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Wednesday, October 7, 2015, 7:11 AM
Here Isaiah speaks of a time far into the future from his own time, a time yet to come.
Isaiah 2:1 The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. 2 It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, 3 and many peoples shall come, and say: "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths." For out of Zion shall go the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 4 He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.
The mountain of the house of the LORD (Yahweh) is a reference to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. To say that it will be “the highest” of the mountains is not a reference to its geological height (but of course, since that time has not come yet, and believing in the miracles of God’s handiwork, it could possibly be). From the ancient Hebrew language, there were no real abstract words, but concrete words were used to indicate abstract ideas. Here, to say that the mountain will be “the highest” is generally understood to be “the highest in esteem” (that esteem being the abstract thought visually expressed in the Hebrew language).
Verse 4 above is also expressed in Micah 4: 1, 2. Some may say that this weakens the text of God’s Word, because one writer just copies from another. When speaking the truth, the truth is the truth no matter how many times it’s copied or repeated. Preachers, teachers, and others say the same things someone else has said before when telling others what is on their mind. Sometimes people will use (also called “borrow”; “steal”) someone else’s expression to say what’s on their own mind, or to remind someone of something. Still, since we take our Scriptures to be God’s Word, and God’s Word does not change, we also recognize that God may have told Isaiah and Micah both the same words, because those words are true. But they are yet for a time to come, and come, they will.
Isaiah 10:1 Woe to those who decree iniquitous decrees, and the writers who keep writing oppression, 2 to turn aside the needy from justice and to rob the poor of my people of their right, that widows may be their spoil, and that they may make the fatherless their prey! 3 What will you do on the day of punishment, in the ruin that will come from afar? To whom will you flee for help, and where will you leave your wealth? 4 Nothing remains but to crouch among the prisoners or fall among the slain. For all this his anger has not turned away, and his hand is stretched out still.
Government is established by our Creator, but those who misuse that position will be judged by our Creator. Those who craft laws, rules, regulations not in keeping with God’s will, will be judged. Those who oppress the needy or cheat the poor out of their rights (whether by governmental acts or otherwise) will meet their day of judgment. Any who make prisoners of others unjustly, will meet their own day of imprisonment.
Isaiah 58:13 "If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the LORD honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly; 14 then you shall take delight in the LORD, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken."
The Sabbath day is a day that was ever to be honored as a day set apart for the Lord. But the people failed in God’s law. Yes, they went to Synagogue every Sabbath, but Jesus rebuked them because they only made a pretense of honoring God. It shows above that the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath in that honoring that day and taking delight in Yahweh, He would cause them to ride on the ‘heights of the earth’ (another concrete euphemism for the abstract expression of ‘well you’re moving on up’). (Any time you find LORD printed in all upper case letters in the Scriptures, that is the way many write the Hebrew term Yahweh.) But that in that the Jews demonstrated (as Jesus pointed out) that their worship was only a pretense and a show, Jesus left a higher calling for those who follow Him. Those who follow Jesus are not to suppose that one day a week is above another (as is pointed out in the passage below) but that we are to worship and serve Yahweh seven days a week. As we live, we are to live to the Lord seven days a week.
Romans 14:6 The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. 8 For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's.
Tuesday, October 6, 2015, 9:41 AM
Earlier I had made a post about what is called the ‘ten lost tribes’ of Israel. I made it sort of hastily responding to messages from others without going back to fully checking references. I had mentioned that I wasn’t sure if Benjamin was one of those “supposed” lost tribes or not, but I should have remembered that when Ahijah the prophet came to Jeroboam, he had been told that the line of David would keep Judah and Benjamin. (My memory is not as clear as it once was, and there ‘seems’ like ten million trivia facts in the Scriptures.) In any event, aside from Judah and Benjamin (and the Levites who weren’t counted, as they had not been assigned any territory), the rest of the tribes have been called by some “the lost tribes” after they were carried into captivity by Assyria. I have more references below to indicate that they are not ‘lost tribes’. But some people prefer to listen to false teachers than to see what the Scriptures really teach.
In the first passage below, when the nation of Israel was first divided into two nations (the ‘supposedly lost’ Northern Kingdom of Israel, and the Southern Kingdom of Judah), it says that those from “all” the tribes that turned to Yahweh came to Jerusalem and secured the Kingdom of Judah. So some from all the tribes were already represented in the Southern Kingdom.
2nd Chronicles 11:16 And those who had set their hearts to seek the LORD God of Israel came after them from all the tribes of Israel to Jerusalem to sacrifice to the LORD, the God of their fathers. 17 They strengthened the kingdom of Judah, and for three years they made Rehoboam the son of Solomon secure, for they walked for three years in the way of David and Solomon.
Asa reigned over the Southern Kingdom of Judah after the Rehoboam, but during the reigh of Jereboam. The Scriptures record that Asa recovered some of the hill country of Ephraim (one of the supposed ‘lost’ tribes) and that even there were some from Manasseh and Simeon (two other supposed ‘lost’ tribes) who were residing with them in Judah, because “great numbers” (without naming tribes) from the Northern Kingdom had deserted to Judah. Though we cannot say for sure that some from all of the twelve tribes were represented in Judah, it is clear that there could not be ten tribes that would have been “lost”.
2nd Chronicles 15:8 As soon as Asa heard these words, the prophecy of Azariah the son of Oded, he took courage and put away the detestable idols from all the land of Judah and Benjamin and from the cities that he had taken in the hill country of Ephraim, and he repaired the altar of the LORD that was in front of the vestibule of the house of the LORD. 9 And he gathered all Judah and Benjamin, and those from Ephraim, Manasseh, and Simeon who were residing with them, for great numbers had deserted to him from Israel when they saw that the LORD his God was with him.
Hezekiah reigned during the fall of the Northern Kingdom (2nd Kings 18: 9) and after the Northern Kingdom (the supposed ten lost tribes) had been carried into captivity. The King of Assyria even came to Jerusalem to take the Southern Kingdom captive, but the Lord delivered the Southern Kingdom from the Assyrians. Now during the interval between the fall of the Northern Kingdom and the Assyrians coming against the Southern Kingdom, Hezekiah sent couriers all through the Northern Kingdom to the remnants to come to a feast in Jerusalem. (These would have been the so-called “lost tribes”.) The record shows that many of these “so-called” lost tribes are represented at the feast (references pasted below). Then later in the reign of Josiah, quite some time after the so-called ‘lost tribes’ were supposedly ‘lost’, another feast was attended by people from ‘all Judah and Israel’ (both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms- 2nd Chronicles 35: 18 below). But if the “ten lost tribes” were lost- why did they become lost? Unfaithfulness? But when Judah was carried into captivity, Yahweh told Jeremiah that Judah was more faithless than Israel (Jeremiah 31: 11 below).
2nd Chronicles 30:1 Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, and wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of the LORD at Jerusalem to keep the Passover to the LORD, the God of Israel.
5 So they decreed to make a proclamation throughout all Israel, from Beersheba to Dan, that the people should come and keep the Passover to the LORD, the God of Israel, at Jerusalem, for they had not kept it as often as prescribed. 6 So couriers went throughout all Israel and Judah with letters from the king and his princes, as the king had commanded, saying, "O people of Israel, return to the LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, that he may turn again to the remnant of you who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria.
18 For a majority of the people, many of them from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet they ate the Passover otherwise than as prescribed. For Hezekiah had prayed for them, saying, "May the good LORD pardon everyone 19 who sets his heart to seek God, the LORD, the God of his fathers, even though not according to the sanctuary's rules of cleanness." 20 And the LORD heard Hezekiah and healed the people. 21 And the people of Israel who were present at Jerusalem kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with great gladness, and the Levites and the priests praised the LORD day by day, singing with all their might to the LORD.
2nd Chronicles 35:18 No Passover like it had been kept in Israel since the days of Samuel the prophet. None of the kings of Israel had kept such a Passover as was kept by Josiah, and the priests and the Levites, and all Judah and Israel who were present, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 19 In the eighteenth year of the reign of Josiah this Passover was kept.
Jeremiah 3:11 And the LORD said to me, "Faithless Israel has shown herself more righteous than treacherous Judah. 12 Go, and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, "'Return, faithless Israel, declares the LORD. I will not look on you in anger, for I am merciful, declares the LORD; I will not be angry forever.
Jeremiah 3:18 In those days the house of Judah shall join the house of Israel, and together they shall come from the land of the north to the land that I gave your fathers for a heritage.
Tuesday, October 6, 2015, 6:14 AM
Many Christians may have several of these gifts with hardly giving thought to their abilities. Good Christian Sunday School teachers may be well endowed with the gifts of teaching as well as speaking in tongues, but in genuine humility may not recognize themselves to be so gifted at teaching as others may recognize them to be. The gift of discernment generally ‘feels’ or senses when motives are genuine or not.
1 Corinthians 14: 1 It is love, then, that you should strive for. Set your hearts on spiritual gifts, especially the gift of proclaiming God's message.
5 I would like for all of you to speak in strange tongues; but I would rather that you had the gift of proclaiming God's message. For the person who proclaims God's message is of greater value than the one who speaks in strange tongues - unless there is someone present who can explain what is said, so that the whole church may be helped. 6 So when I come to you, my friends, what use will I be to you if I speak in strange tongues? Not a bit, unless I bring you some revelation from God or some knowledge or some inspired message or some teaching.
10 There are many different languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning. 11 But if I do not know the language being spoken, those who use it will be foreigners to me and I will be a foreigner to them. 12 Since you are eager to have the gifts of the Spirit, you must try above everything else to make greater use of those which help to build up the church. 13 The person who speaks in strange tongues, then, must pray for the gift to explain what is said.
26 This is what I mean, my friends. When you meet for worship, one person has a hymn, another a teaching, another a revelation from God, another a message in strange tongues, and still another the explanation of what is said. Everything must be of help to the church. 27 If someone is going to speak in strange tongues, two or three at the most should speak, one after the other, and someone else must explain what is being said. 28 But if no one is there who can explain, then the one who speaks in strange tongues must be quiet and speak only to himself and to God. 29 Two or three who are given God's message should speak, while the others are to judge what they say. 40 Everything must be done in a proper and orderly way.
The gift of speaking in tongues is not to be neglected, but it is not to be held as relevant to the assembly unless it contains a specific message and there is an interpreter to translate it. In any case- if it is used in an assembled service, then it is to be done in an orderly fashion. I have seen this orderly fashion well observed in a number of Assemblies of God that I have attended. A short period is set aside and all who wish to pray in tongues do so. It is observed at a very low volume, but often there will be one voice that comes above all the others in a tongue. Immediately afterward, someone else in the service will interpret, at a level above all the others, but none of it in a disorderly or ‘shouting’ or ‘yelling’ fashion. Of course I cannot speak for all Assemblies of God, but only for the several I’ve attended.
Romans 12: 3 And because of God's gracious gift to me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you should. Instead, be modest in your thinking, and judge yourself according to the amount of faith that God has given you. 4 We have many parts in the one body, and all these parts have different functions. 5 In the same way, though we are many, we are one body in union with Christ, and we are all joined to each other as different parts of one body. 6 So we are to use our different gifts in accordance with the grace that God has given us. If our gift is to speak God's message, we should do it according to the faith that we have; 7 if it is to serve, we should serve; if it is to teach, we should teach; 8 if it is to encourage others, we should do so. Whoever shares with others should do it generously; whoever has authority should work hard; whoever shows kindness to others should do it cheerfully. 9 Love must be completely sincere. Hate what is evil, hold on to what is good.
One last word on the gift of discernment. There is a story of a very poor widow who had no food. She prayed for God to provide. An atheist neighbor overheard her prayer; went to the store and picked up some groceries; left them on her stoop, knocked on her door, and hid behind a bush. When she came to the door and saw the groceries she raised her hands in praise and thanksgiving to God. The atheist jumped from behind the bush and said, “Aha! I’m the one who provided your groceries, so where’s your God?” The lady became more excited and praised the God who could not only take from Satan to provide for His children, but also have Satan’s servants deliver them. If you’re anything like me, you’ve been in dire straits and prayed, and God would send someone to provide. Don’t be predisposed to thinking that the one God sends is necessarily one of God’s children. This is one place where the gift of discernment is helpful.
But above all things in considering gifts and fruits of the Spirit, never forget that the greatest is love. Without love, all else is worthless. Love is God’s law, and the New Testament teaches that one who keeps the law of love keeps all of God’s law. Some will say that we have to observe this, or that, or something else. Anything you “observe” as a law, rule, or regulations is only a surface show. Do all that you do in LOVE and you do not need to be concerned about anything else, because if you seek to serve God in His perfect LOVE, then His Spirit will place you where He wants you, and you don’t have to be concerned so much about my teachings, or the teachings of anyone else.
IF YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND ANYTHING ELSE ABOUT THE BIBLE- UNDERSTAND THIS- GOD LOVES YOU AND SENT HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON TO ALLOW YOU TO COME TO HIM IN FAITH- THEN ALL OF HIS LAW IS BASED ON LOVE, AND IF YOU LIVE IN THAT LAW OF LOVE, HIS SPIRIT WILL GUIDE YOU INTO THAT LIFE OF GOOD WORKS HE HAS PREPARED FOR YOU.
Many teachers may teach many good things, but if you have Jesus in your heart, then His law will be in your heart, then don’t be overly concerned with so many teachers. Even my teachings are not going to save anyone, but only our merciful God Who loves even me, in spite of my sins. If you seek Him with all your heart, then rest assured that the law of love in your heart will bring you in line with His will, even if you don’t recognize it yourself.
Monday, October 5, 2015, 4:10 AM
It was noted that the gifts of the Spirit divided up the work among the believers so that God’s work could be done, but required different functions or specialties from different believers. It reminds me of Jesus parable of the one who went out to sow seed and it landed on different ground. Paul noted that one would sow, another may water, and another reap. This made me mindful that one I don’t recall being mentioned per se in the Scriptures, but there is also the one who prepares the soil for planting. Part 1 ended with Paul, after discussing the basic gifts in 1 Corinthians 12, went on to mention a better way. This better way is taken up in chapter 13, and to me is the main part of the soil preparation I mentioned above.
1 Corinthians 13: 1 I may be able to speak the languages of human beings and even of angels, but if I have no love, my speech is no more than a noisy gong or a clanging bell. 2 I may have the gift of inspired preaching; I may have all knowledge and understand all secrets; I may have all the faith needed to move mountains - but if I have no love, I am nothing. 3 I may give away everything I have, and even give up my body to be burned - but if I have no love, this does me no good.
8 Love is eternal. There are inspired messages, but they are temporary; there are gifts of speaking in strange tongues, but they will cease; there is knowledge, but it will pass. 9 For our gifts of knowledge and of inspired messages are only partial; 10 but when what is perfect comes, then what is partial will disappear. 13 Meanwhile these three remain: faith, hope, and love; and the greatest of these is love.
Let us not forget that love itself is a gift from God to us, as is the faith (Ephesians 2: 8). Love is the gift that made God’s salvation possible to man and faith is the gift given to those who believe and call upon the Lord to verify that salvation in us. We may ‘believe’, but the gift of ‘faith’ verifies that ‘belief’ within us. Now to say that love is a gift from God in that while we were still dead in our sins, Christ died for us, love is also one of the fruits of the Spirit (not a gift in that sense, but a fruit that we bear in having the Spirit in our life). Now, love is not only a gift from God, it is also a fruit of the Spirit, and it is also God’s law for us to live by. Without love, everything else is empty, vain, and worthless.
Now the gift of speaking in tongues is discussed more in these passages than the others and have been a source for denominational controversy for years. Speaking in tongues (also called glossalalia) is said by Paul to be the least important of the gifts. He indicates that not every person gets every gift, including speaking in tongues. I believe that at the onset of Christianity the gift of tongues may have been more prevalent, because in beginning a new religion people looked for visible signs to evidence that faith’s validity. There are two sorts of tongues in the early church- speaking in foreign languages that were known to men (as demonstrated at Pentecost when the apostles went out preaching to the multitudes in Acts 2), and speaking in a Heavenly language known to God and often interpreted by one with a gift for interpreting those tongues. As time progressed, perhaps partly due to the less need for the sign of validity, partly due to the fact that it was considered a ‘lesser’ gift, and partly due to the ignorance of believers (their inability to read and study God’s Word for themselves), there seems to have been little evidence of this gift in the believers’ lives.
The period of reformation (really interesting study) was long and difficult. Protestants in different places at different times would search for their own study of the Scriptures, but were met with fierce resistance from Papal authorities. So people translating Scriptures into their own various languages were under great persecution, and different languages didn’t always understand all the details exactly the same way. Small wonder, since people speaking the same language don’t always understand all the details the same way. In any event, groups referred to as Pentecostals revived the gift of speaking in tongues. The other groups which never got back into the tongues, I suppose to counter the others used this verse from chapter 13: 8 “… there are gifts of speaking in strange tongues, but they will cease”, to suppose that since it was a ‘lesser’ gift, and since it served its purpose at the start of the church, since it seemed to have fell out of use, then that was a gift whose time to cease had come. This was (and I think in some cases, still is) held dogmatically for centuries. I believe most see the qualifying statement in verse 10 of that chapter as explaining that some gifts would cease when “what is perfect comes” because then that which is partial will no longer serve a purpose.
I wish to go back and discuss a little more fully something from 1 Corinthians 12: 10 “The Spirit gives one person the power … the ability to tell the difference between gifts that come from the Spirit and those that do not …” In the KJV this is called the gift of discernment. Satan has the power to disguise himself as an angel of light and his minions as ministers of mercy. Dark powers have the ability to masquerade some of these gifts of the Spirit, (speaking in tongues, I believe has been the most suspect for this masquerading, but is not by any means the only one masqueraded). Church members are to know ones who have the gift of discernment as they can be more sensitive to any thing that presents itself as of Christian origin that may not be genuine. (To be continued in Part III)
Sunday, October 4, 2015, 6:53 PM
Genesis 2:5 And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground. 6 But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.
7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. 8 And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.
Climate change or no climate change, we were still placed on earth to care for it. When we consider the environment, it ill behooves me to think how well we have done a major assignment in our Creation purpose.