Jesus' Footprints

Posts Tagged ‘angel

Luke 2:8-20

Angel&Shepherds

When was the last time you received good news? What did you do?  Did you keep it to yourself or did you share it with others?

Imagine you were one of those shepherds watching over your sheep.  It was a night like any other or so you thought…

Suddenly an angel appears out of nowhere and a bright light shines around you. You’re scared.  You wonder what is going on.  The angel assures you and the other shepherds that there is nothing to be afraid of.  He has come to share good news.  Then he makes the big announcement, “For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be a sign to you: You will find the Baby wrapped in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

The Savior whom you and others have been waiting for is born.  He’s in Bethlehem in a manger.  While you are still trying to digest this incredible news, other angels join the first one and the air is filled with their glory as they raise their voices in a song of praise to God. What a glorious sight. You can hardly believe what you are seeing.  After the angelic host leaves, you and the other shepherds are filled with excitement.  You can’t wait to go and see the Child for yourselves. You are anxious to go and see what the Lord has made known to you. You hurry off to the manger where you see Mary, Joseph and the Child.

The shepherds “made widely known the word which was told them concerning this Child” and those who heard it couldn’t help but marvel but Mary kept these things in her heart and pondered over them.  I can’t imagine what must have been going through her mind.  First, an angel visited her and told her that she was going to have a Son who would be called Jesus and that He will be great and will be called the Son of the Highest. Then, on the night after she gives birth, shepherds show up at the manger to see Him because they too were visited by an angel.  This is a lot to grasp.

The shepherds left the manger and returned to their sheep, praising and glorifying God for all the things they had heard and seen.  It was a night they would never forget.

What can we learn from this wonderful story?

  • After hearing about Jesus, seek Him out for yourself
  • After you have seen Jesus and have been in His presence, go and tell others
  • Glorify and praise God for sending His Son into the world so that through Him we can be saved

This Christmas, take time to reflect on God’s greatest Gift to mankind.  Celebrate Jesus and thank Him for leaving the glory of heaven to come to earth to dwell among us.  Thank Him for the gift of eternal life which we can receive only through Him.  Share the message of love and hope of the season with others.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, and good will toward men – Luke 2:14

 

 

Advertisements
fc044ea390507df39b9bd57a16eabb2f

When I read this I couldn’t help but notice the irony. Herod took it upon himself to attack the church. He killed James and when he saw that this pleased the Jews, he had Peter arrested and thrown into prison. Herod clearly didn’t know that the powers of darkness would not prevail against the powers of light. When Peter was in jail, chained and secured between two guards, God sent an angel to set him free. At first Peter thought it was a vision but once he was outside he realized that this was really happening, he said, “Now I certainly know that the Lord has sent His angel and delivered me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.”

While he had been in prison, the other believers came together and prayed for him. God answered their prayers. After Peter went to the brethren and told them how the Lord had led him out of the prison, he went to Caesarea where he stayed. As for Herod, he was struck down by the Lord because he did not give Him the glory. The wicked ruler was dead but God’s Word spread and increased. The Word of the Lord could not be chained. “Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel, for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained” (2 Timothy 2:8, 9).

Today, many are trying to suppress the Word of God in countries where Christians are persecuted but God declared, So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11). Until Jesus comes, we are to preach the Gospel even unto death. The saving of souls makes it all worthwhile.

PP-HezekiahPraying_JS_0015The Rabshakeh whom the king of Assyria sent to the king of Judah and the Israelites and tried to persuade the people into doubting their king and their God.  He tried to convince them that since the gods of the other nations that Assyria conquered couldn’t defeat them why would the God of Israel be any different?  He tried to persuade them to trust in him instead and in return all will be well with them.

There are times when people will cast doubt on God’s power or His ability to help us through tough situations.  They may even criticize those who give us godly counsel.  They might try to convince us that they have the solution or that they are the solution.

How do we deal with these negative, discouraging people?  Should we hold our peace and not say anything like the Israelites?

King Hezekiah dealt with this problem in two ways.  First, he consulted Isaiah, the prophet.  God spoke through Isaiah, telling Hezekiah not to be afraid of the words he heard from the Assyrian king’s messenger.  God assured Hezekiah that He would send a spirit on the king of Assyria who will hear a rumor and return to his own land where he will fall by the sword.

King Hezekiah prayed to God, asking for His help.  In his prayer he acknowledged the following things about God:

  • the One who dwells between the cherubim
  • You are God, You alone, of all kingdoms of the earth
  • You have made heaven and earth
  • You are the Lord God, You alone

He recognized the other gods were not gods but the work of men’s hands.  He wanted God to save the Jewish people from the king of Assyria so that all the kingdoms of the earth will know that God is the Lord God.

God responded to Hezekiah through the prophet Isaiah.  He said, “Because you have prayed to Me against Sennacherib, king of Assyria, I have heard.”  God outlined how the king would be defeated.  He promised that He would defend Jerusalem, save it for His (God’s) sake and David’s sake.

Just as God promised, an angel went out and killed 185,000 Assyrians in their camp.  King of Assyria left and returned to his home in Nineveh.  As he was worshipping in the temple of his god, his two sons killed him.

King Hezekiah trusted in God to save them from the Assyrian king and his vast army.  God came through for the Israelites because of Hezekiah’s faith in Him.  God delivered His people from their enemies.

God’s prophecy regarding the king of Assyria came true.  He caused him to return to his own land where he fell by the sword (verse 7).  The king’s god couldn’t save him because as Hezekiah pointed out, the other gods were not gods–they were made of wood and stone–the products of men’s hands and imaginations.  The God of Israel, on the other hand, is living, breathing and existed long before man was created. This reminds me of what Paul said to the Greeks in Athens (Acts 17:22-31).

galatiansfreedomIt’s very interesting how Paul opens his letter to the Galatians. “Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead)” He identifies himself as an apostle of Christ and the Father. He is preaching the Gospel of Christ who died and was raised from the dead. This is the authentic Gospel–the one he was give to preach not by men but by the Lord Himself and to the Gentiles.

The Gospel Paul was preaching was one of grace.  And he was quick to point out that unlike the perverted gospel that had permeated the church, the one he was preaching, was “preached by me is not according to man.  For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

There were people in the church who were teaching the congregation that grace was not enough.  It had to be accompanied by works.  It had to be Faith and works not faith alone.  They had the Gentile Christians believing that they were justified by the works of the law.  Paul elaborates more on this in the second chapter where he talks about Peter’s hypocrisy.  The Jewish Christians were trying to force the Gentile Christians to be circumcised.  We read about this earlier in the book of Acts.  Acts 15:1 states:  And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.”  Even though Paul and Barnabas testified of how they had converted the Gentiles and how God had done through them, a sect of the Pharisees who believed insisted, “It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.”

This led to the Jerusalem Council discussing the matter and it was decided that that “we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God,  but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood” (verses 19, 20).  And now here was Paul dealing with the same issue again.

He had to rebuke Peter, the same Peter who stood up and defended God’s grace when he declared, “Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?  But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they” (verses 10, 11)  Paul rebuked Peter because he saw that before certain men came from James who was one of the pillars of the church, Peter had no problem eating with the Gentiles but the moment these men visited, he distanced himself from the Gentiles.  Paul had every right to be angry with Peter.  Peter should have known better.  He should have defended God’s grace this time just as he had those other times.

Paul referred to those who were perverting the Gospel of Christ as “false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage” (Galatians 2:4).  These people were compelling Titus who was a Gentile to be circumcised and this is why Paul had to set this troubling matter straight.

He stated the following message twice so that they would get it loud and clear, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.  As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8, 9).  In other words, there is only one Gospel.  And that Gospel is the Gospel of Christ which teaches that we are saved by God’s grace not by works lest we should boast.  We cannot earn salvation.  It is God’s gift to us.  All we have to do is accept it in faith.  It costs us nothing but God His beloved Son.

It must have been very upsetting for Paul to see how these people were perverting the Gospel and making it seem that what Jesus did on the cross was not enough.  This is why he had to make it crystal clear that “a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified” (Galatians 2:16).

If anyone you know is teaching that salvation is by works and not by faith alone, use the Word of God to rebuke and correct them.  Encourage them not to set aside the grace of God and enslave themselves to the works of the law which cannot justify anyone–neither Jew nor Gentile.  If it did, then as Paul said, Christ died in vain.

There is only one Gospel.  And it’s the good news of a loving God who gave His only Son that we who believe in Him will not perish but will have everlasting life.  Only Jesus can save us.  The law points us to Him but it in of itself cannot save us.  Salvation comes by grace through faith not by the works of the law.  No matter of lawkeeping could save anyone.  In Christ we have freedom through the amazing grace of God.

Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
Freely bestowed on all who believe!

You that are longing to see His face,
Will you this moment His grace
receive?

Pilate said to them, “You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard – Matthew 27:65, 66

Jesus Empty TombWorried that the disciples would steal Jesus’ body and then claim that He had risen from the dead, the chief priests and Pharisees went to see Pilate to request that a guard be posted at the tomb.  Pilate granted them their request and they went away and secured the tomb.

Early Sunday morning when the women went to the tomb, an angel appeared and rolled back the stone from the opening.  The guards who were present were so terrified of him that they became like dead men.  The angel told the women that Jesus was not there.  He said, “…He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.” Overjoyed, the women raced away to tell the disciples to good news.

Meanwhile the guards went into the city to break the news to the chief priests.  The chief priests met with the elders to figure out what their next move was going to be.  They decided that the best thing to do in this situation was to bribe the soldiers and encouraged them to lie about what happened.  “Tell them, ‘His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we slept.’ And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will appease him and make you secure.”  The soldiers took the money and did as they were told.  Many of the Jews believed this lie but many believed that Jesus rose from the dead just as He said He would.

In spite of the schemes of some, on that third day, Jesus conquered death.  He is the resurrection and the life.  He is our risen Lord and Savior.  The empty tomb proves this.

03-032To defeat the enemy, one has to know him first.  The Bible teaches us everything we need to know about the devil.  He exists. He is not a figment of our imagination.

  • He was once  an angel named Lucifer.  He was an anointed covering cherub, perfect in beauty.  He had been in the Garden of Eden.  He was covered in precious jewels.  He was perfect in all his ways from the day he was created until iniquity was found in him (Ezekiel 28:12-15)
  • He became proud and ambitious, desiring to be like God.  He envisioned exalting his throne above the stars of God, ascending above the heights of the clouds.  He was no longer satisfied with the privileges he already had.  He wanted more.  Pride, envy and   covetousness consumed him and ultimately led him into rebellion.  Using his wisdom, he managed to get one third of the angels on his side.
  • As a result he was cast down from Heaven, an event Jesus Himself witnessed.  “I      beheld Satan as lightning fall from Heaven.” – Luke 10:18.
  • He was cast down to the earth.  “Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.” – Revelation 12:12.
  • Lucifer after sinning against God was no longer a light bearer.  He became Satan, which means Adversary.
  • He is known by many names.  Revelation 12:9 refers to him as the old serpent called the devil and Satan.  When he was in the Garden of Eden, he used as his medium a serpent, the subtlest of the animals.
  • Using subtlety instead of an outright attack on God, Satan managed to deceive Eve into sinning.  He lied to her by  downplaying the consequences of sin.   “Ye shall not surely die.” – Genesis 3:4.  Eve believed him, ate the fruit and gave some to her husband.  Thus, sin was introduced on earth.
  • Everything God is, Satan is not.  God is truth, Satan is not.  The Bible says he is a liar.  Those who follow him are also liars.  “Ye are of [your] father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.  He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it” John 8:44.
  • God is not of this world, Satan is.  The moment he brought sin into it, it became his.       He is known as the prince of this world.
  • He misuses scriptures, insinuates himself anywhere such as among the disciples, among friends, families and in the church.
  • He is a deceiver.  He and his angels can become whatever they want to be in the war against God and His people.  “And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.  Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.” – 2 Corinthians 11:14, 15.  If there are false Christs, false prophets and false apostles then, it is very likely that the Mary seen by many is false as well. Satan uses those close to us to get what he wants.   He knows how to secure men’s worship. 

We are warned about this.  “Let no man deceive you by any means:  for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” – 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4.  Using the mother of Jesus is one way to secure worship.  He has succeeded in replacing the Bible’s teaching that there is one Intercessor by establishing Mary as the intercessor to the intercessor.

  • Doubt is one of his weapons.  He used it when he deceived Eve.  He was in essence      asking her in Genesis 3:1, “Did God really say that you can’t eat from every tree in the garden?”  In other words, “Are you sure He really said that?”  He makes us doubt God’s word, His love and His promises.  He makes us think that we are so sinful that God cannot possibly forgive us.
  • He is always scheming, looking for a way to get to us.   As soon as he knows our weaknesses, he will use them against us.  He used Cain’s jealousy of Abel; Sarah’s desire for a child; Saul’s jealousy of David; Judas’ weakness for money. 
  • He afflicts people.  “And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath     day?” – Luke 13:16.  It is interesting that Jesus used the Sabbath Day as an illustration of undoing Satan’s work.  He is using the  Lord’s Day to restore God’s creation, which Satan crippled with sin.

Now that we know what the devil is capable of we can better deal with him and the Bible tells us how to do this.  “Submit yourselves therefore to God.  Resist the devil and he will flee from you.  Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you.  Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” – James 4:7. We are exhorted to be humble for God gives grace to the humble and resists the proud.  It was pride that caused the fall of Lucifer and man.  Humility brings us closer to God.  Pride draws us away.  God’s Word is your best defense against the devil.  Jesus used it in the wilderness when the devil tried to tempt Him.  Take Paul’s advise and “put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).

Rev%2012%20Pictures_clip_image001_0000Revelation 12:4 says the dragon stood before the woman.  In the book, John uses symbolism but there are times when an angel explains what these symbols mean.  For example in Revelation 17, John sees a woman on a beast.  He marvels at her because she was dressed in purple and red, wore gold and precious stones and pearls, had the words MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH written on her forehead and she had the blood of Jesus’ followers on her.  Who was this woman?

The angel tells John.  “And the woman whom you saw is that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth” (verse 18).  If Mary was the woman with the sun, the moon and the stars, who is this woman on the beast?  These two women are not literal women.  They represent something.  They represent churches.  The woman in Revelation 12 is the true church while the woman in Revelation 17 is the apostate church.  The apostate church is the mother of other apostate churches.  They may have broken off from her but they still follow some of her teachings.  The dragon does not make war with her because she is doing his bidding.  Instead he makes war with the true church.

The dragon used King Herod to devour (destroy) the child at His birth.  It was for this reason that God had Joseph to take his family to Egypt where the Child would be safe.  Herod had boys ages 0-2 slaughtered.  Revelation 12:5,6 state:  And her Child was caught up to God and His throne.  Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days. Jesus was taken up to heaven when His work here was done and He is sitting on the throne next to the Father.  Verse 6 says that the woman fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God and where she would be fed for 1260 days.  How does this relate to Mary?  As far as I know Jesus placed her into John’s care and he took her to Ephesus.  I visited what is believed to be her house in Ephesus.  I saw John’s tomb.

Verses 13-17:  Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child.  But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.  So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood.  But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth.  And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

When did Mary face persecution?  What is the wilderness that she was taken to after Jesus ascended to heaven?  Who helped her?  The Christian church fled into the wilderness–it went into seclusion during the Dark Ages to escape persecution at the hands of the apostate Church (the woman on the beast).  The true Church hid in caves.  God nourished her (Revelation 12:6).  This is like when the prophet Elijah fled from Jezebel who threatened his life and God took care of him.

Someone mentioned that since Jesus is a king that makes his mother a queen.  I know that Mary is referred to as the Queen of Heaven.  There is mention of a Queen of Heaven in the Bible.  We read about her in Jeremiah 7:18, 19:  The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead [their] dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger.  Do they provoke me to anger? saith the LORD: [do they] not [provoke] themselves to the confusion of their own faces?  And in Jeremiah 44:17-19, 25:  But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for [then] had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil.  But since we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, we have wanted all [things], and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine.  And when we burned incense to the queen of heaven, and poured out drink offerings unto her, did we make her cakes to worship her, and pour out drink offerings unto her, without our men?  Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saying; Ye and your wives have both spoken with your mouths, and fulfilled with your hand, saying, We will surely perform our vows that we have vowed, to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her: ye will surely accomplish your vows, and surely perform your vows.

The queen of heaven was an idol which the people were worshipping, incurring God’s wrath.  There is no queen in heaven now.  Mary is not a queen.  She is as the Bible refers to her, “the mother of Jesus”.  Granted she is blessed above all women but that is because she was the one God chose to be Jesus’ mother.  This does not make her a queen or a co-mediatrix or co-redeemer.  We have one mediator and one redeemer and that is Christ because He shed His blood for us.  Mary did not shed her blood for us.  Mary simply obeyed God.  She saw herself as a humble servant of God.  She even called God her Savior.  She said, My soul magnifies the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.   For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;  For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.   For He who is mighty has done great things for me, And holy is His name (Luke 1:46-49).

“A woman,” signifies a true church. (2 Corinthians 11: 2.) A corrupt woman is used to represent an apostate or corrupt church.  “The sun” here signifies the light and glory of the gospel era.  “The moon” is the symbol of the Mosaic period. As the moon shines with a borrowed light derived from the sun, so the former era shone with a light borrowed from the present. There they had the type and shadow; here we have the antitype and the substance. “A crown of twelve stars”.

The woman, the church, had the moon under her feet; that is, the Mosaic period had just ended, and the woman was clothed with the light of the gospel sun, which had just risen. By anticipation the church is represented as fully organized, with its twelve apostles, before the man child, Christ, appeared upon the scene (Source:  Daniel and the Revelation).

The woman’s offspring is the last generation of true Christians–God’s remnant church which the devil makes war against.  The remnant is made up of Christians who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus.  What is the testimony of Jesus–it is the spirit of prophecy (Revelation 19:10).  This is what the spirit of prophecy means:  «In the last days,» said God, «I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.  In the last days, God’s true church (the woman’s offspring) will have the gift of prophecy as it experiences a final reawakening before Jesus’ return.

We should all take John’s advice regarding the Book of Revelation:  “For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book;  and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” (Revelation 22:18, 19).


%d bloggers like this: