Monday, January 15, 2018

eschatology, the Cursed Fig Tree (Mt.21, Jhn.12)

The following is an illustration of how - despite every advantage - Israel had not been fruitful;  and so, they were not going to experience the Millennial kingdom - just yet...

(Matthew 21:18-19)  Now in the morning, when He was returning to the city, He became hungry. 19 Seeing a lone fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it except leaves only; and He said to it, “No longer shall there ever be any fruit from you.” And at once the fig tree withered.

We now see more people who were not Israelites who wanted to meet and follow Jesus, and Jesus began to talk more and more about His death on the cross, and about how He was going to "go away".  So the Israelites were now concerned, because - here was their Messiah who was to take them into the Millennial kingdom, but - just WHY was He going away???

They had not yet realized how Israel had already rejected Jesus as their Messiah and King and that their Jewish Age had already been cut off.  They had not yet realized that there was going to be an undisclosed amount of time before any of the Israelites would see their last seven years.  They had not yet realized that Jesus was introducing a fruitful and new kind of kingdom on earth made possible through His work on the cross - this being the Church - which would include all people from any nation who put their faith in Him...

(John 12:20-50)  Now there were some Greeks among those who were going up to worship at the feast; 21 these then came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and began to ask him, saying, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus. 22 Philip came and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip came and told Jesus. 23 And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. 26 If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.
27 Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice came out of heaven: “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.” 29 So the crowd of people who stood by and heard it were saying that it had thundered; others were saying, “An angel has spoken to Him.” 30 Jesus answered and said, This voice has not come for My sake, but for your sakes. 31 Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. 32 And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself. 33 But He was saying this to indicate the kind of death by which He was to die. 34 The crowd then answered Him, “We have heard out of the Law that the Christ is to remain forever; and how can You say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this Son of Man?” 35 So Jesus said to them, For a little while longer the Light is among you. Walk while you have the Light, so that darkness will not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes. 36 While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light.
These things Jesus spoke, and He went away and hid Himself from them. 37 But though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him. 38 This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet which he spoke: “Lord, who has believed our reportAnd to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” 39 For this reason they could not believe, for Isaiah said again, 40 He has blinded their eyes and He hardened their heart, so that they would not see with their eyes and perceive with their heart, and be converted and I heal them.” 41 These things Isaiah said because he saw His glory, and he spoke of Him. 42 Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.
44 And Jesus cried out and said, He who believes in Me, does not believe in Me but in Him who sent Me. 45 He who sees Me sees the One who sent Me. 46 I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness. 47 If anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day. 49 For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak. 50 I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me.”

Today's takeaway:  just as God called David a man after His own heart - all God wants from us is a willing heart, desiring to know Him better in order to be more like Him;  just like a child desires to be with their parents, and desires to be more like the honorable aspects of their parents...

(Romans 8:10-17)  If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. 12 So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— 13 for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.

(Romans 8:28-20)  And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

(Hebrews 13:20-21)  Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, 21 equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

eschatology, Kingdom of God in Their Midst (Mt.21)

The Pharisees knew the scriptures, and therefore should have recognized the prophecy that was being fulfilled right in front of them.  The people were excited, but it is interesting how quickly people can get excited or enticed, and then immediately get distracted or disenchanted.  But here it was - what they had been waiting for - for so many years!!!  They had been asking "WHEN-WHEN-WHEN" were their covenants going to be fulfilled???  And now the possibility was right in their midst...

(Matthew 21:1-17)  When they had approached Jerusalem and had come to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied there and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to Me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:
Say to the daughter of ZionBehold your King is coming to you, gentle, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’”
The disciples went and did just as Jesus had instructed them, and brought the donkey and the colt, and laid their coats on them; and He sat on the coats. Most of the crowd spread their coats in the road, and others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them in the road. The crowds going ahead of Him, and those who followed, were shouting,
“Hosanna to the Son of David;  blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord;  hosanna in the highest!”
10 When He had entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee.”
12 And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. 13 And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a robbers’ den.”
14 And the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that He had done, and the children who were shouting in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they became indignant 16 and said to Him, “Do You hear what these children are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies You have prepared praise for Yourself’?”17 And He left them and went out of the city to Bethany, and spent the night there.

Today's takeaway: notice when Jesus entered into Jerusalem and the news spread throughout the city, the buyers and sellers remained in the temple until Jesus came and threw them out - again!  I mean, a lot of criminals after being caught once, even if they continue in their crimes, will be more cautious not to be caught again.  But these people seemed to believe they were entitled and seemed to have no shame whatsoever! 

The chief priests who had obviously allowed business inside the temple - or maybe they were even involved in that money-making-scheme somehow - were indignant when they saw Jesus doing wonderful things in the temple!!!  Were they too infuriated about their lost revenue or that their positions of power were being challenged - that they were not able to recognize how their covenants were being unveiled right before their eyes?  Here were miracles of healing! - by the Son of David who just rode in on a donkey to present Himself as their King of kings - with the power and authority to fulfill all their covenants and take them into the Millennial kingdom?...

Nope!  Obviously they didn't really want that.  That would require a change of heart!  They would have had to accept Jesus and trust in and believe in Him... and then LOVE people???  That would conflict with what they all had going on, since they were in the business of taking advantage of people and calling all the shots. 

But how often are we as believers unwilling to change something because we think it is benefiting us somehow?  Thinking things like, "But it's fun" or "It's not really hurting anyone" or "Who's going to know?" etc.  Well, God knows, and if it's against God's will - then it is hurting someone and for sure it will be hurting myself.  But as we trust in God and do His will - allowing Him to change our hearts and our behavior - we will experience things that so much better...
(Psalm 16:1-11)  Preserve me, O God, for I take refuge in You.
I said to the Lord, “You are my Lord;  have no good besides You.”
As for the saints who are in the earth, they are the majestic ones in whom is all my delight.
The sorrows of those who have bartered for another god will be multiplied;  I shall not pour out their drink offerings of blood, nor will I take their names upon my lips.
The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and my cup;  You support my lot.
The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;  indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.
I will bless the Lord who has counseled me;  indeed, my mind instructs me in the night.
I have set the Lord continually before me;  because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices;  my flesh also will dwell securely.
10 For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol;  nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.
11 You will make known to me the path of life;  iYour presence is fullness of joy;  in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

eschatology, God's Children (Jhn.8, Lk.14, Mt.15)

From the following scripture, it is apparent that the Israelites felt that it was good enough just to come from Abraham - they were children of Abraham.  But this does not save anyone.  Jesus spoke to the Israelites about being children of God.  And if they were children of God - they would recognize, love and accept Jesus.  And if anyone does not have God as their Father, then their father is by default - Satan - the father of lies.  This does make it difficult for a person to recognize or appreciate Truth, because they have been deceived and their "eyes" are blinded...

(John 8:31-58)  So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” 33 They answered Him, We are Abraham’s descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, ‘You will become free’?”
34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. 36 So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are Abraham’s descendants; yet you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. 38 I speak the things which I have seen with My Father; therefore you also do the things which you heard from your father.”
39 They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, If you are Abraham’s children, do the deeds of Abraham. 40 But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do. 41 You are doing the deeds of your father.” They said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father: God.” 42 Jesus said to them, If God were your Father, you would love Mefor I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me. 43 Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me. 46 Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me? 47 He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.”
48 The Jews answered and said to Him, “Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?” 49 Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon; but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me. 50 But I do not seek My glory; there is One who seeks and judges. 51 Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he will never see death.” 52 The Jews said to Him, “Now we know that You have a demon. Abraham died, and the prophets also; and You say, ‘If anyone keeps My word, he will never taste of death.’ 53 Surely You are not greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets died too; whom do You make Yourself out to be?” 54 Jesus answered, If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God’; 55 and you have not come to know Him, but I know Him; and if I say that I do not know Him, I will be a liar like you, but I do know Him and keep His word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” 57 So the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.”

No one can say that Jesus was never straightforward with them.  Right there! He came right out and said that HE IS GOD.  Remember that "I AM" was another name that God went by for the Israelites to recognize Him.  When the Israelites asked Moses who sent him, God told Moses to say, "I AM sent me."  So this was huge!!!

Now we have another scenario right after Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath, He launched into a few parables.  The first one was about a wedding feast.  Remember that the Millennial Kingdom has also been called The Wedding Feast (more parables will come up that describe this in more detail).  In order to enter the Millennial Kingdom (and this can be applied to heaven as well) - one must humble themselves and give up their pride and selfishness in order see that they are sinful and in need of salvation through Christ. 

Then as believers, we still have to allow God to work in and through us so we will do good works with the right motives - with love and humility.  These are the works which will pass through the fire and be rewarded.  If we, as believers, tend to only do things to serve ourselves, then - we will enter heaven - but with very few rewards.  It will be the same for the people becoming believers in the Tribulation who enter the Millennium and are able to join Jesus at the Wedding Feast table...

(Luke 14:7-14)  And He began speaking a parable to the invited guests when He noticed how they had been picking out the places of honor at the table, saying to them, When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for someone more distinguished than you may have been invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then in disgrace you proceed to occupy the last place. 10 But when you are invited, go and recline at the last place, so that when the one who has invited you comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will have honor in the sight of all who are at the table with you. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
12 And He also went on to say to the one who had invited Him, When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, otherwise they may also invite you in return and that will be your repayment. 13 But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

It is typical for the one who is comfortable and happy - experiencing the fruit of their own labor - to feel that they are self-sufficient enough in their own efforts - that they do not need Jesus' salvation or His help.  Then - it is no wonder why we usually see an increased attendance in churches during war time.  Or why the underground churches are thriving in countries where persecution is highest.  In these types of scenarios, these people are not going to make their decision very lightly, because it probably means life or death to them.  And so, during the Tribulation where persecution will be extremely prevalent, it will the inflicted and suffering who will tend to become believes and enter into the Millennial kingdom...

(Luke 14:15-23)  When one of those who were reclining at the table with Him heard this, he said to Him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!”
16 But He said to him, A man was giving a big dinner, and he invited many; 17 and at the dinner hour he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for everything is ready now.’ 18 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first one said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land and I need to go out and look at it; please consider me excused.’ 19 Another one said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please consider me excused.’ 20 Another one said, ‘I have married a wife, and for that reason I cannot come.’ 21 And the slave came back and reported this to his master. Then the head of the household became angry and said to his slave, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in here the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ 22 And the slave said, ‘Master, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ 23 And the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled.'"

Because of God's promises in the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants, Jesus' main ministry was to preach the kingdom of God to the Israelites, all the while knowing that He also came to make salvation available to all nations...

(Matthew 15:21-28)  Jesus went away from there, and withdrew into the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And a Canaanite woman from that region came out and began to cry out, saying, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed.” 23 But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples came and implored Him, saying, “Send her away, because she keeps shouting at us.” 24 But He answered and said, I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and began to bow down before Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” 26 And He answered and said, It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 27 But she said, “Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus said to her, O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed at once.

Today's takeaway:  notice who Jesus didn't answer the woman right away.  I've heard many people say, "I've tried 'church', and it doesn't work."  But this was because they didn't understand salvation and having a personal relationship with Jesus.  As well, I've heard people, even Christians say, "I've tried praying, and it doesn't work." 

It's important to realize that - there are several reasons why God is not answering our prayers.  Sometimes there is a critical time factor in place, so God WILL answer the prayer, but in His perfect timing.  Sometimes the answer is "no" because God is protecting us from something we cannot see.  Sometimes the prayer is not acknowledged because there sin that is impeding our prayers, like when we ask with the wrong motives.  As well - the sin that is in the way can be due to the fact that the person is not yet a Christian.

Back when my children were little, I'd take them to the playground and watch them like a hawk.  If they were in trouble, I would rush right over to help them.  If someone else's child was in trouble - I might have stepped in - but my children always took priority.  Like this gentile woman trying to get Jesus' attention, it wasn't until she realized faith in Him that He answered her request...

(Matthew 21:21-22)  And Jesus answered and said to them, “Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it will happen. 22 And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

(James 5:13-16)  Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; 15 and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. 

(1 Timothy 2:8)  Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.