2021 What to Watch For — Vaccine Passports — One Step Closer to Tyranny

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The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!

[Psalm 111:10]

The division in American society in real and palpable, and while I believe both mainstream and social media outlets thrive by stoking the fires of social unrest, it doesn’t take much to turn one group of people against another.

Whether real or perceived, however, American culture seems to be continually on edge because of white vs. black, blue vs. red, straight vs. gay, young vs. old, cops vs. chaos, male vs. female, “science” vs. religion. You get my point.

And as if that wasn’t enough, the wake of Covid-19 has created even more confusion and therefore division in our culture. We all have had to evaluate and navigate this unprecedented social crisis to the best of our ability, yet unfortunately it hasn’t been without consequence. Now the nation is further divided over healthcare, and it appears that the “new normal” is giving many people, including myself, cause for great concern.

Now the narrative has shifted to mask vs. no mask, open vs. closed, freedom vs. “safety,” vaccine vs. no vaccine, fear vs. reason, civil liberty vs. government overreach. And the list goes on.

As all career politicians know fully well, never waste a crisis. Politicians also know the power of fear and will always use it to their advantage. And unless you want to live in a state of delusion and believe that the majority of men in general — and politicians in particular — are altruistic and seek the benefit of others, then maybe it’s time to wake up and recognize that God-given liberty as we know it in America is on the verge of permanently being taken.

The socialists in control of America are taking a page right out of the old Nazi playbook to begin creating two classes of citizens in order to incentivize blind submission and marginalize everyone else. How are they doing this?

For starters, by implementing vaccine passports.

THE FACTS

The Biden administration clearly has announced its plans to initiate a vaccine passport program in America that will force citizens to show proof of vaccination before returning to “normal” activities in society, such as boarding a plane, entering public venues, restaurants, sporting events, schools, or potentially even the office at work. These vaccine passports are processed on a smartphone app by scanning a digital QR code.

Several other countries, such as Israel, already have implemented such a program and the state of New York launched its vaccination passport system — Excelsior — just last week. The White House has said that it is working with companies in the private sector who will require said passport in order to resume business, and therefore a national, uniform vaccine passport is in order.

Of course, nothing could go wrong here.

Regardless of whether you are pro or anti-vaccine, this should terrify you as an American citizen. Americans have always had the choice to be vaccinated or not. That is not the debate. Even parents who were skeptical about vaccination protocols in the public school system have always had the option to homeschool their children.

The proposed vaccine passport program, however, is an entirely different issue altogether. By attempting to enforce vaccine passports for Americans to be able to operate in society, the government is creating two-classes of citizens by rewarding “good behavior” and marginalizing everyone else. In effect, the government is attempting to mandate vaccines without actually saying they are mandating vaccines.

Just consider what Dr. Leana Wen said just last week on CNN. It is a lengthy quote but worth reading because it summarizes how the left-wing, socialist mind works. Basically, let’s take away people’s God-given rights and freedoms in the name of a “crisis,” and then they will be grateful to the government when getting back just a taste of freedom.

We need to make it clear to them that the vaccine is the ticket back to pre-pandemic life. And the window to do that is really narrowing. You were mentioning about how all these states are reopening. They’re reopening at 100%. And we have a very narrow window to tie reopening policy to vaccination status. Because otherwise, if everything is reopened, then what’s the carrot going to be? How are we going to incentivize people to actually get the vaccine? So that’s why I think the CDC and Biden administration needs to come out a lot bolder and say, “If you are vaccinated, you can do all these things. Here are all these freedoms you have.” Because otherwise, people are going to go out and enjoy these freedoms anyway.

[see article here]

Surely I don’t have to translate. Dr. Leana speaks for the CDC, the World Health Organization, the World Economic Forum, and countless other power-hungry organizations that want to mandate vaccines or at least make life impossible for those who elect against vaccination. These people are deranged and truly believe that average citizens are too stupid to make individual decisions for themselves — such as personal healthcare. No, we apparently are too ignorant to exercise individual freedom so we need big Pharma and big government to tell us what to do, where to go and how to live.

Dr. Noami Wolf, on the other hand, recognizes the seriousness of this trend toward tyranny.

I am not overstating this. I can’t say it forcefully enough. This is literally the end of human liberty in the west if this plan unfolds as planned. Vaccine passports sound like a fine thing if you don’t understand what these platforms can do … It’s not about the vaccine. It’s not about the virus. It’s about your data. And once this rolls out you don’t have a choice about being part of the system. What people have to understand is that any other functionality can be loaded onto that platform with no problem at all. What that means is that it can be merged with your Paypal account, with your digital currency, Microsoft is already talking about merging it with payment plans. Your networks can be sucked up. It geolocates you wherever you go. Your credit history can be included. All of your medical history can be included.

[Dr. Naomi Wolf — Fox Interview — March 28, 2021]
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Both England and Israel are calling their digital vaccine passport the “Green Pass,” while IBM and the World Economic Forum are calling it CommonPass. In the end, the goal is to create a global, digital ID system that can track and trace all human movement and activity 24 hours a day, 7 days a week — not to mention streamlining all health, financial, and personal data. The digital ID system is being promoted as a necessary convenience in our ever advancing technological world, yet it wreaks of global tyranny and dystopian oppression.

Clearly the powers that be in America would love to create a two-tiered society in order to exercise total control of one group while socially oppress the other. Thankfully, we are seeing some states push back, which yet gives me hope that America is not yet given over fully to tyranny.

GOOD NEWS

So far at least four states have passed legislation or executive orders that officially ban the gross overreach of vaccination passports. The elected officials in Florida, Utah, Texas and Idaho acknowledge the dangerous and slippery slope created by health passports and are leading the way in protecting their citizens. Hopefully we will see more states follow suit and act accordingly.

Until then, I encourage everyone to consider the drastic and unnecessary consequences that will come with mandatory vaccinations or vaccine passports. Again, this has nothing to do with whether or not you have decided to be vaccinated for Covid-19 or not. This is a much bigger issue — a civil liberties issue and a human rights issue.

Representative Pete Sessions (R-Texas) made sense when he said, “Vaccine credentials would be a complete government overstep. Individuals in America have a personal responsibility for their health.”

As long as I have the freedom to make informed decisions about my personal health and about what goes into my body, then I at least can trust who is making that decision. But the minute I give up that freedom and allow other people to make those decisions for me, then my God-given rights will be lost.

The Bible tells me that all men are sinful and the human heart is deceitful. History tells me that government leaders cannot be trusted to act for anyone but themselves. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. If we don’t stand up against these initial steps of tyranny then we have no one to blame but ourselves when our freedom is stripped away.

Choose wisely my friends.

What the Bible Says about the Resurrection

For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
26And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
yet in my flesh I shall see God,
27whom I shall see for myself,
and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
My heart faints within me!

[Job 19:25-27]

As I ponder the unsearchable depths of God’s mercy and love displayed on the cross of Christ this Good Friday, I also want to reflect on the immeasurable power of His resurrection. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of the Christian faith and the central event in history that validates the truth of the gospel and the divine nature of God’s Son.

Only Jesus has demonstrated power over the grave and declared victory once and for all over death. He stands alone and is without equal, and He alone is able to give eternal life to all who believe in Him [Romans 6:23, John 11:25-26].

No human in history has been able to beat death, and therefore Jesus in His resurrection power is the only hope for all mankind.

Volumes have been written on the ramifications of the resurrection, so I am not sure if I can add much to what has already been said. Having said that, here are a few thoughts on what the Bible says about the resurrection.

The Resurrection is an Expectation in the Old Testament

Many may be surprised to discover that before the New Testament witness about the incarnation of the Messiah — Jesus Christ — the resurrection was deeply established in the Hebrew Scriptures — or Old Testament. As in the opening passage above from Job, the expectation of a final resurrection of the body is not merely a New Testament idea. The patriarchs and the prophets understood that God’s grand plan of redemption would culminate at the end of this present age with the renewal of all things in the age to come.

Hebrews tells us that Abraham offered up Isaac in faith, believing that God would raise his beloved son from the dead [Hebrews 11:17-19]. Moses, David, Elijah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel all prophesied about the day of resurrection, and more importantly about the coming Redeemer who would raise and gather God’s people in the end.

Consider just a few of those prophetic passages that we discover in the Old Testament.

Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise.
You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy!
For your dew is a dew of light,
and the earth will give birth to the dead.

[Isaiah 26:19]

Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel13And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people.14And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the LORD.”

[Ezekiel 37:12-14]

And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

[Daniel 12:3-4]

As you can see, the resurrection is not a New Testament idea, but it did take the first advent of Christ to bring it into an entirely new perspective.

Jesus is the Firstfruits of Resurrection

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

[1 Corinthians 15:20]
Golden wheat field and a beautiful summer sunset Wallpaper ...

The death of Jesus Christ on the cross can only be validated in light of His resurrection. Jesus was raised for our justification, proving that His sacrifice on the cross was acceptable to the Father and sufficient to save sinners. Without the resurrection of Jesus, our faith is futile and we are still in our sins [1 Cor. 15:17].

Beyond that, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is God’s demonstration of power over death that provides the blessed assurance and eternal hope that we too will live in Christ. Jesus makes the most definitive declaration about Himself in John’s gospel.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?

[John 11:25-26]

God has declared a Day when He has promised to redeem all of creation, including our physical bodies [see Romans 8:18-24]. Until that Day, all who believe in Christ receive the promised Holy Spirit as a deposit to guarantee our future resurrection. Jesus is the firstfruits, and all who believe in Him will be raised up on the last day as part of God’s great harvest!

If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

[Romans 8:11]

The Resurrection of the Righteous will Occur on the Last Day

For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

[John 6:40]
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From Job to Daniel to Jesus to Paul, the testimony of the Biblical prophets is in absolute agreement. The resurrection of God’s people takes place at the end of this age on the last day when Jesus returns in power and great glory. The 2nd Coming of Christ is the Day of resurrection [see 1 Cor. 15:21-26]. It is the Day of God’s final gathering of His people. It is the harvest of the righteous to inherit the Kingdom [see Matthew 13:36-43].

The resurrection is the most critical and distinguishable element and identifying marker in Scripture that determines the timing of the return of Christ to earth, the rapture of the church, the recompense for evil, and the restoration of all things. The Bible is clear. The resurrection of the righteous takes place on the last day of this present age.

But each will be resurrected in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.

[1 Corinthians 15:23-24]

Flesh and blood cannot inherit the coming kingdom of God. In other words, it is impossible for anyone to enter God’s kingdom in mortal flesh. No one can dwell in God’s holy presence on earth without first receiving a glorified, immortal body, and no one will receive their resurrected body until Jesus Christ returns to earth as King of kings.

I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 

[1 Corinthians 15:50-52]

It will be at that moment — when we receive our immortal, glorified bodies — that we finally will be conformed to the image of Christ and His likeness forever! Until that Day, we rest in the finished work of Christ upon the cross for us, and we rejoice in the hope of the future glory that will be revealed in us when Jesus returns!

For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God … And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

[Romans 8:19, 23]

Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus! Come!

Types and Shadows — The Passover

Before there comes upon you
the burning anger of the LORD,
before there comes upon you
the day of the anger of the LORD.
Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land,
who do his just commands;
seek righteousness; seek humility;
perhaps you may be hidden
on the day of the anger of the LORD
.

[Zephaniah 2:2-3]

Today at twilight, the 14th of Nissan, Passover begins. Passover arguably is the most sacred of holy convocations among the people of Israel. The feast was established between the God and people of Israel to be observed throughout all generations and forevermore. It is the climatic moment of redemptive history when the Creator and King of the universe supernaturally broke out on the earth and entered the natural realm with awesome displays of power and supreme sovereignty.

The essence of Passover, however, is found not only in the power of God but also in His provision and grace. The heart of Passover is found in the blood of the lamb. Israel was covered (atonement) and redeemed by the blood of the spotless male Lamb — saved from the angel of death who would passover those who trusted God and obeyed His word.

Passover is that moment when the children of Israel were saved by God’s grace, through faith. By believing God’s Message and Messenger, Israel was delivered from the bondage of Pharaoh and from the power of the gods of Egypt. Having been baptized through the Red Sea, Israel emerged as a chosen race, a holy nation, and a people of God’s own possession.

The prophetic typology and spiritual realties of the Passover are immense and I have written a few posts on the subject here if you would like to dig deeper.

PASSOVER AND THE PROPHETIC

Today I would like to focus on the future fulfillment of Passover through the lenses of the end of the age and the age to come. The prophetic patterns of God are unmistakable. What’s been done will be done again. Every type and shadow of redemptive history will recapitulate and culminate in the last days. I do believe the Scriptures portray the glorious return of Christ and the final redemption of the righteous as a greater Second Exodus.

For example, the Scriptures portray a believing remnant God’s people who experience a greater Exodus in the last days, when the greater Moses — Jesus — will return to destroy the greater Pharaoh — Antichrist — and supernaturally deliver His people from the bondage of the Beast and from the angel of death — Abaddon?

Is it possible that the LORD will part the sea again or supernaturally provide for His people in the wilderness with manna from heaven and water from a rock? Is it possible that the LORD will supernaturally protect many of His people through the great tribulation — covering and sheltering them from the judgements that are coming upon the earth — just as Israel was sheltered and protected in the midst of Egypt while the LORD poured out the plagues?

Is it possible that King Jesus will lead His innumerable host from heaven and earth on a triumphant procession from Sinai to Zion?

Not only is it possible, it is Biblical. The Passover provides a prophetic glimpse into the supernatural events that will occur on a global scale at the end of the age before the Great Day of the LORD.

WE ARE SEALED BY THE BLOOD AND SAVED FROM THE DESTROYER

Then from the smoke came locusts on the earth, and they were given power like the power of scorpions of the earth. 4They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any green plant or any tree, but only those people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads … They have as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit. His name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek he is called Apollyon the Destroyer.

[Revelation 9:3-4, 11]
sketches: The Passover

God’s judgments during the great tribulation will parallel the plagues of Egypt, only on a global scale. While many faithful witnesses are destined to suffer persecution, captivity, and even death at the hands of the Beast, there will be a considerable remnant who is supernaturally protected from the Beast and preserved through the plagues of death coming upon the earth.

In the 4th Seal of Revelation, we are told that the angel of Death rides across a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth” [Revelation 6:8]. This is otherwise known as the Destroying Angel — or the Destroyer — the evil entity that leaves a wake of destruction and desolation when unleashed upon mankind.

The Destroyer is the same angel unleashed upon Egypt on the night of the first Passover, and he soon will be unleashed again upon the whole earth. Only those covered by the blood of the Lamb will be spared.

For the LORD will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you.

[Exodus 12:23]

The Destroyer will come up out of the Abyss — or Hades — during the trumpet judgments and lead a supernatural demonic horde to plague the earth and eventually kill 1/3 of mankind [Rev. 9:13-19]. Notice in Revelation 9, however, at the blowing of the 5th & 6th Trumpets, only those who do not have the “seal of God on their foreheads” suffer torment and death from the Destroyer.

Those who are covered by the blood of the Lamb and sealed with the Holy Spirit will be supernaturally protected once again from the plagues and the Destroyer. [see also Ezekiel 9]

A REMNANT WILL BE PROTECTED IN THE WILDERNESS FOR 1260 DAYS

The woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.

[Revelation 12:6]

After the LORD delivered Israel from Egypt through the Passover, He then led her on a wilderness journey in the desert and supernaturally nourished and protected her. Scripture tells us that this epic drama will unfold one again during the great tribulation, and I believe it will be witnessed on a global scale. As the devil launches an all-out assault against God’s people — Jew and Gentile alike — the LORD will intervene in a supernatural way to preserve a faithful remnant.

It is during this final wilderness journey that we can expect to see God reproduce many of the same miracles He worked during the Exodus. Manna from heaven. Water from the rock. Opening the earth. Even parting the sea.

But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time. 15The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood. 16But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth17Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.

[Revelation 12:14-17]

The prophet Ezekiel tells us that there is yet another future wilderness journey that will eclipse even the Exodus from Egypt.

As I live, declares the Lord GOD, surely with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out I will be king over you34I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you are scattered, with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and with wrath poured out. 35And I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will enter into judgment with you face to face36As I entered into judgment with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will enter into judgment with you, declares the Lord GOD.

[Ezekiel 20:33-36]

WE ARE SAVED FROM THE COMING WRATH OF GOD

Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise.
You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy!
For your dew is a dew of light,
and the earth will give birth to the dead.

20Come, my people, enter your chambers,
and shut your doors behind you;
hide yourselves for a little while
until the fury has passed by
.
21For behold, the LORD is coming out from his place
to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity
,
and the earth will disclose the blood shed on it,
and will no more cover its slain.

[Isaiah 26:19-21]
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The Passover Blood resembles the cross of Christ

The death of every firstborn in Egypt at the hand of the Destroyer was severe enough, but God’s decisive display of wrath against Pharaoh ultimately would drown the evil king and his army in the depths of the sea. When Israel emerged on the other side, her deliverance was complete, and the entire assembly shouted in victory and sang songs of deliverance to the LORD!

While God has used water in the past to carry out His judgments, His final return to earth will be in the form of an all-consuming fire. [see 2 Peter 3]

Just as Israel was saved and protected from God’s wrath against Egypt during Passover, so it will be on the Day of the LORD. Not only will believers receive their resurrected, immortal bodies at the end of the age when Christ returns to earth, but also God will direct His wrath exclusively on the ungodly and the wicked inhabitants of the earth.

Even the Bowl judgments in Revelation 16 — which culminate with the return of Jesus to earth — are reserved exclusively for the Beast, his kingdom, and those who have taken the mark of the Beast. The point is that God is quite capable of preserving His people through judgment and protecting us from His wrath while on the earth, just as He did through Passover and the Exodus.

The prophet Zephaniah says that the humble and righteous will be “hidden” from the wrath of the LORD on that great Day [Zephaniah 2:3], and Isaiah uses Passover language about God’s people entering their “chambers” and shutting their doors behind them until His fury has passed by.

But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. 2When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. 3For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you. 4Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you.

[Isaiah 42:1-4]

WE WILL OBSERVE PASSOVER IN THE AGE TO COME

The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt. This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast. 

[Exodus 12:13-14]
United In THE WORD: The MILLENNIAL TEMPLE is a SYMBOL of ...
Artist rendering of Millennial Temple

Every Gentile believer who places faith in the Messiah of Israel — Jesus Christ — immediately is grafted in to Israel and receives a new national identity. We are adopted into the family of the God of Israel, granted citizenship in the Kingdom of Israel, incorporated into of the commonwealth of Israel, and commissioned as servants of the King of Israel.

Israel always has represented the unified people in covenant with the One True God from all nations throughout all time. When a stranger and sojourner came in faith and joined himself to the God and people of Israel, he was recognized and treated as a native born. Many Egyptians joined the company of Israel during the Exodus, and many more Gentiles became participants in the kingdom by faith — Rahab, Ruth etc… — and submitted to the laws and customs of Israel.

All the congregation of Israel shall keep it. 48If a stranger shall sojourn with you and would keep the Passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised. Then he may come near and keep it; he shall be as a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person shall eat of it. 49There shall be one law for the native and for the stranger who sojourns among you.

[Exodus 12:47-49]

Since the Day of Pentecost, untold millions of Gentiles from the “nations” now believe in the God of Israel and His Messiah Jesus, which means that the church did not replace Israel but rather has been grafted into the true Israel of God. Unfortunately, the church has mostly abandoned her religious heritage and forgotten her Hebrew roots.

Furthermore, when Christ returns to establish the Kingdom of Israel on earth, we will most definitely follow the laws of Israel and celebrate the feasts of the LORD that He gave to Israel. We will observe Passover in the Millennial Kingdom of Israel [see Ezekiel 45:21], as the people of Israel, giving glory to the God of Israel, and praising the Lamb who was slain from the Lion of the Tribe of Judah — Israel’s King.

Each of us will belong to one of the 12 tribes of Israel and inherit the land allotted to our tribe. Every year we will called up to Jerusalem to worship during the appointed Feasts of the LORD. We will forever commemorate the Passover in the Kingdom in the same way we observe the Lord’s Supper — in remembrance of the Great God and Redeemer of Israel who is mighty to save to the uttermost.

As the sons and daughters of Israel, we will forever rejoice in the Lamb and observe Passover for all generations.

My question is then, why don’t we faithfully keep it now?

I would strongly encourage every believer in Jesus Christ to discover new ways to keep Passover in this age, especially considering we will be keeping it in the age to come!

Maranatha!

What the Bible Says about Healing

As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

[John 9:1-3]
God's Healing Hands - Saint Edward Parish Family

Is God still in the healing business? Is God still able to work miracles of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual healing? Of course He can. God is omnipotent and limitless in power. It’s not a question of if God heals, but how He heals and to what end. How can we know when we have truly witnessed the hand of God and not just a natural phenomenon?

Unfortunately, the authenticity of the church and the credibility of the gospel has been compromised and corrupted by countless imposters posing as “faith healers,” grossly abusing and perverting this “gift” for their own filthy greed and financial gain. What’s worse, however, is that the faith of untold millions has been destroyed by their heretical exploits. These false teachers will meet a swift destruction on that Day for the damage they have done.

They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! 15Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing.

[2 Peter 2:14-15]

Despite all of this, the Bible clearly recognizes the legitimate work of divine healing. Many of God’s most faithful witnesses and prophets were validated in their message through the demonstration of miraculous signs and wonders. Of course our Lord Jesus came with healing in His hands, showing His authority over creation, reversing the curse, and providing a foretaste of the age to come.

Although supernatural healing is not always God’s immediate or even regular response to our human condition, God is more than capable to heal the sick when He so chooses to do so. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever, which means that God certainly can and does heal the sick today, yet it remains reserved for God to know why He is willing to heal some and not others.

So if God still is in the healing business, then how are we to understand divine healing?

What does the Bible say about healing?

Divine Healing is Immediate

And behold, there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. 12When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” 13And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God. 

[Luke 13:11-13]

Typically when God chooses to supernaturally heal someone, He doesn’t waste any time. It’s not like gradually getting your strength back from a broken bone or slowly beating cancer through rounds of chemo and radiation. Although we are grateful for the gifts of modern medicine and the advancements in technology that have afforded a better quality of life, we must recognize the difference between natural “healing” and supernatural healing.

Whether spiritual, mental, emotional or physical, when God chooses to heal us it is immediate. It is the difference of being out of your mind one minute tormented by a demon, and completely at peace and sane the next minute, sitting at the feet of Jesus. It is being blind from birth, and all at once being able to see after being touched by the hand of God.

Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid36And those who had seen it told them how the demon-possessed man had been healed.

[Luke 8:35-36]

Divine Healing is Irrefutable

As they were going away, behold, a demon-oppressed man who was mute was brought to him. 33And when the demon had been cast out, the mute man spoke. And the crowds marveled, saying, “Never was anything like this seen in Israel.” 

[Matthew 9:32-33]

When God heals the sick, not only is it immediate, but it is irrefutable — indisputable. That’s not to say there won’t always be scoffers and skeptics who already have their minds made up. It’s unlikely you will believing in miracles if you don’t allow God and the supernatural in your worldview.

Yet for the overwhelming majority who witness a true miracle, there is a collective amazement and unwavering recognition of the power of God. When Jesus raised Lazarus and Jairus’s daughter, there was no debate, no room for doubt. When the dead live and the blind see, we have witnessed the divine and transcended the laws of nature.

Divine Healing is Irreversible

He went on from there and entered their synagogue. 10And a man was there with a withered hand … Then Jesus said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And the man stretched it out, and it was restored, healthy like the other

[Matthew 12:9-10, 13]

When Jesus or the Apostles healed the lame or raised the dead, it always was irreversible. Divine healing isn’t temporary or partial. It is permanent. It’s not like getting better for a little while and then suffering a relapse. It’s not like the man with a shriveled hand later saw his hand draw up again.

No! When God heals, He heals completely. We should be very careful to attribute anything less to God. Now on a side note * — I understand that God theoretically could legitimately heal someone of cancer, for example, in a way that defies nature, but then later the cancer could come back or another ailment altogether. The point is that we must raise the standard of validation to what the Bible says and not man.

Divine Healing Validates God’s Messengers

And John, calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them.

[Luke 7:19, 22]

Moses was God’s chosen servant and faithful witness, and to validate his message, God sent Moses to Egypt working amazing signs and wonders. So it was with Elijah and Elisha, and of course with Jesus and the Apostles of the early church.

Because the sign gifts of healing, tongues, and miracles are not God’s ordinary mode of operation, we must understand that the primary purpose of these gifts serve to validate God’s messengers and ultimately promote the good news of God’s salvation.

If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; 38but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.

[John 10:37-38]

Spiritual regeneration and redemption remain to be man’s greatest need. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation to all who believe. Jesus came preaching the good news of the kingdom to the poor and His miracles authenticated His message. The greatest miracle is the salvation of the sinner, so God uses physical healing to stir the heart of man and awaken him to his spiritual need for God.

For it is the healing of the heart mind and soul that matters most for now. Our identity in Christ determines our destiny of everlasting life and seals us spiritually for the day of redemption — when God regenerates the entire universe.

Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? 10But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— 11“I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 12And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

[Mark 2:9-11]

Divine Healing is for the Glory of God

So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”4But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.

[John 11:3-4]

Every supernatural act of healing is for the good of man but more so for the glory of God. Any manifestation of healing that is performed or perceived must be to the praise of Almighty God — the Healer. Anything less attempts to elevate the gift above the Giver or the servant above the Master.

The most important distinction, however, is to understand that God is worthy of all honor and glory and praise whether He chooses to heal or not. God’s worth is not contingent upon what He can do for us but rather upon who He is in His very nature and essence. God is holy and just and true and good. God will forever be glorified whether He is willing to heal or not.

In so choosing to heal, however, God shows mercy to undeserving sinners and has compassion upon whom He will.

Behold, blessed is the one whom God reproves;
therefore despise not the discipline of the Almighty.
18For he wounds, but he binds up;
he shatters, but his hands heal

[Job 5:17-18]

Divine Healing is a Foretaste of Resurrection and the Coming Kingdom

Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to Jesus, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. 23And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” …

Jesus said, “But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

[Matthew 12:22-23,28]

Jesus Christ came waging war on the spiritual forces of darkness and through His death and resurrection, Jesus paid our ransom and has redeemed sinners from the power of death and delivered us from the evil one. Jesus is conquering the kingdom of darkness with every sinner that is saved and brought into God’s kingdom.

Our immediate spiritual salvation, however, is only a partial promise of God’s greater work of redemption. For Jesus will return to establish His kingdom on earth and redeem the created world once and for all, including the glorious resurrection of our physical bodies. Every miracle is a foretaste of that Day when everything is made new and Jesus wipes away every tear from our eyes.

Even Lazarus — once raised — had to die again, yet like all of God’s children, he awaits the final and future resurrection on the last day when Jesus comes again in all His power and great glory [see John 11:24-28]. It is always with this final restoration and recreation in mind that we must keep our hope steadfast in the promises of God.

Our hope is the coming kingdom. Our Blessed Hope is King Jesus Himself who is coming to give life to these mortal bodies and clothe His children in light and immortality.

Perhaps no one conveyed this reality better than Paul.

22For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

[Romans 8:22-23]

God most definitely is our only Hope and Healer, and although He can and still chooses to heal according to His will and purposes, there is only one way to validate a true divine healing. We must know what the Bible says and must always measure miraculous manifestations by what already has been revealed in Scripture. God’s word must be the ultimate authority and standard and anyone claiming true divine healing must pass the test. If not, then I would be very reluctant to attribute that work to God.

True miraculous healing will be immediate, indisputable, and irreversible. Divine healing will validate the messengers of God, point us to the Son of God, authenticate the gospel of God, lead to the glory of God, and serve as a foretaste of the Kingdom of God.

Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

[James 5:14-16]

What the Bible Says about Sabbath

And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

[Mark 2:27-28]

Have you ever wondered why Jews and some Christian groups keep the 7th day of the week — Saturday — as the dedicated day of worship, whereas the church historically has identified Sunday as the day of worship?

Should followers of Yeshua observe the Sabbath today? If not, why and if so, how? After all, Jesus declared Himself Lord over the Sabbath. What does that mean and why does it matter?

All of these questions are not only theologically important but extremely relevant, and the more I study the Bible the more I am beginning to understand the significance of the Sabbath. God has placed special emphasis on one day of the week, so maybe it’s time we discovered why.

After finishing the awesome work of creation in six days, God set apart the 7th day as the Sabbath — or shabbath in Hebrew — שַׁבָּת. Sabbath not only is designed to bless and reorient man back to God, but also I have discovered that it is the original template for all of redemptive history.

Sabbath Day - Calvary Presbyterian Church

Unfortunately, the Biblical precedence and prophetic significance of the Sabbath has been all but lost among the covenant people of God. Both Jew and Gentile alike have failed to keep the Sabbath according to God’s clear command and expectation. It seems that while most Christians are ignorant of God’s purposes for the Sabbath, many Jews superficially keep it in name only. Even 7th-Day Adventists and other Hebrew Roots groups tend to misinterpret and limit the full application of the Sabbath.

Fortunately, Jesus came to straighten us all out, and He has given us the full counsel of His word to do so.

What does the Bible say about Sabbath? You may be surprised to discover that it is much more than meets the eye.

The Sabbath is the Original Pattern of Creation

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.2And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.

[Genesis 2:1-3]

In the beginning, God created the Sabbath. God’s creation of Sabbath from the beginning must not be underestimated. One of the first mistakes we can make is by assuming that the Sabbath was established with Moses on Mt. Sinai when entering into covenant with the children of Israel. Many have misinterpreted Sabbath as exclusively a Jewish holy day, when in reality the Sabbath day was instituted and set apart as holy by God at the very beginning of creation for all of mankind, not just for Israel.

From the moment God said “let there be light” and the dimension of time was born, the LORD created the heavens and the earth in 6 literal, 24-hour days, ordering the days of the week after His own glorious work. After finishing and blessing His work, God then established the seventh and final day of the week to be a day of rest, reflection, relationship, and reorientation. Of course God is never in need of rest, so He established the pattern of the Sabbath for man.

The pattern of the 7-day week has been embedded by God into the very fabric of creation itself. Having created the Sabbath, only God owns the exclusive rights to determine its purpose and function. As we will soon see, the 7-day week goes far beyond establishing natural rhythms in life by revealing spiritual realities and prophetic patterns that teach us more about God and His redemptive plan.

The Sabbath Preceded the Giving of the Law

For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

[Exodus 20:11]

Having been established at the beginning of creation, Sabbath obviously was in place long before the giving of the law on Mt. Sinai. The Bible does not explicitly tell us that Adam, Noah, Abraham, Job and the patriarchs observed the Sabbath prior to Moses, yet as covenant people in relationship with the One True God, their knowledge of the Sabbath was certain. If God blessed the Sabbath as holy from the beginning of creation, then surely the patriarchs would have desired to participate in that blessing.

Either way, the first time the Sabbath is mentioned after the creation account is during the Exodus, when God sends manna from heaven to feed the children of Israel. Notice that God commanded His people to keep the Sabbath prior to giving the law at Sinai.

This is what the LORD has commanded: “Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD; bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over lay aside to be kept till the morning … Eat it today, for today is a Sabbath to the LORD; today you will not find it in the field. 26Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, which is a Sabbath, there will be none.”

[Exodus 16:23, 25-26]

The Sabbath was Written into Law by the very Finger of God

And the LORD gave me the two tablets of stone written with the finger of God, and on them were all the words that the LORD had spoken with you on the mountain out of the midst of the fire on the day of the assembly. 11And at the end of forty days and forty nights the LORD gave me the two tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant.

[Deuteronomy 9:10-11]
Prayers to God the Father - How to Pray to the Father

The LORD’s covenant with Israel on Mt. Sinai represent the climax of the Old Testament. The LORD came down on the mountain in holy fire before the people and met with Moses face to face. The covenant at Sinai was God’s betrothal to His people and the 10 commandments were in effect the marriage vows.

Written in stone by the very finger of God, the 10 commandments embody the essence and the spirit of God’s law for all generations. Jesus eventually would come in the fullness of time, born under the law, not to condemn the law but rather to perfectly fulfill it [Matthew 5:17]. Of course Jesus perfectly observed the Sabbath. He is the One who engraved the law in stone and gave it to Moses to begin with.

As a Gentile follower of the Jewish Messiah and Israel’s King, I have often wondered why Christians emphasize and observe all of the 10 commandments, except one — the 4th commandment to keep the Sabbath holy. So far I have heard and read most of the primary reasons why the church does not keep Sabbath, but honestly I have found them all lacking.

Some say Sabbath is tied only to the land of Israel and exclusively for the people of Israel and therefore is no longer in effect within the Gentile church. The only problem is that as Gentile believers in Christ we have not replaced Israel but rather have been grafted into the commonwealth of Israel. God’s covenant promises — including the New Covenant [see Jeremiah 31 and Ezekiel 36] — have always been for Israel. It is by faith in Jesus Christ that all nations have received the privilege to inherit the covenant promises of God and given the right to participate as citizens in the Kingdom of Israel [see Ephesians 2 & Romans 11].

My point is that even if the Sabbath is tied to the land and people of Israel, then as a Gentile believer in Jesus, I am now included in Israel and will inherit the land. Naturally, God’s covenant blessings include the Sabbath.

I admit, the issue of how believers are to keep the Sabbath is complex with many things to consider, yet the one question I keep coming back to is this. If we affirm the other nine commandments as binding on the life of the believer for all generations, then why do we cast the Sabbath aside, making it obsolete?

I strongly affirm the freedom we have in Christ to worship the Lord each and every day of the week, but keeping the Sabbath is not only about which day of the week is dedicated to worship the LORD. Sabbath primarily is about God’s divine pattern in both creation and redemption — from Genesis to Revelation. Furthermore, I do not find any New Testament command or principle that abolishes or forbids keeping the Sabbath.

The 4th commandment was written in stone by the finger of God Himself, signifying its permanence and place of priority among the covenant people of God — both for Israel and the nations. If Christians affirm the universal and transcendent place of the 10 commandments as a whole, then we must also include and observe God’s commandment to keep the Sabbath holy.

The Sabbath was the Reason for Divine Chastisement

He took into exile in Babylon those who had escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and to his sons until the establishment of the kingdom of Persia, 21to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its Sabbaths. All the days that it lay desolate it kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years.

[2 Chronicles 36:20-21]

The Biblical concept of Sabbath extends far beyond just setting apart the seventh day as holy. The LORD instructed His people also to observe a Sabbath year every seven years. Israel was to leave the ground fallow on the seventh year to give the land rest but also to give the people an opportunity to demonstrate total reliance upon the God of Israel [see Leviticus 25:1-4].

Then after observing seven sets of Sabbath years — or 49 years — Israel was to announce the year of Jubilee, which was a year to celebrate God’s provision and goodness by forgiving all debts, liberating indentured servants, wiping the slate clean, resetting the economy and starting over again like new! Once again, Jubilee directly was connected to the Sabbath and was a prophetic picture of the coming Messianic Age when Christ returns to make all things new.

Unfortunately, Israel failed miserably to observe both Sabbath years and the year of Jubilee, and because of her disobedience, the LORD cast them from the land into exile for 70 years — to give the land its Sabbath rest.

Then if you walk contrary to me and will not listen to me, I will continue striking you, sevenfold for your sins … And I will scatter you among the nations, and I will unsheathe the sword after you, and your land shall be a desolation, and your cities shall be a waste. 34Then the land shall enjoy its Sabbaths as long as it lies desolate, while you are in your enemies’ land; then the land shall rest, and enjoy its Sabbaths. 35As long as it lies desolate it shall have rest, the rest that it did not have on your Sabbaths when you were dwelling in it.

[Leviticus 26:21, 33-35]

The Sabbath is the Prophetic Pattern of Redemption

So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.

[Hebrews 4:9-10]
The 7000 Years

I have written extensively about the 7,000 years of God’s redemptive plan. Using the Biblical principle that one day with the Lord is as 1,000 years and 1,000 years as one day [Psalm 90:4, 2 Peter 3:8], I believe God has provided a literal template for all of redemptive history.

For those who may not be familiar with this concept, consider how the Sabbath is at the heart of God’s prophetic pattern.

  • 6 Days of Creation = 6,000 years of literal history
  • 7th Day Sabbath = Millennial Kingdom of Christ, or 1,000 years
  • Feasts of Weeks (Shavuot) = 7 Sabbaths after the Feast of Unleavened — also the day of Pentecost and the coming of Holy Spirit
  • Sabbath years = Year of rest every seventh year culminating with the year of Jubilee
  • 70 Weeks of Daniel = 70 periods of 7 Years — 490 years — shown to the prophet Daniel to provide a prophetic timeline for Jerusalem and the end of the age
  • Daniel’s 70th Week = Final 7 years of this age culminating with the great tribulation and the Day of the LORD
  • Ultimate Fulfillment of Sabbath = Eternal State of Rest for God’s people

As one can see, the prophetic pattern established by God from the beginning of creation is playing out in real time and leading to the ultimate fulfillment of all of God’s promises when Christ returns on the Day of the LORD to establish His kingdom and bring all of God’s people into their rest!

Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.

[Colossians 2:16-17]

The Sabbath will be Observed in the Millennial Kingdom of Christ

“For as the new heavens and the new earth which I will make shall remain before Me,” says the Lord, “So shall your descendants and your name remain. And it shall come to pass that from one New Moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, all flesh shall come to worship before Me,” says the Lord.

[Isaiah 66:22–23]

The 1,000 year reign of Christ on the earth will be the 7th Day — the ultimate Sabbath day. If that weren’t enough, our participation in the Kingdom of Israel in the age to come will include the observation of all the holy Feasts of the LORD [see Zechariah 14] and also the Sabbath.

So if the LORD established the Sabbath at the very beginning of creation for all generations, wrote in stone with His own finger the commandment for us to keep the Sabbath as holy, tied His prophetic pattern of redemption to the Sabbath cycle, promised to give the ultimate Sabbath day of rest in the age to come, and to perpetuate the keeping of Sabbath into the Millennial kingdom of Christ, then why would God not expect His people to keep the Sabbath today?

Jesus says the Sabbath was made for man — not just the Jews — and as Lord over the Sabbath, Jesus did not come to abolish this sacred day but rather ultimately to fulfill that Sabbath and bless it forever.

For this reason, I am more convinced than ever before that all believers for all time should keep the Sabbath day holy. As a pastor of a Christian congregation that meets on Sundays, I realize this conclusion is not convenient and that I will trust the Holy Spirit to guide me in all truth as I move forward in my spiritual journey.

That we should keep the Sabbath is clear. How we are to keep the Sabbath day is a discussion for another day. I can say with confidence, however, that in keeping Sabbath, God would have His people rest in Him, reflect upon His goodness, connect with Him in deeper relationship, and reorient themselves to His will and His word.

Until next time — Maranatha!

What the Bible Says about Race

And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place.

[Acts 17:26]

Living in America, it is easy to become myopic and view polarizing social issues through biased lenses that only provide a limited perspective. How we view race in America is a good example.

When it comes to racism, Americans often forget that racial prejudice, injustice, and oppression represent age-old sins that have plagued humanity from the very beginning. Truly there is nothing new under the sun, and unfortunately racism is alive and well — not just in America — but all over the world.

The sad stories of racial discrimination and even ethnic cleansing are all too common in many nations today. In many parts of Europe, Africa, India, and the Middle East, for example, millions of people are being marginalized, oppressed, and even killed all in the name of race.

Racism is one of the plagues of humanity that extends far beyond American soil and that traces its roots back to the very beginning of time. The best way we can overcome this sinful condition is first to discover what God says about race, to view reality through God’s eyes, and then to put His word into practice.

So what does the Bible say about race?

There is Only One Race — The Human Race

Linking Art, Culture, Commerce and Through Technology, the ...

The first truth we discover in God’s word is that while obviously there are many diverse ethnic groups and nations in the world, there is only one race — the human race.

We are of the race of Adam — the first man created by God — in the image of God — at the very beginning of creation [Mark 10:6]. As Acts 17:26 says, God “made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth.” Adam is the first man and his wife Eve is the mother of all the living.

Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. 47The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.

[1 Corinthians 15:45-47]

We all are sons of Adam by nature making us species unique. We have human DNA and human blood running through our veins, and despite the variety of skin tones among us, we all bleed red. Every human ever born belongs to the human race, and only humankind retains the exclusive privilege of being the imagers of our Creator God Himself.

Babel — the Birth of The Nations

These are the clans of the sons of Noah, according to their genealogies, in their nations, and from these the nations spread abroad on the earth after the flood.

[Genesis 10:32]
How many countries are in the world? - GeographyPin

After the global flood of Noah’s generation, we discover that the LORD put a stop to the rebellion at Babel and confused the languages of man, resulting in the origin of the nations. By necessity, each unique language group spread out across the earth and settled in its own territory, creating natural divisions among humankind [Genesis 11:1-9].

The Bible says that there were approximately 70 original nations that can trace their lineage back to Babel and from Babel to Noah and from Noah to Adam. The Hebrew word used for nations is goiim and the Greek word used in the New Testament is ethnos — both of which refer to distinct ethnic or people groups who share a common language and culture. Once again, the Bible speaks of many nations but only one human race.

Israel — A Chosen Race

For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.

[Deuteronomy 7:6]

We cannot tell the Biblical story of redemption without mentioning God’s unique covenant and purpose for a small and peculiar people group called Israel. Of all the nations of the earth, God chose to uniquely reveal Himself to one particular ethnic group — the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

God did not choose Israel at the exclusion of the other nations, however, but rather for their ultimate blessing and salvation. For it would be through Israel that God revealed His word, His covenants, His law, and most importantly … His Son Jesus Christ. God’s plan of redemption for the whole is forever connected to Israel because the Savior of the world would be born of Israel.

And behold, the LORD stood above it and said, “I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring.14Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.

[Genesis 28:13-14]

God Shows No Partiality but Only Looks at the Heart

For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe.

[Deuteronomy 10:17]

Although God certainly chooses certain people and groups to serve His purposes, He does not show favoritism nor is He partial to anyone based on who they are, from where they come, or what they look like. Once again, although God chose the nation of Israel to become a blessing to the world, He also has been harder on Israel than any other nation on earth.

One of the great shortcomings of the children of Israel is that they often used their “chosen” status as a license to sin and became proud and arrogant. God’s relationship with Israel historically has been characterized by one divine chastisement after another because Israel elevated their ethnic identity above their practical obedience. In other words, our tribe or race is not what matters to God but rather the condition of our heart, for God does not look at the outward appearance but only the heart.

God desires our love and loyalty above anything else. The good news is that God does not discriminate based on race but has demonstrated His love for the whole world by offering the free gift of eternal life to every people and nation through Jesus Christ. However, neither does God show partiality and play favorites when it comes time to judge us for our sin.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. 25For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality

[Colossians 3:23-25]

The Beautiful Complexion of the Kingdom

And they sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
10and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.”

[Revelation 5:9-10]
Red, Yellow, Black and White…a post by Jim - CrossPoint

Racism is destroyed at the foot of the cross. When we behold the Son of God shedding His precious blood and giving His perfect life for the whole world, then every artificial barrier and superficial standard we create comes crumbling down. The walls of racial hostility cannot stand in God’s kingdom because God has redeemed for Himself a people for His own possession from every tribe and nation and language and people and has created for Himself one new man [Ephesians 2:11-22].

It’s not that our ethnic identities are lost in the coming kingdom of God. Quite the contrary. Distinct nations will persist in God’s kingdom. Jesus will rule and reign from Jerusalem as the King of Israel. All people groups will retain their ethnic identities, however, our ultimate identity will be in Christ, who is making one new people from all the nations of the world.

9But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light10Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

[1 Peter 2:9-10]

The beautiful diversity and complex variety of the nations will become a mosaic of God’s mercy and when all joined together will fully reflect the pure light of Christ and forever display the glory of God. Just as pure white light consists of the endless variety of colors on the spectrum, the diversity of God’s kingdom when all joined together will shine pure like sun in all its splendor.

The only way racism will be defeated is for humankind to find its true identity in the One True God and in His Son Jesus Christ, who came to redeem a people from every nation. This is precisely why Jesus commanded us to love our neighbor, to proclaim the gospel to the ends of creation and to make disciples of all nations! With every single soul that is saved and with every precious person that comes to know the love of Christ, racism dies.

Will you destroy racism with me?

What the Bible Says about Speaking in Tongues

So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. But all things should be done decently and in order.

[1 Corinthians 14:39-40]

The gift of speaking in tongues is among the most controversial in the body of Christ today. Some denominations teach that the “sign” gifts of healing, miracles, and tongues ceased with the death of the Apostles and are no longer in operation within the church today [see cessationism]. Other charismatic Christian camps, however, place special prominence on the gift of tongues as the exclusive sign of Spirit baptism in a believer. Some more extreme charismatic churches would even go as far as teaching that speaking in tongues is a prerequisite sign for salvation.

While I personally have never spoken in tongues, I am of the persuasion that this particular gift — like all gifts of the Holy Spirit [Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12] — can and should still be expressed in the body of Christ today. My biggest concern, however, is not in answering the question of “if” but rather “how” tongues are to be expressed in the context of the local church.

So what does the Bible say about the gift of speaking in tongues?

Speaking in Tongues—Your Powerful Plus — Charisma Magazine

Tongues are Always Intelligible Languages

So with yourselves, if with your tongue you utter speech that is not intelligible, how will anyone know what is said? For you will be speaking into the air. 10There are doubtless many different languages in the world, and none is without meaning, 11but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me.

[1 Corinthians 14:9-11]

Right away it must be clarified that when the Biblical authors used the Greek word for tongues — glóssa γλῶσσα — it always is within the context of a known or intelligible language or dialect. For example, I cannot speak nor understand the Arabic “tongue,” so when my Arabic friends are talking to one another, it is foreign to my ears but not without meaning. Just because I can’t understand it does not mean that it is unintelligible.

In the Apostle Paul’s great commentary on the gift of tongues in 1 Corinthians 14, he makes this exact point. He says that there are many languages in the world but none is “without meaning” [1 Cor. 14:10]. Likewise, when the early church was first filled with and empowered by the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost [Acts 2], they were given the supernatural ability to share the gospel in other languages.

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language7And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language?

[Acts 2:4-9]

So the first Biblical principle we discover about speaking in tongues is that it is not expressed through senseless, unintelligible gibberish or mindless, ecstatic babbling. The gift of tongues is the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit that enables a believer to speak in an otherwise foreign language.

But how would an observer know the difference between mindless gibberish without meaning and an intelligible language with meaning? Fortunately the Bible tells us.

Tongues must be Accompanied by Interpretation

If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret. 28But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God. 

[1 Corinthians 14:27-28]

It is interesting that in many charismatic churches there is almost an unhealthy obsession with the gift of tongues, and yet there is little to no mention about the spiritual gift of interpretation [see 1 Corinthians 12:10-11]. The gift of interpretation is equally as important as speaking in tongues because without interpretation there is no way to truly test and approve the one who is speaking in tongues. In other words, the only way to differentiate between mindless babble and a legitimate foreign language is by way of interpretation.

Paul goes as far as saying that if there is no one present in the church with the proven gift of interpretation, then whoever speaks in tongues must remain silent in the church. Unfortunately, this conditional restriction is almost always avoided in the charismatic church today, which causes me to doubt the legitimacy of the gift as it is being used.

Tongues can be both Private and Public

For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit. 

[1 Corinthians 14:2]

Paul said he was grateful that he spoke in tongues more than anyone [1 Cor. 14:18] and desired that everyone would exercise the gift of tongues [1 Cor. 14:5], yet he also clearly drew a distinction between speaking privately to God in tongues and speaking publicly in the context of corporate worship in the local church.

I have had many brothers and sisters in Christ who have been given what is called a “private prayer language,” and I do not doubt their authenticity. Pauls seems to affirm the personal edification of the private gift of praying in tongues. He says that the one speaks in tongues “builds up himself,” whereas the gift of prophesy builds up the corporate church.

Even such a private prayer language, however, can become unfruitful according to Paul, especially at the exclusion of praying with our minds.

For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful.15What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also. 

[1 Corinthians 14:14-15]

Tongues are a Sign for the Unbeliever, Not the Believer

Spiritual Gifts | Series | Living Hope

Thus tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers, while prophecy is a sign not for unbelievers but for believers. 23If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds?

[1 Corinthians 14:22-23]

Perhaps most surprising to many in the charismatic camp is when they finally discover the Biblical purpose for the gift of tongues. Speaking in tongues is not a sign gift for believers in the church! This one truth flies in the face of much of the modern charismatic movement because the gift of tongues is almost exclusively exercised among believers within the church and without interpretation.

The Bible says that the gift of tongues exclusively is a supernatural sign for unbelievers. In other words, if an unbeliever or outsider hears the gospel in his own native language or hears the interpretation of tongues to his benefit, then he is more likely to acknowledge the legitimacy of the supernatural presence of the Holy Spirit and the power of the gospel.

On the other hand, if an outsider enters a church context that is abusing and mishandling the gift of tongues with ecstatic babbling, he will immediately think that Christians have lost their minds. Ironically, that is precisely what happens when the gift of tongues is misused. Believers are giving their minds over to something else, and by all accounts it is not the Holy Spirit.

As Paul says, “Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue” [1 Cor. 14:19], which leads me to my next point.

Tongues are Inferior to Prophesying the Word of God

Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy … Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up

[1 Corinthians 14:1, 5]

Furthermore, God’s word places emphasis and gives priority to the gift of prophesy over and above the gift of speaking in tongues. Although I couldn’t possibly write exhaustively on what the Bible says about prophesying, I will say that generally speaking the gift of prophesy gives precedence to the role of preaching and teaching God’s revealed word. Although there can be a predictive element to the gift of prophesy, it must never be in violation or contradiction to the revealed word of God contained in the holy Scriptures.

At the end of the day, Paul is saying that no spiritual gift supersedes the proclamation and instruction of the word of God.

Everything must be Done in Order

What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. 

[1 Corinthians 14:26]

Finally, the Apostle Paul reminds us that the corporate gathering of believers is sacred and that everything should be done decently and in order. God is not the author of confusion and chaos but rather of peace and order.

Once again, this is condemning to the modern charismatic movement, especially within churches that promote and encourage the ecstatic and chaotic expression of tongues to run wild during corporate worship. I wonder how Paul would react if he were to see these churches in operation today? Certainly such rampant and unhindered emotionalism cannot be justified Scripturally.

For the record, I am not anti-emotion. Quite the contrary. I am just as turned off by a rigid, emotionless church atmosphere as I am an overly ecstatic one. I believe we can worship the Lord Jesus both in spirit and in truth without compromising one for the other. The main goal, however, for any church must always be to remain uncompromisingly Biblical in both our doctrine and practice.

Only then will God be both pleased with and glorified by His people.

What the Bible Says About Jerusalem

For the LORD has chosen Zion;
he has desired it for his dwelling place:
“This is my resting place forever;
here I will dwell, for I have desired it.

[Psalm 132:13-14]
Heinrich Bunting World Map

There are many great and ancient cities in this world but none more significant than the holy city of Jerusalem. Of all the places on a map, why is Jerusalem special? What makes it unique?

Is it the geography? After all, the ancient Jewish scribes considered Jerusalem to be the center of the world — the very heart of the earth.

The Sages of Israel proclaimed:
The Land of Israel is the center of the world.
Jerusalem is the center of the Land of Israel.

[Midrash Tanhuma — 4th Century A.D.]

Or is it the religious diversity? After all, the three most prominent “monotheistic” religions — Judaism, Christianity, and Islam — all lay claim to Jerusalem as their holy city. Even today the old city of Jerusalem is divided up into four quarters — Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Armenian.

Perhaps it is the history. Jerusalem is one of the oldest cities in the world and bears the visible scars and ancient monuments of nearly 4,000 years of history. Although it has often been obscured by the imperial shadows of greater nations, Jerusalem has stood the test of time and remains today as viable as ever. It is most improbable that Jerusalem even exists today.

Just from a Biblical perspective alone, the historical significance of Jerusalem is astounding. Consider what has transpired on or around Zion — God’s holy hill.

  1. Jerusalem is where Abram met King Melchizedek — Priest of the Most High God — and paid him homage with the spoils of war. [Genesis 14]
  2. Jerusalem is where Abraham willingly offered his beloved son, Isaac, in faith before the LORD intervened and provided a substitute. [Genesis 22]
  3. Jerusalem is the mountain that David captured and claimed for Yahweh as the capital city of Israel and the royal throne of the king of Israel. [2 Samuel 5]
  4. Jerusalem is the site of the threshing floor that David purchased from the Jebusite Ornan to stop the plague sent by the Angel of the LORD. [1 Chronicles 21]
  5. Jerusalem is where Solomon built the Temple of Yahweh. [1 Kings 8]
  6. Jerusalem is where our Lord Jesus Christ was crucified as the perfect sacrifice for sin. [John 19]
  7. Jerusalem is where the Lord Jesus was buried and on the third day was raised from the dead. [John 20]
  8. Jerusalem is where God first poured out His Holy Spirit upon all believers at Pentecost. [Acts 2]

All of these are substantial and worthy of endless contemplation and deeper consideration, yet I believe that there are three more reasons Jerusalem has forever been set apart from all the cities in the world.

#1 — Jerusalem is the Place that God has chosen for Himself Forever

Solomon's Temple - Alchetron, The Free Social Encyclopedia
Rendering or Solomon’s Temple

Since the day that I brought my people out of the land of Egypt, I chose no city out of all the tribes of Israel in which to build a house, that my name might be there, and I chose no man as prince over my people Israel; 6but I have chosen Jerusalem that my name may be there, and I have chosen David to be over my people Israel.

[2 Chronicles 6:5-6]

As the LORD revealed Himself to the patriarchs, kings, and prophets, His testimony about Jerusalem never changed. God has chosen and claimed and sanctified this mountain in Israel as His very own “dwelling place” and “resting place forever” [Psalm 132:13-14].

The LORD commanded King Solomon to build a permanent dwelling place on Mount Zion and upon its dedication to the LORD, He descended in a cloud and filled the Temple with His glory. [see 1 Kings 8:10-11] By attaching Himself and His name to this particular piece of real estate, the Creator of the universe has given Jerusalem eternal significance.

For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that my name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there for all time.

[2 Chronicles 7:16]

#2 — Jerusalem will be Ground Zero for the Final Battle of God bringing an End to this Age

There is one final battle that remains for Jerusalem, and it literally will be the battle for the ages. The Bible says that Jerusalem will be ground zero for that great and final battle on the Day of the LORD when Jesus Christ returns from heaven to wage war against His enemies.

“Behold, I am about to make Jerusalem a cup of staggering to all the surrounding peoples. The siege of Jerusalem will also be against Judah. 3On that day I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples. All who lift it will surely hurt themselves. And all the nations of the earth will gather against it … And on that day I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.

[Zechariah 12:2-3, 9]

This is the very same prophecy that Jesus speaks of in His Olivet discourse.

But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near … They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

[Luke 21:20, 24]

Jesus will return in power and glory to liberate Jerusalem from the evil one and tread down His enemies in wrath, bringing an end to this evil age.

And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.

[Luke 21:27-28]

#3 — Jerusalem Forever will be the City of the Great King — Jesus Christ

What is the City of God, the New Jerusalem?
Jerusalem from the East

Great is the LORD and greatly to be praised

in the city of our God!

His holy mountain, beautiful in elevation,

is the joy of all the earth,

Mount Zion, in the far north,

the city of the great King.

[Psalm 48:1-2]

Once Jesus wins the final battle of God and liberates Jerusalem, He will take His rightful place on the throne of David in Zion and will rule and reign the nations as the King of Israel. The prophetic Scriptures all point to this Day when Messiah will once again choose Jerusalem and be installed as King of kings on His holy mountain.

Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle. 4On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives that lies before Jerusalem on the east … And the LORD will be king over all the earth. On that day the LORD will be one and his name one.

[Zechariah 14:3-4, 9]

Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, for behold, I come and I will dwell in your midst, declares the LORD11And many nations shall join themselves to the LORD in that day, and shall be my people. And I will dwell in your midst, and you shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you. 12And the LORD will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land, and will again choose Jerusalem.

[Zechariah 2:10-12]

He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. 5Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, 6“As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.”

[Psalm 2:4-6]

During the Millennial reign of Christ from Jerusalem, all the nations will pay tribute to the King and worship Him by observing the Feast of Tabernacles.

Then everyone who survives of all the nations that have come against Jerusalem shall go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Booths. 17And if any of the families of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, there will be no rain on them.

[Zechariah 14:16-17]

And in that Day, the heavenly Jerusalem will come down as the eternal city of our God, where we will dwell with Him forever! All who have trusted in Christ and now belong to Him have been granted citizenship in the Kingdom and given access to the Holy City.

As you can see, Jerusalem not only is the center of the earth, but it is the center of the universe and our eternal home because it is where Jesus dwells forever!

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.

[Revelation 21:1-3]

Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus!

What the Bible Says about Tithing

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

[2 Corinthians 9:7]
Is Tithing a Commandment for the New Testament Believer ...

On average, only about 5% of Protestant Christians tithe — or give away at least 10% of their income — yet many churches preach that tithing is the religious obligation and recommended minimum for their members. While tithing has become a culturally accepted rule in traditional Christianity, many pastors grossly misrepresent it, while most Christians sadly misunderstand it.

So what does the Bible say about tithing? Is tithing required for Christians?

Let’s take a closer look at the Scriptures.

Tithing in the Old Testament

The first mention of tithing in Scripture is found in Genesis 14 where Abraham rescues his nephew, Lot, and later gives a tenth from the spoils of war to Melchizedek — King of Salem.

For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, 2and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything … See how great this man was to whom Abraham the patriarch gave a tenth of the spoils!

[Hebrews 7:1-2,4]

This isolated account in Abraham’s life certainly does not establish a precedent for New Testament believers to give a tenth of their income back to God or to the church. The tithe, however, eventually did become part of God’s law for Israel under the Mosaic covenant. What many fail to recognize is that the Biblical concept of the tithe in ancient Israel had nothing to do with giving money and everything to do with the produce from the land.

The law specifically required all Israelites to pay a 10% tax on whatever was produced from the land — whether crops or herds — to support the Levites [see Leviticus 27:30-34, Hebrews 7:5]. As the priestly tribe, the Levites were set apart to perpetually serve the LORD in the tabernacle/Temple on behalf of the rest of the people and were not allowed to own land.

To the Levites I have given every tithe in Israel for an inheritance, in return for their service that they do, their service in the tent of meeting,

[Numbers 18:21]

Without land, the Levites were completely dependent upon the tithes of Israel to supply their food. The tithes both provided food for the Levites and also supplied the offerings for the daily sacrifices. Beyond that, tithes funded the appointed feasts of the LORD and other religious festivals and were used to help feed the poor. Once again, the Biblical concept of tithing was always associated with taxing the produce of the land, not money or currency [see Deuteronomy 14:22-29].

Even the famous passage in Malachi warning the Israelites about “robbing God” is usually preached out of context today. Once again, Malachi’s rebuke exclusively involved the mishandling of the produce of the land, not money.

Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you ask, ‘How do we rob You?’ 

In tithes and offerings. 9You are cursed with a curse, yet you—the whole nation—are still robbing Me. 10Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house. Test Me in this,” says the LORD of Hosts. “See if I will not open the windows of heaven and pour out for you blessing without measure.”

[Malachi 3:8-10]

Obviously, New Testament believers do not live in the context of the ancient Kingdom of Israel, where God’s people were responsible to obey the civil and ceremonial laws of the Old Covenant. While the moral laws embodied within the 10 commandments most definitely still apply to believers today, tithing is not some sacred 11th commandment. The Levitical priesthood and the sacrificial system of Israel completely ceased after the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70 and presently is out of commission, which means that the Biblical purpose for tithing died with it.

So the bottom line is that there is no principal in the Old Testament that requires a follower of Jesus Christ to give 10% of his/her income to God or that obligates a church member to tithe in their local church.

If that is the case, then what does the New Testament say about tithing?

Give Freely

Freely Give | Put Me In Coach | Christian Life Fellowship

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

[2 Corinthians 3:17]

There is no law or precept implied either explicitly or implicitly in the New Testament that tithing is required or even recommended for a follower of Jesus Christ. While Jesus and the Apostles do not impose any legalistic standard of giving in the church, the New Testament does establish valuable principles of giving that appeal to the spirit of the law, which is the law of liberty [James 2:12].

The foundational principle of giving for a Christian is freedom. God’s people should give freely and willingly as led by the Holy Spirit, not under compulsion, which only leads to resentment and guilt. Many Christians give reluctantly out of guilt, having been manipulated and compelled by men, not God.

We become cheerful givers when we are free to give, not bound by some legalistic standard. In other words, it is a joy to give in the name of Christ because we want to, not because we have to. Giving should be a natural response to God out of our love and appreciation for Him — nothing less. This is precisely how the Apostle Paul connects cheerful giving to willful giving. “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” [2 Corinthians 9:7]

Interestingly, this same principle is seen in the freewill offerings in Old Testament as well, which demonstrates that the spirit of God’s law always has been that of freedom. Consider how David and all Israel gave freely to raise money for the building of the Temple of the LORD.

Who then will offer willingly, consecrating himself today to the LORD?” 6Then the leaders of fathers’ houses made their freewill offerings, as did also the leaders of the tribes, the commanders of thousands and of hundreds, and the officers over the king’s work … Then the people rejoiced because they had given willingly, for with a whole heart they had offered freely to the LORD. David the king also rejoiced greatly … But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you.

[1 Chronicles 29:5-6, 9, 14]

Give Generously

Give Generously - Christ's Commission Fellowship

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. 

[2 Corinthians 8:9]

When a believer begins to understand the endless abundance of God’s grace and the eternal worth of spiritual blessings we have received in Christ Jesus, we are transformed from being greedy and selfish to being generous and considerate of the needs of others. God by nature is most generous, as Jesus Christ Himself said, “it is better to give than to receive” [Acts 20:35].

Then Jesus put His words into action and proved His love by giving His very life for our sake.

A true follower of Jesus Christ will live a life of generosity and demonstrate love to others in practical ways. This is especially true for Christians in the West who have been blessed with the material means to bless others. Here in America, for example, even a modest lower or middle-class income would be considered rich to the rest of the world. Paul reminds us what true generosity looks like.

As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share,19thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

[1 Timothy 6:17-19]

Give Faithfully

Living by Faith Just Between Us

For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.

[Romans 14:23]

The final principle of giving in the New Testament is that of faith. There will be times when we are unable to give out of an abundance. Often there will be times when it is difficult to give to others, knowing that our own needs may be at risk. The true test of giving is not passed when it is easy to give but rather when it costs the most.

A mature believer isn’t measured by giving some legalistic percentage of his income. A mature believer understands that everything he has first belongs to God, including his very life. A mature believer knows that he will be faced with extreme tests of faith that will reveal his ultimate trust in God. Without faith, it is impossible to please God.

One of the most difficult things in life to entrust to God is money, and yet we are called to be faithful stewards of everything God has given us. We are called to obey God, even when it hurts. We are forced to answer one simple question.

Can I really trust God to take care of me?

The early New Testament church faced severe hardship and suffered great financial loss for choosing to follow Jesus, and yet their faith was so resolute that they were able to care for one another in extreme poverty.

And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.

[Acts 2:44-45]

The Macedonian believers were persecuted to the point of beggary, yet when an opportunity came up to help their brothers and sisters in need, they begged Paul for the chance to give out of their poverty. What faith!

We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, 2for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. 3For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, 4begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints.

[2 Corinthians 8:1-4]

And of course then there is the famous account of the poor widow, whose faith was commended by the Lord Jesus Himself, reminding us that the test of faith is at the heart of giving.

And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. 43And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. 44For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.

[Mark 12:42-44]

Maybe the reason so few Christians live generous lives and contribute to the work of the kingdom is because we have been looking at this all wrong to begin with.

Before we give our money, we must be willing to give ourselves to God — the Owner of everything.

The only way to break the bondage of legalism is to discover the true joy that comes from our freedom in Christ to give ourselves to Him willingly and generously and faithfully.

Once we have fully opened our hearts to God, we will not hesitate to open our hands to others.

Types and Shadows — The Two Days of Hosea

After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will raise us up,
that we may live before him.

[Hosea 6:2]

The often neglected book of Hosea contains one of the most fascinating prophecies in all of Scripture about the timing of the return of Jesus Christ. As I have studied this passage, I have become ever more convinced that the LORD gave Hosea a prophetic key that plainly unlocks the general timeline between the first and second coming of Messiah.

Jesus commends those who stay awake and who are ready and watching for His return in hopeful expectation. Knowing that we are called to discern the signs of the times and recognize the nearness of the Lord’s return, Hosea’s prophecy becomes that much more interesting.

Let’s take a closer look.

I Will Return Again to My Place

I will return again to my place,
until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face,
and in their distress earnestly seek me.

[Hosea 5:15]

Hosea spent his entire ministry warning Israel of her idolatry and spiritual adultery and at the same time calling her back to God. Israel repeatedly had been unfaithful the LORD by playing the whore with other gods and eventually would suffer exile for her apostasy. It is within this context that Hosea provides a fascinating prophecy.

Notice the LORD — speaking through Hosea — says that He will “return again to His place until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face” [Hosea 5:15]. At this point in redemptive history [8th Century B.C.], the Lord Jesus had not yet come in the flesh, much less had a chance to return to His place.

Yet the LORD tells Israel that He will return again to His place (in heaven) and will not come back to restore the Kingdom until the believing remnant of national/ethnic Israel experiences true repentance and calls in faith upon the name of the Lord. Obviously the LORD can’t return again to heaven unless He first descends from heaven to earth, which is at the heart of the gospel message. The Word became flesh.

If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man … that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

[John 3:12-13,15]

In the fullness of time, the Creator entered His own Creation. God so loved the world that He sent forth His Only Son, born of a woman, to redeem mankind through His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension to the right hand of the Father on high. Jesus echoes Hosea’s language in the gospels.

The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.

[Luke 9:22]

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4And you know the way to where I am going.”

[John 14:1-3]

What Hosea prophesied looking forward to Jesus, we now see by looking back through the cross, resurrection, and ascension of Christ. Jesus came and returned to His place again by ascending to the highest position of authority in the universe.

So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.

[Mark 16:19]

And when he [Jesus] had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight10And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes,11and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.

[Acts 1:9-11]

Since the Lord has already returned to His place by ascending to heaven, we are awaiting the Day when Jesus will rise up and leave His place in heaven to come tread the earth in judgment.

Hear, you peoples, all of you;
pay attention, O earth, and all that is in it,
and let the Lord GOD be a witness against you,
the Lord from his holy temple.
3For behold, the LORD is coming out of his place,
and will come down and tread upon the high places of the earth
.
4And the mountains will melt under him,
and the valleys will split open,
like wax before the fire,
like waters poured down a steep place.
5All this is for the transgression of Jacob
and for the sins of the house of Israel
.
What is the transgression of Jacob?
Is it not Samaria?
And what is the high place of Judah?
Is it not Jerusalem?

[Micah 1:2-5]

After Two Days He Will Raise Us Up

To understand the context of the passage, it is necessary to circle back to Hosea’s prophecy.

Come, let us return to the LORD;
for he has torn us, that he may heal us;
he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.
2After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will raise us up,
that we may live before him
.
3Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD;
his going out is sure as the dawn;
he will come to us as the showers,
as the spring rains that water the earth
.

[Hosea 6:1-3]

Hosea prophesied that after “two days” both the house of Israel and Judah would return to the LORD in repentance and faith during a time of great affliction. God promises to “revive” them after two days and on the “third day” to raise them up so that they may forever live before Him.

As I have already pointed out, this prophecy applies both to the first and second comings of Christ. Remember, after coming the fist time Messiah returned again to his place — which is the Ascension of Christ — and then after two days Messiah will return and resurrect His people.

The Apostle Paul echoes Hosea and connects his prophecy to the first coming of the Lord.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 

[1 Corinthians 15:3-4]

So how are we to understand Hosea’s prophecy concerning the 2nd Coming of the Lord?

First, we must recognize that God has revealed to us the prophetic pattern of redemptive history in the original 7-Day creation week in Genesis 1. Each of the six days of creation coincide with an epoch of 1,000 years of redemptive history, which means that the Biblical and historical timeline of human history falls within a literal 6,000 year period. The 7th Day Sabbath established by God also represents the prophetic Day of the LORD, when Christ returns to rule His kingdom for 1,000 years, which is equivalent to one day of rest. I have written extensively on this topic, so to discover more read the following blog — The Day of the LORD.

I believe the chart below helps provides a helpful visual of how one day with the LORD is like a thousand years, and a thousand years is like one day.

Exposing Post-Trib Deceptions
7 Days of Redemptive History = 7,000 Years

So just to clarify, here is the pattern of the prophetic day as represented by 1,000 years.

  • From Adam to Abraham there were approximately 2,000 years = 2 Days.
  • From Abraham to the First coming of Jesus there were another 2,000 years = 2 Days.
  • From the Ascension of Jesus to His Return to Earth there is another 2,000 years = 2 Days.
  • The Day of the LORD is the final 7th Day of Rest = 1,000 year Millennial Kingdom.

So if I am interpreting Hosea’s prophecy accurately, the Lord Jesus will return 2,000 years — or 2 Days — after His first coming and ascension to heaven. Consequently, that means that if Jesus was crucified, resurrected and ascended to heaven approximately 30-35 A.D. — depending on which scholar you ask — then we should be able to calculate His return to be about 2,000 years later, which means that we could expect Jesus to return somewhere around 2030-2035 A.D.

Notice also that Hosea places the timing of the resurrection of the dead to take place after two days = 2,000 years = from Messiah’s first coming. The Scriptures all agree that the resurrection of the righteous occurs when Jesus Christ returns from heaven to earth in power and great glory to gather His people to Himself. [see Daniel 12:1-3, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17, Matthew 13:36-43, Matthew 24:27-31, John 11:17-27, 1 Corinthians 15:20-28, Revelation 14:14-20]

For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

[John 6:40]

I am fully aware that many may struggle with the possibility of associating any kind of date with the return of Jesus because of the unfortunate doctrine of “imminency,” which teaches that Jesus could return at any moment and that it is impossible to know when His coming will be.

What many people don’t know is that this is not a Biblical concept. Quite to the contrary, Jesus and the prophets consistently challenge believers to discern the signs and be prepared and ready for His coming. Hence Jesus says, “when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates” [Matthew 24:33].

In Their Distress They Will Seek Me

I will return again to my place,
until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face,
and in their distress earnestly seek me.

[Hosea 5:15]

The final compelling component to Hosea’s prophecy is found in his reference to the great tribulation — also known as Jacob’s trouble. Notice the condition Hosea provides for the Lord’s return. The Lord is waiting for the national repentance of both Israel and Judah when they confess their sin of unbelief and acknowledge that Jesus Christ is both Savior and Lord.

The Bible contains dozens of prophecies about a believing remnant of Israel turning to the Lord Jesus Christ after going through the fires of the great tribulation. Hosea just so happens to use the very same word for tribulation that is used throughout the Old Testament to describe the final time of Jacob’s trouble at the end of the age. It is the Hebrew word tsar — צַר — which means narrow, a tight place, adversary, affliction, anguish, close, distress, enemy, flint, foe, sorrow, strait, tribulation, trouble.

Here is just a sampling of passages describing this unprecedented time of distress.

Alas! That day is so great
there is none like it;

it is a time of distress for Jacob;
yet he shall be saved out of it.

[Jeremiah 30:7]

And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. 31The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and dreadful day of the LORD comes32And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the LORD has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the LORD calls.

[Joel 2:30-32]

At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. 2And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

[Daniel 12:1-2]

Jesus also affirms that He will not return until Israel acknowledges her guilt and calls upon the name of the Lord in faith.

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 38See, your house is left to you desolate.39For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”

[Mt. 23:37-39]

The prophet Zechariah and the Apostle Paul add some important finishing touches to this prophecy.

And on that day I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. 10“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.

[Zechariah 12:9-10]

Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written,

“The Deliverer will come from Zion,
he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”;
27“and this will be my covenant with them
when I take away their sins.”

[Romans 11:25-27]

If Hosea’s fascinating “Two-Day” prophecy is correct, then we are fast approaching this unprecedented time of great tribulation that will lead to the end of this present age — or the completion of 6,000 years. If that is true, then the Day of the Lord Jesus Christ is critically close, and His coming Kingdom of 1,000 years is drawing near — even at the very gates!

Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus!