March 31, 2015 14:13 PM
In ancient Israel, every male was required to go to Jerusalem and present himself before the Lord during three of the seven annual feasts: Passover, Pentecost and Feast of Tabernacles. But why three feasts? And why these three?
We must remember that numbers have meaning and that the Bible is full of types and shadows. The number three represents completeness as indicated by the Trinity. Also, in the book of Revelation we see the number three repeated numerous times: three measures of barley, three angels, three unclean spirits, great city divided into three, three gates on each side of wall surrounding New Jerusalem, etc.. Therefore, it is no coincidence that these three mandatory feasts taken together as a unit also have meaning, including prophetic meaning.
We know that Passover represents the blood atonement of Jesus, the very payment necessary for us to be forgiven and saved. Pentecost depicts the infilling of the Holy Spirit as illustrated when the Holy Spirit was given to Jesus’ disciples after His resurrection. And Tabernacles speaks of Jesus’ return when He will rule and reign on earth and tabernacle with man. It’s all a roadmap and speaks of progression.
Putting it all together we see a beautiful picture. First, we must accept Jesus, our atonement, before being empowered by the Holy Spirit to live this new life as disciples of Christ. And those who have come through Passover and Pentecost, who have presented themselves to the Lord in fulfillment of their deeper meaning, will then be able to enjoy the Feast of Tabernacles, when our beautiful Savior tabernacles with us, not only in our lives right now, but in the era to come when Jesus literally returns to earth to live with His people.
Our modern Easter, commemorating Jesus’ death and resurrection, is really the Lord’s feast of Passover (and “First Fruits” too) when He became that sacrificial lamb whose blood we must apply to the doorpost of our hearts. And if we do, we shall pass from death into life. Note that the three mandatory feasts are listed in order of how they must be observed. Without Passover, we will never be able to participate in Pentecost and Tabernacles. As we are about to celebrate Easter with family and friends, let us not forget the wonder of what the day represents, as well as remember those, in prayer, who have not yet come into the amazing knowledge that they have a Savior who loves them and calls them by name.
Wishing everyone a very blessed and Happy Easter!
Until next time,
June 2, 2014 13:03 PM
I love weddings: their testimony that love finds love, their beauty, their promise, their pomp and ceremony, and yes, their food, too. So in Matthew 22:1-14 when Jesus compares the Kingdom of Heaven to a king who gives a wedding banquet, I’m all ears. But I soon discover it’s not your typical wedding. First, the invited guests refuse to come. And even when the king sends his servants to personally tell them that all is in readiness, they actually make light of the invitation and give silly excuses why they can’t attend. Then to make matters worse, they even abuse the servants and actually kill some.
What’s the king to do? Well, being a king with all the authority and power of a kingdom at his disposal, he answers this affront by sending his soldiers to punish the murderers and abusers. Not only do they forfeit their lives, but their city is burned.
Next, the king once again sends out his servants to collect guests for the son’s wedding, this time ordering them to go to the highways and byways. Everyone was now welcome, even the assortment of unsavory characters one always encounters along life’s roads. Even so, it pleases the king for now his banqueting hall is full. But wait! There was one who didn’t wear the required wedding garment, the garment provided by the host for each of his guests to wear. And what a sad end for him, for he’s quickly bound hand and foot and thrown out into the darkness where “there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.”
Of course this speaks about God and the wedding feast He is planning and preparing for His son, Jesus. And the wedding guests refusing to come are His chosen people the Jews. When, as a nation, they rejected their Messiah, the invitation (the salvation message) was extended to all peoples of the world. And oh how fortunate for us! But don’t despair, God is not finished with His people and will, in the last days, bring them to Jesus.
God is love. And that love desires a banqueting room full of people who have accepted His invitation of salvation. And that invitation has been extended to everyone, all of life’s symbolic derelicts, which means us, so no one is excluded. However, like that man who entered the banqueting hall improperly dress and was promptly thrown out into utter darkness, no one will be able to enter without the garment of righteousness that Jesus’ blood sacrifice secured for us. We must wear the garment God provided or we cannot enter.
And oh how sad for those without the proper garment. Instead of a sumptuous wedding feast in a beautiful setting (symbolic of eternal life with Christ) their eternal future will be lived in darkness and weeping and pain.
It seems so foolish. The invitation is for all and the only requirement is that we are dressed in God’s proper garment. So why do so many make light of the invitation and give silly excuses?
Until next time,
November 11, 2013 16:11 PM
Jesus is a constant contradiction. His words and actions continually reveal that God’s ways are not our ways. In fact they are higher. Much higher (Isaiah 55:9). So here, in Luke 10: 21 (Amplified) Jesus once again throws us a curve. “Thank you Father, Lord of heaven and earth that You have concealed these things (relating to salvation) from the wise and understanding and learned, and revealed them to babes (the childish, unskilled, and untaught).” What exactly are we to make of this?
Well, first there are three different kinds of wisdom: 1) Godly wisdom 2) worldly wisdom and 3) demonic wisdom. The Bible tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10) so we can assume that Jesus wasn’t talking about those with Godly wisdom. James 3:15-17 tells us that there is a wisdom that “descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish . . . but the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, etc.” According to James, the earthly, devilish wisdom is characterized by bitterness, envy, and strife, and creates confusion and evil works, and is also hypocritical.
I can think of no better example of this than our early fathers establishing public schools in order to teach their children to read the Bible. And now, in most schools, a teacher can’t even mention the Bible and must teach the very flawed “theory of evolution” but is not allowed to discuss “creationism.” This is worldly wisdom and demonic wisdom combined that is not only hypocritical but creates confusion and strife.
1 Corinthians 8:1 tells us that, “knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.” That word “puffeth” is phusioo in Greek and means to inflate, make proud. Without the Lord, without His charity, His love to enlighten us, our knowledge can make us proud and conceited. And when we become conceited we think we know it all. We think we know more than God. We become too sophisticated to believe the simple gospel message. And that’s just what Jesus was talking about. So many of the learned men of His day, the Pharisees, thought they knew it all, too; actually thought they knew more than Jesus. Their conceit made them unable to accept Jesus’ message, and their envy made them want to kill Him. After all, Jesus was an irritant that contradicted their philosophy and life style.
Nothing changes. Those who are “puffed” up, who are impressed with their own knowledge and intellect, generally are not open to the gospel. The conceited do not have a teachable spirit, but lack humility and are looking to impress others. They know it all and want everyone else to know that they know it all. On the other hand, children and the simple are generally more open to instruction. Surely that’s why Jesus said if we want to enter the kingdom of God we must become like “little children.”
So does all this puffed-up, conceited wisdom get us anything at all? Yes. Romans 1:21-22 spells it out. “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imagination, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.” So what it gets us is that we actually become fools in God’s eyes.
This is a cautionary tale for us all. It’s so easy to become indoctrinated with worldly wisdom and even demonic wisdom. Just look at our movies and TV programs. Things that would have shocked our mothers no longer shock us. We have grown up, we have become sophisticated and wise. But God says, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise. I will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?”
So, in reality, it’s unwise to become “wise” in our own eyes. Much better to become as little children and gain God’s kingdom.
Until next time,
November 21, 2011 10:14 AM
It seems like the “in” thing, even among some Evangelical Christians, to claim that there are many ways to heaven. It sounds rather sophisticated, too, like it’s coming from someone who’s been around and knows a thing or too. And isn’t it oh, so, tolerant? Almost making all other positions appear narrow-minded. But is it true?
Every religion in the world, other than Christianity, has a system of works, whereby you must earn your way to heaven. Only in Christianity are we told this has already been done for us, and done by the person of Jesus Christ; and that all we need do is accept it and believe in Him. Based on my years on this earth and observing how people operate and what generally motivates them, my logical mind tells me it’s impossible for any of us to work our way to heaven. For one thing, our motives usually stink. Like the Pharisees in the Old Testament who stood on street corners and had trumpets blown when they presented their tithes so that everyone would see them, our motives are all too often based on a desire to be admired by others. Oh, what a “good person” he/she is! Don’t misunderstand, I’m stating a fact, not pointing a finger for I’ve been guilty of this myself. But knowing this makes it easier for me to understand that man is sinful and in great need of a Savior, thus Christ satisfies my need. For me, any other route would be like embarking on “Mission Impossible”.
I do, however, understand the draw of a “works” religion. When my children were toddlers and I would try to help them do something, they often said, “me do”. And this was fine as long as what they wanted to do wasn’t dangerous or way beyond their capability. But most times they wanted to do something unsafe or what they sorely lacked the ability to do, and this while not even understanding these realities. So it really boils down to a question of pride. And doesn’t the Bible tells us that “pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall? (Proverbs 16:18 KJV)
But when it comes to Christians believing there are many ways to heaven, well, this is a real puzzler to me. If indeed there are many ways, why did Jesus have to come at all? Why did God the Father send Him to be tortured, beaten, brutalized and hang on a cross to die an agonizing death? Is God a sadist? Is He unfeeling? Or a cruel jokester? If there are other ways to heaven then Jesus’ death was unnecessary and that’s tantamount to pouring His precious blood down a drain.
Those who call themselves Christians should actually believe in who Jesus Christ is, what He did, and what He said. And that includes the hard sayings, like this one where Jesus claims, “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58 KJV) proclaiming His eternal existence. Or “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man cometh unto the Father but by me” (John 14:6 KJV) proclaiming He is the only way to heaven. Or this one, “I say emphatically that anyone who listens to my message and believes in God who sent me has eternal life, and will never be damned for his sins, but has already passed out of death into life” (John 5:24 LB) proclaiming that forgiveness of sins comes by Him. Or “I am the resurrection, and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live;” (John 11:25 KJV) proclaiming that belief in Him is required for gaining eternal life. Oh, there are so many more I could quote, but just these four show how radical Jesus’ statements were, and how He purposely left no wiggle room. Either Jesus is exactly who He says, or He’s a liar, and a madman or con artist. It’s a question that each of us must answer for ourselves. But no true Christian can have it both ways. For him/her, Jesus is the only way to heaven.
Until next time,
September 26, 2011 11:33 AM
When bursitis in one shoulder made me see stars and take several doses of Motrin just to make the pain bearable, I was thanking God I had at least one good arm to use while I healed. That’s when I began thinking about Jesus on the cross. It made me consider the terrible suffering He must have gone through, and how much our salvation cost Him.
I imagine both His shoulders were out of joint from hanging on that cross. And what of those thorns jammed into his head? The pain must have been excruciating. And consider the torn flesh on his back that he had to keep scraping against that wooden beam whenever he pushed up to try to catch his breath, as he slowly suffocated. And oh, what the nails must have done, pounded into his hands and feet, ripping flesh, tendons, muscles and bone! And there were flies too. Swarming and landing on the bloody wounds, irritating and tormenting, and no means of swatting them away. And the salt from His sweat surely had to burn as it seeped into His open sores.
And if that wasn’t terrible enough, what about Jesus’ emotional and mental state? As each one of our sins was laid on Him, the enormity of the grief and guilt and shame and sadness caused by sin was laid on Him too. Oh, the blackness of soul, the utter hopelessness He must have felt! Surely, our sins broke His heart.
But the worst part of all had to be separation from Abba, Daddy. “My God, My God why have you forsaken me?” conveys the isolation and despair Jesus must have felt; Jesus Who once declared “I and my Father are one,” (John 10:30) and “the Father is in me and I in him.” (John 10:38) What mind can truly understand the trinity? But since we are also a triune being—spirit, soul (mind and emotions) and body (I Thessalonians 5:23)—perhaps it would be like being separated from one of our parts: foreign, lonely, desperately unsettling. But it was necessary for Jesus to become separated from God so we could become reconciled.
I don’t know if all eternity will be enough for those who love Jesus and have come to know Him to properly thank and honor Him for what He did and for what He saved us from. But considering the enormity of His sacrifice, is it any wonder that Scripture goes on to say, “How shall we escape appropriate retribution if we neglect and refuse to pay attention to such a great salvation?” (Hebrews 2:3 Amplified Bible)
Until next week,
March 21, 2011 7:16 AM
No one talks about the “H” word anymore. Hell. What is it? A curse word? A myth? Or . . . is it actually real? According to Jesus it is. He spoke of hell many times. Here are two examples: Mark 9:43-44 “”And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” And in Matthew 10:28 He says, “”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.”
Chilling isn’t it?
Then there are numerous people who, either through a near death or other experience have seen hell for themselves, and returned to tell about it, like Bill Wiese who in numerous interviews and in his book, 23 Minutes in Hell, talks about his journey there and describes the people in unbelievable torment, their horrible screams of anguish, the disgusting stench, the unbearable heat, the grotesque demonic creatures, and finally the broken heart of Jesus as He watched.
Why is it important for those of us who truly believe in Jesus to also believe in a literal hell? After all, it’s not a place we need to bother with. We’re not going there. Well, it’s important because some of our family and friends and neighbors are if they leave this world as enemies of Christ. An evangelist once said if we really understood the nature of hell, really believed Jesus when He said NO man comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6) and that hell awaits those who try to go by any other way, we would crawl through broken glass to preach to our loved ones in order to spare them the horrors that await.
I don’t know why I feel such an urgency to get down on my knees and cry out to God for the salvation of those I love who have yet to come to the Lord. Perhaps it’s because after watching the graphic TV footage of the Japanese disaster, it brings home just how tenuous life is. We are not guaranteed tomorrow. Today is the day of salvation.
Until next week,
March 7, 2011 10:03 AM
Even after years of hearing the Gospel which tells us that salvation is a free gift from God, (Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” KJV) it’s still easy for Christians to fall into the temptation of co-mingling grace with works. Why is that? I think because it’s difficult to completely weed out worldly thinking with regard to spiritual things.
The world system says we must prove our worth. Thus we are judged by who we know, how well we perform, what we do, and how successful we are. But the trouble occurs when we transfer this same standard of measurement to our spiritual life by trying to prove our worth to God.
The truth is we are valuable to God not because of anything we’ve done, but because He has bought us with a great price—the very blood of Jesus. And nothing we ever do, no matter how great, will make us more valuable to God, or more loved by Him. The world will never understand this truth, because it is alien, heavenly, and spiritually discerned.
So does that mean we just sit around and eat chocolate covered raisins all day? No, we do good works to please God, because we love Him, and they are the works He has ordained for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). And we love God because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). And His love for us can’t be earned and it’s certainly not deserved. On the cross, Jesus said “it is finished”. He paid the price so that we could have peace with God. We don’t need to prove anything to Him. All we need do is rest in what Jesus has already done. It’s that simple.
Oh, how amazing His grace is!
Until next week,