LIVING WATERS WILL FLOW FROM JERUSALEM

 

Just for fun – and partly because I never like to do things the easy way – this week I want to begin a series of short studies on the the subject of eschatology, or the “end times”, and possibly clear a path to a better understanding of some of the controversies amidst the clutter of seemingly endless views and opinions on the subject. Because this seems to be a subject of a lot of disagreement among Christians, I want to stress here that I am looking at it in a discussionary sense, rather than as being a divisive matter among us. We can all learn from each other as iron sharpens iron. I’ll try to take an objective look at all of the pertaining verses, and by comparison, base any conclusions on what to me seems to be the more definitive, or literal ones. Now let’s compare some Old Testament verses, with some New Testament ones, and see if we can come up with what the correct meaning of them might be.

 

Zechariah 14: 8 tells us that “living waters will flow out of Jerusalem”.

Zech 14: 6 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark: 7 But it shall be one day which shall be known to the LORD, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light. 8 And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be. 9 And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.

 

Mainly because of what it says in Revelation chapter 22, a lot of people understand these previous verses to mean that this “living water” will be coming out of a literal Jerusalem, and that this will happen at a certain time in the future. We will try to solve – at least in part, what I believe to be the very figurative language here in Zechariah, and in Revelation by determining the meaning of some more literal, and easier to understand related verses. In this way we should be able to come closer to a better understanding of their true meaning.

 

Jesus told the woman at the well – who misunderstood this “living water” to be literal, that if she would ask him, he would give her living water.

John 4: 7 There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. 8 (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.) 9 Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. 10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. 11 The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? 12 Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? 13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: 14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

 

In John 7: 37–39, Jesus clarifies these verses further by saying that the living waters “as the scripture hath said” refers to a flowing out from a believer’s belly. This must be referring to Zech, because as far as I know, this is the only verse in the Old Testament that refers to living waters in the context of being a future fulfillment. So Jesus had explained to us the true meaning of this here in John. God’s Spirit flows out of the believer. This did occur at Pentecost – as we talked about last week, in Acts chapter 2.

John 7: 37 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. 38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. 39 (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)

 

If you compare Zechariah chapter 14, and John chapter 7 side by side, you can see that the living waters talked about are not a literal flowing of water out of Jerusalem, but a flowing out from the believers. This seems to be telling us that we, as New Testament believers, are synonymous with the Jerusalem of the Old Testament.

 

John refers to the Holy Spirit being given at Pentecost in Acts chapter one, as the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy in Joel 2: 28-29, and although Joel doesn’t use the expression ‘living waters”, Joel is giving the same prophecy that is in Zech 14: 8. Consequently, this means that the scripture in Zechariah was fulfilled here at Pentecost with the giving of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 2: 1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. 6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. 7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? 8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? 9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, 10 Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. 12 And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? 13 Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine. 14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: 15 For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. 16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; 17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: 18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: 19 And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: 20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: 21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

 

Some will say that, although this has been fulfilled at Pentecost, there will be another fulfillment of it when Jesus returns – possibly a more literal one. But why would we need to look for a second fulfillment of it when Jesus revealed to us that it had already been fulfilled. That seems to be interpreting certain parts of the Bible to fit one’s own understanding of other scripture.

 

Although this is nowhere near to being a complete study on the subject, it should at least help us begin to put together a little piece of this puzzle called eschatology. I hope to eventually do a more in-depth study of Revelation chapter 22, but this short study should begin to shed a little bit more light on it. If you don’t agree with the conclusion that I have found here, I would like to know your views on this. The great thing about all of the information out there today, is that you no longer have to be stuck within the confines of any one denomination, or teaching. Today rather, we have the tools and resources to help us study as far as we want to go. I have studied these verses to the point where I am satisfied that my interpretation of them is the most reasonable. I believe that, although the outcome may not fit with other beliefs that I have, it doesn’t mean that I should change the most clear interpretation of scripture to fit my beliefs, but rather that I should change my beliefs to fit the meaning of scripture.

ALL OF ISRAEL WILL BE SAVED

 

Not long after King Solomon died, many of the inhabitants of the tribes of Israel in the north, and then Judah in the south, became scattered throughout the world as a consequence of being invaded by foreign lands. God tells us in the Old Testament that for his glory, he will gather together into one, and deliver all of the scattered people of the tribes of Israel and Judah. 

Hos 1: 10 Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God. 11 Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land: for great shall be the day of Jezreel.

Ez 39: 25 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Now will I bring again the captivity of Jacob, and have mercy upon the whole house of Israel, and will be jealous for my holy name; 26 After that they have borne their shame, and all their trespasses whereby they have trespassed against me, when they dwelt safely in their land, and none made them afraid. 27 When I have brought them again from the people, and gathered them out of their enemies’ lands, and am sanctified in them in the sight of many nations; 28 Then shall they know that I am the LORD their God, which caused them to be led into captivity among the heathen: but I have gathered them unto their own land, and have left none of them any more there. 29 Neither will I hide my face any more from them: for I have poured out my spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord GOD.

Isa 43: 5 Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west; 6 I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth; 7 Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him. 8 Bring forth the blind people that have eyes, and the deaf that have ears. 9 Let all the nations be gathered together, and let the people be assembled: who among them can declare this, and shew us former things? let them bring forth their witnesses, that they may be justified: or let them hear, and say, It is truth.

Jer 30: 6 Ask ye now, and see whether a man doth travail with child? wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness? 7 Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it. 8 For it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD of hosts, that I will break his yoke from off thy neck, and will burst thy bonds, and strangers shall no more serve themselves of him: 9 But they shall serve the LORD their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up unto them. 10 Therefore fear thou not, O my servant Jacob, saith the LORD; neither be dismayed, O Israel: for, lo, I will save thee from afar, and thy seed from the land of their captivity; and Jacob shall return, and shall be in rest, and be quiet, and none shall make him afraid.

 

A remnant of the twelve tribes are promised to be saved in the New Testament also.

Rom 11: 1 I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, 3 Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. 4 But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. 5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.(see Rev 7: 4)

 

Jesus came to gather the lost sheep of Israel.

Mat 15: 24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

Mat 10: 5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6 Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. 7 As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’

John 11: 47 Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. 48 If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation. 49 And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, 50 Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. 51 And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; 52 And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.

 

But the leaders of Jerusalem were not willing that any be gathered. Because the leaders in Jerusalem denied the word of God, and misled the people, Jesus told them that THEY not only do not enter into the kingdom of God themselves, but they also hinder others that would enter to go in. The result being that they would be judged for the blood of all of the people that God sent to them with his message – that they denied – within THAT generation, or 40 years.

Mat 23: 37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!

Mat 23: 13 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in……. Luke 11: 45 Then answered one of the lawyers, and said unto him, Master, thus saying thou reproachest us also. 46 And he said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers. 47 Woe unto you! for ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, and your fathers killed them. 48 Truly ye bear witness that ye allow the deeds of your fathers: for they indeed killed them, and ye build their sepulchres. 49 Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute: 50 That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation; 51 From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation. 52 Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.

 

After the time of Jesus’ crucifixion, the day of Pentecost in Acts chapter 2 precipitated a spreading of God’s word through the Holy Spirit, to the scattered tribes throughout the world. 

Acts 2: 1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. 6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. 7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? 8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? 9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, 10 Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. 12 And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? 13 Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine. 14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: 15 For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. 16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; 17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: 18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: 19 And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: 20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: 21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

 

Since the previous verses in Acts are said to be the fulfillment of Joel 2: 28-32, the “gathering”, in Joel 3: 1, being a part of the same prophecy, must also be fulfilled – at least the beginning of it, at this time – that is, at the time of the Apostles.

Joel 3: 1 For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, 2 I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land.

 

As an example, you can see in the next verses from Zehariah that there is a distinct relationship between the “gathering” prophecied in the Old Testament, and the time of the Apostles of Jesus Christ. There actually was a “gathering” that began to take place after this prophecy was given, and continues even up to this day. It began when Jesus and his Apostles preached the gospel of the kingdom of God, then after Jesus, it continued with the giving of the Holy Spirit at the time of Pentecost in Acts 2, then when Jesus’ Disciples went out and “sowed” – as it says in Zech 10: 9 – the gospel to all the people.

Zech 10: 6 And I will strengthen the house of Judah, and I will save the house of Joseph, and I will bring them again to place them; for I have mercy upon them: and they shall be as though I had not cast them off: for I am the LORD their God, and will hear them. 7 And they of Ephraim shall be like a mighty man, and their heart shall rejoice as through wine: yea, their children shall see it, and be glad; their heart shall rejoice in the LORD. 8 I will hiss for them, and gather them; for I have redeemed them: and they shall increase as they have increased. 9 And I will sow them among the people: and they shall remember me in far countries; and they shall live with their children, and turn again. 10 I will bring them again also out of the land of Egypt, and gather them out of Assyria; and I will bring them into the land of Gilead and Lebanon; and place shall not be found for them. 11 And he shall pass through the sea with affliction, and shall smite the waves in the sea, and all the deeps of the river shall dry up: and the pride of Assyria shall be brought down, and the sceptre of Egypt shall depart away. 12 And I will strengthen them in the LORD; and they shall walk up and down in his name, saith the LORD.

 

The gentiles are “grafted in”, and become fellowheirs of God’s kingdom, Israel.

John 10: 14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.

Eph 3: 1 For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, 2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: 3 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, 4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) 5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; 6 That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:

Eph 2: 11 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; 12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: 13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

Gal 3: 26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

See also 1Pet 2: 9-10, Rom 10: 8-13, Rom 9: 6-13, Rom 10: 12-13, and Rom 9: 22-29.

 

God’s plan is that with the help of the gentiles “all Israel shall be saved”, which as we learned in the previous verses, that includes not only a remnant of the twelve tribes, but gentiles also.

Rom 11: 25 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. 26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: 27 For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. 28 As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes. 29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. 30 For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: 31 Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. 32For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.

 

Israel is brought to jealousy by the gentiles for the sake of their salvation.

Rom 11: 11 I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. 12 Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? 13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: 14 If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them. 15 For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?

 

While the followers of Jesus Christ are now citizens of a new spiritual Jerusalem, the sinful “harlots” of the old Jerusalem were destroyed. God was not trying to get even with his people for disobeying him, but rather, he was refining, or culling the wickedness from his flock so that through the remnant, he could once again be glorified.

Heb 11: 13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. 15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. 16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

Heb 13: 14 For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.

Gal 4: 25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. 26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.

Heb 12: 22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,

Mat 5: 14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Rev 5: 9 And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. 10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”

 

We can see from this study, that if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you are also a member of God’s kingdom, regardless of what nationality you are, and have been gathered to Mount Zion – or the New Jerusalem.

 

If your still in doubt about what all of this is saying, you’re not alone. For every verse in the Bible, there’s a thousand opinions as to it’s meaning. But this should at least give you something to think about, and please let me know if there is anything that comes to your own mind on this subject. We’re all here to learn more about God’s word.

 

 

THE 3 TEMPTATIONS OF SATAN

Written by “Ella”

I would like you to turn to 1Jn_2:16 : “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” I submit to you today that these are the three areas of temptation satan uses that every believer will face in his/her christian walk.

 

Satan is very crafty and clever but he cannot remove your feet from the road of righteousness without your consent. His goal is to convince you that God’s Word is a lie and he is greater than God and God’s Word. If he is successful, in getting a foothold in your life, he will steal, kill and destroy you in your walk with the Lord.

 

I would like you to turn to 2Co_11:3. Paul was addressing the Corinthian church when he states, “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. “ Paul saw in the Corinthian church that the temptations of satan had been trying to corrupt the minds of the believers with his subtleties. So how was satan trying to influence them? To answer that question we have to go to Gen 3:1. We will read verses 1-5:

 

Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

Gen 3:2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:

Gen 3:3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

Gen 3:4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:

Gen 3:5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

 

God gave Adam and Eve a simple command, you shall not touch or eat the fruit of the tree in the midst of the garden. Now look how satan questions God’s authority, usurps God’s authority and begins to influence Eve’s thinking in verses 3 and 4: “Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” Eve gave satan audience by listening to him. She then thought on what he said and reasoned in her mind that satan was right. Satan got his foothold and sin was conceived. “Eve then saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.”

 

Eve lusted after the forbidden tree and its fruit with her eyes. She reasoned that the forbidden fruit was  good for food and the lust of her flesh wanted to eat it. She then thought on how eating of the  forbidden fruit would make her wise and the pride of life, which makes one think more highly of  oneself took over and she plucked the fruit off the tree and her and Adam ate it. Satan accomplished his mission with his 3 temptations: the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life. Adam and Eve now faced the consequences of their grievous sin before God and were banished from the garden of Eden. I want to pause a minute to go a little deeper and look at what satan accomplished and why Adam and Eve’s sin was so grievous before God.

 

Eve questioned God’s command. She thought she had a better plan than God which usurped God’s authority. She shared it with Adam. Adam was the head of his household and he allowed his wife to compromise his belief in the truth of God’s Word, usurp his position of authority given by God, and he became an active and willing participant in sin against God. Because of the desire to be wise as gods, they elevated themselves to the level of God and they became their own idol and committed the sin of idolatry.

 

Once confronted by God, did Adam and Eve, show remorse, take responsibility for their choices, and repent and ask God for forgiveness? Absolutely not. They placed the finger of blame on everyone else. Look at Gen 3:11-13: “ And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.”  Now you can see why God banished them from His garden and pronounced stiff judgment on them for their sins.

 

So let’s go back to Paul and the Corinthian church. Paul was reminding the Corinthian church of how Eve was beguiled by satan and he did not want to see the church fall into that same trap as she did. To be beguiled means to be wholely seduced. That is your mind, will, heart and strength (the fullness of  your being) becomes enslaved or wholely seduced to the will of satan. Why was Paul so concerned? As  a minister of God’s Word, Paul was responsible to teach and admonish those whom God has placed in  his path. Jesus told us in Mark 12:30: “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.” Paul  knew if the Corinthian church continued on the path they were going, that they would be violating  God’s commandment and invoke God’s judgment upon them.

 

Lets look at another example of satan attempting to wholely seduce someone with his 3 temptations. Go to Matthew 4, we will be looking at verses1-11:

Mat 4:1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.

Mat 4:2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered.

Mat 4:3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these
stones be made bread.

Mat 4:4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

Mat 4:5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,

Mat 4:6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.

Mat 4:7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

Mat 4:8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;

Mat 4:9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.

Mat 4:10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

Mat 4:11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.

 

Now Jesus had been fasting for forty days and forty nights and He was hungry. Satan knew Jesus, so he had to be craftier than usual. He recognized Jesus’ as the Son of God and he knew as a man he would have to appeal to Jesus’ human need to satisfy his hunger. So satan attempts to tempt Jesus by asking Jesus to prove He is the Son of God by commanding the stones be made bread. Verse 4 is Jesus’ response to satan,”It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Jesus was stating that man is not only nourished by bread but that man is also nourished by the Word of God. It is God’s Word that sustains man’s soul, heart, mind and strength and keeps him from succumbing to fleshly temptations involving the lust of the eyes/the lust of the flesh and the pride of life.

 

Satan then tries a second time to tempt Jesus in verses 5-6: “Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.” Here satan is quoting from Ps. 91 but he takes the scripture out of context and uses it once again in an attempt to have Jesus prove He is the Son of God by jumping off the top of the temple building so the angels will catch him before he hits the ground. Verse 7 reveals Jesus’ response to satan, “It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” Jesus was now emphasizing to satan that this was the second time he was tempting God. So, rather than incurring God’s wrath, satan comes up with a new strategy in verses 8-9: “Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” Here satan now attempts to appeal once again to Jesus’ human side and he offers him the kingdoms of the world if Jesus would bow down and worship him. This materialistic appeal was an enticement to have Jesus walk away from God’s plan for Him. Satan presented Jesus with the world and all the glorious trappings (the pride of life) and all Jesus had to do is bow down and acknowledge satan as the supreme god. Jesus responds to satan in verse 10: “Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” Jesus refused all that the pride of life offers and made it clear to satan that one’s worship and servitude belongs to God and God alone and not to one’s self. Jesus then, using His authority tells satan to go away. And satan
leaves.

 

Here I have presented 2 examples of how satan has tempted people of the bible and will attempt to tempt us. How we respond to the 3 temptations of satan will place us in the worship and service of God or satan. God has provided us with the instruction of His Word, in order that we may continue in the path of righteousness and worship and serve Him. God said if we make seeking the kingdom of heaven and all its righteousness our first priority, that He would add all things unto us (Matt. 6:33). In other words, He knows what you need spiritually and physically and He will provide for those needs as we continue to seek the kingdom of heaven and all its righteousness. God’s Word of instruction tells us that if we submit to God and resist the devil (all his temptations), that satan will flee (James 4:7). God’s Word is truth (John 17:17). God’s Word is trustworthy. His promises are all yes and amen (2 Co. 1:20). Satan, on the other hand, is a lair and the father of all lies (John 8:44). His only mission is to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10) the christian and keep him/her from worshiping and serving the One and Only God, The Lord God Almighty. There are only 2 camps and one choice. Whom will you serve? “…As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15).

 

I found this to be an exceptional study about the deceptions of Satan that need to be understood by every Christian and non-Christian alike. Thank you Ella, for your contribution to this Bible study.  

YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW

 

A lot of things that we do every day affects others in either a negative, or a positive way. Example: love begets love, and hate begets hate. This week I want to look at how the actions of a few people affected the fate of a whole nation.

 

Because of their disobedience to God, the Jewish nation of Israel was nearly destroyed at the hands of Babylon in 586 B.C., and were taken into captivity. The following verses describe the act of Jerusalem turning away from God as harlotry. 

Jer 23: 14 I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness: they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah.

Ez 16: 1 Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 2 Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations,……13 Thus wast thou decked with gold and silver; and thy raiment was of fine linen, and silk, and broidered work; thou didst eat fine flour, and honey, and oil: and thou wast exceeding beautiful, and thou didst prosper into a kingdom. 14 And thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty: for it was perfect through my comeliness, which I had put upon thee, saith the Lord GOD. 15 But thou didst trust in thine own beauty, and playedst the harlot because of thy renown, and pouredst out thy fornications on every one that passed by; his it was. 16 And of thy garments thou didst take, and deckedst thy high places with divers colours, and playedst the harlot thereupon: the like things shall not come, neither shall it be so. 17 Thou hast also taken thy fair jewels of my gold and of my silver, which I had given thee, and madest to thyself images of men, and didst commit whoredom with them,…….44 Behold, every one that useth proverbs shall use this proverb against thee, saying, As is the mother, so is her daughter. 45 Thou art thy mother’s daughter, that lotheth her husband and her children; and thou art the sister of thy sisters, which lothed their husbands and their children: your mother was an Hittite, and your father an Amorite. 46 And thine elder sister is Samaria, she and her daughters that dwell at thy left hand: and thy younger sister, that dwelleth at thy right hand, is Sodom and her daughters. 47 Yet hast thou not walked after their ways, nor done after their abominations: but, as if that were a very little thing, thou wast corrupted more than they in all thy ways. 48 As I live, saith the Lord GOD, Sodom thy sister hath not done, she nor her daughters, as thou hast done, thou and thy daughters. 49 Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. 50 And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.

 

After their return from Babylon, God warns them through Zechariah, that if they return to their former ways, this time they will be consumed – as if by fire, and totally destroyed.

Zech 5: 1 Then I turned, and lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a flying roll(represents God’s commandments). 2 And he said unto me, What seest thou? And I answered, I see a flying roll; the length thereof is twenty cubits, and the breadth thereof ten cubits. 3 Then said he unto me, This is the curse that goeth forth over the face of the whole earth: for every one that stealeth shall be cut off as on this side according to it; and every one that sweareth shall be cut off as on that side according to it. 4 I will bring it forth, saith the LORD of hosts, and it shall enter into the house of the thief, and into the house of him that sweareth falsely by my name: and it shall remain in the midst of his house, and shall consume it with the timber thereof and the stones thereof.

What these verses are saying is that, once sin – that is, anything contrary to the commandments of God – enters into a house, it will eventually spread and destroy that house, in the same way that an infectious disease might, if left untreated, overcomes the body, and eventually kills it.

 

The following verses are an Old Testament “type”, that tell us that if a mold or a disease begins to spread within a house, every sign of it must be removed from that house. Then, if that infection appears again, the house must be completely romoved.

Lev 14: 34 When ye be come into the land of Canaan, which I give to you for a possession, and I put the plague of leprosy in a house of the land of your possession; 35 And he that owneth the house shall come and tell the priest, saying, It seemeth to me there is as it were a plague in the house: 36 Then the priest shall command that they empty the house, before the priest go into it to see the plague, that all that is in the house be not made unclean: and afterward the priest shall go in to see the house: 37 And he shall look on the plague, and, behold, if the plague be in the walls of the house with hollow strakes, greenish or reddish, which in sight are lower than the wall; 38 Then the priest shall go out of the house to the door of the house, and shut up the house seven days: 39 And the priest shall come again the seventh day, and shall look: and, behold, if the plague be spread in the walls of the house; 40 Then the priest shall command that they take away the stones in which the plague is, and they shall cast them into an unclean place without the city: 41 And he shall cause the house to be scraped within round about, and they shall pour out the dust that they scrape off without the city into an unclean place: 42 And they shall take other stones, and put them in the place of those stones; and he shall take other morter, and shall plaister the house. 43 And if the plague come again, and break out in the house, after that he hath taken away the stones, and after he hath scraped the house, and after it is plaistered; 44 Then the priest shall come and look, and, behold, if the plague be spread in the house, it is a fretting leprosy in the house: it is unclean. 45 And he shall break down the house, the stones of it, and the timber thereof, and all the morter of the house; and he shall carry them forth out of the city into an unclean place. 46 Moreover he that goeth into the house all the while that it is shut up shall be unclean until the even. 47 And he that lieth in the house shall wash his clothes; and he that eateth in the house shall wash his clothes.

 

In the next verses God is telling the returnees from Babylon that if they continue to live as if they were still citizens of Babylon instead of the kingdom of God, just as with a diseased house, that’s where he will return them to.

Zech 5: 7 And, behold, there was lifted up a talent of lead: and this is a woman that sitteth in the midst of the ephah(a container). 8 And he said, This is wickedness. And he cast it into the midst of the ephah; and he cast the weight of lead upon the mouth thereof. 9 Then lifted I up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came out two women, and the wind was in their wings; for they had wings like the wings of a stork: and they lifted up the ephah between the earth and the heaven. 10 Then said I to the angel that talked with me, Whither do these bear the ephah? 11 And he said unto me, To build it an house in the land of Shinar(a place in Babylon): and it shall be established, and set there upon her own base.

 

Once sin enters, eventually it will affect all that it comes in contact with.

Mat 16: 5 And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. 6 Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. 7And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread. 8 Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread? 9 Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? 10 Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? 11 How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? 12 Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

1Cor 5: 6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?……8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Gal 5: 14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 15 But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.

 

It’s easier to take the people out of Babylon than it is to take Babylon out of the people. Because their leaders, who were supposed to “shepherd the flock”, taught the people contrary to the word of God, the sins of Israel had spread to such a degree, that their sinful nature had eventually become irreversible.

Mat 23: 13 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in…….Luke 11: 52 Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered…….Mat 21: 43 Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof…….Hos 4: 6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children. (see also Mal 2: 7-8)

 

Though God treated them with mercy the first time, the infection of sin had returned and become so prevelant, that the kingdom of God was eventually taken away from the Jews, and their nation destroyed in 70 A.D. Notice here that Jesus describes the scribes and pharisees as the children of them which killed the prophets – Hos 4: 6, which is also parallel to the description in Ezekial 16: 44 of the people being the children of a harlot, that harlot being Jerusalem.

Mat 23: 29 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, 30 And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. 31 Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. 32 Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. 33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? 34 Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: 35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar(see Jer 8: 16). 36 Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.

 

We all have a choice as to whether we want to live as citizens of Babylon, or as citizens of God’s kingdom. The way we live our lives will determine not only our own destination, but the destination of others. Will you sow love or hate? Good or bad? Life or death? God’s truth or Satan’s lies? In the end, “whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap”.

THE FEAR OF GOD

 

This week I want to look a little bit into what the fear of God is, and why we are to fear him. The fear of God is something that Christians don’t hear much about these days. This is probably because of his loving nature shown to us through the life of Jesus Christ. But there is also a downside for everyone who continues to sin. That is that they cannot enter into the kingdom of God, but instead will suffer eternal death.

 

Because the nature of God is love, his kingdom must be full of love. Jesus gave us the command to love each other, and as Christians, being under his authority, we must obey this command.          

1John 4: 7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. ……1John 4: 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. 12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us…….19 We love him, because he first loved us. 20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

 

Being children of God, even if we don’t at first understand the reasons for it, we will at first through faith, obey the commands of Jesus because of the fear of what God might do to us.      

1Pet 1: 17 And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:……Mat 10: 28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

 

As we grow out of childhood, we eventually begin to reason, and to understand his word to us.    

Heb 5: 13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. 14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil…….Psa 111: 10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.

 

Here is God’s will – that, just as Jesus Christ loved us, and died for us, we are also to love each other, and sacrifice our lives for the sake of the well-being of each other.

1John 3: 16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? 18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth…….Eph 5: 1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour…….John 15: 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

 

By the fear of God, when we eventually come to an understanding of his will, we cannot let the fear of evil dictate our actions for us. We are to spread this gospel message of the love of God to the entire world without any fear of what might happen to us.

1John 4: 17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love…….Mat 10: 27 What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. 28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell…….2Tim 1: 7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 8 So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God…….2Tim 4: 2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine…….5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

 

Theoretically, when we were children we obeyed our parents, first because we knew we would be punished if we didn’t, and later because we understood why they wanted us to do those things, and that we needed to learn certain rules by which to not only stay out of trouble – which are selfish reasons, but to also not hurt anyone else, and even to help others in need – which are selfless reasons . The same holds true with why we are to first fear God. As children, in the beginning we obey him because we fear him for what might happen to us, but then as we grow further in his word, we will ultimately come to a real understanding of his will for us. Ultimately we are called to follow in his footsteps.

THE ISRAEL OF GOD

 

This week I want to take a look at who Israel actually is from a Biblical standpoint.

 

What God created was good, and his plan from the beginning was that the whole world would “walk” with him in his earthly kingdom.

Gen 6: 9 These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.

Gen 17: 1 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.

Deut 5: 33 Ye shall walk in all the ways which the LORD your God hath commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you, and that ye may prolong your days in the land which ye shall possess.

Col 2: 6 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: 7 Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.

 

To “walk” with God means that we are to obey his commands, and to do what is good.

Isa 30: 21 And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.

Psalm 119: 105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Prov 3: 5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Micah 6: 8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

1Pet 2: 21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:

1Thes 4: 1 Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.

1John 2: 6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.

 

Because man chose evil over good, God chose certain faithful “elect” like Noah to be a light – or example – to the world in order that the whole world might choose good, and walk with him.

Gen 6: 5 And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. 7 And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. 8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.

 

After Noah came Abraham. Abraham was given the promise of a kingdom.

Gen 12: 1 Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: 2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

 

Abraham’s son Jacob was called “Israel” by God, whose descendants eventually became the nation of Israel.

Gen 32: 27 And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. 28 And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed. 29 And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there. 30 And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.

 

Because Jacob – whose name was changed to Israel – was the son of Abraham to whom the promise was given, God’s chosen people – or the “seed of Abraham” are now called Israel.

 

The Hebrew nation – being a shadow of the Israel to come – was called by God a nation of priests and a holy nation.

Ex 19: 5 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: 6 And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.

 

Now he calls us, his church – being the present day fulfillment of Israel – a nation of priests and a holy nation.

1Pet 2: 9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: 10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.

 

Israel was a type of “light to the world” before Jesus, the true light came.

Gal 3: 16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.

John 8: 12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

2Cor 4: 6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

 

The Jewish nation of Israel rejected the Lordship of the Son of God, but all those who now do accept and follow Jesus Christ, walk with God through this “light of the world”, and will inherit his kingdom, being the Israel of God.

Mat 21: 43 Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.

John 1: 11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Eph 2: 11 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; 12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: 13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

Gal 3: 26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Gal 6: 16 And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.

 

Jesus now calls US to be a light to the world.

15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;

Mat 5: 14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

 

From looking at all of the verses here, it’s clear that we, the followers of Jesus Christ, are God’s true Israel. Now we need to live a life that’s worthy to walk with him, and let his light shine in us throughout the whole world!

LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE!

 

What is God’s kingdom, and what role do we have to play in it? This week I want to begin discussing these topics, about which I briefly mentioned last week, a little bit more.

Heb 6: THEREFORE leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation…….

 

We are called to be a “light to the world”. This means that we must emanate God’s will in such a way that it will attract other people to Him.

Act 13: 47 For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.

Mat 5: 14Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

1Pet 2: 11 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; 12 Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.

 

What are those “good works” that are talked about in the previous verses?(Mat 5: 16 & 1Pet 2: 12)

Mat 7: 12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

 

We, as God’s representatives on earth, should all work as hard as we can to ensure that the needs of all people are met. In so doing we glorify God rather than ourselves. Those who are able should be determined to work as much as they can for the kingdom.

James 2: 14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?

2Cor 8: 13 Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. 14 At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality,

Acts 20: 34 Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. 35 I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.

Phil 2: 3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

Rom 15: 1 We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.

Gal 6: 2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ

 

Those who are able to work are not to remain idle and expect everything to be given to them – quite the contrary. If we don’t obey God’s laws, then we cannot be a part of his kingdom.

2Cor 9: 6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9 As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.”

2Thes 3: 7 For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, 8 nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. 9 We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate. 10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”

 

We can see that God’s government is different from the hierarchical societies of the past. And while most societies today are still swayed more or less towards a “win or lose” mentality, the foundation of God’s kingdom is built upon the “equality of all” regardless of their position in society – even Jesus Christ our Lord came as a servant.

Mark 10: 43 But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: 44 And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. 45 For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

 

In obeying God’s laws, and doing good towards one another we glorify God(Mat 5: 16). Alternatively, in loving the things of this world some people prefer to glorify themselves. It is difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven because he would have to give up his high place in society, all of his power, and everything else that his worldly riches give him.

1John 4: 20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

Luke 18: 22 Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. 23 And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich. 24 And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! 25 For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.(Mat 19: 21-22)

 

In most societies the needs of the poor are neglected, but in God’s kingdom everybody’s needs are met. So we are to help those who – through no fault of their own – are less fortunate than ourselves. Simply put, the foundation of God’s kingdom adheres to the principle that the strongest, the most powerful, and the wealthiest of us have an inherent responsibility to protect the weakest, the most vulnerable, and the poorest of us. When we understand and possess the will of God in our heart, then our desire will be to help others in need. In this way our light will shine throughout the world!