The Nation Israel

Eagerly Seizing the Temporary!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed (John 6:26,27 KJV).

Human nature has not changed one bit in 2,000 years.

Frequenting thrift stores over the years, I have found name-brand items well below retail cost. Some items—including pricy clothing—are still new. Beware: Stand aside, as consumers may behave unseemly to get what they want!

After employees process and price items in store’s rear, they transport them by cart to the front for consumers to browse. Thus the showroom becomes dangerous. Upon hearing that cart’s wheels rattling and squeaking, alert customers make a “mad dash,” pushing and shoving, to access the cart’s items first! (My friend was nearly knocked down by one such “stampede!”) When I recounted that event to another friend, she summed it up perfectly—“uncivilized!” Sadly, adults will go to such extremes to have their way: like starving vultures diving to pick off a bite to eat, these consumers run and pounce on that cart!

While such scenarios are amusing (yes, I recently witnessed a stampede), it is unfortunate. If only people were as willing to come to Christ as they do that dumb merchandise cart! They bully to grab temporary items, but, upon death, someone will be just as eager to confiscate it. It is said that grave-clothes have no pockets—even if they did, the contents would do absolutely nothing for the individual. His or her soul would be in heaven (Christian) or hell (everyone else), not in that decaying body!

Friends, in the context of today’s Scripture, Jesus miraculously fed the 5,000 (verses 1-15). Now, they are selfishly chasing Jesus to get more food from Him. Verse 29 is the correction: “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” They were striving for temporary food, when they should have trusted the eternal Son of God! (A most appropriate lesson… even in today’s world, huh?)

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Should we pray if it is God’s will?

The Awareness of a Temporary Earth

 Saturday, April 22, 2017

“And, Thou, O Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: they shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail” (Hebrews 1:10-12 KJV).

On this Earth Day, let us not confuse the creation with the Creator!

Today, people worldwide celebrate “environmental awareness.” According to the secular, naturalistic worldview, our planet and its sun could last many more billions of years. They claim that we have done so much damage to our planet—climate change, overpopulation, deforestation, pollution, et cetera—that we must change our attitude toward “mother earth” and change our lifestyles before we destroy her and civilization as we know it! You can sense the zeal in their message, can you not? While these people are sincere, they are wasting all of their time, energy, and resources on a temporary planet.

Let us be very clear that the Lord Jesus Christ placed man on the earth, especially the Garden of Eden, to “dress it and keep it” (Genesis 2:15). Adam was to take care of the Earth: he was God’s representative, God’s king, who had a divine commission to rule this planet for God’s glory (Genesis 1:26-28).

It was not long, however, before Satan distracted mankind from understanding God’s purpose for him. Adam began to focus on himself: like Satan, he began to “worship and serve the creature more than the Creator” (Romans 1:25). Thus began man’s continual downward spiral into spiritual ignorance. He would continually worship himself, as we well know today.

Today’s Scripture reminds us that, because of sin, this creation will pass away. The Lord Jesus Christ, however, will live forever. Why worship that which is temporary? It makes no sense! The Lord Jesus Christ gave you life, not the pagan goddess “mother earth.” Environmental awareness? Indeed, be aware that our world is temporary, as God will one day create “a new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1).

The “Triumphal” Entry

Friday, April 21, 2017

“All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass” (Matthew 21:4,5 KJV).

Do you ever wonder why Jesus Christ rode on a donkey the Sunday before His crucifixion?

In today’s Scripture (cf. Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:28-40; John 12:12-19), Jesus’s crucifixion on Calvary’s cross is just five days away. Leaving Bethany, He travels to Jerusalem (a mile to the northwest). Israel’s believing remnant in Jerusalem is excited to hear that Messiah is returning to “the city of the great King” (Psalm 48:2; Matthew 5:35); in anticipation, the great multitude throws their garments and palm branches on the ground. As Jesus enters the city, they cry out, “Hosanna [“O save!”]: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 21:9; Mark 11:9,10; Luke 19:38; John 12:13; cf. Psalm 118:26).

While often called the “Triumphal Entry,” there really was no victory being celebrated in today’s Scripture—the victory was to come later! What we need to realize is that Jesus Christ was humble (“meek”) here: as a King riding on a donkey into Israel’s capital city, He demonstrated He desired peace with Israel (a fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9). He had not come to destroy her, though He would have been just in doing so; He had come to save her from her sins, her enemies, and her satanic bondage (Matthew 1:21; Mark 2:17; Mark 3:22-30; Luke 1:68-75; Luke 9:55,56; Luke 19:9,10; Acts 3:24-26; et cetera).

Just a few days later, Jesus Christ appeared weak and defeated. He never fought back as the Roman soldiers mercilessly abused Him; He allowed Himself to be crucified on Calvary. It was His meek and lowly coming; now was not the time to pour out His wrath. He resurrected and ascended into heaven as a royal exile. Revelation 19:11 says Jesus Christ will return to Jerusalem on a white horse, a sign of war and wrath (Zechariah 14:1-4)—that will be His true triumphal entry, for He will conquer Satan’s world system forever!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Is it truly a good deed if done for selfish reasons?

Two Sons and Two Fathers

Thursday, April 20, 2017

“And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas:” (Luke 23:18 KJV).

One son will be liberated to live, and the other Son will be sentenced to die!

At the time of Christ’s trial, Barabbas is a prisoner (Matthew 27:16). Barabbas is a murderer, a robber, and guilty of “insurrection,” or rebelling against the government (Mark 15:7; Luke 23:18,19; John 18:40).

It is Passover. Roman governor Pontius Pilate has a custom that, at the feast, he releases a prisoner, whomever the people desire (Matthew 27:15; Mark 15:6). “But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas. Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified” (Matthew 27:20-22).

Israel’s chief priests, rulers, and common people all demand Christ’s crucifixion and Barabbas’ release, so Pilate gives the sentence (Luke 23:23-25). Guilty Barabbas is set free to live, and innocent Jesus Christ is condemned to be crucified. While Barabbas’ involvement in the matter seems insignificant upon first glance, God included it in His written Word because to provide us with an amazing illustration!

“Barabbas” means “son of the father.” Barabbas is a criminal, and he represents sinful, rebellious mankind who is worthy of death. He is bound by sin, and faces eternal death. Spiritually, sinful mankind is the son of Satan—man is of his father the devil (John 8:44). Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, God, “knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21), but took upon Himself our sins and was punished in our place.

Innocent Jesus Christ took the place of guilty Barabbas, which actually represented Christ taking the place of the whole world, suffering God’s wrath on our behalf! “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust…” (1 Peter 3:18). Thus, through Christ’s finished crosswork, we sinful sons of Adam (and Satan) can be freed from sin, and we can become the righteous sons of God.

The Price of Christ #2

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

“Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment” (John 12:3 KJV).

How much should Jesus Christ be worth in the eyes of Christians?

About six days before His crucifixion, Jesus is in Bethany, a town one or two miles (1.6 or 3.2 kilometers) southeast of Jerusalem. He has raised Lazarus from the dead just a short time earlier (John chapter 11), and they are holding a supper for Jesus there in Bethany (John 12:1-9). Lazarus’s sister Mary (cf. John 11:2) anoints Jesus’ feet as recorded in today’s Scripture.

Mary took a “pound” (roughly a pint or 0.5 liter) of the very intense aromatic essential oil “spikenard” and poured it onto Jesus’ feet. She then wiped His feet with her hair. (You can grasp Mary’s humility by remembering that sandaled feet that trod hot Middle Eastern sand were quite filthy, sweaty, and smelly. Can you imagine wiping your hair on those feet?)

Spikenard, whose plant derivative is still unknown, was just as the Bible says—“very costly.” In fact, when Judas—the thieving treasurer of the apostles—saw what Mary did, he bemoaned, “Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?” (John 12:5). Verse 6 says, “This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.” Judas just wanted the spikenard sold so he could pocket the money!

The word “pence” in our King James Bible means the Roman coins called denarii. A denarius was equal to one day’s wages, so 300 pence was roughly ten month’s wages (the denarius was originally worth the price of ten donkeys, so 300 pence was 3,000 donkeys!). Mary recognized the great value of the Lord Jesus Christ: He was worth far more than the mere 30 pieces of silver (three or four months’ wages) Judas later received for betraying Him. May we Christians value the Lord of glory, Jesus Christ, as much as Mary did!

Bible Q&A #370: “How could Jesus say His killers knew not what they were doing?

The Price of Christ #1

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

“And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver” (Matthew 26:15 KJV).

How much is Jesus Christ worth in the eyes of lost man?

Let us read today’s Scripture within its context: “Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, and said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him” (Matthew 26:14-16).

“Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood. And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in. Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value; and gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord appointed me” (Matthew 27:3-10).

The 30 pieces of silver was enough to buy a field; it was an enormous sum of money. The King James Bible does not specify what types of coins the priests paid Judas, but the “30 pieces of silver” is estimated to be the equivalent of three or four months’ wages. According to the Mosaic Law, the price of a slave was “thirty shekels of silver” (Exodus 21:32). In the eyes of lost mankind, the Lord of glory, Jesus Christ, was worth nothing more than a slave!

The Bible’s Season of New Life

Monday, April 17, 2017

“God that made the world and all things therein… he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;” (Acts 17:24,25 KJV).

May we never forget the true meaning of Eastertime!

Satan is the master counterfeiter: from Genesis to Revelation, the Scriptures reveal how the devil schemes to “be like the most High” (Isaiah 14:14). Whatever God does, Satan defiles that work by introducing false doctrine, distracts mankind from God’s truth by mimicking His actions, discourages God’s people from His ministry by using incorrect thinking patterns, and so on. Why? Satan wants the worship that God alone deserves (Matthew 4:8-10; Luke 4:5-8).

Consider Christmastime. Centuries before Christ, Satan had pagans worshipping the birth of the sun god in early winter—near the date that Jesus Christ (God the Son) took upon human flesh in the virgin Mary’s womb! Now, consider Eastertime. Centuries before Christ, Satan had pagans worshipping fertility deities and new life in early spring, near the date that Jesus Christ (God the Son) died for our sins and resurrected victoriously over sin, death, hell, and Satan to give us new life! (To Satan’s delight, today’s average church member is not mindful of relevant sound Bible doctrine during Christmastime and Eastertime—the devil’s distractions have never lost their efficacy!)

The God of the Bible instituted in Israel a festival, Passover (the killing of a spotless lamb and its bloodshed in early spring), while they were still in Egypt (Exodus chapter 12)—Passover’s annual observance reminded them of JEHOVAH delivering them from Egyptian slavery unto new life. Israel did not understand its meaning until 1,500 years later. The true Passover lamb, Jesus Christ, died and shed His sinless blood during that annual Passover feast (early spring), and He resurrected in new life to give them spiritual life and liberty.

Yes, the pagans may have “hijacked” this time of year for the devil’s glory, but we can disregard their ignorance: spring is God’s season for new life. We can still use this season to bring the God of the Bible glory by remembering that He has given us physical life (today’s Scripture), and He offers us new life (that is, spiritual life) through Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection! 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Why was Paul eager to preach the Gospel to the Christians at Rome?