The Grace of God

That Brings Salvation Has Appeared to All Men (Titus 2:11)

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A Race Finished Well

Posted by israeliteindeed on April 21, 2017

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“Thank you, Father, for breaking my heart and making it tender.” ~Bill Robinson

Dear Readers,

I owe an update–and my thanks–to those kind saints who have given us encouraging words and prayed for us. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

On February 27, 2017, my dear husband left this difficult life and entered into eternal peace and rest with Jesus. He was mostly conscious until the end, smiling, telling me he loves me, and testifying that “God’s been so good to me” to every soul who would listen.

It was and is a difficult time for my family, but I can testify that all of God’s Word is true. He has been the Friend who was closer than a brother. He gave us both peace that passes understanding. He eased my husband through the doorway of death–which we all must face–as gently as possible. He surrounded us with saints and friends who brought us meals, visited, prayed, donated toward medical bills, and many other acts of kindness. I am so grateful for each person and pray that the God who sees all will repay them in full.

Not only did God pour out His abundant grace on us, but He poured it through Bill to others. We were all amazed at how many lives were being touched. Strong, hardworking men came and sat by his bedside to be exhorted by him to live for Jesus and love their families. Many left his room weeping, saying they were changed forever. 2 people said their marriages were better because of Bill’s specific input in their lives. A relative told me she learned from watching our marriage how she needed to make some changes in hers. Another estranged relative came from many miles away, saying she was done playing games with God and ready to live for Him. A widowed neighbor who visited him told me, “This is the first time in 3 years I can believe God loves me.” Many testified that his home and room were “full of peace that you can feel.” One pastor testified, “I’ve never met a man more ready to see God face to face.” Nurses wished us well with tears in their eyes, and our precious hospice nurses told us we’d helped them more than they’d helped us. A friend summarized all these things very well by saying it felt like a revival was happening. The faith of many saints was encouraged.

I’m not tooting our horns here; the credit is not to us, but to our great God. His strength is indeed made perfect in weakness, and His treasure is poured out of crumbling clay vessels to a hurting world. Much of what I “knew” about God, I now know better because of what I’ve experienced in this situation. And I trust and believe He will continue to teach me through it.

I could write a thousand paragraphs about the sorrows and joys we experienced in Bill’s final days, but I mainly want to praise my God for all that He’s done. He gave us 25 years of marriage to sanctify and bless us, 3 beautiful children, and now 4 grandchildren. He opened my husband’s spiritual eyes and gave him abundant life, peace and joy in salvation. Through Jesus, Bill overcame satan, the world and his own flesh; forever it is finished, and satan is under his feet! His children got to sit by his side and take in the spiritual legacy their father was leaving them. He was so thankful for the presence of Jesus, and it eclipsed everything else. He never complained, but was a continual stream of love and gratitude. We’re so blessed to have witnessed that, and it is a tremendous comfort to us now.

Below I will share a few pictures of the journey, and finish with the memorial video a friend made. Be blessed in Jesus’ Name, and know that our redemption in Him is full and miraculous. He has gloriously triumphed over that last enemy–death. We who obey Him need not fear it, or any other thing we might face in this life. Our “stuff” will rust, our bodies will perish, the world and its lusts will pass away, but he who does the will of God abides forever (I Jn 2:17).

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Bill loved his mother dearly, and I can honestly say he honored her all his life. She stayed in our home for a few months and was always by her son’s side. While suffering herself, she worked hard to be a support to me, and made us all smile and laugh when we were heavy-hearted. I was glad to spend Resurrection Sunday with her, my first time seeing her since she moved back to another state. She will be staying with me again soon. Will you please pray for her?

00060Courtney is our oldest, and was pregnant with our 3rd grandbaby when she visited her dad in the hospital (she lives in another state). Bill wept when he saw her, and laid his hand on her tummy to bless the baby.  I was privileged to help “catch” little Ember Raine when she made her grand entrance 11 days after Bill’s passing. The Lord gives and takes away; blessed be His Name! She’s a smiley little baby, just like her older brother was.20170316_191231-1

Jaime is our youngest; she was “Dada’s” shadow when she was little. His last words to her were, “You’re so precious to me, so precious.” Just yesterday she was thanking God with me for all He did through her dad. We are grateful her dad was able to walk her down the aisle last year, and she was also newly pregnant here.
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This photo was taken about a week before Bill’s passing. The man at the top left was Bill’s boss, a strong believer who told me that God was working in the lives of many of these men through Bill. This particular day, the men came to honor Bill with an award for technician-of-the-year for 2016. Bill testified to them all of God’s goodness in his life. Several of these men were a constant support throughout the trial, and have promised me any help I might ever need. God bless them.
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This photo was taken in Bill’s last 12 hours of life. He was very weak, and his organs were shutting down, but he was still smiling and being a blessing! Our son Will stayed by his side continually.   All our children have been a tremendous comfort to me since their dad’s passing.
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For those interested, this memorial video contains photos from Bill’s birth to his departure. If only we had pictures of his glorious homecoming, but that will have to wait! Now, we who remain must endure hardship as good soldiers of Jesus Christ, and apply our hearts to the kingdom of God and His righteousness. God bless you!

 

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Freedom, Slavery, and Peace

Posted by israeliteindeed on May 20, 2016

America, Land of the Free

It is well known all over the world that American culture exalts personal freedom. There is value in personal freedom if that freedom is used to do good. We are never to use liberty to indulge the flesh, but rather to serve one another (Gal. 5:13). If we are free in the flesh, our freedom is never to be a cloak for wickedness; we are to be servants of God (I Pet. 2:16). A people ruled by God are expected to use–and not abuse–freedom properly.

Unfortunately in America, “freedom” has indeed become a means to indulge the flesh, and a cloak for wickedness. Certainly I do not indict every person in America, but the nation in general. God causes every individual to reap what he has sown, and God also repays nations according to what they’ve sown collectively–the Old Testament prophets were very clear on this.

Contrary to what many whitewashed history books claim, a trail of wickedness can be followed back to the beginning of this nation.  All is open and naked before the eyes of God, even if patriots wearing rose-colored glasses refuse to see. Rebellion against the king, genocide and oppression of native Americans, and oppression/exploitation of Africans all laid the faulty foundation for a nation which would grow proud of its freedoms and wealth. While the sins of its youth were swept under the proverbial carpet for generations to come, America has never recovered, but has only gotten sicker and sicker as its rotten harvest materialized. Like all other earthly nations–and especially empires, it will be cast down from its lofty position in the delusional notions of man. The works of carnal man are all destined for the fire.

Carnal vs. Spiritual

The Bible teaches us to look beyond the carnal and the natural world, to see the Truth. Its truths, penned by the Holy Spirit of God, cannot be received by carnal man, but only by the spiritual man. It is only the spiritual man who can “judge all things” correctly (I Cor. 2:14-15). God has revealed in Scripture that many of man’s definitions and traditions are not rooted in truth, and this is why we must have our minds renewed (Rom. 12:2), so that we do not judge as the world does. For example, God redefined “family,” teaching that those who do God’s will are His family, not the people biologically related to Jesus (Matt. 12:50). He redefined the word “Jew,” teaching that a person whose heart is circumcised by the Spirit is counted as a Jew (Rom. 2:28-29). And He redefined the traditional perception for “Abraham’s seed,” showing that Jesus and His converted disciples are the true seed of Abraham (Gal. 3:16,29).

In the same manner, His definitions for words like “freedom,” “slavery” and “peace” are quite different than the world’s definitions. It is very important that we also define these words Scripturally as we judge the things of this life.

Sin Brings Slavery

Scripture says everyone who sins is a slave to sin (John 8:34; Rom. 6:16). Regardless of what history books and patriotic songs say, and despite our feelings, here is the truth: This nation has become a nation of slaves who desire “freedom” to continue in sin. Even the churches are turning the grace of Jesus Christ into lasciviousness–or a “license to sin.” And so the “free” are enslaved by their sins, but they do not know it. And God has allowed their chosen slavery to bring forth a harvest of misery. Even the rights they once had as citizens are slipping away. They didn’t want a righteous King–Jesus–to rule over them. They wanted no king but Caesar, and God has given them what they desired–tyrannical kings who also reject righteousness for “freedom” to indulge their own lofty desires.

The movement by the “religious right” to “take America back” is blind. What is it people wish to return to? They want less oppression and control over them, less taxes, an easier life–and, generally, freedom to continue living as they please. They want freedom to escape the harvest that’s been sown over decades. There was little uproar while the seeds were being sown–seeds of materialism, hedonism, “free sex,” widespread nudity, baby-murder, etc. But now that the harvest is bringing death and oppression and taxes and laws we don’t agree with, they want change. Unfortunately most don’t seek the change of our hearts to submission to God, but only change in circumstances so that they can continue as before without consequences. Changing leaders and political parties cannot bring about true freedom to a people who’ve been enslaved by their own lust.

The unbelieving Jews of Jesus day were told that God was going to punish their nation because they would not gather to Jesus. Much like America, they loved their rebels (Barabbas) and they plotted to overthrow their oppressors. They played political games and they raised up new Messiahs for the people to believe in (as explained in the works of Josephus). But judgment was not averted by any of these. And our judgment will not be averted either, unless there is wide-scale repentance (which seems unlikely at this time.)

True Freedom

It is true that we are more oppressed here than ever before, and the laws are getting increasingly evil. Justice is being perverted in many ways.  God sees all, and those responsible for furthering wickedness will be judged.

But sinners are slaves, and they must remain slaves until they repent. It is an unalterable truth.

Spiritual truths have a way of showing up in the material world; God has ordained it so. Our sin which brings spiritual death also brings physical death. All creation labors and groans under a kind of slavery with man, waiting for redemption and the “glorious liberty of the children of God” (Rom. 8:19-22).

This is not a liberty that is bought with violence and treaties and political promises. This is a true liberty that belongs to God’s children by virtue of their adoption in Christ. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. (John 8:36) “Free indeed” is not freedom as the world defines it. It is true freedom, seen and experienced only by the spiritual man. Are you seeking and preaching this true “freedom,” or the carnal freedom that leaves men dying in their sins? Even if a righteous man was elected in this nation, he could not give freedom to its citizens. Freedom is found in the Son of God.

Renew Your Mind

The following precious verses can get the church on the right track if only she will believe God, rather than believing the lies of the world.

For he who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord’s freedman. Likewise he who is called while free is Christ’s slave. (1 Cor. 7:22)

Did you get that? We are not defined by the world. If we have earthly freedom, we are yet slaves to Christ. If we don’t have earthly freedom, we are still free in Christ. Certainly if earthly freedom is possible, we should use it to benefit the kingdom; but not having earthly freedom is no detriment to the gospel. Therefore it shouldn’t be an object of our devotion. Listen to Paul:

Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel, for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained. Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. (2 Tim. 2:8-10)

Are we enduring all things for the elect’s sake, knowing the Word of God is not chained? Paul saw with spiritual eyes that earthly freedom was not the issue. Yet I hear Christians today saying our freedom of religion is based on a man-made constitution, and we need to fight for this constitution. No, friends, our freedom to practice our Christianity was given by God’s command, and we are free to practice it until we die. We are to speak the Word of God openly and faithfully. And if we are locked up and denied our “freedom,” we don’t despair in the slightest because God’s Word is not chained. Everywhere it has been sown, a potential harvest can multiply, and all the devils in hell can’t prevail against it, chains or no chains.

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. (Col. 3:1-4)

Many “Christian” Americans are focused on earthly freedom, just like the world. Here is why: Christ is not truly their life. Where our treasure is, there our heart is also. Where is your treasure? Is it above or below?

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. (Matt. 10:28-31)

Americans have an insane fascination with guns and self-defense. I am not against guns; they can be used righteously. However the root of America’s fascination is FEAR and PRIDE–fear of death, and the pride of life. If you watch news headlines, you know that guns are not the security people wish them to be. Many accidental deaths occur, ironically, in families that bought guns to keep them safe. Totalitarian rule will also descend upon this people with the help of guns and other weapons. And there is no out-gunning such a government, as some foolishly think to do. True security is being in the Father’s will, and being ready at all times to pass from this life to the next.

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them. (Heb. 11:13-16)

Are you a stranger and pilgrim on this earth, still seeking a homeland? Or is this wretched, spiritually lost wilderness called America your homeland? God will give you “an opportunity to return” to being tied to this earth (earthly minded and dead) if you want that. But if you desire the better country–the heavenly country–then God won’t be ashamed to be called your God.

Peace

The world loosely defines peace as being not at war, and living in relative ease. America is supposedly a peaceful nation, but the truth is that it’s been at war 222 of the 239 years of its existence. Many don’t realize that, because they’ve never had to dive into a bomb shelter.

America has been chosen by the earthly powers-that-be to take control of other countries for the coming New World Order. Please do not be deceived by the “God has blessed us” rhetoric. Many a rich, wicked man counted himself blessed by God right up until the day God slew him. And every nation taking up arms to fight reassures itself that God is on its side. Why do those who rightly condemn the lies of prosperity preachers refuse to condemn the lies of nations which use the same logic–“See how God has blessed us?” We may feel a sense of security because the bombs are all dropping elsewhere, out of sight and out of mind. But knowing God will punish the wicked, we should know this is a false security and a false peace. The so-called war on terror is actually a war OF terror; we are foolish if we think we are the only nation not inundated by propaganda cleverly designed to deceive us into state-worship.

Look even deeper into life in America, and it is impossible not to see that Americans have no peace. Suicide, drug abuse (legal and illegal), lust for entertainment, phone/television/video game addiction, alcohol abuse, gender confusion, sexual perversion, child murder and molestation, porn-addiction…really, where is the peace? People are driven from one vice to another in their endless quest for the elusive peace that never comes.

Nations are just groups of people. They fight for their peace, but lasting peace never comes, because there is always some new wrong that has to be righted with violence, and the violence begets more violence.

There is only one nation at peace, and that is the Body of Christ–that holy nation abiding in the Prince of Peace. Our mission is to make disciples of Jesus from all nations, to help people transition from their perishing kingdoms to the everlasting kingdom. This is the best way to make peace.

Apostasy in the Church

The Church is supposed to be a light on a hill, but in many cases the light within churches is dark (Matt. 6:23). This apostate church is still defining words by the world’s dictionary, saying “Peace, peace” when there is no peace. Like Laodicea, she looks at her poor blind self, and declares that she is rich and full of godly insight. She leads other blind men into a ditch. Her pastors are destroyers, working for satan.  They are teaching greed, immorality, and the world’s way of obtaining peace and liberty. They stand the flag beside the pulpit, unwilling to die to the world, and unashamed of their idolatry. They assure others that they can, in fact, serve two masters after all.  They bless and pray for their military members, even as those members disobey the commands of Christ. They regurgitate the tired lie that “these men and women are fighting for our freedom,” and conveniently forget to mention that they are committing suicide in record numbers because they have no peace.

The faithful Church leads people to the peace that only Jesus gives–a peace not at all like the world gives.

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27)

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

Did you notice Jesus paired the absolute certainty of tribulation with the absolute certainty of peace in Him? Are you letting God define your peace, or are you seeking the peace the world gives? There is no peace for the wicked, but there is unlimited peace for the righteous despite their tribulations.

Conclusion

We need our minds renewed by the Word of God, so that we seek after the true freedom and peace that are in Christ, rather than the illusory freedom and peace (slavery) offered by the world. Politicians and party lines cannot not help us.

It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. (Psa. 118:8)

Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. (Psa. 146:3)

In fact, trusting in man is a departure from the Lord (apostasy)! Please note the contrast in these verses:

Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord. For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when good comes, but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land which is not inhabited. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit. (Jer. 17:5-8)

We are most certainly in “a year of drought” spiritually speaking, yet we need not fear if we are trusting the Lord. He has appointed us to go and bear fruit, and has enabled us to do so under the worst earthly conditions–even loss of material things, imprisonment or threat of death. If we really trust in Him, He will see that we are well-watered and filled with peace, free indeed, and raised up with Christ over the limitations of the flesh.

God bless you!

Note: This post is written to American Christians, because I have a burden for this specific people, but it can be applied in other nations as well.

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We Are Sheep

Posted by israeliteindeed on January 15, 2016

I’ve noticed that the word “sheep” is being used as a derogatory term today. An alternate term is “sheeple.” It is applied to people who just go along with whatever they’re told without questioning, whether it be in the context of government, religion, the media, etc. While it is true that too many follow others blindly, it is still true that people–ALL people–are sheep. And to be a sheep is not a bad thing in itself. What’s bad is when sheep follow the wrong voice.

Every one is supposed to live in fellowship with the Great Shepherd of the sheep–the living Word of God who created us(Heb. 13:20). The congregation of the Lord was never intended to be like sheep without a shepherd (Num. 27:17). The beauty of a people dwelling in relationship with the Great Shepherd is expressed in the well-known Psalm 23.

Know that the Lord, He is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture. (Psa. 100:3)

But man has rebelled–

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. (Isa. 53:6)

And to make matters worse, those claiming to be shepherds of God’s people are often their very destroyers–

My people have been lost sheep. Their shepherds have led them astray; they have turned them away on the mountains. They have gone from mountain to hill; they have forgotten their resting place. (Jer. 50:6).

When men rebel against the Shepherd, they fall prey to lies and liars that destroy them–

For the idols speak delusion; the diviners envision lies, and tell false dreams; they comfort in vain. Therefore the people wend their way like sheep; they are in trouble because there is no shepherd. (Zech. 10:2)

Notice they are in trouble not because they are sheep, but because there is no true Shepherd with them (due to their rebellion). Because they did not love Truth (Jesus), they are deceived by satan and on their way to condemnation–

The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thess. 2:9-12)

Such people have become sheep following their own ways, which is ultimately satan’s way. They are lost and need to be saved! God has compassion for people in this predicament–

But when He [Jesus] saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. (Matt. 9:36)

He will punish those who hurt His sheep, and He will gather them Himself–

“Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture!” says the Lord. Therefore thus says the Lord God of Israel against the shepherds who feed My people: “You have scattered My flock, driven them away, and not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for the evil of your doings,” says the Lord. “But I will gather the remnant of My flock out of all countries where I have driven them, and bring them back to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. I will set up shepherds over them who will feed them; and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, nor shall they be lacking,” says the Lord. (Jer. 23:1-4)

Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require My flock at their hand; I will cause them to cease feeding the sheep, and the shepherds shall feed themselves no more; for I will deliver My flock from their mouths, that they may no longer be food for them.” For thus says the Lord God: “Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock on the day he is among his scattered sheep, so will I seek out My sheep and deliver them from all the places where they were scattered on a cloudy and dark day.(Eze. 34:10-12)

God has come to us in the Good Shepherd, Jesus–

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. (John 10:11-14)

Not only that, but Jesus is also the “door” through which the sheep enter the safety and provision of His sheepfold–

Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. (John 10:7-9)

In order to be gathered to Jesus, the Shepherd, we must acknowledge that we are sheep who need His guidance and protection, as well as His redeeming blood sacrifice to atone for our past rebellion. The only way to be saved is to repent of going your own way and become Jesus’ obedient sheep, with Him until the end–

The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. (John 10:11)

For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. (I Pet. 2:25)

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. (John 10:27)

There is no shame in being a sheep! There is only shame in being a lost sheep who refuses to repent and enter the Sheepfold through Jesus. Such a person will continue to stumble about blindly, not knowing where he is going. He will be easy pickings for wolves.

Further, as Christians, our identity in the world is like sheep among wolves–

Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. (Matt. 10:16)

For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. (Rom. 8:36-37)

Sheep do not have talons, sharp teeth, great strength, or any manner of self-defense. Their only defense is their Shepherd. Jesus acknowledged this, and that He sends us out as sheep among powerful enemies who can kill the body but not the soul (Matt. 10:28-29). He reminds us that even the fragile sparrows are known and loved. Their lives and deaths do not go unnoticed, and we are worth much more than they.  Even if we are killed, we are still more than conquerors.

In Jesus’ kingdom, His servants (sheep) don’t fight, because His kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36). His kingdom is advanced with the testimony of truth and the gospel, the demonstration of our love for one another and our enemies, and patience under tribulation. The devil’s kingdom is quite different, always advanced with violence, oppression, theft and lies. We are not to fear, even though we are sheep who appear to have no defenses. The Kingdom of God is given to us by the Father, not won by carnal power over others.

Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (Lk. 12:32)

Ben Franklin said, “If you make yourself sheep, the wolves will eat you.” The statement was seemingly made to justify rebellion when authorities are wrong. Certainly we are to question what we are being taught, seeking out the truth in Scripture, and we are to expose evil. However, I see Christians using this quote to advocate violent self-defense and even rebellion against government over things like taxes and gun laws. If you don’t fight them in the flesh, you deserve to get hurt–so the invalid argument goes.

A careful attention and obedience to Jesus’ teaching will keep us from going down that evil path–the path of the insurrectionist Barabbas, whom many still prefer over Jesus. Many are listening to the “voice of the stranger” (Ben Franklin, for instance) rather than the voice of the Shepherd. This, they hope, will keep them from being devoured as defenseless sheep. They are, in fact, still sheep being led astray by that stranger’s voice. They have left the protection of the Sheepfold and are wandering from mountain to hill with no resting place (Jer. 50:6), stirring up others to join them in their lack of peace.  They speak as the world and the world hears them. (I John 4:5).

Our Shepherd has already overcome this world. The peace He gives is not like the world gives.

It remains even as civilizations are shaken, and authorities oppose each other and establishments crumble.

It is there the day you realize the authorities of earth are working for Lucifer, and the Holy Spirit whispers in your ear “Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.”

It is there in the prison cell, and there when friends and family desert you.

It is there when the money dries up, and the body breaks down, and the dream fades away.

It is there when the world hates you, and the eternal God whispers to you, “I am your exceeding great reward” (Gen. 15:1).

It is there when your child is slain before you by militants, and there when you feel the cold steel on your neck.

It upholds us for the entire length of the journey, even through the valley of the shadow of death.

Surely goodness and mercy will follow God’s children even on dark days, and we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Trust in Jesus, friends. We are the sheep of His pasture.

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God Helps the Seed of Abraham

Posted by israeliteindeed on September 13, 2014

An Examination of Heb. 2:10-18

For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one. (2:10-11)

There is a unity between the sanctifier, who was perfected through suffering, and those who are being sanctified; they are one. He has redeemed them from their sins with His blood. He washes them with the water of the Word and presents them clean to God. He supplies the branches of His Vine with His own nourishment, that both He and they may be a plant that brings forth fruit unto God.

for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying: “I will declare Your name to My brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You.” And again: “I will put My trust in Him.” And again:“Here am I and the children whom God has given Me.” (2:11-13)

They are His brethren because they do what the Father says (Matt. 12:50). He is not ashamed to be called their elder brother, since they are being sanctified in Him. His brethren are “the assembly” or “the congregation” in Old Testament language, and “the Church” in New Testament language. The Lord has given to His Messiah children (Isa. 8:18). These are children of God, born again (fathered) by God’s Spirit. They are children of Abraham because they belong to the Seed of Abraham, who is Jesus. (Gal. 3:16; 29)

Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. (2:14-15)

The brethren of Jesus, the children of God and of Abraham, have a perfect High Priest who has chosen to share in flesh and blood, so that when He conquered death, He could deliver them from the fear of death also. He continues forever in an unchangeable priesthood; He is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them (Heb. 7:24-25).

For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham. Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.

“Seed of Abraham” is here used interchangeably with “His [Jesus’] brethren.” Jesus’ brethren are only those who do the Father’s will (Matt. 12:50). Neither term, then, refers to the natural Jew, but only to the spiritual Jew (Rom. 2:28-29). Jesus is the Sanctifier, His brethren are those being sanctified, and they are one Body. They are the “Seed of Abraham.” The Seed of Abraham does include natural Jews who have the faith of Abraham, but it does not include natural Jews who do not have the faith of Abraham. The Seed of Abraham includes natural gentiles who have the faith of Abraham, but it does not include gentiles in whom is no faith. All who have faith are grafted into the same Body. They become the Seed of Abraham, in Christ, and recipients of God’s supernatural aid.

Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ. (Gal. 3:16)

And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Gal. 3:29)

The promises are inherited by faith, not by “the law”–that law by which men called themselves Jews, whether judging by genealogy, national boundary, or particular works peculiar to them–like circumcision of the flesh or preparing a proper sacrifice.

Scripture contends that the promise to Abraham was, from the beginning, a promise that would be inherited by faith. If there were another way to inherit the promise–by Jewish law–the criteria of faith would be made of no effect. But God has not allowed this; the criteria of faith stands. The promises are sure to “all the seed” including those outside “the law” (those outwardly unrecognized as Jews). Thus Abraham became “a father of many nations” and an “heir of the world” as promised.

For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect, because the law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression. Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations.”) (Rom. 4:13-16)

And so returning to our original text from Heb. 2, God gives aid to the seed of Abraham. And the seed of Abraham consists of those who put their obedient trust in Christ, whether they are Jews or Gentiles. These are His brethren, and they are priests serving their High Priest faithfully in His House.

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Dispensational Zionism Proof Texts Examined, Part 2: Ezekiel 37:1-14

Posted by israeliteindeed on September 7, 2014

Introduction

Many people believe that Ezekiel 37 has been fulfilled by the creation of the Israeli state. This includes the Prime Minister of Israel himself, who claimed the following in a speech:

Armed with the Jewish spirit, the justice of man, and the vision of the prophets, we sprouted new branches and grew deep roots. Dry bones became covered with flesh, a spirit filled them, and they lived and stood on their own feet, as Ezekiel prophesied:

“Then He said to me, ‘Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, ‘Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!’ Therefore prophesy and say to them, thus says the Lord God, ‘Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves and bring you into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves.”

Well, that certainly is an astounding claim, but let’s examine the Scriptures to see if these things be so!

Read Ezek. 37:1-14 here.

God defined the dry bones as the “whole house of Israel.” Ezekiel gave this prophecy (while in exile himself) after the capture of Jerusalem (33:21), at a time when Israel and Judah were overthrown by enemy nations. We can understand, then, why Israel was pictured as a valley of hopeless dry bones. How could they ever rise to life after such thorough judgment had befallen them? When asked by the Lord if these bones could live again, Ezekiel could only reply, “Oh, Lord God, you know.”

Notice that God did not give, as an antidote for Israel’s problem, a military plan by which to overthrow the oppressing countries. Instead He told Ezekiel to prophesy the Word of the Lord to the bones (4). Israel’s calling was spiritual, its problem was spiritual, and its remedy must also be spiritual. The only hope of life is the Word of the Lord–received, believed and obeyed. Israel had become a valley of dry bones through disobedience. Thus thoroughly humbled, some (a remnant) would respond to the Word of the Lord, and again “rise from the dead.” For are we not all dead in sins while in a state of disobedience, yet alive again when we receive with meekness the implanted Word which is able to save us?

God said He would put His very Spirit in those who would arise from their graves. Remember that God’s Spirit is not given indiscriminately to everyone, but to those who obey Him (Acts 5:32)! The “exceedingly great army” that would arise in obedience to the Word and Spirit of the Lord, was not a military army. It was a spiritual army made up of people who had returned to the Lord in obedience after being humbled by judgment.

Obedience Necessary for Blessing, No Exceptions

Deut. 30:1-10 contains the requirements Israel would have to meet after falling under God’s judgment, if they wanted to be restored to a blessed state again–

Now it shall come to pass, when all these things (the curses of the covenant) come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the Lord your God drives you, and you return to the Lord your God and obey His voice, according to all that I command you today, you and your children, with all your heart and with all your soul, that the Lord your God will bring you back from captivity, and have compassion on you, and gather you again from all the nations where the Lord your God has scattered you. If any of you are driven out to the farthest parts under heaven, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you. Then the Lord your God will bring you to the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it. He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers. And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live. Also the Lord your God will put all these curses on your enemies and on those who hate you, who persecuted you. And you will again obey the voice of the Lord and do all His commandments which I command you today…For the Lord will again rejoice over you for good as He rejoiced over your fathers, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this Book of the Law, and if you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

It is very clear that any blessing after judgment could only follow renewed obedience to the voice of the Lord. Lipservice wouldn’t do; they would have to keep God’s commands out of circumcised hearts that had sincere love for Him.

So, is Ezekiel’s prophecy of Israel’s resurrection still yet to be fulfilled, or has it already been fulfilled by events in history? There is a very clear fulfillment of this prophecy in earthly Israel’s history not too long after it was given. There is also a greater fulfillment in the spiritual Israel, which I will discuss later.

Earthly Fulfillment of Ezekiel’s Dry Bones Prophecy

In Daniel 9:2, Daniel understood from reading Jeremiah (25:1-12) that there would be 70 years of judgment, and then the repentance and restoration of Israel would occur. This is the very restoration promised in Ezekiel’s vision of dry bones coming alive again. Remembering that Ezekiel’s prophecy was written between 593-565 BC, let’s look at the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, which record the rebuilding of the nation after that time.

Ezra

The first group of exiles to return to Jerusalem came under Zerubbabel’s leadership between 538-520 BC. Ezra 1 records the stirring up of Cyrus King of Persia by the Lord, who issued a proclamation that any of the exiles who wished to return to Jerusalem were free to go! The time of judgment (70 years) had been fulfilled, and what had seemed impossible for many years (the bones were dry) was suddenly possible (God resurrected the humbled remnant). Ezra 1-6 records the rebuilding and re-dedication of the temple over a period of years, under the protection of kings Cyrus and Darius. Once the temple was completed, “the children of Israel who had returned from the captivity ate together with all who had separated themselves from the filth of the nations of the land in order to seek the Lord God of Israel.” (Ezra 6:21)

Beginning in Ezra 7, we see that Ezra is a very godly man who had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel (7:10). Persian king Artaxerxes allowed Ezra to take a second group of exiles back to Jerusalem, and even gave money to the God of Israel! He gave Ezra authority to set up leaders and judges who “know the laws of your God; and teach those who do not know them.” (7:25) Having testified to the king that “The hand of our God is upon all those for good who seek Him, but His power and His wrath are against all those who forsake Him” (8:22), Ezra did not request a military escort, but had the people humble themselves and fast, asking for God’s protection. They arrived safely in Jerusalem, not due to military superiority, but because “the hand of our God was upon us.” (8:31)

When it was revealed to Ezra that some of the people were marrying unbelievers, he tore his clothes, fasted, and prayed with great humility. He acknowledged that Israel had been justly punished, yet God extended mercy to us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to revive us (9:9–the same revival Ezekiel prophesied in his dry bones vision). Then he cries, “O our God, what shall we say after this [new sin]?” (9:10) Look at his humble confession:

And after all that has come upon us for our evil deeds and for our great guilt, since You our God have punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and have given us such deliverance as this, should we again break Your commandments, and join in marriage with the people committing these abominations? Would You not be angry with us until You had consumed us, so that there would be no remnant or survivor? O Lord God of Israel, You are righteous, for we are left as a remnant, as it is this day. Here we are before You, in our guilt, though no one can stand before You because of this!” (9:13-15)

Ezra acknowledged that if they broke God’s commands again after their revival, God would be likely to be so angry as to consume them for good! While he knew the prophesies of restoration, he obviously believed the promises were conditioned on obedience. The people were apparently stricken with conviction, for they came confessing their sins. They then made a law that whoever would not come and listen to Ezra, that person’s property would be confiscated and he would be cut off from the assembly (10:7-8). Apparently, they didn’t view the land as unconditionally theirs based on genetics! Instead there was an emphasis on spiritual fidelity to God. An investigation was then carried out in an effort to bring the people into conformity to God’s law.

Nehemiah

The third group of exiles to return was led by Nehemiah, and this is recorded in the book by that name.

Nehemiah’s prayer of repentance on behalf of himself and the nation is found in Neh. 1. It includes confession of sin and a humble plea that God would do for those “who desire to fear your Name” as He promised in Deut. 30. There was no assumption on Nehemiah’s part that God would bless anyone who was unrepentant.

Both my father’s house and I have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against You, and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses. Remember, I pray, the word that You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations; but if you return to Me, and keep My commandments and do them, though some of you were cast out to the farthest part of the heavens, yet I will gather them from there, and bring them to the place which I have chosen as a dwelling for My name.’ Now these are Your servants and Your people, whom You have redeemed by Your great power, and by Your strong hand. O Lord, I pray, please let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant, and to the prayer of Your servants who desire to fear Your name; and let Your servant prosper this day, I pray, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. For I was the king’s cupbearer.

Under exile, Nehemiah had become the servant of Persian King Artaxerxes. He apparently had served him respectfully, in the fear of God, for Artaxerxes seemed to genuinely care for him when he was downcast about the condition of Jerusalem. God gave Nehemiah favor with the king, who not only allowed him to return to Jerusalem, but also gave him letters which protected him on his journey. As with the first two groups who returned to Jerusalem, the restoration was not brought about by rebellion and warfare, but God supernaturally resurrected the humble remnant, directing the hearts of kings to let them go and even help them.

When threatened by neighboring peoples while rebuilding Jerusalem’s walls, Nehemiah resorted to prayer (4:4). He armed his men but reminded them, “Our God will fight for us.” (4:20) When Nehemiah discovered that some of the Jews were taking advantage of their poor brethren, he rebuked them and commanded them to fear God and do what was right. He even said if they didn’t repent, “may God shake out each man from his house, and from his property, who does not perform this promise.” (5:6-13) Obviously, Nehemiah (like Ezra) did not hold to an unconditional land promise. Once the returned remnant was again living in Israel’s cities (7:73), the Book of the Law was read by Ezra the priest, and “the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law.” (8:3) After hearing the Word of the Lord, they agreed with it, and humbly bowed their faces to the ground, worshiping the Lord (8:6). Neh. 9 finds the people assembled with fasting in sackcloth, confessing their sins and the sins their people had committed over a period of many years. They confessed that God had justly judged them for their wickedness (9:33), and offered themselves as God’s servants once again (9:36). Again in Neh. 13, the people repent and obey God when challenged by Scripture.

Can you see that Ezekiel’s prophecy of dry bones coming to life again was fulfilled?! The remnant heard the Word of the Lord and were obedient. They returned to Israel “not by might, nor by power but by my Spirit.” There, the Lord would soon bring forth His Servant Jesus in Bethlehem of Judea, who would save His people from their sins.

Spiritual Fulfillment of Ezekiel’s Dry Bones Prophecy

First, I contend that the earthly fulfillment of the prophecy was, in fact, also spiritual–because the remnant had to get right with God spiritually in order to be “resurrected” in the days of Nehemiah and Ezra. But as the days of Nehemiah and Ezra brought a repentant spiritual people to an earthly Jerusalem, that fulfillment stands in contrast to the return of a repentant, spiritual people to the heavenly Jerusalem. This is a spiritual reality which the earlier fulfillment foreshadowed.

Consider the days recorded in the four gospels and Acts. John the Baptist came preaching the Word of the Lord in Israel (prophesying to dry bones) when a relapse into sin and apostasy had once again enslaved the people under Roman occupation. Did he preach about how God gave the land to Abraham and therefore the Romans had better take their hands off the apple of God’s eye?–On the contrary, he preached that the Jews needed to Repent, for the kingdom of heaven was at hand! (Matt. 3:2) He did not allow anyone to rest in earthly heritage (Matt. 3:8-12). He did not teach the supremacy of the Jews or an unconditional land promise. In fact, he said nothing at all about land or rebellion against occupation, but exhorted people to press into the spiritual kingdom.  The gospel of the spiritual kingdom was preached to the Jew first, and many “dry bones” came together in response to the Word of the Lord. The Spirit of God filled these resurrected people through the breath of God (Jn. 20:22; Acts 2), and empowered them to be the army of the Lord–a spiritual army which the very gates of hell could never overcome.

Though the earlier prophets did see and describe the glory of the coming spiritual kingdom, the time of John the Baptist marks a transition from their looking forward to the kingdom, to “the kingdom is at hand.”  From this time forward, Scripture places all importance on the heavenly kingdom preached by John, Jesus, Paul and the others, and pays almost no attention to earthly kingdoms (except to assure us that they will come to an end). For the law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it (Lk. 16:16). This heavenly kingdom, even now being populated, is a fuller fulfillment of all the Old Testament prophecies of a glorious restored Kingdom. Peter pointed to this spiritual Kingdom being the fulfillment of the prophecies, saying “all the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days.” (Acts 3:24) Its final and most glorious fulfillment will occur when Jesus returns for His complete international Bride and destroys the wicked in the same day (Lk. 17:29-30 is very clear that these two events happen on the same day.)

Jesus put an end to earthly sacrifices (and the Old Covenant) by the sacrifice of Himself (Dan. 9:27; Heb. 9:26), and was resurrected to His eternal throne, where He sat down, having finished the work of redemption. His kingdom is not of this world, and His servants don’t fight for earthly land, but instead are busy seeking the Kingdom of God (remember the earliest Jewish believers were known for giving up their possessions and lands to help the poor–Acts 2:45; 4:34-35. This stands in sharp contrast to the buying/stealing/occupying of land that is happening today in the Middle East.) Once it appeared that the Jews of that generation had been reached, some of the Jewish converts turned their attention to bringing Gentiles into the kingdom. Gentile converts were grafted into the same olive tree to which believing Jews belonged, thus putting an end to division between Jew and Gentile forever. This Mount Zion to which all believers come, is supernaturally protected. The repentant “exiles” of the whole earth come to her, and God Himself sees to it that all who desire to, arrive in their beloved city–the Jerusalem Above (Gal. 4:26; Heb. 12:22).

Now, God’s people no longer worship Him on the mountains of Samaria or in earthly Jerusalem, but in spirit and truth wherever they are on the earth (Jn. 4:19-24). Regardless of national borders or races, all who enter Christ by faith are counted as the seed of Abraham (Rom. 4:16, 9:8; Gal. 3:7-9). These inherit all the promises–for all the promises of God ***in Christ*** are Yes, and in Him Amen (2 Cor. 1:20).

Why the Modern State of Israel Has Not Fulfilled Ezekiel’s Prophecy

Was the founding of the modern Israeli state a fulfillment of Ezekiel’s prophecy, as Netanyahu and Christian Zionists claim?–No, for it does not meet any of the qualifications.

Was the state founded upon obedience to God, who sent His Son Jesus to die once for all men, and now commands all men everywhere to repent and believe on Him?–No.

Is the state the home of people who have circumcised hearts that love the Lord and keep His commands?–Again, No.

Are its citizens all Spirit-filled, and do they obey and promote the Word of the Lord?–Sadly, no.

While we can certainly sympathize with the desire of any people to have a safe place to live after the horrors of the holocaust, the events of 1948 have nothing to do with Ezekiel’s prophecy. It was simply the founding of another secular state by force. Yes, it was created in the place where ancient Israel once dwelt, but anyone who is honest must admit that it identifies more with the rebellious Israel than the repentant Israel. As we saw in our study of Nehemiah and Ezra, disobedience to God disqualified one from possessing the land even under the Old Covenant, regardless of ethnicity.

Furthermore, the even more glorious restoration of God’s Kingdom has already come through Jesus Christ, as the apostles believed and taught. God’s Kingdom, the Kingdom of Heaven, fulfills the restored Israel of God. This olive tree has had all unbelieving branches removed, and it has admitted believing branches from all over the world. The raising of Israel’s temple began with the resurrection of Jesus; it is still being rebuilt, as the lives of individually saved/resurrected believers become stones in the temple walls. Israel’s King can never be dethroned, Israel’s High Priest is a Priest forever (Heb. 5:6), and the veil which was rent cannot be un-rent. What place in this mystery, then, is found for an earthly Israel still ruled by ungodly people who may or may not return to animal sacrifices one day? If they did so, it would be a massive insult to Jesus Christ. The only appropriate place for such is the lake of fire. I can only agree with Paul, who wrote that this earthly nation will not inherit the promises (Gal. 4:29-30), no matter what they might be able to accomplish in their flesh. However, any Israeli can enter the kingdom of God through the only door, Jesus, by faith. 

It is imperative that we learn to recognize and discern the Lord’s Body/Assembly/Israel, and have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. The Lord’s Body is not a state. The Lord’s Body is a unified people who obey the Lord. These are the chosen people–people who abide in the Chosen One. Lots of politicians quote snatches of Scripture to legitimize their worldly ambitions; do not be deceived. We are repeatedly told by false teachers today to “watch (earthly) Israel,” but the Kingdom of God does not come with observation; in this lifetime, it is within us (Lk. 17:20-21). These false teachers seem to be under the same darkness and confusion as the deceived Jews who fought for their homeland in the Jewish/Roman wars. The Christians of those days, believing Jesus and the apostles, simply left their homeland and took the gospel with them, knowing their inheritance was spiritual and was “reserved in heaven” for them (I Pet. 1:4).

Isn’t it time to begin interpreting the Old Testament prophecies in the light of the New Testament, and how its inspired writers interpreted them?

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In the Service of the Beast, Part 1

Posted by israeliteindeed on August 24, 2014

Introduction

I realize there are many ways that Christians interpret the book of Revelation. I don’t profess to be an expert in all matters of prophecy, nor do I think that understanding all mysteries is more desirable than being a Christian who truly loves. Nevertheless, in the light of what I see happening in the Church today, one theme has been coming back to me–and that is–the beast. The very beast which is mentioned in Revelation. I have decided to write about this beast today, with some trembling. I pray the Lord will help me to keep my words true, and that I won’t overreach into matters which are too difficult for me. I will strive to only speak the things which I believe the Lord is showing me, without being dogmatic about things I can’t fully see. Those of you who have learned to interpret Revelation through the lens of dispensationalism or some other “ism” may disagree with what I write. But I pray that anything from the Spirit will leave its impression on your heart, and God will help you–and me–to both know Him and walk in Him. This is what matters most.

You can read Rev. 13:1-10 here.

The Power of the Dragon/Devil in the World

There are 2 beasts mentioned in Rev. 13, but we will focus on the first beast in this writing. The first beast is given power, a throne, and authority by the dragon (13:2). Rev. 12:9 is clear that this dragon is the devil and satan, the very one who took 1/3 of heaven’s angels to earth with him in that first rebellion, and later attempted to destroy the holy Seed of Abraham (Jesus) as soon as He was born (12:4). So the first beast has power, a throne and authority that comes directly from satan.

Let us recall that when Jesus was tempted in the wilderness by satan, He was offered these very things–power, a throne and authority.

Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’” (Matt. 4:8-10)

Satan offered Jesus “all these things” or “all the kingdoms of the world and their glory” if only He would worship satan/the dragon. The offering was “the kingdoms of the world and their glory.” The price was worship or service to the dragon/devil.

Jesus had come into the world to be a King who would bear witness to the Truth, and those who heard/obeyed His voice would become the born again subjects of His heavenly kingdom (Jn. 18:37). This kingdom was “not of this world” and would not be defended by servants who would carnally fight (Jn. 18:36). Since the kingdom was “not from here” according to Jesus, there was no reason to fight the kingdoms of the world for it–for none of them could hinder its advance. The kingdoms of the world were all perishing in their lusts and violence and self-glorification, one over the other. Their glories–the glories of man–were all steadily coming to nothing. King Jesus had not come to advance their material and proud causes, but to translate people into His kingdom–a kingdom in which men would no longer behave “like the Gentiles” seeking to rule over one another, but instead would voluntarily stoop to wash one another’s feet.

Jesus was to come into His kingdom as the King of all kings, and the One who would forever sit on Mt. Zion judging the nations. But the Father had chosen that the path to His eternal throne would be a path marked by tribulation, rejection, and suffering. Satan tempted Him to circumvent the lowly way of the cross and get earthly power directly from him. “Just serve me [satan], and I will give you the earthly kingdoms and their glory.” Satan could not offer Jesus the “kingdom not of this world” but only “the kingdoms of the world.”

Some think satan could not have given to Jesus any power over earthly kingdoms, but I disagree. Satan is called the god of this age (2 Cor. 4:4) and a prince of the power of the air who works in those who disobey God (Eph. 2:2). As the dragon who gives power to the beast in Rev. 13:2, he is the source of the beast’s power over “all the world.” (Rev. 13:3)

The beast who receives his power over and in the world is energized and empowered by satan. And as there are many antichrists in the world (I Jn. 2:18), I believe there are likewise many members of this beast who rules by satan’s power. I believe the kingdoms of this world are, in fact, “the beast.” And those rulers who yield themselves to be used by satan are part of this beast. As satan has taught through his evolution lie, the world system operates by a “survival of the fittest” (or most brutal) mode. Over time, true earthly power has been consolidated in the hands of a comparative few, which is what satan wants. The more power he can get in the hands of a few wicked men, the more he can overrule and attempt to destroy the witness of the righteous.

Throughout history, Christians have tried to figure out who the beast is or will be. The early Christians certainly looked at the nations who were putting them to death as a manifestation of the beast. Reformation Christians looked to Papal Rome as the beast, and with good reason.

Today many American (professing) believers look to Islamic countries, the EU, or something else, as the beast. Rarely do they look to their own nations, especially “democratic” nations, because they are blinded by a lethal mix of patriotism and apostate religion which has skewed their thinking. Largely educated and sedated by their television sets, they swallow enormous amounts of propaganda with the rest of the citizenry. Because of the doctrines of Scofield and others, the watchmen in their churches have become dumb dogs who cannot bark out a warning about the Christian’s duty to be separate from the machinations of favored nations, including the USA, which they believe is blessed by God so long as it sends more killing aparatus to Israel. Could the USA and Israel be part of the beast which is empowered by satan? It is a difficult pill for western believers to swallow. Ex-military believers are especially loathe to consider this, for they would have to examine their “service” in a whole new light, a light which would require brutal honesty and humble repentance. But I submit that if we (the church) had been taking Jesus’ teachings seriously up til now, we would not be in such a state of confusion. If we hadn’t brushed aside the commands to love our enemies and overcome evil with good, then “just war,” and our involvement in such an illusion, would have been unthinkable. The deception has come about because Truth was first despised and abandoned.

I think the predominate view of American Christians about the beast is narrow and self-serving, and lends itself to an “us against them” earthly Crusadism fueled by self-righteous patriotism (“my nation is better than others”). The reality is all nations are sinful and anti-God. The true battle is between the Kingdom of God and the kingdoms of men (satan’s beast) which are doing their best to extinguish it (thankfully they will fail). Is the USA a Christian nation? We know that it is not, though up til now many have contented themselves with blaming “the left” and imagining “the right” is still right. It is all a sham, dear friends. From the beginning, we have been a people who glamorized sin, and the “freedom” to pursue it. And what are we today? Isn’t the USA persecuting those who are truly obedient to Jesus, and robbing and pillaging weaker nations year after year? It is, and its persecutions are becoming more noticeable. Is not modern day Israel persecuting the faith of Jesus? Is it not devouring innocents just as other wicked nations do?–it is. Please understand that I am not anti-America or anti-Israel. I am pro Jesus, and I know that the world hates Him. While I have a debt to the world, and compassion for the world, the world cannot ever be home to me. Not even the so called favored nations.

I warn my fellow Christians to be very careful with your doctrine, lest you wind up working for one facet of the beast against another. Both Jihadists and Crusaders believe they kill in God’s honor, but Jesus commands His followers to love their enemies. That command has never been retracted, and we are all accountable to it. If God is speaking to us through His Son Jesus today (Heb. 1:2), do not deceive yourself that you can disobey His teachings and still please God. Do not say you love Jesus while casting His words behind your back. Do not seek out someone to convince you that Christians can operate under “just war theory” to the glory of God. There is a huge apostasy in the church, and the church’s taking up the carnal sword against flesh and blood to win earthly prizes from the devil, is just one of the symptoms of its massive betrayal of Christ. Be ready to stand alone, like the Hebrew boys standing resolutely before the statue of Nebuchadnezzar. Do not bow to the beast, even if God doesn’t rescue you.

What does worship/service of the beast look like?

“Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?” (Rev. 13:4) The beast is a winner when it comes to warfare! Beast worship includes marveling at his ability to make war against others. As an American I have heard such sentiments many times about our American military, how we have the best such-and-such in the whole world, and how we cannot be dominated by other nations (supposedly because God is blessing us). The minds of nationalists are amazed and dazzled at their country’s ability to make war. They appreciate it because they want security and happiness and material things, and would rather not consider what price is being paid to have these things. They don’t know everything that is playing out in private rooms and faraway places, and for the most part, they don’t care. They are content if the beast tramples other people they don’t even know, and do not realize that the beast will also use and trample them once it gains enough power. Be careful what you admire, Christian!

The Beast’s Hatred of the Saints

1. The beast opens his mouth in blasphemy against God–His Name, tabernacle and those who dwell in heaven (Rev. 13:6). He is against God even though he invokes the name of God, or claims that God is on his side. He blasphemes the tabernacle (those who are the Body of Christ), the same people who “dwell in heaven” (Eph. 2:6; Heb. 12:22). And so the beast is against both God and His people (Psa. 2:1-3). Satan desires and receives the worship that is given to the beast (through patriotism, nationalism, racism, and militarism); but these heavenly minded saints are not impressed by the beast’s ability to dominate by force. They have discovered the more excellent way. They have realized deep in their hearts that the meek will inherit the earth. They see the beast for what he is–a usurper demanding the allegiance which is due only to God, and one who is empowered by none other than the devil. They have chosen to follow the Lamb of God wherever He goes, even though the path He walks goes THROUGH the valley of the shadow of death, where affliction and a cross must be borne with perseverance. Just as their King rejected earthly trinkets of “power” offered by satan, so these reject the same.

In some countries (Israel being one of them) conscription into the army is mandatory. Those who refuse to fight or kill others on moral grounds often wind up in prison. Even in countries where fighting/killing is voluntary, it is always highly esteemed by men (but take heed to Luke 16:15.) Early Christians were put to death for refusing to sacrifice to Caesar or fight in the military. Likewise, peaceful Christian Americans were persecuted by militant Americans–many of whom also claimed to be serving God–during America’s rebellion against England. Their allegiance was to Jesus Christ and His commands, and the world had no more use for them.

Today peaceful Christians are often called parasites and ridiculed even by those professing to serve Christ. Their service to their country through willing obedience to civil law, prayers, being a good neighbor, and continually holding out the word of Truth is regarded as nothing. It seems what is desired is the burning of incense to the image of Caesar, with the acknowledgement that his works are always just and worthy of blind (and often violent) support. That is something the slave of Jesus Christ can never give, and so they are despised in the eyes of the world. But Jesus promised the world will hate His followers because we don’t belong to the world (Jn. 15:18-19).

2. It was granted to him [the beast] to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation. All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. (Rev. 13:7-8) Please notice “all who dwell on the earth” are worshiping the beast, while the heaven-dwellers of 13:6 are not. Is your citizenship in heaven, dear reader, or is it on the earth? (Phil. 3:20) Those who are of the earth and carnal abide in death. They worship and serve the beast because they think the beast is taking care of them. They trust in the flesh and are cursed. But those who are in the Book of Life are not “making flesh their strength” (Jer. 17:5). They trust only in God, and this is why they risk everything to obey Jesus, even if His commands seem to be the opposite of “common sense.”

The saints are physically overcome by the beast. Are we not sent out like sheep in the midst of wolves, and commanded to be harmless as doves? (Matt. 10:16) Didn’t the Lord say clearly, “They will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you” and “whoever kills you will think that he offers God service”? Wasn’t Jesus physically overcome by the beast when Rome and the Jews collaborated in His death? Wasn’t Stephen? Weren’t many early Christians physically overcome by the beast of Rome? Wasn’t Andrew killed by the beast of Greece, and Thomas killed by the beast of India? Aren’t many Chinese believers suffering at the hands of the beast today? Yes, it is granted to him to make war against and overcome the saints.

Let us not fall into the trap of thinking this beast is one country or person, and that we can stand militarily with a different country/person (disobeying Christ’s commands) and somehow overcome the beast by participating in earthly wars. For “You will be hated by ALL nations for my Name’s sake” (Matt. 24:9) “but he who endures to the end [obeying Christ despite persecution] will be saved” (Matt. 10:22). If you take up the carnal sword to kill another to “offer God service,” you will find yourself on the wrong side of the Truth, and in direct disobedience to the Word/the Sword of the Spirit. That Sword will find you and expose your disobedience, and as you have lived, so will you die. (Matt. 26:52)

Exhortation & Warning to the Saints who are Persecuted by the Beast

Concluding Rev. 13:1-10, which described the first beast for us, we have this exhortation and warning to the saints who will be overcome by the beast:

He who leads into captivity shall go into captivity; he who kills with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.

This is a reminder that even though tribulation is guaranteed, because the beast will hate and persecute the saints, we must continue to be faithful to Jesus and His commands. Do violence to no man. Let your patience be exceedingly patient, and your faith the kind that does not turn back (Heb. 10:38). Our Lord is good, and none who trust in Him will ever be ashamed. Though, in the flesh, they perish like sparrows crushed in the jaws of a destroying beast…they are not unseen or forgotten. The hairs of their heads are numbered, and in their patience, they possess their souls. By refusing to allow the world to squeeze them into its mold, they overcome the world. Their sleep is the sleep of rest, not of extinction. The world is not worthy of them, and they are removed from its evil (Isa. 57:1), never to suffer again.

Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.” (Rev. 14:13)

Summary

I believe the first beast of Rev. 13 is equal to the kingdoms of this world–not one or two kingdoms which we could self-righteously single out, but all of them. I believe its power and authority are directly from satan, and its primary claim to fame in the eyes of its worshipers is its ability to make war and overcome others by force. Its ultimate objective, as a tool of satan, is to destroy the saints. All nations will be used to accomplish this objective, but “the patience and the faith of the saints” will be to endure all things with a continued obedience to Christ’s commands.

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Remember the Way

Posted by israeliteindeed on August 21, 2014

Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. (Matt. 24:9-13)

Let us make sure that abounding lawlessness does not cause us to forsake the Way, or let our love grow cold. When John the Baptist began to suffer persecution in prison, his faith seemed to falter, but Jesus said to him and to all who would experience similar things, “Blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” (Matt. 11:6)

Hoshi'ana

Let us make sure we don’t have war in our hearts in the face of “end times prophecy” or current events.

Are we seeking blood and wishing harm on others?

Do we really believe victory is achieved through guns, bombs and violence, or have we, as Christians, been taught ANOTHER WAY?

Vengeance is mine, says the Lord, I will repay.

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

Be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.

When Jesus was was reviled, He reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously.

Do violence to no man.

Love one another.

Can we love our enemies and slay them?

Have we learned such things in Christ?

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Ordering Our Speech

Posted by israeliteindeed on March 13, 2014

This is an important post from Hoshi’ana.

I have seen the same thing mentioned in this article–people who say they are holy, some even professing to be sinless, yet they use filthy language to express their beliefs. They also bully and deride others in the most shameful ways, with pride flowing in their already contemptible speech.

There is more to holiness than adhering to certain doctrines and pretending to be holy. If your tongue (or pen) is producing unholy words, I question the heart out of which your mouth speaks. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? (see James 3:1-12)

Let us not forget what the Lord requires of us: to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God. (Micah 6:8) The mouth of one living such a life will be pure and speak that which is edifying.

Hoshi'ana

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Our scriptures are very clear as to how we are to order our speech. For example:

Eph 4:29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

Eph 5:3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; 4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.

Mat 12:35 A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. 36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. 37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words…

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Dear Backslider, …

Posted by israeliteindeed on January 1, 2014

Dear Backslider, 

Are you truly sorrowful for your sin?  Are you filled with remorse, wishing you could undo what you have done?  Do you honestly desire to be reinstated as an obedient child, forgiven and at peace once again?  Are you willing to cast your sins away from you in disgust and determination to submit to God?

God wants the backslider back. Don’t let satan cause you to doubt that.  If you are in a state of godly sorrow over your sin, there is hope for you.  Godly sorrow over sin produces repentance leading to salvation (2 Cor. 7:9-10). 

No one wasted his life more than the thief on the cross, yet Jesus–even in personal agony on His own cross–was quick to forgive him and comfort him because he humbled himself. 

Peter was someone who knew the Lord and walked with Him, and heard His teaching and even had Jesus explain teachings to him on an intimate basis.  He fell away the night Jesus was betrayed, due to his fear of what men might do to him. But afterward he sorrowed to repentance, and Jesus not only accepted him back, but gave him instructions (“feed my sheep”–John 21:15-18).  Peter went on to be a strong leader in the church despite his failure (which the whole world knows about!)

Read Micah 7:18-19.  God “delights in mercy.”  He does not give mercy grudgingly to the humble. He gives it gladly. It rejoices His heart to see a sinner repent, and Jesus was careful to tell us that all of heaven rejoices with God over this too (Luke 15:10). 

Are you afraid you have messed up so much that you can’t come back? Many believe they may have committed the “unpardonable sin,” and this keeps them from returning to the Lord.

The “unpardonable sin” is a confusing topic, but read the passage in Matthew 12:22-32. Notice that the pharisees had accused Jesus of setting a man free from a demon by the power of the devil (vs 24). The truth was that Jesus had done it by the power of the Holy Spirit.  This is the sin Jesus referred to, which would not be forgiven.  

It is not 100% clear to me why this won’t be forgiven. Perhaps it is because there is “woe to those who call good evil.” (Isaiah 5:20)  If a man is in bondage to devils, and then he is freed by God, and you are so blind as to call his salvation from devils evil, what hope does God have at leading you to repentance by His Spirit?–If you are now referring to His Holy Spirit as the devil?  This is the terrible place the pharisees were in. They were so hardened in their hearts that even the most beautiful deliverance was evil to them. They could not recognize God the Son, and they could not recognize God the Spirit, but instead always resisted Him (Acts 7:51).  They refused the baptism that signified repentance (Luke 7:29-30), showing that they were not willing to let the Holy Spirit draw them to God. 

If you are not rejecting repentance, or attributing the works of the Holy Spirit of Jesus to the devil in an effort to reject Jesus, then you are not committing “the unpardonable sin.”   If you see your need, that is proof enough that there is hope for you

If you see that your wasted time is a debt you owe God, if you see that your sin should never have been committed, and if you desire to be restored as God’s child, and if you will sincerely repent and submit to Him, He will happily forgive you and let you start over!  Let the remorse over your past be a fuel that works for your good, and for God’s good! Let it bind your wandering heart more tightly to Him from this day forward.  

After I first got right with the Lord for a while, I backslid. In fact, I entered into sin more wicked than the things I had done before!  I can still remember hearing a voice in my head saying that I was destined to continue in sin. The voice said there was no way out. That voice was the devil lying to me (just as he may now be lying to you.) He had gained access to my life through my sin, but I began to plead with God to rescue me from the deep pit I was in. 

Something inside me knew that there must be hope, even though I did not know the Bible very well at that time.  God answered my repeated cries for help by having a Christian brother call me. He told me he had noticed I was “not right,” and asked if there was something wrong. I realized this was my “rescue rope” sent by God, and if I didn’t grab it with all my might, I might be lost forever. I humbled myself and confessed my dark secrets to him.  Thankfully, the Holy Spirit spoke to me through this man, telling me my sin had separated me from God, but if I would put away my sin and ask for mercy, I could start over.   I fully turned away from those things, including making changes that would help me keep from that sin in the future.  

It is always hard to go back to the beginning, and if the heart is properly tenderized by regret, it is a very humble and low place. It is a place of agonizing.  “Strive to enter the narrow gate” literally means “Agonize to enter” in the Greek.  But it is in that humble and low place that God begins to help us, for He resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.  It starts out as agonizing, but it becomes a place of mercy and freedom as God washes us in His own blood, and draws near to us in our humility (James 4:7-10).  In this humble place, He teaches us that our own hearts and emotions are not to be trusted (they got us into alot of trouble), the world is not to be trusted, the lusts of the flesh must be crucified, and if we are to be overcomers, we must find a deep abiding place in Jesus. We learn to be humble sheep following our Good Shepherd and not wandering off. 

Read Hosea 5:14 through Hosea 6:3.  God tore at the backsliders as a lion would tear the prey, then He retreated to His den (seeming to ignore them) to wait for them to “acknowledge their offense.”   Do you feel the affliction and sense the awful separation your sin has caused?  There is hope for you.  He afflicted them SO THAT they would seek Him.  He could have just killed them, but in mercy He afflicted them and waited for their repentance.   All of this was in order to bring about the beautiful ending–Come, and let us return to the LORD; for He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up.      After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up, that we may live in His sight. Let us know, Let us pursue the knowledge of the LORD. His going forth is established as the morning; He will come to us like the rain, like the latter and former rain to the earth.  

Dear Backslider, I hope that what I have shared here will increase your hope in the Lord, and that you will have a testimony of full restoration to share with others in the near future.  After you are restored to the Lord, get into the Word of God with all your might.  Seek God in the Scriptures and read to apply every word to your life. His Word will renew your mind and change you from the inside out. And it will fortify you from the false teachings that are everywhere. 

God bless you and help you!

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Our Troops Are Women

Posted by israeliteindeed on September 23, 2013

Nahum 3:13
Behold, your troops
are women in your midst.
The gates of your land
are wide open to your enemies;
fire has devoured your bars.

It has been my observation that many spiritual realities play themselves out in the natural. For example, when there is a famine of spiritual bread in the land, there very often is a famine of natural bread also. When spiritual destruction is falling on a people, “natural disasters” seem to increase.

Many decry the allowance of homosexuals and women in the military, but could this be a picture of what has happened to our people spiritually? Our “mighty men” have become women, and I am not just referring to homosexuals. I refer to the lack of spiritual manliness in our nation and the church. 

How many fathers are taking seriously their responsibility to lead their families spiritually? So few– even among those who profess Christ!

Women also are out of order, chasing the supposed “freedom from responsibility” their men only seem to have. They reject being keepers at home and motherhood, and pursue self- sufficiency through careers that sap them of energy they might have poured into their families. Could the new “liberated woman” killing herself and destroying her children be a picture of a greater spiritual reality?

If so, what other parallels and lessons can we draw from these things? I plead with Jesus to give us His eye salve that we can see.

The gates of our land are indeed wide open to our enemies. And if we think denying homosexuals and women entrance in the military will solve the problem, we are still thinking carnally. 

Our land is full of “soldiers” who are women, and silly women at that. Most who claim to be spiritual people are fighting a carnal battle with carnal weapons against flesh and blood enemies with a carnal motive, but they think because they shout “glory to God,” their carnality is thus baptized. 

The professing American church is in such a deep sleep spiritually, she imagines keeping “In God We Trust” on our currency would be a tremendous victory for God. But God does not support lies, and we cannot be healed by patching up surface wounds with band aids when our whole head is sick and our whole heart is faint (Isa. 1:5-6).

In like manner, the church has sought to validate herself by an outcry against homosexuality and females in the military, and other surface symptoms of national decay.

But she doesn’t look deeper lest she indict herself. 

If she would present her wound-covered body before the ever searching eye of the Lord in true humility and acknowledgment that she has destroyed herself by forsaking His ways, He would again have mercy on her.

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