Bible studies

You are currently browsing the archive for the Bible studies category.

Whiner_Alert_F

“…and be content with what you have.” (Hebrews 13:5 NIV)

Ten years ago, discontentment ruled the land. There was so much dissatisfaction and complaining that America became the undisputed whine capital of the world. Since then, whine production rose 200%. Across the culture, “whine-making” has developed into an art form.

Professional protestors have sprung up. (Protesting is an aggressive and impassioned form of the more passive whining.) Politicians have become masters of manipulation. Political rallies stir the underlying fears and anger of the public into a frenzy. Candidates use slander and vitriol to make opponents enemies who must be stopped. Campaign appearances are an odd combination of worship service mixed with a mob atmosphere. He’s really mad, but she was madder!

During Israel’s exodus, crying and whimpering had grown into an epidemic. The Lord’s anger was aroused and fire broke out in the camp. After the fire died down, the rabble picked up again where they left off. “…we never see anything but this manna!” they moaned (Numbers 11:6).

Moses heard the rancor then offered his complaint before the Lord (11:10-15). God’s servant concluded his list of grievances with “If this is how you are going to treat me, put me to death right now.”

Numbers 11 ends with a severe plague breaking out throughout the Israelites’ camp. Mouths that spoke of craving other food beside manna became portals for poisoned meat. At a place called “graves of craving,” the moans of discontentment were heard no more (11:34).

Before the Lord again takes the unpleasant step of shutting down the world’s complaining industry, it is time we un-whine ourselves. Like Paul, learn to be content in every circumstance (Philippians 4:11-12). The permanent silencing of whine-makers may be inevitable; we just don’t have to participate. Nor do we have to lie among the “graves of craving”.

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV)

Tags: , , ,

mosesHeston2703_468x611

“The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him.” (Deuteronomy 18:15 NIV)

God’s promise (“prophets like you”) affirms that Moses is the original model for prophets (i.e. the prototype). When production begins, duplication of the original follows.

Teachers have long considered Deuteronomy 18:18 as Moses’ promise of the “Prophet Jesus”. Is there more to this that we’re now seeing? Does this prophecy have “near” and “far” implications”? (Rule #5, “The 5 Basic Rules of Bible Interpretation”: “Look for the near/far in prophecy.”)

I am convinced full-scale production will soon commence!” If Jesus is the “near” fulfillment of God’s Deuteronomy 18:18 promise, then is the world going to see tens of thousands or more Moseses? Are prophets like Jesus ready to emerge onto the world’s stage? You bet they are!

Bible prophets were blood brothers to Moses: Samuel, Nathan, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Zechariah, and John the Baptist, to name a few. All were descendants of Jacob. Did each satisfy the definition of a prophet (cf. Deuteronomy 18:18-19)? Yes, without improvising they spoke on God’s behalf. Was Elijah–who pre-dated Christ’s incarnation by over 700 years–the Moses of his generation? He was. He exemplified the Lord’s commitment to keep his promise. Yet prophets like Samuel, Elijah or Daniel were unique. They were not reproduced through offspring.

Should we assume Jesus is the “far” fulfillment of Deuteronomy 18? Jesus is the Word of God! Christ has the final word (Hebrews 1:1-2), if we think of “final” as complete perfection. Regarding future events, the Father told everything to Jesus, then he passed it to his friends (John 15:15, Revelation). Jesus, a son of Jacob and Judah, is the epitome of uniqueness.

“New” prophecy does not exist. Anyone adding to or subtracting from Scripture should not be trusted, even if what they say comes true (cf. Deuteronomy 13:1-3). The Lord will have true prophets to counter the thousands of deceivers. God’s Word, spoken from mouths like Moses’, will be heard all over the earth.

Joel 2:28-32 declares a vital feature of the last days: God’s Spirit will be poured out globally. “Your sons and daughters will prophesy.”

If the Spirit fills select spokespersons, aren’t we accountable for what they say? If men and women from “every nation, tribe, people and language” listen, won’t they be be led into the Promised Land? Won’t these Moses-like deliverers be duplicates of the prototype?

What do we call this multitude of bold servants and prophets, these future saviors of the saints? “Moseses” is my suggestion. Any interested in applying for this vital leadership position?

I want to dig deeper into this “Moseses” subject. Stay tuned for Part 2.

Tags: ,

Pentecost
“Be glad, O people of Zion, rejoice in the LORD your God, for he has given you the autumn rains in righteousness. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before. The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil…

“Then you will know that I am in Israel, that I am the LORD your God, and that there is no other. Never again will my people be ashamed.” (Joel 2:23-24, 27 NIV)

In Part 1, we argued from Scripture that the Pentecost described in Acts 2 I s a preview of a greater Pentecost coming in the last days. During the first Pentecost, Jews spoke in the tongues of all nations. In the time of the end, believers from all nations will speak a single language.

Speaking through the Prophet Joel, God said in the last days he would pour out his Spirit on all people (Joel 2:28). Before this outpouring of the Holy Spirit, He promised to send the autumn rain (see above). Abundant fall showers will produce full threshing floors (Joel 2:22-24). In the context of a great end-time harvest of grain and fruit, God promises an in-gathering of people as the Holy Spirit showers all nations. Do not miss the connection between the Spring Feast of Pentecost in the history of Acts and the Autumn Feast of Pentecost in prophecy.

According to Acts 2:41, three-thousand accepted the Apostle’s message, were baptized and added to the number of Jewish disciples. In Revelation 7:9, John’s eyes were opened to what Joel described and Peter proclaimed. Appearing in robes that gleamed white like ripened heads of wheat is a multitude too numerous to count. The harvest that is here foretold is comprised of sons and daughters, old men and young men, from every nation, tribe, language and people. Joel and Revelation 7 are in perfect harmony.

What is heard in Revelation 7:10? It is the opposite of the every language under heaven in Acts 2 during the Spring Feast of In-Gathering. In Revelation we preview the saved from throughout the earth declaring God’s glories in one language, not all languages! It is not a cacophony of tongues, but a single solitary tongue. The one voice is the evidence of a Pentecost Redux. This time it won’t be Jews filled with God’s Spirit, but all people and nations, which includes Jews. Jews are part of all. This event is set for Israel’s fall feast of In-Gathering.

What language or tongue is spoken around the Lamb’s throne and by all during the Millennium? My belief is that it will be the tongue spoken in Exodus 19, as Jacob’s descendants stood near Mt. Sinai. I am referring to the ancient language of Israel; what scholars call Paleo-Hebrew.

In “Part 3”, we will uncover more of God’s purpose for another, richer and more complete Pentecost.

Tags: , , , , ,

This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Many peoples and the inhabitants of many cities will yet come, and the inhabitants of one city will go to another and say, ‘Let us go at once to entreat the LORD and seek the LORD Almighty. I myself am going.’ And many peoples and powerful nations will come to Jerusalem to seek the LORD Almighty and to entreat him.”

This is what the LORD Almighty says: “In those days ten men from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, ‘Let us go with you; because we have heard that God is with you.’ ”
(Zechariah 8:20-23
NIV)

By God’s design, for nearly a score of centuries, Jews have stubbornly resisted the gospel. The few who come to acknowledge Yehovah (Jesus) as their Messiah are either converted to Christianity or they become “completed Jews”. To be converted means forsaking the rites and rituals of their forefathers and adopting those of the church they attend. Forgetting the apostles and early disciples were all Jews, many Protestants and Catholics believe conversion is the only way a Jew can be saved.

Becoming a Messianic or completed Jew is the preferred alternative to conversion. A completed Jew receives Jesus as their promised Messiah and, as a result, finds new meaning in the laws, ordinances, feasts and sacrifices handed down to Israel. They do not reject their heritage; rather, the completed Jew embraces it. They discover that the New Testament sheds divine light on the (Old Testament) Scriptures (i.e. The Book of the Law and the Prophets), particularly as it relates to prophecy.

In Chapter 11, the Apostle Paul wrote to The Romans about the Jewish rejection of Christ. The chapter begins with the question: “Did God reject his people? By no means!” is the answer.

Gentiles were/are the grafted in branch until their full number is reached. Then all Israel will be saved because God’s gifts and callings are irrevocable (Romans 11:25-29). This soon-coming salvation clearly includes the Jews since they comprise two (Judah and Benjamin) of the twelve tribes of Jacob (Israel). What has not been as clear is the relationship between the Gentiles who follow Christ and the lost ten tribes of Israel. They are, in fact, one and the same. Paul refers to it as God’s mystery.

When the light goes on and Gentile believers realize they, too, are descendants of Abraham and heirs according to the promise, then perceptions of the Old Testament and the Torah radically change. So what should we Protestants by heritage, do? Should we convert to Judaism? No, that would involve too much unnecessary baggage. Becoming a completed Christian would be the wiser option. That’s what Peter, James, John, Paul, John Mark, Barnabas, Timothy, etc., were in reverse. They did not keep the Law to obtain salvation, but followed God’s statutes because they were blood-bought saints.

Prophecy, such as we read in Zechariah (see top), speaks of a glorious restored temple in Jerusalem. Ten men, representing the ten lost tribes who were assimilated by all nations and all languages, will stream to the Holy City to worship the Lord their High Priest and King. (Read Isaiah 2:1-5 in this same context.) The ten will take firm hold of the hem of one Jew’s robe pleading to go with him into the temple of God. There will be much for the Christian to learn that our Jewish brother knows.

The Prophets of God blog urges Christ’s followers to get a head start on where He is leading his people. Ditch the Christmas and Easter thing and stop calling Sunday “the Sabbath”. Instead, assimilate (put into practice) God’s laws given to the Israelites from Sinai. Get hold of a Hebrew Religious Calendar. Learn how to observe the Holy Days. Why not strive to be the first completed Christian among your friends and family? Try it and see if you are not the most blessed person you know.

Tags: , , , , ,

Who Cares?

eat drink and be merry</a

Woe to you who are complacent in Zion, and to you who feel secure on Mount Samaria, you notable men of the foremost nation, to whom the people of Israel come! (Amos 6:1 NIV)

Writing on Bible prophecy that does not reflect the “Eat, Drink and Be Merry” attitude of the day is not the way to sell books. On the subject of the disaster God says is coming, it is rare to encounter a Christian who cares. The level of interest matters not, for the Word says, “Tell them anyway!”

The Prophet Ezekiel was among Judah’s first to go into captivity in Babylon. In exile, the Lord called saying,

“Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me; they and their fathers have been in revolt against me to this very day. The people I am sending you to are obstinate and stubborn… And whether they listen or fail to listen–for they are a rebellious house–they will know that a prophet has been among them… You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious.” (Ezekiel 2:3-4a, 5, 7 NIV)

It should be mentioned that five generations earlier, Israel, the ten tribes making up the northern kingdom, were scattered by God in the Diaspora. Ezekiel was a Levite, a citizen of Judah. So why not say “I am sending you to the people of Judah”? To whom was Ezekiel called to prophesy?

King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had already invaded Ezekiel’s land. Still many inhabitants of Jerusalem and Judea remained. If the people of Judah acknowledged their sin and turned to God, the Lord would be gracious and show mercy. Jeremiah warned them, yet they would not listen.

This prophecy is a prime example of a major rule for accurate Bible interpretation: “Look for the near/far prophetic.” Was Ezekiel prophesying to America’s last days? The profile fits. The U.S. was born in rebellion. Today we listen only to what we consider “positive and encouraging”. So the prophet’s words fall on deaf ears. We warm to the false message of “Peace and Safety”.

Nevertheless, truth will be spoken by the prophets of God. Though few Israelites heed God’s warnings, they will be spoken or written anyway.

Who cares? God does or he wouldn’t be so insistent on calling his people to repent.

Tags: , , ,

” He shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall make sacrifice and offering cease; and in their place shall be an abomination that desolates, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.” (Daniel 9:27 NRSV).

In the last post, it was noted that Jesus spoke with authority during the Festival of Lights (Hanukkah). He declared the Father and Son were one and it angered the Jewish authorities. Why would Jesus make such a declaration during this festive occasion? Hanukkah is not one of the Holy days that God ordained in the Torah so why should Christians care about it?

The Feast of the Dedication is documented in the historically accurate apochrypha book 1 Maccabees. It describes an evil ruler (Antiochus Epiphanes IV) who perpetuated much violence against God-fearing Jewish people. This sinful root (1 Maccabees 1:10) made a covenant with renegades from Israel to mislead many. The king authorized the rebellious of Israel to observe ordinances of the Gentiles (Greek culture). On the 15th day of the month of Kislev, a desolating sacrilege (statue of Zeus) was set up on the altar of burnt offering. Then on the 25th day an unclean(swine) sacrifice was offered and Antiochus Epiphanes claimed to be the incarnation of Zeus. Antiochus had Jewish families put to death for observing the covenant of circumcision (Genesis 17:10-11). The infants were hung on the neck of their mothers. (cf: 1 Maccabees 1:41-64).

A priestly family arose, and rebelled against this wayward king. God provided the victory and the Maccabee family cleansed and purified the temple. Early in the morning on the 25th day of the 9th month in 167 BC sacrifices according to the law were offered on the new altar. “At the very season on the very day that the Gentiles had profaned it, it was dedicated with songs and harps…..all the people fell on their faces and blessed the God of Heaven who prospered them. (1 Maccabees 1:54-55 NRSV).

Thus, Hanukkah (the Feast of the Dedication) was born. It was the near fulfillment of the prophecy in Daniel 9. In Matthew 24:15-28, Jesus tells of the end time fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy. With that, our Lord links the events that led to Hanukkah with the final desolation caused by the antichrist. In the next post, we will explore why Satan attacked on 25 Kislev and how it connects to an ancient prophecy in Haggai. EJ

Tags: , ,

This is what the LORD says:

“Maintain justice and do what is right, for my salvation is close at hand and my righteousness will soon be revealed… Let no foreigner who has bound himself to the LORD say, “The LORD will surely exclude me from his people.”
(Isaiah 56:1, 3a
  NIV)

In the midst of a series of prophecies about the last days, the Lord reveals his magnanimous heart through Isaiah. He is the God of Judah. That will never change, because He never changes. The Almighty declares his salvation is close at hand for the people of Judah, for those who keep God’s laws. But in the above prophecy there is a promise for the foreigner or alien in their midst.

For those married to a Pre-Tribulation Rapture (PTR) position, the rest of Isaiah 56 can make little sense. It speaks of those born outside of the tribe of Judah, non-Jews, coming back into the fold of the true Israelite.

“And foreigners who bind themselves to the LORD to serve him, to love the name of the LORD, and to worship him, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant–these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” (Isaiah 56:6-7 NIV)

In a complete reversal of the ten tribes of Israel’s assimilation into the nations (the Diaspora), foreigners will come to Jerusalem’s temple in the last days to worship God in the manner prescribed through Moses. Without verbal gymnastics, PTR teaching cannot accommodate prophecies that reveal Israel’s re-unification under King Jesus (John 10:16, Acts 1:6). Passages such as Isaiah 56–or Zechariah 8:20-23 for that matter–are simply ignored. God’s Word clearly foretells a Ruth-like (see Ruth 1:16-18) conversion of foreigners into temple worshipers as well as Sabbath and holy day keepers. Sadly, many Christians have a problem believing Jews will be saved at all.

The principle of re-assimilation is omitted from PTR’s popular teaching. The “any moment rapture” philosophy preserves the wall of separation. The Word promises that through Christ the barrier between Gentile and Jew will be destroyed. Pagan-based traditions among the saints won’t be around much longer.

By taking the Church up in the rapture before enduring tribulation, Gentile saints are denied participation in the festal procession at the end of the age (Zechariah 9:9-10). Regarding the timing and purpose of the rapture, PTR dogma does not allow for a restoration or a re-gathering into the worship established for Israel. The Pre-Wrath Rapture position, when rightly understood, accommodates this future event in prophecy.

Follow the logic: If “saved Christians” are in heaven when the Tribulation begins, how could they make burnt offerings or sacrifice in the rebuilt Temple? Saints will be re-gathered as exiles (Isaiah 56:8). There will be One God worshiped in one way. There will be one set of holy laws. As God says, the coming temple will be a house of prayer for all nations.

Tags: , ,

Right after I officiated at my sister-in-law, Patty, and husband, Ray’s wedding, one of her bridesmaids approached me in a huff. It was many years ago yet I still remember that young lady’s verbal shot at me. It was my confidence that seemed to upset her. During the ceremony I declared that Christ was the only way to salvation. So this young woman proceeded to upbraid me for my intolerance. She was certain there were other roads to heaven for non-Christians. But since when is having assurance that salvation is through Christ alone “wrong”?

Sometimes contemporary Christianity reminds me of the upset bridesmaid: Tolerance is only extended so far. Everything is fine as long as we agree, but do not step out of line.  In regard to our understanding of what the Bible says about the second coming, Christians have our own version of the Taliban.  Dissent is quashed. But how can we arrive at an accurate interpretation of Bible prophecy, if we refuse to gather all the pertinent verses or listen to pieces of conflicting evidence? All admissible facts need to be heard, not just those that support the opinion of the majority.

Do we see why Christians have muddled heads on the subject of the Bible and the future. When it comes to understanding the future, we hear but one side. We tend to submit to the false premises that all true Bible-believing Christians are in agreement or there is only one side that should be heard. In some places, Bible students cannot even broach the subject of the Pre-Wrath rapture of the church or that believers will be called on to endure great tribulation globally in the last days, without being accused of heresy.

That is the way with puzzles. You know it is solved when all the pieces perfectly fit the creator’s theme.

Here’s the best way I know to explain how I know what I know. Each weekend the New York Times Magazine publishes and distributes a challenging crossword puzzle. Across the land thousands of minds go to work to solve this puzzle in as short a time as possible. Some can zip through it in an hour or so. Others, like myself, take quite a bit longer.

Let’s say we challenged an experienced NYT cruciverbalist (crossword solver) about his or her answers. We may get a “What are you asking me that for” type of look. At some point, they would probably tell you that their answers fit. Yes, they are confident because they have discovered what’s in the mind of the puzzle’s creator. That is the way with puzzles. You know it is solved when all the pieces perfectly fit the creator’s theme. Is it to say one is superior because they solved a NYT puzzle? Of course not, but the solvers are confident and exhilarated. It was Archimedes who grasped the physics of water displacement. At his epiphany, he  made the bold but perhaps rash declaration, “Eureka! I found it!” It was as if he was saying, “Problem solved!”

Why am I confident the Pre-Wrath Rapture position is correct? Because I am a puzzle solver and I tell you it fits. (Those who are not puzzle solvers have trouble with this concept.) Other answers do not quite fit regardless how hard one tries or how sophisticated one sounds or how much one beats the table while raising their voice. Simply, it will not come together as designed.

There is great satisfaction in puzzle solving. In my book, “The People of God,” I present twenty-six different clues to prophecy solvers. My goal is not to tell other explorers of the mysteries surrounding the end of this age what to think (i.e. the answers) but how to get in the mind of prophecy’s Creator so they can figure it out. As with math or science, there is only one correct solution.

If this is what you call arrogant, then so be it. I call the one that makes that judgment bigoted and narrow. (Two can play that game!) What would one call dismissing conclusions that were based on hundreds of Bible verses without ever giving them fair treatment? Intolerant is perhaps one descriptive word that comes to mind.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,