The Blasphemy of a Messiah

At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.   Acts 9:20.

How much significance should be placed on this point that Paul immediately began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.

First, consider the evidence that came out at the trial of Jesus Christ.

Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate said unto them, Behold the man! When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him.

Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him.  

The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.           John 19:5-7.

At a public trial, the testimony of His accusers was that Jesus must die for claiming to be the Son of God. Now the man who was previously persecuting the church, one of high esteem among the religious leadership, was preaching this very thing! This is an extraordinary turn of events, that the one who was identified and accepted by the original disciples as the “apostle to the gentiles”, would first boldly preach in the synagogues of every place he visited.

For many have come before and after claiming to be a messiah, a fact of which is much attested. For messianic Jews to simply proclaim Yeshua haMashiach in Israel or anywhere in the world in nothing new under the sun.  If you want to stir up the status quo, preach the Son of God. 

Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space; And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men.  For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought. After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed. And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.                                 Acts 5:34-39.

It is noteworthy that this same Gamaliel was the headmaster of the school of the Pharisees where Saul trained. (Acts 22:3). And who was the one man that disregarded this advice and set off on a murderous rampage against the church?  Irony!

Before appearing at the judgment seat of Pilate, Jesus was examined by the High Priest, along with the scribes and elders. Many false witnesses came forward to accuse Jesus, but none of the charges held. Then the High Priest played his trump card:

But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy. What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death.                                  Matthew 26:63-66.

And so the religious authorities found Jesus guilty of blasphemy and worthy of death for claiming to be the Son of God. Then Saul, upon his conversion immediately preached this in the synagogues, thereby, bringing the same charge against himself. Then he gave this testimony of himself before his conversion..

Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.                                                 1 Tim 1:13.

This is his conversion, to embrace what was called blasphemy, and reject what was before:

I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.                                Acts 22:3.

The Lord Jesus Christ expects us to preach His Blasphemy, for this is the most excellent glory that He received:

For he received from God the Father honor 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.              2 Peter 1:17.

Do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?                John 10:36.

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The Word of Our Testimony

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not be afraid or worry about their threats. Instead sanctify Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks you a reason(logos) for the hope that is in you, yet with humility and reverence—keeping a clear conscience so that, whatever you are accused of, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Messiah may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good (if it is God’s will) than for doing evil.                          1 Peter 3:13-17.

We are instructed in this passage to “always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks for a reason(logos) for the hope that is in you”.  This verse gives an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the Greek: logos. Over 65% of the time , logos is simply and banally translated word,  giving us the vaguest notion of the meaning that is being conveyed. We have an expression in English to convey the point of getting to the heart of the matter for clarity in conveying the truth. We say that for “all intents and purposes”, something to be true. The Logos of God conveys in a very pure sense His intent and purpose behind His creation. This is why the Son of God is described by John as “The Word”, The Logos. Because of this fact, Jesus can say of Himself:
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Revelation 22:13.

The Truth that the Son of God is His Logos is fully expressed for “all intents and purposes” in this one verse:

“You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.”       Revelation 4:11.

Consider now another example where logos is used, but simply translating as “word” failed to convey enough information, so another choice of words is utilized.

The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen.              Acts 1:1&2.

Here Luke opens his second book by referring to his first book, which we call the Gospel of Luke, as the former account(logos). He refers to his first book as a logos, in which he describes his “intents and purposes”in the opening verses.

Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus(lover and beloved of God), that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.               Luke 1:1-4.

So we see Luke describe his logos as a narrative “set in order” from first to last to convey a “perfect understanding”. This “orderly account” is to insure the certainty of the things that we are instructed and hold fast to in faith.

Now returning to our primary text, if we are to give “our logos for the hope that is in us”, we must establish ourselves firmly in the context of an orderly account based on a perfect (mature) understanding of the word and work of God in our life.

We are to be judged by what is found of us in “the Lambs Book of Life”. Will there be a full account found there, or will we be just a footnote in someone else’s logos. This is exactly what we are being called to do with our life as a narrative of the Work of His Spirit. This is the correct understanding of the statement: “we overcome by the word(logos) of our testimony.
They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word(logos) of their testimony, and they did not love their lives even in the face of death.                      Revelation 12:11.

This is Eternal Life

He said: Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, so the Son may glorify You. Even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, so may He give eternal life to all those You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Yeshua the Messiah, the One You sent.                                John 17:1-3.
How do we come to know God and obtain this eternal life? The ones we know; we recognize their voice. When someone who knows me well calls on the telephone, they say “Hey, it’s me”, and I don’t have to ask “Who dat”?

The shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them; and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.            John 10:4.

Whether we are listening to the spoken Word or studying devotionals, praising God or meditating in His presence, the one goal remains constant:to know His voice.  One of the  earliest ways that the priesthood referred to the Lord was “The Voice.”

And when Moses went into the tent of meeting that He might speak with him, then he heard the Voice speaking unto him from above the ark-cover that was upon the ark of the testimony, from between the two cherubim; and He spoke unto him.                                                                                                                 Numbers 7:89, JPS Tanakh.

The Targum of Jonathan paraphrases it, the voice of the Spirit. The world will tell you that you are suffering from auditory hallucinations if you claim to hear this voice. However, scientists that study brain wave activity in people during these episodes find that the voices are processed in a different area of the brain from normal auditory stimuli. The point of this is that we can listen to the Word of God being read aloud, and hear the voice of the Spirit as a living commentary on what is being read if we abide in the Spirit. Haven’t you had the Lord drop something into your spirit while listening to preaching?

He has made manifest His Word through preaching.               Titus 1:3.

For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.                1 Corinthians 1:21.

How then shall they call on the One in whom they have not trusted? And how shall they trust in the One they have not heard of? And how shall they hear without someone proclaiming? And how shall they proclaim unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who proclaim good news of good things!”                   Romans 10:14&15.

This is why the message must not deviate from what was presented by the first apostles.

It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is of no benefit. The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and are life.                                        John 6:63.

But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away. For if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. When He comes, He will convict the world about sin, righteousness, and judgment.         John 16:7&8.

It is always the work of the Holy Spirit to convict someone to repentance.
This is why Paul said:
When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come with excellence of speech or wisdom, proclaiming to you the mystery of God. For I decided not to know about anything among you except Yeshua the Messiah and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.                                                   1 Corinthians 2:1-5.

The public reading of scripture is a true tradition of the Witnesses of Israel.
Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to encouragement, and to teaching.          1 Timothy 4:13.
The Message of the Messiah must register to the listener through the Voice of the Spirit, not our own. In this knowledge of God is the continual blessing.

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.                         Revelation 1:3.

He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled.                         John 3:29

The Firstborn Son of God

 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.  John 1:14.

And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.  Colossians 1:18.

To which of the angels did He ever say: “You are My Son,  today I have begotten You”? And again: “I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son”?   But when He again brings His firstborn into the world, He says “Let all the angels of God worship Him.”   Hebrews 1:5&6.

The love of God was revealed among us by this—that God sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.                     1 John 4:9.

God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.    1 Corinthians 1:9.

The Voice gives the Most Excellent Glory

For He received from God the Father honor and glory when The  Voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”  And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. 2 Peter 1:17&18.

But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law,  to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”  Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.   Galatians 4:4-7.

For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.   Romans 8:29.

The Most Beloved Verses

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.                      John 3:16-18.

These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.       John 20:31.

The First Confession of Faith

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.             1 John 4:15.

For whoever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?       1 John 5:4&5.

Concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.   Romans 1:3&4.

And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.  1 John 5:11-13.

 

 

Wisdom First

Proverbs 4:7 begins: chokmah re’shiyth= “wisdom first”. However, it is translated awkwardly as ‘wisdom is the principal thing’, or ‘the supreme thing’, and then adds; and with all your getting, get understanding. This wordy, over translation can be easily understood with this simple statement:   Wisdom precedes understanding.

In other words, trying to understand the word of God without divine wisdom will always fail, and the results are evident in the range of interpretations obtained by trying to gain understanding through knowledge.

This is why Jesus said: I tell you this truth, you must be born from above. John 3:3.

This verse is usually mistranslated as ‘born again’ to align with 1 Peter 1:23, but then a footnote is added to inform the reader conveniently ‘or from above’, which is what is actually written. This is critical to properly connect this statement with many other verses on the subject, particularly in regard to wisdom.

Gentle Wisdom from Above

Who among you is wise and understanding? By his good conduct let him show his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not boast and lie against the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, nonspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, not hypocritical.                                        James 3:13-17.

Understanding divine truth requires divine wisdom. This is taught in a simple, childlike way by Jesus; ‘Ask, and you will receive.’ This was also taught by his forerunner, John the Baptist:

John answered, “A man can possess nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven.”                                               John 3:27. 

He then adds later, “The One who comes from above is above all. The one who is from the earth is of the earth, and of the earth he speaks. The One who comes from heaven is above all.  And what He has seen and heard, He testifies to that.”                  John 3:31,32.

The Voice of the Bridegroom

In between these two statements we find a now familiar expression that has been used for discipleship training, stewardship, names of books and outreach ministries. This is the phrase ‘friend of the bridegroom’ and the extraction of that title from context clouds the real significance of the verse.

He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled.                                    John 3:29.

The most important point of this statement is for the friend to hear the voice of the bridegroom. This point is brought into clear emphasis by Jesus in His Good Shepherd discourse in John 10. This is critical to receiving the wisdom from above, and is the focus of all devotions. Whether we are praying, singing psalms, studying the word, reading passages aloud or meditating in His presence, the ultimate goal remains consistent, to hear and recognize the voice of the good shepherd, the bridegroom, the Master.

The Fear of God

This relationship of the disciple to his master’s voice provides the correct understanding of ‘the fear of God’. When one first begins to recognize the presence of the Lord and hear the voice, the experience can be a bit unnerving. However, the real fear of God should result from losing that contact. 

The gift of the Holy Spirit develops this relationship, and the proper definition of the fear of the Lord is ‘to maintain a continual awareness of His presence’. Jesus explains this way; ‘abide in Me, and I will abide in you.’                                            John 15:4.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.                           James 1:17.

Now we can properly relate the fear of God to wisdom.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,

and the knowledge of the Holy One (the I Am) is understanding.                                                 Proverbs 9:10.

Yeshua said, “You are from below; I Am from above. You are of this world; I Am not of this world. Therefore I told you that you will die in your sins. If you don’t believe that I Am, you will die in your sins.”                                                      John 8;23,24.

So Yeshua said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I Am. I do nothing by Myself, but speak just what the Father has taught Me.”                John 8:28. 

Then Yeshua said to the Judeans who had trusted Him, “If you abide in My word, then you are truly My disciples. You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free!”           John 8:31,32.

Jesus then said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”              John 8:58.

 

 

 

 

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A Lover of Hospitality

Be a lover of hospitality.        Titus 1:8.

Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.          1 Peter 4:9.

For many people the mention of hospitality calls to mind Martha Stewart more than the Gospels. While it is worthy to mention the value of opening your home to others, there is a bit more being conveyed in these words.

The word being translated hospitality actually means loving kindness to strangers. And the word strangers refers to resident aliens, minorities, and sojourners in the land. In other words, these scriptures are dealing with the age old problem of ethnicity, prejudice and racism. Do you really think that will ever be properly dealt with outside of Christ?

To demonstrate this truth, let’s start with a narrative from Luke 17 where Jesus is met by ten lepers seeking their healing. He orders them to go show themselves to the priests. As they departed they discover that they have been cleansed and one of them returns to glorify God in giving thanks before the Lord’s feet, and he was a Samaritan.

Jesus comments “there are none found that returned to give glory to God, besides this stranger.”                                                 Luke 17:18.

The Samaritans were the despised people living among the most despised people in history, and are enshrined in the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ by the words  “Good Samaritan”.

These strangers stand out among the members of society by whose treatment the Lord will judge the nations.                  Matthew 25:31-46.

So what does the Law and the Prophets have to say about this thorny topic? Let’s consider this survey:

You shall neither mistreat a stranger nor oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.                                           Exodus 22:21.

Also you shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the heart of a stranger, because you were strangers in the land of Egypt.                          Exodus 23:9.

The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.                                                Leviticus 19:34.

One ordinance shall be for you of the assembly and for the stranger who dwells with you, an ordinance forever throughout your generations; as you are, so shall the stranger be before the Lord. One law and one custom shall be for you and for the stranger who dwells with you.                                 Numbers 15:14, 15.

He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing. Therefore love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.                                                    Deuteronomy 10:18, 19.

Do not let the son of the foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord speak saying “The Lord has utterly separated me from His people”. Also the sons of the foreigner who join themselves to the Lord, to serve Him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants. Even them I will bring to My holy mountain and make them joyful in My house of prayer. For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations. The Lord God, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, says, “Yet I will gather to him others besides those who are gathered to him.”              Isaiah 56:1-8.

Thus says the Lord: “Execute judgment and righteousness, and deliver the plundered out of the hand of the oppressor. Do no wrong and do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, or the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place.       Jeremiah 22:3.

The people of the land have used oppression, committed robbery, and mistreated the poor and needy; and they wrongfully oppress the stranger.             Ezekiel 22:29.

And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the Lord of hosts.        Malachi 3:5.

So we see beyond the prophets condemning society’s injustice, a Law given to Moses that was acutely concerned for the rights of strangers. How then did this wall of separation come to exist that Paul speaks of in his letter to the Ephesians?

At that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.                                                  Ephesians 2:12.

How could this be true when the Law of Moses had made every accommodation for the foreigner who desired to seek the Lord?  In verse fifteen he says that the enmity was created by the law of commandments in ordinances: nomos entole en dogma. This expression refers to what Jesus referred to as the traditions and rules of men undermining the Word of God.

Because of the mutual hatred and distrust that existed between the Jew and all of the neighboring societies, no Jew would even sit at a table and eat a meal with a gentile. This is something that even the apostle Peter was called out on by Paul, the apostle of the gentiles. In contrast, Jesus always ate with publicans and sinners.

Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision.  And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?”                             Galatians 2:11-14.

Even though he had fully embraced the gentile as a fellow believer when the Lord had given him a vision that corrected his views in Acts 10, his fear of men resulted in hypocrisy.

Then he said to them, “You know how unlawful (Pharisee) it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.                     Acts 10:28.

And finally he concludes: Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons; but in every nation he that fears Him, and works righteousness, is accepted with him.        Acts 10:34, 35.

As an elder of the first church in Jerusalem, Peter was very familiar with the complications of a Jewish/gentile fellowship. When he wrote in his letter to show hospitality without grumbling, the word used is more often translated murmuring. This grumbling or murmuring began early on in the church.

And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.                             Acts 6:1.

Note the clear racial overtones to the situation at hand. The solution the apostles came up with to deal with the problem was to have the congregation choose for themselves seven men to appoint over the administrative duties.

The apostle Paul recalls for us in 1 Corinthians 10 how murmuring and complaining was the “original sin” of the congregation in the wilderness. The people had just passed through the Red Sea and witnessed a great deliverance when they soon were murmuring against God and Moses.

And the people murmured against Moses, saying, what should we drink?    Exodus 15:24.

And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness:               Exodus 16:2.

Now in their defense I would point out that they had traveled three days in the wilderness and not found any fresh water. Most Christians have murmured and complained about far less. The point is that this is far more serious than most give consideration.

Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.      1  Corinthians 10:11.

When Paul says that this issue is where the ends of the ages meet, he was ushering in the end of the age of justification by works of the Law and bringing in the age of justification by grace.

For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.                                                  John 1:17.

But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted.                   1 Corinthians 10:5, 6.

For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end; While it is said, today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. For some, when they heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. But with whom was he grieved forty years? Was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness? And to whom He swore that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.                              Hebrews 3:14-19.

In other words, regardless of the covenant, grumbling and complaining are an offense to God and will be considered an act of unbelief. And now we can look to Abram to complete the picture and find the purpose.

Paul taught that Abram was the father of justification by faith, for when he was told his offspring would be as the stars of heaven, he believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.

James pointed out that Abraham later proved his faith by offering his son Isaac in obedience to God. But in Hebrews we are reminded that the first great act of faith, without which nothing else would have followed, was his departure from his home land.

By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went… he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country…for he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God… and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.                                      Hebrews 11:8-16  (highlights.)

James wrote that true religion is to care for widows and orphans and to keep ourselves unspotted by the world.                         James 1:27

Why then does he not mention strangers along with widows and orphans as the Law of Moses and the prophets do so often? Because we are called to be the stranger, the pilgrim, the sojourner in this world. We cannot conform to this world and expect to be translated into a heavenly homeland.

A community church may compromise to be inoffensive and socially acceptable, but any individual who hopes to go from the called to the chosen, or elect; must be willing to step outside that comfort zone. To set hands on the plow and not look back until you have completed your course and remain faithful.

Here is how: Do all things without murmuring and disputing, That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life.                                                          Philippians 2:14-16.

 

Abide in Mercy

Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.    Isaiah 55:3.

This promise is found in 2 Samuel:

When your days are done and you sleep with your fathers, I will raise up your seed, who will come forth from you after you, and I will establish his kingdom. He will build a house for My Name, and I will establish his royal throne forever. I will be a father to him, and he will be a son to Me.  If he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and with the strokes from sons of men.  Yet My lovingkindness will not be withdrawn from him as I withdrew it from Saul, whom I removed from before you.  So your house and your kingship will be secure forever before you; your throne will be established forever.”  2 Samuel 7:12-16.

These glad tidings are proclaimed to the church in Acts 13.

And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God has fulfilled the same unto us their children in that He has raised up Jesus again, as it is written in the second psalm, You are my Son, this day have I begotten you,  (Psalms 2:7.)   And as concerning that He raised him up from the dead, no more to return to corruption, He said: “I will give you the sure mercies of David.”                            Acts 13:32-34.

The covenant of steadfast love for David is a covenant of parental correction unto the perfection of obedience. What you have done is not as important as how you respond to God’s correction. We must look for his approval in all things. 

This doctrine is discussed in Hebrews 12 and based on 2 Samuel 7. 

For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child. Hebrews 12:6.

Consider this house of David known as Ephrathites. Ephrathah was a Hebrew woman who became the wife of Caleb, the faithful servant to Moses. Caleb was not a Hebrew, but is identified as a Kenizzite.  Caleb was granted the region of Hebron by Moses for his faithful witness with Joshua after the scouting expedition. David’s grandmother was Ruth the Moabite. The city of Bethlehem Ephrathah was the city of Joseph and the birthplace of the Messiah. David ruled from Hebron for seven years until the elders of Israel came and acknowledged him as their king. 

The line of Caleb is listed in the Chronicle genealogies with the tribe of Judah by a process known as grafting in, the same terminology Paul uses in Romans 11 to describe the gentile relationship to natural Israel. Through the house of David the wall of partition between Jew and gentile is broken down and finds fulfillment in Christ Jesus. For all the promises of God are yes and amen in Christ. (2 Co 1:20.)

Behold, you shall conceive and bring forth a son and shall call him Jesus. He shall be exalted and called the Son of the Highest and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David, and he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever and of his kingdom there shall be no end.             Luke 1:31-33.

For unto us a child is born unto a son is given and the government shall be upon his shoulder…. Of the increase of his government and peace no end upon the throne of David…the zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.                        Isaiah 9:6&7.

The one true church is the house of David and the Lord Jesus Christ sits at the right hand of the throne of majesty to fulfill all righteousness. Peter informs us that heaven has received Him until the restoration of all things spoken of by all the holy prophets since the world began. (Peter’s sermon from Acts 3:12-26.) 

The restoration of all things refers to the throne of David in Israel. This process will not be complete until the final day (1000 years).

And I will set up one shepherd over them and he shall feed them, my servant David, he shall feed them and he shall be their shepherd. And I the Lord shall be their God and David a prince among them. I the Lord have spoken it and I will make with them a covenant of peace.                        Ezekiel 34:23-31.

And David my servant shall be king over them and they shall all have one shepherd over them…and they shall dwell in the land I have given to Jacob my servant… and David shall be their prince forever. Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them, an everlasting covenant…and I will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore.                                        Ezekiel 37:24-28.

The covenant of peace (berit shalom, also translated covenant of friendship), was originally bestowed on the house of Phineas, the son of Eleazar, in Numbers 25:10-13; and will be granted to all Israel, in Israel, at the end of the time of the gentiles.

Now consider the most referenced Old Testament passage in the New Testament to bring all this to a fine point. In the gospels Jesus proposes this question concerning the Messiah: Whose son is he? The teachers responded that he is the son of David. Jesus then silences them with this statement. 

How is it that David in spirit calls him Lord saying The Lord said unto my Lord, sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool (Psalm 110), if David calls him Lord, how is he his son?                                            Matthew 22:41-46.

This Psalm is also referenced by Peter in Acts 2:33-35. In the letter to the Hebrews we find another reference:

But this man after he had offered one sacrifice for sin forever sat down at the right hand of God, from henceforth expecting until his enemies are made his footstool.         Hebrews 10:12-14.

Most importantly, follow Paul’s explanation of the final restitution of all things:

Then comes the end when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For He has put all things under his feet. But when he says all things are under him it is clear that the exception is He that put all things under him. And when all things are subdued under him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto Him that put everything under him, that God may be all, in all.                                       1 Corinthians 15:24-28.

Note that the Son is subject to God the Father. The perceived equality between the Son and Father is based on the equality of granted authority. This is foreshadowed in Genesis 41 pertaining to the relationship between Joseph and Pharaoh.

“You shall be over my house and according unto your word shall all my people be ruled, only in the throne will I be greater than you.”                                Genesis 41:40-44.

To serve Joseph was to serve Pharaoh, to dishonor Joseph was to dishonor Pharaoh.  Compare this to the self-testimony of Jesus in                    John 5.

For the Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment unto the Son; that all should honor the Son as they honor the Father. He that does not honor the Son honors not the Father who sent him. (Doctrine of Christ).                                       John 5:22&23.

This is the final restitution of all things spoken of by the prophets by the Spirit of Christ that was in them:

The time of the gentiles will soon be fulfilled as the fullness of the gentiles is a finite point in time. The end of the age and the new heaven and new earth  and the everlasting righteousness of the kingdom of God and Christ comes after all his enemies are under his feet, and the final enemy is death.

In the millennial kingdom of the house of David, people live long prosperous lives, but not eternal lives:

One who dies at 100 will be as if a child, but a sinner of 100 years will know they are cursed.                     Isaiah 65:20.

During the 1000 year reign the law of God will be enforced from Jerusalem and the word of God will come forth from mount Zion.                             Isaiah 2:3.

And after these 1000 years there will be one final rebellion. Sin will continue during the millennium and will be dealt with by the law. Satan will be bound and man will know that there is a sin nature in him that cannot be blamed on “the devil made me do it” (Revelation 20). Sinners will chafe under the law of God for 1000 years. This is foreshadowed in the Old Testament, for after the glorious 40 year reign of Solomon, a kingdom like no other on earth, the people rebelled, complaining of the severity of his reign.

The sinners in Zion are afraid, fearfulness has surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burning?               Isaiah 33:13-17.

Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.                             Revelation 14:12.

 By your endurance, you will gain your souls.                  Luke 21:19.