In a recent post, I talked about spending time in a psyche hospital and how they asked me how long my parents had been alcoholics. That generated some negative feedback, not from a reader, but from a relative.
Sadly, I allowed his input to almost shut me down, and for that, I apologize. Fortunately, I got a phone call from a brother who told me to keep doing what God called me to do. That being said here is something I have been lax in posting.
The object of Bible study is to understand.
How many people do you know that understand the Bible, and can effectively convey it back to you?
I was asked recently if church leadership had contacted me about leading a Bible study.
(I suppose I should tell you that our book study had ended four weeks prior and a window of opportunity came to lead a Bible study when our group leader pointed out that he had been asked already and if he was not available was anyone else interested. I told our leader yes, and made the point of telling that particular pastor yes also.)
I answered the brother, with a resounding No. His response was for me to develop a format so that I could present what I intended to do, to church leadership. Having been recently involved with a book guided Bible study, I found it to be atrocious in its context, as the authors taught fallacies, traditions and directed the reader to assume false scenarios through their wording of the text. I want no part of that, but, I also realize that the modern church thinking is that we have to race through the Bible because people will get bored and leave – the church in its entirety; then, let them go.
I have no problem with leadership asking me to lead some book guided study that is filled with conjecture and tradition, however, you should know that I will contest every time I think it’s wrong and integrate a verse by verse approach as I deem necessary. What then happens to your time frame?
I often find myself surrounded by fools who tell me, “we cannot understand all of what we read” (This usually occurs when the book of Revelation or prophecy come into the discussion. What they do when they say that, is prove how little they read and their lack of desire to know. As for the boring aspect. Teachers are boring, but the Word of God is alive, and there is nothing boring about that.
Now, let’s continue with the Gospel of John.
The NASB entitles this section, “The Testimony of John the Baptist.”
Since I have always understood a testimony to be what one says, either in defense of themselves, about something they have seen, or in defense of someone else. Aren’t you at least curious what John the Baptist had to say? So were the Jewish leaders. One aspect of what he said was this:
John 1:19-20 ERV, The Jewish leaders in Jerusalem, sent some priests and Levites to John to ask him, “Who are you?” He told them the truth. 20) Without any hesitation,
he said openly and plainly, “I am not the Messiah.”
If you are an avid reader of my work, then you know I prefer the NASB translation. The NASB finishes this paragraph with the word Christ instead of Messiah, as do many others, however, there are about as many who end with “the Messiah.” This choice of terminology and our casual way of handling it is another example of where our Westernization of the Bible comes into play. When we read Christ, as the NASB puts it, what do we see? Sadly, it is often little more than a man that has yet to come into His own? We don’t see God standing there as a man; neither do we see a triumphant king, yet to come into power. No, we see a man that is frail and insipid, unable or unwilling to defend himself. We see him exactly as the prophet Isaiah said we would, a lamb about to be lead to the slaughter.
Isaiah 53:2-4 NASB For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. 3) He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. 4) Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted.
In today’s world, which is far too concerned with marketability and packaging, there was nothing here that could be sold to the public. Besides all that, there was this lingering question about Jesus familial heritage. We understand this to be a valid assertion for the Pharisees, on several occasions, rudely rebutted him when they said, “we know who our father is!” Their statement was very intentional, meant to hurt and degrade Jesus in front of those who heard them.
But, we fail to ask, what does the word Christ mean? So, even if John the Baptist used the word Christ instead of Messiah, and he may have, is this a problem? Not really, and here is why:
It is the Greek word Christos and means anointed, that is, the Messiah.
When you consider the languages forced upon the Jews of that day, you come to realize that Greek was the language of the ruling authority. Jesus also spoke Aramaic and may have spoken Hebrew. To call Jesus the Christos would have been a far stretch for the chief priests and elders for it means the anointed one, and hence the Messiah. If they did this, they would have been admitting that He was the Son of God, and they were not going to do that. When Jesus rode into Jerusalem that day, on a young donkey, they all recognized that this was something different, something rare, and the entry mode for Kings. The strongest assumption of the people was that Jesus must then be the king, and these common folk, longing for freedom, cried out appropriately.
This dialogue about Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem may not answer the question for many, so I’ll give you some scriptures that may help to identify Jesus as the Son of God, a high priest, anointed by God, and Messiah that He truly was.
1Samuel 2:35 ‘But I will raise up for Myself a faithful priest who will do according to what is in My heart and in My soul; and I will build him an enduring house, and he will walk before My anointed always.
Is 1Samuel 2:35 a description of Jesus? Absolutely, but his identity is cloaked in veiled language that speaks in the future tense. If you go back to find the context of this statement you end up at 1Samuel 2:27 where an unknown man, a prophet, comes to Eli, the priest, and points out the changes that are to come because Eli did not act according to God’s plan. The prophetic declarations take us to verse 35.
Hebrews chapter 10 talks about Jesus, the faithful high priest who performed every detail. As one “who will do according to what is in My heart and in My soul.” Jesus filled that role precisely and told the Jewish leaders so. We see this in John chapter five.
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.
And in John 12:49-50 we have Jesus telling the Jewish leadership of the day, that He only said what He heard his Father, God, saying.
John 12:49-50 NASB “For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak. 50) “I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me.”
There is that other thing that plays a role in this question, “who are you?”
This next passage is one every Jewish kid would have learned in Synagogue school.
Malachi 4:5-6 NASB “Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD. 6) “He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.”
The Jews, anticipated Elijah coming again.
Now, how he would come is debatable, for example: in spirit, or in the flesh. There was no question that he would come again and they anxiously awaited him. Why? For the Torah (Law) clearly, states that man will return to the earth in death. We can find this in multiple locations: Genesis 3:19; 2Samuel 14:14, and Job 14:5. The idea that it is appointed for man once to die and then the judgment comes from the New Testament in Hebrews 9:27.
Because we are also trying to find those things that would have instructed the Jews of Jesus day, we really should exclude Hebrews as an influence, particularly as it would not have been written at the time of John the Baptist. Historically Elijah was known to have been caught up in a fiery chariot unto God; then we make the logical assumption that Elijah did not die and must at some point be returned to expire, following the conventional path of man.
What other problems we could have with Elijah’s return?
The answer resides in the verse from Malachi that we just looked at:
“Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord.”
What about a few more references to the terrible day of the Lord.
Many tell me that I make these posts too long, but try to consider the person who reads this and does not have access to a Bible. Another problem could easily be the abbreviation of references that do not convey the context or the scenario adequately and therefore wrongly feed skewed misconceptions about God’s timing and the event that is going to happen.
The prophet Joel went into a long oration inspired by the Holy Spirit, in which he describes events that cover a substantial amount of time, and, demonstrate a God that still shows a willingness to relent if men will humble themselves before Him. It also includes the paragraph about the sons and daughters that dream dreams and prophecy as God pours out His Spirit upon them. Does this all happen in a day? I don’t think so, but it can happen over a “seven-year” period.
Joel 2:30-32 NASB “I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth, Blood, fire, and columns of smoke. 31) “The sun will be turned into darkness And the moon into blood Before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. 32) “And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the LORD Will be delivered; For on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem There will be those who escape, As the LORD has said, Even among the survivors whom the LORD calls.
While Joel gave us some hope, Isaiah speaks of making the land desolate and destroying the sinners out of it. This descriptive includes the darkening of the sun and an impairing of the moon’s light. (There are several places in the world, at present, where the populace rarely see the sun or moon thanks to smog.)
Isaiah 13:9-11 KJV “Behold, the day of the LORD comes, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. 10) For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine. 11) And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogance of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.”
The Apostle John, in relating his vision of the end times says, that the stars fall to the earth; the heavens depart like a scroll, and the earth is shaken by a serious of vicious earthquakes. These events are so frightful that the rich, the kings of the earth and the great men have hidden in elaborate caves.
Take a moment to look at this article from the Daily Mail.com, which runs in the U.K. Written by By Isabel Hunter For Mailonline and Published:15:42 EST, 13 April 2016.
In the article, it talks about the ultra rich who are buying these complexes to protect themselves from the insanity that is coming upon the earth. This is an accurate depiction of what we see in the book of Revelation.
Revelation 6:13-17 KJV “And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casts her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. 14) And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. 15) And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every freeman, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; 16) And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: 17) For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?”
So when is the day of the LORD going to take place?
There is really only one place prescribed in scripture for this to happen and it is after the harpazo or snatching away of the church. Yes, it also entails the climatic end where Jesus physically returns with a vengeance and plants his feet on the Mount of Olives, at the end of the time of wrath, (we love to call it, The Great Tribulation.) Sadly, most of you still have a problem in understanding the timing involved because the Time of God’s wrath, is this entire period after the church is snatched out of here. This scenario is equatable to the flood account with Noah and righteous Lot, where God removed the righteous from the harm that was to come. In both cases God had them removed just moments before destruction began. And make no mistake, while God will be pouring out His wrath man, it seems, will be ramping up the violence. Since one of the principal methods of violence we see in scriptures includes the beheading of “believers,” then it is easy to ascertain the “religion” that loves to do that. We, in what we deem the civilized nations, still do not wish to believe this level of destruction and violence can befall us. How naive we are, as our governments have been on a fast-paced course of action to eliminate the overabundance of users (that includes food and resources) and they know they can do this through what they think is controlled violence and poisons.
(Again, do not be naive, the same people that brought you chemicals for a better tomorrow are owned or controlled by the same people that run the governments, and there is an intentional effort to reduce the population legally. Why do think abortions are government funded?)
Because the time that is labeled, the day of the Lord, is a time of wrath; then you must know that the church is not meant to partake in that time of destruction. We see this in several places and here is one of them.
1 Thessalonians 5:9 NASB 9) For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,
Some would say, that’s fine, but it’s not enough. Are there any reliable references from the Old Testament? Sure there are, and one is found in Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament.
Malachi 3:16-17 NASB Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who esteem His name. 17) “They will be Mine,” says the LORD of hosts, “on the day that I prepare My own possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.”
Don’t make the mistake of thinking this excludes followers of Christ from the extraordinary but everyday violence that surrounds us, for we were told that “in this world, you will have tribulation.” (You can find this reference in the Gospel of John chapter 16 verse 33.)
One last thing – I have been talking to so-called Christians as my target audience. Do not think you are excluded, for the main reason God sent His son, was to save the entire lost world, broken by this “sin” thing that corrupts us. I find it easier to think in terms of a damaged DNA strain that is common to man. From the scientist point of view, having never seen a man without a damaged DNA chain, would not think it anything but normal. Having lived just a little, and seen the side of life that includes Christ, I can tell you that there is a difference and it is life. No, I don’t wake up in a bed of roses, my life is tough, just like everyone else’ is, but I have a confidence that there is a life beyond this garbage here on earth. I mean really, you think life is nothing more than collecting trophies and then you turn into worm fodder.