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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, June 13, 2024

We Are Living in the Great Parenthesis of Ephesians 3 Until Israel is Used of God Again

In the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel came out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month Ziv (which is the second month), he began to build the house of the Lord.

-1 Kings 6:1

In First Kings, scripture reckons the start of the fourth year of Solomon's reign, when he began building the temple. So, the 480 years covers the time from the Exodus through the third year of Solomon's reign (the fourth year having just begun, but not completed). 

Some have tried to argue that this is in contradiction to what Paul states in Acts chapter 13. Now, Israel is God's timepiece from the time of Abraham to the start of the current age (Post Acts) and will soon be again. God is not done with Israel and he will fulfill all his promises to the nation in an age to come. 

So, let's look at Paul's timetable in Acts 13.

Then Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said: “Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen. The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they lived as foreigners in the land of Egypt, and with great power He led them out of it. For about forty years He endured their conduct in the desert. When He had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, He gave them their land as an inheritance by lot. “After about four hundred and fifty years, God gave them judges until Samuel the prophet. Then they requested a king. And God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. When He had removed him, He raised up David to be their king, of whom He testified, saying, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will fulfill My entire will.’

-Acts 13:17-22

Here we have 40 years in the desert. Then we have another 450 years of the time of the judges until Samuel. Then 40 years of Saul, 40 years of David, add the three years into Solomon's reign to start building the temple. This gives us 573 years from the exodus from Egypt to Solomon and the temple as noted in 1 Kings 6.

How do we explain the seeming 93 year discrepancy? 

We first have to turn to the prophet Hosea.

Then the Lord said: “Call his name Lo-Ammi, for you are not My people, and I am not your God.”

-Hosea 1:9

During Israel's history, there are periods during which God pictures them as "not My people." Of course, Paul reckons all the time from the Exodus to Solomon as Israel's history. We see that while God may put up a parenthesis in His dealings with Israel, when it comes to the earthly plan and hope, Israel (the seed of Abraham) is still at the center of God's plan.

So where are the missing 93 years? They're in the Book of Judges during times Israel was "Lo-Ammi" or "not My people."

The children of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. They forgot the Lord their God and served the Baals and the Asherahs. The anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and He sold them into the hands of Cushan-Rishathaim, king of Mesopotamia. The children of Israel served Cushan-Rishathaim for eight years.

-Judges 3:7-8


Then the children of Israel once more did what was evil in the sight of the Lord... The children of Israel served King Eglon of Moab for eighteen years.

-Judges 3:12,14


When Ehud was dead, the children of Israel once more did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. The Lord sold them into the hands of King Jabin of Canaan, who ruled in Hazor. The commander of his army was Sisera. He lived in Harosheth Haggoyim. The children of Israel cried out to the Lord, for Sisera had nine hundred iron chariots and had forcefully oppressed the children of Israel for twenty years.

-Judges 4:1-4


The children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, so the Lord gave them into the hands of Midian for seven years.

-Judges 6:1


Again the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, so the Lord gave them into the hands of the Philistines for forty years.

-Judges 13:1


8 + 18 + 20 + 7 + 40 = 93 years

Note Paul's words in Acts 13,“Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen. The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they lived as foreigners in the land of Egypt..." Paul clearly still recognizes and Israel and identifies with them. He also recognizes the Gentiles among them ("and you who fear God"). These are still distinct groups. Israel was still Israel and Gentile believers in the God of Israel were still separate (unless they became proselytes). 

Paul going to the synagogue, to the Jew first, is his pattern all through the Acts and in the Acts Age epistles. Paul always went to the synagogue first in every city with Jews ("as his manner was"). Romans 9 clearly states that the promises, covenants, etc. are still for Israel, independent of any idea of new creation Gentile "church."

The Gentiles in the Acts Age were "grafted in" to specifically "make Israel jealous." And just as Gentiles could be grafted in to Israel, the could be "cut off" from Israel (Romans 11). To the end of the Book of Acts, Paul was in chains "for the hope of Israel" (acts 28:20). And he said this to "Jews" who he calls "Brothers" and identifies with them and "our fathers" (28:17).

There are some antisemites today who take the verse condemning "those who say they are Jews and are not" from the Revelation and try to place that charge on Jewish people today. They do this because of the error of believing the current "church" or Body began at Pentecost or at Acts 13. All the way until the end of the Acts (seen also in the epistles written during the Acts), Jews remain Jews, Israel remains Israel.

After the Book of Acts, Israel is temporarily set aside as we look to the heavenly hope revealed by Paul in Ephesians chapter 3. We are currently living in that parenthesis. But Israel will soon be back at the center of God's plan for the Earth.


Thursday, June 6, 2024

Paul Addressing Jewish Believers in Galatians 3

 In our previous we looked at Galatians chapter 4 through the lens of "rightly dividing the Word of Truth" (2 Tim 2:15). I alluded to chapter 3 for more context, so today we will take a quick look at that chapter. But to do so, we need to go back to Galatians chapter 2 for even more context.

We are Jews by nature, and not Gentile sinners, yet we know that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but through faith in Jesus Christ. Even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be justified by faith in Christ, rather than by the works of the law. For by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.

-Galatians 2:15-16


A we have noted in previous studies, it is important to recognize pronouns. But here the pronoun "we," while emphasizing the point, is not even needed to see the audience Paul is addressing. 

Some Jewish believers were still confused as to the role of the Law and the relationship of Gentile believers to the Law. Remember, in Acts 15 and in Acts 21 the Apostles (with the approval of the Holy Spirit) teach Gentile believers that they were to keep the "necessary things" taken from Leviticus (Acts 15:28-29; Acts 21:25). 

As for the Gentiles who believe, we have written and concluded that they should observe no such thing, except that they abstain from food offered to idols, from sexual immorality, from strangled animals, and from blood.”

-Acts 21:25

Now, do we have this problem today? We certainly do not. Does your church claim to an "Acts church?" Do you believe the "church" of this age started at Pentecost? If so, Acts 21 is well into the Book and well into Paul's ministry. In Acts 26 Paul will testify that he taught "no other thing than that which was taught by Moses and the Prophets" (Acts 26:22). In Acts 28 he will say he is in chains for "the hope of Israel." In Ephesians Paul will state that he is a prisoner "for you Gentiles." 

The Acts Age was very different from the current age. Galatians was written in the Acts Age when there was still a distinction between Jewish and Gentile believers. 

So, when we read Galatians 2, we note Paul is specifically correcting "Jews." No Gentile believed he was "justified by the woks of the Law." And if one did, this would certainly correct him. But the greater point (as we saw in our previous study on Galatians 4) is the distinction between Jewish believers and Gentile believers in light of the earthly hope of that age (which was continuation of the earthly hope of the Gospel age and the Lord's earthly ministry).

It is tempting to go through the entire chapter, verse by verse, to emphasize these points and to pull out both truth and context, but for our purpose here I will simply note that Paul refers his Jewish audience back to Abraham (who was redeemed and declared righteous 430 years before the Law). Abraham is mentioned in 67 verses in the gospels, Acts, and Acts Age epistles. He is never mentioned in the seven Post Acts epistles of Paul.

The hope of Abraham was two-fold. He was promised a land (length and width, Gen 13:17) and looked for a city whose builder and maker is God, Heb 11:10, (length, breadth, and height, Rev 21:16). Our hope is heavenly (breadth and length and depth and height, Eph 3:18). The hope of Ephesians being revealed to Paul alone after the "wall of partition" between Jew and Gentile was removed (Eph 2:13-15).

We looked at the Acts Age, Jewish believers and Gentile believers, in light of circumcision in Galatians 4 (and Acts 21) last study. We noted the distinctions in Paul's audience. As we have already seen here in part, that distinction goes back to Galatians 2 and 3. 

As Paul makes his argument that the Law cannot redeem and that those under the Law are also under the curse of the Law, he makes this curious argument:

Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.

-Galatians 3:21-22

While the Law cannot annul the promise of justification given to Abraham centuries before, and while the Law only can condemn, Paul states that it is not against the promises of God. The Law is not against the promises of the Land, the Kingdom, or the New Jerusalem.  

Paul's context here is the justification by faith alone exemplified by the promise to Abraham. Jewish believers, while still practicing the non-sacramental Law (and Gentiles still practicing the "necessary things" from Leviticus for strangers living among Israel), needed to make the distinction between keeping the Law for the sake of priesthood of the Covenants and keeping the Law thinking it justifies a person. Note again the pronouns.

But before faith came, we were kept under the law [Gentiles never had the Law], shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For you [plural] are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you [singular] as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you [plural] are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you [plural] be Christ’s, then are you [plural] Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. 
-Galatians 3:23-39


Paul is clarifying for his fellow Jewish believers that in justification there is neither Jew nor Gentile. There isn't even male nor female! Want to claim that as a "church truth?" 

Israel will serve as a royal priesthood and a holy nation in the future when God establishes a believing Israel in the land. That is part of the earthly hope.

Thus says the Lord of Hosts: I will deliver My people from the eastern lands and from the western lands. And I will bring them, and they will reside in Jerusalem, and they will be for Me as a people, and I will be for them as God, with faithfulness and righteousness.

-Zechariah 8:7-8

Thus says the Lord of Hosts: In those days ten men from every language of the nations [Gentiles] will take hold of the garment of a Jew, saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”

--Zechariah 8:23

And we know this is yet future as Israel has never acknowledged the piercing of the Lord.

And I will pour out on the house of David and over those dwelling in Jerusalem a spirit of favor and supplication so that they look to Me, whom they have pierced through. And they will mourn over him as one mourns for an only child and weep bitterly over him as a firstborn. 
-Zechariah 12:10