ONE OF THE LAST PROPHETIC PIECES OF THE PUZZLE

Rom.11:12,15 – Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be! For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?

I remember a class I had at Bible School in the fall of 1973. Our teacher showed up in class looking like local weatherman Bob Breck when a cat 5 hurricane enters the Gulf of Mexico. Obviously the teacher was totally disheveled and disturbed by what had happened in the news that day. Israel had just entered into a war with the Muslim nations surrounding them and had a sudden overwhelming victory. What disturbed our teacher was what he expected to happen next. He said that Jerusalem could be surrounded by Russian tanks by morning. Obviously that didn’t happen but what did happen is that I suddenly became aware of Israel’s involvement in God’s prophetic time clock.

As I began to study Bible prophesy on my own I became aware of something Jesus said about Jerusalem and the last days. He said in Luke 21: 24, “Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled“. This is the phrase that grabbed me, “until the time of the gentiles is fulfilled”. I had no idea what that meant and I just had to find out. What I discovered was this, that the Lord had dealt primarily with the people of Israel until the time of Christ. Their rejection of the messiah brought the destruction of their land. That is actually what Romans 11 is about. The Lord turned to the gentiles for a season and the Jews were blinded from the truth. The good news is the Lord is not finished with Israel. Paul also referred to the time of the gentiles in this chapter. He said that there would be a great harvest of Jews when the time of the gentiles is fulfilled. Here is how Paul says it in Rom.11:25,26, “For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery — so that you will not be wise in your own estimation — that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.”

So what conclusions I have come to in my studies of Bible prophesy is this, keep your eye on Israel, He is not finished with them yet. Finally, don’t be rigid in what you believe. What you believe may have to be altered as you see the events unfolding before your very eyes.

THE PLACE WHERE THE SUN DOESN’T SHINE

And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.

This may come across as strange to you but one place the sun doesn’t shine is heaven. Now don’t take this the wrong way, heaven could never be a place of darkness. Actually it could be called the City of Light, the only place that never has shadows. No sun, no shadows, how is this even possible? The answer, if you haven’t guessed it yet, is that there is no need for a sun because Jesus Himself is the light of the city. After all, the natural sun is just a picture or image of the real light. The real light is Christ Himself, the light of the world. Heaven will not need a sun, or streetlights or lamps on the inside of any building. The light of heaven will penetrate every crack and crevice of every life. We will see the fulfillment of the last prophesy of the Old Testament, Mal.4:2 – “But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall”. Here are some thoughts from R. C. Sproul on today’s verse.

“Revelation 21 and 22 describe the holy city coming down out of heaven. Strangely, it is described as a place where the sun does not shine. There are no candles nor moon nor artificial source of light. You would think that such a place would be bathed in perpetual darkness, but the author of Revelation tells us there is no need of sun or artificial light in heaven because the glory of God and the radiance of his Son bathe the holy city in light perpetually. The glow from the face of God—the manifestation of his glory—illuminates every inch of the kingdom of heaven. The light of the glory of God is never extinguished, which is why the apostle says “. . . to whom be glory forever.” The glory of God began in eternity and will continue for eternity. When we come into God’s presence to worship him, the only appropriate response is reverence, awe, humility, and submission. The contemporary church all too often displays a cavalier approach to worship. Many have no idea about the one they are dealing with, the one for whom the angels themselves have to cover their eyes when they sing of his glory.”

Heaven is going to be better than any of us could ever know. It is the City of Light. As we finish our journey on earth we must remember, this life is almost over; the real life is about to start.

THERE IS AN ANOINTING FOR THAT

1John 2:27 But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.

The word ‘anointing’ is one of those Bible words that is often misunderstood. People will say that someone who has a talented voice and hits those high notes is anointed. I have heard public speakers that are quite passionate and even entertaining referred to as anointed. Sometimes, people that build huge organizations or ministries are referred to as anointed. In each of these cases someone may or may not be anointed, human talent sometimes is mistaken for the anointing.

What is the anointing? It is the tangible presence of God that comes and rests upon a person for the purpose of advancing the kingdom of God. The anointing came upon David to worship, write songs, and kill the giant. The anointing came upon Samson to perform feats of strength. The anointing empowered Peter to preach on the Day of Pentecost and caused Stephen’s face to shine like an angel while he was being martyred. The anointing is the supernatural enabling to do the impossible for the glory of God.

There are different kinds of anointings. There is an anointing to overcome weaknesses. Rom. 8:26 “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness”.

There is an anointing for prayer. Rom.8:26 – “For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words”.

Peter said that there was an anointing to help us through times of persecution and suffering. 1Pet. 4:14 “If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you”.

Isaiah even said that there was an anointing that breaks the power of the enemy. Is. 10:27 “And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing”.

The good news for all of us, we live in a time that the anointing is available for everyone. The measure of His anointing will be in proportion to His calling and our yieldedness. He is more than sufficient for whatever you face.

Eph. 3:20 ¶ “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us

THE TOUCH THAT HEALS

Lk.8:43,44 – A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding, and she could find no cure. Coming up behind Jesus, she touched the fringe of his robe. Immediately, the bleeding stopped.

Lots of people were in the meetings that day, it even says in one account that Jesus was being thronged by the crowds. Sounds like pushing and shoving and touching but who was really touching Jesus? Suddenly Jesus was stopped in His tracks, “Who touched Me”, He exclaimed. Someone had touched Him with the touch of faith and was immediately healed. What does this story say to us today? Is it possible that many who attend church never really “touch Christ”? They sing the songs, pray their prayers, listen to the preaching, and take communion but really never touch Jesus. There was something different about the lady with the hemorrhage that day. It wasn’t that she was sick that made her different, she was ready to receive her touch. Here is how J.C. Ryle describes this scene.

“We are told in these verses that “many people followed” our Lord, “and thronged him.” But we are only told of one person who “came in the press behind,” and touched Him with faith and was healed. Many followed Jesus from curiosity, and derived no benefit from Him. One, and only one, followed under a deep sense of her need, and of our Savior’s power to relieve her, and that one received a mighty blessing. We see the same thing going on continually in the Church of Christ at the present day. Multitudes go to our places of worship, and fill our pews. Hundreds come up to the Lord’s table, and receive the bread and wine. But of all these worshipers and communicants, how few really obtain anything from Christ! Fashion, custom, ritual, habit, the love of excitement, or an itching ear, are the true motives of the vast majority. There are but few here and there who touch Christ by faith, and go home ‘in peace’.”

What brought you to church this Sunday? Did you come out of routine or duty or did you come expecting a touch from the Lord? How will your touch come? It could be from reading a scripture, His presence in a song, a word spoken from the minister, or even through the laying on of hands in the prayer line. There are many ways you can touch the hem of His garment, one touch can change your world.

FINALLY DONE

Mk.5:25,26 – A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding. She had suffered a great deal from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better. In fact, she had gotten worse.

Are you done yet? Not sure what I mean? What I am saying is have you finally figured out that our human limitations can only go so far. Many times, like the poor woman with the twelve year hemorrhage, our problems are beyond our ability to fix. This is a great picture of humans trying to fix their basic sin problem. There is nothing we can do to fix ourselves, we are spiritually bankrupt until that moment of divine intervention. We may have struggled for years, maybe even twelve years. We may have depleted all our resources trying to fix what is broken. Only when we are finally done and begin to look to Christ are we on our way to recovery. Here is how J. C. Ryle describes this woman’s plight.

“Many a man has spent sorrowful years in search of peace with God, and failed to find it. He has gone to earthly remedies and obtained no relief. He has wearied himself in going from place to place, and church to church, and has felt after all “nothing bettered, but rather worse.” But at last he has found rest. And where has he found it? He has found it, where this woman found hers, in Jesus Christ. He has ceased from his own works. He has stopped looking to his own endeavors and doings for relief. He has come to Christ Himself, as a humble sinner, and committed himself to His mercy. At once the burden has fallen from off his shoulders. Heaviness is turned to joy, and anxiety to peace. One touch of real faith can do more for the soul than a hundred self-imposed austerities. One look at Jesus is more efficacious than years of sack-cloth and ashes. May we never forget this to our dying day!”

It’s funny, the moment we come to that conclusion of our utter helplessness, then and then only are we ready for a miracle. In that moment we look away from ourselves and other human remedies and look to the Lord. That’s when we are ready for the touch that changes everything.

BEYOND COMPREHENSION

Rom.11:33 – Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

Just when you thought you had God figured out He blows you away again. His ways are higher than our ways. Everything from Creation to redemption astounds us with the magnificence of God’s glory and wisdom. His prophetic insight, revealed through the apostles and prophets, causes us to stand in awe before His unfolding mysteries. He has a plan for everything. In my life I have watched as the iron curtain fell and the bamboo curtain was penetrated by the gospel of Jesus Christ. Who would have thought that I would see the gospel preached openly in the former Soviet Union. Now we stand on the precipice of the great final prophetic events of the age. First the Islamic world will be shocked by the sudden harvest of souls

BEYOND COMPREHENSION into the Christian world. And finally, one last revival that will shake the nation of Israel to its foundation. Today’s verse touches on the mysterious and prophetic nature of our God. Here is how R. C. Sproul describes it.

“The first lesson in systematic theology deals with the incomprehensibility of God. The fullness of the essence of God’s glory so far transcends human ability to sound its depths that we are left in a state of awe before him. I am not saying that we are involved in some sort of mystery religion where the things of God are unintelligible; what God reveals we can grasp, to a certain degree. Central to the teaching of John Calvin was the axiom… “the finite cannot contain or grasp the fullness of the infinite.” Even after we are in heaven—when we are no longer looking through the glass darkly but basking in the refulgent glory of God—we will not have an exhaustive knowledge of the Creator.

Eternity is not long enough for the creature to come to a comprehensive knowledge of God, because even in eternity we will be creatures, and as creatures we are finite and will remain subject to Calvin’s axiom…. The depth is so deep that we cannot plumb it.”

So once we begin to recover from seeing His greatness revealed in the redemption of this age, then we step into the age of all ages. Eternity will be an unfolding of the greatness of our God.

WHO HAS BELIEVED?

Rom. 10:16,17, 20 – But not everyone welcomes the Good News, for Isaiah the prophet said, “LORD, who has believed our message?” So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ. And later Isaiah spoke boldly for God, saying,

“I was found by people who were not looking for me. I showed myself to those who were not asking for me.”

Religion and faith can be a tricky business. The Jews had been the “chosen people” for so long in Paul’s day that they just took their spirituality for granted. Jesus had come on the scene and turned over the apple cart. All their pre-supposed rules and privileges suddenly meant nothing. Now, to make matters worse, the former Pharisee, the Apostle Paul, was converting thousands of gentiles to this Christian faith. This was absolutely unthinkable. Now Paul was going even a step further, it wasn’t good enough to be born as a Jew, now you also had to be born again. It seemed to much of the jewish world that the gentiles were taking their privileged place. In today’s passage Paul is talking about this very basic essence of spirituality; you have to believe the report of the gospel. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word. What word? The word of the gospel; that Christ died for our sins, was raised from the dead, and is sitting at the right hand of God as our High Priest. Only those that believe that report can be made righteous before the Lord. Here is how Luther describes this passage.

“I was found of them that sought me not. Isaiah writes this against the Jews who boasted of their merits. The Jews certainly do not like to hear that they have been rejected. When Christ told them that at the time of Elias there were many widows in Israel, but that the prophet was sent only to the pagan widow in Zarephath, they wanted to hurl Him over a precipice. For they perceived that they were rejected before the heathen and regarded as unworthy (of salvation). For them this was an unbearable thought; they were proud of the blood of the Fathers and boasted of the righteousness of the Law. But here it tells them: I have made myself known to them, (the Gentiles), because of my grace and not because of the zeal or merits of any man. Here the word applies: “Whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased”. All this was written and done in order that the overbearing arrogance of men (in spiritual matters) might be suppressed and the grace of God might be magnified. For “He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord”.

So who has believed the report? Those whose ears have been opened by the Lord by grace through faith. Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable grace.

FORE-LOVED

Rom.8:29,30 – For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

One of those hard to understand things about God is this; part of His creation is time and space. If God created time and space He lives outside of them. The implications of that may speak to why He calls Himself “I am”. He has always been, He is eternal. In today’s verse Paul mentions the foreknowledge of God. Before time was created the Lord knew those who were His. I didn’t say He knew about them, He knew them. He knew them intimately, you could say He loved them personally before they were brought into existence. Paul’s point was that those whom He foreknew He predestined to be conformed to His image.

Some folks think this foreknowledge thing is just the Lord knowing what I would do which would determine what He would do. God knowing me is much stronger than that, He knew me, He knows me, and He will know me. I have always been His before I knew it and before I existed. Here is how R. C. Sproul describes this passage.

“Now, why labor this when we are talking about a particular text in Romans 8? We do so because it is the root of the term that starts the Golden Chain: “For whom He foreknew [prŏginō], He also predestined.” The full import of the word includes not mere cognition on God’s part but a redemptive knowledge that is spiritual and affective (affective – dealing with the emotions)—not effective in this case, but affective. Therefore, we could reasonably translate this text, “Those whom he fore- loved [those whom he knew in a personal, intimate, redemptive sense from all eternity] he predestined.”

I really, really love that. “Those whom He fore-loved, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son…” Sooooo, I am fore-loved by the Lord before the foundation of the world. He loved me not because of anything I had to offer Him, He loved me despite by ungodly behavior, He loved me with my faults and determined to call and pursue me. Today He is working on the conformed part, He is chiseling away the flaws, making me more and more like His Son.

FAITH COMES BY HEARING

ROM.10:16,17 – However, they did not all heed the good news; for Isaiah says, “LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

Paul has just given us the clear path to salvation in the passage above, Rom.10:9,10 – “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation”.

This is not a formula to get to heaven but rather an observation, our confession with our mouth flows from what we believe in our hearts. Obviously, man’s eyes and ears are closed to the gospel until the day of his new birth. A spiritual blindness blocks every person from the beauty and majesty of the gospel. It is only faith that can penetrate that veil and faith is not in the heart of the lost man or woman. Faith is the results of the sovereign work of grace in our hearts. What Paul is getting at in this passage is how faith comes. He says it clearly in vs.17, faith comes by hearing, an hearing by the word. The word Paul is speaking of is rhema in the Greek language. It means a spoken word. This shows the importance of proclaiming the scripture, that is what creates an atmosphere for our ears to be opened. Here is how Matthew Henry describes it.

“He shows that the word preached is the ordinary means of working faith (v. 17): So then though many that hear do not believe, yet those that believe have first heard. Faith cometh by hearing. It is the summary of what he had said before, v. 14. The beginning, progress, and strength of faith, are by hearing. The word of God is therefore called the word of faith: it begets and nourishes faith. God gives faith, but it is by the word as the instrument. Hearing (that hearing which works faith) is by the word of God. It is not hearing the enticing words of man’s wisdom, but hearing the word of God, that will befriend faith, and hearing it as the word of God.”

Henry says that the word of God begets and nourishes faith. The Lord sets apart men and women as anointed vessels to proclaim His word. In the atmosphere that anointed preaching produces faith comes alive.

WITHERED

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS

Mark 3:5

“And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.”

The story of the man with the withered hand always gets to me. I believe it speaks of the spiritual atmosphere we find ourselves in. Sometimes things just dry up and we lose the ability to help ourselves. Your faith withers, prayers cease and you even lose your joy. Again what a story for us! Without the power of God in our lives on a daily basis we will find ourselves in a hopeless world! Christ needs to come breathe life into the dead soul.

Matthew Henry says; “He commands us to stretch forth our hands, to improve our natural powers, and do as well as we can; to stretch them out in prayer to God, to stretch them out to lay hold on Christ by faith, to stretch them out in holy endeavors. Now this man could not stretch forth his withered hand of himself, any more than the impotent man could arise and carry his bed, or Lazarus come forth out of his grave; yet Christ bid him do it. God’s commands to us to do the duty which of ourselves we are not able to do are no more absurd or unjust, than this command to the man with the withered hand, to stretch it forth; for with the command, there is a promise of grace which is given by the word.”

Did you hear that? With the command there is the promise of grace! He enables us to reach forth, stretch out and grab a hold on the anchor that will save our soul! Lord I believe, help my unbelief!

What is it that you have found yourself backing away from? Are you weary, discouraged or offended? Tired of reaching out the hand of faith? Lets read what McClaren say’s about that;

“But let us not miss the parable of the restoration of the maimed and shrunken powers of the soul, which the manner of the miracle gives. Whatever we try to do because Jesus bids us, He will give us strength to do, however impossible to our unaided powers it is. In the act of stretching out the hand, ability to stretch it forth is bestowed, power returns to atrophied muscles, stiffened joints are suppled, the blood runs in full measure through the veins. So it is ever. Power to obey attends on the desire and effort to obey.”

STRETCH FORTH THY HAND!