Remembrance of an Everlasting Covenant

Surely you shall not be moved forever; the righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance.                                                                                   Psalm 112:6.

We remain in everlasting remembrance based on the relationship established by the everlasting covenants that exist between God and His creation. After the flood, righteous Noah and his family stood as witnesses to the first blood covenant recorded in Genesis 9. We begin to understand the need for Christ to shed His blood for our sanctification and redemption beginning with the terms of this covenant.

After six hundred years man had corrupted his ways upon the earth to bring God’s first judgment by water. On the first day of the six hundred and first year Noah exited the ark along with all the animals that were delivered from destruction. Gen 8:13. God then blessed Noah and his sons giving them commandment to go replenish the earth. Gen 9:1. It was at this time that man was granted permission to eat the flesh of animals with one critical restriction.

But you shall not eat the flesh with the blood.                                         Genesis 9:4.

The apostles at Jerusalem confirmed the gentile churches and aligned with Paul in not requiring circumcision and the keeping of the Levitical laws. They did demand four ordinances be kept by all believers; that they abstain from pollution of idols and fornication and things strangled and from blood.      Acts 15:20.

The everlasting covenants are blood covenants and the basis for understanding this is Genesis 9.

And surely your blood of your lives will I require at the hand of every beast will I require and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man. Whoever sheds man’s blood shall his blood be shed for man was made in the image of God.                                          Genesis 9:5 & 6.

God then gave the rainbow to be the token of an everlasting covenant with not only man, but all of the earth.

I do set my bow in the cloud and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.                                                                          Genesis 9:13.

And the bow shall be in the cloud and I will look upon it that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.                                                           Genesis 9:16.

It is time for the church to fully grasp the nature of this perpetual agreement in order to have a right understanding of the covenants that form the basis for their relationship with God. Consider the serious nature of God’s covenant with the earth from Isaiah’s horrifying vision of judgment.

The land shall be utterly emptied and utterly spoiled for the Lord has spoken this word. The earth mourns and fades away, the world languishes and fades away, and the arrogant people of the earth do languish. The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinances and broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore the curse has devoured the earth and they that dwell therein are desolate; therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned and few men are left.                                                                                                         Isaiah 24:3-6.

And how has the earth been defiled? By pollution? By waste? By radiation? Think again. By the spiritual principles of the Bible the earth is defiled by fornication, sacrifices to idols and false gods and the shedding of innocent blood. Man can clean up a toxic waste site, but only by blood can a land be cleansed of blood.

This is the terms of the everlasting covenant; that God would require blood for blood. Only by the shed blood of the Messiah can man be redeemed from the curses of a covenant violation.

The judgment is foreshadowed in the way God dealt with Judah in the time of Jeremiah. This same standard of judgment awaits a church that turns from the everlasting covenants, for judgment must begin with the house of God. (1 Peter 4:17.)

Trust not in lying words saying the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord…                                                                                                   Jeremiah 7:4.

Simply being a church member is no more insurance than having the temple of the one true God in your capital city.

Will you steal murder commit adultery and swear falsely, and follow other gods and come stand before me in this house which is called by my name… which has become a den of robbers…therefore pray not for this people. Jeremiah 7:8-16.

There comes a time when true intercessors can no longer pray for the church in general because the curse of another gospel is being taught within her buildings.

And nations are angry and your wrath has come and the time of the dead; that they should be judged and that you should give reward unto your servants the prophets and to the saints and them that fear your name small and great; and that you should destroy them which corrupt and destroy the earth.                                                                                                  Revelation 11:18.

The second everlasting covenant became the most controversial and divisive issue for the New Testament congregations. In Genesis 17 God changed Abram’s name to Abraham to establish His everlasting covenant with him. God commanded that circumcision of every male be the token of that covenant.

He that is born into your house and he that is purchased must be circumcised and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.                                                                                                    Genesis 17:13.

The apostle Paul was tasked by the Holy Spirit to set this issue in order for the church and is addressed extensively in his letters. The key to a right understanding is in the verse I just included: my covenant shall be in your flesh.

The Law of Moses included commandments pertaining to circumcision, while also acknowledging there was a spiritual component to a full understanding of the covenant law.

Jesus used this as a point to illustrate the greater spiritual truth in understanding the Word of God.

Moses gave unto you circumcision, not because it is of Moses but of the fathers, and you on the Sabbath day circumcise a male. If circumcision is performed on the Sabbath day that the Law of Moses should not be broken, why be angry with me for healing a man on the Sabbath? Judge not according to appearance but judge righteous judgment.                               John 7:22-24.

The need to ultimately be circumcised in the heart is addressed in the book of Deuteronomy.

Circumcise the foreskins of your heart and be no more stiff necked. Deuteronomy 10:16.

And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your children to love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul that you may live.                                                                                     Deuteronomy 30:6.

With this in mind we will skip Paul’s in depth arguments and go directly to his conclusions.

Circumcision or uncircumcision is not what matters, but obedience to God.   1 Corinthians 7:19.

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working by love.                                                                    Galatians 5:6

For we are the circumcision which worship God in the spirit and rejoice in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh.                                  Philippians 3:3.

 

Memorial of Mary of Bethany

Jesus said, Verily I say unto you, wherever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she has done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her. Mark 14:9; Matthew 26:13.

Ironically, in these two accounts, the words are spoken on behalf of an unnamed woman who came in during a dinner with Jesus at the table. “There came a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment and poured it on His head.”  The gospel of John fills in the missing pieces. Chapter 12 of his gospel identifies the woman as Mary, the sister of Martha, and Lazarus, who Jesus raised from the dead. Martha is serving the dinner.

This set the stage for Jesus to enter Jerusalem, for word of Lazarus having been raised from the dead had ignited the large crowds on hand for the Passover. The chief priests consulted to also see Lazarus put to death, because by reason of him many of the Jews believed in Jesus.

We are also informed by John 11:2 it was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair. This account is found in           Luke 7:37-50. The Lord uses this opportunity to make a very important point: “to whom little is forgiven, loves little.

This is not to say that some people are less of a sinner and need less forgiveness, but some fail to acknowledge their condition and need for reconciliation with God. The Pharisee saw himself as having a relationship with God, while looking down on Mary as a sinner. Thus she is told; “your sins are forgiven”, and “your faith has saved you, go in peace.”

In Luke 10:38-42, we find another narrative involving Mary and Martha, with Jesus a guest in their home. Martha was busy with much serving while her sister sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. Martha exclaimed, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Bid her to come help me.” To which Jesus replied unto her, “Martha, Martha, you are careful and troubled about many things but one thing is needful, and Mary has chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

We cannot imagine wrong in someone with a heart to serve, but can see where there is a time for everyone to be still and know the Lord. However, Jesus is not just speaking to a willingness to serve.

We can see a greater concern for someone who is careful and troubled and should fully consider what the Lord is addressing.

The word translated careful here is used by Jesus repeatedly in His sermons, but the more typical translation in the KJV is “take no thought”, and means to be anxious.

Take no thought for your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor yet for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than clothing? Take therefore no thought for tomorrow, for tomorrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.                                                                               Matthew 6:25,34.

Jesus also uses the same word to tell us not to worry about what we should say if our faith is put on trial, saying if we are delivered up, “take no thought how or what you shall speak, for it shall be given you in that same moment what you should speak.”                                                                   Matthew 10:19.

In His parable of the sower and the seed, Jesus describes the seed among thorns as someone who hears His word, but are choked with “cares” of riches and pleasures in life, and brings no fruit to maturity.                   Luke 8:14.

Paul tells us: “be careful” for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which transcends understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.                                             Philippians 4:6 & 7.

Cast all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.                                            1 Peter 5:7.

 

A Memorial for Lazarus

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister (Mary) and Lazarus.                         John 11:5.

For a moment in time, the town of Bethany was at the center of God’s story, and these three people were at center stage in the narrative concerning Jesus Christ, the Son of God. We know more about these three people than we do most of the apostles. This chapter in the gospel of John gives the account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. The story told exemplifies the work of Jesus in reconciliation, restoration, and resurrection.

After Lazarus has died and been laid to rest, Jesus returns to Bethany after informing His disciples that the glory of God is about to be revealed unto them, and the Son of God will be glorified. Martha is the first to approach Jesus and says “Lord, if you had been here, my brother had not died.” Jesus tells her “your brother will rise again”, to which she replies, “I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day”.

Jesus tells her “I am the resurrection and life”, and then asks her if she believes in Him. She then makes the true confession of faith, showing how far she had come in receiving the Gospel. She said unto Him:

Yes Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God who would come into the world.                                                                                     John 11:27.

When Mary comes on the scene she is only able to say “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died”, as she continued weeping, along with those who came to comfort her; and Jesus wept with them.        John 11:35.

The witnesses exclaimed, “Behold how He loved him!” Jesus then commands them to take away the stone covering the entrance to the cave where Lazarus was laid. Martha advises Him that he has been dead four days, and expects a foul odor. Jesus then says to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe, that you would see the glory of God?” He then calls Lazarus forth from the grave.

The name Lazarus makes for a very interesting study. The name is Greek to English, for the Hebrew name Eleazar, a very prominent character throughout the Old Testament. El ‘Azar means God is helper, and is first identified as the third son of Aaron. The two older sons of Aaron are devoured by the fire of God’s presence when they make an unauthorized offering of incense before the Ark.

By the time of Aaron’s decease, Moses is instructed to strip the garments of the High Priest from Aaron and put them on his son Eleazar. During the conquest of the land of Canaan under Joshua, Eleazar stood before the Ark of the Covenant and oversaw the division of land by lot for each tribe’s inheritance.

During the time of Samuel, another man named Eleazar, son of Abinadab kept the Ark of the Lord at Kirjathjearim twenty years. Later one of David’s mighty men named Eleazar, the son of Dodo the Ahohite is listed as one of the three mighty men with David, who stood against the Philistines when the army of Israel fled, and fought until his sword stuck to his hand and the Lord gave a great victory. The people only returned after to divide the spoil.

During the time of Ezra and the restoration following the Babylonian exile, one of the priests named Eleazar oversaw the return of the silver and gold vessels to the House of God, and a Levite named Eleazar was on hand during the time of Nehemiah and the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem. It would seem during the greatest exploits of God’s people, a priest named Eleazar, God has helped, was always present.

In the Gospel of Matthew chapter one, in the genealogy we find Eleazar begat Mattan, and Mattan begat Jacob, and Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.                           Matthew 1:15&16.

And finally, in the Gospel of Luke chapter 16, we read an illustrative narrative given by Jesus concerning a poor beggar named Lazarus, who sat at the gate of a certain rich man, full of sores and desiring to be fed with the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, the dogs came and licked his sores.

How far had man fallen from the place where God was his help? Was Jesus resurrecting more than just an individual when he raised Lazarus from the grave?

Continuing his narrative in Luke, Jesus goes on describe the death of the beggar and the afterlife from the biblical perspective. Lazarus was carried by angels into Abraham’s bosom, a place of comfort. Meanwhile the rich man has also died and sees Lazarus with Abraham and cries out for mercy, for he was in a place of torment in Hades.

Unfortunately, he is admonished by Abraham, and reminded that in his lifetime he received good things while Lazarus suffered evil things, but is now comforted, and you are tormented. “Besides, there is a great gulf fixed between us that cannot be passed.”                                                           Luke 16:19-31.

This description of the afterlife is most startling. I have often wondered what the notion of people dying and going to heaven is based upon. Of course, I don’t doubt the existence of such a place, just preaching that people who are saved by confessing Jesus as their Lord and Savior can expect to go there, if they died tomorrow.

Just saying that the Gospel is never presented in that way by the apostles, and the house of God is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone.                   Ephesians 2:20.

Paul says: if anyone or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any preach any other gospel unto you that that you have received, let him be accursed.                                          Galatians 1:8 & 9.

Far be it that anyone would bring a curse in preaching “another gospel”, thus we should take the greatest care to be consistent in the message.

Acts 4:1&2 says: and as they spoke unto the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.

The focus of Jesus’s teaching always centered on the resurrection.

Marvel not at this, for the hour is coming in the which all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son and shall come forth, they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.                                                              John 5:28, 29.

At the time Jesus was saying this, he was claiming that all authority to execute judgment has been given unto him by his Father. To avoid preaching the resurrection is to avoid preaching the judgment.

From Genesis to Revelation, judgment is spoken of nearly 300 times. Paul testified before kings and queens:  “he reasoned with them of righteousness, temperance and judgment to come.”                                                            Acts 24:24, 25.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is all about the righteous judgment of God. The empowerment of the Holy Spirit is all about being able to live a life that will allow us to stand at the judgment.

The Message is of life everlasting; and a victorious life in the here and now. In so doing we await a new heaven and a new earth wherein abides righteousness.                                                                                                  2 Peter 3:13.

 

Remembering Zeal for the House of God

The Gospel of John has a unique account of Jesus overturning tables of the money changers in the temple. After all the animals had been driven away and the money poured out, Jesus says “Take these things away, do not make My Father’s House a place for merchants.” Then His disciples remembered that it was written “zeal for Your House consumes me.”      John 2:17.

The more knowledgeable you become in the Word of God, the more the Holy Spirit is able to speak to you in every situation. Jesus had created a very perilous environment for Himself and the disciples, and most people under these circumstances would be thinking “let’s get out of here, now!” The disciples must have been captivated to see the Word of God being played out before their eyes.

This was not the first time they were witnessing prophecy fulfilled, and their hearts would soon be broken to watch what they refused to accept. Even though Jesus warned them three times, their minds refused to accept that the Christ would soon be crucified. The remembrance of Jesus’s words would have a devastating effect. Put yourself in the shoes of Peter when he was confronted by the crowd and accused of being a follower of Christ. He began to curse and deny knowing the man, until the rooster crowed.

And Peter remembered the word of Jesus which said unto him “before the rooster crows you shall deny me three times”. And he went out and wept bitterly.                                                                                             Matthew 26:75.

Oh that we could remember the Word of the Lord before we speak! This is why we must pray like David; “keep your servant from presumptuous words, let them not have dominion over me. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight O Lord my strength and my Redeemer.                                                                                       Psalms 19:14.

For even the meek Moses failed to enter the Promised Land, because he failed to sanctify the Lord before the people and spoke presumptuously at the waters of Meribah in Numbers 20:10-13.

They angered him also at the waters of strife, so that it went ill for Moses for their sake; because they provoked his spirit, so that he spoke unadvisedly with his lips.                                                                                            Psalm 106:32,33.

The Remembrance the disciples experience at this incident at the temple is found in Psalm 69, which is one of several Messianic visions of David.

God you know my foolishness and my sins are not hid from you. Let not them that wait on you O Lord be ashamed for my sake; let not those that seek you be confounded for my sake God of Israel.                                        Psalm 69:5.

The anointing of Christ must place a burden of responsibility on the stewards of the Gospel to not offend someone to the detriment of their soul. James wrote: “if a man offends not in word, the same is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body.”                                                                             James 3:2.

We must discipline our tongue before we can ever discipline our flesh.

For the zeal of your house consumes me, and the reproaches of them that reproached you are fallen upon me.                                                           Psalm 69:9.

The second half of this verse is quoted by Paul:   

Let every one of us please our neighbors for the good of edification. For even Christ did not please Himself but as it is written: the reproaches of them that reproached you are fallen upon me.                                                  Romans 15:2,3.

This is his overriding theme that began in the previous chapter.

Romans 14 is devoted to the exhortation that concern for our brethren must direct our actions. A zeal for God’s House can now only be expressed through our concern for each other.

Therefore let us not judge one another anymore but judge this rather that no one put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in a brother’s way. Romans 14:13.

The other three Gospels give a different rendering of this event.    “It is written: My house shall be called the house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.”                                                                    Matthew 21:13, Isaiah 56:7.

Then a significant event immediately follows the merchants being driven from the Temple.                                                                                                                                                          And the blind and the lame came to Him and he healed them. Matthew 21:14.

The blind and the lame entered the Temple for the first time because the Lord made the way for them. Their exclusion from the Temple was brought about by a curse spoken by David in anger, and is found in 2 Samuel 5. David and his men went to take Jerusalem from the Jebusites and are taunted by them saying “unless you can defeat the blind and the lame you will not come up here.” They considered the stronghold of Zion to be impregnable, but Joab led the men up the sewer and defeated the Jebusites and slew “the blind and the lame whom David’s soul hates.”

Therefore it became a statute at the words of David that the blind and the lame shall not come into The House. Again, words spoken in contempt by an anointed man of God became a curse that Jesus removed with His compassion.

Zeal for the house of God can now only be expressed through compassion and loving kindness.

 

Always in The Remembrance of His Holiness

Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.   Psalm 30:4.

King David wrote Psalm 30 at the dedication of his house, which is mentioned in 2 Samuel 5. He had already reigned in Hebron for over seven years before the elders of Israel came to him.

So all the elders of Israel came to the king to Hebron; and king David made a league with them in Hebron before the LORD: and they anointed David king over Israel.                           2 Samuel 5:3.

However, it was not until he captured Mount Zion from the Jebusites that he choose the stronghold of Zion for his house, and this stronghold came to be known as the city of David.

Then Hiram, king of Tyre sent craftsman and materials to build David a house. And David perceived that the LORD had established him king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingdom for his people Israel’s sake.  2 Sam 5:12.

David now had more that just the acceptance of all Israel, but the recognition of the mighty king of Phoenicia.

Rejoice in the LORD, you righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.                                        Psalm 97:12.

We enjoy a direct experience of the holiness of the Lord by His everlasting remembrance of us, described in this Psalm.

You that love the LORD, hate evil: He preserves the souls of his saints; he delivers them out of the hand of the wicked. Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart.     Psalm 97:10 & 11.

How do we come to know that we serve a Holy God? Because He is Faithful to His Word.

I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy loving-kindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.                                                                               Psalm 138:2.

Peter teaches on remembrance in the opening of his second letter.

I will endeavor that you may be able after my exodus to have these things always in remembrance.         2 Peter 1:15.

When Peter says “I will endeavor”, he is actually using a word for the third time, but the previous two are translated diligence. The root of the word means to make haste, and is the opposite of procrastination. He is saying “add to your faith”, and do it now, today, all day, and every day.

And beside this giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue and to virtue knowledge and to knowledge temperance and to temperance patience, and to patience godliness, and to godliness brotherly kindness and to brotherly kindness charity (agape, aka love).                                     2 Peter 1:5-7.

Jesus admonishes the church to love one another, to not forget their first love, even as the apostle John wrote:

No man has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us and His love is perfected in us.  1 John 4:12.

If someone says “I love God” (or “I love Jesus”) and hates his brother is a liar for he that loves not his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment have we from Him, that he who loves God love his brother also.                                 1 John 4:20, 21.

Jesus said in John chapter 3; “Truly you must be born again.” This expresses the importance of this doctrine. Now add to this statement the words of Peter:

Seeing you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that you love one another with a pure heart fervently. Being born again, not of corruptible seed but of incorruptible, by the word of God which lives and abides forever. 1 Peter 1:22,23.

We should be overwhelmed by the realization that we must have an unfeigned love, a fervent love; and a pure heart. It is also quite evident to anyone who reads this passage that this is the work of the Holy Spirit accomplished only by obedience. This commitment is attained by diligently adding to our faith unto brotherly kindness, and then agape love.

The other word that Peter uses three times in the passage of his second letter and is clearly emphasized; is remembrance.

Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things though you know them and be established in the present truth. Yea, I think it meet as long as I am in this tabernacle to stir you up by putting you in remembrance.                                                                      2 Peter 1:12 & 13.

I now remind you that a remembrance ultimately is God working in us by the power of the Holy Spirit unto “an unfeigned love of the brethren.”

 

Behave Like a Christian

Let love be without hypocrisy.

Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.

Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love.

In honor, giving preference to one another.

Fervent in spirit, not lagging in diligence; serving the Lord.

Rejoicing in hope.

Patient in tribulation.

Continuing steadfastly in prayer.

Distributing to the needs of the saints.

Given to hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

Repay no one evil for evil.

Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.

Be of the same mind toward one another.

Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble.

Do not be wise in your own opinion.

Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.

If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.

Romans 12:9-18.