heavy hitter and the most powerful angel that we are told about in Scripture.

The Prince of Greece– (Daniel 10:20-21)

Then the angel says to the prophet Daniel,

[20] Do you know why I have come to you?  And now I will return to fight with the [hostile] prince of Persia; and when I have gone, behold, the [hostile] prince of Greece will come.

[21] But I will tell you what is inscribed in the writing of truth or the Book of Truth.  There is no one who holds with me and strengthens himself against these [hostile spirit forces] except Michael, your prince  [national guardian angel].

The angel had to return to fight against the prince of Persia.

I had to meditate on these verses in particular, finding it interesting that the angel also knew the Greek Empire was going to be raised up after the Medo-Persian Empire.

I don’t know if he saw in the spiritual realm that a demonic force was being prepared, or if God had already given him the inside story of the upcoming events.  In either case, this angel was aware of what was coming.

True Spiritual Warfare Going On In The Land–

There is absolutely a spiritual battle going on and we’re involved.  But we are not called to wage it in the spiritual realm.

The apostle Paul told the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5: it is not a physical confrontation with demons but a spiritual battle fought on your own plain of existence.  Let me rephrase that.

If you want to destroy fortresses in the spiritual realms, then you DESTROY SPECULATIONS that people have against the knowledge.

How to fight effectively–

Ephesians 6:13

Ephesians 6:13

You have to be defensively armed (Ephesians 6:10-17):  

With a life marked by TRUTH AND RIGHTEOUSNESS; being PREPARED WITH THE GOSPEL; WALKING IN FAITH, and being SAVED.

And finally, the OFFENSIVE WEAPON that you have to fight with is not a prayer of binding Satan.  It’s the WORD of God.

Michael, Your Prince! (Daniel 10:21 – NASB)

“However, I will tell you what is inscribed in the writing of truth.  Yet there is no one who stands firmly with me against these forces except Michael your prince.”

We’ve already read that MICHAEL is one of the chief princes.  NOW we see Michael is “your prince.”  In other words, Michael is the angelic authority over the people in the nation of ISRAEL.

Encouragement and Protection For Who?  (Daniel 11:1 NASB)

“AND IN the first year of Darius the Mede, I arose to be an encouragement and a protection for him.”

In my Bible study of Daniel 10, I believe that this first verse in chapter eleven, should have been the last verse of chapter ten.

We are told that the angel who came to DANIEL had been put in a lower position of being an encouragement and protection to King Darius the Mede, the KING that DANIEL had served under as his chief commissioner.

Today’s Current Events and Daniel Ten–

We know that spirits are timeless beings and have territorial assignments.  The PRINCE OF PERSIA knows there is one way to wipe out the Jewish people and one nuclear bomb would certainly accomplish this.

Before Christ, you’ve got to understand the prince of Persia is trying to destroy the lineage–the SEED of David through wich the promised Messiah was to come.

But JESUS, the Savior of the World did conquer death; defeated the devil.  So why is the prince of Persia inciting the Arab World and their leaders to build W.M.D. (weapons of mass destruction)?

THE DAY WILL COME…when the Jewish people will repent and turn to JESUS, the Messiah.  The time doesn’t come until the “times of the Gentiles” is fulfilled.  Could the “times” have already come?  Some Messianic Jews believe the “times of the Gentiles” ended in 1967 when the Israeli army took the Temple Mount.

Since that time, there has been an increasing number of Jews who have found Yeshua–JESUS.  In 1967, there were an estimated 2000 believers in Jesus among the Jewish people.

An article I found on the internet in Charisma magazine mentions a 1990 survey, suggesting that more than one million Jewish people in the United States express “some sort of faith” in JESUS.

So what is the Prince of Persia after today?

Is the JEWISH REMNANT so frightening to his plans against Israel?

Is the future conversion of the JEWISH PEOPLE jeopardise the kingdom he fights for?

Is the EVANGELISM of the 144,000 Messianic Jews mentioned in the Book of Revelation so devastating to his kingdom, that he must make every effort to stop them as he attempted to stop the birth of JESUS?

What does all this have to do with where I’m living in the world?

PROPHECY UNFOLDING BEFORE OUR VERY EYES!

Instead of saying to oneself, “Woe is me,” we should be encouraged by the revelation from Scripture the way things really are as the Bile explains what is happening in the physical realm.

The Bible’s PROPHECIES are coming to pass–against all odds and as the spiritual powers battles going on unseen by us that resist their fulfillment.

 


CREDITS and FOOTNOTES:

Sermon Notes and Commentary by Ron Daniel.

Bible Translations used:  Amplified bible except where noted.

Photo Credits: Google Search; Photo Pin

Footnote [i] – wiseGeek @ http://www.wisegeek.org/what-is-the-difference-between-a-persian-and-an-iran

 

 

The Lions’ Den and The Tomb

Blog’s Study References in Daniel 6:11-20 and Matthew Chapters 26 & 27:

000000000001DANIEL, CHAPTER SIX, foreshadows the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

In my study this week, I discovered the two stories parallel each other and the more one meditates on God’s Word, the more amazing the parallel becomes.

There is no way that this is a coincidence.  This is just another way we can recognize how the Bible really is.

As we approach Resurrection Sunday (Easter) 2015, I wanted to take a look at the similarities between the two stories found in Daniel 6 and Matthew 27. 

Daniel 6:4, 5 – Jealously Revealed and the plot thickens!

JEALOUSY REVEALED:

The peer groups (the presidents and the satraps) jealousy couldn’t find revenge because of Daniel’s excellent spirit within him.

Now as I read through the next few verses I was struck by Daniel’s reaction to the law of the Medes and Persians that king Darius had signed [no ‘veto override’ possible] as Law of the Land.

Yep, the conspirators PLAN ‘B’ was put into motion.  They knew by Daniel’s seeking his God, not once a day, but three times daily would put him in the vise grip of death.

THE ORDER WAS GIVEN AND THE KING’S ANXIETY FOLLOWED (6:14-20):

When conspirators accused Daniel’s three friends of not bowing down to king Nebuchadnezzar’s golden image, the king in his intense anger, threw the three Jews into a fiery furnace (Daniel 3:19-23).

Darius’ reaction is the exact opposite.  When the king heard this report from his advisors about Daniel’s daily practice of seeking his God, he was greatly distressed.  He was determined to rescue Daniel and made every effort to save him from the death sentence until sundown.

But alas, a VOW had been made.  Under Medo-Persian law, Darius couldn’t plead that it was a mistake.  Nor, neither can anyone else who makes VOWS and OATHS to God (Ecclesiastes 5:1-7).

All of Darius’ efforts had failed to change the obvious outcome.

With smiles on their faces, the conspirators brought Daniel to the mouth of lions’ den…throwing the “law-breaker” to his fate–and the king said to Daniel at that moment in time,  reflects the CONFIDENCE of Darius  most translations.

Darius seemed to have a greater degree of faith than Daniel’s three friends, who were saying in Daniel 3:17, 18:  

“IF our God Whom we serve is able to deliver us…”  and “But if not…” 

Bound by his own Decree and the Law of the Medes and Persians, Darius was POWERLESS to deliver Daniel from Den.

Interestingly, God was POWERLESS to deliver His only Son from the CROSS–being bound by His own prophecies of the Messiah and the Law of Holiness and Love which penetrates His very Being.

In Psalm 22, King David foretold what Christ thought and said on the Cross.  JESUS saw His enemies as  “a ravening and roaring lions” (v. 13).

In his Pentecost message, the apostle Peter quoted what David said about Jesus (Acts 13:35) taking from the words in Psalm 16:8-11.

God had PROMISED that His Son wouldn’t be abandoned to Sheol (the place of the dead), nor would His body see decay.  He would be RESURRECTED to life.

DANIEL, much like Isaac, was as good as DEAD but figuratively speaking, was received back from the dead (Hebrews 11:11-19).

The king’s FAITH can compare favorably with Abraham’s FAITH.

At the first light of dawn the king got up and hurried to the LIONS’ DEN.  When he came near the den, he called to DANIEL in an anguished voice, saying…

“O Daniel, servant of the living God, is your God, Whom you serve continually, able to deliver you from the lions?” (v. 20).  

Ironically, none of JESUS’ disciples, at first light on the third day, hurried to the TOMB of JESUS and called out,

“Are you alive?”

Repeatedly, Jesus told them He would RISE on the THIRD DAY, but their faith didn’t measure up to Darius’ faith.  Had they faithfully BELIEVED that God is able to RESCUE from the DEAD, they would have been there.

If DARIUS would have had a wavering faith, he never have called Daniel the “servant of the living God”, and uttered his cry to the Prophet.  Obviously, the light of Daniel’s witness led Darius to belief in the living God.

Scripture Comparison often becomes a tool that can lead to spiritual maturity in our lives.  So get your bibles, you’ll need them.

LIONS’ DEN

stock-photo-sleeping-584368

LIONS’ DEN

 

 JESUS’ TOMB

tomb16

 

THE FOUNDATIONAL TRUTHS REVEALED: 

#1.   The story of DANIEL (around 537 B.C.).

— The story of JESUS (around 33 A.D.).

#2.   The administrators and satraps CONSPIRED against DANIEL.

— The Pharisees and Jewish leaders CONSPIRED against JESUS.

#3.   They follow DANIEL around and INVESTIGATE him, trying to find something they can charge him with.

— They follow JESUS around and try to find something to CHARGE Him with.  They ask Him trick questions such as,  “Should we pay taxes?” or “Should we stone the woman?” 

#4.   DANIEL is found BLAMELESS.  They can’t find nothing to bring against him.

— JESUS is found BLAMELESS.  They can’t find anything to charge Him with.

#5.   DANIEL’s enemies come up with a plan to arrest him.

— JESUS’ enemies come up with a plan to arrest Him.

#6.   DANIEL’s enemies have to spy on him to catch him.

— JESUS’ enemies have to use a spy to catch Him.

#7.   When the PLAN is put into motion, DANIEL goes into a time of PRAYER knowing…if he PRAYS openly, he will be arrested.

— JESUS is arrested after His time of prayer (Matthew 26:36). 

#8.   After being arrested, DANIEL is immediately taken to judgement.

— After being arrested, JESUS is immediately taken to judgement.

#9.   DANIEL is found guilty, transgressing the Law of the Medes and Persians.

— JESUS is found guilty of transgressing the Law of the Jews.

#10.  DARIUS is deeply distressed that DANIEL must be sentenced to the Lions’ Den, even though Darius is the one who sentences him.

— PONTIUS PILATE is deeply distressed that JESUS is to be sentenced to the Cross, even though Pilate is the one who sentences Him.

#11.  DARIUS is unable to sleep.

— The WIFE OF PONTIUS PILATE is troubled in her sleep.

#12.  DARIUS pours over the Law to find some way to save DANIEL before the sentence is to be carried out.

— PONTIUS tries to find a way to save JESUS.

— He tries flogging Him…

— Offers to release Him…

— But the crowd chooses Barabbas instead.

#13.  The satraps have DARIUS cornered.

— The PHARISEES have PILATE cornered.

#14,  DANIEL is placed into a den.

— JESUS is placed in a tomb.

#15.  A giant rock is placed in front of the LIONS’ DEN.

— A giant rock is placed in front of the TOMB.

#16.  The KING’S SEAL is placed over the rock, so if anyone breaks the SEAL they will be killed.

— A ROMAN SEAL is placed over the rock, so if anyone breaks the seal, they will be killed.

#17.  When DANIEL is in the den, DARIUS can’t sleep.

— While JESUS is in the tomb His followers are lost and confused.

#18.  All possibility of escape is cut off and DANIEL is dead.

— All possibility of escape is cut off.  JESUS is dead.

#19.  A heavenly being appears in the Lions’ Den.

— A heavenly being appears in the Tomb.

#20.  At first light (dawn), DARIUS rushes to the Lions’ Den.

— At first light (dawn), the women rush to the Tomb.

#21.  DARIUS is given the good news.  DANIEL is alive!

— The women are given the good news that JESUS is alive!

#22.  DANIEL lives to prosper in the Medo-Persian kingdom.

— JESUS lives to prosper in God’s Kingdom.

#23.  DARIUS proclaims to the world that God’s Kingdom will never be destroyed.

— The FOLLOWERS (that’s us too) of JESUS proclaim God’s Kingdom…the Gospel Message to the world.

The “23” Similarities:

The listed comparisons are but examples of the divine inspiration of the Bible.  ALL the SIMILARITIES can’t be an accident, a coincidence, or simply reading too much into the stories.

Since the Old Testament and the New Testament thus are inseparably–connected as parts on one grand system of revelation of which the end is Christ Jesus, it follows that the latter New Testament revelations are the true interpreters of the Old Testament.  This is only saying that the Holy Spirit is the true and proper expositor of His own communication to man.  Start trying to do your own comparisons of the written Word and Listen for the enlightenment that comes from the Spirit of God.

 


 Credits:

Photos – Photo Pin; Google Images; Confident Faith (Daniel in the lions’ den).

Bible Translations Used – Amplified Bible; THE MESSAGE Bible.

 

 

 

 

In DEATH, Are We Just “Food for Worms”… Or, Is There More?

~ Our Study Scripture – 1 Corinthians 15:35-52 ~

cremation-burial-resurrection

 The Resurrection Body —

In 1 Corinthians 15, the apostle Paul is writing a letter to a group of Christians who were struggling with the issue of what happens after one dies.  They were living about 24 years after the RESURRECTION, and as we often today have lapses in memory of past events, their thinking about life and death were being influenced by their culture.

I read in a recent survey this past week, that 30% of all American believe in reincarnation; a belief that each individual soul lives a succession of lives in various human bodies over the course of history.  The purpose being, such reincarnation gradually purifies the soul eventually reaching perfection.

Even harder to grasp in reading this survey, Gallup also found 25% of those who describe themselves as Christians, including 10% of those…defining themselves as “born-again”/evangelicals.  [See Footnote [i] ]

This idea (25%/10% of Christians) makes absolutely no sense to me.  REINCARNATION is incompatible to the TRUTH of the Gospel.  Even among Americans who believe in the resurrection of the dead, 2/3 believe they will not have bodies after the RESURRECTION (Alcorn p. 110).

RESURRECTION by its very definition requires a body.  If we didn’t have bodies, we wouldn’t be resurrected!

“What Awaits After Death?”

~ Philippians 1:21 New Living Translation (NLT) ~

“For to me, living means living for Christ,

And dying is even better.”

PHYSICAL DEATH is the separation of the body from the soul.  At the DEATH of a believer in Christ Jesus, the body is committed to the grave and the soul and spirit goes to be with Jesus.

DEATH is an abnormal condition because it tears apart what God created and joined together.

God intended our bodies to last as long as our souls.  The reason we are decaying and dying is not because we have bodies.  It is because SIN has infected our bodies.

The Biblical Doctrine of Resurrection

This understanding is an affirmation that we are a spiritual and physical unity; that God intends to put us back together again.  I call it, the “Humpty Dumpty Effect.”  The kings horses and all the kings men couldn’t do it, but my King certainly can!

Although the soul is separate from the body at death, it’s only a temporary condition.  Some of you reading this care less about what happens to your body–after you die.  Right now, after looking in the mirror in the morning, hoping to find enough aspirin, icy/hot and duct tape to keep yourselves from falling apart and running now.

I would like to share some exciting news about what eternity holds for you physically as “mirror” gazers.  YEP! PHYSICALLY!! One day, you are going to experience the ultimate extreme makeover.

Being Transformed For Life In Heaven–

First, The New Body Is Real.

Paul addresses the FIRST QUESTION,  “How are the dead in Christ raised up?”  beginning in verse thirty-six:

“You foolish man!  Every time you plant a seed, you sow something that does not come to life UNLESS it dies first”  (1 Cor. 15:36).

This verse says that the body is “sown” – “sown” here means “buried.”  It seems obvious there’s no need for a resurrection “UNLESS” one is dead.

New, Yet Part Of The Old (vv. 37-38)

“Nor is the seed you sow then the body which it is going to have [later], but it is a naked kernel, perhaps of wheat or some of the rest of grains.  But God gives to it the body that He plans and sees fir, and to each kind of seed a body of its own.”

The illustration Paul uses here explains the “seed sown” doesn’t look like the fruit it will produce.

When you plant a pumpkin seed, as I do every year, the seeds planted never looks like a pumpkin.  Although the seed doesn’t look like the pumpkin, I know I can’t get the fruit if I don’t plant the seed.

The BODY that is resurrected is a brand new you.  If it’s not you, then it’s not resurrected.  Perhaps this analogy might help you understand my meaning–

At the age of thirty I was SAVED!  I became a new person, yet I was still the person I had always been.  I hoped those around me saw a lot of change in my life, but not to the point that they could not say, “That’s Mel.” 

This same MEL will undergo another change at death, and yet another change at the RESURRECTION.  But through all these changes, I’ll continue to be who I was and always will be [I’m indebted to John Hamby and Randy Alcorn’s analogy as a model].

Secondly, The New Body Is Recognizable–

One of the most often asked question concerning HEAVEN over the years is,  “Will we know our loved ones and will they know us?”

The only real example of what our resurrected body will be like in eternity is what we read of JESUS in the 40 days between His resurrection and His ascension.  JESUS walked the earth in His resurrection body for forty days showing us how we would live as resurrected human beings.

We are going to have bodies like JESUS (Note I didn’t say we were going to become little JESUS’).  It was the same body He had before He died and recognized by His friends. Yet, when the resurrected Lord appeared, He was so different that the first they didn’t recognize Him.

thomas

— He arose from the DEAD, yet upon His body were still the marks of the crucifixion, where-by His disciples knew with understanding this was the same JESUS in the same body (The Gospel of John Chapters 20-21).

— He had a real body that could touch, be touched and could and did eat(Mark 24:13-45).

Not only is the New Body Recognizable but…

Third, The New Body Is Radically Different

In Paul’s second rhetorical question in 1 Corinthians 15:35, he addresses what kind of body WE will have that is suitable for living forever in Heaven.

In verse forty-two Paul begins answering that question by drawing a series of contrast–

#1. The New Body Will Be Indestructible (v. 42):

“[The body] that is sown is perishable and decays…” [“food for worms”]. “but [the body] that is resurrected is imperishable (immune to decay, immortal)” (AMP translation).

First thing Paul tells us is our new resurrection bodies are indestructible–our new bodies are not like our old bodies–our current bodies wear out…we get old…we begin to notice everything doesn’t work like it use to. We begin to understand the old saying, “What doesn’t hurt doesn’t work.” We discover that no matter what the infomercial promises, it can’t stop the aging process.  At best, we may slow it down somewhat or camouflage it, but we can’t stop it.

Our new bodies will be made to last forever. Our resurrection bodies are not subject to disease or decay or aging. HALLELUJAH! Bodies will literally out-live the stars!

#2. The New Body Will Be Glorious (v. 43 a.):

“It is sown in dishonor and humiliation; it is raised in honor and glory…”

The word “GLORY” means brilliance. Our new bodies will be glorious like that of the risen Christ.

In Philippians 3:21 Paul says Jesus Christ (the Messiah) [as] Savior “Who will transform and fashion anew the body of our humiliation to conform to and be like the body of His glory and majesty…”

#3. The New Body Will Be Powerful (v. 43 b.):

“…it is sown in weakness, raised in POWER.”

We will possess a new body with abilities beyond our wildest imaginations.

When JESUS was with His disciples, He had POWER to come and go as He pleased, neither walls nor distance were obstacles.

According to John 20:25, JESUS came into the room without opening the door.  Now we are never told in Scripture that we’ll be able to do the same things JESUS did (like pass through closed doors).  It may be that some aspects of His resurrection body are unique because of His divine nature.  We may not share those special abilities that JESUS possessed but whatever abilities we do have will be more than we could have ever dreamed of.

#4. The New Body Will Be Infinite (v. 44 a.)

“It is sown a natural (physical) body; it is raised a supernatural (a spiritual) body…”

To say that we’ll have a “spiritual body” doesn’t mean we will just be spirits.  Somehow many Christians have come to the conclusion life in eternity is going to be some kind of ghost-like spiritual being.

JESUS reassured His disciples, “I am not a ghost…” (Luke 24:39 NLT).

We will be raised with a body suitable for our new life!

Fourth, The New Body Is Received At Christ’s Return (vv. 51-52):

"The Twinkling of an Eye"

“The Twinkling of an Eye”

[51] Take notice!  I tell you a mystery (a secret truth, an event decreed by the hidden purpose or counsel of God).  We shall not all fall asleep [in death], but we shall all be changed (transformed).

[52] In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the [sound of the] last trumpet call. For a trumpet will sound, and the dead [in Christ] will be raised imperishable (free and immune from decay), and we shall be changed (transformed).

“In a TWINKLING of An Eye”

Paul answers the question “Who will be resurrected and when?” in verses fifty-one and fifty-two.

“Take notice! …”

The DEAD in Christ will rise first and given new glorified bodies and the LIVING BELIEVERS will follow in the Parousia [STRONGS NT 3952 – Bible Hub.com], the RAPTURE– and their bodies will be transformed.

Paul further explains the sequence of events in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (AMP): 

[16] For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a loud cry of summons, with the shout of an archangel, and with the blast of the trumpet of God. And those who have depart this life in Christ will rise first.

[17] Then we, the living ones who remain [on the earth], shall simultaneously be caught up along with [the resurrected dead] in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so always (through the eternity of the eternities) we shall be with the Lord. 

All this will happen in the twinkling of an eye–a “wink”.  How long exactly, is the “twinkling of an eye”?  Jack Van Impe has defined “the twinkling of an eye as eleven one-hundredths of  a second [See Footnote [i] ].

Ben Franklin’s Epitaph–

In preparing this weeks topic, I discovered the epitaph that Ben Franklin wrote for himself while still a young man [See Footnote [ii]. ] 

I loved his wording because it wonderfully catches the spirit of Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 15:

The body of B. Franklin, printer, (like the cover of an old book, its contents torn out and stripped of its lettering and gilding) lies here, food for worms.

But the work shall not be lost, for it will (as he believed) appear once more, in a new and more elegant edition, revised and corrected by the Author.

He was born on January 6, 1706

Died 17

 


Footnotes and Credits:

[i] – www.blogos.org/theologyapologetics/reincarnation-christianity.hphp

[ii] – http://www.ushistory.org/franklin-grave

Bible Translations Used:

Amplified Bible (AMP); New Living Translation (NLT)

Photo Credits:

“Twinkling” Eye: Shutterstock via Photo Pin.

Google Images – 1 Corinthians 15:42 Image; The New Body Is Recognizable: Marks of the Crucifixion Image.

“SPRINGTIME” IS ALMOST HERE!

Song of Solomon 2:8-13 (NKJV):

THE SHULAMITE (Bride)

[8]  The voice of my beloved!  Behold, he comes  Leaping upon the mountains, Skipping upon the hills.

[9]  My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag.  Behold, he stands behind our wall; He is looking through the windows, Gazing through the lattice.

[10] My beloved spoke, and said to me:  “Rise up, my love, my fair one, And come away. 

[11]  For lo, the winter is past,  The rain is over and gone.

[12]  The flowers appear on the earth;  The time of singing has come,  And the voice of the turtle-dove is heard in our land.

[13]  The fig tree puts forth her green figs,  And the vines with the tender grapes  Give good smell.  Rise up, my love, my fair one,  And come away!”

I just completed a six part study in The Book of Revelation to John, and in Part 4 – “Rapture Ready!” [See Footnote [i] ],  I had some comments regarding The Rapture: Pre-Tribulation; Mid-Tribulation or Post-Tribulation viewpoints.  I mentioned to one commenter, who disagreed with my belief of the “catching up” of the church–the Bride of Christ, before the Tribulation was not my purpose in the blog.  It was not to debate the correctness of the different views, but to bring awareness to the event referenced in Scripture.  I went on to explain, perhaps in another blog, I would go into more detail of the RAPTURE.  So here we are!

A Summer Picnic Experience…

Several years ago, I decided to visit a nearby church fellowship I heard was an “on fire for the Lord” church.  After attending the church for three months (didn’t want to make rash decisions), my wife and I attended a Summer church picnic.  “Church Summer Picnics” almost have come to be “doctrine” over the years.  I regress.

Trying to be a good listener and getting to know people’s values and beliefs, I noticed one particular conversation regarding the phrase, “end times.”  In a nutshell, the vast majority gathered at the picnic that day, didn’t believe in the Tribulation, much lest the “RAPTURE” of the church.  They understood the book of The Revelation in terms of its first-century setting, claiming that most of its events have already taken place.  As “preterists,” they relate the contents mentioned in Scripture describe the struggle between imperial Rome and the church, so that everything was fulfilled at that time.

Now being saved and brought up in a conservative Baptist church… lessening the Blessed Hope in Scripture almost gave me whiplash.  I thought, is this church doctrine, or just a few misguided, spiritually immature believers?

So, holding back on judgement, I decided to move in closer to the group and wait…wait for an “empty” space in the discussion for my interjection of the TRUTH in Scripture.

Finally, I asked the question:  “Pardon me, but I couldn’t help over hear your talking points.  You don’t believe in the “Rapture” that the bible mentions?”  The response to the question was like an ice-cube being dropped down my back, but I tried not to over react.

“Do you have children?” asked one church leader.

“Yes, I have three,” I replied, wondering what was coming next.

“Are they married, have children?” he asked.

I didn’t have any idea at this point where the conversation was headed:

“Yes, they are.  And yes, I have four grandchildren.”

“Congratulations.  I want to see my three children grow up, get married and have children.  So why would I want or desire God to “rapture” the church now, or ever?

He went on to say,

“And besides, the word “RAPTURE”  is never even mentioned in the Bible”.

Later, I discovered the “preterist” viewpoint (unbelief in the “catching away” of the church) was the belief of the entire church assembly.  But for the most part, they kept their doctrine under wraps.  Although we had come to love the people over the months, we had to leave the fellowship.

The pastor later asked my wife and I if we would come to his office, to discuss our decision in leaving.  He was very polite, even sorrowful that we were leaving the fellowship and asked us with almost a whisper, “Then your decision is final?”

“Yes pastor, it is.”

And then I asked him a question:  “Are you a “preterist”?”

“Mostly” he answered.  He added, “Scripture is unclear and doesn’t verify the “taken up” principle, except once in Paul’s letter to Thessalonica.”  

“Really?.  That’s what you believe?  Even the Old Testament refers to the “catching up”-the Rapture.”

With a blank look on his face, he said, “And where might that be?” Almost as a challenge.

I pointed to the Song of Solomon (S.O.S.) as a reference to the “Rapture,” citing S.O.S. 2:8-13. 

So here I am once again, comparing verses in the Old Testament with verses in the New Testament concerning Jesus’ return for His Bride, the church.

The Rapture!

bride4christ

 

1 Thessalonians 4:16 is often used in discussing the RAPTURE, or the “catching up.”

“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a loud cry of summons, with the shout of an archangel, and with the blast of the trumpet of God. And those who have departed this life in Christ will rise first”  (Amplified Bible).

I want to look at the Old Testament, Song of Solomon, TO COMPARE with the evidence supporting the idea of the “Pre-Tribulation Rapture” view.  No arguments, just the evidence of Scripture to authenticate the viewpoint.

“The Voice of my beloved!  Behold, he comes”  (Vs. 8 a.) –

Who’s coming with a shout in 1 Thessalonians 4:16?   “The LORD Himself”!

“Leaping upon the mountains,  Skipping on the hills”  (Vs. 8 b.) –

The Heavens – 3 Levels Identified:

–The FIRST is from ground level up to the tallest mountain.

–The SECOND from there to outer space.

–The THIRD is heaven ITSELF.

“I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago–whether in the body or out of the body I do not know,  God knows–was caught up to the third heaven”  (2 Corinthians 12:2 AMP).

When the RAPTURE–“the catching up” occurs, JESUS will only come down to the “mountain top” level to catch us away.

His “Second Coming” or “2nd Advent” will be at then end of the Millennial Reign (The Revelation to John, Chapter 19), and the believers will be following Him as He rides on “A Horse With No Name”!  [See Footnote [ii]]

As JESUS circles the earth gathering His bride (the church), it might look like someone “skipping”…”leaping” from hilltop to hilltop!  (S.O.S. 2:8 b.)

“He looks in through the windows, he glances through the lattice”  (Vs. 9 b.) –

"He is looking through the window"

“He is looking through the window”

JESUS in heaven, is looking over the window sill, waiting to CATCH His bride away!

I remember a particular September day 1964, the year I was married, expectantly waiting by the altar as my new bride walked down that long aisle in church–glancing at her smiling approach as I grinned myself in anticipation of being together for lifetime.

“Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away”  (Vs. 10) –

This idea presented in those words reminded me of my recent blog-POST in the Six Part Series in The Book of Revelation (Part Four- “A Glimpse of Heaven”): 

Revelation 4:1  And the first voice I had heard addressing me like [the calling of] a war trumpet said,  “Come up here…”  (Amplified Bible)

“For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone”  (Vs. 11) –

What is the significance of the word “RAIN”?

“COME AND let us return to the Lord, for He has torn so that He may heal us;  He has stricken so that He may bind us up.  [2] After two days He will revive us (quicken us, give us life); on the third day He will raise us up that we may live before Him.  [3] Yes, let us know (recognize, be acquainted with, and understand) Him; let us be zealous to know the Lord [to appreciate, give heed to, and cherish Him].  His going forth is prepared and certain as the dawn, and He will come to us as the [heavy] rain, as the latter rain that waters the earth”  (Hosea 6:1-3 AMP).

James 5:7-8 (NASB):

“Be patient, therefore, brethren, until th coming of the Lord.  Behold, the farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains.  [8] You to be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.

What is “RAIN” symbolic of in Scripture?  The outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

The OUTPOURING happened when the church was born (the former rain–the first 4 Feasts of Israel has already been fulfilled).

“And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.  [18] And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy”  (Acts 2:17-18 KJV).

The First Four Feasts of Israel–

I am not saying that we should all commemorate/follow the SEVEN FEASTS OF ISRAEL found in the bible, but as Christians, we should at least be acquainted with them and what they can signify in the New Covenant.

1.  Passover.  2.  Unleavened Bread.  3.  First Fruits.  4.  Weeks.

The Latter Rain has yet to be fulfilled–

THE LATTER RAIN starts around the time of the Fall Feasts–the first of which is “Feast of Trumpets” falls in September (succeeded by the Feast of Atonement and Tabernacles).

HELLO?  When is the LAST TRUMPET blown?  The Feast of Trumpets!

“Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed–in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed”  (1 Corinthians 15:51, 52 – NIV Bible).

When is the bridegroom coming for His bride?

When the RAIN is over and gone.

“The fig tree puts forth her green figs”  (Vs. 13 a.)

Green Figs

Green Figs

Remember what JESUS said in His Olivet Discourse?

Matthew 24:32-33 (Amplified Bible):

[32] From the fig tree learn this lesson:  as soon as its young shoots become soft and tender and it puts out its leaves, you know of a surety that summer is near.

[33] So also when you see these signs, all taken together, coming to pass, you may know of surety that He is near, at the very doors.

Could this parable Jesus is referring to be the one in Song of Solomon?  The bridegroom coming for the bride?

S.O.S. verse 10, 13, the bridegroom says “Rise up”.  Why does He say it twice?

1 Thessalonians 4:15-17:

For this we declare to you by the Lord’s [own] word, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord shall in no way precede [into His presence] or have any advantage at all over those who have previously fallen asleep [in Him in death].

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a loud cry of summons, with the blast of the trumpet of God.  And those who have departed this life in Christ will rise first.

Then we, the living ones who remain [on the earth], shall simultaneously be caught up along with [the resurrected dead] in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so always (through the eternity of the eternities) we shall be with the Lord!

CAN YOU SEE WHAT I SEE HERE? evidence

He speaks once for the dead in Christ Jesus, and gain for those alive and remaining.  HALLELUJAH!  The bridegroom is coming for His bride (the church) and we will rise up to meet Him.

My point in this Blog-post is not to convince, nor to persuade you one way or another regarding the viewpoints of the RAPTURE:

–Pre-Tribulation

–Mid-Tribulation

–Post-Tribulation

My intent is to present you with the Scriptural evidence.  My view by now, is “Pre-Tribulation”.

[See and read the following evidence presented:  1 Thessalonians 5:9; Revelation 3:10; 1 Thessalonians 1:10]

 

 


FOOTNOTES and CREDITS:

Footnote [i] – “Rapture Ready!” https://theworddetective.wordpress.com/2015/02/17/rapture-ready…lation-to-john 

Footnote [ii] – “A Horse With No Name” https://theworddetective.wordpress.com/2015/02/24/a-horse-qwith

Bible References:

New King James Version (NKJV); Amplified Bible (AMP)

 

 

 

“Shall We Gather At The River” – The Book of Revelation To John – (Part Six)

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This will be my final series study in the Book of REVELATION TO JOHN.  I hope you have enjoyed the study as much as I, and… although I didn’t address ALL the issues and questions most have in the reading, I’ve tried to highlight what the Holy Spirit was leading me to present to you.  That said, let’s look at the last Chapter in the Book, and “Shall we gather at the river”?

The River of Life – REVELATION 22:1-2:

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb  [2] down the middle of the great street of the city.  On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month.  And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

THE RIVER OF LIFE:

What a great day that will be when we gather together to see Heaven’s glorious scene for the first time beside the RIVER, flowing from the THRONE OF GOD and of the LAMB.

THE CRYSTAL CLEAR RIVER begins as a trickle, then flows throughout NEW JERUSALEM to provide healing and life to all who live on its banks.

The green grass, beautiful flowers, trees and meadows along its banks and can only be seen in the hearts and minds of man for the present, but one day soon, see it just as John has described.

What a day that will be.  All the troubles and trials of this life will pass into nothingness when we see JESUS face to face.

THE POWER OF THIS RIVER OF LIVING WATER:

Ezekiel 47:1-5 (NAS Bible):

[1] THEN HE brought me back to the door of the house; and behold, water was flowing from  under the threshold of the house toward the east, for the house faced east. And the water was flowing down under, from the right side of the house, from south of the altar.

[2] And he brought me out by the way of the north gate and led me around on the outside to the outer gate by the way of the gate that faces east. And behold, water was trickling from the south side.

[3] When the man went out toward the east with a line in his hand, he measured a thousand cubits, and he led me through the water, water reaching the ankles.

[4] Again he measured a thousand and led me through the water, water reaching my knees. Again he measured a thousand and led me through the water, water reaching the loins.

[5] Again he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not ford, for the water had risen, enough water to swim in, a river that could not be forded.

“Oh, those DRY BONES…”

Ezekiel has been down to the VALLEY OF DRY BONES, representing the dead spirituality of Israel as a nation.

These DRY BONES also stand for every man who ever lived that didn’t have the life-giving flow of God in their lives.  When God asked Ezekiel, “Can these bones live?”, He was asking a question for which there was only one answer:

If we answer in the power and ability of our own minds, our thinking, the answer would have been NO!  But in the POWER of the life-giving RIVER OF GOD, bones not only live but become a mighty nation able to do great things!

In John 4:14, we can see JESUS as He is waiting for the woman at the well who heard JESUS’ words:

“But whoever takes a drink of the water that I will give him shall never, no never, be thirsty any more.  But the water that I will give him shall become a spring of water welling up (flowing, bubbling)  [continually] within him unto (into, for) eternal life” [Amplified Bible].

As the WATERS of that river flow, much of it will go to those who will step into its water, wade out just a little bit and then deeper each day.

Every Christian must step out into the WATERstock-photo-testing-the-water-2831255

Ezekiel saw the waters as they were only ankle-deep as JESUS began leading him to the unseen depths of the RIVER.

Do you ever find yourself standing on the sand of a warm beach, looking towards the water wondering how cold, how deep, are there sharp rocks I can’t see in the water?

As a Christian, we must also step out into the unknown, to explore the things of God.  And as we MATURE in Christ and our relationship grows, we begin to wade out a little further from the shore…a little further until finally we are lost in the LOVE OF JESUS and learn to live by FAITH.

Too many people won’t venture out into DEEP WATER

My wife is an example of not wanting to venture out into the ocean.  “Knee deep,” is about it for her, all because of a teenage experience.  She almost drowned when stepping in an unseen hole beneath the waters with waves crashing over her and having difficulties in breathing. “I thought I was drowning,” she said.  Fortunately, a boy and a float-raft were nearby, helping her to get back to shore.

Are not RELATIONSHIPS sometimes like venturing out into deep waters?  Too many people won’t go out into the DEEP WATER in the relationship with JESUS because it requires a COMMITMENT OF FAITH to believe, that Jesus’ POWER keeps them afloat.

In these Scriptures in EZEKIEL, you see how that JESUS has taken Ezekiel to the House of God, the Temple, and revealed to him the source of the RIVER that will flow out into a dry and thirsty land, providing LIFE for all it touches.

“The WATERS came out of the right side of the house…flowed from the south side of the ALTAR”

What a wonderful picture that gives of the BLOOD of JESUS CHRIST–

The BLOOD flowed from His side on a Hill called Mount Calvary.  The BLOOD began as a trickle, then became a flow that reached down and began to flow out from beneath the “Altar of Sacrifice of the Cross”–to go down to the earth to flow over the souls of a sin darkened and lost world.

“What can wash away my sin?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus”

THE RIVER BRINGS LIFE!

Look again at John 4:14:  To those who choose to be washed in the Blood of the Lamb through REPENTANCE of sins, and acceptance of the SACRIFICE of JESUS, surrendering their lives to Him will have this same WELL of Living Water flowing from the heart of every believer which provides the ability to reach out to other people who have been washed in the BLOOD also.

The HOLY SPIRIT within each of us who are believers in Christ Jesus, in what He has already done on the Cross, is the MANIFESTATION of that RIVER of Living Water as He speaks through us, leading and teaching us everyday.

THE RIVER SATISFIES!

Psalm 63:1-5:

“Praise awaits You, O God, in Zion; to You our vows will be fulfilled.  O You who hear prayer, to You all men will come.  When we were overwhelmed by sins, You atoned for our transgressions.  Blessed is the man You choose and bring near to live in your courts!  We are filled with good things of Your house, of Your holy temple.  You answer us with awesome deeds of righteousness, O God our Savior, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas”  (NIV Bible).

DAVID knew what it was to need God’s forgiveness, God’s blessing that only the RIVER OF GOD would bring.

We live in a dry and thirsty land, so we need to be on guard against the power of sin.  If it were not for the constant flow and the POWER OF THE BLOOD of the Lamb as the RIVER flows on us, what chance would any of us have?

We Have A PROMISE…

God’s help is there for us just as it was for King David.  David wrote another Song to the Lord that we can read in Psalm 46:4-5:

[4] There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the Most High.  [5] God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God will help her right early [at the dawn of the morning]”  (Amplified Bible).

We, as the Bride of Christ, shall be Overcomers!

The RIVER OF GOD, that begins at the Throne of God and of the Lamb that comes from the foot of the CROSS, gives us the POWER to overcome the power of temptation and sin; the POWER to be satisfied by the Holy spirit in every circumstance and know God has it all under control!

THE RIVER CLEANSES US!

WATER has a cleansing power beneficial to all of us.  But the CLEANSING POWER of the RIVER goes much deeper than natural water.  The water from your tap, your shower head, your bathtub faucet only cleanses the outside making us look good.

BUT, the LIVING WATER from the River of God reaches down to the hearts of men and washes away the STAIN and DEPTH of SIN.

There is an old song that says,  There is POWER in the BLOOD, POWER in the BLOOD!  Sins stains are washed in its life-giving flow,  There’s POWER in the BLOOD of the Lamb.

The River of God Cannot be Stopped!

Satan cannot stop the RIVER as it moves on.  Satan and the Antichrist are destined to be washed away in its cleansing power.

The River is a FLOOD of God’s POWER cleansing the world.  Matthew 24:14,

“And this good news of the kingdom (the Gospel)

will be preached throughout the whole world

as a testimony to all nations,

and then will come the end.”

To me, that is not a picture of a church that is sitting around doing nothing, waiting to be delivered.  That’s a picture of the Church as it stands (not sitting) under the anointing of the Holy Spirit and defies the god of this world; stepping out into the territory of the Devil himself to bring the MESSAGE of the Gospel to anyone and everyone who will hear!  “Let the Redeemed say so!”

There is ONE Limiting Factor in the POWER of this River to Cleanse…

That limiting factor is your own will.

God is a perfect gentleman and never forces His WILL on any man or woman.  It is up to us to ACCEPT His gentle offer and wade out into the river as Ezekiel had to do.

It all begins with that FIRST STEP!

Has the River Washed You Clean?

Have you made a Step into the Water of His Love?

God wants to let this RIVER flow in your heart today.  To let the CLEANSING POWER of the Blood of the Lamb to wash over you, right where you are sitting.

If that is your desire, SWING OUT into the Water of the River of God and experience the great SALVATION and PEACE Jesus offers!

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If FAITH AND TRUST can get you to the River, then it’s up to you to start swimming!


CREDITS:

Photos by Photo Pin and Google Images

Bible Verses:

Amplified Bible Translation (AMP) and the New International Version Bible (NIV)