Jesus' Footprints

Posts Tagged ‘Israelites

Acts 13:13-52

900165955_466ceaa8d7_mAt bedtime, I read to my son the scriptures where Paul and Barnabas visited the synagogue in Antioch and after the reading from the Law and the Prophets,  the rulers of the synagogue asked them if they had any words of encouragement for the people.  What struck me is when Paul stood up, he used this opportunity to preach about Jesus.

He didn’t start off talking about Jesus.  Instead, he gave a brief summary of Israel’s history beginning with when the Israelites were in the wilderness for forty years.  He spoke about how the Jewish people were ruled by judges until the prophet Samuel and how they wanted to be like the other nations who had kings ruling over them.  They wanted a king too even though God was their King.  They got their wish when Saul, the son of Kish was chosen to be their king.  However, God removed him because of his disobedience and chose David to be his successor.  Then, Paul introduced Jesus, saying,  “From this man’s descendants God has raised a Savior for Israel, Jesus, according to His promise.”

He spoke of the role the people had played in the arrest and death of Jesus. By doing these things they had fulfilled the Word of God.  The Good News, though was that God raised Jesus from the dead and through Him are the forgiveness of sins.  Paul made it clear that we are justified by faith in Jesus and not by the law.  His words encouraged the Gentiles who begged him to preach again to them the following Sabbath.

Has God given you an opportunity to share the Good News about Jesus with others as He did with Paul?  Would you do as Paul did and share your faith so that people will come to know the Savior who died for them as well?  You don’t have to give a history lesson like Paul did.  You can share your own testimony of how you came to know the Lord like the woman at the well.  She told her community that Jesus must be the Messiah that they had been waiting for because He knew everything about her.

What about the challenges you will face when you share the Gospel?  The following Sabbath when Paul and Barnabas returned to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles, they were met with opposition from the Jews who were envious.  They contradicted what Paul said but he and Barnabas didn’t allow them to spoil things for them.  Instead, they boldly declared to them that since they rejected the Word of God which was supposed to be given to them first, it would be given instead to the Gentiles for the Lord commanded them, “‘I have established you to be a light of the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.'”  Verse 48 says that when the Gentiles heard this, “they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And all who were ordained to eternal life believed.”

Don’t be discouraged when people oppose you and contradict what you say.  It’s Satan, your enemy at work, trying to prevent you from doing what God has called you to do.  Like Paul and Barnabas did, act boldly, knowing that the Lord is your side and He will not allow His work to be hindered.  Share the Gospel for the sake of those who will gladly receive it. Don’t let the Satan or anyone put out your light.  Keep it shining for those who will come to it and receive salvation through faith in Jesus.

Today, if God gives you an opportunity to encourage people with the Good News about Jesus, grab it.  And don’t worry about what to say.  The Holy Spirit has that covered.

 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. For it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek – Romans 1:16

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Matthew 7:21-23).

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It’s hard to believe but there are a lot of Christians who believe that the good works they are doing will get them into Heaven.  However, Jesus made it clear that this is not the case.  He specifically said that those who get into Heaven are those who do the Father’s will.  It doesn’t matter if you are ministering to the homeless, helping the poor, active in church or your community or distributing literature.  If you are not practising what the Bible teaches you are not right with God.  God wants people who are obedient and whose lives are in harmony with His Word.

Jesus said that those who claim to prophesy and cast out demons in His name also practice evil and that is why they will not enter the kingdom.  They are living in disobedience.  “Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His” (Romans 8:9).  Anyone who practices evil or lawlessness does not have the Spirit of Christ in him or her, therefore the Spirit cannot testify to their spirit that they are children of God (Verse 16).  As long as we walk in the flesh, we will not please God.  It doesn’t matter how often we go to church, are involved in ministries or how well we know the Bible, if we are not keeping ourselves unspotted from the world or walking by the Spirit, we will have no part with Christ.

Everyone thought I was living a godly life based on how I was so passionate about serving the Lord in church and in ministry but they never suspected that I was having relations with another church member.  We were both single.  No one knew what we were doing – name withheld

If I hadn’t gotten pregnant, no one would have suspected anything – name withheld

Judas Iscariot was one of the twelve disciples.  He went out with the others and preached that people should repent, cast out many demons, and anointed many who were sick with oil and healed them.  However, he turned out to be a thief and would be the one who betray Jesus.  Following Jesus didn’t make Judas a true disciple just as being in church doesn’t make a person a true Christian.  We may be able to fool others but we can’t fool the Lord.  He sees what is on the inside.  He knew the real Judas (John 6:70, 71; 13:11, 21, 26, 27).

Just as Jesus places more importance on right living than on good works, God ranks obedience above sacrifice. When Saul went ahead and made an unauthorized sacrifice to God, Samuel chided him saying, “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22).  Today, we could ask a similar question.  “Has the Lord as great delight in prophesying, casting out demons and doing wonderful works?  As in turning away from evil and doing His will?  Behold, to obey is better than all of these things. ”

These people were trusting in their works.  They were asking, “Lord, didn’t we do all of these things in Your name?”  What is the point of doing all of these things and not living a godly life?  They are like wolves in sheep’s clothing.  They give the appearance of being Christians, doing good works but in reality they are living in sin.  They are not practising what the Bible teaches.  God would rather have them bear fruit worthy of repentance than bearing fruit to make themselves look good.

This reminds me of when the Israelites asked God, “Why have we fasted and You do not see?  Why have we humbled ourselves and You take no notice?”(Isaiah 58:3, MEV).  Their fasting did not please God.  Why?  It wasn’t the fast He had chosen for them.  “Isn’t it sharing your bread with the hungry and bringing the homeless poor into your house, covering the naked when you see them, and not hiding from your own family?” (verse 7, CEB).

Did Jesus ask these people to do all of these things in His name?  Wouldn’t He have preferred if they stopped practising evil and repented?  Instead of serving the Lord, examine your life and see if there are any areas where you haven’t brought yourself completely under His control.  If there is any sin or lifestyle you are holding on to, let it go and let Jesus give you the victory.  Don’t gamble with your eternity. The most terrible words anyone could ever hear are, “Depart from Me.  I never knew you” when they had the opportunity to change.  Don’t let this happen to you.

James 4:4

spiritual-adultery-editedFriends usually do things together and have similar interests.  Being friends with the world means adopting the ways of the world–accepting or condoning the things of the world.  James refers to those who are friends with the world as adulterers and adulteresses.

Adultery is straying outside of your marriage.  When the Israelites turned to other gods and indulged in idolatry, they were seen as committing adultery.  They were turning away from God to pursue other gods.  When we turn away from God and pursue the things of the world, we are having an adulterous relationship with the world.  It is like we are going outside of our relationship with God to find something else.  It seems we are no longer satisfied with our relationship with God and are searching for something better which we think the world can give us.  We cannot have it both ways.  We either choose one or the other.

John 3:16 states that God loves the world but the key words or message here is that whoever believes in His Son should not perish but have everlasting life.  The key is for those in the world to believe in Jesus and this will lead to eternal life.

God does not want us to be friends with a world which rejects His offer of salvation and lives in rebellion.  These are the people in the world with whom we are to have nothing to do with.  These are people who love the things of the world more than they love God or people who want nothing to do with God.

This is not to say that we should not go out into the world and interact with people.  We can’t avoid people.  However, we are not to forsake our faith or compromise it because we want to maintain new or old friendships or relationships.  Jesus, when He was praying for His disciples, did not ask the Father to take them out of the world.  They had work to do in the world.  He asked the Father to protect them from the Devil.  He said that like Him, the disciples were not of the world.  So, keeping ourselves unspotted  in the world (James 1:27) and not being friends with the world, means that we live in the world but don’t have the mindset of the world.  We cannot allow ourselves to be worldly.  We are to have the mind of Christ who kept Himself unspotted from the world.

In his first letter to the Corinthian believers, Paul wrote, “In the same way, the Lord has ordained that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:14).  As Christians and disciples of Christ, we are to practice what we preach.  We are to live our lives in such a way that the world will know that we belong to God and that it is Christ who lives in us (Galatians 2:20). 

“He saved others; let Him save Himself if He is the Christ, the chosen of God” – Luke 23:35

031211_0125_CITIZENSOFA14As Jesus hung on the cross, soldiers cast lots for His robe and the people passed by, blaspheming Him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself, and come down from the cross!” The chief priests and scribes jeered Him among themselves, “Let the Christ, the King of Israel, descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” (Mark 15:29-32).  The soldiers mocked Him, saying that if He were the King of the Jews, He should save Himself.  One of the criminals blasphemed Him, telling Him that if He were the Christ, to save Himself and them.  As He hung there, Jesus asked His Father to forgive them (Luke 23:34-37).

None of those jeering at Him realized that He had fulfilled the purpose for which He came.  He was not going to save Himself.  He was there to save them and the world so that those who believed in Him would not perish but have everlasting life.  He became a curse for our sake.  Nicodemus must have reflected on these words as He witnessed the crucifixion,  “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up,  that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:14-17).

Jesus had to be lifted up so that all men would be drawn to Him.  Just as the Israelites looked upon the serpent in the wilderness and were saved so will those who look upon Him in faith.  The heavenly King to give His life a ransom for many.  The rulers seem to have forgotten Caiaphas’ prophetic words, “You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.” John wrote that the high priest prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for that nation only, but also that He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad (John 11:49-52).  Thus Jesus would die not only for the Jews but also for the Gentiles.  And it was expedient that He should die.  There is no remission for sin unless blood is shed.  The blood of the Lamb of God had to be shed for the sins of the world.  Without His death there would be no reconciliation with God for sin had separated us from Him.

Ironically, the other thief on the cross, who was also cursed because he was hanging from a tree, he realized that Jesus was innocent and undeserving of such a humiliating death.  He acknowledged his own sinfulness in the face of our Lord and asked Jesus to “remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”  Jesus promised him that day that he would be among those who were resurrected on that glorious day when Jesus would come again to gather His people to Him and take them to Heaven.  That thief gave his life to the King of Kings and in return received the promise of eternal life. 

Thankfully, Jesus did not come down from the cross as He was goaded into doing.  Instead, He cried out, “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit’” and died.  Even nature responded to the death of its Creator.  There was darkness over the earth and the sun was darkened.  The veil in the temple tore, signifying that the old sacrificial system was obselete now.  “For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect.  For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year.  For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins” (Hebrews 10:1-4).  Only the blood of Christ can take away our sins.  He offered Himself once and for all on the cross. 

Another important point that should be made is that the tearing of the veil also signified the tearing down of the partition which separated us from God.   We read in Hebrews 10:19, 20, that we can boldly enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus and by a new and living way which He consecrated for us through the veil which is His flesh.  So, thanks to Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, we are now able to boldly approach the throne of grace.  In the old system, “when a sacrifice was offered for the sins of the entire congregation, the blood was taken by the priest, who represented Jesus (Hebrews 3:1), into the sanctuary and sprinkled before the veil which separated the two rooms. The presence of God dwelt on the other side of the veil” (God Drew the Plans, Amazing Facts.  In the tearing of the veil, we see Jesus in His roles as our sacrificial Lamb and our High Priest.  Through Him we can go directly to God and confess our sins.  We don’t need an earthly intercessor.  The Bible clearly teaches that there is one Mediator between God and us and that’s Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2:5).  He is the only way to the Father because of what He did on the cross.

The King of Kings stayed on the cross until He was able to say, “It is finished.”  He had accomplished what He came to do.  Hebrews 10:7 states that He came to do the Father’s will.  Isaiah 53:11, 12 explain what that will was:  By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities.  And He bore the sin of many,
And made intercession for the transgressors.”  It pleased God to give His beloved Son so that the world would be saved through Him.  And the Son was willing to lay down His life. 

When the centurion saw the veil tear in two from top to bottom, he declared, “Truly this Man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:39).  Here we have a Gentile, a Roman soldier who acknowledged that Jesus was the Son of God while many of the Jews rejected Him as their King and their Messiah.  This centurion declared that Jesus was a righteous Man and glorified God (Luke 23:47).  He believed that Jesus was the Son of God.  This was a confession of faith.  He was drawn to the King who was lifted up.  Jesus said of Himself, “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18).

Today, reflect on the King as He hung on the cross, cursed for our sakes so that He could redeem us.  Thank God for loving you so much that He sacrificed His Son so that you could be reconciled to Him.  Thank Jesus for laying down His life for you.  And rejoice because the King is now in heaven sitting on the right hand of the Father.

By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace – Hebrews 11:31.

016-joshua-rahab-spiesOne morning I was reading the story of Rahab to my five year old son. I didn’t mention of course that Rahab was a harlot. I made of point of telling him that she was the great-great-great grandmother of King David.  How did she earn this privilege? We find out in the book of Joshua. Joshua, who was now the leader of the people of Israel following Moses’ death sent two men to secretly spy out the land, especially Jericho. They went and came to the house of Rahab where they lodged. Somehow the king of Jericho found out that they were there and he sent a message to Rahab, telling her to bring the men.   However, Rahab hid the two spies and sent the king’s men on a wild
goose chase.

Why did she hide the men? She had heard about their God. “For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were on the other side of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. And as soon as we heard these things, our
hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.”  She knew that God would give the Israelites possession of the land where Jericho was.   In return for her help, she wanted the two spies to spare her and her family when they went to take possession of the land. The spies agreed to save her provided that she didn’t betray their whereabouts and they told her to tie a red cord in the window through which she let them down so that she and her family would be safe. Rahab agreed and sent them away.

True to their promise when they went into the city of Jericho and utterly destroyed everything in it, Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the country, “Go into the harlot’s house, and from there bring out the woman and all that she has, as you swore to her.” She and her family stayed outside the camp of Israel while their city was burned. Joshua 6:25 states: And Joshua spared Rahab the harlot, her father’s household, and all that she had. So she dwells in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho. Rahab married Salmon and gave birth to Boaz who married Ruth, the Moabitess and mother Obed, the father of Jesse, the father of David.

Rahab is mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus and as one of the people of faith in chapter 11 of Hebrews and James wrote of her, “Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?” (James 2:25). In faith and at the risk of her own life she hid the spies in her home until it was safe for them to leave. And as a result she and her family did not perish with the rest of the inhabitants of Jericho.

The story of Rahab is one of hope and encouragement.  God can use anyone to help His people and to fulfill His purpose.  Once we fear God and put our faith and trust in Him, we will not perish but will receive His mercy and grace.

adam-eve_019Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness – Genesis 1:26

There are many people who deny that there are three Persons in the Godhead. They don’t believe in the divinity of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. What does the Word of God say?

In the first book of the Bible, God is speaking to others when He says, “Let Us make man in our image, according to Our likeness.” Who is He talking to? The angels? Psalm 104:4 says “Who makes His angels spirits, His ministers a flame of fire.” Angels are created beings. Would God create us in the image of other created beings even though we were made lower than them (Psalm 8:5)? Remember what the angel said when the apostle John fell down at his feet in worship? “See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God” (Revelation 22:9). Twice John fell at the angel’s feet to worship him and twice he told him not to do that. They were both servants. Only God is to be worshipped.

He was talking to the other members of the Godhead who were present at creation. The Son was present. The apostle John confirms this in the first chapter of his Gospel. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it (John 1:1-5).

The Holy Spirit was present at creation. Genesis 1:2 states, And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. All were present at Jesus’ baptism. And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22).

When Jesus gave the great commission to His disciples, He said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen (Matthew 28:19, 20).

Though commonly known as the “Trinity”, the term “Godhead” is actually in the Bible. It is used by Paul in Romans 1:20 and in Colossians 2:9. He uses the Greek words theiotēs and theotēs. Both of which refer to the state of being God. The Godhead is one God, three persons. Paul refers to these three Persons in his letter to the Christians in Corinth. “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:14). The author of Hebrews writes, “how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:14).

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!” (Deuteronomy 6:4). Many use these words of Moses to dispute the teaching of the Godhead. What they need to remember is that the Israelites had come from Egypt which had many gods and the other nations at that time were also polytheistic. The golden calf Aaron made was the Egyptian god, Apis.

The Godhead is comprised of three Persons with different roles but one purpose much like a family with more than one member with different roles. “For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one” (1 John 5:7, 8). Here the Spirit refers to the Father, the water to the Holy Spirit and the blood to Jesus. They are one. Together they created us and together they devised the plan of salvation when our first parents, Adam and Eve sinned. Together they are working in and through us so that one day we will spend eternity with them on the new earth.

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).



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