Jesus is Coming Again

jesus_second_comingThe apostle, Peter wrote in his second letter, ‘First, I want to remind you that in the last days there will be scoffers who will laugh at the truth and do every evil thing they desire. This will be their argument: “Jesus promised to come back, did he? Then where is he? Why, as far back as anyone can remember, everything has remained exactly the same since the world was first created.”

“They deliberately forget that God made the heavens by the word of his command, and he brought the earth up from the water and surrounded it with water. Then he used the water to destroy the world with a mighty flood. And God has also commanded that the heavens and the earth will be consumed by fire on the Day of Judgment, when ungodly people will perish.

“But you must not forget, dear friends, that a day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise to return, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to perish, so he is giving more time for everyone to repent.” (2 Peter 3:3-9)

Make no mistake. Jesus is coming again.  The Lord does not make idle promises.  We do not know the hour but we can be certain that He is coming back.  The world has changed.  We are seeing evidence that it is soon coming to an end.  We serve a merciful God who desires that none should perish.  He is being patient for our sake.  He is giving people time to turn from their sins—to turn from their wicked ways and seek Him.

Don’t be discouraged. Be patient.  The Lord will come soon.  Prepare your hearts and lives for that glorious day when He will appear in the clouds with His angels.

Don’t doubt or despair because He hasn’t come as yet. Instead, remember this promise Jesus made: “Don’t be troubled. You trust God, now trust in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s home, and I am going to prepare a place for you. If this were not so, I would tell you plainly. When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.” (John 14:1-3)

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The First Lie

RH-EveTemptation“You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” – Genesis 3:4, 5

Eve, the first woman God created was not with her husband Adam when she was deceived by the serpent. At the time the serpent was the most cunning of the species. It was not surprising that Satan used it as his medium. How did the serpent deceive Eve?

We learn that in chapter 2 of Genesis, God gave Adam this commandment, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:16, 17). Adam and Eve were allowed to eat freely from all the trees except one. That was not unreasonable. God explained why they could not eat from that particular tree. He said, “…in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” He didn’t say, “you may die” or “it may kill you.” He used the word surely. It is a certainty. If Adam or Eve ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they will die. The word used is muwth which means to die, kill, have one executed. For them death will be their penalty for eating from this tree after God expressly commanded them not to. There is no question as to what would happen to them if they disobeyed His command. Death would be the result.

“Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” it asked her. This is what the enemy does. He questions or puts doubts in our minds about God’s word. The serpent was really asking Eve, “Did God really say that you can’t eat from every tree of the garden? Are you sure He said that? Notice the way he twisted God’s word. He said that God said, “You shall not eat of every tree of the garden.” God said, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat.” And the enemy left out the rest of what God said about the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Satan likes to quote God’s word but always out of context or omitting the parts of scriptures that wouldn’t serve his purpose.

Eve’s response is interesting. Here is what she said. “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’” Now, God did not say anything about touching the tree. Eve added to what God said. We must never to do that. Eve said too much. Proverbs 10:19 says, “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his lips [is] wise.” As one Bible commentator puts it, “Much speech involves risk of sin; hence the wisdom of restraining the tongue”. Eve would have been better off not saying anything. She misquoted God and she referred to the tree as the “tree in the midst”.

One Bible commentary states that, “Some Jewish writers . . . state that as soon as the woman had asserted this, the serpent pushed her against the tree and said, ‘See, you have touched it, and are still alive; you may therefore safely eat of the fruit, for surely you shall not die.’” This is why it was dangerous for her to add to God’s words. Another thing to note is that she quoted God as saying, “lest you die” when in fact, He had said, “you shall surely die”.

The serpent then proceeded to say to her, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” He attacks God’s word. He opposes what God said. He contradicted Him. It is the same thing he did when Jesus told the disciples that He would suffer at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Peter rebuked him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” And Jesus turned and said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men” (Matthew 16:21-23). Again we see Satan speaking through Peter and contradicting the Lord’s words. Jesus saw right through that and rebuked him.

The enemy gave Eve the impression that God was being selfish in keeping her and Adam from the tree by telling them that they would die because He didn’t want them to be like Him, knowing good and evil. This was a terrible lie. God’s reason for commanding Adam and Eve from eating from the tree was to protect them. He had provided for them. He had made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food (Genesis 2:9). They could have eaten freely from all the trees in the garden except one. God gives us so much but the enemy tempts us into wanting more. Here Eve was tempted into taking fruit from the tree with the attractive offer that she would be just like God.

The serpent was right. Her eyes would be opened and with the knowledge of good and evil will come devastating results. Eve, believing the serpent, looked at the tree, saw that the fruit looked good, she wanted it and she took it. Then she gave some to Adam. As soon as she gave the fruit to him, both of their eyes were opened. They were aware of their nakedness and when they heard God coming into the garden, they hid. They experienced emotions that were once alien to them–shame, guilt, fear. Their relationship with God and each other was never the same. So, the serpent was right about their eyes being opened but they realized too late the horrible consequences of disobeying God.

The first lie, “you shall not surely die,” is what give way to the erroneous teaching of the immortality of man. Many Christians believe that people either go to heaven or hell when they die. But what does the Bible say? Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”—therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life (Genesis 3:22-24). Adam and Eve did not become immortal because of their disobedience. They would return to the dust from where they came (verse 19).

Paul teaches us that it is when Jesus comes the second time that the righteous dead and living will become immortal. ‘Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory”‘ (1 Corinthians 15:51-54). The bodies we have now are not the bodies we will have when we are taken to heaven. We will be changed like Jesus was before He ascended to heaven. Until then the dead will be resting in their graves and the living will be watching and waiting as they continue to serve the Lord.

The Bible says that David, the man after God’s own heart is not in heaven (Acts 13:22). “Men [and] brethren, let [me] speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day” (Acts 2:29). Only God is immortal (1 Timothy 1:17).

The idea that people will burn in hell for eternity is the doctrine of demons. This is an attack on a loving and just God. How could we believe that God would have the devil in charge of a place where he is burning people? Does this sound like the same God described in Ezekiel 18:23? “Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?” says the Lord GOD, “[and] not that he should turn from his ways and live? And in order for these people to burn for eternity, it would mean that the devil would have to be immortal too, right? Well, what does the Bible say? “And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:9, 10).

Jesus also mentioned that there an everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41). Please note that forever and ever does not mean that they will be burning for eternity. Jude said, “as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” Are those cities still burning? “…and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly” (2 Peter 2:6). The fire which destroyed the two cities may have burned for a while but it went out. It’s the same with the fire that will destroy the devil, his angels and the wicked. It will burn for a while and then it will go out. All that will remain are ashes. Eternal fire means that its results are eternal. What is destroyed in the fire is gone forever.

Satan lied when he said that man would not die even though man disobeyed God–broke His law and brought sin into the world. He knowingly deceived Eve into thinking that nothing would happen to her if she ate from the tree and this is why Jesus called him a murderer (John 8). Thankfully, the devil did not get away with it. 1 John 3:8 states, “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” Jesus swallowed up death, our enemy. And one day, sin, death, the grave, the devil, his angels, the wicked, pain, suffering, sorrow will be no more.

A Personal God

When I read chapters 38 and 39 of the book of Job, I felt as if I was reading poetry.  The Lord’s words as He spoke of His creation and sovereignty are beautiful and rich.  We learn a lot too.  We learn that the ostrich is not loving toward her young.  She treats the, as if they are not hers.  We learn that God deprived her of wisdom and understanding.

He sends lightnings where He wants them to go.  They obey His command.  He hunts the prey for the lion and fills the appetite of their young.  He provides the food for the raven when its young cry out to Him because of lack of meat.  He knows when the wild goats give birth and the hinds calve.  He provides homes for the wild ass, and the eagle who at His command builds her nest up high.  Her home is on the rock where she can see her prey.  It is by God’s wisdom that the hawk flies south.  Every creation, all of nature responds to their Creator. God is reminding Job who is in charge and He is drawing his focus away from his situation and unto Himself.

God wants us to know that just as He knows every detail of the lives of the animals and nature that He knows every detail of our lives.  Just as He hears and responds to the cries of the raven’s young and just as He provides for the lions, just so He does for us.

Instead of questioning and wondering where God is during times of trouble and hardship, remember how He has taken care of us in the past and trust that He will in the present and in the future.  It is during these hard times that we ought to remember that God is in absolute control and that should give us some comfort and reassurance.

It is interesting that God speaks to Job in a whirlwind while with Elijah, it says, “And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind, an earthquake; and after the earthquake, a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire, a still small voice” – 1 Kings 19:11, 12.

God speaks to us in different ways—in whatever way that will grab our attention and by whatever means.  The way He responds to us depends on the situation we are in.  Sometimes as in Job’s case we are so caught up in our woes and troubles that we fail to hear the still small voice and when we have other voices clamouring for our attention that makes it even harder.  So, God has to do what He has to do to get our attention.  And other times we are able to hear the still small voice once we have stilled our own thoughts and blocked out the external noises and distractions.

Be thankful when God seeks your attention.

The Key To God’s Heart

And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” – Philippians 2:8.

 

Abraham was told to leave his country and go to a strange land believing God’s promise that, “I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing.” (Genesis 12:2)  Abraham obeyed and journeyed to Canaan.  Difficult times were ahead for them.  They faced famine; strife between Abraham’s herdsmen and Lot’s livestock; and war which resulted in Lot’s capture.  Abraham and Sarah were childless.  At their age it must have seemed unlikely that they would be parents as God had promised.  But, God kept His promise and Isaac was born.  Isaac became the ultimate test of Abraham’s faith making the earlier challenges pale in comparison.

Abraham was asked to “take now your son, your only son to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” (Genesis 22:2)  One cannot imagine what it must have taken for Abraham to be able to obey such a command.  For years he and Sarah had been childless and now the son God had promised them was going to be taken away and offered up as a sacrifice.  What about God’s promise of an everlasting covenant with Isaac and his descendants?  What must have been going through Abraham’s mind as he bound his son and laid him on the altar?  What must Isaac have been thinking?  As Abraham raised the knife to kill his son, was it his love for God that gave him the strength to go through with such an act?  God explains why He stopped him, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son from Me.” (Genesis 22:12) 

Without question, Abraham obeyed God.  He did not demand to know why God was asking him to sacrifice the child he and his wife had waited so long to have.  He didn’t ask God why he was taking away the child he had promised him, “in Isaac your seed shall be called.”  He did not wonder why God who was faithful and never broke a promise was now asking him to do the unthinkable.  Abraham had no way of knowing that God would stop him.  He had no way of knowing that God would replace Isaac with a ram for the sacrifice.  Abraham’s faith in God was so strong, so powerful that he was able to obey the most difficult command a man would ever receive from his God.  As a result, God, in His loving kindness, spared Isaac and blessed Abraham. 

Obedience is not too difficult to achieve.  Abraham is proof of this and so is Jesus.  Jesus faced many difficulties during his ministry.  He was criticised, rejected, mocked, flogged, deserted, denied and crucified because He was speaking on God’s behalf as He was commanded.  When Jesus was on the Mount of Olives, He prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” An angel from Heaven appeared to Him and strengthened Him.  And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly.  Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground. (Luke 22:41-44)  Jesus had a crisis of faith but, He was strengthened and He remained obedient. 

We too have crises of faith sometimes when faced with difficult times or temptations, but, if we pray to God, as Jesus did in His hour of need, God will strengthen us so that we don’t fall into temptation and remain obedient to Him.  Obeying Him will not always be easy but if we remember that it is the only way we will be able to experience God’s best and become closer to Him, we will be greatly motivated.

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