My friends and I meet each week; we have no set Bible study plan, but we do open our Bibles each time we meet. If it were a study, there would be some detectable pattern in our methods, such as an intense look at a particular book of the Bible, or some preassigned passages we could talk about on our next visit. What does happen, almost without hesitation, is that one man, in particular, will have questions from his readings which stretch across the entire Bible. The rest of the time we talk about life, and that is a good thing.
I am regularly challenged by the lack of understanding this brother seems to have; it convinces me more, each day, that we need legitimate Bible study in our church bodies. If you, like me, have endured the book studies most leaders offer, then you would also know that the books are written to promote the author’s way of thinking or some organizations viewpoint. I happen to think they should encourage God’s point of view. So let’s see if we can find God’s point of view in a couple of subjects.
Here are a few of the questions that are presented to the group by this brother.
Having read Genesis 3:5 he asks, who is the “you” that is giving the woman trouble, and who is “his” seed?
I could attempt to answer his question without much thought, but it is so much more convincing when you have scripture to back up your answers. There is a problem with this process, and that is, we have answered this very question before.
Genesis 3:15 NIV And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.“
Enmity is the Greek word ‘êybâh and also means hostility, hatred.
If I take the narrow view, looking only at Jesus as the woman’s seed, can I see evidence of that hostility? By merely reading the gospels, you can perceive this hostility culminating in the brutality the Jewish leadership bestowed upon Jesus, in His questioning at the home of Annas and then Caiphas the high priest (John 18,) and then pushing Pilot to hang Him on the cross.
If I take the broader view of Eve’s seed, then I am looking at the human race. It seems that some have less hostility focused against them, while, as the recent news conveyed, the Christian church in Nigeria is suffering from deadly violence. We, as the church, do suffer as Satan tries to badger, or belittle us, into not acting and walking in the excellence and beauty that Christ established for us. Bluntly said, Satan is trying to take us out of the way as we represent the thing he hates more than himself, Jesus.
The NASB uses the word seed instead of offspring. Now both terms convey the idea of a product of interaction, but the term seed has intimacy as a part of its definition.
Seed is the Greek word zera‛ and means offspring, descendants, posterity, children. But, it also speaks to us of moral quality or a practitioner of righteousness. Certainly, if we give this verse some consideration, we can visualize the idea of a practitioner of unrighteousness as being an offspring of Satan.
There may have been a pause in our conversation that morning, but only because we attempted to answer the first question. As we tried to answer Genesis 3:15 he jumped into question/challenge #2.
He had been doing as he says, reading in both the Old and New Testaments with no apparent purpose when his reading took him to the gospel of Mark where it says:
“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Mark 13:32 NIV
Most religious people, when they use this verse in a conversation, are trying to push some limited understanding and their fear of the future, on the listener. Let’s see if I can stay within the boundaries of scripture as I try to respond to my friends’ arguments.
First, Jesus is speaking to His Jewish disciples.
Can we, without thinking this through, assume that He is NOT talking to the modern day church? We have to be careful about a challenge like this, for there many things within the law that the disciples understood, that are applicable to us – even if they were spoken under the law; and what about things God said prior to the law, as in the Abrahamic covenant?
It is wise to NOT be so closed minded. The law seemed to have very little freedom in it, while the New Covenant is filled grace and constraints as well.
One other thing; Paul, was an expert in the law, and God used that knowledge base to teach Paul the “freedoms” that we now enjoy as followers of Christ. So, the law, then, is the basis for the grace.
Everything Jesus is saying in Mark 13:32, is under the auspices of the Law.
We are not under the law. Does the law serve as a benefit and guide to our lifestyles? Absolutely, but our greatest source of information has now become the Holy Spirit.
John 14:26 NASB “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.
The obvious factor is that this is Jesus speaking. If I have the freedom to disregard Jesus words simply because they were spoken under the law, then I should disregard what Jesus said in John 14:26.
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. John 14:26 NASB
The problem with setting the passage aside without understanding is that Jesus fulfilled all that He said, and returned to the Father. The Father/God, in turn, sent the Holy Spirit as He said, and we have Peter, speaking on the day of Pentecost – filled with power through this new Holy Spirit they had been promised. The law, therefore, had no negative impact on the fulfillment of the promised gift of the Holy Spirit.
As believers, not under the law, what then constrains us? We are to consider ourselves slaves to the Holy Spirit, just as Paul did.
“and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.” Romans 6:18 NASB
So, even though I am free from the law, I am still, by my own decision to follow Jesus, a slave to righteousness. Personally, I find no bondage in that decision, but freedom.
While it would be narrow-minded to reject information from the Old Testament, What then, do we have to guide us? The New Testament.
What are some passages that speak toward knowing what things are to come?
Acts 1:6-8 NASB So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” (7) He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; (8) but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
I included verse six because it demonstrates that the Jewish disciples asked when He would restore the kingdom to Israel (Means that they had a particular mindset when they asked – one we Gentile believers don’t seem to get.) We know that Jesus will restore the kingdom shortly after the seven years of God’s wrath. The problem is that there is nothing that gives us a clear, distinct, timing as to when the seven years begins.
My friend asks, how is it possible that Jesus, the same Jesus who is God, would not know the time? Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that Jesus chose to be a man. He has never stopped being a man. Yes, Jesus is God, but, is it possible that in His choice He gave up some inherent abilities, such as reading the Father’s mind.
Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you, yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober. For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night.
(1 Thessalonians 5:1-7 NASB)
The Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Thessaloniki, with the express purpose of settling their nerves; someone had convinced them that the rapture had already taken place, leaving them stuck in the time of God’s wrath. This is an important concept to understand, especially if you have allowed yourself become convinced that God would allow those He calls His own to suffer wrath when Jesus took all the wrath meant for us, upon Himself, on the cross.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. (Romans 5:8-9 NASB)
and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come. (1 Thessalonians 1:10 NASB)
For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, (1 Thessalonians 5:9 NASB)
‘Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. (Revelation 3:10 NASB)
The writer of Hebrews spelled out a similar theme when they spoke of Rahab, a citizen of Jericho who hid the Israeli spies and then following their instructions brought about her own salvation/rescue from pending destruction. You can find the entire story of Rahab in Joshua chapter 2.
By faith Rahab, the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace. (Hebrews 11:31 NASB)
In 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 Paul addresses another piece of evidence that helps to promote the timing associated with God’s wrath being poured out upon the earth.
And you know what restrains him now so that in his time he will be revealed. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. (2 Thessalonians 2:6-7 NASB)
We, the praying church, are the thing that is holding back the lawless one, and we will do so until the day we are removed from the earth. When this takes place there will be destruction coming out of every pore of the earth, and from above as well. Do not think for a minute that this will stop humankind from trying to eradicate followers of Christ, as well as each other, it will not; but even worse, will be at the three and a half year mark with the revealing of the false prophet. That man will be the enforcer of sharia, and heads will roll.
In Matthew 24 Jesus disciples asked Him a direct question:
Matthew 24:3 NASB As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
He answered it like this.
“See to it that no one misleads you.” (Matthew 24:4b NASB)
We constantly have people trying to mislead us; many of them sound reasonable, and that is the scariest part of this equation.
One of the greatest clues we have comes out of Jesus responses in Matthew 24 when He said:
“Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door. “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. (Matthew 24:32-34 NASB)
That fig tree was Israel, and it became a nation in 1948. Scripturally the average lifespan of a man is seventy years. We are given some leeway, but a little math puts us in the year 2018. I don’t know whether you noticed or not, but 2018 has come and gone, and we are still here. See what I was saying about leeway.
What does this all mean? It means, as far as I am concerned, that much like the World Series, we are in the ball game. God happens to be the one that picks the start date. We know that the series will only go seven games and that God will be the winner.
Currently, we are watching all the playoff games as they go on around us.
As the prophet James Taylor once said, keep your eyes on the Holy Land, and surrounding vicinity, because the series is about to begin.