Hear and Live

Isaiah 66:5. Hear the word of the Lord, you who tremble at His Word.

John 5:25.  Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live.

The Son of God speaks to our spirit and gives overcoming life to those who listen and obey. This verse does not speak of the resurrection of the dead, but of being born again from above.

For immediately after, Jesus says:

John 5:28, 29.  Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice; and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.

Note in verse twenty five, the statement ‘the hour is coming, and now is’.  Jesus uses this expression to contrast His apocalypse to that generation to His final Revelation at the end of the age. We find the same structured logos in chapter four.

John 4:21.  Jesus said to her, Woman believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. 

Jesus refers to the soon destruction of the second temple and the end of Levitical worship in Jerusalem. Then He makes clear the Truth of worship. 

John 4:23, 24.  But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and Truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in Spirit and Truth.

Worship in Truth ceased from temples built with hands, but continues in hearts united by The Holy Spirit.

Drink With A Hearing Heart The Water of Life

John 7:37, 38. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.  But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those entrusted to Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet  given because Jesus was not yet glorified.

The Son of God has been glorified. The river of life flows from the throne of God to give life to those who listen and obey. This is the message of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.

Genesis 3:8. And they heard the voice of the Lord God as they walked in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.

Deuteronomy 5:24. The Lord, our God, has indeed let us see his glory and his greatness, and we have heard his voice from the midst of the fire. Today we have found out that God may speak to a mortal and that person may still live.

2 Peter 1:17, 18. For He received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.

Revelation 3:22. To the one whose heart is open let him listen carefully to what the Spirit is saying now to the churches.

Revelation 22:16, 17. I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.  The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him who hears say Come! And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.

The Great Reveal

Luke 2:3, 4. Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.

Luke 12:2, 3.  For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops.

1 Corinthians 3:13. Their work will soon become evident, for the Day will make it clear, because it will be revealed by fire. And the fire will test and prove each one’s workmanship .

Luke 17:30.  Even so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed.

1 Peter 1:13-16. Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;  as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former desires, in your ignorance;  but as He who called you holy, you also be holy in all conduct,  because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

Jesus Christ Revealed To The Children Of God

Luke 10:21, 22. In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal.

Revelation 1:1-3. The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw.  Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.

Matthew 16:17. Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.

Ephesians 3:3-6. How that by revelation He made known to me the mystery which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets:  that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the Gospel.

The Righteousness of God Revealed

Romans 1:17.  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”

Galatians 3:23.  But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. 

Philippians 3:15, 16. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.

1 Peter 1:5. Who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

1 Corinthians 1:4-9. I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, that you were enriched in everything by Him in every profession and all knowledge, even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

God’s Glory Revealed

1 Peter 4:12-14. Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. 

1 Peter 5:1. The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed.

1 Peter 1:6-9. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,  whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.

Romans 8:18.  For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 

Spiritual Wisdom By Revelation

Ephesians 1:15-20. Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers:  that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power  which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places.

The Mind of Christ by The Revelation of The Holy Spirit

1 Corinthians 2:10-16. God has been revealed to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolish to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.  But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is judged by no one.  For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.

Benediction

Romans 16:25-27. Now to Him who is able to establish you according to the preaching of the Good News of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began, but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith. And to the only wise God: Glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.

FALSE PROPHETS

People often speak of “war and rumors of war”, as well as global disasters as being signs of the end time. I would ask you today to look with fresh eyes and consider the Lord’s heart in this regard.

Matthew 24:1.  And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to Him to show him the buildings of the temple.

At the end of a busy day,  Jesus and his disciples find a quiet place, and they simply comment on the view of the temple mount. The Lord surprises them with a very precise and shocking prophecy.

Mt. 24:2.  And Jesus said unto them,  See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.         

Jesus has mentioned a few times that He would face rejection and death in Jerusalem, but now He speaks of God’s soon judgment on the city and they immediately make a jump in their own minds that this pertains to the end of the age.

Mt. 24:3.  And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?     

We know that most of the Lord’s followers would have lived to see the destruction of the temple, this event was not a herald of the end times. While the questions reveal what was on their hearts, only the Lord’s answers can show us His priorities.

Mt. 24:4.  And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you 

Now if we pause here in the discourse and ask the question, “what do you think was the Lord’s primary concern regarding the subject of signs and the end of the age? Your answer should be that He was concerned with deceptive teachings that would come forth in this regard. Did He not once say this concerning signs:

Matthew 16:4.    A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign.

He continues the discourse by elaborating on the subject of deceptions, not signs.

Mt. 24:5.  For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.

To be clear here, the Lord is not talking about anyone claiming to be the Messiah. Anyone who comes “in His name”, are claiming to be legitimate ambassadors speaking on His behalf.  The claim “I am Christ”, should be translated: “I am anointed”, because christos means anointed, and this is a claim that every false teacher, preacher and prophet is making these days. This is more than a sign of the end times, this is a caution for the wise follower to avoid being deceived.

Mt. 24:5.  And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 

These words “the end is not yet” should be enough to convince you that quoting “wars and rumors of wars” as if to imply that the end of the age is upon us is to greatly discredit your understanding.

Mt. 24:7.  For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
Yada, yada, yada….
Mt:24:8.  All these are the beginning of sorrows.  

Now this is something to consider. This expression of early birth pangs says a lot about being misinformed. Most people know that you don’t rush to the hospital with the first contractions of birth. Couples are coached to time contractions to be sure that labor has begun. However, there are still occasions where an expectant mother is rushed to a hospital, only to return later that evening saying; “false alarm”. A good possibility is that  greater awareness avoids reacting inappropriately to the beginning of sorrows.

Mt. 24:11  And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.  .

Again with the warnings and concerns over being deceived.

Mt. 24:12. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.

This verse uses the word agape for love and therefore cannot be interpreted as a state of the world we live. Only believers can know the agape love of God, and only believers can lose their “first love” and fall away due to lawlessness (iniquity) within the church.

2 Thessalonians 2:3  Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition.

This is why Jesus now says:

Mt. 24:13.   But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

There are two verses I will now post for consideration on this topic.

Luke 21:24.  And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until “the times of the Gentiles” are fulfilled.

Notice that this is the “the end of the age” for the Gentiles, and the sovereignty of Jerusalem is a legitimate point of inquiry.

Romans 11:25.  For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should  be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.

Again with the Gentiles in the age we now occupy. With a growing number of Jews in Israel who see the historical Jesus (Yeshua) as the Son of God and Messiah, we draw closer to a true remnant in the promised land. Another reality worthy of attention.

Matthew 24:24.  For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

Let me speak frankly to younger readers. Years ago, few preachers claimed to be anointed or to have “the anointing”. Now, essentially everyone on television, radio or otherwise makes this claim. They are the same people who love to talk about “the signs of the end times” in Matthew 24, without realizing they are fulfilling prophecy in so stating.

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

The text of Galatians 3:29 begins “de ei hymeis christos”, and the word christos means anointed, thus “if you are anointed” (or claim to be). Compare this to Matthew 24:5: For many shall come in my name saying I am anointed (christos) and shall deceive many.

This is why Jesus said, “you will know them by their fruit”, not who they claim to be as testimony of themselves. This is an antichrist spirit that had already manifested in the first century church.

1 John 2:18.  Little children it is the last time and as you have heard that antichrist shall come even now are there many antichrists whereby we know that is the last time.

Now please consider what Paul is saying:

2 Corinthians 10:7: Do you look on things after the outward appearance? If any man trust to himself that he is anointed let him of himself think this again, that as he is anointed even so are we anointed.

Among the first century church there already were many preaching “in that name” and claiming an anointing to do so, and yet they were contradicting what Paul and his companions were preaching!

I implore you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ:

1 John 4:1.   Beloved believe not every spirit but try the spirits whether they are of God because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

Ways and Means of the Lord

Ezekiel 14:22, 23. Yet behold, there shall be left in it a remnant who will be brought out, sons and daughters; surely they will come out to you, and you will see their ways and their doings. Then you will be comforted concerning the disaster that I have brought upon Jerusalem, all that I have brought upon it.  And they will comfort you, when you see their ways and their doings; and you shall know that I have done nothing without cause that I have done in it,  says the Lord God.

derek aliylah=ways and means

This Word informs us that the remnant will demonstrate a right way of acting based on pure intentions from a heart directed by the Lord. Not just the ways that the people accomplish, but also the means by which they fulfill them. When people see their works, they will be comforted, that God is still with the people, even in the face of great catastrophe or hardship. The Brenton Septuagint renders this expression ‘their ways and their thoughts’, the emphasis on the reasoning behind the action being expressed.

Psalm 99:8. You answered them, O Lord our God: you were a God that forgave them, though You took vengeance of their inventions.

Rather than ‘inventions’ for aliylah here , most modern translations state ‘misdeeds’. The Septuagint is translated by Brenton as ‘devices’.   Simply punishing deeds without correcting the faulty reasoning behind the acts would accomplish very little. The Lord desires to lead in the right way. 

1 Samuel 2:3.  Talk no more so very proudly; let no arrogance come from your mouth. For the Lord is the God of knowledge;  And by Him aliylah is assessed.

This is the derek aliylah of the Lord.

Ezekiel 20:43, 44. And there shall ye remember your ways and your means, wherein ye have been defiled; and ye shall loathe yourselves in your own sight for all your evils that ye have committed.  And ye shall know that I am the Lord when I have wrought with you for my name’s sake, not according to your wicked ways, nor according to your corrupted means, O ye house of Israel, saith the Lord God.

What is the offense that perpetuates the falling away of the people? Not only in disregarding laws and statutes, but grievously profaning their memorials.  The Lord gave the people His Sabbaths, that they may pass down the righteous way to their children. Sin was magnified by what a chosen people passed onto the next generation.

Ezekiel 20:18. But I said to their children in the wilderness, Do not walk in the statutes of your fathers, nor observe their judgments, nor defile yourselves with their idols.   I am the Lord your God: Walk in My statutes, keep My judgments, and do them;  hallow My Sabbaths, and they will be a sign between Me and you, that you may know that I am the Lord your God.

Forty years of wandering in the wilderness resulted in an entire generation passing away before the nation entered the promised land. 

Psalm 103:7. He made known His ways to Moses, His means unto the children of Israel.

A clear division was presented by how that generation worshipped, and how their children had learned to walk.  The memorials of the Torah were to ensure that this refined generation passed on righteousness to their children.

Ezekiel 21:24.  Therefore thus says the Lord God: Because you have made your iniquity to be remembered [by your children], in that your transgressions are uncovered, so that in all your means [aliylah] your sins appear; because you have perpetuated their memory in passing them on, you shall be taken in hand.

While aliylah is most typically translated deeds, it actually strikes deeper to the reasoning and planning that precedes the action. Even if the motive seems pure, the method will be faulty without the wisdom of God. The remnant of God will ultimately declare His ways and means.

Zephaniah 3:11.  On that day you shall not be shamed for all of your wicked aliylah, in which you transgress against Me; For then I will take away from your midst those who rejoice in your pride, and you shall no longer be haughty in My holy mountain.

And in that day you will say:

Isaiah 12:4.  Praise the Lord, call upon His name; declare His aliylah among the peoples.  Make mention that His name is exalted.

Psalm 9:11.  Sing praises to the Lord, who dwells in Zion!  Declare His aliylah among the people.

A Parable of Faithful Ministry

The Beginning of the Gospel

According to Mark, the gospel begins with John the Baptist, the focus of our parable.

Mark 1:1-3. The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God. As it is written in the prophets: behold I send my messenger before your face which shall prepare your way before you. The voice of one crying out in the wilderness to prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight.                                                  

We are given two scriptures, from Isaiah 40, and from Malachi 3, from which the ministry of John the Baptist draws an anointing from the Spirit of Truth. The gospel of John tells us the ministry of John the Baptist also served as a test on the hearts of all who heard his message.

.John 1:6, 7. There was a man sent from God whose name was John. The same came for a witness to testify of the Light that all through him might believe.

It is said of John that he was sent from God. Compare this to the answer Jesus gave to the question: what must we do to perform the works of God?

John 6:29 Jesus answered and said: this is the work of God: that you believe the one whom He has sent.

The words of all who are sent by God become a basis for faith.

Ephesians 2:20.  Having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone.  

A Voice in the Wilderness

Jesus was asked by what authority he acted upon.

Matthew 21:24-27 And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing which if you tell me, I likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, did it come from heaven or of men? They answered Jesus, we cannot tell. And He said unto them, neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things.  .

Because the chief priests and elders refused to acknowledge the ministry of John the Baptist as being sent from God, Jesus refused to answer their questions, though they had the authority to ask, for He answered to a Higher Authority.

 Matthew 21:32.  For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and you believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and when you had seen it, repented not afterward, that you might believe him.

We can see here a fulfillment of the word spoken in John 1:7, that all through him might believe. The religious leaders were denied repentance even with the witness of mighty miracles of God, because they rejected John. 

Luke 7:30.  And all the people that heard him justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves (literally ‘within themselves’), not being baptized of him.        

John 10:41, 42. And many resorted unto Him and said John did no miracles but all things that John spoke of this man were true. And many believed on Him there. 

So we see that those who received the baptism of John also remained to hear him preach. Jesus fulfilled the words spoken before by this prophet, which confirmed their faith. Those who rejected the baptism of John knew nothing of the word that he preached concerning the Christ.

The Spirit and Power of Elijah

Matthew 11:13-15.  For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you will receive, this is Elijah which was to come. He that has ears to hear, let him hear.

The relationship between John the Baptist and Elijah was a stumbling block for the Jews at the time that Jesus was ministering the gospel. When the authorities in Jerusalem sent emissaries to inquire into the baptism of John, he was asked point blank:

“Are you Elijah?” 

John 1:19-23.  He answered, I am not. I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness: make straight the way of the Lord, as spoken by the prophet Isaiah.                   

John again testifies to the scriptural authority and anointing for his ministry. The Holy Spirit clarifies this by a prophecy given to Zachariah by the angel who announced the child’s conception.

Luke 1:17. He shall go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. 

The angel here references a prophecy of Malachi that Jesus also alludes to in Matthew 17:11 when He said Elijah truly shall come first and restore all things.

Malachi 4:5, 6. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse. 

Jesus understood that anyone waiting for Messiah would expect Elijah first, and he was provided in the person of John who came in “the spirit and power of Elijah”.

The Acceptable Year of the Lord

The greater stumbling block for the Jews was that the Messiah would come twice, first as the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world. At the end of the age He will complete all prophecy with the day of God’s wrath. Consider how he works around this issue in Luke chapter four in the synagogue of Nazareth one Sabbath day when He was chosen to read from the prophet Isaiah chapter 61.

Luke 4:18, 19. The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor, he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are bruised.

To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. 

After stopping the reading abruptly, he sits back down and every eye is on Him, wondering why He has stopped. He then declares, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your hearing.” So why suddenly stop reading? Because Isaiah 61:2 continued, “to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God”. We see the first and second coming mentioned in one verse, and Jesus declaring the fulfillment of only the acceptable year of the Lord.

So why do Bible scholars claim that the ministry of Jesus lasted three years?  In  accordance with the Law of Moses, all Jewish men were required to appear “before the Lord” for three feasts. Do we really think that Jesus came to Jerusalem three times as prescribed by the Law, worked miracles, declared Himself to be the Son of God and provoked the religious authorities by calling them a generation of vipers and then said No? Okay, I’ll try again next year for the less acceptable year of the Lord round two. Once Jesus reached the age of 30, He began His ministry and fulfilled His Father’s Will. When He comes again it will the Day of the Lord.

Receive from Heaven

John 3:22-24.  After these things came Jesus and His disciples into the land of Judea and there He tarried with them and baptized. And John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim , because there was much water there and they came and were baptized. For John was not yet cast into prison.                             

There comes a point in everyone’s ministry when they must make the right decision and abide under the anointing they received for the work they were chosen to do. Two ministries are in the Judean wilderness, both baptizing. This is an awkward situation but nothing bad has come of it yet. Ultimately questions will be asked and there will be an accountability required of us.

John 3:25-27. Then there arose a question between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purifying. And they came unto John and said unto him Rabbi, he that was with you beyond Jordan to whom you bore witness, behold, the same baptizes and all come to him. John answered and said a person can receive only what is given them from heaven.                                                  

This discussion raises more questions than answers and demands a serious pause for consideration. John’s ministry is quickly becoming a lesson for future disciples to draw wisdom. Why does John even still have disciples? And is he now addressed as Rabbi? Notice the way they describe the Lord as “he that was with you”. Why did he not become a disciple of Jesus with the revelation he had received concerning Him?

John 3:28.  You yourselves testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah,’ but rather, I am sent before Him.

Friend of the Bridegroom

John 3-29,30. He that has the bride is the bridegroom, but the friend of the bridegroom, which stands and hears him rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice, this my joy, therefore is fulfilled. He must increase and I must decrease.

We now come to one of the more frequently quoted verses: He must increase but I must decrease. If only that were true, John would have quietly faded into the background. We would say “whatever happened to John the Baptist, he was so prominent at first and then he just seems to disappear from the narrative.”  

Oh, that makes sense, once Jesus was baptized he had fulfilled his mission. The only lingering question would be, why did he not follow Jesus? Instead he ceases to be a voice in the wilderness and goes to Jerusalem. Notice the Bible doesn’t say “and the word of the Lord then came again unto John and said, go tell that rascal Herod he can’t have his brother’s wife.”  Maybe he was just bored, but now we find him in prison, his head soon to be placed on a platter.

Matthew 11:2, 3. Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ he sent two of his disciples, and said unto Him are you He that should come or do we look for another? 

This is astonishing! John was informed of God how to identify the Messiah. He witnessed the Holy Spirit descend from heaven in a bodily form and light on Jesus like a dove. He testified, this is the Son of God! And now he asks, “Do we look for another?” He is actually saying, if you are the Messiah, why am I in prison!? Aren’t you supposed to be restoring the kingdom of Israel, aren’t you supposed to restore the throne of David!?

The Least in the Kingdom

Matthew 11:4.  Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and show John again those things which you do hear and see. 

Jesus tells John’s followers that the works of Christ speak for themselves. Then he adds another critical word for us to always consider:

Matthew 11:6.  And blessed is whosoever that shall not be offended in Me.          

This was the Lord’s pointed word to John, are you offended in me? We can never allow our own expectations to distort our understanding of what God has chosen us uniquely to have as a stewardship. John and his followers were expecting a King, not a Lamb of sacrifice.

John the Baptist teaches us that we can come out from under our anointing, we can walk and speak in the flesh what we believe to be the word of God, even quoting scripture verbatim, and there will be consequences. Condemning Herod was not kingdom business, not the Gospel message that Jesus came for: “to save the world, not condemn”.

Matthew 11:11. Truly I say unto you among them that are born of women there has not risen a greater than John the Baptist, notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.                                                   

My beloved brethren, abide in Christ, and remain among the least of these.                    Keep a good head on your shoulders!

John 1:15.  John testified about Him. He cried out, saying, “This is He of whom I said, The One who comes after me is above me, because He existed before me.’” 

Israel High Above All Nations

John 3:31.   He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all.

There is a multitude of Bible teachers who embody the notion of an earthly man that speaks of the earth while failing to lay hold of The Spirit of Truth.  A perfect example is the many teachings that refer to the early monarchy in Israel, as represented by Kings David and Solomon, being the “Golden Age” Of Israel. This view from the earth fails to identify the True Golden Age of historical Israel from the view of the One from above, who is above all. 

Joshua 24:31.  Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had known all the works of the Lord which He had done for Israel.

Before Messiah Yeshua came to earth, this time prior to the falling away in the time of the Judges would be the Golden Age of Israel as viewed from a heavenly perspective. This also gives us a unique lesson in faith from an Old Testament narrative. This period stands out by a complete lack of description for the era. One verse! One statement, and moving on.

2 Corinthians 4:18.  For  we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Romans 8:25. If we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.

In the absence of a narrative, we have to believe that God’s Word is True, without a testimony for confirmation. For if Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, AND all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, then we must believe that they lived under the blessings promised for those who were faithful.

Deuteronomy 28:1, 2.  Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth.  And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God.

Clearly, the people did not abide under the blessings of Deuteronomy 28 long enough to see themselves set over all nations of the earth. However, as a people who served the Lord for most of a generation, the blessings would have been tangible.

Even more so, after using only 14 verses to describe the blessings of a faithful people, Deuteronomy 28 goes on to use over 50 verses to describe the curses to be brought on by disobedience! Surely this generation avoided all of these calamities. 

By faith, we must believe that life was more bountiful for Israel at this time than any other. Because:

Numbers 23:19. God is not a man that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?

We can now contrast this period with the time of the monarchy of Israel.

What stands out immediately even from this scant information is that even after the leader Joshua passed away, the elders of his generation were able to keep the people walking in the Way of the Lord, without a central figure. 

There was no king in Israel, and there was no intention in the heart of God for there ever to be one. When the elders demanded a king from Samuel, he received this word from God;

1 Samuel 8:7.  And the Lord said to Samuel, Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.

While God did not desire to see a king reigning over His people, He did anticipate their demand and gave instructions for how a king in Israel should conduct himself.

Principles Governing Kings

Deuteronomy 17 :14-17. When you come to the land which the Lord your God is giving you, and possess it and dwell in it, and say, I will set a king over me like all the nations that are around me, you shall surely set a king over you whom the Lord your God chooses; one from among your brethren you shall set as king over you; you may not set a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. 

And he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, for the Lord has said to you, You shall not return that way again. Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself.

Now we can grade this so called Golden Age of Solomon by the expectations of God in the Law.

Solomon multiplied wives, who turned his heart away. Strike One.

1 Kings 11:4. For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father.

Solomon multiplied horses for his military.  Strike Two.

1 Kings 4:26.   And Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen.

1 Kings 10:28.   And Solomon had horses brought out of Egypt….

Solomon greatly multiplied gold in his kingdom, silver was not accounted.   Strike Three.

1 Kings 10:21.  And all king Solomon’s drinking vessels were of gold, and all the vessels of the house of the forest of Lebanon were of pure gold; none were of silver: it was nothing accounted of in the days of Solomon.

1 Kings 10:27. The king made silver as common in Jerusalem as stones.

1 Kings 10:14. The weight of gold that came to Solomon yearly was 666  talents of gold.

The Golden Age indeed!

Before anointing Saul the first king of Israel, Samuel warned the people of what a king would demand of them.

1 Samuel 8:11-20. And he said, This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots.  He will appoint captains over his thousands and captains over his fifties, will set some to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and some to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 

 He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers. And he will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, and give them to his servants. He will take a tenth of your grain and your vintage, and give it to his officers and servants.  And he will take your male servants, your female servants, your finest young men, and your donkeys, and put them to his work.  He will take a tenth of your sheep. 

And you will be his servants.  And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the Lord will not hear you on that day. 

Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, No, but we will have a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.

King David fed his people as his flock, but this king’s levy came into full effect under the reign of Solomon. After forty years, the people had enough of this hardship. When his son Rehoboam ascended to the throne, they immediately voiced their grievances.

1 Kings 12:4.  Your father made our yoke heavy; now therefore, lighten the burdensome service of your father, and his heavy yoke which he placed on us, and we will serve you.

The kingdom was soon divided and the rest is history. Israel fell to Assyria first, later Judah was taken into captivity to Babylon. The Lord spoke on this through the prophet Jeremiah that the captivity would last seventy years, for each year that the land of Israel was denied a Sabbath year of rest.

2 Chronicles 36:20, 21. And those who escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon, where they became servants to him and his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia, to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths. As long as she lay desolate she kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years.

During the Golden Years of Israel after Joshua, the land enjoyed a Sabbath rest every seventh year, according to the Law of Moses. If the land required 70 years of rest, then no Sabbath year was kept for 70×7=490 years. The people would not keep the Sabbath year for fear that they would not meet the king’s levy.

Further Instructions For The King

Deuteronomy 17:18-20.  Also it shall be, when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write for himself a copy of this law in a book, from the one before the priests, the Levites. And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes, that his heart may not be lifted above his brethren, that he may not turn aside from the commandment to the right hand or to the left, and that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he and his children in the midst of Israel.

Solomon clearly did not follow these instructions, nor would it appear that any of the kings who followed. In comparison, we have seen that after Joshua died the elders of Israel were able to keep the people in service to God with the Law of Moses. When you consider that Solomon was very young when he ascended the throne, were there not enough priests, scribes, elders and advisers in Jerusalem to impress upon the new king the need to follow God’s Law? He was sincere enough to pray for wisdom when God first appeared to him and inquired of his request. God then blessed him with all the things that any man would desire. When he then applied his wisdom to the things of the earth, all was vanity and anguish of heart.

Persuaded By Grace

When we consider the words believe and faith, we sense intuitively that a relationship exists between them. For a belief to operate in the power of faith there must be trust, without doubt.

Mark 11:23.  For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.

Matthew 21:22.   And whatever things you ask in prayer believing, you will receive.
The very thing that you put your trust in will in the end stand in judgement of you.

John 5:45.  Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuses you, even Moses in whom you trust.

Where you place your trust defines your hope for the future and eternity. The Greek translated trust is also almost equally translated as hope.

Romans 8:24 & 25.  For in hope we were saved. Now hope that sees for itself is not hope. For who hopes[G1679, trusts in]  what he sees? But if we hope[G1679, trust] for what we do not see, we wait with endurance.
In this is our blessing:

John 20:29.   Jesus said to him, Have you come to believe because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.

So then what is the common root for both faith and believing? The answer is the primary verb “to persuade”. This word appears 17 times in the book of Acts alone.

Here are two examples of Paul converting souls by the faith of Jesus Christ.

Acts 18:4.   And he was debating every Shabbat in the synagogue, trying to persuade both Jewish and Greek people.

Acts 19:8.    He entered the synagogue, and for three months debated boldly with persuasive arguments about the kingdom of God.

This is why the Gospel must be presented in the pure, original form, that those who hear are persuaded by Grace from the God of Love, as expressed through His Son Jesus Christ.

Paul expressed his intentions clearly:

1 Corinthians 2:1-5.    And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
There are many other ways to persuade someone, such as this first time the word appears in the Gospel.

Matthew 27:20.  The chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas, but to destroy Jesus.

This persuasion was probably accomplished through intimidation, as the people would not want to oppose the leaders who accused the Lord before Pilate. Barabbas was a thief, a murderer, and an insurrectionist who was set free on the occasion of Christ’s trial before a Gentile.

This is to say that a common way for people to be persuaded is through some claim to authority. The Apostolic teachings were constantly being opposed by false teachers who claimed to have authority from Jerusalem.

In Galatia and many other Greek locations, new believers were being told that they must be circumcised and follow the Law of Moses.  Here Paul opposes this doctrine in his letter to the Galatians.

Galatians 5:7-9.  Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump.

After insisting that they not be persuaded by these instructions from those who claim authority to add to the Message, he uses the analogy of leaven.  Even as Jesus warned His disciples to beware of “the leaven of the Pharisees”.   Paul instructs us using the same imagery.