chastisement

Praise and Thanks to the LORD

Thursday, June 30, 2016

“And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the LORD; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid” (Ezra 3:11 KJV).

Just imagine Israel’s joy as the Temple is being reconstructed!

The Babylonian armies had come many decades earlier and destroyed Jerusalem. Solomon’s Temple, the house of the LORD, the magnificent center of Israel’s religious life, was burned to the ground! The Jews of the southern kingdom (Judah) were violently carried away to Babylon (2 Kings 25:1-21; 2 Chronicles 36:14-21).

JEHOVAH God commissioned Persian King Cyrus the Great to rebuild His Temple (Isaiah 44:28—written nearly two centuries previous to Cyrus!). Obeying Cyrus’ decree, Zerubbabel leads some of his Jewish brethren from Babylon back to Jerusalem to begin the construction (2 Chronicles 36:22,23; Ezra 1:1-11). These Jews have given of their material riches to construct the Temple. As chapter 2 of Ezra says: “[68] And some of the chief of the fathers, when they came to the house of the LORD which is at Jerusalem, offered freely for the house of God to set it up in his place: [69] They gave after their ability unto the treasure of the work threescore and one thousand drams of gold, and five thousand pound of silver, and one hundred priests’ garments.”

In today’s Scripture, they are excited that they have now laid the foundation for this new Temple. Literally, they are “re-laying the groundwork” for their Mosaic religion. They want JEHOVAH’S presence to return to them. They desire for Him to dwell in Jerusalem with them as He did before their Babylonian captivity/exile. It is a very emotional time. The older men, those who had seen Solomon’s Temple before it was destroyed over 50 years earlier, observe the construction of this new Temple’s foundation and they “wept with a loud voice” (verse 12)! They recognize that they had sinned (leading to their punishment in the captivity) but their God has been faithful in bringing them back into the Promised Land. Not because of their faithfulness, but because of His!

Praying Like Elijah #15

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

“Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months” (James 5:17 KJV).

Why did Elijah pray like this, what was so special about his prayer that God answered it, and how can we have our prayers answered of God?

Many precious Christians all around the world, suffering various difficult circumstances, are fervently praying for God to remove those tribulations (remember Paul?). Yet, the troubles remain (remember Paul?). They wonder, “Does God love me? Do I have enough faith? Is there unconfessed sin hindering my prayers? Am I even really saved?” Such disappointment, misery, and confusion!

Beloved, remember, prayer is talking to God in light of His Word to you. The most basic fallacy in modern-day prayer-practice and prayer-preaching is to grab God’s Word to Israel, and make it apply to us. Whether it is “the Lord’s Prayer” (Matthew 6:9-13), or “Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do” (John 14:14), or “If two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 18:19), none of these verses apply to us. God the Holy Spirit never gave us the Church the Body of Christ any such verses in Romans through Philemon. In fact, as we already saw in Paul’s epistles (2 Corinthians 12:7-10), we find God saying “No” three times to Paul’s prayer for deliverance.

Surely, God’s dealings with Israel and God’s dealings are different. In Israel’s program, calamity was a sign of disobedience and God’s punishment of it. However, when we come to this the Dispensation of Grace, problems are not something to flee. God is not mad at us; we are forgiven and accepted in Christ. We suffer trouble in this fallen creation, but we need to always be mindful that God promises to get us through our trying times, not take us out of them. In difficult circumstances, we need to repeat to Him in prayer what He told us in Scripture….

The Babylonians Are Coming!

Friday, December 12, 2014

“For I have set my face against this city for evil, and not for good, saith the LORD: it shall be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire” (Jeremiah 21:10 KJV).

Jerusalem, the Babylonians are coming, the Babylonians are coming!

We hear Jeremiah 29:11 quoted quite often in today’s lukewarm Christianity: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” However, who quotes today’s Scripture (found in the same Bible book)?

Before JEHOVAH God could have good thoughts toward Jerusalem and the nation Israel, He had to first deal with their sins. Rather than relying on God’s grace—God freely giving them everything they needed—they agreed to enter into a covenant with Him. This was the Old Covenant, the Mosaic Law (part of it was the Ten Commandments). Israel contracted to perform perfectly to gain His blessings and acceptance; to fail in a single point was to merit His wrath and curses. Israel was doomed to fail right from day 1, but God loves freedom so much that He gave them exactly what they wanted. They wanted religion, and they got just that, along with the consequences of weak human nature.

So, we reach the time of today’s Scripture. Nine hundred years after the ratification of the Mosaic system, and Israel (technically, the southern kingdom of Judah) is entering the fifth course of judgment. What began in the book of Judges (because of her pagan idolatry) is now in its fifth and final phase—after four previous attempts of JEHOVAH trying to reform them with chastisement, Leviticus 26:27-39 says Israel must now be removed from the Promised Land. Today’s Scripture is Jeremiah’s message from God to warn Judah that the Babylonian armies are coming: Jerusalem will be sacked, its walls burned to the ground, the Temple destroyed, and the Jews will be led away captive to present-day Iraq. The Jews are instructed not to fight but rather capitulate to their enemies’ desires. In 586 B.C., Jerusalem was decimated—the Babylonians cleansed JEHOVAH’S land of idolatry.

Jeremiah 29:11 is Israel’s hope in such a hopeless condition!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Is the Holy Spirit a Person or a force?

NOTE: All 9 messages (~12 hours) of the 2014 Slidell Grace Bible Conference are now available on YouTube! Speakers were Richard Jordan, Ed Yarber, Frank Redman, and myself (Shawn Brasseaux). You may find all those videos here.

The LORD’S Great Love for Israel

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

“Then said the LORD unto me, Go yet, love a woman beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress, according to the love of the LORD toward the children of Israel, who look to other gods, and love flagons of wine [grape/raisin cakes]” (Hosea 3:1 KJV).

JEHOVAH commissions the Prophet Hosea to live out his message so the children of Israel can see His great love for them!

From Hosea’s perspective, the Jews’ Assyrian and Babylonian captivities are approaching, JEHOVAH’S response to their centuries of idolatry (Leviticus 26:28-39). With a broken heart, He must now rid His Holy Land of the nation Israel, and send them away to foreign lands. His people have not honored His Word but rather have trampled it under foot. They do not believe His Word to them: they have willfully abandoned His Covenant of Law. They have defiled His land with their child sacrifices, violence, injustice, and idols of wood and stone. Like a wife cheating on her husband, the houses of Israel and Judah have been so unfaithful to the God who delivered them from Egyptian, satanic, and sin’s bondage. They have ignored Him and worshipped dead idols!

In chapter 1, God instructed Hosea to marry Gomer. It is soon apparent that she is a prostitute, for, after giving birth to Hosea’s first child, Gomer delivers two children whose paternal origin is unclear. In the context of today’s Scripture, Gomer has since left Hosea and is now prostituting on the streets. Hosea is instructed of God to purchase Gomer back, and God orders him to love Gomer in the same manner He loves adulterous Israel. The children of Israel are to see Hosea’s life and learn the doctrine being communicated.

From our perspective, JEHOVAH—some seven centuries after Hosea—shed His blood on Calvary’s cross to—beyond our day—redeem Israel, buy her back from her satanic and idolatrous captivity, forgive and cleanse her, and despite her infidelity, re-marry her and return her to her Promised Land forever (Hosea 2:14-23). The Apostle Paul affirms that Hosea’s prophecy—Israel’s restoration and redemption—will occur after our program ends (Romans 11:15-36). Saints, what a loving God we serve!

Our latest Bible Q&A’s: “Who will accompany Jesus at His Second Coming?” and “When will the Old Testament saints be resurrected?

A Holy Nation #6

Saturday, January 25, 2014

“For I am the LORD that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy” (Leviticus 11:45 KJV).

Today’s Scripture summarizes a book most burdensome to many.

As per the Old Covenant, increasingly sinful Israel would endure five rounds of escalating chastisement from God, many divine attempts to reform the wayward nation (see Leviticus 26:14-39). The last course of judgment (verses 27-39) involved Gentile armies (Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks, Medes, Persians, and Romans) overrunning and defeating Israel, killing her people, taking off to foreign lands most of the rest of the Jews as prisoners of war. The Promised Land would be desolate of Jews. Israel would lose her Davidic kingdom, and the pagan Gentiles would rule over her instead. God was bound by His Word to weaken and curse His beloved nation!

Just before, during, and after that fifth course of judgment began, God sent His prophets to speak and write to Israel. The “Major Prophets” (Isaiah through Daniel) and the “Minor Prophets” (Hosea through Malachi) concentrate on two general themes: God’s judgment and Israel’s deliverance. These prophets clearly warned that, due to her disobedience, Israel would have many terrible days ahead (and the worst are yet to come!). Yet, these prophets surely comforted that, due to JEHOVAH’S faithfulness, Israel would have many wonderful days ahead (and the best are yet to come!).

Israel had forsaken JEHOVAH and His covenant, worshipped pagan idols, and legally, God declared her as sinful, worthy of His wrath and unworthy of His blessings—she had become Satan’s people. She was everything but the “holy nation” God wanted her to be (see today’s Scripture). The devil surely thought he had JEHOVAH defeated: “Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive? But thus saith the LORD, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children” (Isaiah 49:24,25).

There was hope: JEHOVAH promised that Messiah would come and deliver Israel from Satan….

Big Brother Versus Heavenly Father #4

Thursday, November 7, 2013

“…for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” (Hebrews 13:5c,6 KJV).

Big Brother is watching; Heavenly Father is, too!

A brief survey of the Old Testament Scriptures reveals God’s chief nation in the earth, Israel, refused to submit to His will. Like sinful Adam, Israel had no interest in governing earth for God’s glory. Israel’s recurrent breaking of the Mosaic Law had a consequence: she could not be a kingdom of priests” (Exodus 19:3-6).

In Leviticus 26:27-39, God had warned them that, after repeated chastisements and subsequent habitual disobedience, His final judgment on them would be that Gentile nations would defeat them in battle, and carry Israel out of her Promised Land. Israel’s monarchy would be lost, and not restored until Messiah-King would come (Ezekiel 21:26,27).

The culmination of this judgment against Israel was when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon successfully thrice invaded Jerusalem. During the last invasion (586 B.C.), Jerusalem was utterly destroyed, God’s Temple was burned to the ground, and the remaining Jews taken captive to Babylon (see 2 Chronicles 36:5-21).

Some Jews returned to the Promised Land after the Babylonian exile, such as with Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. Nevertheless, the majority of the Jews are still scattered worldwide, still without a Davidic kingdom. By the time Jesus Christ came, Babylon, Media-Persia, and Greece had already ruled over Israel. In Jesus’ day, the Roman Empire was oppressing Israel.

Ezekiel 21:26,27 said that Israel would not receive her crown again until her Messiah came. When Jesus finally arrived, and Pilate told Israel, “Behold your King!,” the Jews released themselves from their national heritage as they publicly declared, “Crucify him… We have no king but Caesar” (John 19:14,15). By rejecting Jesus their King and demanding His crucifixion, they hindered God’s earthly kingdom from being established (again!).

During the early Acts period, most of Israel still rejected Jesus’ right to David’s throne. The last week of Daniel’s prophecy, Israel’s spiritual cleansing and God’s wrath, would be postponed so God could commence another program… ours….

One Little Nation With a Big God #3

Saturday, November 17, 2012

“Lift up thyself, thou judge of the earth: render a reward to the proud” (Psalm 94:2 KJV).

Israel’s enemies are persecuting and destroying her, and today’s Scripture is her plea for JEHOVAH to shew Himself!

For the past 4,000 years—ever since her beginning with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—the nation Israel has been harassed, oppressed, and mistreated by the Gentile world. This is partly due to her sins and God’s chastisement (Leviticus 26:31-39; Deuteronomy 28:48-53). Moreover, it is also due to Satan seeking to wipe out Israel (for in doing so, prophecy and God’s purpose and plan for the earth would be abolished).

Even today, little Israel battles her enemies to retain what small amount of real estate she has. Is not Israel God’s “chosen people?” Then, why has God not gotten rid of Israel’s opponents? Actually, God has temporarily set aside the nation Israel, and her program that operated in “time past” is paused: “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” (Romans 11:25). When God is finished forming the Body of Christ, He will return to Israel, and then He will take care of her enemies.

After our Dispensation of Grace terminates with the rapture, and the Church the Body of Christ is removed from earth, Israel will experience “one week” (seven years; Daniel 9:27) of God’s wrath, during which He will separate believing Jews from unbelieving Jews (Zechariah 12:8,9). Also, the satanic antichrist will be ruling the world, and he will persecute believing Israel. His religious leader, the “false prophet,” will gather the armies of the world, in hopes of annihilating Israel (Revelation 16:13-16). In this last great battle, Armageddon, Gentile armies will assemble in Israel, eagerly waiting to defeat her once and for all (Revelation 19:18,19; cf. Psalm 83:1-4).

However, these haughty Gentile armies are unaware that the “judge of the earth” has left heaven’s glory, and He is rapidly nearing planet earth, to “render a reward to the proud….”