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Introduction to Personal Bible Study - Videos (2007)

4 short introductory video studies First recorded in 2007, posted to GodTube in 2010  These short videos were made nearly 14 years ago. ...

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Forever in Scripture is Time, Place, and Lord's Plan Specific

You shall observe this rite as a statute for you and for your sons forever.

-Exodus 12:24 

When the Lord uses "forever" it means man has no right to stop something arbitrarily. But God is allowed to stop it. Those instructed must do it, but God can halt anything any time he wills. The feasts and blood sacrifices were "statutes forever," until God halted them for his purposes. In some cases, his "forever" was given to only a specific people (Israel, in the land, Exodus 12:25, etc.), not all mankind. Even in the land of Israel, the "forever" statutes were for circumcised Jews only. 

Even Paul had to get to Jerusalem for the Feast in the Acts.

I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem: but I will return again unto you, if God will. And he sailed from Ephesus. 
-Acts 18:21

"Moses, say unto the children of Israel..." is how the Law reads, not to all men of all ages everywhere.

Even under the Law, Jonah did not go to Nineveh and preach the Book of Exodus and require them to build a tabernacle or institute a priesthood despite the "forever" verses. They couldn't "obey" anyway as they had no Levites or sons of Aaron. They had no temple, no altar, no holy of holies and the Law forbid them from participating anyway as uncircumcised gentiles. All they could do was listen to the prophet from Galilee (Jonah, the only one from Galilee before Christ) and repent.

Even the Gentiles ("strangers") living in Israel could do so in peace and blessing without participating in the feasts. They were FORBIDDEN from "obeying" SOME of the laws of the feasts unless they were circumcised. Some laws were given to Israel and also to "the strangers that sojourn among you." But there was always a distinction. And some were forbidden by the Law as well.

And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof.

The Law was not about "eternal Life" (as we call it). Abraham was declared righteous by faith in uncircumcision. Adam, Abel, Enoch, Adam all knew nothing of circumcision or the Covenant of Sinai. Uncircumcised Gentiles were granted life in the Gospel age (Matthew 8) yet the "Gospel of the Kingdom" was forbidden to be preached to them (Matthew 4, 10, 15). The Law was about the land, Israel, and her role as priests for the nations. That is what the Old Covenant is about, Exodus 19:5-7 (and it will come to pass in a future age, Zechariah 8:23, etc.).

The nations will be judged as to how they treat the Jews in the tribulation. In Matthew 25, the nations that enter into blessings in the future Kingdom age are not entering because they kept the Law or merely by works of mercy alone, but because of how they treated "the least of [the Lord's] brethren." That is, how they treated the Jews.

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations... Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

When Israel was in captivity in Babylon, Daniel never went to Jerusalem for the feasts. He never went to offer a sacrifice in the Temple. The Law required him to do so. These were "forever" things. While the temple was destroyed no Israelite entered the Holy of Holies or followed the "forever' statutes of the Law. A similar truth can be seen in the Greek texts with "forever and ever." The Greek reads "the eon of eons" or "the age and ages." We will live "forever" by God's will in the ages to come in resurrection, but we will not be following the "forever" statutes of the Law. God is the one who decides when a "forever" truth ends.

That some would try to impose selected parts of the Law on believers today (the parts that they choose, not all of it) is an abomination. The fact that they try to use the word "forever" in regard to something like the Sabbath laws and selectively not with other "forever" statutes reveals their hypocrisy. Those who claim that they obey "all scripture" or that "every verse is mine" are deceived. Worse than that, they try to impose their deception on others.

There is word for those who do not follow the "forever" statutes of the Law today (despite what they may pretend). There is a word for recognizing that what God demands in one age and for one people He does not demand in all ages or for all people. There is word for no longer bringing a sacrifice to the priest for the Holy of Holies (which gentiles didn't do anyway, even under the Law). That word is "dispensationalism." As much as some claim to despise the concept, by simply not building an ark and not bringing animals to sacrifice, they are declaring themselves "dispensationalists" (at least to some degree). 

If someone claims to follow the "forever" statutes of the Sabbath laws or claims to somehow be "spiritual Israel" (the Catholic Church calls itself "New Israel") yet fails to follow ALL the "forever" statutes, he is self-deceived. Why just the forever laws of the Sabbath and not all forever laws? He is making himself into a hypocrite.

Paul was in chains for the Hope of Israel in the Acts (Acts 28:20), and testified that he spoke nothing but that which was spoken by Moses and the Prophets (Acts 26:22). He preached circumcision for Jewish believers (Acts 21). The "necessary things" in Acts 15 and Acts 21 that Gentiles were bound to keep (approved by the Apostles and by the Holy Spirit) were derived from laws in Leviticus in regard to strangers [Gentiles, uncircumcized] living among Israel in the land. These were "sojourners" living among a believing Israel. 

How many "Acts Churches" 
  • distinguish Jewish believers from Gentile believers?
  • make Gentile believers obey the necessary things?
  • teach circumcision for Jewish believers (Acts 21)?

In Ephesians Paul reveals a hope not known to the Prophets but revealed to him alone . He preached truths "since" the foundation of the ages in the Acts, and a truth "hidden" from before the foundation of the ages post-Acts. He was now in chains for Gentiles and the middle wall of partition between Jew and Greek was down (Eph), making the two into one and equal. The hope was no longer the "restoration of all things" for the "Men of Israel" (Acts 3) or the "established Kingdom in Israel" (Acts 1), but a hope in the "far above the heavens where Christ sits at the right hand of the Father" (Eph, Col).

For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery...

We no longer have earthly ordinances. These are of the earth, part of an earthly plan or an earthly hope in this age (Col). Most "contradictions" people claim dispensational theology present (in terms of practice or doctrine) arise from a failure to "rightly divide [draw straight lines] the Word of Truth" (2 Tim 2:15).

One of the worst diseases that plagues so many pulpits is the need to try and work every verse and every instruction into a "saved/lost" dichotomy. So many blessings are missed. 

Monday, January 15, 2024

The Antichrist and the Desire of Women

In these last days, it makes sense that many are trying to uncover the identity of the Antichrist. We know this figure will arise and will take his place in the events described in the Word of God. 

In my lifetime I have had numerous names tossed around as strong candidates. I am not opposed to careful speculation, but I refrain from settling on one person or another. With the passing of Henry Kissinger in 2023, one person who has been repeatedly named among the candidates has been eliminated (unless you hold to a resurrected Antichrist).

I believe speculation is a legitimate pursuit as the scripture clearly gives us descriptions of the coming Man of Sin about which we should be aware. But I caution again on being too specific in this current age. The Antichrist is tied to God's plans for the Earth and tied to his earthly people, Israel.

Daniel was sent to Israel to encourage the nation in captivity. God revealed, through his prophets, the great future that lies ahead for a believing and cleansed Israel, but in his wisdom he made the timing a matter of study and observation. The Lord gave Israel descriptions and actions, but neither a specific time or name. The events laid out in Daniel have not all come to pass. The world and the nations await its fulfillment. Part of that fulfillment will be the emergence of the Antichrist, the Man of Sin (2 Thess 2:3). 

The following verse, quoted most often from the King Kames Version (KJV) or derivatives of that translation, seems to suggest the future Antichrist either has no interest in women or that he will be a homosexual. Another possible understanding is that the Man of Sin will have no pity, not even for women and children,  But the context speaks of worship. Even in the KJV, the statement concerning women is sandwiched between descriptions concerning worship.

Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all.

  -Dan 11:37 (KJV)


He is described as man who has no regard for any god, even the true God, for he exalts himself above all and seeks worship of himself. The characteristic of the Antichrist in regard to "the desire of women" has, thus, a religious application. Here are some thoughts from two commentaries.

Nor the desire of women This, as some think, means, nor the god that is loved and adored by women; and, taking the clause in connection with the context, this seems the most natural sense of it; for the whole verse speaks of the impiety, or irreligion, of Antiochus, that he had no regard to any god whatever. What god this was that was the desire of women, cannot be certainly said; it is probable it was the moon, (the queen of heaven, as they used to call her,) or some other of the heavenly luminaries; for the Syrian women are described in Scripture as particularly attached to these.
-Joseph Benson’s Commentary on the Old and New Testaments (1846)

the desire of women: the context shows that the phrase must refer to some deity, probably to the Phœnician god, Tammuz (pp. 631f. Ezekiel 8:14), whose worship was extremely popular in Syria...
-Peake's Commentary on the Bible (1919)

A better translation of this verse, in my opinion, can be found in the Christian Standard Bible, The Complete Jewish Bible, and The Revised Standard Version (among others).

He will not show regard for the gods of his ancestors, the god desired by women, or for any other god, because he will magnify himself above all. 
-Dan 11:37. (CSB)


He will show no respect for the gods his ancestors worshipped, or for the god women worship — he won’t show respect for any god, because he will consider himself greater than all of them.

-Dan 11:37 (CJB)

He shall give no heed to the gods of his fathers, or to the one beloved by women; he shall not give heed to any other god, for he shall magnify himself above all.

-Dan 11:37 (RSV)

Benson notes "the queen of heaven." This title will be familiar to those of us raised in the Catholic Church. It is one of the titles of their Mary. Benson does not just rip this from the pages of history and wildly apply it or because of  some desire to cast aspersions on the Roman system of worship and their exaltation of Mary to "Co-Redemptress." It is a title Rome has taken from scripture. 

The title "queen of heaven" is found five times in the prophecy of Jeremiah (7:18; 44:17,18,19; 44:25). Worship of this false god consisted of vows and offerings (cakes, drink offerings, burning of incense). God tells the women who worship this false god to go ahead and complete their vows. But this is a judgment, not an approval (44:25).

This is what the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, says: ‘As for you and your wives, you women have spoken with your mouths, and you men fulfilled it by your deeds, saying, “We will keep our vows that we have made to burn incense to the queen of heaven and to pour out drink offerings for her.” Go ahead, confirm your vows! Pay your vows!’

Benson notes for us that the queen of heaven is connected to moon worship. The Catholic Mary is often depicted as standing on or supported by the moon. We do not want to get too far into the doctrines and Catholic prayers. Suffice it for our purposes to note that prayers to Mary (consistent with CC teaching) are often connected to pleas for her saving powers.

"I place all my hope and all my salvation in you."

The appeal here (which is a blasphemy against Christ and his sacrificial perfection and sufficiency) is intoxicating. The Catholic Mary is often depicted with the Christ child, showing her as greater and suggests she is his master. I know I was taught that we should pray to Mary as she is more gracious than the Father and less prone to anger.

Now we turn, with these things still in view, to the reference to the god Tammuz noted by Peake in his commentary. Peake points us to Ezekiel 8:14.

Then he brought me to the entrance of the north gate of the house of the Lord; and behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz.

Again, we see it is the women weeping for the Phoenician false god, Tammuz. But how is this connected to the queen of heaven or even to the Catholic Mary? Albert Barnes give us this direction in his commentary on the verse [clarified spellings added by me]:

Tammuz being identified with Duv-zi [Dumuzid], whose loss was lamented by the goddess Istar [or Ishtar], the Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of fertility, war, love, and sex.

We need to be careful here as all ancient gods went through different metamorphoses as they were adopted by different nations and as religions evolved among the pagans. Their attributes were often combined with native deities. With that said, very roughly, Tammuz was connected to fertility  and new life in Spring. He was killed by demons in the early Spring (March/April) in one account. (cf. Encyclopedia Britannica).

The constant changing and adjusting of the gods to local customs and beliefs only adds to the connections to the Catholic Mary. Paganism adopted into a more western, quasi-Christian system of Saint worship.

Another view states that Tammuz is the son of Ishtar and Baal and he was killed by a wild boar while hunting. Tammuz ascended, as Ishtar, to Baal. The period of mourning consisted of abstaining from eating meat for 40 days. (cf. East Bay Times). We see this practice in the evolved Catholic practice of Lent (which started with far more stringent food restrictions than the current manifestation). Sadly, different forms of Lent have been adopted by those who claim to trust in Christ alone. 

I want to be careful and not stray too far here. I am sure Catholics devoting themselves to "adoring" and praying to Mary have no idea of the connections or similarities to pagan worship practices. Their error and grave sin could actually be seen as worse and they pray things like "I place all my hope and all my salvation in you." The pagans did not have a completed Bible and the full witness and ministry of Christ before them as Catholics do.

We thus bring all these things back to the subject of Daniel's description of the coming Antichrist. Daniel, under inspiration, tells us that the Antichrist will regard no deities. This makes sense since he will exalt himself as the greatest of all deities. 

He will have no regard for the gods associated with his "fathers," he will have no regard for the deity worshipped by women in the land of Daniel's captivity (which had spread among the children of Israel), and he will have no regard for any deity that any people will present to him. The specific reference to "the God of his fathers" suggests he will be an Israelite or another child of Abraham. That is, he could be an Ishmaelite or and Edomite, Perezite, etc. But I refrain from being definitive on this point.

I think it is safe to conclude that the Antichrist will not necessarily be a homosexual or have no carnal interest in heterosexual sex at all. "Desire" as used in some translations (as with the KJV) does not have to be interpretative as carnal. The translation "the desire of women" is actually putting the focus on the women and not on the Antichrist. He will not share their desire.

We see this idea of "desire" in a number of places in scripture, but sticking with the KJV and using Haggai's prophecy of a future glory with his people that he brought out of the land of Egypt (Israel, Haggai 2:5). We have the same word Hebrew translated "desire" used in Daniel and Haggai (chemdâh).

For thus saith the Lord of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; and I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts. 
-Haggai 2:6-8

E.W. Bullinger notes in his commentary on Hag 2:7 (The Companion Bible)

for the object of desire, which cannot be "things", for hemdath is feminine, singular, and refers to Him Who alone can satisfy the desire of all nations. 

The Lord shall be the desire of all nations (or possibly "tribes"). This has a fully worshipful and adoring application to it and no sign of any required carnal drive.

The Antichrist will have no regard for any god, including the true God of Israel. When the Messiah returns to establish the throne of David in Israel, believing Israel and the nations blessed through Israel will rejoice. The "desires" in these passages are spiritual desires. The one who will exalt himself as god will have no regard for any competition.

He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, declaring himself to be God.

-2 Thessalonians 2:4 (NKJV)

I don't usually use paraphrased version of scripture. I suggest that people that use such Bibles view them as commentaries on the text and not translations. That being said, sometimes a paraphrase is able to capture an idea in English that is lost in a direct translation. With that in mind, I think the New Living Translation (NLT) captures the essence of the truth of this verse.

He will exalt himself and defy everything that people call god and every object of worship. He will even sit in the temple of God, claiming that he himself is God.

-2 Thessalonians 2:6 (NLT)

This will be a key characteristic of the Antichrist. At what point he reveals this part of his character and plan, the world will have to wait and see. But before I close, let us not lose sight of both the blasphemy of denying the true God as well as stealing glory from the true God. Both are evil and wicked and not to be compromised with. We note again the Catholic prayer to their "Queen of Heaven."

"I commit myself to serve you forever... I place all my hope and all my salvation in you."

These ideas are reflected in a number of Roman Catholic prayers to Mary. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. It is as shocking and it is disturbing and disappointing when Believers refuse to see Rome's doctrines (including the condemnation of non-Catholics) in some misguided (or worse, political) attempt to be inclusive. In a desire to be seen and non-judgmental and loving, believers deny Christ and call his sacrifice an unclean thing.

Evil comes in many forms. In comes in its own name and it comes in the name of the true God. Yet it is a Satanic deception. Satan would just as soon one worship "the desire of women" as he would have us worship no one. In many ways, the religiously deceived are harder to convince than the skeptic. The apostle Paul reminds of how Satan works:

For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.

-2 Corinthians 11:13-15 

The Antichrist will appeal to both. He will appeal to both those who are unsatisfied with Christ's finished work on our bahlf and those who have no use for man's religions of unseen gods. He will be a tangible deity, offering miracle signs and wonders so great they could even deceive the elect of God.

For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.

-Matthew 24:24

We close by reminding ourselves that the book of Daniel, the Revelation, the prophecies of Ezekiel, and the gospel of Matthew are for Israel. The time of Jacob's Trouble is soon to be upon the world. The message for today is not found in Israel (as it will be soon again), it is found in the gospel of the free grace of God and fully realized in the Dispensation of the Mystery revealed to the Apostle Paul, post Acts, in Ephesians and in his seven post Acts epistles.


Thursday, January 4, 2024

Claiming All of Scripture for Yourself Results in Confusion and Disobedience

Surely You have driven me out this day from the face of the ground; I shall be hidden from Your face; I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth, and it will happen that anyone who finds me will kill me.” And the Lord said to him, “Therefore [not so], whoever kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the Lord set a mark on Cain, lest anyone finding him should kill him.

-Genesis 4:14-15

We know Cain slew Abel. John writes in his NT epistle, “Cain who was of the wicked one (wicked seed) and murdered (slew) his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous” -1 John 3:12

The same word translated “slew” or "murdered" here is used of the Lord in the Revelation who was slain for us ("Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing" -Rev 5:15, etc.). Peter says at Pentecost in Acts 2, The Lord was “taken by wicked hands, crucified and slain” Premeditated murder.

From the account in Genesis 4, we turn to the Law

“He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death. However, if he did not lie in wait, but God delivered him into his hand, then I will appoint for you a place where he may flee. But if a man acts with premeditation against his neighbor, to kill him by treachery, you shall take him from My altar, that he may die.

-Exodus 21:12-14

Let’s take a quick look at the Law against murder in Genesis, BEFORE the Law of Sinai.

Whoso sheds man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.

-Genesis 9:6

Back when Can killed Abel, Genesis 4:8 explains, “when they [Cain and Abel] were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him

The Lord did not create a City of Refuge for Cain, he clearly charges him with murder. Genesis 4:10 reads: “What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground.”

So, we have the murder of Abel, whose sacrifices of the best of his flock in blood were an early picture of Christ (Christ’s sacrifice being greater than the sacrifice offered by Abel, Hebrews 11:4). Righteous Abel, the one who gives us an early picture of Christ, one approved of God, is murdered by the evil seed of Satan.

We repeat, here in Abel's sacrifice, we see Christ. And we shall see the Christ as the Lamb of God in the last book of scripture in the Revelation as well. Christ’s sacrifice is for ALL ages. It is recognized and celebrated DIFFERENTLY in different ages, but it is always exalted as the way of escape from the sin of Adam and from our own sins.

We pause to emphasize these two points which are foundational to how we approach Bible interpretation. We must rightly divide these passages. That is, we must see how they differ and how they remain the same.

  • Murder is handled differently
  • The sacrifice of Christ is honored differently

These are not contradictions in scripture. They represent how God has foundational truths that he expresses differently through different groups during different ages for different purposes. Those who claim all scripture for themselves have to reconcile these differences (which is not possible without denying the clear testimony of scripture).

Before the Law we see Christ’s sacrifice it in Abel’s sacrifice (no temple). It is seen in the almost sacrifice of Isaac on Mount Moriah, Gen 22 (then seen in the ram as a substitute). It is seen in the Passover in the wilderness before the Law, before the priesthood. In the Law, it is seen in the blood of bulls and goats in the tabernacle outside the land and then in the Temple in the land through the priesthood of the Levites.

In the Acts age the Lord’s sacrifice is seen in the Lord’s Supper (no more goats, bulls, tabernacles, temples, or Levites). In this age as the riches of his grace (Eph 1:7), in the bringing nigh of Gentiles (Eph 2:13), and in the reconciliation of Jew and Gentile, and reconciling of the things of the earth and the things of heaven (Col 1:20). We see today (or should) that sacrifice in light of the FULLNESS of God’s revelation in Christ.

All of these were acceptable to the Lord in their time, place, purpose, and context, yet they openly contradict each other on the surface. The Israelites could not substitute the Lord's Supper as taught by Paul in the Acts Age, for example. In the Acts Age or in the current age, we cannot build a tabernacle, separate out a priest-class, sacrifice animals and sprinkle the blood on a mercy seat. All of these are "scriptural," yet we are to obey ALL of them lest we DISOBEY the commands for our own age (and our hope).

All of these are united by the blood of Christ, but differentiated by the plan and hope in view. When we see these distinctions, Christ is gloried above all. The picture is no longer the focus as the picture changes. So, especially in this age when we ponder the fullness that dwells in the Body through the Head with no attached ordinance, there is no need of any mediation. A priest-class today is antithetical to the hope in view today. 

We not only lose these distinctions and the exaltation of Christ in God’s revelation of the Fullness of the Head when we fail to recognize these differences, we are for all intents and purposes “throwing out” parts of the Bible in that failure. As a "Hyper" or "Ultra" dispensationalist, I am accused of throwing out parts of my Bible. However, the truth is that those who claim to obey all of the Bible MUST disobey certain "Bible commands" as some commands contradict each other.

The sacrificial sheep not only picture Christ, they picture him in different settings and in different aspects. As I repeat often, like a broken record, if you claim all of the Law and all of the Prophets for yourself, all that is Israel’s, yet you are NOT taking bulls and goats and sheep to a priest in the Temple to sacrifice on your behalf, YOU ARE A DISPENSATIONALIST whether you like it or not!

We do not toss out God’s plans for the earth (his past temple and his future temple, his past kingdom and his future kingdom), We embrace ALL of it. If we fail to see Paul’s "good deposit" (2 Tim 1) and his revelation of the current age laid out in Ephesians, if we fail to hold fast to "sound words" as we're instructed by Paul, God will still not abandon us. He will not forsake us. But we will not experience the fullness of his blessings or revelation.

Obeying the commands for another people in another age for another purpose and another plan and another hope is disobedience. It may please the outward man. It may appear holy and good to other men. But failing to rightly divide that which is for this age by these acts of disobedience is not commendable.  

I hope I’m making my point here by circling back to Genesis. 2 Timothy is Paul’s final message and he is instructing us to rise above the things of the earth, whether secular or religious, whether they seem good or not, and even if they are taken from the Bible! HOLD FAST TO SOUND WORDS and GUARD THE GOOD DEPOSIT ENTRUSTED TO YOU! That is Paul's instruction. 

The great Apostle is in prison, facing death, having been abandoned by all in Asia (2 Tim 1:15). He isn't "claiming" Jeremiah 29:11 or any other promise to national Israel. As Paul rightly divided the ages in scripture, those who claim to follow his teaching today are abandoning the Apostle's "sound words" and "good deposit" and claiming whatever they want from anywhere in scripture.  

What they may call "throwing out parts of the Bible" on my part is actually a great reverence for God's plans for my fellow believers who have a different hope and different promises. Paul clearly teaches that the covenants belong to Israel. The promises to the (Jewish) Fathers belong to Israel, etc. They look for a land and Kingdom (as the Lord taught his disciples, Acts 1:6, cp Acts 3). I embrace every verse and I believe exactly what each teaches. No need to rob Israel of its promises by spiritualizing and then selectively "claiming" her promises (while conveniently ignoring the warnings and judgments).

Many think that experiencing God’s blessings in this age means seeing healings and financial success and other miracles. Surely God can still provide all these things. It is our privilege to pray for these blessings if he wills. But when we understand that the current plan is the heavenly plan, we can start to appreciate the blessing in the far above the heavens and the “unsearchable riches” in Christ! This hope is far beyond any signs of wonders in the earth. An Paul had no such hope as lie in prison, facing death, suggesting Timothy take a little wine for his stomach's sake (1 Timothy 5:23).

Reader's of this blog or listeners to the podcast are familiar with these distinctions. But here is our Apostle in 2 Timothy, in his final words to trusted Timothy, imploring him to HOLD FAST and GUARD THE GOOD DEPOSIT.

Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. That good thing [deposit] which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.

- 2 Timothy 1:13-14

When it comes to our service (and the reminder that rewards may be won or lost), we must start with the rock solid foundation of Christ alone and build on it by  "walk[ing] worthy of the calling to which we are called" (Ephesians 4:1)

If we want greater understanding of scripture, we must "study to show ourselves approved unto God, rightly dividing the Word of Truth" (2 Tim 2:15) and do so according the rules. 

And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. 6 The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops. Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things.

The rules: we commit to teaching the sound words of Right Division, we protect the good deposit of Paul’s ministry, we resign ourselves to enduring hardships for the sake of the good deposit, and we handle the word of God according to these rules. Our service is in view here. And the servant must strive according to the rules of his own calling. Sacrificing sheep brings blessing in one age and cursing in another.

Monday, January 1, 2024

Some Thoughts on the Complexity and Brevity of a Human Life

Recently, I was watching the latest episode of "Beyond Paradise" (British mystery show). It was the Christmas special (Spoiler Alert!). A man who had committed a series of petty break-ins 50 years ago broke into the same homes and left a 2023 version of what he took in 1973. A new 55" HD TV for the old 20" he took before. 540 pounds for the jar of change worth about 55 pounds back in the day, etc.

The now old thief started reading from Isaiah and how the prophet told King Hezekiah to put his house in order as the King was soon to die. The man in our story, moved by the passage, now beset with stage 4 cancer, decided to put his own house in order as best he could.

The detectives found ashes at every "crime" scene along with the items. When they finally pieced together the odd, seemingly unrelated 2023 break-ins with the rash of "opportunity" thefts in 1973, and met with the "thief" (who had been charged in 73, but let go for lack of evidence), they asked about the ashes. The man said his father made his children write down their sins and burn them as an act of remorse. (Also a good picture of sins forgiven and forgotten.)

He included this line as detectives pointed out the many years gone by when he did not make it right:

"Life keeps you busy, doesn't it though? Your priorities change and time just goes. One day you go to sleep a boy of 19 and you wake up a 70 year old man looking back on all the stupid things you did."

Ain't it the truth?

I had just completed, the night before, my podcast in which I spoke of the complexity of others. We understandably melt our deceased loved ones down to a few characteristics at the Celebration of Life, but there is no way in an hour or two to properly celebrate a life.

My father lived over 82 years. Yes, he liked Sinatra and the Brooklyn Dodgers. But he lived over 30 thousand days. He was far more than that. Every single day with its 24 hours or 1440 minutes or 86400 seconds. That's a lot of seconds to live over 30,000 days. We do the best we can to try and capture someone, but we must never forget the complexity of life and the moment by moment experiences that make up the full story.

As much as my interest in baseball, or the Beatles, or the bass, or Snoopy fit and define in some ways my outward man, the inward man would happily chuck all of it for his family and loved ones and certainly for his Lord. As Isaiah called on Hezekiah to get his house in order before he went down to the gates of Sheol (Isaiah 38:10) in death, I pause on the brink of 2024 to review my house and to remind myself of my priorities.

I said,
“In the prime of my life
I shall go to the gates of Sheol;
I am deprived of the remainder of my years.”
-Isaiah 38:10
I also remind myself that other people are more complex and have much bigger stories than I could ever know. They've lived countless minutes I will never know, but the Lord knows. He holds his own in His hands. Scripture teaches us that life is but a vapor, it is people and it is the eternal things that matter.

I try to remember this when I read scripture. I can read David's entire life in a few sittings, yet he lived day by day, minute by minute, and second by second. I only see a glimpse of his relationship to the Lord and to those around him. The Lord knew David's every experience and the Lord knows our every experience.

“Lord, make me to know my end,
And what is the measure of my days,
That I may know how frail I am.
Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths,
And my age is as nothing before You;
Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor. Selah
Surely every man walks about like a shadow;
Surely they busy themselves in vain;
He heaps up riches,
And does not know who will gather them.
And now, Lord, what do I wait for?
My hope is in You..."
-Psalm 39:4-7


In 2024 may be renew our commitment to the eternal in light of the brevity of life. May we also remember that we have limited knowledge when it comes to our fellow man. When it comes to our brothers and sisters in Christ, we must remember that they are God's ervants and God will be the judge of that service. For we are not the judge of another man's servant.

Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.

-Romans 14:4


From "Beyond Paradise" December 2023