Wednesday, May 20 2020
WHY DO YOU STAND HERE LOOKING INTO THE SKY? We Christians spend most of our lives consumed with the world around us. How can it be that even the phenomenal events during the 40 days after Jesus’s resurrection seem to be lost in the shuffle of our pandemic woes? If the disciples were here today, they would surely excitedly tell us these were the most precious days of their entire lives!
We NEED this timely lesson from the Almighty to remind us that just as the disciples treasured these divinely appointed days, so should we. Counting forward 40 days from His resurrection on the 16th day of God's 1st month, April 10 on our 2020 calendar, would pinpoint around May 19-20 as the anniversary of Jesus' ascension into heaven.
God's Word records the Resurrected Son of God sharing, worshipping, and performing miracles to as many as 500 of His disciples in Jerusalem and the Galilee during 11 separate occasions.
His more intimate encounters include the description of "Doubting Thomas" as he put his finger into the nail hole on Jesus hand. Still incredulous, he put his entire hand into the wound in the side of His Lord. "Then He (Jesus) said to Thomas, 'Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put in into my side. Stop doubling and believe.'" John 20:27.
Jesus even tucked in a special message to us 21st century believers when He said to Thomas, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. John 20:29
Who can forget the poignant pictures in John 21 of the miraculous catch Jesus gave several of the disciples after they had fished all night and netted nothing. Jesus even stayed around to make breakfast for the all of them from their catch. Afterwards, He gave Peter, the disciple who had denied Him three times, the opportunity to say that He loved Jesus, not once, but three times…
The "disciple whom Jesus loved", closed the book of John with this astute observation of Jesus' incredible 40 days: "Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written." John 21:25
Yes, this second month on God's calendar is the divinely appointed time for Jesus to appear to His disciples after His Resurrection. It is also the month just before the Pentecost fulfillment of His incredible promise that He would not leave us alone as orphans, but would send us “…another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” John 14:16-17.
The book of Acts records the last words of Jesus, spoken from the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives at Bethany. "’...you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. ‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.’” Acts 1:8-10.
Indeed, why do we stand here looking into the vast expanse of this world, seeing only our current woes! Can we not see exactly what has happened, as it was appointed 3500 years ago in Leviticus 23? The Jewish babe born in Bethlehem as foretold by the prophets, was condemned to die on the Holy day of Passover by the same religious folk who claimed to serve the Almighty God of the Universe. The appointed and anointed Lamb of God conquered death, rose from the grave, and became the Holy and acceptable Firstfruit offering for the entire timeline of mankind, guaranteeing our future resurrection. And this same Jesus ascended to heaven as a physical man bearing the bodily scars of His death as proof of His resurrection!
John 14:26 also says He has gifted us with the powerful presence of an Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom He promised “…will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
And that is exactly what is happening at this very moment. The Holy Spirit is reminding us that just as the disciples witnessed Jesus returning to heaven, so shall the people of God soon witness the Son of Man returning to rule and reign over this earth, His Kingdom, as King of Kings and Lord of Lords! It makes everything else going on in this world pale in comparison!
WHY DO YOU STAND HERE LOOKING INTO THE SKY?
Thursday, May 14 2020
THEY BURIED THE PEOPLE THAT HAD A CRAVING…3500 years ago, during May 14-17 on our 2020 Gregorian calendar, God sent a plague upon a nation who claimed to worship Him but were never satisfied with His direction and provision. God's Word records many of them complained to death, literally. “Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving...They buried the people who had the craving.” Numbers 11:4,34.
The Hebrew phrase “strong craving” is translated “lusted a lust”. Of course, we Christians will protest that we don’t lust. But that isn't true, and we all know it. Even if we don’t get mired knee-deep in sexual desires, we salivate over a mouth-watering steak or make the statement that a favored object is “to die for”. Nowadays, we also lust for our lost lives and freedoms, and want them back, without considering that it may cost us more than we dream possible.
Without realizing it, restoring our former lifestyle and worship can quickly become our main focus, and effectively, our idols. We need to proceed cautiously. We need God's Word to remind us that the Israelites' craving could have seemed as innocent and justified, too. But in the end many of God’s chosen people were severely chastised to the point of death and buried in unmarked graves in the Wilderness. They never made it to the Promised Land.
The Almighty has appointed this specific scripture for our review during the next few days. In fact, everything that has ever happened and will happen is designated on His calendar for the world He created. According to His appointment, May 14 on our 2020 Gregorian calendar is the 20th day of the second month on God's calendar. It marked the beginning of the Israelites journey to Paran, where many died because of their cravings and complaints about what they had to give up to follow God's direction..
“On the twentieth day of the second month of the second year, the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle of the covenant law. Then the Israelites set out from the Desert of Sinai and traveled from place to place until the cloud came to rest in the Desert of Paran..." Numbers 10:11-13
The Hebrew word “Numbers” actually means “in the Wilderness”. Even as God led them by the movement of His mighty presence in the Cloud of Glory, His people grumbled and doubted Him. Just one year earlier, God had provided manna and water to sustain and nourish their physical lives. https://www.facebook.com/fontanacommunitychurch/posts/2957177574362412
Not long after, He set up the Tabernacle of Testimony, the very picture of the death of His Own Son as sacrifice for their sins, to meet their spiritual needs. But their hunger for the ways of the world was seldom satiated by God’s provision.
Remember that the Israelites set out on the 20th day of the second month, May 14 on our 2020 calendar. They traveled 3 days following the Ark of the Covenant and the Cloud of the Lord, probably arriving in Paran on the 22nd or 23rd day of the second month on God’s calendar, May 16 or 17.
It wasn’t long before God’s chosen people started murmuring and complaining, even though He had delivered them from bondage to a corrupt government, just as they had asked. "Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord, and when He heard them, His anger was aroused. Then fire from the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp." Numbers 11:1.
The murmuring didn’t stop. Read these excerpts from the rest of the chapter: "And the people of Israel also wept again and said, 'Oh that we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.' "
"Now the manna was like coriander seed, and its appearance like that of bdellium. The people went about and gathered it and ground it in handmills or beat it in mortars and boiled it in pots and made cakes of it. And the taste of it was like the taste of cakes baked with oil. When the dew fell upon the camp in the night, the manna fell with it."
"Moses heard the people weeping throughout their clans, everyone at the door of his tent. And the anger of the Lord blazed hotly, and Moses was displeased. Moses said to the Lord...'Where am I to get meat to give to all this people? For they weep before me and say, “Give us meat, that we may eat…”
"…Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘…say to the people, “Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, and you shall eat meat...You shall not eat just one day, or two days, or five days, or ten days, or twenty days, but a whole month, until it comes out at your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you, because you have rejected the Lord who is among you and have wept before him, saying, ‘Why did we come out of Egypt?’ ”
"But Moses said, ‘The people among whom I am number six hundred thousand on foot, and you have said, “I will give them meat, that they may eat a whole month!” Shall flocks and herds be slaughtered for them, and be enough for them? Or shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, and be enough for them?’ ”
“And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Is the Lord's hand shortened? Now you shall see whether my word will come true for you or not.’ ”
"...Then a wind from the Lord sprang up, and it brought quail from the sea and let them fall beside the camp, about a day's journey on this side and a day's journey on the other side, around the camp, and about two cubits above the ground. And the people rose all that day and all night and all the next day, and gathered the quail…While the meat was yet between their teeth, before it was consumed, the anger of the Lord was kindled against the people, and the Lord struck down the people with a very great plague. Therefore the name of that place was called Kibroth-Hattaavah, because there they buried the people who had the craving."
Be careful what you ask for, and what you think you absolutely must have. God may give it to you by the bucketloads to the point where you will literally gag to death from what you prayed for.
If we have joined the majority of "God's chosen" still fixated on what WE want, instead of what GOD wants for us, even in simple basics like food and lifestyle, we are part of what His Word identifies as “the rabble”. The Hebrew transliteration used here is “asaphsuph" and it is the only place it is used in the entire Bible. It's a a word specifically used to identify the unfaithful “rift-raft” whose cravings for the things of this world spread like wildfire through the congregation of God’s chosen people.
Cravings come in all shapes and sizes, but they always reflect our deceitful hearts. Nowadays, it seems our inner craving is to pursue the freedoms that we deem are rightfully due us as citizens of this country. Many are justifying this by asserting that our worship of the Almighty is hampered and lacking because these perceived freedoms have been taken away. If that is true, perhaps it’s time we see our buildings, programs, and worship grandeur as idols that God is revealing right now through the power of His Word.
Indeed, we Christians today stand squarely in an idolatry issue, just as God's chosen people of Israel did. They had prayed for God’s deliverance but were fearful and unwilling to have their lifestyle and destiny rearranged by God’s direction, just as we are. Perhaps during this time during our own COVID19 pandemic, God is using this memorial on His calendar to warn us that we need to bury our cravings before they bury us, just like they did many Israelites.
The harsh reality is we all deserve the same penalty the rabble of Israel received. But The Almighty has always had a plan in place. He loved us so much He sent His Only Begotten Son "..so that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."
So now, we won’t end up like the Israelites in the wilderness of Kibroth-Hattaavah, which literally means "Graves of Craving".
Or will we? The choice is ours.
“Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving...They buried the people who had the craving”
Saturday, May 09 2020
IN THE MORNING YOU WILL SEE THE GLORY OF THE LORD…Lately we Christians have been reduced to just plain-old grumbling about our current circumstances. It is no coincidence that God Almighty has appointed this lesson for us at exactly this time. Like the ancient Israelites, we have been crying out to God for deliverance, and our patience is fading fast. Listen now as the Lord speaks: “… In the morning you will see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your grumbling against him…” Exodus 16:6
3500 years ago on the 15th day of God's second month, May 9, on our 2020 Gregorian calendar, a million or so Israelites arrived in the Desert of Sin after a traumatic introduction to a plague that took the lives of many Egyptians.
Though the plague itself was meant to deliver them from toiling their lives away under an oppressive government, which was exactly what they had prayed to be delivered from, they quickly decided that all the changes they were faced with were just too much to handle. Even though it was obvious there were under the protection and direction of the Almighty Himself, they were being asked to leave their old life behind and follow Him out into totally uncharted territory. After only a month of following God Himself and witnessing the miracles He was providing for their deliverance, they were reduced to second guessing His leadership, and grumbling, demanding their old lives back.
“The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt. In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, ‘If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.’” Exodus 16:1-3.
After crying out to God for deliverance, they began their exodus from Egypt just hours after the Death Angel miraculously “passed over” their firstborn. The Red Sea literally parted so they could escape the pursuing Egyptians, and then thundered back over, drowning their enemy. Then God led them to the Desert of Shur, where He not only provided water for them, but sweetened it when they complained that it was too bitter. The Almighty then provided an oasis of rest in Elim, right in the middle of a vast desert, complete with 70 palm trees and 12 springs of water.
They certainly had ample time to reflect on how blessed they were to be following the Almighty and be on the receiving end of all those miracles! Instead, after leaving their oasis and arriving in the Desert of Sin, their grumbling only intensified. “Sin”, pronounced “Seen”, is a Hebrew transliteration of the word “thorn”. Indeed, God’s provision was quickly viewed as a thorn in their religious side. Can we hear God’s eternal Word as it crosses the chasm of time to convict us of our own 2020 religious “thorn”?
‘In the evening you will know that it was the Lord who brought you out of Egypt, and in the morning you will see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we, that you should grumble against us?... You are not grumbling against us, but against the Lord.’… While Aaron was speaking to the whole Israelite community, they looked toward the desert and there was the glory of the Lord appearing in the cloud.” Exodus 16:6, 8,10.
How incredible would it be to have a Christian leader say to us, “In the morning you will see the glory of the Lord…” 3500 years later, Exodus 16 is still about the glory of the Lord, and our response.
Exodus 16:4, 22-23 explains that the Lord sent manna and commanded the Sabbath. “Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days... Each morning everyone gathered as much as they needed, and when the sun grew hot, it melted away. On the sixth day, they gathered twice as much—two omers for each person—and the leaders of the community came and reported this to Moses. He said to them, “This is what the Lord commanded: ‘Tomorrow is to be a day of sabbath rest, a holy sabbath to the Lord.' ”
Yes, it is during the Exodus that the very first Sabbath day of rest is biblically appointed for mankind. From this point forward in our lesson, you will need to follow this timing very closely to receive the full blessing of God’s provision.
A week of time was appointed, and during that week the ONLY day of rest from collecting manna was the 7th day counted forward from the 15th day of the second month, noted in Exodus 16:1. That would put the first Sabbath observed by God’s chosen people as the 22nd day of the 2nd month.
The weeklong Feast of Unleavened Bread, like the Passover, was revealed to the Israelites at the time of the Exodus (Exodus 12-13) The Israelites were delivered from Egypt on the 15th day, but in the first month on God’s calendar as recorded in Exodus 12 and Numbers 33. That 15th day of the first month was also appointed by The Almighty as the first day of Unleavened Bread and designated a Sabbath in Leviticus 23:6-7.
That means that Sabbath days were reckoned back then by the lunar cycle of each month, and not by the count of 7 days. Each month is 29-30 days long, which makes it impossible for the Sabbath to fall on the 15th day in both of two consecutive months, counting by 7's. Each month counted in that same manner every single month means the Sabbath days were appointed on the 8th, 15th, 22, and 29th. The 1st day of the month was called New Moon Day in 1 Samuel 20:5,18, 24, 2 Chronicles 2:4, 31:3, Ezekiel 46:1-3, and considered a consecrated, holy day with worship and sacrifices. Isaiah 66:23 states the New Moon Day and the Sabbath Day will remain appointments in the New Kingdom of Jesus.
Let’s pause here and receive a true blessing from the precision appointments of the Almighty. Remember we learned that the Israelites left Egypt on the 15th day of the first month, the first day of God’s appointed Holy Week called the Feast of Unleavened Bread, beginning and ending on a Sabbath. We also learned that Moses said on the evening of the 15th, a Sabbath, “In the morning you will see the glory of the Lord”. The next morning would have been the 16th day of the 2nd month.
God’s commandment in Leviticus 23:10-14 for the same time period during the 1st month is to bring the first grain harvested, also known as Firstfruits, wave it on the day AFTER the Sabbath so God would accept it as a pleasing sacrifice on behalf of the people’s sins. Also offered was a year old lamb without defect as a sacrifice, together with flour mixed with olive oil, and a cup of wine. “This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live.”
Here we clearly see the sacrificial Lamb of God together with the unleavened bread, which Jesus refers to as “my body” and the cup of wine as "the new covenant in my blood".
On the 16th day of the first month, Jesus, the Unleavened Bread, rose from the dead, from the earth itself, just as the unleavened bread did for the Israelites on the morning of the 16th day of the 2nd month. “I will rain down bread from heaven for you…At twilight you will eat meat. In the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the Lord Your God…In the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost appeared on the desert floor.” Exodus 16:4,13-14
Yes, in the midst of all our grumbling and fear of the unknown, we can clearly see Jesus, having come down from heaven, seeded in the ground as man, rising from the earth, able to sustain and nourish us all the way to the Promised Land. In fact, Jesus Himself is saying to us right now, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever.” John 6:51
What more do we need?
IN THE MORNING YOU WILL SEE THE GLORY OF THE LORD…
Sunday, April 26 2020
ON THE MOUNTAIN OF THE LORD IT WILL BE PROVIDED…Easily the most hotly contested and desired real estate on planet Earth, Mount Moriah’s 4000 year history is literally, out of this world. When Abraham faithfully obeyed God’s call to sacrifice his son on the mount, a ram was provided, and Isaac was spared. After hearing the words of the Lord on the mountain and the gift of the ram, Abraham made this statement in Genesis 22:14: “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided”.
2000 years later when Jesus, the Firstborn Son of God Almighty, was NOT spared, He became God’s appointed sacrifice for the sins of the entire human race on the very same “mountain of the LORD”.
Today, Mount Moriah is not actually a single mountain top, but an elongated ridge that rises on the southern end of current day Jerusalem and continues past the Muslim Temple Mount. It stretches northeast past the present Damascus Gate of the Old City. Historically, the location and name of Mount Zion was used interchangeably with Mount Moriah to refer to the area of the Temple Mount where the Dome of the Rock Shrine currently sits.
About 1000 years after Abraham climbed Mount Moriah, 2 Samuel 24 records that King David purchased the very same site. After he built an altar to the Lord as instructed by an angel, King David gathered together a fortune in materials to build an elaborate temple to the Lord to worship Him there.
David wrote this to his son, Solomon, who would later complete the temple: “…I have taken great pains to provide for the temple of the Lord a hundred thousand talents of gold, a million talents of silver, quantities of bronze and iron too great to be weighed, and wood and stone. And you may add to them. You have many workers: stonecutters, masons and carpenters, as well as those skilled in every kind of work in gold and silver, bronze and iron—craftsmen beyond number. Now begin the work, and the Lord be with you…” 2Chronicles 22:13-16.
100,000 talents of gold, at 75 pounds a talent, adds up to a whopping 7,500,000 pounds of gold alone. Today, gold is trading at $1,750 an ounce, which would make 100,000 talents of gold worth $210,000,000,000.00 That’s 210 billion dollars! At the current trading price of $15.17 per ounce for silver, 1,000,000 talents of silver or 75,000,000 lbs, that’s another staggering $18,204,000,000.00 dollars’ worth of silver. That’s 18 billion, 204 million dollars! That’s a total of 228,204,000,000 in gold and silver alone, by current prices. And that’s not even counting the bronze and iron in amounts too great to be weighed!
“Then Solomon began to build the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the Lord had appeared to his father David. It was on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite, the place provided by David. He began building on the second day of the second month in the fourth year of his reign.” 2Chronicles 3:1-2.
This is certainly timely scripture for us today. If we move past the confines of this world, and follow God’s calendar, using the first month as He appointed in Exodus 12:1, April 26 on our 2020 Gregorian calendar was the second day of His second month, the 3000th or so anniversary for the beginning construction of Solomon’s historic temple.
According to 1 Kings 6:38, it was built on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem and it took 7 years to complete. King Solomon prayed these words at the dedication ceremonies of the temple in 1 Kings 8:27-28. “But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built! Yet give attention to your servant’s prayer and his plea for mercy, Lord my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day.”
Solomon was right. His Temple couldn’t contain the Almighty. The grand and glorious site was destroyed and rebuilt again, with work also beginning again in God’s appointed 2nd month. Solomon’s question “Will God really dwell on earth?” would be answered over 900 years later with the dedication of the infant Jesus in the rebuilt Second Temple. Later, during a Passover, teaching in the same Temple, He would amaze religious sages at the age of 12 with his teachings. “I must be about my Father’s business…” in Luke 2:49.
At the beginning of His three-year ministry many years later, Jesus again got the attention of the Jews near another Passover feast when He drove the money changers with their sacrifices from the Temple, in John 2:13-17. He announced to one and all, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it up again in three days.”
Jesus also expressed His great love and grief for His people, and predicted the demise of the very Temple and city they stood in. “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’" Matthew 23:37-39.
Fulfilling the words of Jesus, the Romans once again destroyed the Temple in 70AD. Nothing physically remains now except the Western Wall, which was built as a retaining wall on the mountain for the large stone structures that were built on the top. Known as the “Wailing Wall”, it has been a place for prayer for the Jews for many centuries.
Indeed, The Almighty has never really stopped building temples, the dwelling place of God on earth. Jesus said of Himself in Luke 11:31: “Now one greater than Solomon is here…” And He’s paid the ultimate price for His Temple, more precious than $228,204,000,000 in gold and silver!
“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.” 1 Corinthians 3:16-17.
Heaven on earth?!? Yes, the veil of the Temple has been rent, and mankind has been invited in to testify that Jesus is the Son of God! “When Jesus died, the curtain in the Temple was torn into two pieces. The tear started at the top and tore all the way to the bottom. The army officer who was standing there in front of the cross saw what happened when Jesus died. The officer said, ‘This man really was the Son of God!’” Mark 15:38-39.
It’s interesting to note that the officer could see the outer curtain of the temple as it ripped in two. There is only one place where this would have been physically possible: from the top of Golgotha, on Mount Moriah. Located only 1000 or so feet from the northern ancient Sheep Gate where the lamb sacrifices entered, it fits with God’s pattern for the location of His perfect sacrifice. “And he shall kill it (the sacrifice) on the side of the altar northward before the LORD.” Leviticus 1, 11.
Still, there is absolutely no way to know exactly where Jesus was crucified and buried. And quite honestly, if there were, religious folks would have enshrined the location by now, just like they have done to countless other Biblical sites. But isn’t it just like the Father to remove from our midst any possible physical worship that would detract from true worship “in spirit and truth”!
There have also been questions posed as to exactly how much of Jerusalem the Mount of Mariah actually encompasses, and whether Jesus was technically crucified within its boundaries. But for those of us who have learned how mindful God is of the smallest of details, we already know the answers. And we don't need physical proof to back it up. Because the ultimate sacrifice for all the sins of every single human who has ever walked planet Earth was provided on God’s chosen mount, once and for all, just like Genesis 22:14 pronounced.
Heaven on earth!
ON THE MOUNTAIN OF THE LORD IT WILL BE PROVIDED.
Saturday, April 25 2020
EVERY MAN BY NAME...The Lord said to Abraham in Genesis 15:5: “Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them…so shall your offspring be.” Today, astronomers estimate there are ten thousand billion trillion stars. That’s a 1 followed by 25 zeros and lots of exclamation points. 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000!!!
We soar even higher into the heavens as we read Psalm 147:4 “He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.” This teaches us something very important about the Almighty. He alone creates and decides how it will all come together. And absolutely no detail is overlooked. His creations are so precious that He calls them individually by name, even the stars.
Indeed, every single human on planet Earth is so important to Him that right at this very moment, He knows the exact number of hairs on their head! “And even the very hairs on your head are numbered. So don’t be afraid, you are worth more…” Matthew 10:30-31.
Yes, God is all about order and details. And love. And mercy. The evening of April 24th on our 2020 Gregorian calendar began the 1st day of God’s second month. This month is all about counting and numbers. Noah’s Ark also completed its 40-day journey near the end of this month. We count forward 40 days from Christ’s resurrection in the first month to His ascension into heaven during the 2nd month. We also count forward 50 days from Jesus' resurrection to the date of the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, in the 3rd month.
Also on the very first day of God's appointed 2nd month, God ordered Moses to begin a census of the Israelites in the desert. The Almighty is so detail oriented that He began to record this very census in the 1st verse of the 1st chapter of the Old Testament book called “Numbers”.
“The Lord spoke to Moses in the tent of meeting in the Desert of Sinai on the first day of the second month of the second year after the Israelites came out of Egypt. He said: Take a census of the whole Israelite community by their clans and families, listing every man by name, one by one. You and Aaron are to count according to their divisions all the men in Israel who are twenty years old or more and able to serve in the army.” Numbers 1:1-3.
There is a lot to be learned in these opening verses. A chosen group of people, named Israel by God Himself, was called into the presence of their Maker and recognized for their individual worth. The Almighty had specific plans in mind for them and an appointed destiny. And that destiny would include waging a fierce battle against their enemy.
We Christians can look back at this Exodus and literally see the face of Jesus Christ over and over again. We see Him as the very reason Israel was freed from Egypt in the first place. He is the Passover Lamb whose blood that was applied to the doorposts of their homes so that the death angel would “pass over” them. He is the sacrificial lamb that was eaten that evening to sustain them during their coming wilderness journey. He is the manna from heaven that sprang forth from the earth to nourish them during their entire 40-year journey. And He is the living water that flowed from the desert rock to quench their insatiable thirst. In fact, God's word tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:1-13 that we all partake of the same heavenly nourishment the Israelites did over 3500 years ago!
"I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.” We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. We should not test Christ, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel."
"These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
Thanks to God's powerful Word as it has traversed the history of mankind, we’re beginning to see where our weaknesses as Christians REALLY lie, and who the enemy really is. And it isn’t COVID19. “Do not be idolaters… We should not test Christ… And do not grumble… These… are warnings for us… So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall.”
The journey continues. And so do the struggles. The Exodus of the Old Testament is pointing us toward the final Exodus of the New Testament. And in between there are what? TEMPTATIONS? And no one is immune? And just when you’re tempted to be tempted, He provides a way out?!?
Sadly, because they resisted the Lord and fell victim to their temptations, very few of the men listed in the original census of the Israelites made it to the Promised Land. Numbers 14:30-34 recounts God's judgment for the rebellion of the Israelites.
"Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun. As for your children that you said would be taken as plunder, I will bring them in to enjoy the land you have rejected. But you--your bodies will fall in this desert. Your children will be shepherds here for forty years, suffering for your unfaithfulness, until the last of your bodies lies in the desert. For forty years--one year for each of the forty days you explored the land--you will suffer for your sins and know what it is like to have me against you.'
We close today's lesson with this final truth. One day there will be a final census to end all censuses. And if your name is not included in that census book…
“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:11-15
“Take a census…listing every man by name…one by one.”
Saturday, April 18 2020
ON THE 24TH DAY OF THE FIRST MONTH, April 18, 2020…This calendar date appointed in God’s Word, April 18 on our 2020 Gregorian calendar, was significant enough to be recorded in the book of the Bible announcing apocalyptic events connected with the second coming of King Jesus.
It is no coincidence that God’s Word is crossing the chasm of time itself, with a vitally important message. We need to be counting the days, but we need to count focused upon God’s timeline, not our own. That conscious move on our part will cancel out COVID19 and deliver us to the truth of JESUS20. View God’s calendar for this month: https://fontanacommunitychurch.org/abib_2020
“On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river, the Tigris…” Daniel 10:4.
The Tigris River is identified in Genesis 2:14 as the third of the four headwaters coming from the river flowing straight out of the Garden of Eden itself. It still flows today not far from the ancient city of Babylon near Bagdad, Iraq.
Imagine the aging prophet Daniel standing on the banks of a river that literally once flowed from Eden, eagerly waiting God Almighty's direction. An elderly man in his 80's, he had been taken prisoner when the remnant nation of Judah was conquered by Babylon. Forced to live in exile in a foreign nation since his teens, his trust in God had always remained unshakable, even when he faced certain death at the hands of his captors.
For 60 some years, his testimony of faith and righteous wisdom had influenced ruling kings as well as fellow prisoners in exile. Still today, the book of Daniel is an awesome example on how to live as a Christian witness in a pagan society.
Because of this witness, the current king had just given him and his fellow exiles permission to return to their homeland. You’d think 'ole Daniel would have already been on his way back to Jerusalem. But he wasn’t. He was standing on the banks of the historic Tigris River, near his exile home, deeply troubled by a prior vision of a coming great and terrible war.
“I, Daniel was exhausted and lay ill for several days. Then I got up and went about the king’s business. I was appalled by the vision; it was beyond understanding…The end will come like a flood. War will continue until the end and desolations have been decreed….he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.” Daniel 8:27; 9:26-27.
The timing of this lesson is so right on target for us right now it should make our hair stand on end. Whether we are willing to admit it or not, we are all deeply disturbed by the instability of the world we live in. Every single day, some unsettling global event is reported by the news media. Right now, we really need to be reminded that God's timing is perfect, We won't despair, and like Daniel, we will stand firm in our humility and our faith. And when we least expect it….
“I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen, with a belt of the finest gold around his waist. His body was like crysolite, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and leg like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude.” Daniel 10:5-6.
The Hebrew word for crysolite is "tarshish". Mineralogy and Botany of the Bible describes it. "Tarshish, the chrysolite, is a crystal-like precious stone of the quartz kind, of a glassy fracture. The prevailing color is yellowish-green, and pistachio-green of every variety and degree of shade, but always with a yellow and gold luster. It is completely diaphanous (sheer, translucent) and has a strong double refraction."
Ezekiel uses the same word "crysolite" to describe his vision of the "wheel within a wheel" attached to the living creatures as the glory of the Lord is revealed to him. He also was standing along a Babylonian river, the Kebar, in the opening chapter of his prophetic book. "... High above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him." Ezekiel 1:26-28.
John also described a heavenly being just like this in his vision in Revelation 1:12-16. “And when I turned I saw… someone “like a son of man,” dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.”
Indeed, there are undeniable similarities that point to the fact that this heavenly being that spoke to Daniel in chapter 10 was Jesus Himself! Over 500 years later, Jesus even recounted Daniel's earlier troubling vision to his disciples on the Mount of Olives. “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation’, spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains…” Matthew 24:15.
This same disturbing vision of Daniel that Jesus recounted also came with a startling prediction of the very timeline that Jesus was standing in when He repeated it. “Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’"
The phrase translated here as "Anointed One" is the Hebrew noun "Mashah", which is our word "Messiah". Yes, with uncanny accuracy, the "seven sevens and sixty-two sevens" prophecy of Daniel 9:25 pointed straight to the first coming of Jesus in the restored Jerusalem as "Messiah", some 490 years later! It was also around the same date, the 24th day of the first month, that Jesus appeared to His disciples in John 20:26.
There's more, as the rest of the passage seems to give clues to the timing of the second coming of the Anointed One, Jesus the Messiah, who will rule and reign over the Earth!
Daniel continues in 10:10-14: “ So I was left alone, gazing at this great vision; I had no strength left, my face turned deathly pale and I was helpless. Then I heard him speaking, and as I listened to him, I fell into a deep sleep, my face to the ground. A hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. He said, “Daniel, you who are highly esteemed, consider carefully the words I am about to speak to you, and stand up, for I have now been sent to you.” And when he said this to me, I stood up trembling. Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come.”
Don’t you think Daniel had been longing for years to hear those words! “…your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.”
But don’t forget the reason Daniel’s words were heard. “Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God…”
Yes, before we even think about looking for apocalyptic wisdom in the prophecy of times to come, we desperately need to learn how to shut down the influence of the enemy so that we can clearly see God's perfect appointments when they are revealed. “Apocalypse” means revealing. God’s Kingdom will be revealed “on earth as it is in heaven” When Jesus refers to Himself as “son of man”, it goes back to the words of the prophet Daniel.
Daniel is given to us in God's Word today as the perfect example to follow. He lived his life, daily, on God's calendar, even though he was in exile in a foreign land and who revered their own national calendar and events. Also he didn't aspire to be a “mega-Christian", running around doing all the things he possibly could to cement his Christian status and celebrity. He just quietly and unceremoniously waited for God to reveal Himself and direct Him.
As He waited, what did He do? He remained steadfast in His faith in the face of his enemy. He fasted, he prayed and he was humble before his Lord. He looked to God for strength and inner peace. He went about his duties faithfully. Even when he was given permission to go home to Jerusalem, he didn’t run off with all the other Christians to reclaim something they thought was always rightfully theirs. He purposefully distanced himself from that people and mindset, and literally just stood around in contemplation, waiting and praying for the Almighty to speak.
“Then one who looked like a man touched my lips, and I opened my mouth and began to speak. I said to the one standing before me, “I am overcome with anguish because of the vision, my lord, and I feel very weak. How can I, your servant, talk with you, my lord? My strength is gone and I can hardly breathe.”
"Again the one who looked like a man touched me and gave me strength. “Do not be afraid, you who are highly esteemed,” he said. “Peace! Be strong now; be strong.”
"When he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Speak, my lord, since you have given me strength.” So he said, “Do you know why I have come to you? Soon I will return to fight against the prince of Persia, and when I go, the prince of Greece will come; but first I will tell you what is written in the Book of Truth…” Daniel 10:15-21.
Yes, Daniel had a vision of a man, but not just any man. In the previous chapter, Daniel identified the angel Gabriel as the heavenly spokesperson appearing before him. But in chapter 10, it is obvious as he drops to his hands and his knees, that this encounter with another divine being is unlike anything he had ever experienced before. Could God Almighty have appointed this month and this day, for Daniel to see Jesus, the Anointed One, the Messiah, the Son of God, coming in glory, already fighting for his beloved, chosen people?
On the 24th day of the first month, God’s anointed lesson on His appointed date has crossed the chasm of time and space, straight to us right now in the 21st century. In the middle of mounting worldwide tension, death and escalating Christian persecution, we desperately need to see Jesus, and hear His calming words. “Peace! Be strong now; be strong.”
It is also no coincidence that on the same date, over 500 years later, the resurrected Jesus came to His disciples, stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” in John 20: 26-30, with the closing words, These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.”
The only possible reply for anyone on this earth who has a relationship with the Almighty should be exactly the same as the humble, penitent, Daniel. “Speak, my Lord, since you have given me strength.”
The simple reply of Jesus' loving promise echoes across thousands of years of religious turmoil and struggles, calming our very souls for all eternity.
"I will tell you what is written in the Book of Truth”.
ON THE TWENTY-FOURTH DAY OF THE FIRST MONTH...
Saturday, April 11 2020
PEACE BE WITH YOU! Following the morning Resurrection of Jesus, this incredible account is recorded in John 20:19-20: “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.”
For many of us, this important time is often skipped over because it isn’t viewed as one of the pivotal appointments of the Almighty for His Son. Nothing could be further from the truth. For it is at that specific point in time that Jesus the Christ speaks TO the body of Christ, AS the Body of Christ.
No, that’s not a tongue-twister, but it IS a mind-bender. Of all the words He could have spoken, “Peace be with you!” takes on a whole new meaning following the Death, Burial and Resurrection of the Only Begotten Son of God!
Then, Jesus displayed His own body as physical proof of His bodily resurrection. We humans need that. PROOF. As much as we want to believe, and “confess” to believe, where is that Proof! Indeed, many of us “Christians” today who WANT TO BELIEVE and PROFESS TO BELIEVE just can’t quite make it there.
“Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” verses 21-22.
How is Jesus sending His disciples forth into the world? By literally breathing life from His own body into His chosen! What an incredible physical/spiritual picture we have been gifted with in this awesome narrative. The Holy Spirit coming from the Father and the Son, flowing through us, is the ONLY way we can ever accomplish the will of the Father in this world.
Jesus went on to clarify what had happened and why. “If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
As they ministered the Good News of Jesus the Christ, they were fully creditable, having received the forgiving power of the Holy Spirit emanating from Jesus Himself directly on them on that day. They would not be speaking about what they didn’t know to be truth. The Holy Spirit, the “Ruach Adonai”, the very Breath of God who breathed life into man at creation, now breathed life into their mortal bodies and souls as they were freed from their sins!
Now they finally understood the truth that if sins were NOT forgiven, they would remain FOREVER…lifeless! Jesus had said earlier in John 3:36 “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.”
While the manifestation of the Power of the Holy Spirit was given in Acts 2 at Pentecost, this scripture describing the Holy Spirit imparting forgiveness to the disciples is the fulfillment of John 7:38-39. "Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them." By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.”
The Aramaic translation paints a clearer picture: “For the Spirit had not yet been issued since Jesus had not poured out his sacrificial, glorifying blood.
Jesus continued to appear to His disciples, convicting and convincing them of His Deity. As we follow further in John 20, we witness the doubt of the disciple Thomas in verse 25. “…Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”
A week later, Thomas was with the disciples when Jesus appeared to them again. Incredibly, the Son of Almighty God invited Doubting Thomas to touch His nail wounds, to verify His death on the Cross! No small wonder that ‘ole Thomas immediately believed, shouting “My Lord and my God!”.
“Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’ Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
Jesus continues to appear before us in the presence of His Living Word. The physical proof of His Resurrection, presented by Jesus Himself, has yielded to the convicting power of the Holy Spirit He has gifted us. And it is in this power that you and I stand today: we have not seen, yet we believe.
We must pause and be humbled and encouraged by the salutation that Jesus repeated twice to His disciples and is repeating to us right this very minute today.
“PEACE BE WITH YOU.”
Resurrection lesson: https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=2887300784683425&id=394745103939018
Thursday, April 09 2020
WHO IS IT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR? This is the question Jesus asked Mary on that magnificent Resurrection Morn. 2000 years later, this question still pierces us to the core. It should, because our answer can literally mean the difference between life and death.
John 20:1-18 records that unforgettable day. “Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, 'They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!'”
“So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.”
“Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, 'Woman, why are you crying?'”
“'They have taken my Lord away,' she said, 'and I don’t know where they have put him.' At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus."
"He asked her, 'Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?'”
"Thinking he was the gardener, she said, 'Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.'”
"Jesus said to her, 'Mary.'"
"She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic,'“Rabboni!" (hrab-bon-ee' which means “Teacher”.)
"Jesus said, 'Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
“Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: 'I have seen the Lord!' And she told them that he had said these things to her.”
God Incarnate had just risen from the grave! But even though Jesus had preached to thousands and thousands, telling them He would save them from the penalty of their sins through His death and resurrection, they still didn't get it. The religious folks of the day believed that God’s word taught the resurrection of ALL Jews at the end time. The raising of Jesus from the dead just didn’t fit the timing they had come to believe and observe.
Like the religious folks of Jesus day, God’s timing just doesn’t fit our schedule, either. If we follow the precise appointment given by the Almighty in Exodus 12 and Leviticus 23 for the death and resurrection of Jesus, we absolutely cannot miss the fact that God appointed twilight on the 14th day of His first month as the anointed time when the Passover Lamb would mark the entrance to the homes of His Chosen People, protecting them from certain death. Using the observation method to determine the new month by watching for the new moon, that would place the death of Jesus between 3-5 pm, April 7 on our 2020 Gregorian calendar. https://www.facebook.com/fontanacommunitychurch/posts/2883249525088551
When Jesus was raised from the dead, exactly 3 days and 3 nights later, He was brought forth as the first of the fruit of mankind to be raised from the dead, and never die again. Called "Firstfruits", this holy day festival, appointed by God on His calendar 1500 years before in Leviticus 23, was to begin on the morning of the 2nd day following Passover, the day after Sabbath. It was an offering of the first and best of the Earth's harvest. If the Almighty accepted this perfect offering, it would guarantee His blessing on His people. “Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” 1 Corinthians 15:20.
The 1st century Jewish historian, Josephus, pins down the date emphatically. "But on the second day of unleavened bread, which is the sixteenth day of the month, they first partake of the fruits of the earth, for before that day they do not touch them." Antiquities of the Jews 3.10.5.
Jesus is further revealed as the Firstfruits offering when we examine the last part of Josephus' statement "for before that day they do not touch them." Remember Jesus's statement to Mary in the tomb? "Do not hold onto me, ("do not touch me" in some translations) for I have not yet ascended to the Father..." John 20:17
The 16th of Abib, April 10 on our 2020 Gregorian calendar, determined by watching for the new moon and counting forward 16 days, is the anniversary date appointed in God’s Word for the resurrection of the Son of God. If you celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus on Easter, you already use the lunar/solar dating that God established, but not as He appointed it. In 325AD, it was decreed by the Roman Council of Nicaea that Easter, a memorial of Christ’s resurrection, was to be celebrated on the Sunday following the full moon after the spring equinox. That timeline is still used today, though Easter wasn’t celebrated in America until the 1870’s. In fact, in the beginning of our country, our Puritan fathers rejected this European custom, and continued to observe the Passover celebration every year after their arrival.
Today, we should ask ourselves some tough questions. Could it be that God Almighty has reckoned a true Passover on the world in 2020 through a plague of our own making to give us the opportunity to see that we have been in bondage to many gods in this world for far too long, and desperately need His deliverance in ways we had never even considered? https://www.facebook.com/fontanacommunitychurch/posts/2874677592612411
Are we looking for Jesus this Resurrection Morn, or a version of Him we have created for ourselves...
"WHO IS IT THAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR?"
Tuesday, April 07 2020
LET MY PEOPLE GO…God has been speaking this for a long time. Those of us living today are witnessing what our ancestors could have only hoped for. Though no one is voicing it, we know it’s happening. Right this very minute, the entire world is being rearranged and quieted in preparation for the return of Jesus Christ!
Look around. Capitalism is sleeping. Governments are weeping. Religion as we have known it has been rearranged. Our calendar and days of the week no longer have authority. Wall Street holds no sway over our future.
Even the ancient nation of Israel has been leveled. The iconic, religious Wailing Wall has been disinfected by workers wearing hazmat suits and gas masks. But not before every single prayer note in every single cranny HAD BEEN REMOVED from what many people revere as one of the holiest physical places on the entire planet! And it’s all happening during one of the most Holy times on God’s calendar called “Passover”.
Signs that God is definitely in charge of this day are everywhere. For the first time since Israel has been regathered, there will be no public memorial of Passover in Jerusalem. People will be celebrating in their individual homes, quarantined, just as ancient Israel was the night of the first Passover in Egypt, when they were freed to worship Him in a way they had never done before.
All this is openly referred to by religious, and non-religious, as “an act of God"! Indeed, it's no coincidence that this Holy Day of Passover is a memorial to the action of The Almighty when He delivered His people out of bondage and servitude to the authority of the world which keeps us from worshipping Him as He desires.
“This is what the Lord, the God of Israel says, ‘Let my people go so that they may hold a festival to me in the desert.’ Pharaoh said, ‘Who is the Lord, that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord and I will not let Israel go.’ ...The Lord said, ‘I will bring one more plague on Pharoah and Egypt. After that he will let you go.'"
"...About midnight I will go throughout Egypt. Every firstborn son in Egypt will die...This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household...Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the members of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs. That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast...Eat it in haste; it is the Lord’s Passover."
"On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt. For seven days you are to eat bread made without yeast...Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread, because it was on this very day that I brought your divisions out of Egypt. Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come." Exodus 5:1-2;11:1,4-5;12:1-3,6-8,11-15,17
These are the timeless words of Almighty God to His people 3500 years ago on the 14th day of His first calendar month, which began this evening, April 7th on our Gregorian calendar. They are just as applicable today as ever, possibly even more so. God gave detailed instructions for all those who trusted Him. Following His instructions would bring life. Ignoring them would guarantee death.
Fast forward 1500 years from the deliverance out of Egypt to Jerusalem. It is the 13th day of Abib, Preparation Day, and the unblemished lambs have been selected and are being sacrificed. The innocent, blameless Lamb of God hangs on the cross, dying publically for all to see. “…For Christ, our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed.” 1 Corinthians 5:7.
“…On the night when the Lord Jesus was handed over to be killed, he took bread and gave thanks for it. Then he divided the bread and said, “This is my body; it is for you. Eat this to remember me.” In the same way, after they ate, Jesus took the cup of wine. He said, “This cup represents the new agreement from God, which begins with my blood sacrifice. When you drink this, do it to remember me. This means that every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are telling others about the Lord’s death until he comes again.” 1 Corinthians 11:24-26. More on this timeline https://www.facebook.com/fontanacommunitychurch/posts/2877237032356467
The meal of the Passover Lamb is Jesus, Himself. The Lamb is slaughtered for the bitter sin of the world, His blood the perfect atonement. But the pure, sinless, Unleavened Bread was resurrected on the 3rd day! All this done in haste, as time stands still for no one, and is carefully and perfectly marked by the Almighty.
Fast forward another 2000 years to the evening of April 7, 2020 also known as 14th day of Abib on God's calendar, the physical anniversary of the Passover Lamb’s midnight blood covering. God is giving detailed instructions through His Word for all those who trust Him. “The wages of sin is death…” Romans 6:23. ‘Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’
John 1:29. “God gave Jesus as a way to forgive people’s sins through their faith in him. God can forgive them because the blood sacrifice of Jesus pays for their sins.” Romans 3:25. “But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” (Luke 13:5). ”Repent, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out.” (Acts 3:19) “He does not want anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9).
The lesson hasn’t changed any in 3500 years. But time is growing short. Be ready for your sure and swift deliverance. “This is how you will eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste, it is the Lord’s Passover.”
"Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch--as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.” 1 Corinthians 5:7
God is still God. He still desires for ALL His people to be freed to worship Him ONLY, the way they never have before. Listen as He continues to challenge and level the authority of this world…
“LET MY PEOPLE GO!"
Sunday, April 05 2020
IT IS FINISHED…We are approaching the most important week in the history of mankind with the anniversary of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And this year, God Almighty has arranged it so He has our attention. There is so much He wants to teach us, and so little time left.
Indeed, some of the most important lessons we have yet to learn have to do with the most basic things in our lives. Ground zero is moving away from the world and our traditions, toward Him. Since God appears to have done-away with our calendar during this quarantine, could it be that He wants us to get in sync with HIS calendar instead?
“This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year.” Exodus 12:2. The 2nd book of God’s Word clearly appoints the beginning of God’s year. The entire ministry of Jesus Christ, our namesake, is scheduled there, in God’s timing and perfection. When we try to fit His schedule into our Gregorian calendar, it’s like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Part of it may fit in, but it never fits the way it should. Neither will function properly in that state.
“The evening and the morning” constituted the day as God created it in Genesis. If we stay on His calendar for the appointment of months and Sabbath days, we begin with the new moon as Day 1, a worship day of sacrifices. (1 Samuel 20:5,18; 2 Kings 4:23; Ezekiel 46:1,6; Amos 8:5) The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia states, “The New Moon is still, and the Sabbath originally was, dependent upon the lunar cycle. Both date back to the nomadic period of Israel.” Counting forward 7 days from the first day, each Sabbath occurs within the created phases of the moon: 8th First Quarter Moon; 15th Full Moon; 22nd Last Quarter Moon; 29th Dark Moon. By viewing the evening sky, God’s people could identify the Sabbath, the day of the month, week, and the season of the year. They had a calendar appointed by their Creator, and it was always with them. So do we. https://www.facebook.com/fontanacommunitychurch/posts/2845514275528743
God’s Sabbath and Festival Days were appointed on the same schedule. With God’s calendar, there is no postponement of His Anointed Days when they coincide with Sabbaths. Passover week is on a permanent schedule, year after year. And Jesus stays “3 days and 3 nights in the heart of the earth”, just as He said in Matthew 12:20.
We still have to pay attention to historical details. But God’s Word has a way of putting everything in perspective. “And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ then tell them, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.’” Exodus 12:26-27 The word “Passover” describing the sacrifice is the Hebrew word “Pesach”, actually refers to both the Lamb (the price paid for protection) BEFORE the day, and the day itself, which gives us valuable information when setting a timeline for Holy Week.
So we are actually looking at 2 days, which could be referenced together as “Passover”. According to the Book of Jubilees written before 150AD, the timeline for Passover, first annotated in Exodus 12:6, included Preparation Day on the 13th beginning between noon and 1pm, until 6pm. The lamb would be slain and prepared for the Passover meal eaten around 7pm on the evening beginning the 14th. After the Temple fell in 70 AD, there was no altar for a sacrifice, the timing of eating the meal changed to sunset-midnight on the 15th day.
The disciple John, who was present at Jesus’ death, writes in John 19:14: “Now it was the Preparation of the Passover; it was about the sixth hour. And he [Pilate] said unto the Jews, ‘Behold your king’” John 19:31: “The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day…” Also, Luke 23:52-54 reports “This man went unto Pilate and begged the body of Jesus. And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulcher that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid. And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on.”
Biblically, Passover Day is known as the Fast of the Firstborn. The Jewish tradition of the Galileans and Samaritans was to have a meal together on the beginning evening of the 13th. Known as “Seudah Mafseket”, it is literally translated "Last Supper". (This tradition was moved later to the 3-hour period beginning at midnight on the 14th, when God preserved the firstborn of Israel.) John 13:1-2 refers to the Last Supper as an evening meal that occurred just before the Passover Feast. Also, at a Passover meal, the focus is on the paschal lamb. But Jesus said, “This bread is my body”, which was certainly true enough. But still, there is no mention of the lamb in ANY of the disciples’ accounts of the Last Supper.
Also, in 325AD, it was decreed by the Roman Council of Nicaea that Easter, a memorial of Christ’s resurrection, was to be celebrated on the Sunday following the full moon after the spring equinox. That timeline is still used today, though Easter wasn’t celebrated in America until the 1870’s. It can be as much as a month different than God’s perfect timing for the resurrection of His Son, called Firstfruits, which is annotated in God’s Word in Leviticus 23:11 as the day after the Sabbath following the Passover.
So, based on what we just reviewed, we are ready to put together a Passover timeline, remembering that “the evening and the morning” constituted the day as God created it. The Last Supper for Jesus and His disciples occurred in the evening as the 13th began, April 6 evening on our calendar. Jesus went to the cross the next morning, April 7 on our 2020 calendar. During the designated Preparation Day hours on the 13th, he was “prepared” as the Passover Lamb Sacrifice. He died around 3pm (between the two evenings) and was buried during the afternoon hours of the 13th, still April 7 on our calendar.
JESUS was the Passover Lamb in every way when the Passover Meal began shortly after sunset on the beginning of the 14th. He stayed in the tomb 3 days and 3 nights, just as He said He would. He rose from the dead on or by the morning of the 16th, April 10 on our 2020 calendar, the Day of Firstfruits, appointed in Leviticus 23 as the day (16th) following the Sabbath (the 15th). “Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” 1 Corinthians 15:20 God's calendar superimposed on our 2020 Gregorian calendar: https://fontanacommunitychurch.org/abib_2020
In truth, when the Son of God uttered the words, “It is finished” on the cross, He was meeting the directive of our Father God, and fulfilling His appointment for mankind. And that covered much more than we could ever have imagined. EVERYTHING was finished by Jesus, not just our salvation. John tells us He is our Creator and Revelation says He’s coming to rule and reign over this world. So He’s taken care of EVERYTHING!
All that’s left is to slide on over into Eden and meet our King!
IT IS FINISHED…
Saturday, April 04 2020
I WILL BRING ONE MORE PLAGUE… 3500 years ago, under the midnight illumination of a full moon, God brought a final plague upon a proud, haughty nation that would convince them once and for all that He was God. He would bring death to every household. Only the life’s blood of an innocent lamb could save them. But they would have to choose that lamb themselves, care for it in their homes, and together, sacrifice it so that they might live. Appointed death would “pass over” them if the innocent’s blood marked their abode. Exodus 11-12
It all began when God changed Jacob's name to Israel. Being the grandson of the patriarch Abraham, God had promised to bless His family. When Jacob (Israel) took his 66-member family to Egypt to escape a famine, God continued to watch over them. Exodus 12:40 states they lived there 430 years. Exodus 12:37 also records their numbers swelled to 600,000 males besides women and children.
For awhile it seemed like heaven on earth. But their sheer numbers caused friction with the rest of Egypt. Persecution soon followed because they worshiped the God of Israel, and not the Egyptian gods and goddesses.
So, Israel prayed to God, and asked for deliverance. Exodus 7-10 records that God sent 9 plagues to convince Egypt to let Israel go so that they could worship Him in the desert. Egypt ignored them all and refused to let them go.
The 10th plague of death for every firstborn male, including livestock, was right on schedule when the Almighty instructed the Israelites to choose a firstborn male lamb and inspect it carefully to be confident that it was blemish-free. God designated the date for their Passover lamb selection as the 10th day of His first month.
40 years later, on this identical calendar date, the same ancient people who chose the Passover Lamb for their salvation, miraculously crossed the Jordan River on dry ground into the Promised Land and began to set up God’s kingdom on earth. (Joshua 4)
1500 years later, on the same month and day, Mark 10:46-52 records that on His way to Jerusalem, Jesus stopped in Jericho where He healed Blind Bartimaeus. All those folks gathered along the road would have understood God’s perfect appointment of Jesus crossing the Jordan into the Promised Land and setting up His kingdom there, since Jericho was the first to be conquered by the children of Israel in Joshua’s day. Indeed, the next chapter, 11:1-11, records when Jesus entered Jerusalem on a colt that same afternoon, the people chose Him to deliver them when they shouted Hosanna and spread palm branches to welcome Him.
500 years before that, on the 10th day of God's month, the exiled prophet Ezekiel had visions of a new Jerusalem. He noted this Jerusalem had no temple and had streams of living water flowing from it. It is not hard to figure out what…or who…he was actually seeing spiritually when we recall the Words of Jesus. “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it up again in 3 days.” And “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said: ‘Streams of living water will flow from within him.’” John 7:38-39.
It’s impossible not to see that God is meticulous about His calendar dates, and very repetitious with the importance of those same dates year after year. Everything is inter-connected, moving like clockwork. That is WHO HE IS.
So we should sit up and take notice when we realize that April 4 on our 2020 Gregorian calendar is the designated 10th day of God's first month. We learned in a previous lesson how to pinpoint the beginning of God's New Year on His calendar. https://www.facebook.com/fontanacommunitychurch/posts/2840563909357113
“For Christ, our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed.” 1 Corinthians 5:7. 1500 years after God Almighty’s plague, the Only Begotten Son of God chose to lay down His life as the Passover Lamb, once and for all time, so that God’s people, who deserved death for turning against their God and Creator, “would not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
2000 years later, God has cleared our calendars. All that’s left is His.
NOW is the time to choose the Passover Lamb of God, Jesus the Christ, as your Deliverer.
I WILL BRING ONE MORE PLAGUE…
Sunday, March 29 2020
HE SET HIS FACE TO GO TO JERUSALEM…2000 years ago, during this same time of the year, Jesus journeyed from the countryside up to the ancient city of Jerusalem, one last time. As He traveled through town after town, He constantly surprised all who would listen, teaching them in ways they could never have understood under any other circumstances. Indeed, that is what He is doing in our generation through our worldwide virulent infection and forced quarantine.
“When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But he turned and rebuked them. Then they went on to another village.” Luke 9:51-56.
We can learn a lot from the curious phrase “he set His face” to go to Jerusalem. This is an Aramaic expression used several times in the Old Testament to signify resolution or determination. Jesus was a man on a mission, not only in spirit, but in physical countenance. Imagine the face of the Only Begotten Son of God displaying physical determination to meet the appointment of His Father, Almighty God. One look at His face probably convinced any and all that He was totally focused on getting to Jerusalem to fulfill His appointment on the cross as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”.
A lot needed to be accomplished in a short amount of time. So He had sent messengers ahead of Him, to prepare the way. We can see the perfect synchronicity here of heaven and earth. Jesus, the Only Begotten Son of God, is now working in concert with mankind to accomplish a spiritual purpose that would bind them together for all Eternity!
But predictably, there was dissention in the religious community over what the Words of Jesus actually meant. Indeed, James and John were ready to call down fire from heaven and consume those who believed differently.
The Samaritans were aware of what Jesus said to the Samaritan woman at the well. “Believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.” And now Jesus stood in front of them, resolutely intent on His apparent goal of being worshipped in Jerusalem. So those in the Samaritan village “did not receive Him”. In other words, they were questioning what He was doing.
The great irony was, in the coming days the Jewish community would wave palm branches and shout “Hosanana” upon His Jerusalem entrance, but then turn on Him and shout “Crucify Him” when it appeared He was not doing the things they expected, either.
Of course, His disciples figured Jesus was intent on teaching others who didn't know Him like they did. But they quickly learned that Jesus always taught His closest followers the hardest lessons first. Jesus sent shock waves into their midst when He "rebuked" the disciples for their lack of mercy, and not the Samaritans, who wouldn't acknowledge Him.
Let’s stop here to ponder the truth that our Christian community today is a lot like the one Jesus encountered on His way to fulfill God Almighty's Divine Appointments. We receive the Words of Jesus as truth but deny Him the right to expand upon them in our timeline to accomplish His Father’s will. Or we’re like the Jews who followed their scripture prophecy to every “jot and tittle” but weren’t able to even see Messiah in their midst.
They didn’t know what was going to happen back then anymore than we do today. Sure, we have our eschatology and biblical prophecies and expectations. But that doesn’t make them valid or correct. What we need is what both the Samaritans and the Jews needed. to understand the Words of Jesus as He intended, we need to be in the proper sphere of God’s timeline. We need to be humble and willing to reexamine our beliefs in the light of each new day and generation. And don’t forget that Jesus rebuked his disciples for their lack of mercy, but not the Samaritans who wouldn’t acknowledge Him.
Indeed, if we look at this situation through the perspective of time, we see that Jesus was intent on accomplishing a much bigger task than assuming the role of an earthly kingship in Jerusalem. He had an enemy to defeat once and for all before any of that could be accomplished. But it would not be in the manner anyone thought. He would have to lay down His physical life and walk away from His physical throne---for a time.
Yes, today, we have the awesome vantage point of knowing that Jesus not only laid down His life, but He regained it when He was raised from the dead. And we also know that one day soon, He will return to reign on Earth as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
As we continue reading the next verses in Luke 9:57-62, 10:1-4, we are confounded and humbled by the Words of Jesus. “As they were walking along the road headed toward Jerusalem, a man said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.’”
“He said to another man, ‘Follow me.’ But he replied, ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’”
“Still another said, ‘I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.’ Jesus replied, ‘No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.’”
“As He commissioned 72 other disciples and sent them by 2’s ahead of Him to every town and place He would go, He continued to instruct them, saying, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.”
Most of us Christians should be staggering right now under the weight of Jesus’ description of TRUE discipleship: accept rejection without responding in anger …let the dead bury the dead… no goodbyes to loved ones…lambs among wolves…no clothes or money… don’t let your guard down.
And there’s still so much more that happened in those final weeks. They were jam-packed full of parables and lessons that only the Son of God Himself could teach. The Good Samaritan ends with Jesus posing a question that still divides religious folks today. 'Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?' The expert in the law replied, 'The one who had mercy on him.' Jesus told him 'Go and do likewise.'" Luke 10:36-37.
Jesus taught us how to pray by giving us the model "Lord's Prayer". But then He insulted the religious folks of the day when He boldly announced, "Woe to you Pharisees! For you love to have the seat of honor in the synagogues and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces. Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without realizing it.”
Jesus continued to shock and dismay the religious establishment when He said, "Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided: father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
The gospel of Luke alone records 35-40 parables and teachings from chapter 10-19, with Jesus sending out the 72 disciples, His triumphant entry into Jerusalem, healing 14 people along the way, and all in a matter of days or weeks. It is so VERY obvious that this was one of THE most productive times on this earth in the life of Jesus Christ, the Son of God!
Yes, today we literally follow in the footsteps of Jesus during His final time on this earth. We know this because we learned in last week's lesson how to pinpoint the beginning of God's New Year. https://www.facebook.com/fontanacommunitychurch/posts/2840563909357113
God’s Word tells us in Exodus 12:6 that the sacrifice of the lamb occurred at twilight on the 14th day of the first month. “Twilight” is more accurately translated “between the evenings”. (There is a Hebrew word for twilight, not used here.) “Between the evenings” was understood until 200 BC to designate the hours of 3-5 pm, referred to as the 1st evening with the 2nd evening occurring at sunset.
Deuteronomy 16:1, 6 adds further explanation: "Observe the month of Aviv and celebrate the Passover of the Lord your God, because in the month of Aviv he brought you out of Egypt by night...There you must sacrifice the Passover in the evening, when the sun goes down, on the anniversary of your departure from Egypt."
The death of Jesus between the evenings fulfilled God's appointed deliverance of His chosen people for all time. Paul said it best in Corinthians 5:7: "...For Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed." The 14th day God's first month will begin at twilight, April 7 on our 2020 Gregorian calendar.
Jesus set His face to go Jerusalem, and sent messengers ahead to prepare the way. As we are called by God in the same manner to prepare the way of our returning Lord, may we be like God's servant Isaiah who said, "The Lord God will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed" Isaiah 50:7
HE SET HIS FACE TO GO TO JERUSALEM…
Sunday, March 22 2020
IN THE BEGINNING GOD…In our lifetime, we are witnessing the whole earth literally coming to a standstill. God Almighty has hit the reset button, physically, and spiritually. The evening of March 25 on our 2020 Gregorian calendar will usher in darkness giving way to "Earthrise", as a new year, and a new era, begin for the entire world at the direction of God Himself.
The timing of man's witnessing "Earthrise" is impeccable. When it happened in 1968, Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot Jim Lovell, and Lunar Module Pilot William Anders became the first of God's creation to travel beyond low Earth orbit, the first to see Earth as a whole planet, the first to directly see the far side of the Moon, and the first to witness "Earthrise", as pictured by the commemorative stamp illustrating this post. They also became the first to communicate God's Word from the vast expanse of the Universe He created. As they took turns reading the first 10 verses of Genesis 1, a billion people on Earth heard the Word of God being broadcast 240,000 miles above them, and knew beyond a doubt, a new era of time was being ushered in.
"We are now approaching lunar sunrise. For all the people back on earth, the crew of Apollo 8 has a message we would like to send to you." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bnyNXLXl8iA
"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth."
This profound statement stands alone, defying exegesis or commentary. If we had been with the astronauts that memorable day, we would have understood why they chose to read God’s Word at just such a defining point in human history. Indeed, it wasn't about all the nuances of what happened when, or the swagger of intellectual knowledge and ability of mankind. The Apollo 8 astronauts realized there is all the difference in the world (pun intended) between SEEING God as Creator and SEEKING Him as Creator.
That's exactly where we are today, but even more so. A new era is being ushered into the world in our lifetime. Nothing will ever be the same again. Someone else is in charge of our time, and what we can and can't do. We have all been reduced to humans... which is really what we have been all along.
We've had flashes of God as Creator, and many of us have bowed in His presence, acknowledging Him as Lord and Creator. But soon after, we set about creating our own worlds, effectively SEEING God as Creator but not SEEKING Him as Creator on a daily basis.
Every day as we hurtle through space and time at 66,700 miles per hour, we've sought everything ELSE except our Creator. We have drifted into darkness, physically and spiritually, out of the presence of our Maker and His blessing and healing. We are now subject to increasing global pandemics and human misery and suffering. The whole earth has been quarantined because of our propensity to infect ourselves with our own gods, our own pestilence and death.
We're been reckoning physical and spiritual light and darkness on our own terms. If we refuse to honor God in the physical calendar of His created time and on His appointed Holy days, consider that we have stepped into into spiritual darkness, away from Him, and will never be ever be able to honor Him in a way that glorifies Him. Our appointed Gregorian calendar and days of the week are prime examples of how we have brought other gods into our lives daily. See more: https://www.facebook.com/fontanacommunitychurch/posts/2845514275528743
We need to acknowledge life and it's marked passage as God created it. “And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.” Genesis 1:5.
All it takes is 8 minutes for the light of sunrise or sunset to get to Earth, where we can observe it. That's how quickly things can change from darkness to light under God's direction. The day begins in approaching darkness at sunset, and morning begins at sunrise with first light. Together, and in that order, they constitute what God called "day".
"Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also." Genesis 1:14-16
Today, astronomers estimate there are ten thousand billion trillion stars – that’s a 1 followed by 25 zeros! And there are between 100 billion and 1 trillion stars in 1 normal galaxy. Our universe alone may contain 100 billion galaxies! Using elements from the staggering array of His heavenly handiwork, God has appointed a lunar and solar calendar for His creation on Earth. Genesis 1:14. Jeremiah 31:35 and Psalm 136:7-9 state these lights are the sun, moon and stars.
On March 16, 2020, the day and night hours were exactly equal, marked as the Vernal Equilux, providing a good indication that the physical circuit of the sun in the heavens was completed as appointed by the Almighty. After this point the daylight hours begin to outweigh the dark hours, and the sun can truly be said to have begun another renewed cycle, or year.
God has given us an awesome spiritual picture of this in Psalm 19:4-6. “...In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course, It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat." We explored the physical and spiritual imagery of Jesus being crowned King, and leaving the heavens, making His way to His Bride, His church. https://www.facebook.com/fontanacommunitychurch/posts/2833263450087159
God's appointed time periods within the year are based on the cycles of the moon which He created. The Hebrew word for month, “chodesh”, literally means “new moon.” A new month begins with the rising of the new moon at twilight and lasts until the next new moon rises at twilight. The moon’s phases follow one another in clock-like precision, giving mankind the ability to easily follow God's calendar as He has designated it in the heavens.
Our Creator also formed the stars and their specific, named groupings in the constellations. (Genesis 1:14; Job 9:8-9; Job 26:13; Job 38:31-33; Amos 5:8). “Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades? Can you loosen Orion’s belt? Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons or lead out the Bear with its cubs? Job 38:31-32.
The Pleiades is a star cluster approximately 400 light-year distance from Earth near the constellations of Orion and Taurus in the night sky. The cluster includes seven bright stars that are easily seen with the naked eye, gravitationally bound together. (One can only imagine how Job knew that.) Every year the star group appears in close proximity to the newly visible crescent moon -- just after sunset, in the Spring, at the beginning of the FIRST biblical month.
The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, “This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year.” Exodus 12:1-2. The name of the month is given In Deuteronomy 16:1, where the Israelites are told to keep the Passover in the month of Abib, because they were "passed over" by the 10th death plague of Egypt on that very day by God Almighty.
Numbers 9:5 states that they kept the Passover "on the fourteenth day of the first month at even in the wilderness of Sinai..." Yes, the Israelites observed the first celebration of the Passover on the prescribed month, setting the date in the middle of the desert, with only the heavens as their reference point. And they did so every year for the remainder of their 40 years in the desert!
On the evening of March 25 on our 2020 Gregorian calendar, we begin the watch for “chodesh”, or "new moon" for God's New Year to officially begin. Yes, we have to watch. Because contrary to contemporary opinion, God's New Year cannot be appointed by man on his published calendar.
"Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven...for signs," Recognizing God’s 1st month is extremely important, as it literally ushers in God’s appointed dates for the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ! When Jesus came as the Passover Lamb, whose blood was shed for all mankind for forgiveness of sins, that divine appointment had been appointed on God's calendar 1500 years before. When He was raised from the dead as the sinless, Unleavened Bread, He fulfilled the timing of God Almighty made 1500 years prior. When Jesus ascended to the Father after His death and resurrection on Firstfruits, He not only fulfilled the 1500-year appointment of the Almighty but guaranteed the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in His name, 50 days from that date, known as Pentecost!
We also can look forward to heavenly signs of at least 3 more divine appointments on God’s calendar. Jesus will return as the anointed Trumpet Call for our righteous ingathering. Jesus will reign as the divine Atonement for our sin. And finally, Jesus will Tabernacle WITH His people when He returns as the King of Glory! Yes, when Jesus returns to this earth, it will be by Divine Appointment only, right on schedule by God's calendar. Check out God's appointment schedule given to His people in Leviticus 23.
God’s calendar is not about celebrating a religious festival or a Sabbath day just to please Him. It’s always been about the revelation of Jesus, the Christ, the Deliverer, the Anointed One, come to set His people free! “Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.” Colossians 2:16-17
God has hit the reset button. And He's done it through a pandemic virus named "corona", Latin for "crown". God Almighty is using man's mutant "crown" virus of their own making to convict us of our sinful bent of "crowning" other gods before Him and making them a priority on our manmade calendars and thus in our everyday lives.
In the coming year, as we hurtle through space, we will travel nearly 600 million miles. That's certainly more than enough time to be humbled by the Almighty, as He reveals His glory and majesty, just as He planned all along. His plan to redeem us and restore the earth will culminate soon in the corona-tion of His Son, Jesus as King of Kings over the entire earth!
The Apostle Paul said this to the people of Athens, "The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth...made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us...’” (Acts 17:24-28)
"IN THE BEGINNING GOD..."
Monday, March 16 2020
LIKE A BRIDEGROOM COMING OUT OF HIS CHAMBER… The whole world has been yanked from its appointed timetable and put in physical quarantine because of coronavirus. Coronavirus’ name is Latin, and "corona" means "crown". Just around the corner is the anniversary of the death and resurrection of Jesus, mockingly crowned by man as "King of the Jews". Now is the time for us to begin to understand that God has a calendar in place for HIS crowning on this earth of JESUS AS KING OF KINGS. According to Him, this year will begin its official closing on March 16, 2020. In spiritual imagery, what follows looks “like a Bridegroom coming out of His chamber…” on His way to the Bride.
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun. It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other...” Psalm 19:1-6.
But mere observation and recognition of God’s appointments does not deliver the spiritual understanding for which they were created. To understand the imagery of the Bridegroom coming out of His chamber as Jesus leaving the throneroom, and heading to earth, we must be able to view the heavens in the Spirit, not with the wisdom of the world. “This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit… But we have the mind of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 2:13-14,16.
The ancients had one important thing in their favor which enabled them to easily understand the spiritual lessons in God’s creation: TIME. Back then, plenty of folks lived almost a 1000 years, and without electricity, had eons of time to sit, night after night, month after month, year after year, century after century, and observe the constellations as they progressed across the sky, the sun as it rose and set, the moon as it appeared in its four quarters. And remember, they had not-too-distant ancestors who had come to know God in the Garden of Eden, and after, and passed their wisdom down. Though these folks didn’t have God's written word to guide them, they understood and depended on Him as Creator, and eagerly received and celebrated His Word expressed to them in the vast expanse of the world He had created.
Right this very moment, God is giving us the gift of the ancients. No more excuses that we don’t have time to receive God’s Word by sitting at the feet of our teacher, Jesus. The whole world has been removed from its perceived time schedule and placed under quarantine because it is infected. See this as a spiritual truth, as well as a physical one, and you have received wisdom from the Almighty. And this is occurring for us at the exact time that God’s created world is beginning a brand-new year. This is an extremely important time on God’s calendar, and it should be on ours, too. Under the full moon of the very first month of God’s year, Jesus sacrificed His life so that the world would not perish from the pestilence of sin.
"Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years." Genesis 1:14. Jeremiah 31:35 and Psalm 136:7-9 state these lights are the sun, moon and stars.
God’s Word says the light of the sun is used to mark a year. On March 16, 2020, the day and night hours will be exactly equal, marked as the Vernal Equilux. Here in Fontana Dam, NC the sun rose this morning at 7:44am and will set this evening at 7:44pm. The physical circuit of the sun in the heavens will be completed as appointed by the Almighty. After this point the daylight hours begin to outweigh the dark hours, and the sun can truly be said to have begun another renewed cycle, or year.
Some look to March 19, the astronomical point called the Equinox, at which the center of the sun’s disk crosses an imaginary line in the sky called the celestial equator. The equinox is in a shifting process called "precession of the equinox" due to the wobble of the earth on its axis, causing the equinox to drift backward in time, and can’t be reliable on its own to gauge God's completed circuit of a year in our century. But it can help us to be on the watch for the beginning of the first month of the new year, using the stars for confirmation of the year cycle, as God’s Word states He appointed them for this, also.
Our Creator formed the stars and their specific, named groupings in the constellations. (Genesis 1:14; Job 9:8-9; Job 26:13; Job 38:31-33; Amos 5:8). “Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades? Can you loosen Orion’s belt? Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons or lead out the Bear with its cubs? Job 38:31-32
The Pleiades is a star cluster approximately a 400 light-year distance from Earth near the constellations of Orion and Taurus in the night sky. The cluster includes seven bright stars that are easily seen with the naked eye, gravitationally bound together. One can only imagine how Job knew that. Every year the star group appears in close proximity to the newly visible crescent moon -- just after sunset, in the Spring, at the beginning of the FIRST biblical month. "Seek him that made the seven stars and Orion, and turned the shadow of death into the morning, and made the day dark with night: that called for the waters of the sea, and poured them out upon the face of the earth: The Lord is his name …” Amos 5:8. Go to Beckstrom Observatory for a printable March Evening Starmap. http://www.beckstromobservatory.com/…/March-2020-Basic-Even…
In ancient Israel, the importance of the Vernal Equilux, which is the equivalent of the ancient Vernal Equinox, is that it heralded the appointment of the next new moon as the beginning of a New Year. Every month started with the rising of the new moon, “hodesh” in Hebrew, marked as the first day of the month, and lasted until the next new moon, 29-30 days. It was a simple and effective way to mark time as God ordained it. The years did not have a continuous cycle of weeks but instead the cycle started over with each new moon. New Moon day was a worship day followed by six working days, with the first seventh-day Sabbath on the eighth of the month, then on the fifteenth, and in succession of 7 days, as first recorded in Exodus 16. (Exodus 16:1, 23. Numbers 28:11-15; Psalm 81:3-5; Isaiah 66:23) A reckoning of God's calendar superimposed on our 2020 Gregorian calendar, along with a lost of all bibilical appointments https://fontanacommunitychurch.org/like_a_bridegroom_2020_c…
We have been given the sun and its hours of light to help define the length of our year and the stars to specifically identify the beginning of the first month, in conjunction with the moon's cycle, a simple and effective way to keep up with time as God ordained it. It required diligence and patience from the ancients to observe the heavens often during each month. That explains why the observation-based calendar given by God was gradually replaced in 70-1178 AD by the mathematically calculated one, that did not vary according to the heavens. That is the calendar used today by the Jewish nation. So, on our Gregorian calendar, God’s appointed Days may vary by date depending on which method is used. Also, the way most calculate the Sabbath is based on man’s appointed calendar, counting by 7’s. By doing so, years are marked in advance, instead of waiting and watching for God’s perfect timing through the heavenly appointment of the sun, moon and stars.
The Jewish philosopher Philo, who lived at the time of Jesus, also understood the importance of the language of the heavens.( Remember that our Vernal Equilux is the equivalent of the ancient's Equinox.) “Moses puts down the beginning of the vernal equinox as the first month of the year, attributing the chief honour, not as some persons do to the periodical revolutions of the year in regard of time, but rather to the graces and beauties of nature which it has caused to shine upon men . . . Accordingly, in this month, about the fourteenth day of the month, when the orb of the moon is usually about to become full, the public universal feast of the Passover is celebrated . . ." (Philo, On The Life Of Moses II, Section XLI (41) (222-224).
Eusebius, a Greek historian of the 3rd century AD also wrote, "… it was also known to the Jews anciently, and before [Messiah], and was chiefly observed by them, as we may learn from Philo, Josephus, and Musaeus; and not only from these, but also from those still more ancient, i. e. the two Agathobuli, commonly called the master, and of Aristobulus, that most distinguished scholar, who was one of the seventy that translated the holy scriptures from the Hebrew. These. . . say that all ought to sacrifice the Passover alike after the vernal equinox, in the middle of the first month." Ecclesiastical History Popular Edition. p. 313
So now we should be able to understand more fully, why this physical time of the year is so important. The first month of God’s New Year heralds the coming anniversary of the Death, Burial and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the one identified in John 1: 1-3 as Creator alongside Almighty God! “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made…” John 1:1-3. We anticipate that God's New Year will begin on the evening of March 25 2020, with the sighting of the crescent new moon.
In the New Testament, we clearly see that God reveals Himself through creation to give us the chance to come to know Him. "For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse." Romans 1:20. The heavens signaled the birth of Jesus, leading the wise men straight to Him. When Jesus died, the daylight sky turned dark. Isaiah said in 13:10 that in the coming day of the Lord, “The stars of heaven and their constellation will not show their light. The rising sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light.” And for many Christian scholars, the ministry of Jesus can be seen in Revelation through the imagery of heavenly constellations themselves.
Indeed, it is not foolishness to see the Bridegroom, Jesus the Christ, in the refracted rays of sunlight at the appointed time, spiritually stepping forth from His chamber in the heavens, making His way to the Bride, whom the apostle Paul likens to the Church at Corinth. "I feel a divine jealousy for you, for I betrothed you to Christ to present you as a pure bride to her one husband." 2 Corinthians 11:2.
The whole world now has an opportunity understand this, having been brought to a standstill by a virus which means “crown”. Jesus also said this to the church at Smyrna through John in Revelation 2:8-11: "Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer... Be faithful even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life." “Smyrna” is a Greek word used to translate the Hebrew word for myrrh, a resin used as a perfume for the living in Matthew 2:11 and the dead in John 19:39. Myrrh was produced by crushing the plant, causing it to give off an overpowering fragrant aroma. Hence the analogy of the church at Smyrna, who would be crushed by persecution, with the end result of being a fragrant aroma of faithfulness to God. It was Jesus telling the church at Smyrna that it was about to undergo intense persecution and tribulation.
Yes, we have many questions and much to discern. But we do know for sure that the coronation (corona-tion), the spiritual crowning of Jesus Christ, will occur immediately before He returns the second time to rule His kingdom on this earth! Revelation 11:14-18 says this will take place after the “second woe.” Daniel 7:10 records the crowning of Jesus Christ as King of Kings as God's judgment begins.
We close today's lesson with the words of Jesus: “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.”
"LIKE A BRIDEGROOM COMING OUT OF HIS CHAMBER"
Monday, March 16 2020
OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN… Our Good Father. Our Perfect Father. Our Loving Father. Be merciful to us for we have sinned. We have sinned against you, and are no longer worthy to be called Your children, bearing Your image.
There isn’t a one of us that hasn’t transgressed mightily against you. We've seen our image in the mirror of godly works and now worship ourselves and our religious identities. We pridefully glorify ourselves and what we've accomplished, using your name as a byline to achieve our earthly and spiritual aspirations.
What an affront to You, Father, to use Your Word as a tool to validate our accomplishments. We’ve spent centuries caught up in biblical doctrines that were espoused to meet the needs and service the contemporary “Christian”. We gave little thought or credence to the actual intent of Your Word as it was given by the inspiration of Your Holy Spirit to the saints of old. What one of us is now willing to chuck it all, and start all over, truly learning at the feet of our Rabbi Jesus?
Even now, we gather in Your Name across this land to ask You to deliver us from the hand of pestilence and chaos. Like petulant children, we want what we want, and never give a thought that our Father is looking for children who will simply bow to whatever His will is for His Kingdom on this Earth.
When will we understand that you truly hold the world and everything in it the Palm of Your Hand? We’ve heard it said over and over. “The Lord gives.The Lord takes away. Blessed be the Name of the Lord.” But we don’t have a clue. We haven’t an inkling of Your Omnipotence and Your Kingship, nor of the humble, childlike trust you desire.
But that’s changing, right this very minute. As the world comes to a standstill, Your Word has already spoken Your Will. “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."
Our Father in Heaven, blessed is Your Name. YOUR Kingdom come. YOUR will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. We ask for nothing else on this day except Your Name be glorified through Your Son, Jesus, throughout the entire world!
Monday, March 16 2020
Coronavirus is on every one's mind right now, one way or another. It seems that some are of the opinion that the whole thing is much ado about nothing, and that what is occuring now is the result of panic and widespread fear.
While it's certainly true that some reactions are being prompted by fear, there is much more to consider. The adrenaline response fear can provide is hard-wired into our being from the Almighty. It helps us respond quickly and decisively in life-threatening situations.
Can it get out of hand? Sure. Can we be apathetic and naive? Sure. But this much we do know. A storm is coming, and storm warnings have been issued. Now the warnings are being ramped up, saying this may be the storm of the century, and we need to prepare for it.
Of course, how we respond is up to us. Perhaps we need to consider that God Almighty is warning us right now to seek physical shelter from this predictably insane storm of life, and find our much needed spiritual rest quarantined with Him for awhile...
"BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD."
Sunday, March 08 2020
GOD IS WITH US..."Take counsel together, but it will come to nothing; Speak the word, but it will not stand, For God is with us." Isaiah 8:10 has been sung for millennia at this time of the year to celebrate the deliverance of Purim, the salvation of a nation scheduled for total annihilation by their enemy.
This is what the Lord says to me
With His strong hand upon me
Warning me not to follow
The way of this people.
Do not call conspiracy
Everything this people calls a conspiracy;
Do not fear what they fear,
And do not dread it.
The Lord Almighty is the one
You are to regard as holy,
He is the one you are to fear,
He is the one you are to dread.
He will be a holy place;
For both Israel and Judah he will be
A stone that causes people to stumble
And a rock that makes them fall.
And for the people of Jerusalem
He will be a trap and a snare
Many of them will stumble;
They will fall and be broken,
They will be snared and captured.
Bind up this testimony of warning
And seal up God’s instruction
Among my disciples.
I will wait for the Lord,
Who is hiding his face
From the descendants of Jacob.
I will put my trust in him.
Clearly, the Almighty is speaking through the prophet Isaiah to remind ALL God’s chosen people on Planet Earth that our biggest threat during any perceived enemy conspiracy is our own fear and dread. Indeed, it will only serve to detour and distract us from God’s plan for our salvation. The appointed and anointed Rock, Jesus the Christ, becomes nothing more than a stumbling stone, offending us when we pridefully try to step right over Him as "the way, the truth, and the life". The result is inevitable. “They will fall and be broken, they will be snared and captured.”
Today’s lesson, appointed on God’s Calendar for the 13th, 14th, and 15th of Adar, March 8, 9, and 10 on our 2020 Gregorian calendar, is a prime example of another nation threatened by those whose sole intent was to wipe them from the face of the earth. “Dispatches were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces with the order to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews—young and old, women and children—on a single day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods.” Esther 3:13
A lot, "pur", had been cast by the evil, scheming Persian, Haman, to select the date for slaughtering every single Jew living in Persia. The Jewess, Esther, ("Hadassah" in Hebrew), who was chosen to marry the Persian King, heard about Haman's plan. She was encouraged by her cousin, Mordecai, to intervene in the affairs of her betrothed monarch, King Xerxes. Mordecai sent her a letter penned with the immortal words: "And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”
Esther spent 3 days fasting and praying before she stepped forward and appeared before Xerxes without being summoned, an offense punishable by death. She revealed her hidden Jewish heritage and begged for mercy for herself and her people. She successfully interceded, and not only secured the lives of the remnant Jewish nation, she also set a trap for the evil Haman, and he was executed by the King.
The end result was after only 2 months, an edict authorized by King Xerxes that had previously doomed the Jewish nation to death, was reversed and that very same King gave the Jews the royal right to defend themselves and to pay their enemies back. God intervened in the affairs of mankind, bringing his chosen servant, Esther, to the place where she would glorify Him by trusting Him with her life. As a result, the remnant of Israel defeated their enemies in only 2 days, and Esther became Queen of Persia, the largest empire on the earth during her lifetime.
Mordecai sent letters to all Jews telling them to always remember God’s deliverance in the face of their enemies by celebrating Purim every year on the 14th and 15th days of Adar. “And they were also to celebrate that month as the month when their sadness was turned into joy. It was a month when their crying was changed into a day of celebration…Therefore these days were called Purim, from the word pur.…And these days of Purim should never fail to be celebrated by the Jews—nor should the memory of these days die out among their descendants." Esther 9:22,26, 28
Purim should slay us Christians in America with its double-edged sword of truth. Satanic lots were cast against a nation with the sole intent of annihilating every last soul. What saved them from their enemies was not a physical wall of protection, a calculated political maneuver, or even a show of military might. It was the power of God Almighty triumphing over Satan and his schemes through two people who simply trusted Him for their deliverance and that of their country.
Rightly so, these two people will continue to amaze and confound humanity for all time. The hero of the story is a single woman thrust into the limelight when she was chosen to reign as Queen over the largest empire in the entire world. She should have retreated in fear and dread, but instead she stepped forward in faith and trust in God, willing to put her own life at risk for the sake of her people.
And there’s her mentor, a man whose job as cup-bearer not only required that he serve and guard the King’s cup, but regularly lay down his life by tasting the contents to assure that it was not poisoned before serving it to the King. So trusted was the cup-bearer that only a select few were recorded throughout all of history!
One can only hope that we Christians will begin to understand that the Lord God DOES have a global picture and plan in place, right this very minute. He reminds us of exactly that through this powerful lesson. Esther 1:2 documents that King Xerxes ruled from his royal throne in the citadel of Susa. Both Daniel and Nehemiah also spent time in Susa during the Babylonian captivity. King Cyrus of Persia also ruled from there, becoming an instrument of God’s will to deliver Judah back to Jerusalem. Biblical Susa is known today as Shush, Iran, and is recognized as the birthplace of that very nation. King Cyrus is recognized in the annals of history as the Father of Iran.
Moving forward along God's big timetable of history, we should be prepared to be continually be amazed by God's hand. The Persians of Susa, known then as Parthians and Medes, along with others, like "the Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs", were “declaring the wonders of God” in one tongue during Pentecost over 2000 years ago in Jerusalem. (Acts 2:9-11)
Yes, along with Arabs, Egyptians, Libyans and many other foreigners, folks from Iran received the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, just 50 days after the resurrection of Jesus Christ. From that time until today, Christianity has been a continuous presence there, even though the Muslims arrived around 600 years later. In fact, the ancient Aramaic language spoken by Jesus is still spoken today by ethnic Assyrian Christians living in Iran. It is also believed by many that two of the disciples of Jesus, Jude and Simon the Zealot, ministered in Iran following Pentecost, and were buried there in a church erected by St. Jude himself in 66AD.
Today, the Jewish presence of Esther and Mordecai continues in the biblical town of Susa, known today as Shush. It is part of a growing spiritual revival in a country that is thought to house the fastest growing Christian church in the entire world. "More Iranians have become Christians in the last 20 years than in the previous 13 centuries put together since Islam came to Iran. In 1979, there were an estimated 500 Christians from a Muslim background in Iran. Today, there are hundreds of thousands—some say more than 1 million. Whatever the exact number, many Iranians are turning to Jesus as Lord and Savior.” https://www.facebook.com/fontanacommunitychurch/posts/1265659453514241
It’s high time we Christians were humbled by God’s global plan for mankind. He is calling to Himself the direct descendants of the anointed Twelve Tribes of Israel, in blood and faith, as well as many other unbelieving Arabs and Middle Eastern people. And He is using the very weapons that are being hurled at these people to convince them that they need to throw themselves at the mercy of Jesus Christ, and believe in Him as the only way to true salvation and life everlasting.
The punchline for this eternal lesson reaches far beyond mere words. Christians all over the world should be totally humiliated by our fear and dread that the conspiracy of Islam could EVER be a threat to Christianity. Clearly we are focused on the wrong thing. “This is what the Lord says to me with his strong hand upon me, warning me not to follow the way of this people: “Do not call conspiracy everything this people calls a conspiracy; do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it. The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread…”
Our faith in God Almighty is the only weapon that will EVER bring down our enemies. Now we can truly begin to understand why Isaiah 8:10 has been sung for thousands of years to celebrate the ancient deliverance of Purim.. Indeed, we Christians in America should be shouting this scripture all over the universe about right now.
"Take counsel together, but it will come to nothing; Speak the word, but it will not stand…”
FOR GOD IS WITH US.
Wednesday, March 04 2020
INSTEAD HE WITHDREW…“Therefore Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the people of Judea. Instead he withdrew to a region near the wilderness, to a village called Ephraim, where he stayed with his disciples.” John 11:54.
After raising Lazarus from the dead, last week's lesson: (https://www.facebook.com/fontanacommunitychurch/posts/2784833521596819) Jesus retreated to the village of Ephraim. That village is believed to be the same one known today as Ephraim-Taybeth. 1400 people still live in this picturesque mountain town. The video “Snow in Taybeth 2/3/2012” by former resident Wizam Khoury is absolutely the perfect setting as we follow in the footsteps of Jesus during the last winter of His life. Our thanks to Mr. Khoury for his permission to post it here. Follow this link to his photo: https://fontanacommunitychurch.org/wizam_khoury
The Arabic Christmas hymn in the audio background, “TALJ, TALJ” (SNOW, SNOW), is sung by the Lebanese singer Fairuz. The English translation of the lyrics is absolutely mesmerizing! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w037ftzOZRg&feature=emb_share&fbclid=IwAR2-LjzhF3Serhz8dACd3OP1RZMkBZ4VX-wWYFIyYUsjUc4h0XeWPNQ0SFw
"Snow, snow is falling on the world, snow
The stars are perplexed
And the flowers along the roads are shivering
Snow, snow is falling on the world, snow
The clouds are weary
And on the hills tents are illuminated
There is a baby awake in the cave
And his sweet eyes are full of love
Snow, snow is falling on the world, snow
Every heart, every meadow has flowered with love like snow
The shepherds are coming from abroad
Tonight is the night we have wished for
Snow, snow has brought prosperity and love
To every heart and every meadow
Friendship, prosperity and love
Are falling like the snow.
The history of the village of Ephraim-Taybeh (pronounced Tie-bay) goes back 5000 years. The site, first settled by the Canaanites, is mentioned in the Bible in Joshua 18:23 as a town of Benjamin, called Ophrah. Later, it was renamed Ephraim. Located just 25 miles driving distance from Jerusalem in the biblical land of Judea and Samaria known as the West Bank of Jordan, it is currently under Israeli occupation. It is believed to be the only all-Christian Palestinian community in the entire Holy Land.
Situated on the eastern side of the highest mountain range in biblical Judea and Samaria, the town has always been known for its panoramic views of the Holy Land. During daylight hours, there are magnificent views of the Dead Sea, the Jordan valley, Jericho, and the mountainous desert of Judea. At night, the lights of Jerusalem sparkle like diamonds in the vast expanse of the southwestern desert, while the lights of Amman, Jordan, can be seen to the north. On a moonlit night you can even see the contour of the edges of the Dead Sea in the southern distance. No small wonder that Ephraim-Taybeh has been known for millennia as the “village of retreat”.
The last phrase of John 11:54 “…where He stayed with His disciples" tells us this was not a quick unplanned visit by Jesus. He took His disciples there to prepare them for His coming death. He went there to sit with them on a mountain top on a crisp winter night and gaze down upon cities who claimed to know The Almighty and serve Him, but refused to even acknowledge the Son of God when He walked among them.
Jesus seemed to favor retreating to the mountainside to gain clarity and peace. These were always followed by extremely productive spiritual times. In fact, He chose the twelve disciples after He spent the night on a mountainside in prayer.
There are many other biblical accounts of Jesus’ withdrawal from crowds. After He was baptized by John in the river Jordan, “... the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.” Mark 1:12-13. The Mount of Temptation is only 13 miles from Taybeth-Ephraim. The cave below is traditionally known as the place where Jesus spent 40 days and nights in the wilderness fasting.
In Mark 6:45-52, Jesus went to a mountainside to pray. That evening, He saw His disciples out on the Sea of Galilee, struggling against the wind. He went out to them by walking on the water. It was then that the disciples first began to understand that the One who had called them out of the world was the true Son of God.
Jesus also sought solace through retreat after healing a man covered with leprosy in Luke 5:12-14. The account ends with these words in verses 15-16. “Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”
Finally, who can forget the poignant account in Mark 14:32-42 of Jesus and His disciples in Gethsemane the night of His betrayal, when Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” Then He took Peter, James and John further, and shared His sadness with them. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death…Stay here and keep watch.” Then Jesus went alone to say to His Father “Abba, Father…everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
Jesus would leave and return to His disciples 3 more times, and every single time He would find them sleeping. Returning the third time, He said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”
Like the disciples, many of us are busily caught up in following Jesus’ leading as much as we can. But we really haven’t learned how to focus on why we’re doing it in the first place. It should be because we just love Him enough to follow Him and stay awake. But when our priority becomes “saving the world” or “standing for right”, we can get caught up in the politics and physical struggles of this world. Instead of simply following the Master into the Garden for a time of reflection and prayer we wear ourselves out trying to accomplish the impossible. And you know what happens when you’re physically or spiritually depleted. You go to sleep. Jesus is speaking to us, right now repeating His phrase, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough!”
Even if the Words of Jesus are getting through to us right now, the first thing we’re probably going to think about is how to forge ahead up the mountain of our glorious Christianity, against all obstacles, save the world and achieve power for our brand of Christianity. Without realizing it, we have entered the unholy realm of politics, defined as: “the activities associated with the governance of a country or other area, especially the debate or conflict among individuals or parties having or hoping to achieve power”.
We need today’s reminder that retreating from the way of the world is not a choice. Our “Ephraim” is an absolute necessity to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. Because when we choose to withdraw from the ways of the world with its ideals and focus, there is room to move closer to Him. We are able to see His Word with more depth and clarity than we ever thought possible. Then and only then, can we see that the only truth that really matters has been right under our nose the whole time! Everyone in this world has a common bond. We all desperately need Jesus!
Even though Jesus was born into the middle of a country full of prejudice and longstanding religious boundaries, His ministry far surpassed man-made national borders, governing politics and religious creeds. And it still does to this very day.
Retreat now and draw closer to Jesus, and YOU will receive His perfect gift, falling on us ALL. "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow."
“Friendship, prosperity and love
Are falling like the snow.
Sunday, February 23 2020
I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE… During the last winter of His life, Jesus made an earth-shattering statement that literally brought the future into the present. “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives by believing in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26.
“I AM the resurrection and the life.” We need to read this over and over again to let the Words of Jesus permeate our hearts and our very being. Heaven is on earth and speaking to us through the power of His Spirit and The Word, right this very minute.
This is the setting for His words: “Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) So, the sisters sent word to Jesus, ‘Lord, the one you love is sick.’” John 11:1-3
Jesus had just received word that a dear friend was sick. Instead of focusing on the illness, Jesus immediately grasped the incredible opportunity it presented. "When he heard this, Jesus said, 'This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.'”
In the midst of chaos and grief, what an unbelievable blessing was about to occur! Jesus was so certain of this fact that He waited 2 more days to announce His return to the home of His friend, Lazarus. The response of those around Him was predictable as they questioned His touch with reality. “But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”
The disciples did what many of us Christians do when faced with a spiritual dilemma. They quickly decided they needed to use their own intellect to plan their course of action. They knew Bethany was just 2 miles from Jerusalem, and they knew the Jewish leaders had tried to stone Jesus a few short months before following His address at the Feast of Dedication. So instead of believing in Jesus...
Verses 9-10 record how Jesus responded to their flawed earthly reasoning. “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”
We can learn something very valuable from this allegory. Everything is ordained within its limits, like day and night. So, when it comes to moving forward in our spiritual life, if it’s not in God’s timing, in His light, we’re probably going to stumble around…a lot.
"After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.” His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep."
These verses are wisdom straight from the mind of Jesus. He defined Lazarus’s death as sleep. And His plan to end death’s hold on Lazarus was to wake him up! The timing for this revelation of truth is impeccable. In a few short weeks, Jesus would defeat death on the cross, and would Himself awaken from its grasp. “I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” Revelation 1:18
When Jesus spelled out plainly that Lazarus was dead in verse 14, He followed it up with a statement to the disciples that should shake our very souls. " …Lazarus is dead. And I am glad I was not there. I am happy for you because now you will believe in me. We will go to him now.”
When Jesus and His followers arrived in Bethany, Lazarus had already been dead and in the tomb for four days. Martha ran out to greet him saying, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you anything you ask.” Jesus’ reply would astound the world. “Your brother will rise and be alive again.”
Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
Jesus' reply challenges the very depths of our traditional beliefs today, just as He did Martha's. “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
" I AM the resurrection..." In other words, we don't have to wait for the last day. He is here. Right Now. In THIS place, in this time. He is Calling out to us, asking us to believe in Him as Messiah, sent by God to be the Savior of the world.
May we be quick to answer as Martha did. “Yes, Lord. I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God. You are the one who was coming to the world.”
Then Lazarus’ other sister, Mary, came and bowed at the feet of Jesus and again uttered this statement of belief in verse 32 “...Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
Verses 33-34 continue to provide us with invaluable insight. "When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come along with her weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.' Where have you laid him?' He asked. 'Come and see, Lord, they replied.'"
What follows next in verse 35 is the shortest verse in the Bible and without a doubt, the most profound. "Jesus wept." This is the first record in the Bible that Jesus wept. "Then the Jews said, 'Look! He loved Lazarus very much!'” John 11:36.
The people around Jesus reacted just like many folks do. They made assumptions based on their limited understanding of the situation. Though it sounded like a plausible explanation, it wasn’t the truth then, and it isn’t the truth now. How do we know? Because Jesus wept only one more time in His entire life and that was when He entered Jerusalem for the last time. And he wept for the same reason He wept in Bethany at the death of Lazarus.
Luke 19:41 tells us "As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”
Now we understand why Jesus say he was glad He was not there when His friend died. If Jesus had been there, as Martha and Mary said, Lazarus would not have died. “Lazarus is dead. And I am glad I was not there. I am happy for you because now you will believe in me.”
Now it becomes clear that Jesus wept both times because it took death for people to believe in Him as the Son of God. Even at the end of this very chapter, the Pharisees and Sanhedrin hatched a plot to kill Jesus because he raised Lazarus from the dead. They knew that a man raising the dead would cause people to do what? Believe in Him!
Most of the time, we connect the shortest verse in the Bible with the love of Jesus for Lazarus. And certainly, He did love Him. But the truth is the great paradox that Jesus wept because it would take Lazarus' death, the death of God's chosen people, His own death, and perhaps the looming prospect of our own deaths, for mankind to finally believe in eternal life through Jesus Christ and His resurrection.
“But the chief priest and Pharisees had given orders that if anyone found out where Jesus was, he should report it so that they might arrest him.” This verse sounds very much like a warrant that the Jewish Talmud asserted had to be publicly voiced or posted in the larger towns in Judea at least 40 days before a trial of a Jewish citizen. Jesus would be crucified on the 14th day of the first month, God’s appointed Holy Day of Passover. That would place the warrant announcement that must occur at least 40 days before, to around the mid-point in the 11th month to the beginning of the 12th month at the latest. Today, February 23 on our 2020 Gregorian calendar, is the 29th day of God’s 11th month. The crucial legal wheel in the plot to crucify Jesus had begun to turn.
So, what did Jesus do the last winter before His death? He shattered the boundary between heaven and earth, announcing “I am the resurrection and the life... Whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
Sunday, February 16 2020
..BABYLON…COME OUT OF HER MY PEOPLE... We need this timely warning that the infamous biblical Babylon and her expansive walls still exists. We Christians are literally surrounded by her idols, mindset, and government. Given the call of the Almighty to "Come out of her, my people!", will we listen and repent?
Babylon is referenced 280 times from Genesis to Revelation. It was founded by Nimrod, the great-grandson of Noah, the 3rd generation of descendants from the survivors of the flood. That means the first Babylonians were all from the same family and had first-hand accounts of God's strength and might. No doubt they worshipped and identified with God on an intimacy level we can only imagine. Yet, God's Word in Genesis 11: 4 reveals they were driven by two fundamental human concerns we still have in common with them to this very day: pride, revealed in their human desire to “make a name for ourselves”, and fear that they would end up "scattered over the whole earth".
Over centuries, Babylon became a powerful city/state, and later the capital city and namesake for one of the most powerful nations in history. Babylon is remembered for the self-aggrandizing Tower of Babylon (possibly the biblical location of the Tower of Babel), the opulent Hanging Gardens of Babylon, (one of the Seven Wonders of the World), and its immortalized rulers like Nebuchadnezzar, said to have built an 11-mile defensive wall outside the city, wide enough on top for chariots driven by four horses to pass each other. The civilization was so advanced that more than a thousand years before Galileo, considered the father of modern astronomy, astronomers in Babylon were using pre-calculus to track the movement of the planet Jupiter, which they revered as a god.
It's a God-thing that after Jerusalem fell, God's chosen people were exiled back to the very place their ancestors feared leaving-- Babylon. Could it be that God was going to continue to teach them a much-needed lesson about the pitfalls of their pride and fear? Could it be the very same lesson we need to learn today?
The biblical list of those captured and sent to Babylon, or were later born there while in exile, reads like the “Who’s Who” of the Old Testament. Ezekiel, Haggai, and Zechariah were part of the Babylonian diaspora of Judah. Esther and Mordecai, as well as Nehemiah and Ezra lived there.
Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were exiled there as young men. They were given Babylonian identities. "… unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abednego." Then they were appointed to high offices under the king. Their assimilation into foreign culture was gradual and comfortable for a time. To show their allegiance, the king commanded all his officials to bow down to an idol of himself. When Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused, they were thrown into a fiery furnace. Miraculously, they were preserved from the flames, and the king saw four men walking in the flames, "the fourth ... like a son of God".
The king’s response in Daniel 3:28-30 says it all. "Then Nebuchadnezzar said, ‘Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.’ Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon.”
So we can see here that being in Babylon, with all its idols, was not really a problem but an opportunity to bring glory to God that might never have happened under any other circumstances. In fact, if we look at this closely, we will see that God's point all along was NOT that they thrived in their lives, but that they never veered from their sole allegiance to the Almighty, no matter what government ruled over them and demanded.
Amidst it all, the exiled prophet Zechariah is interrupting mankind's 21st century plans with the same stern warning from the Almighty he delivered to Judah twenty-six centuries ago. He begins by noting the date on the Hebrew calendar. “On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month, which is the month Shebat, in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to Zechariah the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet:” Zechariah 1:7.
The 18th day of February on our 2020 Gregorian calendar is the 24th day of Shebat on God's ancient calendar. It was about that time that Zechariah began to receive eight visions from God concerning the future of His chosen people, and their return to Jerusalem. It’s impossible to read these chapters in Zechariah without seeing them as promises from God for all His people, for all time. We can see that Israel, and Babylon, indeed all nations, fit into the scope of these visions. “These are the four spirits of heaven, going out from standing in the presence of the Lord of the whole world…'Go throughout the earth!'” Zechariah 6:5, 7b.
In our last lesson, we received God's wisdom through Zechariah’s third vision in chapter 2. This is the only vision given to His people which appears to prepare them for the Lord’s final coming. His vision of the surveyor with a measuring line attempting to measure New Jerusalem, gives keen insight into how little we understand the Lord's plans, and how bent with pride we are to accomplish things our way. "Jerusalem will be a city without walls because of the great number of people and animals in it. And I myself will be a wall of fire around it,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will be its glory within.’" Zechariah 2:4-5 https://www.facebook.com/fontanacommunitychurch/posts/2752672118146293
The vision ends with these commanding prophetic words in 2:7-9 “'Come, Zion! Escape, you who live in the Daughter of Babylon!' For this is what the Lord Almighty says: 'After the Glorious One has sent me against the nations that have plundered you—for whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye— I will surely raise my hand against them so that their slaves will plunder them. Then you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me.'"
In Revelation 18, Babylon is identified as an adulteress, making those connected with her whoring ways rich in things of the world. As we take in this sickening scenario, remember that an adulteress always has a bridegroom. Can't she be a Bride to her Bridegroom and still participate in the satisfying agenda of the world? “‘Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins'...Woe! Woe! O great city. O Babylon, city of power! In one hour, your doom has come.”
Is it possible that the mindset or "offspring", called "daughter" of Babylon in our focal scripture passage, is alive and well today? Remember the Tower of Babel and the 3rd generation of God-worshippers from Noah, driven by pride and fear? “Come, let us build…Let us reach to heaven.”
And how did God address these pride-filled, fearful, Babylonian worshippers? He confounded their unified understanding through their language. Today, there are 41,000 denominations and organizations in the world which claim to be Christian churches, but each one seems to be speaking a different language. Could the confounding of our denominations be God’s way of exposing our idolatrous religious aspirations to reach heaven, above our worship of Him, alone? Do we 21st century Christians have the same sinful bent to “make a name for ourselves”, and fear that we will end up "scattered over the whole earth”?
Centuries later, even though God called His chosen people out of their physical and spiritual temporary place of Babylonian exile, they had become so comfortable, they didn't want to leave, even if it meant returning to Jerusalem itself.
We desperately need this timely warning that the infamous biblical Babylon and her expansive wall still exists today. We Christians are literally surrounded by her idols, mindset, and government, and have been influenced by her self-serving ways to the point that we have become intoxicated with her. We are no longer seeing with spiritual eyesight, and are out of control.
Jeremiah 51:7 gives a description of Babylon with seems to fit our current world situation with amazing accuracy. ‘Babylon was a gold cup in the Lord’s hand; she made the whole earth drunk. The nations drank her wine; therefore they have now gone mad’
BABYLON...COME OUT OF HER MY PEOPLE
Tuesday, February 11 2020
A CITY WITHOUT WALLS...God's Word crosses the chasm of 2700 years with a timeless message for 2020. When a prophet had a vision of “a man with a measuring line in his hand” headed to measure Jerusalem's walls, God dispatched an angel with this chastising message: "Jerusalem will be a city without walls... And I myself will be a wall of fire around it," declares the Lord, "and I will be its glory within."
February 18 on our 2020 Gregorian calendar is the 24th day of God's 11th month, the day the visions of Zechariah began. So when God's Word is delivered with amazing accuracy and timing to point out the same fatal flaw in OUR plans, it is NO coincidence. It is because of His grace that He is allowing us the possibility of learning a lesson through another nation who claimed to call on Him as God, but failed miserably to serve Him instead of themselves.
The Lord continues with this message: “Come! Come! Flee from the land of the north, for I have scattered you to the four winds of heaven…”
God had said in Ezekiel 5 that He would judge them severely. "Because of all your detestable idols, I will do to you what I have never done before and will never do again. Therefore in your midst parents will eat their children, and children will eat their parents."
The Holy City of the Lord fell when the Babylonians encircled it and effectively cut off food supplies for about 18 months.In their weakened and tormented state, their arch enemy broke through their physical facade, burned Jerusalem to the ground, executed their leaders, and exiled the people to the Babylonian lands of the north. Read about it in Jeremiah 52.
Generations passed, and although the people continued to worship the Almighty, the essence of the Babylonian government and mindset became a cancer slowly eating away their very souls, changing even the way they perceived God’s provision. They became convinced they needed Babylonian walls to survive. They even reckoned that they prospered behind them. Without realizing it, they replaced their eternal identity as the chosen people of God with a national identity of the world.
Indeed, when their descendants were given the choice to reclaim the City of God, Jerusalem, many were unwilling to return. They had become comfortable, but unknowingly, complacent, in their adopted home. Even when God made provision for them and urged them to "Come!", they still balked.
Their lack of trust that God could and would accomplish their deliverance was exemplified in Zechariah's vision of the man running toward Jerusalem with a measuring rod to make sure God 's provision was good enough. “Run, tell that young man, ‘Jerusalem will be a city without walls because of the great number of people and animals in it. And I myself will be a wall of fire around it,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will be its glory within.’” Zechariah 2:4-5.
The truth is, wherever God is, there can be NO measurable walls, because His glory is immeasurable and boundless, and will NEVER be contained!!
Or look at it another way. Without God's presence, there is NO protection, because He identifies HIMSELF as the "wall of fire..."
Hebrews 11:8-16 tells us what God's chosen people should have been doing instead of measuring walls. "By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God..."
“All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for another country. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”
2700 years later, these words ring true with agonizing clarity. Though we were taught by Jesus Himself how to pray to our Father in Heaven, "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven..." has now been replaced with frantic pleas for God to save OUR kingdom on this earth. Indeed, what we don’t see as 21st century Christians is that whatever kingdom we pray that God will sustain, is the true kingdom of our heart.
Israel had to learn her kingdom lesson the hard way. The 12 Tribes of Israel began as a nation blessed by the Almghty. As the 12 sons of Jacob, whose name was changed to “Israel” by God Himself, they survived 40 years wandering in the desert, and then were ruled for 350 years by God’s appointed judges. But soon, Israel demanded to be like all the other nations, and be ruled by a king.
Following the death of King Solomon, the nation quickly sank into the bottomless political pit of electing a new King, splitting the nation in two. The kingdom of Israel, with its capital of Samaria, lasted around 200 years, until the Assyrians conquered and scattered the people across the northern isles. The kingdom of Judah ruled from Jerusalem for 350 years before being conquered by Babylon.
That brings us to our current lesson timeline. And it all has to do with a measuring line. We Christians seem to be very good at using one. We use it to prove our spiritual “point”; to see if our Christian notion “measures up” to God’s Word; or to measure the spot in our brother’s eye while neglecting to measure the log in our own. So, in a very real sense, we raise our own walls and set our own boundaries with it, even though God’s Word says we’re WAY off base, just like the young man in Zachariah’s vision.
We’ve bred generations of Christians now focused on man-made walls that appear to serve humanity in terms of security and sovereignty--but only for awhile. Indeed, when we use the walls of Jerusalem as a "measuring line" that justifies the building of a national wall, we completely ignore that the Jerusalem Wall was attacked 52 times, captured and recaptured 44 times, besieged 23 times, and completely destroyed twice. Much of the wall was rebuilt by Muslims who occupied the area for 900 years.
If the national process of building a wall springs from a spiritual dimension of prejudice, fear and hatred, the physical benefit of that worldly structure has fallen under the control of Satan Himself, and is doomed from the very start--and so is the nation.
Receive the Lord's perfect plan for the city and kingdom HE will build: "Jerusalem will be a city without walls because of the great number of people and animals in it. And I myself will be a wall of fire around it,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will be its glory within.’" Zechariah 2:4-5
A CITY WITHOUT WALLS...
Saturday, February 01 2020
A MAN RIDING A RED HORSE…out 2700 years ago during this month, the ancient prophet Zechariah's night-visions began with a man riding a red horse. These revelations continue to encourage God’s people, reminding us He is interested in the details of our lives, and is working behind the scenes with a perfect plan for rebuilding His heavenly and earthly Temple through His people on this earth.
Yes, the same word that Zechariah proclaimed in the 6th century B.C. is being declared to us 21st century Christians. We still don’t want to hear it any more than the people of ancient Judah did. But thank God, here it is, still just as applicable as ever... still the word of the Lord for His people!
Zechariah began his prophetic ministry a few months before when he delivered God’s message that Judah must repent of their sin or there would be NO future with Him. “’Return to me,’ declares the LORD Almighty, ‘and I will return to you,’ says the LORD Almighty. Do not be like your ancestors, to whom the earlier prophets proclaimed: This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Turn from your evil ways and your evil practices.’ But they would not listen or pay attention to me, declares the LORD. Where are your ancestors now? And the prophets, do they live forever? But did not my words and my decrees, which I commanded my servants the prophets, overtake your ancestors?’ Then they repented and said, ‘The Lord Almighty has done to us what our ways and practices deserve, just as he determined to do.’ Zechariah 1:2-7. https://www.facebook.com/394745103939018/posts/2519786238101550/
In today’s climate we Christians don’t want to hear the word “Repent” any more than the religious folks did back then. We’re so busy pointing the finger at each other, we don’t even consider that our personal humiliation through the chastisement of God’s Word and the power of His Holy Spirit, is absolutely essential for the blessing and intervention of the Almighty in any part of our lives, whether it's personal or national.
Zechariah came on the scene at a time when God’s physical and spiritual throne was no longer in Jerusalem. The nation had been judged mightily for their sins, and God’s glory had departed the Jerusalem Temple. In a matter of centuries, the physical Temple was decimated, and Israel was reduced to the exiled remnant of Judah. Several generations had lived in Babylon and surrounding areas and had been slowly assimilated into its mindset, forsaking the God of their ancestors. Though they had been given permission to return to the rubble of what was once their mighty, Holy City, the remnant nation of Judah desperately needed their Lord God to return to them.
In the first vision, when Zechariah saw a man riding a red horse standing in a group of myrtle trees, there can be little doubt that was the Pre-Incarnate Son of God, appearing again as He had to so many others in the Old Testament. In Joshua 5:13-15, He appeared as Commander of the army who brought down the walls of Jericho, telling Joshua, who was standing alongside him, “take off your sandals for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Ezekiel 1-7, Jesus appeared to Ezekiel in glory and radiance, handing him a scroll of his words, instructing him to eat it and speak to the House of Israel. In Daniel 7:13, Jesus appeared “like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven, claiming His kingdom that would never be destroyed. And again in Daniel 10:6, He appeared as a man dressed in linen, “His body was like chrysolite, his face like lightning, his eyes were like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude.”
This the accounting of Zechariah’s first vision in the 1st chapter:|
7 On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month, the month of Shebat, in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Zechariah son of Berekiah, the son of Iddo.
8 During the night I had a vision, and there before me was a man mounted on a red horse. He was standing among the myrtle trees in a ravine. Behind him were red, brown and white horses.
9 I asked, “What are these, my lord?”
The angel who was talking with me answered, “I will show you what they are.”
10 Then the man standing among the myrtle trees explained, “They are the ones the Lord has sent to go throughout the earth.”
11 And they reported to the angel of the Lord who was standing among the myrtle trees, “We have gone throughout the earth and found the whole world at rest and in peace.”
12 Then the angel of the Lord said, “Lord Almighty, how long will you withhold mercy from Jerusalem and from the towns of Judah, which you have been angry with these seventy years?” 13 So the Lord spoke kind and comforting words to the angel who talked with me.
14 Then the angel who was speaking to me said, “Proclaim this word: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘I am very jealous for Jerusalem and Zion, 15 and I am very angry with the nations that feel secure. I was only a little angry, but they went too far with the punishment.’
16 “Therefore this is what the Lord says: ‘I will return to Jerusalem with mercy, and there my house will be rebuilt. And the measuring line will be stretched out over Jerusalem,’ declares the Lord Almighty.
17“Proclaim further: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘My towns will again overflow with prosperity, and the Lord will again comfort Zion and choose Jerusalem.’”
Through this vision, we can clearly see Jesus interceding on our behalf, despite what is happening around us. Even though He appears to be silent, He is valiantly fighting in the background, unseen by human eyes, aided by warrior angels, focused on our restoration to His kingdom, and the coming judgment on those who would keep that from happening.
While the chosen people of God are struggling, and bereft, the rest of the world is "at rest and in peace" and doesn’t have a care in the world, failing to intercede on behalf of those who need their help and support. This is what the Lord Almighty says in verse 14: “I am very jealous for Jerusalem and Zion, and I am very angry with the nations that feel secure.”
We need to catch hold of this vision in its entirety today. Security and peace in this world are not the goal for us as God’s people. We press forward to the High Calling in Christ Jesus which is restoration into God’s presence and His kingdom. Too many Christians have lost sight of this and have become fixated on worldly goals, like personal and national security at any cost. Their pride in what they have, is hardening their hearts to others in need. Exacting their own brand of godly justice in the process, they were actually setting themselves up for the judgment of the Almighty, Himself.
The people of Judah learned the hard way that mindset was sheer foolishness. They knew the only way they were going to be restored to God was through the presence and power of a heavenly warrior whom they could trust with their very lives. They understood that focusing on achieving physical peace and security above all else was, in fact, idol worship. They finally bowed to God as the one true judge, and trusted that, not only would He right every single wrong, He would give them the kind of peace and security they could never accomplish on their own.
There is much more to be learned through Zechariah's visions. Next week’s lesson will continue with another vision of a young man who attempts to measure God's plan in human terms, leaving us all to grapple with His chastising message: "Jerusalem will be a city without walls... And I myself will be a wall of fire around it," declares the Lord, "and I will be its glory within."
It is no coincidence that these ancient visions are revealing more to us about our 21st century lives than we ever thought possible. The 24th day of the eleventh month of Shabbat, recorded as the date of the beginning of Zechariah's visions, is February 18 on our 2020 Gregorian calendar. Through His grace and perfect timing, the Almighty is reminding us of another nation just like ours, who claimed to call on Him as God, but failed miserably to serve Him instead of themselves.
The Almighty's appointed message for 2020 is the same message delivered about 2700 years ago. God is sending us visions of deliverance and hope that will never change. They began and continue right this very minute through our Intercessor Warrior, The Incarnate Son of God, Jesus Christ, King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
"To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen." Revelation 1:6
A MAN RIDING A RED HORSE...
Monday, January 27 2020
YOU HAVE STAYED LONG ENOUGH AT THS MOUNTAIN… Around 1500 BC, God Almighty announced through Moses that the Israelites had to move forward away from their comfort zone in order to follow Him. “In the fortieth year, on the first day of the eleventh month, Moses proclaimed to the Israelites all that the LORD had commanded him concerning them…The LORD our God said to us at Horeb, ‘You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Break camp and advance…” Deuteronomy1:3,6
As we delve deeper into God's Word, not only do we find that the appointed 1st day of His 11th month began January 25th at sunset on our 2020 Gregorian calendar, it is also right on target for us Christians who have put our trust in Jesus to deliver us from bondage and lead us to our Promised Land.
Yet, for many of us, Moses’ opening words in Deuteronomy 1:1-2 will be reckoned as totally irrelevant. “These are the words Moses spoke to all Israel in the wilderness east of the Jordan—that is, in the Arabah —opposite Suph, between Paran and Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth and Dizahab . (It takes eleven days to go from Horeb to Kadesh Barnea by the Mount Seir road.)"
If you don’t get anything else from today's lesson, please remember the scripture in parentheses. “It takes eleven days to go from Horeb to Kadesh Barnea by the Mount Seir road.” That is a brief summary of the entire 40-year wilderness trek of the Israelites, and according to God’s word, that journey should have been completed in just 11 days!
If the route God planned for His chosen people to the Promised Land could have been accomplished in only 11 days, it staggers the mind to comprehend why it took the Israelites over 40 long years to get to the place He promised them! And it is absolutely heartbreaking to be reminded that not only did they waste decades wandering in an arid and lifeless desert, they had stood in the very place God had appointed for their deliverance just a little over a year after they left Egypt!
And that’s exactly what Moses reminded them of over and over through the entire book of Deuteronomy, except for the final 34th chapter. Sadly, the closing chapter was written by someone else and recounted the death of Moses himself somewhere on the very same plains of Moab where he delivered his final proclamation to God’s chosen people.
Moses began his 33-chapter oration by simply repeating God’s word as given to them less than a year after their deliverance from their bondage of sin. “The LORD our God said to us at Horeb, ‘You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Break camp and advance into the hill country of the Amorites; go to all the neighboring peoples in the Arabah, in the mountains, in the western foothills, in the Negev and along the coast, to the land of the Canaanites and to Lebanon, as far as the great river, the Euphrates. See, I have given you this land. Go in and take possession of the land that the LORD swore he would give to your fathers--to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob--and to their descendants after them.’” Deuteronomy 1: 6-8.
“You have stayed long enough at this mountain.” Though this is one of the most profound statements in the entire Old Testament, many of us Christians will speed-read right over it. We have “arrived” in our American Christianity and are now content to gather and pontificate about how great God is, gathering all His blessings close, refusing to share with “the least of these”. We ignore God’s Word which in contemporary English plainly says "Whenever you failed to help any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you failed to do it for me.” Matthew 25:45. As puffy wisps slowly envelope our revered heights, we identify them as glory-clouds straight from heaven. We are unwilling to consider that they’re probably noxious death-vapors spiraling upward, intent on sucking the very life of God from us all.
Too strong? Maybe it's not strong enough. Moses didn't t mince words when he recounted the disobedience of the Israelites and the dire consequences for their refusal to follow God’s leading.
"Then I said to you, “Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them. The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the wilderness. There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.' In spite of this, you did not trust in the Lord your God, who went ahead of you on your journey, in fire by night and in a cloud by day, to search out places for you to camp and to show you the way you should go. When the Lord heard what you said, he was angry and solemnly swore: 'No one from this evil generation shall see the good land I swore to give your ancestors, except Caleb son of Jephunneh. He will see it, and I will give him and his descendants the land he set his feet on, because he followed the Lord wholeheartedly.''" Deuteronomy 1: 29-36
If all this sounds like history might be repeating itself, you’re beginning to understand the scope of today’s lesson. Indeed, if you went back and asked both generations of Israelites what-in-the-world they were doing all that time, their answer would most assuredly be “worshipping and following God.” It is certainly not surprising to hear the same excuse used in this generation for our wanderings in and out of religious dogma and works designed to deliver “mountain-top” worship experiences to each and every “believer”.
Little has changed. It's in our fallen nature to acknowledge our Maker, and then set about developing our own ways of interpreting just exactly what He is saying to us. The problem is that we usually begin with a prejudiced mindset, and rarely even consider that our understanding may be nowhere near what the original Word of God intended. A prime example can be found in the very scripture we are studying today. Deuteronomy is the first book of the Bible to speak of loving God. The beginning verses 4-5 are so important they are given the ancient title “Shema” which means “Listen!”
"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates." Deuteronomy 6:4-8
If we view the intended meaning through the lens of those who wrote it down, we find that the Hebrew translation of “heart” is technically correct, but the function referred to is not the emotions, but the intellect, where conscious decisions are made and actions are contemplated. The soul or “nephesh”, is the very essence of life itself, as recorded in Genesis when the Holy Spirit breathed life into Adam, making him human and yet also in God’s image. The translation of “strength” does not point to physicality, but to very great effort through conscious thought and determination.
This commandment is so important that Jesus repeats it again to the early Christians in Matthew, Mark and Luke as the first of two commandments upon which all the law and the Prophets hinge upon. “The most important one…is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31
Love is the verb action called for in both these Great Commandments. John 13:34 expands upon the second commandment. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”
And how did Jesus love His neighbor? "...with all His heart, with all His soul, and with all His might." He stood in our place and paid the penalty for our sins with His life. We 21st century Christians have wandered so far for so long, that many of us now think the Words of Jesus are negotiable, or worse still, totally inapplicable to us in the world in which we live. The basis of all idolatry is self-centered, rebellious people refusing to worship God as He teaches. So we shouldn’t be surprised when we wake up one morning and realize that overnight, American Christianity has become an unbelievable nightmare instead of the joy-filled day that the Lord has made. He didn’t make this mess. We did, with idols of our own making.
Hebrews 3:7-14 delivers an impassioned plea that sums up today’s lesson perfectly. “So it is just as the Holy Spirit says: “If you hear God’s voice today, don’t be stubborn as you were in the past, when you turned against God. That was the day you tested God in the desert. For 40 years in the desert, your people saw what I did. But they tested me and my patience. So I was angry with them. I said, ‘Their thoughts are always wrong. They have never understood my ways. So I was angry and made a promise: ‘They will never enter my place of rest.’”
“So, brothers and sisters, be careful that none of you has the evil thoughts that cause so much doubt that you stop following the living God. But encourage each other every day, while you still have something called “today.” Help each other so that none of you will be fooled by sin and become too hard to change. We have the honor of sharing in all that Christ has if we continue until the end to have the sure faith we had in the beginning. That’s why the Spirit said, “If you hear God’s voice today, don’t be stubborn as in the past when you turned against God.”
"YOU HAVE STAYED LONG ENOUGH AT THIS MOUNTAIN. BREAK CAMP AND ADVANCE..."
Monday, January 27 2020
2600 years ago, during this same time of the year, God said to His chosen people, “The people there refuse to obey me...Tell them, This is what the Lord God says: 'PUT THE POT ON THE FIRE' "
Three years earlier, religious folks had been falsely convinced by the prideful, self-serving rhetoric of the "princes of the people", to place their confidence in the capacity of Jerusalem and its leadership to protect them from the world and lead them into national prosperity. Insead of humbly falling on their knees and admitting that God's "pot" of protection was their only refuge, they were now pridefully focused on what the pot could provide them, reckoning that they alone deserved its benefits.
Ezekiel was commanded to speak against such national arrogance in Ezekiel 11:2-4. "The Lord said to me, “Son of man, these are the men who are plotting evil and giving wicked advice in this city. They say, ‘Haven’t our houses been recently rebuilt? This city is a pot, and we are the meat in it.’ Therefore prophesy against them; prophesy, son of man.”
The Almighty’s reply of judgment upon these leaders not only attacked their prideful logic, but promised dire judgment on the people for using the providence of God's protection as an excuse to further the interests of their own nation.
“...O house of Israel, but I know what is going through your mind, You have killed many people in this city and filled its streets with the dead...Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: The bodies you have thrown there are the meat and this city is the pot, but I will drive you out of it. You fear the sword, and the sword is what I will bring against you, declares the Sovereign Lord. I will drive you out of the city and deliver you into the hands of foreigners and inflict punishment on you. You will fall by the sword, and I will execute judgment on you at the borders of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Lord. This city will not be a pot for you, nor will you be the meat in it; I will execute judgment on you at the borders of Israel. And you will know that I am the Lord, for you have not followed my decrees or kept my laws but have conformed to the standards of the nations around you.” Ezekiel 11:5-12
God let them know in no uncertain terms that the deaths of many would be a result of their own actions, as well as any surrounding judgments that would occur at the borders of their nation.
Ezekiel 8 previously stated their serious idolatry was provoking the Almighty's jealousy. In fact, God specifically pointed out that the idol that provoked His jealousy was STANDING AT THE ENTRANCE TO THE GATE OF THE SACRIFICIAL ALTAR. The leaders of the people who called on God Almighty were essentially identifying HIS house of worship with an entity of their own choosing. As they proudly displayed it for the whole world to see, they were, in effect, linking it to the altar sacrifice of the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ Himself.
God's Word continued by exposing leaders in His temple, who were effectively turning their backs on Him by worshipping in ways which served their own desires and needs, and leading the people to do the same. Read about it in the September 5 lesson https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1371057253066193&id=100004857934650&sfnsn=mo
Yes, the people heard the Word of the Lord over and over again. And so did their leadership. But they didn’t repent. Today’s appointed lesson on God's calendar for the tenth day of the tenth month, January 6th on our 2020 Gregorian calendar, began with an announcement from the Almighty of the consequences. “In the ninth year, in the tenth month on the tenth day, the word of the Lord came to me: ‘Son of man, record this date, this very date, because the king of Babylon has laid siege to Jerusalem this very day.’” Ezekiel 24:1-2.
What they thought would never happen had now become their worst nightmare. In judgment, God withheld His hand of protection from their nation, and their enemies were at the gate of their capital city. Not only that, but as the Word of the Lord continued, He showed them that His judgment would include giving them exactly what they wanted more than anything else: to be in His “pot”.
“The people there refuse to obey me. I have a story with a message for them. Tell them, "This is what the Lord God says: 'Put the pot on the fire. Put on the pot and pour in the water. Put in the pieces of meat. Put in every good piece, the thighs and the shoulders. Fill the pot with the best bones…” Ezekiel 24:2-4
Indeed, God filled His pot with the people of the nation who wanted to be there: the haughty, self-righteous folks and their leaders who thought they were the best of all the nations and had pronounced themselves safe in the security of His protective pot, Jerusalem.
Nothing could have been further from the truth. God set the Jerusalem pot upon the fire of His judgment, along with all the people who boasted of being in its safety.
God made the parable clearer in Ezekiel 24:6-7 and 9-14. “’It will be bad for Jerusalem. It will be bad for that city of murderers. Jerusalem is like a pot with rust on it, and those spots of rust cannot be removed! That pot is not clean, and the rust cannot be removed, so the meat must be thrown out and not divided among the priests. Jerusalem is like a pot with rust on it…’
"So this is what the Lord God says: ‘It will be bad for that city of murderers! I will pile up plenty of wood for the fire. Put plenty of wood under the pot. Light the fire. Cook the meat until it is well done. Mix in the spices, and let the bones be burned up. Then let the pot stand empty on the coals. Let it become so hot that its stains begin to glow. Those stains will be melted away. The rust will be destroyed. Jerusalem might work hard to scrub away her stains. But that ‘rust’ will not go away! Only the fire of punishment will remove it."
“‘You sinned against me and became stained with sin. I wanted to wash you and make you clean, but the stains would not come out. I will not try washing you again until my hot anger is finished with you! I am the Lord. I said your punishment would come, and I will make it happen. I will not hold back the punishment or feel sorry for you. I will punish you for the evil things you did.' This is what the Lord God said.”
God continues to convict ALL mankind of sin against Him through heart-wrenching instructions to the prophet, Ezekiel: “Then the word of the Lord came to me. He said, “Son of man, you love your wife very much, but I am going to take her away from you. Your wife will die suddenly, but you must not show your sadness. You must not cry loudly. You will cry and your tears will fall, but you must mourn quietly. Dress as you normally do; wear your turban and sandals; don’t cover your mustache, and don’t eat the food people normally eat when someone dies.”
"The next morning I told the people what God had said. That evening, my wife died. The next morning I did what God commanded. Then the people said to me, “Why are you doing this? What does it mean? Then I said to them, “The word of the Lord came to me. He told me to speak to the family of Israel. The Lord God said, ‘Look, I will destroy my holy place. You are proud of that place and sing songs of praise about it. You love to see it. You really love that place. But I will destroy it, and your children that you left behind will be killed in battle. But you will do the same things that I have done about my dead wife. You will not cover your mustache or eat the food people normally eat when someone dies. You will wear your turbans and your sandals. You will not show your sadness publicly or cry publicly, but you will waste away with guilt and talk to each other quietly about your grief. So Ezekiel is an example for you. You will do all the same things he did. That time of punishment will come, and then you will know that I am the Lord God.’”
"The Lord said, 'Son of man, I will take away the place that makes the people feel safe—Jerusalem, that beautiful city that makes them so happy. They really love that place. They love to look at it. But I will take it away from them, and I will also take their children. On that day one of the survivors will come to you with the bad news about Jerusalem. That same day you will be able to talk to the messenger. You will not be silent anymore. This will be a sign to the people, and they will know that I am the Lord.' ” Ezekiel 24:15-27,
We Christians in the USA would do well to humbly receive this very serious warning from the Almighty through the prophet Ezekiel. We should keep in mind that the Almighty's final judgment on the remnant of Israel occurred less than 3 short years after His announcement to the nation's leaders that they had provoked His jealousy.
If judgment is on the horizon for our nation, it won't be something we can blame on anyone else. Very clearly, it will be because we Christians who claim to call on the name of the Lord have foolishly and arrogantly turned our backs on the God of the Universe, essentially identifying HIS House of Worship with gods of national politics, pride and self-preservation.
“The people there refuse to obey me. I have a story with a message for them. Tell them, 'This is what the Lord God says'
"PUT THE POT ON THE FIRE..”
Wednesday, January 01 2020
THEIR HEARTS ARE GREEDY…"When Christmas is over, when you have had all your presents and food, Jesus is all we have left”. Yes, after we’ve had all the things we thought we needed, what we really needed was a Middle Eastern refugee in a tent, who didn’t have presents and food, to remind us that all we ever really needed, WE ALREADY HAD.
The Almighty certainly nailed it when He gave us this lesson on His calendar to start the first day on our calendar for 2020. It's an ancient lesson about another nation who focused on their needs, and how it ended for them. New Year's Day, 2020 on our Gregorian calendar, is the 5th day of the 10th month on God's calendar, the anniversary of the fall of the mighty city of Jerusalem, capital of the nation God called "the apple of His eye".
“In the twelfth year of our exile, in the tenth month on the fifth day, a man who had escaped from Jerusalem came to me and said, "The city has fallen!" Ezekiel 33:21. This 10th month on God’s calendar is the fateful month that King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon marched against Jerusalem. The once great, grand glorious, nation of Judah, the remaining remnant of Israel, fell, and fell hard.
Ezekiel 33:22-26 begins as a Word from the Lord to the prophet Ezekiel about the murmuring people, who felt that God should restore their nation to them because it was rightfully theirs. “...Then the word of the LORD came to me: 'Son of man, the people living in those ruins in the land of Israel are saying, "Abraham was only one man, yet he possessed the land. But we are many; surely the land has been given to us as our possession." 'Therefore say to them, "This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Since you eat meat with the blood still in it and look to your idols and shed blood, should you then possess the land? You rely on your sword, you do detestable things, and each of you defiles his neighbor's wife. Should you then possess the land?"
The entire chapter of 2 Peter 2 in the New Testament talks about "Christian" leaders and teachers who are caught up in this kind of idolatry. Peter even goes so far as to say some are “experts in greed, an accursed brood” and “the blackest darkness is reserved for them”. He ends the chapter with a couple of colorful proverbs that he says define them. "A dog returns to it's vomit" and "A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud."
When we pridefully glorify the religious concept of ourselves, instead of the Risen Savior. this is idolatry. Indeed, "pride" is defined as "a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one's own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired." God's Word speaks further by saying that God opposes the prideful, but lifts up the humbled, James 4:6.
In Colossians 3:5, Paul even places greed in the same sentence with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires, calling it "idolatry", and admonishing that “it must be put to death”. In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and Ephesians 5:5, when he also warns that the greedy will not inherit the kingdom of God, he's concluding that those whose lives are characterized by greed are really not true believers after all.
You'd think the people in Jerusalem wouldn't have fallen into that sinful mindset, since they had an awesome house of worship, the magnificent Temple of Solomon. Everyone went to worship on Sabbath, and many other holy days. They even worshiped for whole weeks at a time, and prayed and fasted together as a nation and called upon the Name of the Lord.
But they had also cultivated in their hearts the belief that their nation and place of worship had become their legacy, to do with as they needed. They greedily brought the world into God’s house, and bowed to its traditions, justifying it because they also continued to worship God on His appointed days. The real truth was that their daily lives were full of religious hypocrisy and disrespect for the Almighty’s Word. And now, their expectation, indeed their self-righteous prayer, was that God would look favorably on them and restore their nation?
This is God’s reply in Ezekiel 33:27-29: "Say this to them: 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: As surely as I live, those who are left in the ruins will fall by the sword, those out in the country I will give to the wild animals to be devoured, and those in strongholds and caves will die of a plague. I will make the land a desolate waste, and her proud strength will come to an end, and the mountains of Israel will become desolate so that no one will cross them. Then they will know that I am the LORD, when I have made the land a desolate waste because of all the detestable things they have done.'’
Finally, God sums it all up as He speaks these words to in Ezekiel 33:31-33 “My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to listen to your words, but they do not put them into practice. With their mouths they express devotion, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain. Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words but do not put them into practice. When all this comes true--and it surely will--then they will know that a prophet has been among them."
"Their mouths express devotion, but their hearts are greedy...”