Israel’s redemption and restoration

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?’

But Not For Ever

Saturday, November 19, 2016

“And I will for this afflict the seed of David, but not for ever” (1 Kings 11:39 KJV).

Such bad news… albeit it is only temporary!

Friend, at some point in your association with Christian circles, you have surely heard the expression “the divided Jewish kingdom.” What had begun as a small tribe with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, exploded into a nation of at least two million people escaping Egypt. Moses, followed by Joshua, and then a dozen judges, all governed Israel for about four centuries. Samuel the Priest-Prophet took over, before Israel demanded the LORD through Samuel give them a king like every other nation had. Saul was Israel’s first king, followed by David, and then David’s son Solomon. Today’s Scripture was spoken in the latter part of Solomon’s reign. The kingdom of Israel will soon be split in two!

King Solomon, although (famously) endowed with divine wisdom, was nevertheless a sinner, a man prone to failure like us all. He had an insatiable desire for women, especially foreign women, those from heathen (idolatrous) backgrounds. Eventually, he had relations with 1,000 (!) women, all of who enticed him with their respective idols. Satan had successfully found a “hole” in Israel’s spiritual life, and he exploited it as much as possible. Read the 38 verses previous to today’s Scripture. While it broke the LORD’S heart to see David’s son so deceived, He had to punish wicked Israel!

The Prophet Ahijah came to Solomon’s servant, Jeroboam, with some shocking news. JEHOVAH God was giving him (Jeroboam) the ten northern tribes of Israel (verses 26ff.—known as “Israel”). For David’s sake, God promised to leave to his sons the two southern tribes and Jerusalem the capital (collectively called “Judah,” after the leading tribe). As soon as Solomon died several years later, Jeroboam returned from Egypt and took over Israel’s 10 northern tribes. Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, was made king of the southern kingdom. Israel’s once-united government had lost its Davidic dynasty. But not for ever,” JEHOVAH’S promise echoes.

“JESUS… the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob [all 12 tribes] for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:31-33).

The Depths of the Sea

Thursday, October 6, 2016

“He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19 KJV).

What are these “depths of the sea?”

Earth’s oceans are very mysterious. Great depths, extreme pressure, and immense darkness hinder us from thoroughly exploring them. Actually, we know more about the Moon—or even Mars (!)—than we do about our own planet’s oceans! Scientists have discovered only a fraction of the species that exist in our oceans. Various deep trenches and innumerable caves and crevices are hiding places for who knows what! Average ocean depth on Earth is about 2.3 miles (12,100 feet / 3.7 kilometers). The deepest part of our Earth’s ocean basins is Challenger Deep, the southern part of the Marianas Trench, located in the western Pacific Ocean. Challenger Deep has been measured to have a depth of nearly 7 miles (36,200 feet / 11 kilometers)!!

Near the close of his book, the Prophet Micah wrote today’s Scripture. Having talked throughout about Israel’s coming judgment (historically, from our view, they were the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities), as well as her coming Messiah to rescue her from her sins and her enemies (still future, even from our view), Micah concludes the book with the Abrahamic Covenant: “Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old” (verse 20). The Abrahamic Covenant was God’s first and foremost agreement with Israel (Genesis 12:1-3). No matter what Israel would do, no matter how deep into sin and idolatry she would go, that covenant was unconditional. It would hold because of God’s faithfulness.

When writing about Father God taking care of Israel’s sins, the Holy Spirit declares He will throw all of Israel’s sins into “the depths of the sea.” (Think of Challenger Deep!) Those sins will never be brought up again. Neither Israel’s human enemies nor Satan will ever find them. God will never again hold them against Israel! The New Covenant will take care of those sins forever (Jeremiah 31:34; Hebrews 8:12; Hebrews 10:17). “I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more!”

Our Refuge, Strength, and Help

Monday, July 18, 2016

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1 KJV).

Despite all the recent violent acts in our world, today’s Scripture is just as true as it ever was!

A frequent complaint made against the Bible is that it has “no relevance” to us today. Scientific achievements, education, and technological advancements have allegedly replaced the need for the Holy Scriptures. Mankind believes that, because he has leapt many intellectual hurdles in recent decades, he has progressed enough to no longer need God’s insight. The Bible, while “nice reading,” has been relegated by most to an inferior status. It is said, “Only fools believe that old Book!”

Despite all the educational institutions, religions, political platforms, social movements, scientific innovations, and technological discoveries in the world, however, man’s fundamental problem—sin—remains. Times have indeed changed; unfortunately, mankind never has! Fortunately, God has never changed either! For such an “old Book,” the Bible still provides a logical answer. We must seek help from Someone beyond our human frailties!

Today’s Scripture (yet future) finds Israel at the very end of her quest for righteousness. She has exhausted all avenues of deliverance. The Antichrist has failed her. Her religion has failed her. Education has failed her. Her human “allies” have failed her. Economics have failed her. She has finally come to realize what God had been trying to teach her for the last 4,000 years. He is her only hope. He, not her works, is the answer to her sin problem. He, not her politics, is the answer to her enemies. He, not her education, is the answer to her confusion. He, not her economics, is the answer to her poverty.

Read today’s Scripture in context. Psalm 46 is only 11 verses. In it, we see Christ’s glorious Second Coming to Earth, Him rescuing Israel from all her enemies, Him restoring Israel to Himself, and Him establishing His earthly kingdom. It was all because of Him and His faithfulness, not because of her!

Friends, as our world becomes more chaotic, more uncertain, the unchanging truths of the eternal Word of God must be forefront in our minds. The Lord Jesus Christ—our refuge, our strength, a very present help in trouble. He is our only hope, too! 🙂

Spiritualize to Tell Spiritual Lies

Friday, July 1, 2016

“Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt” (Amos 9:13 KJV).

Does today’s Scripture apply to us today?

Recently, I watched “Christian” (?) television to see many of today’s “Christian” charlatans. They talk about “Jesus” and Scripture, but they are seriously deficient of any clear Gospel message and greatly wanting of any solid Bible understanding.

Two men—one a well-known “faith healer” (still aging) and the other a self-proclaimed “apostle”—sat around a table of prayer requests. The “apostle” told people to give to the faith healer’s ministry so God could bless them. They were to “claim their debt-free BMW in Jesus’ name” as a young lady had recently (allegedly) done using his ministry.

This “apostle” outright told his viewers Amos 9:13 was “written to them.” They needed to claim their prosperity and demand God give them material wealth. “You will reap so many blessings you will not be able to harvest them before the sower will sow more seeds of blessings!” This is utter abuse of God’s precious words. Like so many, he spiritualized the Bible and lied about the Bible. To him, it did not mean literal plowing, literal crops, and literal harvesting. Yet, that is exactly what the Prophet Amos meant… and he was not writing to or about us in the Dispensation of Grace!

Amos 9:11-15 clearly declares today’s Scripture is about the nation Israel. When Jesus Christ returns (cf. Acts 15:14-18), He will rejuvenate Israel’s agrarian lifestyle. In God’s earthly kingdom, there will be so many literal crops harvested in Israel’s land they will not get it all harvested before planting the next crop!

Amos 9:14,15 supplements today’s Scripture: “And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the LORD thy God.”

Bible Q&A #280: “Are 2 Thessalonians 1:9 and Revelation 14:10 contradictory?

The Good Shepherd

Friday, June 17, 2016

“I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:14,15 KJV).

Jesus came to do what Israel’s shepherds failed to do!

Four primary Bible chapters feature lengthy, stinging rebukes to Israel’s corrupt religious leadership—Jeremiah chapter 23 (they pervert the Lord’s words), Ezekiel chapter 34 (they mislead the Lord’s people), Matthew chapter 23 (they feign to be the Lord’s people), and John chapter 8 (they are Satan’s children).

Jeremiah 50:6 says: “My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their resting place.” In Ezekiel 34:1-31, God sharply disapproves of the way Israel’s religious leaders are guiding the whole nation into error. He promises to come personally and deliver His people from these evil leaders, and to cause His people to return to Him (Millennial Kingdom). This is the context of Christ’s earthly ministry: He is the Good Shepherd come to lead the wayward sheep of Israel back into His ways (today’s Scripture). In the Four Gospels, we read about “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 10:6; Matthew 15:24) and Israel being a flock of sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36; Mark 6:34).

Peter wrote of Israel’s believing remnant who responded to Jesus Christ by faith: “For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls” (1 Peter 2:25). Hebrews 13:20 says: “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will….”

Ancient Israel’s shepherds were focused more on themselves than leading God’s people. Then, Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, came. He selflessly gave for Israel instead of selfishly taking from her. He laid down His life for His sheep, to save them from their sins and the ravening wolves of Satan, and to make them His people able to do His will!

Please see our related archived Bible Q&A article for additional insight:

A New Standard of Power #7

Friday, April 29, 2016

Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that it shall no more be said, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; But, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers (Jeremiah 16:14,15 KJV).

If you think God’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt was spectacular, just wait until you see what He has in store in prophecy!

Although Israel messed up God’s purpose and plan for them once they came out of Egypt, today’s Scripture loops back to show us God will still fulfill His will with them (cf. Leviticus 26:44,45).

Today’s Scripture resembles a passage descriptive of Jesus Christ’s Second Coming to be Israel’s King. Jeremiah 23:5-8: “[5] Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. [6] In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. [7] Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that they shall no more say, The LORD liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; [8] But, The LORD liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land.”

Israel’s deliverance from Egypt was glorious, but there is a greater deliverance yet future. The famous “Valley of Dry Bones” passage (Ezekiel chapter 37), which you should read in your own time, illustrates how God will bring redeemed Israel back from all those foreign nations. They will finally enjoy God’s earthly kingdom… they should have experienced it after leaving Egypt! Regardless of their failures, God will still be faithful to them. He will make them His people, fill them with His Spirit forever, and they will never disappoint Him again! 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Are we ‘doom and gloom’ Bible-prophecy believers?