The longing of my heart and prayer to God. Chapter one. Romans 10:1-13.

Dear brothers and sisters,

The longing of my heart and my prayer to God is for the people of Israel to be saved.

I know what enthusiasm they have for God, but it is misdirected zeal.

They don’t understand God’s way of making people right with himself.

Refusing to accept God’s way,

they cling to their own way of getting right with God by trying to keep the law;

for Christ has already accomplished the purpose for which the law was given.

As a result, all who believe in him (Christ) are made right with God.

(Romans 10:1-4 NLT)

What is the foundation of Paul’s statement?

Paul tells us that the law that Moses wrote about (the Torah) and said that whoever can perform the law will live by it. At first glance, that does not seem like such a bad thing, as there were only ten ordinances to follow; and, the law/Torah brings about a momentary righteousness.

(As I try to put flesh and blood on this act of sacrifice that brings righteousness, I picture a man leaving the temple with a satisfied look on his face because he knows that he has just covered his sins for the year. Only moments later, some camel jockey cuts him off on the way home, and he retaliates with some curse and a few hand gestures. At that moment, he realizes that he just threw a year’s worth of righteousness out the window; and, he must wait until next year. What if something happens and he dies of a heart attack the next day? Can you see the problem in that system? The sacrificial system did not change the person.)

Perhaps, a corresponding verse from Deuteronomy might give us an angle that sheds some light.

And if we are careful to obey all this law before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness.” (Deuteronomy 6:25 TNIV)

So then, the Torah would be their/our righteousness, but what does that do with God, since God, knowing that we cannot maintain a righteous condition, and therefore He has to be our righteousness?

Paul has an answer to that question as well. (You may have noticed that Paul’s style of writing is one in which he asks questions. In asking questions, he is trying to get you to think. It does not demand an answer, as Paul does not ask questions for which he does not have an answer.)

But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?'” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?'” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”
(Romans 10:6-11 TNIV)

It isn’t about one’s ability to follow the rules; it is faith in the fact that God raised Him from the dead so that you too could have life. Did you pay attention to the line that says, for Christ has already accomplished the purpose for which the law was given? So Christ, as the final sacrifice, paid the price necessary for our righteousness; all that is left is to accept and believe this is so.

Earlier in Paul’s letter to the Romans, he pointed out that God leveled the playing. In other words, NO ONE people group has an advantage merely because they are Jewish.

This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:22-24 TNIV)

(Side note: Romans 3:23, a passage that we religious folk use to point out that everyone is a SINNER isn’t trying to make that point at all, it is pointing out that WE ALL have a massive problem and NEED a savior. Since the playing field is leveled, then NO ONE has an advantage, and all must come to Him. God is not withholding His love and grace from anyone.)

Notice how Romans 10:11, in the TNIV, says, “anyone who believes in him.” There are a few translations of this, and this is what they say, Everyone, Whoever, or Whosoever. What does that mean? It means that anyone is welcome into God’s family.

Since the concept of belief has multiple possibilities, then perhaps God has the grace to accept faith in a variety of forms. Let me be first to respond negatively to this statement.

There is only one way to the Father, and that is through Jesus Christ.

But what does that look like?

When we look at Matthew 25, the story of the sheep and the goats, and understand that these people being brought before the great white throne (I know it does not specifically say that, but the component pieces are there, if you are willing to look,) are those from among the nations that have died. (I can guarantee that at this point you are not comprehending the immensity of this statement.) The nations, to a Jew, has always meant someone outside of God’s grace. For the believer, it was us, but now means those whom we perceive as not accepting Christ’s love. How would I know any of that? Think in terms of chronology. Since we, the church, are not subject to the wrath that God will bring upon this earth, then we are going to be caught up to meet Him/Jesus, in the air, and forever be with Him. These, from among the nations, did not get caught up. Standard religious thought arbitrarily assigns these to hell. Obviously our thinking is wrong on this, as SOME are given access, And here’s why:

I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was homeless and you gave me a room, I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to me.’ (Matthew 25:35-36 MSG)

Some might see this as works, and if we have learned anything, it is that works don’t cut it, faith does. There is something far deeper about God’s love than we could have imagined.

For the thief on the cross, his faith was beyond simplistic.

One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Do you not even fear God since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? “And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” And He said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”

(Luke 23:39-43 NASB)

Allow me to break this passage from Luke’s gospel down for you.

  1. One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, saying,
      Well, He is the King of the Jews – both then and now, and Jesus did not defend Himself, He did not need to. Neither of the thieves knew what Jesus was about to do, and the resulting salvation that would come to, NOT only Jesus but billions of followers.
    1. The other thief, rebuking the first, answered,
        Where and how did this thief come to the understanding that there was a God to fear?  Since I assert that belief is not so tightly defined, then how do we explain what this man has said? Despite what he may have heard about Jesus, he believed.
      1. What happened next? The thief, having acknowledged that Jesus had done nothing wrong, said to Jesus,
          Most of the time, because we Gentile believers struggle with Jewish understanding, and therefore ignore it, read this as, when you come into your kingdom. This concept of a kingdom, for many, throws this scene beyond the thousand-year reign of Christ over the earth. Jesus’ response to the thief proves that concept to be wrong. My question to you then is, when will Jesus return to earth as the King? What the Jews longed for then, and expect now, is for Yahshua to come as the warring, conquering Messiah. This triumphant arrival is what we see in Revelation 19:11 when Jesus comes back to earth as the Messiah riding a white horse. (If you hold to the idea that this Bible we read is a Jewish book, then information, such as we see in Revelation 19, will begin to make sense to you.) Merely being a Jew does not exclude you from breaking laws, and this man surely broke enough to get himself hung. Although, considering the Roman propensity for hanging people to make a statement, I am not surprised he is there next to Jesus.
        1. Jesus response to the man who is demonstrating a form of belief,
            There was an emphasis on Jesus’ words to the man. Now whether Jesus said, “what I am about to tell you is true,” is debatable, but the effect emerges from the scripture, and virtually every translation proves this out. Jesus was telling the man, beyond all doubt, that TODAY the man would be with Him in paradise.Paradise is a Persian word and was used for an enclosed park or pleasure ground. The word occurs in two other passages in the N.T. (2Co_12:4; Rev_2:7), in both of which the reference is plainly to heaven” (Robertson, Word Pictures, vol. 2, p. 287).

          So let’s get back to Romans 10:11 for a moment. Look at this verse in the New International Readers Version.

          But I will bless any man who trusts in me. I will show my favor to the one who depends on me.” (Jeremiah 17:7 NirV)

          The Word Study Dictionary says this about the Hebrew word for trust.

          bāṭaḥ: “A verb indicating to trust, to be confident. It expresses the feeling of safety and security that is felt when one can rely on someone or something else. It is used to show trust in God. …, and people.”

          The Strong’s concordance tells us this about the word trust.

          To hide for refuge (but not so precipitately as H2620); figuratively to trust, be confident or sure. H2620 is the Hebrew word khaw-saw’ and means to flee for protection.

          Strong’s shows us a word I was not familiar with, precipitately. The word means hastily, with rash haste, without due caution.

          It seems that the only time we run without due caution is when we are in imminent danger. God, on the other hand, desires that we run to Him regularly, not because we are weak and out of control, but because He is love and longs to show us that love. To prove my point, you will be hard-pressed to find anyone willing to give their life to save you. Oh sure, there is always that one person that makes the news, but they aren’t your friend. God, on the other hand, put Himself on that cross, for you, when you hated Him or were so distanced from Him that you did not want Him to see your face.

          Answer me this is that something that we do, flee to God for protection? Israel fled to God, but only when things got completely out of control. I have done that myself, and things were indeed out of control. So for us, this concept seems to be a standard, but is it God’s?

          Did the thief on the cross, that gained acceptance into paradise, put his trust in God?
          Obviously, he did, for Jesus himself said, “what I am telling you is true, this day you will be with me in paradise.

          Did the thief who gained the assured acceptance into paradise, go through all the standard religious practices? There is no practical way he could have done that. I believe it is safe to assume that this man was a Jew as well, and would have known what the law required for repentance, and how that blood, spilled in sacrifice was the decreed way to gain righteousness at this time. Sadly, the man was in no position to do any of that.

          Another piece of evidence, on behalf of the thief, was that he could recognize that Jesus had done no wrong. How would he have known that and by what standard could he have made that kind of assessment? (We assume that the thief was not a Jew. It would appear that our assumption is wrong, once again.)

          In studying the early chapters of Romans, I commented on how Paul spoke of God leveling the playing field. Well, here it is again.

          For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.”

          (Romans 10:12-13 NASB)

          Can you not see that the thief on the cross, called upon the name of the Lord?

          Next time we will pick up at Romans 10:14 and finish this out.

          Chapter two.

          Paul throws out another of his questions.

          How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed?
          How will they believe in Him, whom they have not heard?
          And how will they hear without a preacher?

          (Romans 10:14 NASB)

          We have nothing beyond the thief’s conversation, to explain how this man believed, but he did. Paul, in Romans 10:14, seems to imply that the respectful thief must have heard; this strikes me odd when the only one doing any preaching is Jesus. This thief and Saul, the pharisee, both heard and saw Jesus in action. Because our decisions have consequences, the thief paid quickly for his actions, and yet received the gift of life with the Father. Saul, on the other hand, had followers of Christ jailed and killed, and still, God significantly used him to spread the gospel. Did Saul/Paul pay for his sins here on earth? It would seem he did.

          Paul again asks.

          How will they preach unless they are sent?
          Just as it is written,
          (Romans 10:15 NASB)

          Who and what did Paul have on his mind when he asked this question?

          J Vernon McGee says this:

          “Paul shows that there must be messengers of the gospel who have credentials from God. Paul, you recall, began this epistle with the claim that he was a called apostle of Jesus Christ (see Rom_1:1). There follows a logical sequence. Preachers must be sent in order for people to hear that they might believe, for they would not know how to call upon God. Paul pinpoints all on believing; this, therefore, necessitated his ministry.”

          I am not sure I agree with what we deem qualifications. I, for example, have learned simply by burying my head in the Word of God and asking questions about virtually everything I read, in contrast to someone from theology school. Assuming that I am qualified to preach the gospel, the opportunities have not arisen as I thought they might; this leads me to occasionally think I have not been sent. Personally, I think that we are all evangelists to some degree.

          That being said, does everybody receive what we are saying?

          NO, and Paul had the same problem.

          However, they did not all heed the good news;
          for Isaiah says, “LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT?”
          (Romans 10:16 NASB)

          Once again, I turn to J Vernon McGee.

          “The Jews, his own people, hated the apostle Paul even though they applauded Saul, the Pharisee. He is showing the logic of his position. They rejected his claim, or the right of any of the apostles, to proclaim a gospel that omitted the Mosaic system which had degenerated into Pharisaism.”

          Recently, a brother in Christ threw out a challenge/question at me. He asked, why do preachers preach from the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) when Paul received new teaching, which is referred to as a mystery? Having learned not to answer such things so quickly, I hesitated, and in a matter of seconds, he began answering his own question. Such events are typically a good sign that the person asking the question wasn’t interested in obtaining an answer, but was bent on spewing his opinion. This man is typically boisterous, and unwilling to conform to what the Word of God says. Several minutes passed, and other conversations arose; however, I resurrected the subject of the gospels. I pointed out that all scripture is useful and, therefore, fair game to teach or preach from.

          All Scripture is God-breathed and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfected, thoroughly furnished to every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17 MKJV)

          He retorted with, but the gospels were concerned with the law, and Paul preached that we are free from the law.” Don’t you wish that were true, but it is not for Jesus said, I have come to fulfill the law.

          Do not think that I have come to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to destroy but to fulfill. (Matthew 5:17 MKJV)

          Look at these verses.

          For it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified. For when the nations, who do not have the Law, do by nature the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law unto themselves; who show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and the thoughts between one another accusing or even excusing one another,

          (Romans 2:13-15 MKJV)

          Having demonstrated that the law is written upon the heart, allow me to show you one more verse that WE cannot set aside the law.

          There is only one God, and he makes people right with himself only by faith, whether they are Jews or Gentiles. Well then, if we emphasize faith, does this mean that we can forget about the law? Of course not! In fact, only when we have faith, do we truly fulfill the law. (Romans 3:30-31 NLT)

          A question, how did Paul open this letter to the church in Rome?

          This letter is from Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, chosen by God, to be an apostle and sent out to preach his Good News. (Romans 1:1 NLT)

          Writing with emphasis to a Jewish community, Paul uses a term that should be offensive to anyone, slave; for slaves, whether by force or by choice, have submitted their entire lives to the disposal of someone else. I will tell you something deadly serious to me; I have come to understand that I can’t do this on my own, and desperately need a savior, even to the point of considering myself enslaved to him.

          Why say all this? Because Paul makes it very clear that “they,” the Jews,

          did not all heed the good news.”

          Paul referenced a passage from Isaiah to indicate his awareness that barely any of the Jewish community are accepting the message of freedom and grace.

          “Who has believed our message, and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

          (Isaiah 53:1 ISV)

          There is a reason for this conversation.

          The point is, Before you trust, you have to listen.

          But unless Christ’s Word is preached, there’s nothing to listen to.

          (Romans 10:17 MSG)

          So, the logical assumption is that Israel has had plenty of voices speaking to them about faith and grace.

          “But, I say, isn’t it rather that they didn’t hear?”

          No, they did hear—”

          Their voice has gone out throughout the whole world and their words to the ends of the earth.”

          (Romans 10:18 CJB)

          Paul still queries,

          So the big question is,
          Why didn’t Israel understand that she had no corner on this message?

          Moses had it right when he predicted, When you see God reach out to those you consider your inferiors—outsiders!— you’ll become insanely jealous.
          When you see God reach out to people you think are religiously stupid, you’ll throw temper tantrums.

          (Romans 10:19 MSG)

          Paul then tells us, He was found by a people who were not looking for Him.

          Then Isaiah was bold enough to say: “I have been found by a people who were not searching for me; I have made known myself to people who were not asking to know me.” (Romans 10:20 Williams)

          Cold shoulders and icy stares.

          Then he capped it with a damning indictment: Day after day after day, I beckoned Israel with open arms And got nothing for my trouble but cold shoulders and icy stares.

          (Romans 10:21 MSG)

          If this says anything to you, it should say rejoice.

          Posted in Thoughts on scripture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

          Is there injustice in God? Romans 9:15 – 27. Part two of two.

          We looked at Romans 9:14 where Paul asked the question, is there injustice in God? Paul answers his own question with, Of course not!; Paul continues with what we see in Romans 9:15-16.

          Romans 9:15-16 NET. For he says to Moses: “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” (16) So then, it does not depend on human desire or exertion, but on God who shows mercy.

          Where does this showing of mercy come from?

          Exodus 33:18-19 NET. And Moses said, “Show me your glory.” (19) And the LORD said, “I will make all my goodness pass before your face, and I will proclaim the LORD by name before you; I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, I will show mercy to whom I will show mercy.”

          Moses merely asked to see God’s glory. That was an all-encompassing request, for, as we learned, His Glory shows up in everything. If God was going to be narrow-minded about whom He showed his grace and mercy, why start with Moses, for he murdered a man? Why show any of those things to any of us, as we are all embedded with this sin nature?

          What is the one passage that gets read for most salvation pleas?

          John 3:16 NASB “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

          If John 3:16 shows us anything, it shows us a God that was willing to put Himself on that cross for a world that did not love Him.

          Does that demonstrate a God who handpicks those He will show grace and mercy to, when, in fact, it is a demonstration of how He shows grace and mercy to all who will follow after Him?

          To reiterate.

          Romans 9:16 NASB So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.

          We cannot do this on our own, and it is God who demonstrates mercy. Now here comes the one verse that seems to slap us around more than any other. I will give you the MKJV first.

          Romans 9:17 MKJV  For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “Even for this same purpose I have raised you up, that I might show My power in you, and that My name might be declared throughout all the earth.”

          What scripture?

          And Jehovah said to Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh, and say to him, So says Jehovah, the God of the Hebrews, Let My people go, so that they may serve Me. For I am going to send at this time all My plagues upon your heart, and upon your servants, and upon your people, so that you may know that there is none like Me in all the earth. For now, I will stretch out My hand, that I may strike you and your people with plagues, and you shall be cut off from the earth. And for this, I have made you stand, to make you see My power, to declare My name in all the land. Do you still exalt yourself against My people, that you will not let them go? (Exodus 9:13-17 MKJV)

          There is a phrase here that I want to focus on for a moment, and I want to look at the NASB to do it.

          “But, indeed, for this reason, I have allowed you to remain, in order to show you My power and in order to proclaim My name through all the earth. (Exodus 9:16 NASB)

          The Hebrew word for reason is abur and also means on account of.

          God was not punishing a human just because He felt a need to be vindictive; there were many reasons. When we look at the context, which I have given in Exodus 9:13-17, you can see several clues as to why God used Pharaoh in this manner.

          1. Pharaoh, regardless of whether he respected the word of Moses or not, was under a mandate to release God’s people; he chose to disregard that mandate.
          2. We learn that Pharaoh was warned that plagues would come: upon his heart, the heart of his servants, and the heart of the Egyptians – your people. While the plagues go beyond annoying, they were meant to demonstrate that God is in control, NOT some Pharaoh. Let us make something understood, God’s people did not belong to Pharaoh, but they had foolishly given their hearts to Egypt. Scripture proves this out, and we see it when Stephen addresses the Jewish council who intends to kill him. He provides the council with a history lesson, which none of them disputed, and Stephen added, “your people, brought the tent of Moloch and the star of Rephan out of Egypt with them. You can find this story in Acts chapter seven but look specifically at verses 39, where their hearts turned back to Egypt, and verse 43, which tells us that they brought the tabernacle of Moloch.

          Romans 9:18 CJB  So then, he has mercy on whom he wants, and he hardens whom he wants.

          Should this perceived attitude problem cause us problems? Why should it, aren’t we currently living in God’s enduring grace?

          Keep something in mind. Joseph, under the control of a different Pharaoh, was raised to the second- highest position in the country. Nobody did anything in Egypt without Joseph knowing about it. Did that Pharaoh care? Not at all, in fact, Pharaoh relaxed knowing that a Godly man was in charge. But almost four hundred years have passed, Joseph has long since died, and Israel is still in Egypt and growing in numbers. This new Pharaoh, who knows nothing of Joseph, nor cares, is concerned about one thing, this vast number of people could turn against him, and therefore, must be quickly controlled and sedated.

          Dr. J Vernon McGee tells us that, “God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, it means that God forced Pharaoh to make the decision that was in his heart. God forced him to do the thing he wanted to do. There never will be a person in hell who did not choose to be there, my friend. You are the one who makes your own decision.”

          So the assumption made by the foolish is that humanity has no choice, when, in fact, their course of action to reject God is their own making. God merely helps to get them there.

          Romans 9:19 TLV  You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?”

          Assuming that we lack a choice, some will say, why then still find fault in people, for who can resist God’s will

          The Message translation gets right to the point in response to the question we see in verse 19.

          Romans 9:20 MSG  Who in the world do you think you are to second-guess God? Do you, for one moment, suppose any of us knows enough to call God into question? Clay doesn’t talk back to the fingers that mold it, saying, “Why did you shape me like this?”

          I think the obvious answer NO ONE knows the heart of God, the way the Son did. One way for me to understand this is that our antenna is broken, and as James says, we look through the glass darkly. But also pay attention to this sentence: “Clay doesn’t talk back to the fingers that mold it.” Now that should straighten the hairs on the back of your neck.

          Romans 9:21 MSG  Isn’t it obvious that a potter has a perfect right to shape one lump of clay into a vase for holding flowers and another into a pot for cooking beans?

          Well, of course, He does, and I suspect He has the right to reconfigure us as it suits His needs, not ours.

          Romans 9:23-24 MSG  and another style carefully crafted to show his glorious goodness, isn’t that all right?  (24)  Either or both happens to Jews, but it also happens to the other people.

          And we are the other people who were adopted into this relationship. Adopted but Sons none the less, and since we are sons, we are obedient.

          Romans 9:25-26 MSG  Hosea put it well: I’ll call nobodies and make them somebodies; I’ll call the unloved and make them beloved.  (26)  In the place where they yelled out, “You’re nobody!” they’re calling you “God’s living children.”

          Romans 9:27 NLT  And concerning Israel, Isaiah the prophet cried out, “Though the people of Israel are as numerous as the sand of the seashore, only a remnant will be saved.

          Concerning Israel, only a remnant will be saved. What does that mean?

          Several things. The meanings can be wrapped up in an understanding that not all will come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, and it can also point to Israel’s end-times destruction. I believe this is what is conveyed in Ezekiel 38, 39.

          Romans 9:28 NLT  For the LORD will carry out his sentence upon the earth quickly and with finality.”

          The notion of a sentence, as used here, has to do with judgment. When does God bring judgment?

          Only when He has removed those who are to be excluded in that judgment, will He pour out His wrath upon the earth for seven years. We have two ways of considering this time frame, in contrast to what Romans 9:28 tells us.

          1. Seven years is a drop in the bucket compared to the last two thousand or so years we have been waiting for Christ to return and catch the church away.
          2. Since Paul uses the term finality, then we are thrust forward in time to the end of those seven years, to the time when Jesus will come riding back on the scene on a white horse. It is then that much of what we see as justice will be delivered. If you are familiar with this story in the Revelation, then you are aware of the speed with which it transpires.
          3. For those that love to argue, there is one last judgment However, it is for slightly different reasons, and that is the great white throne judgment. This judgment comes after Christ, and a few others have been reigning over the earth for a thousand years. Satan gets released at this point and deceives the nations. Remember, the nations are those that are outside of a relationship with Christ, and there is surely the opportunity during the 1000 year reign.  Those nations, under the guidance of Satan, try to kill God; however, God consumes them all with fire, and they too are brought before the Great White Throne. This moment in time ends all judgments forever, and the rest of us all live happily ever after.

          Romans 9:29 NLT  And Isaiah said the same thing in another place: “If the LORD of Heaven’s Armies had not spared a few of our children, we would have been wiped out like Sodom, destroyed like Gomorrah.”

          Paul got this from Isaiah 1:9 NLT 

          If the LORD of Heaven’s Armies had not spared a few of us, we would have been wiped out like Sodom, destroyed like Gomorrah.

          But this has a familiar ring to it.

          Isaiah 10:21-23 NASB A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God. (22) For though your people, O Israel, may be like the sand of the sea, Only a remnant within them will return; A destruction is determined, overflowing with righteousness. (23) For a complete destruction, one that is decreed, the Lord GOD of hosts will execute in the midst of the whole land.

          Romans 9:30-33 NASB What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith; (31) but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. (32) Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone, (33) just as it is written, “BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.”

          • “What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith; (31) but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law?”
            • Why did Israel not arrive at that law?


              Posted in apologetics, Apostle Paul, bible study, confidence, disciple, Faith, gentiles, grace, Hope, In Christ, Israel, Jesus, Jews, Mercy, righteous, Romans, Thoughts, Thoughts on scripture, understanding | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

              The rapture of the Church

              I found this article on the internet entitled “The rapture of the Church.” It was written by Chris Perver in June of 2007 and posted to his website ( To be honest, I was at first hesitant, but I felt impressed by the Holy Spirit to pursue what this young man was saying. I found it speaking clearly and distinctly to my heart. Why is any of this important? Because I had a pastor, unprovoked by me, accost me and tell me that I was not to study or share anything about end times events for five years. I get that I am supposed to give honor to my pastor, but NOT when he is advocating that I abandon what I have learned from God’s Word; abandon what the Holy Spirit has been teaching me; and, abandon what the Apostle Paul has taught me. The Apostle Paul told Timothy …

              1 Timothy 6:3-5 NASB If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, (4) he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, (5) and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.

              2 Timothy 1:13-14 ASV Hold the pattern of sound words which thou hast heard from me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed unto you guard through the Holy Spirit which dwells in us.

              The words I found here are almost word for word discussions I have had with God about this very subject. In other words, what I came to understand about the rapture of the church, and what this young man understands is remarkably similar.

              If you want to understand the pre-tribulation rapture, then check out the link below.

              Source: The rapture of the Church

              Posted in Thoughts on scripture

              I have had to rethink my position.

              This is my commentary on an excerpt from Chris Perver’s post “The Rapture of the Church. The post by Chris, in its entirety, can be found here.


              There was one section in particular that challenged a position I had been espousing for several years, about the one hundred and forty-four thousand Jewish men who are marked with a seal for protection, it seems, merely from God’s wrath. To make a point, I presumptuously advanced the idea that at a minimum there would be 144.000 survivors that walk into the millennial reign. How perfect would that be, as they could immediately go into teaching mode during the 1000 years.

              This position that I took was evoked by a “Christian teacher” who advocated that NO Jews enter into the millennial reign of Christ. I suppose that is just another way of telling a bunch of men that would come back at this “leader” with hostility, that he believes in replacement theology. Seeing as I can see that a relatively small number of Israelis leads to the idea of survivors. (At least 2/3’s of Israel get killed in my bible. Assuming that these numbers are correct and there are eight million people in Israel today, that would leave about 2.7 million survivors.) That information, and the fact that Paul said heaven and Earth would have to pass away for that to happen, make God’s elimination of His people an impossibility. I don’t want to go into detail on that here, but I strongly suggest that you read your Bible, and stop buying into the fairy tales religion feeds us.

              My comments are in Times New Roman, the excerpts from Chris’s work are in quotes.

              144,000 Jews

              “Throughout John’s description of events on Earth during the Tribulation period, the Church is never mentioned. But Israel is frequently mentioned. In chapter 7, we read how God commands the angels to not hurt the Earth until He has sealed 144,000 Jews with His Holy Spirit. These 144,000 witnesses, 12,000 from each tribe of Israel, will go throughout the world in the last days and preach the gospel of the kingdom. If the Church remains on Earth during the Tribulation, then why is the Lord recruiting Jewish believers to do the work He commanded the Church to do in Mark 16:15? The Rapture must have occurred before the start of the Tribulation period for this reason. After the Rapture, the Church will no longer be able to witness for Christ on Earth. God can’t be without a witness to men, and we know that there will be an untold multitude saved during the Tribulation period (Revelation 7:9). So a remnant of the House of Israel is sealed with the Holy Spirit to be a witness to the world of impending judgment and the need to turn to God for salvation.”

              144,000 killed during the tribulation period?

              “Some say that the 144,000 Jews are the remnant of Israel that will survive the tribulation, and that the Church at this time will still be witnessing on Earth. This following information is something I just noticed recently in discussion with a good friend of mine, so correct me if I’m wrong. I believe that Israel, as a nation, will not be saved until they recognize their Messiah at the end of the tribulation period (Zechariah 12:10) when Christ comes. The 144,000 Jews are saved at the start of the tribulation period and are killed for their witness by the Antichrist (Revelation 13:7). In Revelation 14, the 144,000 are in heaven, which implies that they were all killed for their witness.”

              Revelation 14:1-3 NET. Then I looked, and here was the Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with him were one hundred and forty-four thousand, who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. (2) I also heard a sound coming out of heaven like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder. Now the sound I heard was like that made by harpists playing their harps, (3) and they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one was able to learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been redeemed from the earth.

              “The fact that these 144,000 are in heaven before Christ’s Second Coming, and the resurrection of Old Testament Saints, which happens after the tribulation period, is explained in verse four. The 144,000 Jews are called the “firstfruits unto God.” The Feast of firstfruits was when the Israelites offered the food they gathered at the beginning of the harvest for a thank-offering to God. Firstfruits also speaks of resurrection, and Jesus is described as being the “Firstfruits from among the dead,” or the first Man to be resurrected in a new body, never to die again. So the 144,000 are the Firstfruits of the salvation of Israel, and of the resurrection of Old Testament Saints.”

              Revelation 14:4 NASB These are the ones who have not been defiled with women, for they have kept themselves chaste. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These have been purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb.

              1 Corinthians 15:20 NASB (20) But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.

              “After the 144,000 are slain, God is still not left without a witness. In the following verses, several angels take up where the 144,000 left off and preach the gospel to the whole world.”

              Here is where things took a turn for me, as I had been telling people, especially those that espouse that no Jews enter into the millennial kingdom, that the 144,000, at minimum, would enter the millennial reign.

              This statement, “after the 144,000 are slain,” prompted me to look intently, once again, at the scriptures surrounding our introduction to these young men, and what appears to be their demise. We are introduced to the 144,000 in Revelation 7, where we are told what tribes they come from, and that they are sealed. This sealing, which we see in Revelation 7:3, tells us that they are sealed to protect them from the “hurt,” which is about to come upon the earth. This hurt is directed at the earth, the sea, and the trees. The problem is that we assume that this grants them immunity from harm and death throughout the time of wrath; as we will see, it does not.

              I have a question, how does God create such havoc that He destroys the earth, sea, and trees, and not impact humanity, which is living here? The answer is, it does affect people. Just look at these two passages from Revelation 8.

              Revelation 8:6-7 NASB And the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound them. (7) The first sounded, and there came hail and fire, mixed with blood, and they were thrown to the earth, and a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up.

              The first thing we see is hail and fire mixed with blood coming from the skies; because of this, a third of the trees are burned up along with ALL the green grass. Whatever this event looks like, it is nothing we have ever seen before; and you can’t have an event of this magnitude without people dying, and yet, at this point, the 144,000 are protected. WHY? Because this is specifically a part of God’s wrath and it would seem that these men are protected from God’s wrath.

              Now we have another problem to deal with and that is that God also uses people to bring about His wrath. It is difficult to NOT see the false prophet as a tool that uses to punish Israel, but there is always the possibility that this person is entirely committed to Satan’s team. I realize that is not an answer, but I cannot recall seeing a good explanation for these guys being killed by the false prophet. If it makes you feel any better, the two witnesses sent from are, after 42 months, allowed to be killed.

              In Revelation 14, we see the 144,000 and their validation as virgins, but, as you read the entirety of Revelation 14:4, you can see that it is merely a description of these young men.

              Revelation 14:4 NASB These are the ones who have not been defiled with women, for they have kept themselves chaste. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These have been purchased from among men as firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.

              Since there is very little in scripture that is not validated by some other passage, typically in the OT, I was curious to see if there was a correlation. Perhaps Revelation 3:4 is it.

              Revelation 3:4 NASB ‘But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.

              Revelation 3:4 suddenly takes on a potentially new meaning, as it talks about “a few” who have not soiled their garments, and how they will walk with me because they are worthy.

              Something noteworthy. We, to the demise of comprehension, assume that some passages, like what we see in Revelation 3:4, speaks to the exclusion of Jews; it does not. Those of you who have been with me for a time, have already endured my commentary on the fact that this Bible we claim to study, is a Jewish book, and that every question should be addressed initially from that point of view.

              John, in writing the Revelation does something peculiar when he says, to what we assume is a crowd of Gentiles, you are of the Synagogue of Satan. Revelation 2:9 and 3:9 both use the terminology the synagogue of Satan. Just about everyone assumes a little of something about Satan, but I can just about guarantee that NOT everyone knows what a synagogue is unless they are Jewish.

              Now we talked about who these young men were, but we bypassed the distinct, ominous event that happens between Revelation 14:1-4.

              Revelation 14:1-3 NASB Then I looked, and behold, the Lamb was standing on Mount Zion, and with Him, one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads. (2) And I heard a voice from heaven, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder, and the voice which I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps. (3) And they *sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one could learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been purchased from the earth.

              In trying to grasp where the Lamb is standing, I did a little cross-referencing, which led me to Hebrews 12:22. It says “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels” (NASB)

              When did we come to Mount Zion?

              When we became followers of Christ Jesus. I know, it doesn’t seem like you did, but your adoption, in God’s eyes, was complete, and WE are not excluded from anything – even if we don’t see it yet.

              So, is it possible that the Lamb standing upon Mount Zion, is in this instance, in heaven?

              The answer is yes, but why? The answer to that question is in the book of Hebrews, where the writer talks about earthly priests who are serving a copy and shadow of the things in heaven.

              Hebrews 8:3-5 NASB For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices; so it is necessary that this high priest also have something to offer. (4) Now if He was on earth, He would not be a priest at all, since there are those who offer the gifts according to the Law; (5) who serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, just as Moses was warned by God when he was about to erect the tabernacle; for, “SEE,” He says, “THAT YOU MAKE all things ACCORDING TO THE PATTERN WHICH WAS SHOWN YOU ON THE MOUNTAIN.”

              In my pursuit to understand what was happening here, I, too, made the assertion, the Zion event happens when Jesus comes back to earth and physically touches down. However, to make that scenario work, I have to have the 144,000, in unison, meeting Jesus there on the physical mount, and that only happens, in my narrative, at the end of the seven-years of wrath. This train of thought would make them survivors, and send them into the thousand years we call the millennial reign. Since I now get the picture that Zion originates in the heavenlies, then it is easy to perceive Christ in the heavenlies with these young Jewish men. (Why is this statement I just made important, because we, in Christiandom, loosely refer to Jesus coming back when we speak of the catching away of the Church – which is the rapture, and use the same terminology when we refer to when Jesus physically comes back to earth. In the process of catching the church away, we rise to meet Him in the air. At this point, He does not “touch down,” and there is a dramatic difference.)

              The next thing that threw me for a loop was Revelation 14:2.

              Revelation 14:2 NASB And I heard a voice from heaven, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder, and the voice which I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps.

              We have nothing that associates the 144,000 with harps aside from this scripture. Remember, words carry weight, and just the association with harpists created imagery of people playing harps, and that is not the case. The NASB’s usage of the word “voice” also inadvertently misdirects. A version such as the Complete Jewish Bible does a better job of translating.

              Revelation 14:2 CJB  I heard a sound from heaven like the sound of rushing waters and like the sound of pealing thunder; the sound I heard was also like that of harpists playing on their harps.

              John tells us he heard a sound like:

              • rushing waters;
              • pealing thunder,
              • and like that of harpists playing.

              Having done some camping when I was younger, I found the sound of rushing water to be, at times, loud, but and relaxing; I suppose you could equate it to white noise, which drowns out all other sounds. Pealing thunder, depending upon how close you are to it, can be relaxing as well; however, up close, with the associated lightning strikes, it represents danger. Harpists, on the other hand, can fill your very being with emotion and beauty; and, Revelation 1:15 describes God’s voice as being like the roar of many waters. If I were to make an assumption as to what this magnificent noise was, I would say it was God’s voice.

              Note that a portion of the next verse says.

              Revelation 14:3a. NASB And they *sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders;

              Almost as if a magician had misdirected us, one would assume the subject of the word “they” is the harpists; it is NOT, and we figured out why.

              Now pay attention to the song that is being sung, and that brings us to the second half of Revelatio14:3.

              Revelation 14:3b. NASB and no one could learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been purchased from the earth.

              This is NOT harpists singing; it is the one hundred and forty-four thousand witnesses.

              Now, if the witnesses are in heaven, how did they get here?

              For the answer to that, we have to go back to Revelation 13:4-7.

              (4) they worshiped the dragon because he gave his authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?” NASB

              Who is the dragon? That one is easy, it’s Satan, but you want substance.

              Revelation 20:1-2 NASB Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. (2) And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years;

              Although unrelated to the dragon, in the Book of Ezekiel, we find God, referring back in time, to Pharaoh, and calling him that great monster that lies in the midst of his rivers.

              Ezekiel 29:3 NASB “Speak and say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I am against you, Pharaoh king of Egypt, The great monster that lies in the midst of his rivers, That has said, ‘My Nile is mine, and I myself have made it.’

              Therefore references such as the dragon and the great monster are analogous symbols.

              Who is being referred to when it says “they” here?

              The assumption is that it is the global population of Gentiles, and that may be true. Still, since we know that the beast is primarily a middle East phenomenon and that he calls for peace, then we can logically assume that he is an influential Islamic leader, capable of pulling the Islamic world together for some form of order, for 42 months.

              (5) There was given to him a mouth speaking arrogant words and blasphemies, and authority to act for forty-two months was given to him.

              This is the false prophet that scripture speaks of, and he becomes the mouthpiece of the Antichrist. Anyone discerning wants to know who this guy is, and so did Daniel the prophet.

              Daniel 7:24-25 NASB ‘As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings will arise; and another will arise after them, and he will be different from the previous ones and will subdue three kings. (25) ‘He will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time.

              In Daniel 7:23, we see “a fourth kingdom on the earth, which will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth and tread it down and crush it.” (NASB)

              So this character arises out of the fourth kingdom. (Traditional religious teaching tries to attribute the fourth kingdom to the Roman Empire, but that doesn’t work. If you have done a fair amount of studying Daniel’s writing, then you know that the first three kingdoms are clearly spelled out, with the first being the Babylonian empire. An interesting aspect of the Babylonian empire is that almost all of the northern kingdoms, such as the Persian empire are a part of the Babylonian empire. The fourth kingdom takes some discerning but is pieced out for us in Daniel. Consider the Grecian empire as they played a role in this through Alexander, but it isn’t simply Alexander, it is those who gained control after him. Now we are looking at the Seleucid and Ptolemaic empires – offshoots of the Alexandrian empire. These last two had all the intrigue of a soap opera on the television, as there was intermarrying for power, and every descendant of Noah represented. These two empires are the basis of who the world is dealing with today; and, in a sense, has never ceased to exist since. It seems most struggle to comprehend what is going on in Daniel 11, but in a nutshell, that is the story I have just told you. In brief, this is the beginning of the Persian empire, as well as the European royalty, and a few others.

              Assuming, because of what I just told you about the Persian empire, that the fourth kingdom is Islamic in nature and ideology, then you might expect that this mouthpiece will also be Islamic, but Islamic prophecies indicate that the man is a Jew, of the lineage of Aaron, and therefore, by heritage, capable of operating as the high priest in the new temple. Such a man has already been appointed as the high priest for the new temple when it gets built, his name in Rabbi Baruch Kahane.

              (6) And he opened his mouth in blasphemies against God, to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle, that is, those who dwell in heaven.

              But I thought you said he was the high priest in the NEW temple that will be built. It doesn’t make sense that he would suddenly blaspheme against God?

              No, it sure wouldn’t, unless Islam got to him and changed his heart toward God. But wait a minute, wasn’t this the problem with Israel from the day they walked out of Egypt? Stephen, in the book of Acts chapter seven, tells us that, when Moses did not return from the mountain, that they convinced Aaron to make them the god of their choice; in doing so, they turned their hearts back to Egypt.

              Acts 7:39 NET. Our ancestors were unwilling to obey him, but pushed him aside and turned back to Egypt in their hearts,

              The point of this is, Egypt had to be there, embedded in their hearts already for them to return to it.

              And finally Revelation 13:7

              (7) It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation were given to him.

              In verse 5 of Revelation 13, we saw that the Antichrist was given a spokesperson. That spokesperson, according to Islamic prophecies, becomes the enforcer of Sharia law on a global scale.

              Jesus, in Matthew 24, said this.

              Matthew 24:15-22 NET. “So when you see the abomination of desolation — spoken about by Daniel the prophet — standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), (16) then those in Judea must flee to the mountains. (17) The one on the roof must not come down to take anything out of his house, (18) and the one in the field must not turn back to get his cloak. (19) Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing their babies in those days! (20) Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. (21) For then, there will be great suffering, unlike anything that has happened from the beginning of the world until now, or ever will happen. (22) And if those days had not been cut short, no one would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, those days will be cut short.

              The false prophet is given the power(?) to:

              • Make war with the saints.
              • To overcome them.
              • And, he is given authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation.

                Again, what is the point?

                If I take Matthew 24:22 literally and assume that the world is dealing with Sharia law when this happens, then it is easy to imagine that these 144,000 Jewish young men will be killed for their testimony of Jesus, just as so many others will be.

                Revelation 13:15 is apparent when it says

                The second beast was empowered to give life to the image of the first beast so that it could speak, and could cause all those who did not worship the image of the beast to be killed. (NET)

                Because we see them in heaven, on Mount Zion with Jesus, we know that they did not bow their knee to anyone but the Father.

                Posted in 144000, 70 weeks, antichrist, Antichrist, Apostasy, armies, Assyrians, Daniel, Deception, Dispelling myths, dragon, Egypt, End times, false prophet, false teaching, gentiles, Heaven, Islam, Israel, Jerusalem, Jesus, Jews, Millennium, one world religion, Our being caught up, Prophetic, rapture, Revelation, Rule the nations, Saints, the fourth kingdom, the nations, Things I have never noticed before, Thoughts on scripture, wrath. | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

                The rapture of the Church

                I found this article on the internet entitled “The rapture of the Church.” It was written by Chris Perver in June of 2007 and posted to his website ( To be honest, I was at first hesitant, but I felt impressed by the Holy Spirit to pursue what this young man was saying. I found it speaking clearly and distinctly to my heart. Why is any of this important? Because I had a pastor, unprovoked by me, accost me and tell me that I was not to study or share anything about end times events for five years. I get that I am supposed to give honor to my pastor, but NOT when he is advocating that I abandon what I have learned from God’s Word; abandon what the Holy Spirit has been teaching me; and, abandon what the Apostle Paul has taught me. The Apostle Paul told Timothy …

                1 Timothy 6:3-5 NASB If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, (4) he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, (5) and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.

                2 Timothy 1:13-14 ASV Hold the pattern of sound words which thou hast heard from me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed unto you guard through the Holy Spirit which dwells in us.

                The words I found here are almost word for word discussions I have had with God about this very subject. In other words, what I came to understand about the rapture of the church, and what this young man understands is remarkably similar.

                If you want to understand the pre-tribulation rapture, then check out the link below.

                Source: The rapture of the Church

                Posted in Thoughts on scripture

                God's sovereign choice. Romans 9: 1-14. Part one of two.

                The NASB entitles this section, God’s sovereign choice.

                Romans 9:1-2 NASB I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, (2) that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart.

                What a peculiar thing to say, “I have great sorrow and unceasing grief, especially for a man who understood that we are to count it all joy when we fall into tests and trials.

                Why does he feel this way?

                Romans 9:3-5 NASB “For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, (4) who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, (5) whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen”

                Paul is deeply concerned for the lost sheep of Israel, his kinsmen in the flesh.

                Romans 9:3 NLT  “for my people, my Jewish brothers, and sisters. I would be willing to be forever cursed—cut off from Christ!—if that would save them.”

                I do not believe that would help bring them to the Lord.

                Paul goes to explain more about his “kinsmen.” Keep in mind that Paul is talking to a primarily Jewish audience.

                Romans 9:4-5 CJB,  the people of Isra’el! They were made God’s children, and the Sh’khinah has been with them, the covenants are theirs, likewise the giving of the Torah, the Temple service and the promises;  (5)  the Patriarchs are theirs; and from them, as far as his physical descent is concerned, came the Messiah, who is over all. Praised be Adonai forever! Amen.

                Most non-Jewish translations merely say something like what we see in the NET reading, “the glory, the covenants.” Contrast this with the Complete Jewish Bible translation, which says, “ the Sh’khinah has been with them, the covenants are theirs.” The difference is like looking at the same scene in black and white and then looking at the same view in color. There is a world of difference.

                That simplistic word glory, which the CJB translated as “Sh’khinah,” is the Greek word doxa and conveys splendor, brightness, magnificence, excellence, preeminence, dignity, grace, and majesty. All these things, though difficult to see, emanated within all these ways set before God’s people.

                Romans 9:4-5 Williams  For they are Israelites; to them belong the privileges of son-ship, God’s glorious presence, the special covenants, the giving of the law, the temple service, the promises,  (5)  the patriarchs, and from them by natural descent the Christ has come, who is exalted over all, God blessed forever. Amen!

                Israel, in general, could not and will not see clear to find this salvation.

                Romans 9:6 CJB,  But the present condition of Isra’el does not mean that the Word of God has failed. For not everyone from Isra’el is truly part of Isra’el;

                Another version.

                Romans 9:6 NASB But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel;

                Where did Paul get the idea that the Word of God had failed?

                Perhaps this is one of Paul’s stylized writing moments. We should by now know that Paul said nothing without purpose. Since he was writing to a majority Jewish community, then it is safe to assume that he is speaking in terms they understand, so let’s pursue that idea for a moment.

                The underlying theme of Paul’s conversation is tied to Abram.

                Genesis 12:1-3 NASB Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, and from your relatives, and from your father’s house to the land which I will show you; (2) And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; (3) And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you, all the families of the earth will be blessed.”

                What are the goals and purposes here?

                • Abraham and his descendants will go to a land that God will show them.
                • They will become a great nation
                • They will be blessed
                • Have a great name.
                • Be a blessing.
                • And, through Abram, all the families of the earth will be blessed.

                  What else speaks to the future of Israel?

                  Genesis 49:10 NIrV  The right to rule will not leave Judah. The ruler’s rod will not be taken from between his feet. It will be his until the king it belongs to comes. It will be his until the nations obey him.

                  In many ways, and for a long time, Judah did not rule. Is that the case today? Perhaps, if we only focus on the physical evidence. The obvious factor is that Israel did become that prophesied nation in 1946. But Genesis 49:10 is not merely speaking about some prime minister; it is talking about Jesus when it says, “until the king it belongs to come.” That King/Messiah was Yashua, and He rode into Jerusalem, just as the prophecies about Him declared.

                  Zechariah 9:9 NIrV  “City of Zion, be full of joy! People of Jerusalem, shout! See, your king comes to you. He always does what is right. He has the power to save. He is gentle and riding on a donkey. He is sitting on a donkey’s colt.

                  So the promise and guarantee were made. It had to come to pass, for God had sworn it, and Abraham carried out his end of the agreement by NOT withholding his only son as a sacrifice. And, we know that God does not and cannot lie.

                  Numbers 23:19 NIrV  God isn’t a mere man. He can’t lie. He isn’t a human being. He doesn’t change his mind. He speaks, and then he acts. He makes a promise, and then he keeps it.

                  If Israel has become so blind that it cannot see that Jesus is the awaited Messiah, it is certainly NOT God’s fault.

                  Look at what the NLT says about this.

                  Romans 9:6 NLT  Well then, has God failed to fulfill his promise to Israel? No, for not all who are born into the nation of Israel are truly members of God’s people!

                  Paul had already made this crystal clear early on in the fourth chapter of his letter to the church in Rome by stating, our relationship with Christ is based on faith.

                  Romans 4:13 NLT  Clearly, God’s promise to give the whole earth to Abraham and his descendants was based not on his obedience to God’s law, but on a right relationship with God that comes by faith.

                  Therefore, Paul can say, in response to his question,

                  Romans 9:7-8 NLT  Being descendants of Abraham doesn’t make them truly Abraham’s children. For the Scriptures say, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted,” though Abraham had other children, too.  (8)  This means that Abraham’s physical descendants are not necessarily children of God. Only the children of the promise are considered to be Abraham’s children.

                  Paul explains.

                  Romans 4:11 NLT  Circumcision was a sign that Abraham already had faith and that God had already accepted him and declared him to be righteous—even before he was circumcised. So Abraham is the spiritual father of those who have faith but have not been circumcised. They are counted as righteous because of their faith.

                  We, who have faith in Jesus Christ, are also counted as righteous through our faith, as this faith-filled theme of hope and adoption runs throughout the NT.

                  Galatians 4:5-7 NLT  God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law so that he could adopt us as his very own children.  (6)  And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.”  (7)  Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.

                  How did all this begin?

                  Romans 9:8-13 Moffatt NT (8) meaning that instead of God’s children being the children born to him by natural descent, it is the children of the Promise who are reckoned as his true offspring. (9) For when God said, I will come about this time and Sara shall have a son, that was a word of promise. (10) And further, when Rebecca became pregnant by our father Isaac, though one man was the father of both children, (11) and though the children were still unborn and had done nothing either good or bad (to confirm the divine purpose in election which depends upon the call of God, not on anything man does), (12) she was told that the elder will serve the younger. (13) As it is written, Jacob I loved but Esau I hated.

                  Don’t get all worked up over this idea of God hating one over the other. The Greek word miseō can also mean merely to love less. This entire theme comes from Malachi.

                  Malachi 1:2-3 NASB “I have loved you,” says the LORD. But you say, “How have You loved us?” “Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the LORD. “Yet I have loved Jacob; (3) but I have hated Esau, and I have made his mountains a desolation and appointed his inheritance for the jackals of the wilderness.”

                  The Hebrew word for hated is śânê‘ and also means to be an enemy or foe. The name Esau takes its origins back to a Hebrew word asah, which also means to hinder or fight with.

                  Genesis 27:39-40 NASB Then Isaac his father answered and said to him, “Behold, away from the fertility of the earth shall be your dwelling, And away from the dew of heaven from above. (40) “By your sword you shall live, And your brother you shall serve; But it shall come about when you become restless, That you will break his yoke from your neck.”

                  The trouble began quickly,

                  Genesis 27:41 NASB So Esau bore a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him; and Esau said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob.”

                  Esau’s descendants became the enemies of Israel.

                  Obadiah 1:8-9 NASB “Will I not on that day,” declares the LORD, “Destroy wise men from Edom And understanding from the mountain of Esau? (9) “Then your mighty men will be dismayed, O Teman, So that everyone may be cut off from the mountain of Esau by slaughter.

                  Still focused on Esau and another rhetorical question.

                  Romans 9:14 Williams  What are we then to conclude? It is not that there is injustice in God, is it? Of course not!

                  Posted in Apostle Paul, bible study, Faith, forgive, gentiles, grace, hypocrisy, Jesus, Jews, Mercy, Peace, restore, Romans, Things I have never noticed before, Thoughts, Thoughts on scripture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

                  God's everlasting love. Romans 8:31-39.

                  We ended with this:

                  Romans 8:30 NASB and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

                  • Predestined
                  • Called
                  • Justified
                  • And Glorified

                  And thus begins our next foray into Romans.

                  God’s Everlasting Love

                  “Since” He has done all this for us,

                  Romans 8:31 NASB What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?

                  After what we have learned concerning how God feels about us and who we are now, why throw out a word like “if”? When in fact, at this point, in my journey through Romans, I am deeply aware that God is for me, just as He is for you. Another translation read like this:

                  “So what should we say about this? If God is for us, no one can stand against us. And God is with us.” (ERV) 

                  The word “if” is merely expressive style on the part of Paul and doesn’t require an answer. [Some would say, it is a rhetorical question.] We find Paul writing like this frequently.

                  Against is the Greek word katá and indicates motion meaning down from a higher to a lower place. However, my immediate response to the word does not strike me like that; it comes across like an enemy’s attack. The Dictionary tells us it is something in opposition, a contradiction, or aversions, such as a decree against law, reason, or public opinion. Since we know that God tests no man (James 1:13), then it is not reasonable to think that it would be God coming against us. I can see where this type of thinking comes from, as we tend to perceive God as up in the heavens; therefore, any perceived judgment or test from Him would be coming down.

                  What else could “come down”? Since our enemy originated in the heavens, then perhaps any work or word that comes against us from him, or his cohorts, could be perceived as coming down.

                  Let’s address our rhetorical question, “If God is for us,” for a moment. Since we know that God is for us, then Paul continues in his efforts to respond to such a challenge with a logical approach as he points out:

                  He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Romans 8:32 NASB

                  Think about this, how or why would God, “who did not spare His own Son,” for a purpose, NOW, not also freely give us all things”? How about one other version?

                  He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how shall He not also with Him freely give us all things? Romans 8:32 TLV 

                  This verse demands that you analyze what it is saying to you.

                  • He did not spare his own Son.
                    • but delivered Him over for us all,”
                      • how shall He not also with Him freely give us all things?”
                        • I will bless you
                        • and bountifully multiply your seed,
                        • your seed will possess the gate of your enemies
                        • In you, all the nations of the earth will be blessed

                        Our mutual understanding of the next verse typically reads like this.:

                        Romans 8:33 NASB Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies;

                        Even though we struggle frequently with the concept, you, as a follower of Jesus Christ, are one of God’s elect. Let’s try the Message and see if it comes across any clearer.

                        And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Romans 8:33 MSG 

                        That is significantly clearer; however, it still doesn’t answer the question that many ask, how do I know that I was chosen?

                        Deuteronomy 10:15 NLT  Yet the LORD chose your ancestors as the objects of his love. And he chose you, their descendants, above all other nations, as is evident today.

                        Even if you cannot claim Jewish heritage, you are a descendant through adoption. We find references to this adoption in Romans 8:15, Galatians 4:5, and Ephesians 1:5. We were adopted through Christ Jesus.

                        Since, in theory, no one should dare to tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen, then Paul can also say,

                        Romans 8:34 NLT  Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.

                        You need to know this; people and Satan will try to condemn you. Try as they may, it has no effect, because “Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.” Oh, how I long to tattoo this on your brain so that you never forget it. Do you understand that amid the voices, Jesus Christ is sitting at the right hand of the Father, speaking to Him on our behalf? The Complete Jewish Bible does a pretty good job of making this point.

                        Romans 8:34 CJB  Who punishes them? Certainly not the Messiah Yeshua, who died and—more than that—has been raised, is at the right hand of God and is actually pleading on our behalf!

                        It is hard for some to picture, but this is an inexpressible love. No human has ever done this for me, but Jesus did. Now, with someone like this on your side, Paul addresses his next question.

                        Romans 8:35 CJB  “Who will separate us from the love of the Messiah?

                        Trouble? Hardship? Persecution? Hunger? Poverty? Danger? War?”

                        Paul continues:

                         “As it is written, “For Your sake, we are being put to death all day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter.”  (37)  But in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Romans 8:36-37 TLV

                        Paul may be referencing multiple passages in the same sentence. For example:

                        Jeremiah 12:3b NASB Drag them off like sheep for the slaughter And set them apart for a day of carnage!

                        As yet, this next passage is not so prominent in the United States, but I see it coming in my spirit, and it grieves me.

                        2 Corinthians 4:11 NASB (11) For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

                        And finally,

                        Psalms 44:22 NASB But for Your sake we are killed all day long; We are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.

                        Jesus himself told the Jewish crowd of followers that tribulations would be a way of life for His disciples – that includes us. Just remember that it was the elders and Chief priests that put Jesus on the cross that day, so the majority of tribulations will come from religious zealots.

                        Regardless, the thing to keep in mind is that:

                        “But in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Romans 8:37b TLV

                        Almost as if Paul was saying “so what” he continues with this:

                        Romans 8:38-39 NASB For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, (39) nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

                        Paul creates an extensive list of things that WE think can strip God’s love from us.

                        • Death??
                          • Life??
                            • Angels
                              • Principalities
                                • Things present
                                  • Nor, things to come.
                                    • Height
                                      • Depth
                                        • Nor any created thing.

                                          Nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God, which IS IN CHRIST JESUS OUR LORD; however, this doesn’t mean that they won’t try. Again, I know that this will discourage many, and they will not put out any effort to learn or change. Here is where the understanding of James comes into play because James speaks toward these constant attempts to take us out of the ball game.

                                          Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, (3) knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. (4) And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (5) But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. James 1:2-5 NASB

                                          If we stand against these attacks, whether it looks like we are victorious or not, we still receive all that God has in store for us, because He loves us.

                                          Posted in advocate, Apostle Paul, bible study, Faith, finisher, forgive, gentiles, God's character, grace, In Christ, Israel, Jesus, Jews, judgment, Mercy, recovery, redemption, righteous, Romans, Thoughts, Thoughts on scripture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

                                          Suffering compared with glory. Romans 8:18-30

                                          My first thought, the Glory of God’s presence, is something I can only vaguely describe, and all I understand of heaven boils down to one simple word, peace. So, there truly is no comparison, especially those who sit beside me in church on Sunday, think they are having the roughest time if their finger breaks through the toilet paper.

                                          Romans 8:18 NASB For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

                                          Sufferings are the Greek word pathēma which means something undergone, such as hardship or pain.

                                          The “Me” in this sentence is Jesus Christ, with our lives centered on our relationship with Him.

                                          The context is divided, but for the moment, we are focused on the sufferings.

                                          So in what ways do we undergo hardship or pain?

                                          Matthew 5:11-12 NASB “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. (12) “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for, in the same way, they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

                                          People will insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because you have the life of Christ in you. Sadly, the majority of people are religious people.

                                          Is that all? Hardly, like Paul, who suffered the loss of all things.

                                          Philippians 3:8 NASB More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ,

                                          Jesus, on the other hand, was beaten beyond recognition and then placed on a cross to die.

                                          An interesting point of view comes from the William’s translation.

                                          Romans 8:18 Williams  For I consider all that we suffer in this present life is nothing to be compared with the glory which by-and-by is to be uncovered for us.

                                          Daniel, the Prophet, knew this all too well. He was taken into Babylon’s captivity, from among the best of best of Israel, at a time when he would have been looking forward to being married, educated, and leading his nation. Nebuchadnezzar would have had him castrated. The purpose behind that is to eliminate the sex drive, destroy Daniel’s chance of ever entering a synagogue again, and to have a severe and lasting impact on any thought of you escaping. Did it work? Absolutely.

                                          All of these examples demonstrated that they understood the context; that there is a future hope for those who have placed their life in Christ Jesus. Now, what specifically that future hope comprises is up for debate, but the one thing we know for sure, we get to spend eternity wrapped up in God’s love.

                                          In the case of Jesus, we have Hebrews 12.

                                          Hebrews 12:2 NET. “keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the pioneer, and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set out for him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.”

                                          Jesus submitted himself to the cross because He knew the joy that would come out of His actions.

                                          Romans 8:19-22 NLT  For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are.  (20)  Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope,  (21)  the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.  (22)  For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.

                                          Breaking down verses 19-22.

                                          • Verse 19) points out that, “All creation eagerly awaits that future day when God will reveal who His children are.”

                                          This idea of creation should take us back to Genesis; for there, we see creation. The understanding is that all created things: plant life, rocks, the heavens, and all of creation, have longed to see the day of the Lord.
                                          Hosea 2:18 NASB “In that day I will also make a covenant for them With the beasts of the field, The birds of the sky And the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, And will make them lie down in safety.
                                          The Psalms speak of this final time of peace.
                                          Psalms 96:10-13 NASB Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns; Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved; He will judge the peoples with equity.” (11) Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; Let the sea roar, and all it contains; (12) Let the field exult, and all that is in it. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy (13) Before the LORD, for He is coming, For He is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness And the peoples in His faithfulness.
                                          Look at this word judge for a moment.
                                          We all seem to have massive, constant, and negative perceptions about the word judge and the actions it potentially represents. Here, in the Old Testament, it is the Hebrew word shâphaṭ and means to pronounce sentence (for or against); by implication to vindicate or punish.
                                          Isn’t that what any court should do? Vindicate or punish. Since the earth is simply the innocent victim of our human “modernization,” then the context leans heavily toward a vindication of the planet.
                                          For example, All along the Mississippi river industries have dumped deadly pollutants, which permeates the surrounding land and groundwater. My current pastor made us aware of this when he talked about becoming aware that he had moved his family into this deadly area. People all along this stretch, have cancers.

                                          Now, how would God judge the land in this case?
                                          He would judge in favor of the land and demand restitution. Since man cannot fix this mess, He will, and we see this action in prophetic words throughout scripture.

                                          • Verse 20) tells us, “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it,

                                          This speaks to the proper judgment that all creation must be subjected to. Everything was unwillingly subjected to destruction through Adam’s actions. It’s funny, but as a study group I was involved in began to consider what Paul wrote,
                                          Romans 5:14 NASB Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.
                                          A lady in the small group spoke up and said, why is it any of this stuff about Adam significant? To which I replied, there is nothing in scripture that is insignificant. If you don’t comprehend the ramifications of Adam’s actions, you will never grasp all that Jesus did and will do. Fortunately, for us, Romans 8:18-22 do just that as they begin to spell out a portion of God’s judgment on behalf of the earth.

                                          • Verse 21 NASB) “that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.”

                                          Pay attention to the phrase; creation itself also will be set free from its slavery.
                                          If you recall, we went into this idea of slavery, in-depth. Paul used the horrific term, in reference to himself, as he opened his letter to the church in Rome. I spoke of how Paul was writing to a majority Jewish congregation. Therefore the word slavery was a word choice designed to make a monumental impact when they read it, for the Jews were foolish enough to say, “we have never been slaves!” What do you call the slavery they experienced in Egypt, or, how about that 70 years Babylon thing, an adventure? The point was, that slavery, in most cases, was less than a good thing, and always had negative connotations. So for Paul to call himself a slave, was to voluntarily place himself under the total and complete control of Christ Jesus; and, he was calling for all believers to do the same. Now, Paul is pointing out that all of creation was involuntarily brought under the slavery of a new master, corruption, due to Adam’s actions; however, it will all be freed by the glory of Jesus Christ.

                                          • Verses 22, 23) “For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.

                                          I can’t hear it, and yet sometimes, for brief moments, I see the beauty of creation and wonder where the destruction is in this scenario. Let me give you an example: On several occasions, the family went to Yellowstone National Park. The Park is so big that it crosses through several northern states here in the United States. It is spectacular, and though the super-heated pools and geysers are deadly, they are intensely beautiful.
                                          What else does the verse tell us? It tells us that we ourselves groan within ourselves, as we eagerly await for the redemption of our bodies. I am not sure what that groaning sounds like. My wife might tell you that I groan (in complaint) all the time, but I am not so sure that is what Paul is talking about. Groan is the Greek word stenazō and means to sigh, murmur, pray inaudibly: – with grief, groan, grudge, sigh.
                                          Now that I know what the word means, I believe that I am an expert at this groaning thing.
                                          I want to touch on this idea that we “eagerly await our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.”
                                          First, my adoption came the day I accepted Christ into my life; this is the same process that happened to you if you accepted Christ (and all that He is.) So I am not sure I understand fully what this adoption process is all about. But that brings me to the second part, the part about the redemption of our bodies.

                                          I get this, I AM BROKEN, but I have Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and therefore I lean heavily upon them. When I do that, the most amazing things happen, and I get to see smiles on other broken faces. But clearly, there is something more, as this broken body and all its ramifications, will never go away unless something changes them. Fortunately, there is a day coming for the believer when this death associated with the earth, and the body will be done away.
                                          1 Corinthians 15:51-54 NASB (51) Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, (52) in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. (53) For this, perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. (54) But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory.
                                          Thank you, Jesus!!!

                                          The peace that often comes when I submit myself to the instruction of the Holy Spirit is, to say the least, peaceful. But it only takes a moment, in some cases, for some self-righteous person to immediately try to admonish me and bring me back to earth. Again, I will explain.

                                          One Sunday evening, several years ago, I went back to the church I grew up in. The pastor speaking that night had played a positive role in my life years ago, and he knows me. When the pastor ended his message that evening, he said, if you have had a miracle in your life, come down front and make yourself available to pray for someone else to have a miracle in their life, and so I did that.

                                          Yes, there is a little timidity when doing things like that, but you have to override the fear knowing that it is the brokenness and the enemy trying to keep you down when that happens. I often see myself as a big grizzly bear, and so I am not surprised that many avoid me, and that was happening this night. As I stood there, I began to scan the room; the Holy Spirit said, that one, go and get them, and so a second later, when the wife made eye contact, I motioned with my finger for them to come down. I laugh now as I think about the rapid chain of events that transpired. She turned to her husband, who looked back at me. A quick conversation ensued, but the hesitation was there. This all transpired in a few seconds, but that is when I heard the Holy Spirit, once again say, go get them, and so I did. At this point, they came rapidly. There must have been three or more; I did not count, as I was listening to the Holy Spirit and I was a little distracted. When we got back to the front again, I told them what I heard the Holy Spirit saying to me, and prayed over the two adults. We laughed, we cried, and it was amazing. I smiled like I couldn’t stop, and shortly they went back to their seats, as did I.

                                          Here is where self-righteous altar policewoman kicked into action. She came barreling across the front of the church and said to me, “who gave you the right to come down here and pray for people?” Can you imagine all the rapid-fire gut reactions I felt? I hesitated, it is often the best thing you can do in a pressure moment, and it will save your hide because your flesh will get you thrown in jail if you give it control. I said to her, he did, and I pointed at the pastor. She replied, well, you have to go through down front prayer training to do this! I glared back, and in a second, she walked away frustrated.

                                          What we are looking for is what we call and consider our HOPE.

                                          • We hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.”

                                            If you don’t know my Lord, you have no idea what you are missing, inexpressible Glory.

                                            Romans 8:26-30 NASB In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; (27) and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (28) And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (29) For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; (30) and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

                                            Pertaining to Romans 8:26-30

                                            Recently, somehow, the man-cave discussion turned to the Holy Spirit. The leader spoke about how he grew up in the Assemblies of God and how it was a mandate to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Perhaps that is true, and there was a definite push. Our experiences were similar, and we both let out some babble that we mimicked just to get some church lady off our backs.

                                            Looking back, that was not the Holy Spirit. How do I know that? Because there was no power, and for another eight years, I remained powerless and fear-filled. The enemy continued for years to tell me that this prayer language stuff was nothing more than nonsense. I have learned to ignore that ugly voice, for I now know without a doubt that when I pray in the Spirit I am doing battle in the Spirit.

                                            P.S. The leader of the man-cave told us, that in time, while out walking the dog around the neighborhood, he received the infilling of the Holy Spirit. Our resident cusser merely continued to rant about how unnecessary and how bizarre the Holy Spirit is. I believe that we, the church, are the ones who made it bizarre by denying the power of the Holy Spirit.

                                            • In the same way, the Spirit also helps our weakness;Romans 8:27 NASB and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

                                            Jude 1:20b. NASB building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit,
                                            Ephesians 6:18a. KJV Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit,
                                            2 Corinthians 5:4a. NET. For we groan while we are in this tent since we are weighed down,
                                            John 11:38a. AMP Now Jesus, again sighing repeatedly and deeply disquieted, approached the tomb.
                                            [Most translations indicate that he groaned.]

                                            Romans 8:27 NASB and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

                                            • and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is,”

                                            1 Corinthians 2:10 NASB (10) For to us, God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.

                                            Revelation 2:23b. MKJV And all the churches will know that I am He who searches the reins and hearts,

                                            Hebrews 4:13 MKJV Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight, but all things are naked and opened to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.

                                            Acts 15:8 NASB “And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; [They were surprised, as they thought the Holy Spirit was only for the Jews.]

                                            Romans 8:28 NASB “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

                                            • God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God,”

                                            Joseph, now second in command in Egypt, speaks to his brothers.

                                            Genesis 50:19-20 NASB But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? (20) “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.

                                            Psalms 119:71 NASB It is good for me that I was afflicted, That I may learn Your statutes.

                                            2 Corinthians 4:15 NASB (15) For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God.

                                            Romans 8:29 NASB For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;

                                            • For those whom He foreknew,”

                                            This verse seems to make many lose sleep, as they consider the possibility that God might not have chosen them.
                                            What if I told you that God chose everyone. John 3:16 bears that thought out.

                                            John 3:16 NASB “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

                                            Does everyone that God poured out His life for believe in Him?
                                            No, they don’t. God knew this would happen and yet, projecting hope, put His Son on the cross anyway.

                                            Psalms 1:6 NASB For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the wicked will perish.
                                            They only perish because they choose to. Psalms 31:7 seems to indicate that God knows every little thing that is coming your way.

                                            Psalms 31:7 NASB I will rejoice and be glad in Your lovingkindness Because You have seen my affliction; You have known the troubles of my soul,

                                            • He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son,”

                                            2 Peter 1:3 NASB seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him

                                            He has given us everything so that we stay conformed to the image of His Son.
                                            2 Corinthians 3:18 NASB (18) But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

                                            “of His Son,” The light of the good news is the glory of Christ. He is the Word and has been from the very beginning of time.

                                            2 Corinthians 4:4 NASB in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

                                            The Apostle Paul, though we don’t focus on it very much, went through a tremendous amount of abuse, almost all of it at the hands of religious zealots who were trying to protect their traditions. We, here in the United States, have no clue as to what suffering looks like. Here it is mere days away from Christmas of 2019, and I have learned that over a thousand have died at the hands of religious zealots in Nigeria, but no one talks of this. Why not? Because someone is trying to protect their traditions and status quo.

                                            But what does Paul say?

                                            Romans 8:18 NASB For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

                                            Somewhere down the road, and I do not believe it is that far away, we will see this glory that Paul speaks of. Who can obtain this glory? Anyone who believes that Jesus Christ died on the cross for them. Paul ends this study with these words from Romans 8:29, 30.

                                            For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. (Romans 8:29-30 NASB)

                                            It sounds like one could easily get left out of God’s mercy, but that is not the case, as we were all predestined to be conformed. Sadly, many of us choose not to follow. I prefer to conform to His image.

                                            Posted in Apostle Paul, bible study, comfort, disciple, disciplined, Faith, forgive, Freedom from sin, God's character, grace, Hearing God, In Christ, Jesus, judgment, Mercy, Peace, recovery, righteous, Romans, spiritual gifts, Thoughts on scripture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

                                            Considering that it is the Christmas season, I chose to do a character study on Joseph.

                                            It doesn’t feel like I have time, but I want to do a character study on Joseph, the man who married Mary, the mother of Jesus.

                                            Let’s set something straight right off the bat. 

                                            Although Mary is considered the mother of Jesus, she was merely a surrogate that carried a fertilized egg. I understand that most of you that have some religious background wish to fight with me already. The reason you want to fight is that what I said goes against your theological training and tradition.

                                            Why would I be comfortable saying that Mary was merely a surrogate? Because, we humans, ALL of us, is broken. To use an egg from a broken human being would have caused Jesus to be born into sin and that would have made the payment of God’s flesh for our sin, null and void. You see, we have to understand the depths of Adam’s actions to understand this, and that is a direction I had not planned on taking this. 

                                            Look at these verses.

                                            2 Corinthians 5:21 NASB (21) He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

                                            The word “Knew” reaches into the idea of a virgin who knew NO man, much like Mary. 

                                            Jesus had NO sin in Him.

                                            1 Peter 2:22 NASB WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH;

                                            First, let me say that I copied this straight from the NASB. So for them to put these words on a page as capital letters mean to imply the force and enthusiasm with which they perceived Peter saying them. The translators perceived Peter yelling to get his point across.

                                            Secondly, when I consider the phrase “nor was any deceit found in His mouth,” most of us understand that Jesus never sinned and, therefore, was NOT worthy of any of the punishment He submitted himself too. And yet, we see Jesus making a whip and driving the vendors out of the outer courts.

                                            John 2:14-15 NASB And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money-changers seated at their tables. (15) And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables;

                                            Now think about what just happened here. Having observed what was going on, Jesus found the necessary items to build such a device, and then use it on particular people – the vendors. The legal system looks at a chain of events, such as this, as premeditated. For you and me, this is flagrant sin.

                                            What did Peter say? “He did not sin.”

                                            What about this word deceit, does that tell us anything? 

                                            Deceit is the Greek word dólos and generally means fraud, guile, deceit. So my take away from this is that Jesus was NOT fraudulent or deceitful in His actions. I can also comprehend that God saw nothing wrong with the actions and words of Jesus. Consider this:

                                            John 5:19 NASB Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.

                                            Jesus did nothing unless He saw the Father doing it, or heard the Father say it. That incident with the whip was merely Jesus acting out what the Father had asked Him to do.

                                            Matthew 21:13 NLT  He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves!”

                                            The house of prayer aspect points prominently to Isaiah 56:7. Jesus added the part about them, turning it into a den of thieves.

                                            “I will bring them to my holy mountain of Jerusalem and will fill them with joy in my house of prayer. I will accept their burnt offerings and sacrifices because my Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” NLT

                                            At this point, we have established that:

                                            • Jesus was born of an implanted, fertilized egg – a necessary method as it bypassed the contamination of the broken nature that is integrated into all humanity.
                                            • Mary, a virgin, was a willing, bearer of the fertilized egg (although the entire process, it seems, was not explained to Mary – that was not necessary) and soon-to-be mother of God’s Son. She was (most likely), by a familial, contractual agreement engaged to Joseph. 
                                            • Joseph was a descendant of King David, and his hometown was Bethlehem.Joseph, we are told, was a righteous man. The short explanation of Joseph’s righteousness comes from the Word Study Dictionary, where it says, “In the N.T., those that are called righteous (díkaioi) are those who have conditioned their lives by the standard which is not theirs, but God’s. They are the people related to God and who, as a result of this relationship, walk with God.” There is only one way to perceive this man; he had a solid knowledge of the Torah and followed the Jewish law. It is evident by this statement that many knew of his comprehension and actions. (He may have been an elder.)

                                            If he knew the law, as I stated, then he knew this,

                                            Deuteronomy 23:2 NASB, “No one of illegitimate birth shall enter the assembly of the LORD; none of his descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall enter the assembly of the LORD.

                                            Hold that thought, for we will come back to it shortly.

                                            Mary, the virgin. (Yes, I am very much aware that this is a character study on Joseph, but you have to keep in mind that everything in scripture is integrated into the entirety of God’s plan.)

                                            As I am writing this, a prominent fact is jumping out at me. The stories we were told as children are not lining up with the Word of God. This misalignment is one of the reasons that we need to read the scriptures for ourselves. Luke 1:26-38 is an excellent place to start when looking at Mary, for it gives you many of the details. Mary’s hometown was Nazareth. The distance between Nazareth and Bethlehem is approximately 120 kilometers or a little over 80 miles. Not a comfortable walk, and therefore makes me think about how God so casually arranges the meetings of our life, and, how did Joseph know of, or meet Mary. This thought process lends itself more to the contractual marriage idea, an idea that plays into a family’s economy.

                                            The Birth of Jesus Foretold.

                                            A couple of things I want to point out. The NASB entitles this section the Birth of Jesus Foretold,however, by jumping straight into Luke 1:26, and 27, we lose the context.

                                            Now in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. (Luke 1:26-27 NASB)

                                            The context of this moment has everything to do with Mary visiting her relative, Elizabeth. Without the proper context, some, like me, might start thinking about the Jewish month Sivan, and what would be happening then, and what does any of this have to do with the birth of Jesus?

                                            Secondly, In Luke 1:27, we have a piece of information that I have never noticed before. Mary is referred to as a virgin twice

                                            To the Jews, repetitive words were recognized as God’s way of getting your attention or enforcing a prophetic point. Because of the chain of events that are about to transpire, it may be immensely important that the readers/listeners understand, beyond a doubt, that this girl was a virgin.

                                            I started this writing by pointing out that Mary was merely a surrogate mother.

                                            What is it that makes a woman a NON-virgin? Intercourse, willingly or not. 

                                            Mary never experienced what that might be like, but would have had the sage advice of say, her mother, when she thought it was necessary, to explain the gritty details. I suppose none of this is essential information, and to some degree, tasteless. Still, if Mary, the virgin, is about to become pregnant without sexual contact, the typical evidence an angry mother would demand to see would not be there, and yet, just a few months later, Mary would be showing. All these details suddenly thrust upon her, had to be so confusing.

                                            Remember that I told you to hold that thought about Joseph being a righteous man; and how, as a righteous man, he would have had extensive knowledge of the Torah/Jewish law.

                                            A person of illegitimate birth may not enter the assembly of the LORD; to the tenth generation, no one related to him may do so. (Deuteronomy 23:2 NET.)

                                            Many of Mary’s neighbors also knew the law, and because Mary stood her ground and insisted that this child, she is so obviously carrying, is God’s and NOT Joseph’s, she is either thought to be a liar or an adulterer. The negativity would have spilled over onto Joseph, and everyone would have been looking at this righteous man, not only with the stink eye but the “you know what to do eye.” None of these neighbors would have allowed Mary, Joseph, or the child into the Synagogue or Temple, however, as most of you know, Jesus entered the Synagogue, as was His custom, opened the scroll of Isaiah, and read the prophecy that spoke of Him.

                                            The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners; To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, (Isaiah 61:1-2 NASB)

                                            And the strangest thing happened, those who acknowledged Him, called Him Rabbi – teacher. Where did they come to this understanding?

                                            In reading Luke’s gospel, we just left off with the narrative about Elizabeth, who should be well beyond childbearing years, and she is the wife of an old priest named Zacharias. She is now six months pregnant with the baby that will soon be named John the Baptist. (Luke 1:1-26.)

                                            Luke 1:1-26 is where things are less than clear to me. I think this confusion stems mainly from the flannel board stories of my youth and religious traditions that have marred the chronological timeline in my head. You see, I always assumed that Mary went to see Elizabeth simply to get away from the hostility of the neighbors in Nazareth. Pay attention to this next part of the story.

                                            Matthew 1:18 NASB Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, however, before they came together, she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit.

                                            Matthew just threw us into fast forward, so we need to go backward in time to when Gabriel tells her what God’s plan is.

                                            Luke 1:26-27 NASB Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, (27) to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.

                                            It is almost as though the story starts here, but as you know, it started back when God opted to have Joseph become engaged to Mary. Remove from your thinking that she is some assertive, twenty-something, pre-med student because that is not even close. She could have been anywhere between twelve and sixteen. Twelve-year-old children do not often have their wits about them, but a sixteen-year-old might. Based upon the upcoming conversation, and the fact that she stood her ground against Joseph and her neighbors, I would lean toward sixteen.

                                            Now in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was very perplexed at this statement and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be since I am a virgin?” The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you, and for that reason, the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. “And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age, and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. “For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, the bond-slave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:26-38 NASB)

                                            Things I see in this transaction between Mary and Gabriel.

                                            • And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”
                                              • Verse 29 tells us that she was very perplexed.
                                                • Having been told, “you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.”
                                                    Overshadow is the Greek word episkiazō and means to envelop in a haze of brilliancy, along with a few other meanings. In other words, this event will be beyond your comprehension, and much like many of our intense experiences with the Holy Spirit, you are left with an immensely warm feeling. And by the way, Mary, the events that you associate with your time of the month, will cease, as the child immediately begins to develop within you. (Jesus voluntarily became a human; that means that He went through the entire birth and growth process, just as we all do.)
                                                  • Gabriel adds, “And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month.
                                                    • “For nothing will be impossible with God.”

                                                      The entire conversation ends most intriguingly.

                                                      • “Behold, the bond-slave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.”

                                                        Now the focus shifts back to Joseph.

                                                        Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, and before they came together, she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 1:18 NASB)

                                                        • Mary, betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, was found to be with child.
                                                          • Mary, knowing that running around town, telling people her “wonderful” news would be detrimental to her health, as some would likely kill her, keeps quiet.
                                                          • Since pregnancies can only remain a secret for so long before the rumors begin to fly, one of the apparent attacks would come from her household.(Remember, this engagement has moved from the contractual stage to a point where Joseph has made the official call for her hand in marriage. At this point, he would begin building what would be their home. This home was often an add on to the parent’s home, and he will come for her at the end of this engagement period, most likely a year, when the house is finished. This home is in Nazareth at this point.)

                                                        Now how would someone know that something about Mary had changed?

                                                        The first and most obvious person to know would be her mother, for she would have noticed that Mary did not have her period at its regular interval. Well, that may not be a good clue because stress and other factors have caused some to miss their periods, although this tends to be a one month issue. The next thing that may have been the giveaway would be the baby bump. Common sense and politeness would rule out most of us from saying anything. For all we know, she is just getting fat; since the attire of the period is loose clothing, this would be hard to detect for several months.

                                                        So the reality is, she may be three months or more along by the time Joseph finds out about this pregnancy by God.

                                                        And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. (Matthew 1:19 NASB)

                                                        We already talked about the ramifications of Joseph being a righteous man, but now we see that he does not want to disgrace her

                                                        That word disgrace is the Greek word deigmatizō and means to expose or to make a show of her. His choice to protect her dignity shows remarkable class on his part, but it also shows that he knows full well what is about to happen to her and the child, and he is trying to protect his character as well.

                                                        But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:20-21 NASB)

                                                        Matthew 1:20-21, in saying, “when he had considered this,” gives us NO time frame as to how long this deliberation on the part of Joseph would have taken.

                                                        The “made for T.V.” version showed Joseph immediately going back to the house he had meticulously worked on and started smashing it to pieces. Regardless, considering the thought, plans, and preparations he had to make to “put her away privately,” may have taken weeks at a minimum.

                                                        • Do not be afraid.
                                                          • for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.”
                                                            • She will bear a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus,”

                                                              And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son, and he called His name Jesus. (Matthew 1:24-25 NASB)

                                                              Unlike the story of Abram, where he has a vision, we are told that Joseph awoke from his sleep. It appears that he immediately did as the angel of the Lord commanded. He took Mary, that day, as his wife. However, he did NOT have intercourse with her, keeping her a virgin until she gave birth to God’s Son.

                                                              Think about what just happened. If Joseph had touched Mary sexually, then the enemy would have had opportunity to argue that Jesus was not born without sin. The ramifications would have been many. Whether Joseph was operating under a Godly mandate and not touching her, is not made clear to us. Logic has to play a role in this thought process.

                                                              Married and pregnant.

                                                              Now in those days, a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him and was with child. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son, and she wrapped Him in cloths and laid Him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:1-7 NASB)

                                                              Wouldn’t you know it, Caesar Augustus demanded that the whole earth, as he perceived it, would comply with his demands by participating in a census. And so every male, and his family, were on their way to the city of their birth, to register for the census, and that meant that Joseph had to take his very pregnant wife south to Bethlehem. A story like this evokes many levels of discomfort, as we picture Mary, potentially riding on a colt.

                                                              It is not until the end of the paragraph that we are told, “she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn.”

                                                              Now answer me this; where are they? They are in Bethlehem, the hometown of Joseph, where his kinfolk live, and NO ONE will take them in. Why is that?

                                                              • Could it be that they too had found out that Mary was pregnant before Joseph and Mary got married?
                                                                • And, could it be that Joseph is openly stating that he did not touch her at any point?
                                                                  • Mary continues to insist that the baby is God’s?

                                                                    Could any of these possibilities cause problems? Absolutely. But remember, Joseph is a righteous man.

                                                                    In a short time, Mary gives birth to the baby boy; and yes, it is possible that they stayed in that manger for many days.

                                                                    And when eight days had passed, before His circumcision, His name was then called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb. And when the days for their purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (Luke 2:21-22 NASB)

                                                                    Joseph, the righteous man knew this law.

                                                                    “And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you. “And every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations, a servant who is born in the house or who is bought with money from any foreigner, who is not of your descendants.” (Genesis 17:11-12 NASB)

                                                                    And he also knew this:

                                                                    “No one of illegitimate birth shall enter the assembly of the LORD; none of his descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall enter the assembly of the LORD. (Deuteronomy 23:2 NASB)

                                                                    Can you imagine the inner turmoil Joseph may have had, knowing that the world he understands sees this baby as illegitimate, and therefore, neither the baby, Joseph, or his wife, are eligible to enter the temple.

                                                                    But notice how Luke 2:22 says, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord. Jerusalem may be a place where the word about the parentage of Jesus has not traveled as yet.

                                                                    Why would anyone challenge Jesus’ parentage?

                                                                    They wouldn’t, unless, as we know, both Mary and now Joseph, both hold to the testimony that the baby Jesus is the Son of God. An answer to my question may be found in the probabilities that, with each birth, there may be the recital of one’s ancestry. Wow, suddenly the fact that Mary is tied back to Abraham, and Joseph’s lineage takes him back to Adam.

                                                                    From what I understand, the modern Jewish community has people/Priests/Rabbis that will come into your home. We can only assume that the availability of those who do circumcisions, at this time, is only found at the temple. We have to look a little further to see that they took Him to the temple.

                                                                    “Every firstborn male shall be counted consecrated to the Lord,” and to offer the sacrifice in accordance with what is specified in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtle-doves or two young pigeons.” Now there was in Jerusalem, a man named Simeon, an upright, devout man; he was expecting to see the consolation of Israel, and he was under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not die without seeing the Lord’s Messiah. So under the Spirit’s guidance, he went into the temple, and when the parents brought the child Jesus there to do for Him as the custom of the law required, (Luke 2:23-27 Williams)

                                                                    • and to offer a sacrifice according to what was said in the Law of the Lord.”
                                                                      • Now there was in Jerusalem, a man named Simeon, an upright, devout man; he was expecting to see the consolation of Israel, and he was under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not die without seeing the Lord’s Messiah. So under the Spirit’s guidance, he went into the temple, and when the parents brought the child Jesus there

                                                                        Anna, a prophet, was also there in the Temple. She was the daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher, and she was very old. Her husband died when they had been married for only seven years. Then she lived as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the Temple but stayed there day and night, worshiping God with fasting and prayer. She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph, and she began praising God. She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem. (Luke 2:36-38 NLT)

                                                                        The census was taken, and the baby was born. At a minimum, two years had passed when the Magi showed on the horizon. Their numbers, along with the entourage, raised no small cloud of dust. The report was made to Herod, who immediately went into a panic.

                                                                        “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod, the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet: (NASB) ‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah, are not least among the ruling cities of Judah, for a ruler will come from you who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’ (Matthew 2:6 NLT) Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.” After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. After coming into the house, they saw the Child with Mary, His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way.” (Matthew 2:1-12 NASB)

                                                                        Joseph once again hears from God and takes the family to safety in Egypt.

                                                                        After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother,” the angel said. “Stay there until I tell you to return because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother, and they stayed there until Herod’s death. This fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: “I called my Son out of Egypt.” (Matthew 2:13-15 NLT)

                                                                        History tells us that Herod the Great died in 4 B.C. I suppose that would make Jesus around four when Joseph brought the family out of Egypt. But the travel saga doesn’t end there, as apparently, they tried to return to Bethlehem.

                                                                        “Get up!” the angel said. “Take the child and his mother back to the land of Israel, because those who were trying to kill the child are dead.” So Joseph got up and returned to the land of Israel with Jesus and his mother. (Matthew 2:20-21 NLT)

                                                                        Matthew 2:20 merely says, take the child and his mother back to the land of Israel; this is not very specific.

                                                                        But when he learned that the new ruler of Judea was Herod’s son Archelaus, he was afraid to go there. Then, after being warned in a dream, he left for the region of Galilee. (Matthew 2:22 NLT)

                                                                        The Commentator Albert Barnes points out that Archelaus possessed a cruel and tyrannical disposition similar to his father. At one of the Passovers, he caused 3,000 people to be put to death in the temple and city. For his crimes, after he had reigned nine years, he was banished by Augustus, the Roman emperor, to Gaul, where he died. 

                                                                        This is conjecture on my part, but it does not change my faith or remove my confidence in God’s plan, and yet, it sure makes sense when I say, the region of Galilee would be familiar ground for Mary, and quite possibly for Joseph as well; for where do we first see Joseph? In Nazareth, a town in the region of Galilee. It would be easy to blend in, and there is the added benefit of time. Time? Why say that? Because the overall time frame since they first left Nazareth, is quite possibly five years or more, and because of the adamant stance the two parents took just before they left.

                                                                        Dr. Luke’s gospel is extremely abbreviated, as it bypasses the trip to Egypt, puts them walking out of the temple door, meeting Anna the prophetess, and heading back to Nazareth.

                                                                        When Jesus’ parents had fulfilled all the requirements of the law of the Lord, they returned home to Nazareth in Galilee. (Luke 2:39 NLT)

                                                                        What were the requirements? Joseph knew the answer to this question. The purification time for his wife; the circumcision of Jesus on the eighth day. If there was anything else, I am not aware of it.

                                                                         And so, according to Luke’s gospel, back to Nazareth, they went..

                                                                        The Child continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him. (Luke 2:40 NASB)

                                                                        I have heard it said that all that a child is going to be, behavior-wise, is established by the age of seven. I suppose much of that has to do with oral and visual inputs from the adults that surround their life. If your father is a man that knows and follows the Torah, then your inputs should be God-oriented as well, and this is exactly what we see in Jesus. So Joseph was a good and capable choice.

                                                                        The next time we see Jesus he is age twelve, very close to the age of Bar mitzvah. “Bar mitzvah is a Jewish coming of age ritual for boys. According to Jewish law, when a Jewish boy is 13 years old, he becomes accountable for his actions and becomes a bar mitzvah.” Wikipedia

                                                                        If you care to challenge the FACT that Jesus went through a Bar Mitzvah, then I offer this detail. In Mark’s gospel, we have this:

                                                                        As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good. But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.’” “Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.” Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Mark 10:17-21 NLT)

                                                                        The Bible Knowledge Commentary has this to say about Mark 10: 17-21.

                                                                        “In answering the man’s question directly, Jesus quoted five commandments from the so-called “second table” of the Decalogue (cf. Exo_20:12-16; Deu_5:16-20) but in a different order. Obedience to those commands dealing with human relationships are more easily verified in a person’s conduct than are the earlier commands (Exo_20:3-8). The command, Do not defraud, not a part of the Decalogue and occurring only in Mark, may represent the 10th commandment (Exo_20:17). But more likely, it is an appropriate supplement to the 8th and/or 9th commandments (Exo_20:15-16) applicable to a wealthy person (cf. Lev_6:2-5; Mal_3:5).

                                                                        The man’s reply shows he firmly believed he had kept these commandments perfectly (cf. Php_3:6) since he was a boy, since age 12 when he assumed personal responsibility for keeping the Law as a “son of the Law” (bar Mitzvah; cf. Luk_2:42-47). Perhaps he had expected Jesus to prescribe something meritorious that he needed to do to make up for any lack.”

                                                                        Because, as I have stated repeatedly, Joseph was a righteous man, then he would have made Jesus submit to the tradition of bar Mitzvah as well. That is why Jesus knew fully what the young man was saying when he responded to Jesus with, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.”

                                                                        What is one of the common things we know about Jesus? He fulfilled all the commandments of righteousness, and Matthew’s gospel proves that out.

                                                                        Then Jesus arrived from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. But John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I have need to be baptized by You, and You are coming to me?” But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he permitted Him. (Matthew 3:13-15 EMTV)

                                                                        So, where does Joseph fit into this conversation?

                                                                        Joseph, being a righteous man, knew these things and saw to it that they were performed.

                                                                        Now after Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Arise, and take with you the young Child and His mother, and go into the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the life of the young Child have died.” Then he rose and took along the young Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel. But hearing that Archelaus was reigning over Judea instead of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being divinely instructed in a dream, he withdrew into the regions of Galilee. And when he arrived, he settled down in a city called Nazareth, so that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, “He would be called a Nazarene.” (Matthew 2:19-23 EMTV)

                                                                        And with this, we end our look at Joseph, for, after this point in time, we see him no more. However, I will add one more piece of information.

                                                                        When Jesus had finished these parables, He departed from there. He came to His hometown and began teaching them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers? “Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? (Matthew 13:53-55 NASB)

                                                                        Based upon this paragraph, we assume that Joseph was a carpenter, and therefore Jesus too was a carpenter. But that is NOT what this verse says. I know, it sure appears that it does, but therein lies the majority of our misinterpretation of God, His nature, and His character. They never said carpenter, the translators did, and they did it because it made sense to them.

                                                                        The word translated carpenter is tektōnand merely means a craftsman. Tekton can also mean one who writes poetry, but since we know that this was not Jesus’ calling, then we can exclude that idea.

                                                                        An interesting detail about Nazareth is that a half-mile outside the city the Israel antiquities department excavated a stone vessel shop. In this shop, it was determined that 2000 years ago they lathed, yes lathed, quarried stone into household vessels, such as mugs and large water vessels. 

                                                                        What is the significance of that? 

                                                                        During the days of Herod, the Great, a Jewish, entrepreneur read in the Torah, how vessels can become unclean by the usage of certain persons and products, like pig fat. However, in his reading of the law, it became abundantly clear that it said nothing about stoneware. With no small discussion, it was decided that because stone was not mentioned in the list of things that could become contaminated, that stone MUST be excluded. To this day, stoneware is a standard in the Jewish community. Did God come up with this idea? Hardly, but the Jews have integrated this stoneware usage rule into their laws.

                                                                        What does this mean to me? It means that Joseph may well have been a craftsman of stoneware and that Jesus had learned that trade alongside him. 

                                                                        Then consider something. When Jesus performed his first public miracle, what was involved, massive stoneware water vessels that were being used for ceremonial cleansing. So when he asks the servants to fill these same vessels with water, he did not concern himself with the cleanliness issue and turned that water into wine. He knew full well about the rules pertaining to stoneware and may have been one of the tektōn’s who made those pots.

                                                                        Posted in Angel Gabriel, Bethlehem, Bethlehem, bible study, character study, dreams, Egypt, Faith, forgive, grace, Jerusalem, Jesus, Jews, Joseph, Magi, Mary, Mercy, Nazareth, righteous, sexual sin, Sin | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

                                                                        Heirs with Christ, Romans 8:12-16

                                                                        We ended our last study with this:

                                                                        Romans 8:9-11 NLT  But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.)  (10)  And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God.  (11)  The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.

                                                                        Take a moment to let these truths about you, sink in.

                                                                        • You are NOT controlled by your sinful nature.
                                                                        • You are controlled by the Spirit – IF you have the Spirit of God living in you.

                                                                        How did or do we get the Spirit of God to live inside of us? Through faith.

                                                                        • And (because) Christ lives in you, even though your body may die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God.
                                                                        • The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you.

                                                                        Job 19:27 NLT I will see him for myself. Yes, I will see him with my own eyes. I am overwhelmed at the thought!

                                                                        • And, just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.

                                                                        Everything Paul said, was based in the Torah and Tenach, here is an example:

                                                                        Isaiah 26:19 NLT But those who die in the LORD will live; their bodies will rise again! Those who sleep in the earth will rise up and sing for joy! For your life-giving light will fall like dew on your people in the place of the dead!

                                                                        Romans 8:12 – 17 entitles this next section,

                                                                        Heirs with Christ

                                                                        As we open the new section, I find this opening statement so powerful that it takes my breath away.

                                                                        Romans 8:12 NLT  Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do.

                                                                        The KJV version uses a variation from the NLT.

                                                                        “We are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.”

                                                                        We don’t owe Satan anything, for he has NO hold on us IF we are in Christ. That statement includes all the stupid stunts we have pulled since receiving Christ.

                                                                        Romans 8:13 Williams  “for if you live by such a standard, you are going to die, but if by the Spirit you put a stop to the doings of your lower nature, you will live.”

                                                                        What standard is the Williams translation speaking of? The one that the flesh sets for us, one in which we do what the flesh demands.

                                                                        Look, once again, at what Paul said in Romans 8:6.

                                                                        Romans 8:6 Williams  “For to be thinking the things suggested by the lower nature means death, but to be thinking the things suggested by the Spirit means life and peace.”

                                                                        Is it as “harsh” as what Adam had when God said to him, you are not to eat from, nor touch the tree? If merely pondering the things my flesh suggests means death, then I am surprised that I have lived this long. Obviously, death is something more than just physical?

                                                                        Romans 8:13b. CJB  For if you live according to your old nature, you will certainly die; but if by the Spirit, you keep putting to death the practices of the body, you will live.

                                                                        Death seems inevitable, that is, unless you, by the Spirit put the practices of the flesh to death.

                                                                        Things to note here:

                                                                        • Death does not necessarily mean a physical end to life, although it can. The Complete Jewish Bible added the phrase “keep putting.”

                                                                        The Greek word is thanatoō, and it means to cause…to be put to death, made to die, and putting to death. The Amplified Bible uses the word habitually to convey the message.

                                                                        All of these definitions are indicative of a combat-ready attitude or a fighting mentality.

                                                                        Ephesians 6:12 NIV  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

                                                                        Keep in mind that you are NOT fighting against flesh and blood; you are battling against demonic forces, allied with Satan. The purpose is that you take a proactive stance against the enemy’s attacks against you. These attacks have everything to do with what your body and mind want to do, such as road rage, retaliation, throwing a tantrum, or pursuing some addictive behavior.

                                                                        Let’s assume that you have taken this proactive behavior, and you are trying to stave off the enemy’s attacks, which often look like people. 

                                                                        Are you winning? 

                                                                        If it seems like you are not, then here is a piece of information that might help.

                                                                        Ephesians 6:13c-14 NASB Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. (14) Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS,

                                                                        • Verse 13 ends with “stand firm.” Why? Because you have done everything, you know how to do.

                                                                          The Moffatt’s translation tells us to continue to hold our ground :

                                                                          Ephesians 6:14 Moffatt NT (14) Hold your ground, tighten the belt of truth about your loins, wear integrity as your coat of mail,

                                                                          I suggest you read Ephesians chapter six through to the end, as it defines our spiritual armor in detail.

                                                                          If you live, what will that look like for you?

                                                                          You may only see what this world has to offer, and that falls pathetically short of God’s kingdom. But if you said, I will live in eternity, with the Father, wrapped in peace, then you would be correct.

                                                                          Romans 8:14 Moffatt NT For the sons of God are those who are guided by the Spirit of God.

                                                                          The NASB states,

                                                                          Romans 8:14 NASB For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

                                                                          Alternative words for led are driven or induced. Don’t you see the fallacy of you having control? God has His hand upon us, in the form of the Holy Spirit, all the time, and the fact that you are being led proves that you are a son of God.

                                                                          If you, as Paul did, submitted yourself to Jesus Christ like a slave, then you are guided by that same Spirit of God.

                                                                          Romans 8:15 NLT  So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”

                                                                          Yes, I posted a verse that uses the term slave. There is hardly a reasonable human that sees slavery as anything other than fearful. The concept of slavery is nothing less than dismal, that is unless things go well for you, and you long to stay in what you feel is “a protected and loving” environment as a bond-servant. This slavery is the portrayal of the person that we see in scripture voluntarily having their ear pierced as an indication that they have given themselves over permanently to their owners.

                                                                          Exodus 21:5-6 KJV  And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free:  (6) Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl, and he shall serve him forever.

                                                                          Deuteronomy 15:15-17 KJV  And you shalt remember that you were a bondman in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God redeemed you: therefore I command you this thing today.  (16)  And it shall be, if he says unto you, I will not go away from you; because he loves you and your house, because he is well with you;  (17)  Then you shall take an awl, and thrust it through his ear unto the door, and he shall be your servant forever. And also unto your maidservant, you shalt do likewise.

                                                                          Fortunately, our relationship with God is never that harsh, and the idea of being a bond-servant is purely voluntary. Many think they have walked away from God’s ownership, but I do not believe that is possible as God certainly can keep track of those who belong to Him.

                                                                          Romans 8:16 MKJV  The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God.

                                                                          • The Spirit Himself”
                                                                            • bears witness with our spirit.”
                                                                              • that we are the children of God.”

                                                                              Children are the Greek word téknon, meaning to bring forth (as in a) child.
                                                                              So, God, after years of damage and rebellion on our part, still leans on the fact that we were created in His image, that and the fact that we, as believers, have His Spirit in us, that makes us those who have been brought forth. No decent human should throw aside their progeny, and yet we do, but NOT God. He sought us out and made way for our return to His side.

                                                                              Posted in advocate, apologetics, Apostle Paul, author, bible study, condemnation, disciplined, Faith, finisher, forgive, Freedom from sin, gentiles, God's character, grace, guilt, In Christ, Jesus, Jews, Law of liberty, Mercy, restore, righteous, Romans, Sin, spiritual gifts, strongholds, Thoughts on scripture, understanding | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment