Wed, Nov 21st - 8:00PM
STUDY IN MARK
The interlude continues today. Most scholars agree that there is osme relation between the events at the end of the age and Daniel's seventieth week. Many have assumed that the events of earth in chapters six through nineteen coincide with the seven years of Israel's program concluding in the return of Jesus Christ. These scholars have taken for granted that the book gives a panoramic view of the entire seven years even though there is no explicit proof of this in the book itself. There is some evidence, however, that the events pictured in the seals, trumpets, and vials are instead a concentrated prophecy of the latter half of this final week, a period of three and a half years, designated as a time of wrath and the great tribulation.
There is remarkable similarity between the progress of chapter six of Revelation as a whole and the description given by our Lord of the end of age in Matthew 24:4-31. In both passages the order is (1) war (Matthew 24:6-7; Revelation 6:3-4), (2) famine (Matthew 24:7; Revelation 6:5-6), (3) death (Matthew 24:7-9; Revelation 6:7-8), (4) martyrdom (Matthew 24:9-10, 16-22; Revelation 6: 9-11), (5) the sun darkened, the moon darkened, and the stars falling (Matthew 24:29; Revelation 6;12-14), (6) a time of divine judgment (Matthew 24:32-25:26; Revelation 6:15-17).
Although the Book of Revelation abounds in signs and symbols, it was intended to be interpreted with much greater literalness than has been generally exercised by scholars. Such an approach produces a remarkable revelation of the end of the age which coincides with other prophetic revelations. The picture painted for us is God's revealing of the dramatic and terrible judgment which will climax the present age in which we are living. It constitutes a warning to those who are living carelessly in unbelief to beware otherwise this age will swallow them up whole. The exhortation to those who claim to be believers in Christ is to get out and spread the message about the grace of Christ before it becomes too late to do so. Christians are exhorted to snatch souls from the fiery depths of the lake of fire and brimstone, as they are able.
John heard the sound of thunder in his vision, a symbolic token of a coming storm. In the summertime one can hear thunder off in the distance even when the sun is shining brilliantly and no dark clouds can yet be seen. Soon though, one is able to observe the leading edge of the dark storm front and the increasingly louder peals of thunder. These things all alert the observer to the fact that a storm is approaching and that safety measures ought to be taken. This is the observation to be taken from reading Revelation. We have been warned, alerted, to the approach of a distant storm and we ought to be taking precautions to protect ourselves and others as well.
The revelation indicates a progression of events. Mr. Lange believes that the seals, trumpets, and vials are all a representation of the entirety of human history. This is difficult to defend however. The six seals seem to unfold in chronological order. Out of the seventh seal will come another series of seven trumpets and out of the seventh trumpet will come another series of seven vials or bowls full of the wrath of God. In a sense, all of these things are contained within the first set of seals since the bowls of wrath come from out of the seventh trumpet and all of the trumpets come from out of the seventh seal. What this in essence tells us is that the seven-sealed book in heaven is the comprehensive program of God climaxing in the second coming of Jesus Christ on earth.
Mr. John Cummings believes in the premillennial return of Christ and holds to the historical school of interpretation of prophecy. He believes that currently one-half of all professing believers in Christ are nothing better than practical infidels. He points out the rise in selfishness, the increase of acceptance of sin in our world, the increase and spread of popery, the continued hope of the Jews for a national home and the return of their Messiah, the efforts of men at regeneration, the increase in knowledge, increase in activity of Satan, increase in systems of error, the growth in apathy and unbelief concerning the second coming of Christ as being clear signs of where we are at in this present age.
But to choose the futuristic approach to interpreting these prophetical passages is most important in understanding the subsequent chapters of the book of Revelation. While much debate continues over what historical periods of time are represented by which passages, the final choice of how to interpret prophecy must be based upon the judgment as to which provides the most sensible and self-consistent interpretation of the entire book of Revelation, and of the Bible. At least fifty different systems of interpretation have grown from out of the historical view alone. How can they all be correct? Even though there are minor variations found in the futurist school, the general conclusion that these chapters picture future definite events is the single most important factor for coherence. The ultimate proof of the futurist interpretation will be in future events. Hence the reason why God has repeatedly warned believers to remain vigilant, alert, watchful.
The apostle John did not simply hear words being spoken to him. He saw things that he had never before seen. "And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer (Revelation 6:2)." Here is found the beginning of the passage that has given the world the concept of the four horsemen of the Apocolypse. No explanation is provided to the reader of this vision. Many other times the reader is told exactly what it means, but not this time. It could mean that the white horseman is none other than Christ Himself. But how could He be the first horseman when He is to be the ultimate Victor of the ages? Not consistent with the entire Bible. More plausibly is the thought that this first rider is none other than "the prince that shall come (Daniel 9:26)" and who is to head up the revived Roman Empire and ultimately becomes the World Ruler over all of humanity. This interpretation continues by believing that this rider comes to fulfill the great prophecies of the book of Daniel. This rider must be Satan's masterpiece and counterfeit to all that Christ is or claims to be. Therefore he is presented in the role of a conqueror, which is the significance of the white horse. Why can't this first rider represent Jesus? Simply because each of the riders that follow him bring war, famine, and strife to all of humanity; that is opposite of Christ's stated goal of bringing eternal peace to mankind. Further debate rages on over whether each rider truly represents individuals or organizations, ethnic groups or nations. In reality, it does not matter. Someone in our future will step forward and claim the ability to institute global peace, only to ultimately bring behind him war, famine, and strife to all of humanity.
Doesn't Christ return upon a white horse? Yes, He certainly does, but not until Revelation 19. This first rider of a white horse is the counterfeit to what God has planned. So what we actually view in these four horsemen in chapter six are judgments that are sent upon the entire world. Commentaries note the description of the rider. He is having a bow, symbol of distant victory, but no arrows are mentioned. Does this imply a bloodless victory? Perhaps. He is given a crown of a victor, but not that of a sovereign. As such the emphasis is then placed upon his victory and not upon his authority. This is confirmed by the second half of the verse where it says that he is to go out conquering and to conquer.
The third through eighth verses reveal to us the other horsemen and what they are to do. Clyde C. Cox has suggested that the rider of the white horse is the world's political ruler with the second rider being his associate, the false prophet. He gives support for this concept the instances of the fact that red is typical of the beast kingdom and cites the red dragon in Revelation 12:3, the scarlet beast and woman in Revelation 17:3-4. It sounds good at first, except that it does not account for the riders of the third and fourth horses.
Each of these seals is broken and releases a judgment against the earth and its occupants. The first seal is a period of peace resulting from the conquering man sent out. The second seal is broken and results in military warfare between nations and global peace vanishes. The constant tension and ambitions of men reach their climax in this period of history before Christ returns. We may experience constant warfare today, but this will engage massive swaths of the earth in levels of warfare in which there will be loss of life never before seen. The hope of permanent global peace by means of the United Nations or some other human effort is doomed to failure.
The third horseman comes upon the heels of war and represents the aftermath of open warfare: famine. This horseman carries a pair of balances in his hand and reveals the inflation rate that will exist as a result of food shortages globally. The Roman denarius was worth about fifteen cents and represented a day's wages fro a common worker. Now the vision reveals that a day's wages will purchase one measure of wheat and three measures of barley. At the time of the revelation a measure of wheat was approximately what a working man would eat in one meal. If he chose to buy barley he would have enough to buy three good meals. He would have nothing left over to buy any other things, such as oil or wine, both of which were considered essential in biblical times. Today it would mean a man would work all day in order to be able to buy one loaf of bread and nothing else. If he had a family he would have to share it with them. The black horse emphasizes this bleak picture and symbolizes suffering (Lamentations 5:10).
The fourth horseman is named Death. Death is the logical end to warfare that covers any significant land area and produces famine of any lengthy duration. What follows this horseman? Hell follows him wherever he rides upon the earth. The color of this horse in context is ghastly in nature. The magnitude of impact is that one quarter of the earth falls under their power and death unfolds as never before seen on this planet of ours. Currently that tallies up to some 1.5 billion people ending up dead. How will we deal with the corpses that shall be rotting under the sun? Will this not unlease pestilence on a major scale unknown in modern times? Medical agencies will have their supplies exhausted in short order.
J. H. Mcilvaine suggests that the the authority given to the four horsemen to kill with sword, famine, death, and wild beasts extends to all four equally or as a group. This suggestion makes it impossible to identify Christ as the first rider but the following riders as being forces of evil. It forces all of them to be tied together. He hits upon a valid point here, but he also follows a historical perspective of interpretation which has been proven to be false. But his observation that these four seals form a single unit has sufficient merit to be considered.
Thinking about the number of people who will die during this time period, one must ponder how many people died during the Great Flood of Noah's day. One would assume that the population of earth at that time was much less than it is today. We are probably talking about the same number of people as live today in both Europe and South America that will die in this future event. In light of these things, we then see more clearly the importance of determining when in the sequence of Revelation the great tribulation predicted by our Lord and Savior (Matthew 24:15-26) begins in relationship to the seal judgments.
If, the revelation be considered future, as recorded in Daniel 9:27, the last seven years of the seventieth week of the prophecy will immediately precede the second coming of Jesus Christ. According to Daniel it is divided into two halves. The first half provides Israel protection under a treaty made with a Gentile world ruler, the prince mentioned in Daniel 9:26. But by contrast, Daniel indicated to us that the last 3.5 years cover an entirely different situation, one in which there is unprecedented trouble and strife. At this time Israel becomes the object of heightened persecution instead of being protected from her enemies who surround her geographically.
"And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which stands for the children of your people: and there shall be a time of trouble, suc has never was since there was a nation even to that same time; and at that time your people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book (Daniel 12:1)."
Jeremiah the prophet also wrote about this time period in 30:7. It is spoken of in Joel 2:1-3. In Matthew 24:21-22 Jesus said that this period of time would be so horrific that people should drop whatever they are doing and simply run for the hills in the vicinity of Jerusalem. Just get out of town as fast as your legs will carry you! And if God did not decide to shorten the length of this time period, everyone would end up being killed. Many will argue that the tribulation period begins officially with the very first seal being broken, but I say that when the fourth seal breaks open there will be absolutely no doubt that it has begun.
And so we arrive at thinking that the first rider represents for us the prince of Daniel 9:26 at a point in his career where he ascends to global rule (Daniel 7:23, Revelation 13:7), which coincides with the beginning of the great tribulation. Although he comes as a supposed "prince of peace" who initially brings peace to a very troubled world, his peace is short-lived and when it crashes it brings war, famine, death, and the final judgments of God upon this dark world. Proceding further in Revelation six we discover the fifth and sixth seals advancing the narrative and describe it as "the great day of His wrath."
From just this small sampling of scriptures dealing with this topic one is capable of observing that dreams of optimism and of a world becoming increasingly better scientifically, intellectually, morally, ethically, and religiously does not resonate with the pattern of God's prophetic Word. Will there ever be a time of peace and tranquility on earth? Most assuredly! But first there must be the awful time of the great tribulation period. Come Lord Jesus, come!
Grace and peace be with you all during this Thanksgiving holiday weekend that is now upon us all. Be thankful for all that you do have, and for all the evil things that have not happened to you. Thank God for loving you so much that He came manifest in human flesh to die upon a Roman cross of shame to pay for your sin-debt to Him. Love all the brethren of Christ! Pray for each other continuously! Offer up your life as a living sacrifice to God, which is your good and effectual service to Him.
Sat, Nov 17th - 2:17PM
STUDY IN MARK
Today I am beginning an interlude in this study by which I hope to illuminate the questions arising from talk about when the End Times could begin. We need to understand that though Jesus mentioned this period of time in the gospel of Mark, we really must go to the Books of Revelation and of Daniel in order to gain a deeper understanding of this entire situation. I choose to begin in Daniel nine, so let's go there and get started!
"And he (Gabriel) informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come to you to give you skill and understanding. At the beginning of your supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to show you; for you are greatly beloved by God: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision. Seventy weeks are determined upon your people and upon your holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy (Daniel 9:22-24)."
First of all, we find the archangel Gabriel commanded by God to go and speak certain things to the prophet Daniel. God desired for Daniel to know and understand a certain matter and to be able to "consider the vision." This "vision" will be looked at later on, but it is found in 8:1-26. Daniel was informed that a specific time frame had been appointed by God for certain things to transpire. The transgression had to be finished, there must be an end to sin, reconciliation must happen, everlasting righteousness must be brought into creation, and that this vision had to be sealed up along with the anointing of the most Holy.
How quickly are angels able to move? Well, Gabriel stated that when Daniel began to pray God commanded Gabriel to go to Daniel. How long did Daniel pray for? His prayer is recorded in chapter nine of Daniel, and probably did not last beyond a handful of minutes. So Gabriel went from heaven to Daniel's side in less than that amount of time. If Daniel here is said to have been "greatly loved" by God, then each believer in Christ is greatly loved as well. Our prayers are to be heard immediately by God as long as we have repented of any known sin in our lives.
In this passage mention is made of "seventy weeks." As we proceed in studying this out we are going to realize that seventy weeks is actually seventy sevens. The units are not being applied and so it could be days, weeks, months, or years, for example. In context, we can find out that Daniel had been reading in Jeremiah about years, seventy years to be precise. Jeremiah had been preaching that the captivity of Israel would last 70 years for it was a specific penalty for the nation violating seventy sabbatic years. That would be seventy sevens, or a total of 490 years. During that time period Israel had violated exactly seventy sabbatical years (II Chronicles 36:21).
Daniel was puzzled as to how the end of the captivity would fit into the long period of Gentile world dominion which the visions in chapters 7+8 had clearly indicated. He clearly thought that his people would return to Jerusalem upon the ending of their captivity, the promised Messiah would then come, and the kingdom promised to king David would be established. But how could both of these things be true? The seventy weeks answer two questions. Israel's kingdom will not come immediately. The seventy sevens must run their entire course. These seventy sevens fit into the Times of the Gentiles and run concurrently with them. The word for determined literally means "cutting off." These seventy sevens are to be cut off, they and the Times of the Gentiles will both simultaneously come to an end at the second coming of Jesus Christ.
The seventy weeks concerns the Jewish people and Jerusalem. Several things are to be accomplished in those seventy weeks or 490 years. We are going to discover that 69 of these weeks have already passed, and one "week" is yet to be fulfilled.
"Know therefore and understand, that from the going out of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem to the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troubling times. And after threescore and two weeks will the Messiah be cut off, but not for Himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end of it shall be with a flood, and to the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the middle of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease being done, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate (Daniel 9-25-27)."
The beginning point for this period of 490 years is vital to the correct understanding of the prophecy. Since this period is projected into the Times of the Gentiles, it must fit into secular history and originate from some date connected with human history. Several starting points have been suggested: the decree of Cyrus (Ezra 1:1-4); the decree of Darius (Ezra 6:1-12); and the decree of Artaxerxes (Ezra 7:11-26). The decree of Artaxerxes meets the requirements of verse twenty-five. The commandment to rebuild the city of Jerusalem was issued in the month Nisan 445 B.C. That will be our beginning point.
The first seven weeks of forty-nine years bring us to 397 B.C. and to Malachi and the end of the Old Testament. These were "troubling times" as witnessed by both Nehemiah and Malachi. Then sisty-two weeks, or 434 years, bring us to the Messiah. At least one scholar has worked out a schedule. From the first of Nisan to the tenth of Nisan (April 6th) A,D. 32, are 173,880 days. Dividing them according to the Jewish year of 360 days brings us to 483 years, or 69 weeks. On this day Jesus rode into Jerusalem, offering Himself for the first time, publicly and officialy, as the Messiah.
After the 69 weeks there is a time break. Between the sixty-ninth and seventieth week two events of utmost importance are to take place:
1. The Messiah will be cut off. This was the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the great mystery and truth of the gospel.
2. The destruction of Jerusalem, which historically took place in 70 A.D., when Titus the Roman general conquered it.
The final "week" is projected into the future and does not follow chronologically the other sixty-nine "weeks". This time gap is the current age of grace, a time when God is actively calling out a new people from all nations of the world. This age of grace was not known to the prophets (Ephesians 3:1-12; I Peter 1:10-12). So the Seventieth Week is a period of time yet to happen, and it is the final historical period of time that will happen.
"The prince" is a Roman; he is the "little horn" of Daniel 7; he is "the beast" of Revelation 13. At the appointed time, this "prince" will make a covenant with Israel and they will accept him as their Messiah, but in the middle of this last "week" he will betray them by breaking this covenant. He will place an image in the Temple (Revelation13). Here is the abomination of desolation. What Israel thought to be the Millennium will turn out to be the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:15-26). The Hebrews having waited for centuries for their Messiah to come and save them will end up believing the wrong person is He.
Just as the previous 69 "weeks" were sevens of years, so too, this last week will last seven years. Once it begins with the treaty, or covenant, being made with Israel we can know that exactly 3.5 years later the "beast" will break it. He will demand everyone worship him as God. We shall look at this next time, beloved. Grace and peace be with you all.
Thu, Nov 15th - 1:41PM
STUDY IN MARK
"After two days was the feast of the Passover, and of unleavened bread: and the chief priests and the scribes tried to figure out how to take Him by craftiness, and put Him to death. But they said, Not on the feast day, otherwise there would be a riot by the people (14:1-2)."
The Passover was observed on the fourteenth day of the first month which is the Jewish month Nisan and corresponds to our April (Leviticus 23:5). The Feast of Unleavened Bread followed on the fifteenth day of the first month, and lasted seven days (Leviticus 23:6). It would appear then, that the intent of the religious rulers was to wait until another eight days or so before seizing Jesus. They wanted to let the crowds of people exit Jerusalem and go home, thus avoiding any sort of uprising against them.
"And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at dinner, there came a woman having an alabaster box of spikenard ointment which was very valuable; and she broke the box, and poured it on His head (14:3)."
Spikenard is a Himalayan plant of the valerian family. It is a kind of ginseng with an aromatic root that was crushed and made into a fragrant ointment back in Jesus' time. The other Gospel writers provide us with other details of this event. John's account places this incident six days before the Passover (John 12:1). Have Matthew and Mark mistakenly placed this incident in their accounts? Probably not since neither man was attempting to give us a true chronological order to events. What Mark writes here is a stark contrast to what Judas Iscariot then does. This contrast is portrayed vividly of the conflict of light and darkness in this world of ours. Friend and foe are moving towards the cross on Calvary. Mary of Bethany is coming the way of light and love. Judas is coming the way of evil and dark motives. Who was this Mary? Check out John 12:3. Mark does not give us many details in his account, he is intent upon providing us with the continuing action.
"And there were some that were filled with indignation, and said, Why was this ointment wasted this way? For it could have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her. And Jesus said, Leave her alone; why do you trouble her? She has produced a good work on Me. For you have the poor with you all of the time, and you can help them through good deeds whenever you choose to: but you do not always have Me (14:4-7)."
John also tells us exactly who instigated the feelings of indignation over this apparent wastage of valuable ointment. It was Judas Iscariot. Judas didn't care about the needs of the poor. He was a thief, was in charge of the communal purse, and would have spent the money on stuff that would not have gone to the poor. The exact same type of thing still happens in congregations all over the world today. People embezzle funds while they are the treasurer, never really having a heart that wants to help the poor and needy people all around them. They are opportunists who have manipulated their way into a sweet position of opportunity.
Jesus pointed out to all of them that they could help the poor every day of their entire lives but they could not have Him with them the same way. Jesus' time on earth was short, and it was coming rapidly to a close. Poverty will not be eliminated until Jesus returns again to rule on earth. All efforts to attain the "Golden Society" will fail. They may be well intentioned, but they will still fall woefully short of the stated goals. President Johnson attempted to create this in America during the 1960's and it is no where to be found in American society today, some 45 years later. More people are living upon food stamps today than they did 4-5 years ago. The ranks of the poor continue to increase, even in such an affluent nation as America. Poverty can not be eliminated simply by handing out money to the poor. And yet politicians continue to do so. It may help them get reelected, but it does not reduce poverty among the people. Liberals tend to believe that more money will create the solution to society's problems. They are wrong. It only tends to create a sense of dependency upon the federal government and not create a drive within people to better themselves through hard work and effort. That is what the government says it wants to have happen, but how do they reward the hard work and effort of the successful? They wish to increase what they take from the fruits of their hard labors, and give it to those who are not doing anything. Mind you, I am not speaking about those who are truly disabled and can't work. I speak about those who have chosen to not work because it is much easier to let the government take care of them. This has been on-going for several generations now in too many communities and neighborhoods and has become what is "normal" for those people. It must change.
"She has done what she could: she is come to anoint My body for burying before the fact. Truly I say to you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this that she has done shall also be spoken of for a memorial to her (14:8-9)."
Mary had given to Jesus what she had in her possession, spikenard ointment. She obviously had reached the realization that Jesus was, indeed, walking into Jerusalem very shortly to allow Himself to be crucified upon a Roman cross. She may not have completely understood the ramifications of this choice, but she did not have any doubts that it would happen. So she anointed His body with the fragrant ointment so that He would be ready for burial after His death. We must notice that Mary had always been the sister who sat at the feet of the Messiah to listen to His teachings. Her sister Martha always was rushing anxiously about attempting to have things "just so." So Mary through these actions let her Master know that she understood. Here in the shadows of the looming cross on Calvary where He would suffer immensely there was one woman who understood. Do we understand?
It is so easy for me to read this passage and have it remain meaningless to me. Have I taken the time to "break" my alabaster box of ointment upon Jesus so that there could be an aromatic fragrance in my life? Or do I still stink? Have I done the anointing so that I may be a blessing to others around me? Good questions. Next time I will look at the actions of Judas Iscariot as they are shoved right up against the selfless actions of Mary. What a contrast!
May people all over the world be thankful for the blessings that God has bestowed upon them this past year! Perhaps it is as simple as not having lost all of your possessions during a natural catastrophe. Perhaps it is as complex as having survived cancer. Or perhaps it is a matter of being thankful for having family that love you, are always there for you, and will never turn you away in your hour of deepest need. Perhaps it means telling a grandparent or parent that you appreciate all that they have done for you, even when you did not deserve it. Perhaps it means telling a brother or sister how much you love them, and never want to ruin the relationship that you have together. Or, perhaps it means telling God thanks. Thanks for giving me the opportunities to help people who have less than I do. Thanks for giving me the ability to listen to someone who really needs to talk and get things off of their chest. Thanks for coming and giving Your life in order that I might believe and become redeemed through You. We tend to thank others primarily around Thanksgiving time, for perhaps one week, and then we revert back to our normal approach of ignoring others for the next year. Why not repent of that attitude, turn back towards God, and be thankful every day? Be gracious to others. Be respectful. The events of recent days in America make me just shake my head in sadness. Important, powerful, people just never seem to learn from the mistakes of others. They play with "fire" and think that they will never get burnt, and yet they do each and every time. Infidelity at the governmental level leaves all of us at risk. All of us. So I pray for my government to become wiser, restrained, respectful, and responsible. Grace and peace be with all of us this day.
Wed, Nov 14th - 3:10PM
STUDY IN MARK
"Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putting out leaves, you know that summer is near: So you in like manner, when you shall see these things come to pass, know that it is near, even at the doors. Truly I say to you, that this generation shall not pass, until all of these things be done (13:28-30)."
Upon giving the disciples an answer to their questions, Jesus then pronounces that once people see these things beginning to happen in this order they are to know that the end is close. He then proceeds to tell them that the generation that sees these things happen will not die until they see all of it happen. He was not telling THAT generation to whom He was speaking that they would not die until all of these things were to happen. This is the incorrect interpretation that very many people choose to believe in. They can then pretend that none of these things will happen in their lifetimes since they had already happened in the distant past. But none of those things have happened yet! The sun has not been darkened as described, nor has the moon failed to give radiance when it is expected to. The Son of man has not been seen returning in the clouds with great power and glory either. So, obviously by logic, the End Times have not yet arrived on earth and all of "these things" are still approaching us from in the future.
Remember that the fig tree speaks of nation Israel. Why? Recall that Jesus just finished telling them that there would be an "abomination of desolation" that would stand in the holy of holies. Jesus gives to the reader the pointer for being able to recognize when the End Times are upon them. Look to Israel. What will be happening to that nation? What will also be happening across the entire world in conjunction with the events transpiring in Israel? All must be considered to be connected to each other and not as separate and distinct events. God's timepiece is not spelled Gruen or Bulova, as Dr. McGee used to say; it is spelled I-s-r-a-e-l.
"This generation" could mean the race of Israel, but that would mean they were indestructible. Or it could mean a generation of people and their total life span. Those who saw the beginning of these events would then live to see them to their conclusion. The emphasis seems to be on the implied rapidity in which these events occur.
"Heaven and earth shall pass away: but My words shall not pass away. But of that day and that hour no one knows, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch and pray: for you do not know when the time is for these things to happen (13:31-33)."
Here is an instance where it is admittedly difficult to comprehend God's omniscience. Does He know everything, or does He not? If Jesus is God, then why isn't He just as omniscient as the Father? Mark provides us the perspective of Jesus as "the servant, and the servant does not know what his Lord does." It as "the servant" that we see Jesus in His most typical form of humanity. Jesus took upon Himself "the form of a servant." In becoming a man God limited Himself in order to become as close to us as possible. As a man God was not omnipresent. He had to walk around to get from place to place. Some sort of self-imposed limitation existed relative to His omniscience.
Verse 33 gives us sort of a key for how we are to approach our future: Watch and pray, take heed of what God has said in His Word. We can pray for the end to come quickly so that we may attain our glorified bodies and be with Christ where He is. We can also pray to remain ever faithful in the face of mounting persecution within our communities. We can also pray for increased faith, grace, joy, and love. We can also pray for wisdom, just as did Solomon, and God will give us the appropriate measure that we deserve to have. Should I obsess over when the Great Tribulation Period is to begin? No. I am to wait upon the Lord, confident that He, in His infinite wisdom, has appointed the correct day and hour for the End Times to begin. Since I have already wasted too much time in my life prior to accepting Christ Jesus into my heart, why waste more time by trying to figure out something such as this? Better by far is it to love others, meet the needs of others, and tell others about the love of God towards us.
"For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Watch therefore: for you do not know when the master of the house returns, at evening, or at midnight, or at first daylight, or when the rooster crows: Otherwise coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say to you I say also to everyone, Watch (13:34-37)."
This parable finishes Mark's account of the Olivet Discourse. This parable was being self-applied by Jesus. He is the master of the house who left for a distant land and gave authority to His servants. Jesus also gave every single person work to do. Jesus commanded the "porter" to watch. Who could the "porter" represent? Perhaps the high priest of the Temple, or even the leaders of the church. There is responsibility expected of the believers. Added to watching and praying is the task of doing God's work as assigned to each of us. Not necessarily the work that we choose to do, but the work of God as He assigns it to us. Our watching is not to be filled with anxiety or fear. The child of God is to be watching, looking expectantly for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We are to be full of joyful anticipation of Christ's return! Amen!
Now beloved, we come to the longest chapter in this entire Gospel; it has seventy-two verses. In this chapter plenty of action takes place, but it is being done to Jesus Christ now. No longer the one performing the actions, He is the one being acted upon. But it is the appointed time for this transition to take place, God's plan called for this to take place exactly at this time. It is the time for Christ to be delivered up into the hands of His enemies. His earthly ministry is coming to an end. Jesus delivers Himself into the will of God the Father.
As we approach into the shadow of the Cross, our heart realizes that we are on holy ground. There is so much that we do not comprehend about this object of shame and humiliation. Why such anguish and agony were required of Christ' soul? Why was this "His hour" which He spoke to His mother about back at the marriage feast in Cana (John 2:4)? But it has finally come! There is no place to hide from it. There is no way to avoid completing it. There is no way to explain it away. There is no way to not embrace it and move on to the other side of it. The Messiah had arrived at the appointed place at the appointed time in total obedience to the Father's will. This is why He had come as He had. This is why He had preached what He had preached to everyone who would listen. This is what unconditional love demonstrated is all about.
We will find in this chapter of Mark a strange confluence of heaven and hell. Light and darkness are both moving in the same direction at the same time. Righteousness and sin are moving inexorably towards the cross. God and Satan have decided that Jesus shall die here. Individual decisions are converging upon the cross, just as they continue to do even today. All of this will be covered in the coming days. But first, there shall be an overview of Revelation and Daniel as concerns the events of the Great Tribulation. Grace and peace be yours, as in America we prepare for the coming celebration of Thanksgiving. Jesus Christ ever our cornucopia! Jesus Christ ever our all in all!
Tue, Nov 13th - 1:31PM
STUDY IN MARK
"But when you shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not to stand, (let him that reads this understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains (13:14)."
Here are words concerning the Great Tribulation coming at the end of this age in which we live. In the Book of Daniel we find passages talking about "weeks." And they all are accounted for except the very last seven day period of time. That final "week" of history covers the final seven years of human history before Christ Jesus physically sets foot upon this earth once more. The first three and a half years are full of peace, tranquility, and never before seen prosperity on a global scale. At this mid-point is when appears this "abomination of desolation" spoken of by Daniel the prophet. It will stand where it should not stand, namely in the Holy Place of the Temple in Jerusalem. This has no actual meaning for today's church of believers. It does have tremendous meaning to Jewish people. Mark didn't specify the Holy Place to these Romans to whom he was writing this book for they would not have caught his "drift." But we today understand how the Old Testament works with the New Testament to provide us with insight and information about what will happen in the future. You might be thinking, "But the Temple was destroyed long ago, and a Mosque stands on the ground where the Temple would be." You are correct. But one day in the future that Jewish Temple will stand on that plot of ground once more. Something will happen between the Antichrist and Israel during that three and a half year period of peace and prosperity that will enable the Israelites to erect their Temple again.
"And let him that is on the housetop to not go down into the house, neither enter into it, to take any thing out of his house: and let him that is in the field to not turn around to pick up his clothing. But woe to them that are with child, and to them that suckle a child in those days! And pray that your flight not be in the winter time. For in those days shall there be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created until this time, neither shall be after. And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect's sake, whom He has chosen, He has shortened the days. And then if any man shall say to you, Look, here is Christ; or, look, He is there; do not believe them. For false Christs and false prophets shall arise, and shall show signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect. But you take heed: behold, I have foretold for you all things (13:15-23)."
We must note the urgency of this passage. When this abomination of desolation stands where it ought not to, then there will be no time to consider what one will do. It will simply be a time to run away to the mountains for some measure of safety. This warning is aimed directly at the residents of Jerusalem and those who live immediately all around that city. If this event happens during the winter time it will be even worse for those who must flee for their lives.
The level of persecution during these days will be beyond anything that the world has ever experienced up until that time or ever will experience. It will be such a severe tribulation that unless God chose to shorten the period of time that it would last, no one would survive it. Because of believers in Christ, God chooses to make those evil, wicked, days shorter than they would otherwise be.
False Christs and false prophets will be prevalent. Because of this it becomes paramount that we heed God's warning against walking simply according to our physical eyesight. Believers are to walk by faith, not by sight. No more visits from Christ are coming, only the one time when He returns to stay in order to rule over the entire earth. Prophecy continues to come through believers today, but it is not to reveal brand new material given by God. The Book of Revelation completed the amount of revealed things given to us by God. The next level of revelation will not arrive until Jesus Christ returns to rule from the throne of David in Jerusalem. Believe no one who claims to be Christ, has seen Christ, or has been given new revelation from Christ. It will be lies. When Christ returns it will be in a way that every single person on this earth will be able to see Him coming from heaven. He shall not come in the dark, He shall not sneak back onto earth, He shall not come as another tiny baby that must wait to mature to adulthood. Christ returns as the Living God ready to assume the throne in the city of David and rule the earth with a rod of iron.
"But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall become darkened, and the moon shall not give light at night, and the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then shall He send His angels, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven (13:24-27)."
Here is when the shekinah glory of God will return to the earth. It has been absent for several thousand years, having left the Temple in Jerusalem during the Old Testament period in history. We must not be mistaken here and think that the rapture is being described. What we read here is something that happens after the removal of believers. This is the separation of those 144,000 Jewish witnesses who have been spreading out across the world preaching the coming kingdom of heaven. This last event using the angels to gather the elect comes well after the Tribulation, as mentioned in verse 24. God's judgment against mankind and Satan will affect the sun and the moon, the stars in the nighttime sky, and after these things then Christ returns in glory and power. I Thessalonians 4:13-18 relates to us about believers being caught up to meet Jesus in the sky. Beloved, if we be alive at that point in time we shall be snatched away, raptured, by Jesus Christ our Lord. We will no longer be on this planet, we shall be with Him in the air, and He shall give us glorified bodies at that time. Arguments arise needlessly over when we shall experience this rapture. God has promised that He shall never leave nor forsake us. None may snatch us from out of His mighty hand. Whatever we may suffer through in this life on earth, we will be taken out to be with Him at the appointed time. Why fret and worry? If God is for us, who can be against us and be victorious? No one. Not even Satan himself can steal us away from God. We may very well suffer persecution, we may very well not be able to work, buy food, nor sell goods, but God will continue to be with us. We simply must persevere, to remain faithful to Christ Jesus unto the very end, even to death if need be. The dire nature of what the Antichrist will do to those who refuse to worship him is made evident in the book of Revelation. If given enough time he might even be able to destroy all flesh. But God has chosen to minimize Satan's period of control over the earth, for the sake of His elect.
That is all for today my friends. I am going to try to pull together some information from both Revelation and Daniel so that we all will have better understanding of what is to come in the future. Ponder this: We are always just eight years away from the coming of Jesus Christ. If global peace and unheard of prosperity were to be ushered in in 2013, I would want to observe international events very, very, closely. For there are telltale signs to warn us of when we are in the Great TRibulation Period and we ought to learn what they are in order to be knowledgeable and able to discern what is happening. Grace and peace of Christ be yours today!
Fri, Nov 9th - 12:46PM
STUDY IN MARK
"But take care of yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues you shall be beaten: and you shall be brought before rulers and kings for My sake, for a testimony against them. And the gospel must first be published among all the nations. But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought ahead of time what you shall say, neither premeditate: but what ever is given to you in that hour, that you will speak: for it is not you that will speak, but it will be the Holy Spirit speaking through you (13:9-11)."
Christ is not really talking about the church here, but is referring to the gospel of the kingdom. It is the gospel of grace. The gospel of the kingdom is a facet of grace. All salvation is through the grace of God. Mercy originates from God's grace toward mankind. The gospel of the kingdom emphasizes the necessity to repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. He is coming, He is coming. Why must it still be spoken before the return of Christ? Because He is coming, again!
Verse eleven does not tell us that we are not to read and study God's Word. The Holy Spirit can't speak through us if we have never bothered to open up the Bible and learn what is in it. We must hear what God is saying to us in the Bible first, then later we can be used to speak those words to our persecuters. This verse speaks to us about the day when the 144,000 witnesses for Christ arise from out of the twelve tribes of Israel and they go out into the world to preach the gospel of the kingdom. Preachers can't simply wait for the Spirit of God to give them an entire sermon, they must be busy themselves!
We must understand that when we become persecuted for the sake of our faith in Christ we must not use responses that we have concocted beforehand. God tells us to ready ourselves beforehand by knowing His Word, but to then allow Him to speak through us to our accusers. We are to be prepared to experience a Moses-like event, where we simply repeat what God says to us.
"Now the brother shall betray the brother to the point of death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death. And you shall be the most hated of all people for My name's sake: but he that shall endure to the end, the same shall be saved (13:12-13)."
Betrayal shall become the norm within society in our future. Families will willingly report on each other, tearing the basic building block of society completely apart. Global anti-Semitism will exist alongside of global hatred for Christians. But because God places His seal upon those witnesses of His, they will be able to survive through to the very end of this age. Let's be agreed upon what "endure" means. It is to undergo a hardship without giving in to it; to remain firm under suffering or misfortune without yielding; to last. This last verse does not imply that in order to become saved one must endure a lifetime of suffering. No, what it does say is that the one who is saved will endure through every persecution and suffering until the very end of the age, if necessary. Those who are not redeemed will not endure through nonstop persecution, they will inevitably reach a point where they will choose to end the suffering by surrendering. These people were never saved to begin with, they may have been "fair weather" believers.
I will stop here for today. The next several verses need to be looked at as a whole and not broken up into separate pieces. So next time I will study out verses 14-27 and their relevance to us today. Grace and peace be with you all.
Thu, Nov 8th - 9:47AM
STUDY IN MARK
"And when you shall hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be troubled: for such things must happen; but the end shall not yet be. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in diverse places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows (13:7-8)."
The end times are not identified by these sorts of things, they describe the age in which we are living. This age has been since Jesus Christ's time of walking in the flesh. Antichrists simply point towards the coming of the AntiChrist. This is an accurate depiction of what we experience today. We hear about wars in other parts of the world and of rumors of wars that might happen soon. America was just involved in two wars at the same time. The odds of becoming involved in another in the near future remain rather elevated.
Mankind today believes that he has become so civilized and enlightened through all of his gadgets that he has made the world such a wonderful place in which to live. Science has become the "god" of the academic world, it can do no wrong. Science will solve all of our problems. That is naivety at work. Science may solve some problems, but it has created more problems that it then must find solutions for. Science provided us with pollution of the earth and its waters. Science provided men with the means to cut down massive amounts of rainforest in a relatively short period of time. Science has allowed our population to explode and if nothing is done to reduce the rate of growth there will be massive starvation in our future. God's Word simply tells us that troubles and famines will be a normal part of our age leading up to the end times. Why do people despise a book that accurately predicts what the general trends in history are, and will be? Can science solve all of our problems? Can it solve global warming? Don't think so. Can it solve warfare? Can it solve sorrow? Or cancer? Or mental illness? Or serial killers? Or arsonists? Or psychotic murderers? I do not believe so. Can science solve the problem of sin? Not at all.
As enlightened and educated as we have become, we remain the same inside. Mankind is still selfish, egotistical, covetous, greedy, paranoid, and prejudiced. We still act immature, uncaring, unthinking, and unloving towards others who are not like us outwardly. We remain anchored to outward appearances in the vast majority of our interactions with others. We rarely consider a person based upon who they are and what they know. We make judgments based upon color of skin, gender, age, social class, social status, religious belief, wealth, power, political belief, and level of education. We do not just look at a person and want to find out what kind of person they are. We bring "baggage" with us into each and every interaction we have with other people all around us. As it was two thousand years ago, so it remains today, and so it shall remain into the distant future. Mankind does not learn from its past mistakes, and does not learn from its past history but simply keeps on repeating it. We couldn't stop with just one world war, we had to go and have another one less than a generation later. And that war didn't teach us enough, obviously, since we have had at least ten full-fledged wars since 1945. So much then for mankind becoming more civilized and treating each other more humanely.
That is all for today, beloved. Next time we shall see the warning given by Christ and how we are to respond when unbelievers arrest us and force us before judges and rulers. Grace and peace be yours today.
Wed, Nov 7th - 1:40PM
STUDY IN MARK
"And as Jesus went out of the Temple, one of His disciples said to Him, Master, see the type of stones and what buildings are here (13:1)!"
Why is this statement being made here? We must recall what Jesus said in Matthew 23:38 about the coming desolation of the Temple. Mark records this statement without the prior discussion. Of course the disciples were confused, here was a grandeur and a glory about their Temple and the surrounding buildings. They were massive, made out of heavy, solid, stone. They obviously took pains to point this out to the Master, to be sure that He was actually speaking about these same buildings.
"And Jesus said in response to him, Do you see these great buildings? there shall not be one stone left upon another, that shall not be thrown down (13:2)."
Jesus asks him if he truly sees the buildings for what they are. Are they permanent edifices? Or are they rather temporary in the grand scheme of things? They experience the effects of erosion/corrosion from the very first day that they are completed. In essence they have begun the process of passing away. All seen things are temporal, and thus temporary. The unseen things of this world are eternal (II Corinthians 4:18). One day all of the skyscrapers that man has built will fall down into dust and rubble. The stadiums will collapse in upon themselves. The grand cathedrals will all crumble into the earth once more.
"And as He sat upon the mount of Olives over against the Temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked Him privately, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled (13:3-4)?"
Mark provides us with the actual names of the men who asked this question in Matthew. Mark himself was not there, but Peter was and since Peter is the one who is relating much of this material to Mark to write down, it ends up appearing in this Gospel.
Mark only states two questions while Matthew stated three. Matthew and Mark provide us with God's answer to the last two of these three questions. Matthew provided much more detail, but we must remember that Mark was writing to the Romans and so he is going to call their attention to that which reveals power and action and drama.
"And Jesus answered them by saying, Take heed lest any person deceive you; For many shall come in My name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many people (13:5-6)."
Here is the often repeated warning to Christians. Beware false Christs and those who seek to deceive. I know many people today believe that they can't be deceived because they have their college degrees. Sadly, they are simply being naive. We have the Christ of liberalism, of social activism, both of whom are not the real Christ. Jesus did not go about seeking to restore the civil rights of the people. He did not go about changing the words of the Old Testament. He did not come to champion the cause of the minority or of the misunderstood. He came to change the world one person at a time through salvation from their own personal sins. People must change from the inside out, not from the outside in. We can not legislate personal change in people. The liberal believer evidently talks about a different Jesus than the one found in the Bible.
So there are very many antichrists in our world today. I have mentioned a couple. But every single time someone claims to be Jesus Christ, or claims that what the Bible says is not true, we are experiencing an antichrist sentiment. To deny Christ's words to be true means that you are antichrist in your beliefs. There can be no grey area in this matter. It is black and white, right or wrong. To claim that Jesus is love, but He is not the Judge is to deny God's very nature. To claim that Jesus is holy and also accepting of all of our behavior is to deny God's very nature. It is to be antichristian in outlook on life. Was God accepting of Cain's behavior? No, He was not. Was God accepting of Lot's behavior? No, He was not. Was God accepting of king David's behavior? No, He was not. Was God accepting of the adulterous woman's behavior? No, He was not and He instructed her to go and sin no more. That is what happens at the moment of redemption through Christ Jesus, we are told to go and sin no more. We have been forgiven, but we must now repent of our sin and do it no more. I had to repent of my sins upon being redeemed, and so does each and every other person who believes in the name of Christ Jesus. To refuse to "see" my sin/s will prevent God from blessing me. Deception will rule my life and truth will not have a place within my heart. Satan will be able to use me any way that he desires for the truth will not yet be within me. I must therefore measure my conduct against God's standard contained within the Bible and change where ever I come up short. Where ever I come up short. Not just where I am willing to change, but every where I come up short. Am I immodest? Then I must change that. Am I abusing my body? Then I must change that. Am I abusing others? Then I must change that. Am I adulterous? Then I must change that. Am I fornicating? Then I must change that. Am I stealing? Then I must change that. Am I unloving of my parents? Then I must change that. Am I ungrateful to God? Then I must change that. The list goes on and on and on. Some things change rapidly while others take some time to become complete. How determinedly you seek out God's will for your life determines the speed of transformation of your personal behaviors. As Christians we must pursue God, pursue the Holy. Satan continues to snatch away our attention with more and more amusements and leisure activities. With each electronic gadget that comes out, a bit more of our time and attention are stolen away, never to be regained or redeemed. Time, after all, flows like a river; once it passes us by it can't be retrieved to be relived differently. We must live life deliberately today, time is important, more important than we generally believe.
Be deliberate in your faith, beloved! Be modest in thought, speech, dress, and behavior. Do not become a stumblingblock to those around you each day. Guard your heart diligently! Do not give your heart away frivolously. Remain alert to the snares of Satan! TV, video games, PC games, internet, movies, music videos, and even music, are all potential means of creating an addictive mindset in which you will not ever stop to think about God and your service to Him. So beware.
Mon, Nov 5th - 3:00PM
STUDY IN MARK
"And Jesus answered and said, while He taught in the Temple, How do the scribes say that Christ is the son of David? For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, The Lord said to my Lord, Sit You on My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool. David therefore himself called Him Lord; and how then can He be his son? And the common people heard Him gladly (12:35-37)."
Jesus was teaching about His own virgin birth here, pointing out that it was ludicrous to think that David was calling his own great-great-great-great-grandson his Lord. King David obviously understood that Christ was his Lord. In quoting Psalm 110 Jesus also ascribes this Psalm to David. David wrote this psalm by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God. This psalm then, speaks about Jesus Christ, the Messiah. Christ corrected what the scribes were trying to teach to the people concerning the Christ.
"And He said to them in His doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts: Which consume widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation (12:38-40)."
Here is our teaching about privilege creating responsibility. The scribes were denounced because their lives contradicted the Scriptures that they taught to everyone else. Because of this their judgment will be more severe than those who have not even heard the Scriptures. Even as Christ warned His disciples about these scribes, He is also warning us about those who do these exact same things today. There are people who claim to be Christians and yet seek out the very best seats in the love feasts, the worship services, and love their expensive clothes and jewelry. They speak loudly in gatherings welcoming others of their ilk. Their prayers are long-winded and pointless, even though they believe that they are effective disciples for Christ. They do not have compassion for those who are in poverty, or who are suffering through lean financial times. The warning is clear: Do not become like the scribes!
"And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and saw how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing And He called to Him His disciples, and said to them, Truly I say to you, That this poor widow has cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury. For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living (12:41-44)."
The wealthy, when they do choose to give, give much money but it is always from the excess that they have. Poor people end up giving from out of that money which they need to live upon. Who then gives more? The poor people give more in the eyes of God since they have no excess and yet they still give. Would the wealthy person continue to give much, if their excess were to disappear? The amount of money that I give back to God is never the important thing. It is my motivation for doing so that is vitally important to God. Do I give back to Him from out of my love for Him? Or do I give back to God from out of a hope to make Him owe me? My love and devotion must be in the gift, not my hopes to manipulate God into doing something for me.
Should I give a tenth of all that I earn back to God? Is that what my tithe ought to be? The Hebrews were required by God to tithe one tenth of the first fruits of their labors to the priesthood, the Levites. Today Christians tend to think that we are also required by God to do this. But there is no priesthood, other than in the Catholic Church, to whom this tithe can go. Christians have been commanded to study the Word of God in order to be approved, and to determine in their heart what they believe and to then live it daily. Thus, if I determine in my heart that I can't eat meat, then I am to not eat meat at all. If I determine in my heart that I am to worship God only on Sunday, or Saturday, or every day, then I am to do just that. I can't require others to follow suit. In the same fashion I am not required to give a set percentage back to God. What ever amount I do determine in my heart to give to God must come first from out of my wages, it can't be the very last thing that I use my money for. First fruits. I am to give the best to God, always. What I give to God will be affected by how much I love Him. God watches how much each person gives. He also notes what the motivation for giving is in each person. I would say that as my faith in Christ grows, so will grow my offering to God of what I earn.
That ends chapter twelve of Mark. Next time I will begin chapter thirteen, in which we find the Olivet Discourse, a parable about the fig tree and of the man on a trip. Hope you return for this next chapter as we will discover what perspective Mark was given by the Holy Spirit to write down for us in this Gospel account. To all who have lost loved ones in the hurricane, may God's love embrace each of you and allow you to know that He is real and that He is with you each and every day. May we all give graciously to the efforts to rescue, recover, and rebuild that which has materially been lost in the wake of this great storm of nature. May those who have been traumatized through their experiences of the past week receive the support and counseling needed in order to recover and then resume their lives. May there be restoration and reunion of those families that were broken apart during the storm and its aftermath. May the power become restored as quickly as humanly possible to those who are still without. May all of this happen through the grace and love of Jesus Christ.
Fri, Nov 2nd - 12:42PM
STUDY IN MARK
"And one of the scribes came, having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, Which is the frst commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel, The Lord our God is one Lord. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like it, namely this, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is none other commandment greater than these (12:28-31)."
Jesus began by quoting Deuteronomy 6:4. Not part of the Ten Commandments, but it is the greatest doctrinal statement in the entire Old Testament. Israel was supposed to witness to a world enslaved to polytheism and idolatry concerning the unity of the Godhead. The church today is supposed to witness to the same world concerning the unity of the Godhead.
If I am unable to keep these two commandments all of the time, 24/7, then I am in dire need of a Savior. I know personaly that I do not measure up to these two commandments all of the time. The neighbor thing alone will trip me up over time. I love God, but I need to love Him more and always. If I could measure up to these two commandments then I would not need a Savior and I could directly apply for salvation based upon my own merits. Since I can't measure up, I have chosen to accept my Savior, Jesus Christ. How about you?
"And the scribe said to Him, Well, Master, You have said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but He: And to love Him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbor as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, He said to him, You are not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that dared ask Him any question (12:32-34)."
This scribe spoke the truth. Offerings and sacrifices do not supplant obedience and love. This scribe was indeed very close to the kingdom. All that he lacked was acknowledging the Messiah as his Lord and Savior. What we also see here is that no one dared ask Him any more questions after this point in time. They had tried to trap Him by asking Him loaded questions, but had failed miserably. Instead, they had been put on the spot by Christ. After this Christ's enemies resorted to planning His death so that they would not have to listen to Him anymore.
That is all for today, beloved. Grace and peace to you all!
Thu, Nov 1st - 2:57PM
STUDY IN MARK
"In necessary things, unity; in doubtful things, liberty; in all things, love."
"The trouble is that too often charity begins and ends at home."
"Kindness is the golden chain by which society is bound together."
~Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
"Humanitarianism is a grand-sounding word, but it can sometimes mean something very much thinner than human kindness."
~A. C. Craig
"Then came to Him the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection; and they asked Him, saying, Master, Moses wrote to us, If a man's brother die, and leaves his wife behind him, and leaves no children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers: and the first took a wife, and died leaving no children. And the second took her as wife, and died, neither did he leave any children: and the third the same as the others. And the seven brothers all married her, and left no children: last of all the woman died as well. In the resurrection therefore, when they shall rise, whose wife will she be out of all seven men? for each of the seven brothers had been married to her. And Jesus answered them, Do you not see that you are in error because you do not understand the scriptures nor the power of God (12:18-24)?"
Here are a group of men who do not even believe in the resurrection, and yet they are attempting to use it to trap Jesus into giving them a false answer. These men denied the existence of the supernatural. I wonder how they managed to explain God's existence then? What these men stated here was accurate and is found within the Book of Ruth. The law of a kinsman-redeemer is illustrated by Boaz and these men clearly knew all about it. Could this situation have actually happened in real life? Probably not. Seven brothers all marrying the same woman and then dying before she conceived with child is highly unlikely. But they chose this illustration to try and trap Christ. Basically they wanted to see what Christ's answer to their question would be. Little did they expect His answer.
Too many people today are critical of God's Word but remain ignorant of the Scriptures and of God's power. For instance, God did say to Adam and Eve to go, be fruitful, and multiply. He said it to them, He has not said it to anyone else since Noah's time, especially not to anyone alive today. God does not tell us to over populate our world. Christ did not restate it for Christians in His church. To insist that we are still to multiply like rabbits is simply being woefully ignorant of God's Word.
God in the flesh told the Sadducees that they were ignorant of two things: 1) They did not know the Scriptures and 2) they did not know the power of God. These two things remain extremely important today.
"For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven. And as touching the dead, that they rise: have you not read in the Book of Moses, how in the bush God spoke to him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: you therefore are greatly in error (12:25-27)."
This does not say that a husband and wife in this life can't be together up in heaven. They can be, they simply won't be husband and wife. They won't be creating a home there nor will they be raising any children. Moses, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are not dead in the grave any longer. Christ has set them free since He rose from the dead Himself. Their physical bodies remain in the ground somewhere, but their souls live on elsewhere. This is obvious since up on the mount of Transfiguration Moses and Elijah were seen to be talking with Jesus. You can't talk with someone if you are dead and gone, poof, non-existent.
What Christ also was telling these men was that upon death the marriage vows are null and void, no longer binding upon the spouses. The marriage covenant is dissolved upon death of one or both spouses. Marriage is not a legal contract but a covenant. We have tried to make it strictly a legal matter, but this approach does not help make marriage work. It simply establishes the means to divorce oneself from one's legal spouse. I am in a covenant with my wife until death do us part. In sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, through the good times and the bad times, I have pledged to honor and cherish her, to love her unconditionally. I am not looking for ways to cut and run from my marriage when things get tough, difficult, nasty, and less than ideal. I am seeking to serve God by loving her and looking out for her best interests the best that I can. She and I are on a journey together, hand in hand, sharing everything with each other: laughing during the good times and crying together during the sad times. That is also how Christians are supposed to relate to one another in the unity of Jesus Christ. All believers are on a journey together, walking hand in hand with each other, sharing with one another the good times and the bad times, honoring the least by giving them the best.
That is all for today, beloved! I have seen the photographs of the destruction from the storm. My heart and my prayers go out to all who have suffered loss of any kind due to this storm. May all Christians within the wake of the storm respond by seeking to help others who are in need, even if they themselves have also suffered loss. Jesus Christ saved us all even while He suffered the loss of His physical life while hanging nailed to a wooden cross. Can any of us do any less for our brothers and sisters?
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