earthly kingdom / Millennial Reign of Christ

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?

Christ Liveth in Me

Sunday, April 16, 2017

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 KJV).

“He is risen” is not a simple blasé cliché!

When Jesus’ disciples came to His tomb on that glorious Sunday morning nearly 2,000 years ago, they were startled to find it empty! Angels inform them that He has resurrected, but they are still in shock (Matthew 28:1-8; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-8). Jesus Christ Himself must later explain the Scriptures to them regarding what happened those last few days (Luke 24:44-46).

However, until Paul’s ministry, Christ’s finished crosswork is not preached as good news for salvation. Peter and Israel’s other apostles simply preach that Jesus Christ is now resurrected to “sit on [David’s] throne” (Acts 2:30)—that is bad news for much of Israel, for they still reject Him, weeks and months after His resurrection and ascension. Throughout early Acts, Israel’s apostles warn her that Jesus Christ is coming back to judge them.

When we come to the Apostle Paul’s ministry, we learn that we Gentiles can benefit from Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork. Israel’s rejected Messiah is now our way to heaven! Yes, Israel hated Him, and demanded that He experience the most awful method of execution devised, but God allowed it in order to accomplish His will. Satan attempted to hinder God’s will by having Christ killed, but all that did was provide the method whereby God could save us pagan Gentiles. Calvary’s finished crosswork frees us from Satan’s evil system and gives us a chance to be God’s people (Acts 26:17,18)!

As people who have trusted Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for our sins, that crucifixion is our death to self and sin, and that resurrection is our raising to walk in newness of life—His life (today’s Scripture; cf. Romans 6:1-11)!

Indeed, Jesus Christ is alive, and He lives in and through those who walk by faith in God’s Word to them, Paul’s epistles of Romans through Philemon! 🙂

HAPPY EASTER!

*Adapted from a larger Bible study by the same name. That study can be read here or watched here.

Messiah’s Joy Amidst Calvary’s Grief #2

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2 KJV).

Do you ever wonder what our Lord Jesus Christ was thinking about while He hung there on Calvary’s cross?

Jesus knew Bible prophecy had to be fulfilled: He had to suffer in accordance with the Old Testament prophets. Even when He spoke seven times from the cross, He quoted various Old Testament verses. The Old Testament prophets also gave Him comfort: for the joy that was set before him endured the cross” (today’s Scripture).

For instance, He remembered that Jonah’s prophecy had to be fulfilled: “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40). On the third day, He would live again, and be reunited with His heavenly Father!

He knew that His Father would resurrect Him. His spiritual torment and physical death were only temporarily, as David quoted Jesus 1000 B.C., “For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption” (Psalm 16:10; cf. Acts 2:24-31).

Our Lord thought of reigning over that glorious kingdom that His Heavenly Father would give Him after His resurrection. As the psalmist wrote centuries before Calvary’s crosswork, “Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession” (Psalm 2:6-8). “Begotten” refers to Jesus’ resurrection, not His nativity in Bethlehem (Acts 13:33,34).

Jesus Christ, during His torturous crucifixion, thought about and rejoiced in the promises in the Scriptures that applied to Him. Likewise, we, during difficult circumstances, can remember and joy in God’s promises to us—Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon.

We too can share Messiah’s joy amidst grief! 🙂

The Mess We Call “the World!”

Friday, April 7, 2017

“From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not” (James 4:1,2 KJV).

“The world is a mess!” Those were the words a depressed Christian brother told me after hearing certain recent international news.

While the brother has been saved for many years, and he has read the Bible for decades, he still has not grown up in the Scriptures to see that “mess” has been an appropriate description of our world going all the way back to Genesis chapter 3! Beloved, why does it shock us that we live in “this present evil world” (Galatians 1:4)? As soon as Adam willfully followed his wife Eve in rebelling against God, the world system God entrusted to Adam (Genesis 1:26,27) was passed on to Satan who was guiding Adam. Thus, in the temptations of Christ, we see Satan smugly offering to return to the Lord those kingdoms of the world if He would bow down and worship him (Matthew 4:8-10; Luke 4:5-8)!

Friend, in case you have not noticed, sin complicates life. There is an internal, spiritual struggle in the soul of every person, and that is the reason why there are fightings and wars. Wars exist outside because evil exists inside. No matter how peaceful we attempt to be, someone will always seek to steal from us, harm us, or kill us. Terrorism is nothing new and it will exist all around our globe until the Lord Jesus Christ returns to vanquish evil in earth’s governments once and for all: “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15).

While we certainly do the best with what we have, and attempt to get along with all, war is not avoidable as pacifists would have us believe. “The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name” (Exodus 15:3).

Our latest Bible Q&A: “How could Satan access heaven in the Books of Job and the Revelation?

All Kings and All Nations

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

“Yea, all kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him” (Psalm 72:11 KJV).

Who is this really about?

The subheading of Psalm 72 is, “A Psalm for Solomon.” King David, Solomon’s father, penned it: “The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended” (verse 20). David prayed it on Solomon’s behalf. The Holy Spirit had David write it down, preserving it as Psalm 72. Once Solomon assumed Israel’s throne, it was to be sung in his honor.

Solomon and David are the most famous Jewish kings, reigning at the apex of Israel’s political strength. David fought battles and conquered neighboring Gentiles. By the time Solomon became king, Israel’s land and people enjoyed peace and prosperity. (This was temporary, of course, because Solomon eventually turned from JEHOVAH God.) Solomon’s reign is recorded in 1 Kings chapters 1-11 and 2 Chronicles chapters 1-9. Parts of Psalm 72 correlate with these events. However, some of Psalm 72 never occurred under Solomon. For example, today’s Scripture says, “All kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him.” Solomon certainly did not reign over “all nations.” “All kings” did not “fall down before him.” Is the Bible wrong? Not at all.

Psalm 72 has a wider application than simply “dead history.” It is prophecy awaiting fulfillment! Solomon, like David and other Bible characters, is a picture of Jesus Christ. Christ is also David’s descendant and heir to his throne (Matthew 1:1; Luke 1:31-33; Acts 2:30). Remember, God had promised David that he would have a son to sit on Israel’s throne forever (2 Samuel 7:12-17; cf. Psalm 89). Jesus Christ will fulfill that Davidic Covenant.

Zechariah 14:9: “And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.” Revelation 11:15: “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.” Isaiah 2:2: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.”

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Can you explain 1 Corinthians 5:7-8?

Given Versus Came #6

Monday, February 27, 2017

“For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17 KJV).

One is distant; the other is near.

While we have merely scratched the surface, we conclude this devotionals arc by reading the context: “[1] In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. [2] The same was in the beginning with God…. [14] And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. [15] John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. [16] And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. [17] For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” Israel did not need Law—hundreds of rules and regulations she could never keep. She needed grace, “grace for grace,” abounding grace—what God would do to make her His people (see verses 12,13).

Long before Israel demanded the Mosaic Law, God had promised her father Abraham that He would make of Abraham’s seed a nation of people for His name (see Genesis 12:1-3). The New Covenant qualifies Israel to receive the blessings of that Abrahamic Covenant. Moreover, that New Covenant cancels the sin debt accumulated under the Old. In the New Covenant, God puts His Spirit in the Jews and causes them to keep His laws. I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people (Jeremiah 31:33; Hebrews 8:10). “And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them (Ezekiel 36:27).

We see here a glimpse of Israel functioning as God’s “kingdom of priests” in the Millennium, Christ’s Second Coming onward. Messiah’s Law is much stricter than the Mosaic Law (see Matthew chapters 5-7). However, the New Covenant, unlike the Old, provides Israel with forgiveness for her past transgressions and the ability (indwelling Holy Spirit) to never, ever to repeat them!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What does the King James Bible mean—‘reins?’

Household Rules #15

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God (Colossians 1:25 KJV).

And, just what is this “dispensation of God which is given to [Paul] for [us]?”

With the Lord Jesus Christ directly revealing to Paul the Dispensation of Grace of God, we have a completed Bible. Hence, Paul wrote in his final epistle: “[16] All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: [17] That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16,17).

The Apostle Peter preached in Acts 3:21 about that “which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” In stark contrast, the Apostle Paul had a ministry concerned about “the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest” (Romans 16:25,26). These are two totally different dispensations, never to be confused unless we want to be confused. God kept a secret, but He revealed it directly and exclusively to Paul. Without Paul’s writings, Romans through Philemon, we lose the “household rules” God withheld from other Bible writers and holy men of old.

We see Paul as God’s spokesman to us—not Jesus in His earthly ministry, Peter, Moses, John the Baptist, and so on. We realize Jesus Christ exalted in Heaven (Paul’s ministry), not just on Earth (rest of Scripture). We know we are under Grace (Paul’s ministry), not under Law (rest of Scripture). We see the Gospel of the Grace of God—Christ’s finished crosswork as sufficient payment for our sins—as our way to a right standing before God (Paul’s ministry), not other Gospel messages (rest of Scripture). We recognize our completeness in Christ (Paul’s ministry), not needing rites and rituals and ceremonies to make God happy with us (rest of Scripture). We see ourselves as the Church the Body of Christ (Paul’s ministry), not the nation Israel (rest of Scripture). We recognize the difference between mystery (Paul’s ministry) and prophecy (rest of Scripture).

If we are to know God’s will for us today, we had better pay attention to His current “household rules”—Paul’s ministry and writings! 🙂

-FINIS-