It’s Not such a Small World after All

February 29, 2012 at 11:54 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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King Josiah desperately wanted his nation to escape God’s wrath. Their only chance was to hear from, and to start to obey, the Lord God Almighty. The best way (better than dreams, visions, words of knowledge, signs, wonders, or feelings) for the people of God to hear from God is by reading the Bible.

And the king went up into the house of the LORD, and all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem with him, and the priests, and the prophets, and all the people, both small and great: and he read in their ears all the words of the book of the covenant which was found in the house of the LORD.

II Kings 23:2

It’s not that surprising that King Josiah went up to the house of the Lord. It’s not that surprising that the priests and the prophets needed to hear the Word of the Lord. What is surprising is that King Josiah understood the importance of everyone else hearing the Word of the Lord, too – both the great and the small.

Wherever you are in your Christian life, however much or however little influence you may think you have, you are not too small to make a difference for the Lord. (If you believe you are too small to make a difference, then you have obviously never been in bed with a mosquito!) Whoever you are, whatever your position in the Body of Christ, somebody, somewhere, at some time, is watching you, and looking to you for encouragement or guidance. You might be just one person in the world, but you might also be the world to one person! Make sure the Words of God’s Book are going into your ears, and make sure they are being carried out in your life.

God’s Revelation of Himself

February 27, 2012 at 10:27 am | Posted in Selected Psalms | 7 Comments
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Psalm 19 is considered to be a “wisdom” Psalm. Wisdom Psalms generally do two things:

1. They promote God’s Word, and pronounce blessings on those who study it and practice it.
2. They deal with theodicy.

Theodicy is normally phrased like this: If God is all powerful (omnipotent) and all good (omnibenevolent), then how can there be evil in the world? However, we know from the Bible that this is not the correct question. The real question of theodicy is this: Since God is all powerful and God is all good, why does He bless any of us wicked folks with any good at all?

Psalm 19 focuses on God’s revelation of Himself in this world. Did man discover God? Or did God reveal Himself to man? Here are some examples of how God has revealed Himself to man:

1. The Cross of Jesus Christ. (This revelation appears further down the list in most systems of theology, but it is my personal preference for No. 1.)
2. His acts of creation.
3. His “natural” laws (consistency and beauty in the material world, which we can identify in the studies of areas like physics, chemistry, and mathematics).
4. Miracles (acts whereby God bends His Own “natural” laws in order to demonstrate His Ownership and power over His creation).
5. The Bible
6. Internal moral law
a. People inherently know there is a right and a wrong.
b. People find themselves unable to consistently do what is right in their own power.

The first six Verses in Psalm 19 deal with God’s revelation of Himself in what we see outside of ourselves.

[To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.] The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.

Psalm 19:1-2

The ungodly see the majesty of nature and worship the creaTION. Godly people see the majesty of nature and worship the CreaTOR.

Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,

Psalm 19:4

The word translated as “line” contains the idea of a “sound” or “influence.” It is reiterated in the New Testament:

But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.

Romans 10:18 (emphasis added)

David was excited just to see the sun coming up each day. To him that was a bigger deal than how his favorite contestant would perform on Israelite Idol that night. How excited are you about the wonder and majesty of God’s creation?

Verses 7-11 in Psalm 19 deal with God’s revelation of Himself in Words (the Bible). God didn’t create the physical universe and then develop words later on; He created everything that has been created by His Word.

Note some of the names and functions of God’s Word:

The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.

Psalm 19:7 (emphasis added)

God made the “law” to be our teacher. The “testimony” is God’s explanation of Himself.

The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.

Psalm 19:8 (emphasis added)

God’s “commandments” are His orders, and they are beyond question. They are “pure,” and they help us see where to go when the path looks dark to us.

The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.

Psalm 19:9 (emphasis added)

Worldly fears are polluted and unclean; the “fear of the Lord” is a “clean” fear.

“Judgments” describe how God deals with men: rewards, punishment, chastisement, rebuke, etc.

For a Christian the Word of God is more important than food.

The Thousand Year Reign of King Jesus

February 24, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Posted in Ezekiel | 5 Comments
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If Ezekiel was describing the Millenial Temple in Chapters 40-48 – and I believe that he was – then it is somewhat surprising to see that this temple will have altars for sacrifices.

And from the bottom upon the ground even to the lower settle shall be two cubits, and the breadth one cubit; and from the lesser settle even to the greater settle shall be four cubits, and the breadth one cubit. So the altar shall be four cubits; and from the altar and upward shall be four horns.

Ezekiel 43:14-15

And one lamb out of the flock, out of two hundred, out of the fat pastures of Israel; for a meat offering, and for a burnt offering, and for peace offerings, to make reconciliation for them, saith the Lord GOD.

Ezekiel 45:15

Why sacrifice? Didn’t Jesus die for the sins of the whole world once and for all? You better believe He did! But in Ezekiel we have descriptions of burnt offerings, trespass offering, sin offering, peace offering, meal offering, drink offering… What gives?

It is helpful to remember that Old Testament believers weren’t forgiven because of the actual shedding of the blood of animals.

For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.

Hebrews 10:4

For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

Psalm 51:16-17

Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.

Habakkuk 2:4

The Old Testament believers were not saved by the sacrifices of animals, but, as we see in Hebrews 11, they were saved because of the sacrifice of the then-future Messiah, through faith.

For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God. Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe:

I Thessalonians 2:9-10

These Verses are addressed specifically to believers.

As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children,

I Thessalonians 2:9-11

Note the honesty and authenticity in the “exhorting, comforting, and charging.” Note that the Apostle and the other leaders did not subtly insert themselves into the lives of the new Christians. This was more deliberate and intentional discipleship than backyard barbeques and once-weekly meetings at Starbucks. The purpose of discipleship is not to make new believers feel comfy and cozy.

That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory. For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.

I Thessalonians 2:12-13 (emphasis added)

These new believers received the Word of God more than the excitement of experiences, more than the external appearance of exuberant praise and worship, more than fun, food, and fellowship. Many folks will agree that the Word of God must be trusted at salvation, but then they abandon it, or don’t place the same importance on it. The Word of God is still of paramount importance after we are saved. It works “effectually” in those that believe.

For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews: Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.

I Thessalonians 2:14-16 (emphasis added)

In the Millenial Temple Jewish people and gentiles will study the Word of God and worship together.

But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavoured the more abundantly to see your face with great desire.

I Thessalonians 2:17

Circumstances caused the Apostle and the other leaders to be physically separated from these new believers, but they longed to see them face to face. As Christians today, we need to physically attend church whenever possible so that we can see our brothers and sisters face to face.

In the Millenial Temple there will be no “separating wall.” In the Book of Acts we saw that the Jewish leaders wanted to kill Paul because they thought he had brought Gentiles into the Temple.

If you are reading this, and you are a gentile Christian like me, I am not sure what we will be doing during the Millenial Reign. Perhaps we will have authority over certain regions (under King Jesus, of course). Perhaps we will have specific ministry- or worship-related tasks. It appears that we will not be “priests,” although that is what we are, in a sense, today.

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;

I Peter 2:9

There will be singers in the Millennial Temple.

And without the inner gate were the chambers of the singers in the inner court, which was at the side of the north gate; and their prospect was toward the south: one at the side of the east gate having the prospect toward the north.

Ezekiel 40:44

Perhaps some people in the Millenium – Old Testament saints, New Testament believers, Tribulation martyrs – will have glorified bodies. Perhaps there will be some Tribulation survivors with mortal bodies who will be subject to death. I suppose that babies born in the Millennium will be sinners who need to be saved. Apparently, Satan will be able to raise an army to oppose the Lord. The descendants of Zadok will be the ones who will serve as priests.

And the chamber whose prospect is toward the north is for the priests, the keepers of the charge of the altar: these are the sons of Zadok among the sons of Levi, which come near to the LORD to minister unto him.

Ezekiel 40:46

“Zadok” means “righteous.” They will not shave their heads, nor allow their hair to grow too long.

Neither shall they shave their heads, nor suffer their locks to grow long; they shall only poll their heads.

Ezekiel 44:20

Ezekiel Chpaters 45-48 describe the geography of the Kingdom, not just the Temple.

There will be a “prince” under the Messiah.

And the residue shall be for the prince, on the one side and on the other of the holy oblation, and of the possession of the city, over against the five and twenty thousand of the oblation toward the east border, and westward over against the five and twenty thousand toward the west border, over against the portions for the prince: and it shall be the holy oblation; and the sanctuary of the house shall be in the midst thereof. Moreover from the possession of the Levites, and from the possession of the city, being in the midst of that which is the prince’s, between the border of Judah and the border of Benjamin, shall be for the prince.

Ezekiel 48:21-22.

There will be 20 separate “Years of Jubilee” – one every 50 years for 1000 years.

There will be a river of life, which Ezekiel was shown in a vision. He was taken out of the north gate of the Temple because the east gate has been closed. His vision was highlighted by things like fertility in the desert, bountiful fruit, and leaves for medicine.

That Man Was Certifiable!

February 20, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Posted in Galatians, Micah | 7 Comments
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One good place to study the difference between real leaders and fake leaders is in the Book of Micah. Politicians think about the next election; statesmen think about the next generation. In Micah’s day, the real priests were shepherds who protected their flock; the fake priests were wolves who devoured the flock. The fake prophets gave good news to people who bribed them and bad news to people who shunned them; the real prophets just gave the people the truth, and could not be bought.

A good way to illustrate this point is to think about those big gaudy Mardi Gras beads.

https://i0.wp.com/cf.ltkcdn.net/party/images/slide/105627-600x402-MardiGrasBeads.jpg

Some of them are brightly colored and obviously not real jewelry, but some of the strands actually look, at first glance, like expensive pearls. There are a number of reasons, though, why these fake necklaces are not likely to really fool anyone:

1. They are tossed out casually, as if they are worthless.
2. In your hands, they feel like the cheap plastic they really are, not like weighty precious gems.
3. Here in South Louisiana we have experience with Mardi Gras beads, so we know that their real worth is extremely negligible once the parade is over and people start to sober up.

Finally, you can note that, unlike real jewelry from a real, reputable jewelry store, Mardi Gras beads do not come with a “certificate of authenticity.” In the Book of Galatians the Holy Spirit used a similar indicator in proving that the Gospel which the Apostle Paul preached was authentic, and that the false gospel of the Judaizers was not.

But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.

Galatians 1:11

The Greek word translated as “certify” is “gnorizo,” and it comes from the same root word from which we get the English word “recognize.” The Holy Spirit is saying that, if you are familiar with the teaching of Jesus Christ Himself – the true Gospel – then you must recognize that Paul is preaching the exact same Gospel.

The message of Paul was given to Him directly by Jesus. It was “certified” by Paul’s mission, his ministry, his methods, and the contents of the message itself. If you listen to much modern theology you are likely to come across a statement like this one eventually: “Oh, I’m a Christian. I follow Jesus, but I don’t believe everything that Paul wrote.” Such a statement is pure foolishness. The famous British preacher, Charles Spurgeon, responded to such a statement with this quote:

It is not unusual to hear dubious persons profess to differ from the apostle, and they even dare to say, ‘There, I do not agree with Paul.’ I remember the first time that I heard this expression I looked at the individual with astonishment. I was amazed that such a pigmy as he should say this of the great apostle. Altogether apart from Paul’s inspiration, it seemed like a cheese-mite differing from a cherub, or a handful of chaff discussing the verdict of the fire. The individual was so utterly beneath observation that I could not but marvel that his conceit should have been so outspokenly shameless. Notwithstanding this objection, even when supported by learned critics, we still agree with the inspired servant of God. It is our firm conviction that, to differ from Paul’s epistles is to differ from the Holy Ghost, and to differ from the Lord Jesus Christ, whose mind Paul has fully expressed.

Charles H. Spurgeon

Born Which Way?

February 18, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments
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If you claim to be a Christian, how do you answer this question: “Are some people born gay?” Shockingly, more and more professing Christians these days are starting to answer that question in the affirmative. How can this be? Here are some of the foolish reasons that I have heard professing Christians use to support the belief that some people are born to be homosexuals:

1. “I have a gay brother/sister/cousin/parent/child/close friend/loved one/family member, etc., and I know this person really well, and he/she is a good person, and I can promise you, he/she did not ‘CHOOSE’ to be gay.”
2. “Gay people are persecuted and ridiculed and bullied into committing suicide. Why in the world would anyone ‘CHOOSE’ to be gay?!”
3. “People like Ellen and Elton and Rosie and [insert famous gay-celebrity-of-the-week here] are all gay and they are really brave and stand up for what they believe and they give lots of money to good causes and they are very famous and talented, so if they say they – and others – are born gay, they have to be right.”

Now, these statements are indicative of the type of unbiblical, irrational thinking you would expect from non-Christians. But, if you are a Christian, presumably you believe the Bible is right even if it contradicts the opinions of the people you love or the really popular famous people or even your own “common sense” ideas. So, at the risk of sounding like an old-fashioned, draconian fundamentalist, let’s actually look at what the Bible – God’s perfect, inerrant, infallible, inspired Word – has to say about homosexuality and those who practice it:

Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.

Leviticus 18:22

If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

Leviticus 20:13

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,

I Corinthians 6:9, emphasis added

For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

Romans 1:26-27

Wow. I suppose God could place a stamp on the forehead of every child who comes forth out of his or her mother’s womb that says, “I was not created by God to be a homosexual.” But I don’t think even that would be as clear as the Verses cited above. God considers all human sexual relations – except for those between a male husband and female wife within their own marriage – to be sinful. Sexual relations outside of a real God-recognized marriage are called adultery and fornication. He considers sexual relations between people of the same gender to be sinful abominations. He created marriage and He defined it. There is no such thing as “same-sex marriage.” He hates the sin of homosexuality. God cannot sin. He is not the author of sin. He has never made a human being who can or could legitimately blame God for “making” him or her a homosexual. It’s just that clear.

I am aware that there have been some people recently in the professing Christian church who would try to twist the Scriptures and claim that God is not clear about homosexuality, but you don’t have to “interpret” those Verses to get the point. You just have to read them. Any argument that says that the Bible does not condemn homosexuality is what the theologian R.C. Sproul calls “an exegesis of desperation.” It is disingenuous and it is not rational.

As human beings we have inherited a sinful nature from our forefather, Adam – the first man to sin against God (Romans 5:12). Therefore, we have a predisposition to sin – each and every one of us. So from our first moments of willful consciousness we begin doing things like lying and stealing and being greedy and being disobedient and being selfish. And some people go on to be things like extortioners and kidnappers and child molesters and arsonists and murderers and rapists and practitioners of homosexuality. In that sense only can anyone be said to have been “born gay.”

Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Psalm 51:5

We are born with a predisposition to sin, but we “choose” every sin we commit, just like the gay person “chooses” to commit or fantasize about acts of homosexuality. It’s not an “alternative lifestyle.” It’s not a “celebration of diversity.” It’s not a “right.” It’s a choice and it’s a sin. Jesus died on the Cross to pay the penalty for those who commit it and other sins. You can be forgiven for it and set free from it, if you repent and trust in Him, believing the Gospel.

If you are a Christian, you are not doing anyone a favor by “supporting” a gay celebrity or trying to justify the sin of homosexuality. If you love gay people – and all Christians are commanded to love gay people and all sinners – then you must tell the Truth. Lying to sinners about their sin is one of the worst kinds of hatred.

I realize that you may not be used to this type of plain speaking. It probably sounds “intolerant” to you. But if you believe that some people are “born gay,” then you have no logical grounds for being critical of my intolerance. After all, if our genetic make-up is to blame for our sin, then why couldn’t Jeffrey Dahmer have been “born a serial killer?” Why couldn’t Hitler have been “born a mass murderer?” Why couldn’t Bin Laden have been “born a terrorist?” And how do you know that I wasn’t “born intolerant of gay people?” If you’re tempted to excuse or support sin, at least try to be consistent. But if we claim to be Christians, we are far better off getting our opinions from God than from a daytime TV talk-show host.

The Solution to the Problem of Shame in Marriage

February 16, 2012 at 11:03 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage | 6 Comments
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Last time I wrote about Adam’s and Eve’s response to the problem of shame. Now we see:

God’s Response to the Problem of Shame

And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. 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?

Genesis 3:9-11

God says, “Okay, admit what you’ve done – we both know about it. Then we’ll talk about whose lies you believed.”

Practical help #1: When your spouse has wronged you, make sure he or she knows you are open to honest confession and you are ready to forgive – before you start getting into the cause (whose fault it was, what was the motivation, etc.)

And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.

I Peter 4:8 (emphasis added)

Pursue the opportunity for your spouse to ask for forgiveness. Banish the idea of, “He/She is gonna have to come to me first!”

Practical help #2: Stay in the Bible. Almost all sins are the result of believing lies, and the Bible may be the only truth you hear all day.

The practical response of Adam and Eve to the problem of shame was a sinful attempt at hypocrisy – portraying themselves as something they no longer were: less shameful. The practical response of God to the problem of shame was:

Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.

Genesis 3:21

The purpose of clothing after the Fall was to be a reminder that we are not what we once were. In marriage it is important to remember that my spouse is a fallen sinner – and it is even more important to remember that I am a fallen sinner.

Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.

Proverbs 10:12

Love does not pretend there are no sins. Love deals with sin in reality – by recognizing that sin needs a God-ordained covering. Married couples in a redeemed, Christ-honoring covenant should not revert back to the state of physical nakedness which Adam and Eve enjoyed before the fall – at least not in public. That would make a mockery of God’s prescription for depicting our reality. That would be the equivalent of saying, “My spouse is supposed to forgive me, and I’m wicked, so I might as well let my wickedness all hang out.” What sort of grace-recipient flaunts evil in the face of the grace-giver?

Another principle we learn from the way God dealt with the nakedness of Adam and Eve after the Fall is how He covered them. He did it with a covering that He Himself provided. It was a covering that was bloody, so that it pointed to the covering of righteousness which would one day be provided by Jesus Christ the Righteous. God’s response corrected their response. It pointed to their ultimate redemption. It allowed the correction of the broken covenant, so that, in Christian marriage, we can once again be naked and unashamed.

Clothing should not draw attention to what it is meant to cover.

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!

Isaiah 52:7

Feet are beautiful when they go to people who need to hear the Good News. Feet are beautiful in marriage when they are the feet of husbands and wives walking toward each other, or alongside each other in God’s path.

She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.

Proverbs 31:20

Hands are beautiful when they are comforting, lifting up the hurting, extending in fellowship, raising up to God, building God’s kingdom, or giving to the poor. Hands are beautiful in a marriage when they caress, when they are held, when they are carrying the other spouse’s burden.

And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man’s heart.

Psalm 104:15

Faces are beautiful when they are shining with God’s love, and when they are expressing the joy of His Spirit. Faces are beautiful in a marriage when they are beaming into one another, when they light up at the sight of one another, and when they are so familiar that they are a picture of faithfulness.

Most of my body ought to be covered up – God invented clothing as a reminder of who I am and of what He’s forgiven me. The parts of my body which are normally uncovered – my feet, hands, and face – are to show that I gladly serve the One Who has forgiven me.

Zechariah the Prophet

February 13, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Posted in Zechariah | Leave a comment
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The first Biblical words of Zechariah the prophet were plain-spoken words and they were a call to repentance. Later he began to pronounce his dreams and visions and prophecies of mercy. We need this kind of preaching in the Church today. People are enamored of the supernatural and of the idea that God would charm people with special words of prophecy about the future – especially if these prophecies foretell the mercy of God. But God’s mercy means little to its recipients without a realistic understanding of how God is “sore displeased” (Zechariah 1:2) with our sin.

Here are the previous lessons on the Book of Zechariah:

Where Are They Now?
Night Visions Part 1
Night Visions Part 2
Beware the Feminine Force
Night Visions Part 3 (*)
The Possessiveness of God
Order in the Church
Jesus the Great
The True Shepherd Vs. The Evil Shepherd
The Cleansing Fountain

* most popular post in category

Break It Up!

February 10, 2012 at 10:01 am | Posted in Ecclesiastes, Uncategorized | 9 Comments
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We might suppose that God is chiefly in the business of building.

And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Matthew 16:18

However, the Bible tells us that there are times ordained by God for breaking, as well as building.

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

Ecclesiastes 3:3

When we think of some of the heroes of the faith who were themselves broken before God, like Job, Jonah, Isaiah, David, and Peter, just to name a few – and when we recall all the times that God, in loving discipline, has had to break us in order to bring us back to Himself – we might be very glad that God condescends to use broken things.

Vance Havner once said that God uses “broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume.” If you are feeling broken right now, maybe to the point where you feel useless before God, take heart! The body of Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life, was broken for you on Calvary’s Cross, so that you might draw strength from Him. The Apostle Paul understood this principle.

When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed.

Acts 20:11

When you are experiencing a dark night of brokenness, call upon the Lord, and when His sun “breaks” the morning sky, get up and depart from your bed of sorrows, ready to serve Him with new energy.

And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.

I Corinthians 11:24

Parallelism in Psalms

February 8, 2012 at 12:12 pm | Posted in Selected Psalms | 3 Comments
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There are 150 Psalms in the Book of Psalms. Each and every one of them was authored by the the Holy Spirit, Who used various human instruments to write them. He used David to write 73 of them. He used the sons of Korah to write 11 of them. He used Asaph to write 12 of them. He used Solomon to write 2 of them. He used Ethan and Moses to write 1 each. That leaves 50 Psalms where we do not know which human instrument the Holy Spirit used, but we know that all of them are inspired by God.

The Psalms may be divided into five sections based on the Pentateuch (the first 5 Books of the Bible – or the so-called “Books of Moses”). The Psalms are songs written for stringed instruments. Since they are songs, their style of writing is considered to be poetry.

Hebrew poetry is big on parallelism (saying the same thing twice, but in a slightly different way or with a different emphasis). There are different types of parallelism. One type is called “synthetic parallelism.” Here is an example of synthetic parallelism:

The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.

Psalm 19:7-9

In synthetic parallelism the second line explains and expands the first line.

One of the clearest examples of Hebrew parallelism in the Bible outside of the Psalms is one of (if not the) first poems in human history:

And Lamech said unto his wives, Adah and Zillah, Hear my voice; ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech: for I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt.

Genesis 4:23 (emphasis added)

The evil bigamist Lamech bragged to his wives about killing a man, and it almost sounds like he killed two men instead of one unless you understand the parallelism in his song/poem. The “and” does not denote a separate killing. It is his way of expanding and emphasizing the fact that he killed a man – and not only that – but he killed a young man for a mere offense.

Touring the Temple

February 6, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Posted in Ezekiel | 1 Comment
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Chapters 40 – 48 in Ezekiel contain the vision God gave Ezekiel concerning the Millennial Temple. This gave assurance to the surviving exiles that the temple which had been destroyed would be restored. The detailed specifications for the Temple have spiritual applications, but they are also literal and actual details for a real temple. It appears that the Millennial Temple will probably be located on Mount Zion when Christ rules and reigns on this earth during what some theologians call the “Millenium.” “Milli” = 1000; “annum” = years.

The spiritual lessons concerning the description of the Temple have to do with God showing the people that their empty performance-centered worship was displeasing to the Lord. God’s plan for worship is that it be God-centered.

The main purpose of the Temple was obedience to God’s word in worship. God’s Word is where we go to find out God’s opinion about things. God’s opinion of people worshipping Him? It’s good. God’s opinion of prayer? It’s good. God’s opinion of people reading and studying the Bible? It’s good. God’s opinion of giving people the good news of God’s saving grace? It’s good. God’s opinion of believers serving the Lord in love alongside other believers? It’s good. God’s opinion of fornication, laziness, lying, or rebellion against God’s appointed leader? They’re bad. We know these things are good or bad because God has expressed how He feels about them in the Bible.

The temple we see described in these chapters of Ezekiel is the temple connected with Revelation Chapter 20, not Revelation Chapter 21. There are many similarities, but it’s not the same temple that we see as being found in the Heavenly City. It is a temple that will be set up on Earth during the Millennial Reign when Christ will rule as Messiah and High Priest.

And he brought me thither, and, behold, there was a man, whose appearance was like the appearance of brass, with a line of flax in his hand, and a measuring reed; and he stood in the gate.

Ezekiel 40:3

This measuring reed was a symbol of ownership and it was used for taking a “property survey.” Ezekiel was given a tour by an angel (a man colored like bronze.) The tour of the temple revealed many similarities to Solomon’s Temple. (I Kings 7), but this temple will have no veil between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies because Christ Himself will be present with His people. Additionally, there will be no Ark of the Covenant or Mercy Seat, no golden altar of incense, no golden lamp stand with seven arms. Incense will not be used to symbolize the prayers of God’s people ascending up to Him.

In Chapter 43:1-12 Ezekiel got to see the glory return to the Temple. He had watched the glory depart earlier.

Then brought he me the way of the north gate before the house: and I looked, and, behold, the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD: and I fell upon my face. And the LORD said unto me, Son of man, mark well, and behold with thine eyes, and hear with thine ears all that I say unto thee concerning all the ordinances of the house of the LORD, and all the laws thereof; and mark well the entering in of the house, with every going forth of the sanctuary. And thou shalt say to the rebellious, even to the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; O ye house of Israel, let it suffice you of all your abominations, In that ye have brought into my sanctuary strangers, uncircumcised in heart, and uncircumcised in flesh, to be in my sanctuary, to pollute it, even my house, when ye offer my bread, the fat and the blood, and they have broken my covenant because of all your abominations. And ye have not kept the charge of mine holy things: but ye have set keepers of my charge in my sanctuary for yourselves.

Ezekiel 44:4-8

People who go to holy places should be holy people. There may be buildings around your local church building where immoral activities are going on, but the church itself should stand out as a place of holiness in your community. And the church members themselves ought to stand out as examples of holiness. This does not mean that all the members of a local Christian church have to be clones. Christians should stand out in the world for our holiness, but we need be prepared to explain why we stand out. Sometimes I hear people say, “I could just tell so-and-so was a Christian. There was just ‘something about’ him/her.” That’s not bad, but it’s not enough. If we talk differently than unbelievers, if we dress differently, have a different attitude, pray before we eat our food, we need to be able to articulate Biblical reasons for doing those things. The Temple shown to Ezekiel had distinguishing details, but they all “meant” something.

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