Born to Holiness

John MacArthur Sep 7, 1986

I want to welcome you to our continued study of the epistle of James.  So you can take your bible and open up to James.  We have much ahead of us in this great epistle, but we are going to stop tonight for just a brief look at verse 18.  Normally, we would be taking another section starting in verse 19, since we did mention verse 18 in our last study.  But I want to stop for a moment and expand our understanding of James 1:18, because it is such a great, great verse.  This is a verse that really articulates in a very simple way the meaning of the new birth, the meaning of salvation.

I was interested this morning in the reception for our first time guests to meet a lovely young lady from Japan who understands some English, conversational English and confessed this morning that she found it very difficult to follow what I was saying in the message.  And it alerted me not so much to the fact that the words that I say are not intelligible as such, but the fact that the longer you are a Christian and the more you get involved in Christianity and in the word of God, the more sort of evangelical lingo you probably develop and somebody coming in who knows conversational English is going to have a very hard time plugging into what you are saying.  It’s a good reminder also, that every once in a while, we need to go back to the simple reality of what the gospel really is and that’s what we want to do tonight.  Let’s look together at verse 18 of James chapter 1. 

It says this, of his own will, speaking of the father, God the father mentioned in verse 17, “Of his own will begot he us, with the word of truth that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.  A simple verse, but on in which is bound up all the richness of the new birth.  The Old Testament said, be holy for I the Lord am holy.  Peter says in his epistle, be holy, for I the Lord am holy.  In order to enter into the presence of God, man must be holy.  Set apart from sin unto righteousness.  Now men are not holy.  That’s obvious.  They are not righteous, that is, they are sinful.  They do not think right, speak right, act right, do right.  They to not rightly perceive God.  They do not rightly perceive themselves.  They do not rightly perceive God’s truth, God’s revelation or God’s law or God’s will.

But even though men are not holy and they are not right with God, for the most part they do not perceive that they are not holy.  They do not understand that they are not righteous, they do not willingly agree with the diagnosis of scripture that they are sinful.  Men are not holy, and worse, they do not recognize either the need for holiness or in many cases, the absence of it.  And if they do recognize that they are not holy, they usually blame someone else for that reality. 

And that’s what we were discussing in our last look at this tremendous chapter.  In directly, men push the responsibility for their sinfulness off on God, typically.  And as we looked at verses 13 through 18, we saw that we have no one to blame but ourselves for our own sinfulness.  Certainly, we cannot blame God by saying, well, God created us.  God made laws that are impossible to keep.  God has allowed me to become the way I am by my environment.  God put me into circumstances that put such constraints on me I can’t control my behavior, et cetera, et cetera.  But what James says to us is, God cannot have any part in our sinfulness either directly or indirectly.

So men have to be holy in order to have a relationship with God.  They are not holy.  For the most part, they don’t even recognize that they are not holy and if they do recognize that they sin, they will usually blame someone else’s and that someone in a very vague sense is the God who put them in the circumstances they are in and gave them the impulses he gave them and they want to shirk the responsibility.  So James says in verse 13 to 18, you cannot blame anyone but yourself for your sin.  In verse 13 he says, the nature of evil demonstrates that.  No man can say, when he is tempted, I am tempted by God, for God can’t be tempted with evil, neither tempts he any man.  You can’t blame God for evil because God and evil are mutually exclusive.  And then in verse 14, the nature of man.  He says, man has his own problem.  Man is tempted when he is drawn away by his own lust and enticed.  The problem is in man, it is in his sinfulness, his fallenness.  Then he talks about the nature of lust in verses 15 and 16. 

Lust when it conceives brings forth sin, sin when it finally comes forth produces nothing but death, and don’t you be wrong about that.  In other words, understand that that is the reality of sin, so it isn’t God, because God and evil are incompatible.  The problem is in the nature of man and in the nature of man the problem is his evil desire, his lust, his passion for that which is wrong.  Then in verse 17, he goes back to discussing the nature of God and says, from God comes every good gift and every perfect gift and that never varies and there is never any shadow cast on that, so you can’t blame God because his nature is to give only good things.  Only good comes from God.  So, he says, we can’t blame God for our sin because of the nature of evil, the nature of man, the nature of lust and the nature of God  Then in verse 18 he sort of sums up his argument by saying, the nature of regeneration itself or conversion or salvation or the new birth shows us that God does not lead us into sin.  Verse 18 says, of his own will in other words, it was his will to beget us to become like him.  A kind of first fruits of his own creation.  So the purpose of regeneration was to give birth into life.  To create us to do good not evil.  To give us power over sin as a part of a new creation. 

So God is in no way involved in our sinfulness.  He cannot be mixed with evil.  The problem is in man.  In man, the problem is bound up with his lust.  The nature of God is such that he only gives good gifts and when God touches your life, it is to produce life, not death, to produce righteousness not sin.  To make a new creation, not exercise the old one. 

So all of those things we looked at last time, point to the fact that God cannot directly or indirectly be the source of sin.  God is not and cannot be tempting men to sin.  And so we looked at verse 18 in that light.  But the verse is so rich because it discusses this matter of the new birth of begetting a person, of regenerating a person and it demands a closer and longer look and we want to do that tonight.  He introduces us to the subject of regeneration in verse 18 in connection with a point in his context.  And the point is what I have just said to you, he is using regeneration as a way to show you that God doesn’t lead people into sin, he leads them to be creations of a new kind, like him.  He leads them out of sin into new life.  And that would be inconsistent with any thought that he would lead us into sin.  He is recreating us away from sin, not into sin, but apart from the context itself, as we look at the verse, I want you to just examine it in and of itself, because it says so much about regeneration, and the whole teaching of regeneration and new birth is worthy of our careful attention.  Now keep in mind what I said earlier and what we noted in the text that man is filled with lust and lust produces sin and sin begets death.  It is true that without holiness no one will ever have a relationship with God, no one will ever fully know God.  No one will ever enter into God’s eternal presence without holiness.  And yet man is unholy and he is sinful and everything in his nature produces lust and evil.  To give you a clearer understanding of that, look at Romans with me, chapter 3.

A very familiar portion of scripture to bible students but one that needs examination, in the light of this particular point.  At the end of verse 9 he says, Jews and Greeks, they are all under sin.  They are literally under the mastery of sin.  They are all subject to the control of sin.  And then he goes on to show this in extent by quoting from some Old Testament passages and he says, “As it is written, There is none righteous no not one.”  There is not one human being created in this world since the fall of Adam that is righteous and that means that is right with God, that does righteously, that obeys the will of God in and of himself.

There is none righteous, no not one.  There is none that understands.  That is, there is none that fully comprehends that which God requires and is fully able to understand it and carry it out.  There is none that even seeks after God.  The bent of man is to seek sin.  Men love what?  Darkness, John 3 says, rather than light because their deeds are evil.  They are all gone out of the way.  They have all diverted themselves from the path that God ordained for righteousness.  They are altogether become unprofitable.  The Greek word has to do with sour milk.  It is good for nothing.  They are absolutely useless.  And there is none that does good, not even one.  And then he describes the nature of their evil.  Their throat is an open sepulcher.  It stinks like a dead corpse whose scent comes oozing out of a tomb.  With their tongues, they have used deceit.  The poison of asps or snakes is under their lips.  A man is basically revealed in his conversation and in his mouth, and the ugly, evil, defiled, deadness of his sinful nature comes out through his mouth.  The mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.  Their feet are in a hurry to shed blood.  Destruction and misery are in their ways.  The way of peace have they not known and there is absolutely no reverence of God before their eyes.  Here is a definition of sinful man, man without God.  And the whole world comes under this in verse 18.  Every mouth is stopped and all the world stands guilty before God.  And there is no way he says, in verse 20, that through their flesh, they can be justified by God, by keeping some rules by obeying law, even though it be the law of God.  The law simply produces the knowledge of sin, it doesn’t produce righteousness.  So there is the definition of man from Romans 3.  Man in his sinful state, look at Ephesians 2.

In Ephesians 2 it says, verse 1, “And you who were dead in trespasses and sins.”  And here we find that man is characterized again as  being dead, the stench of a corpse and the characteristic of his deadness is a deadness in trespasses and sins.  Just using two words to show kind of the breadth and the extent of his sinfulness.  He walks, it says, according to the course of this world.  In other words, he daily conduct is dictated by the evil system.  The one who is in charge of his life is the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that works in the children of disobedience, those are titles for Satan.  He functions, verse 3, in the lust of the flesh.  He fulfills the desire of the flesh and the mind and he is by nature a child of wrath.  That means, he is a target of judgment, he is the object of God’s judgment. 

Now all this is very basic, man in order to have a right relationship to God, needs to be holy.  Man is not holy.  Man doesn’t recognize that he is not holy and sometimes if he does recognize that he is not holy and sinful he tends to blame God for his circumstances, pass off the responsibility which keeps him confined under the subjection of sin and therefore cut off from God.  Now the question comes up, what are you going to do to help this man?  What are you going to do to change the situation?  What does this man need?  External changes are not enough.  He cannot by some resolution in his own mind determine that he is going to obey the law of God and work his way out of this deadness.  He cannot give himself new life. 

What he needs is to be recreated.  He needs is a new heart, a new inner person, a new life principle.  He needs to be born again.  He needs to start all over and come out different.  As if in the words of Nicodemus, he could crawl back into his mother’s womb and start all over again with a different nature.  Since holiness is the absolute condition for acceptance into fellowship with God, sinful man in his fallen dead condition can’t ever have that fellowship and God won’t accept his corrupt self, so he needs a new life.  He needs a brand new life.  So when we talk about the gospel or the new birth, we are not talking about adding something.  We are not talking about tacking something on.  We are not talking about putting a ribbon on a sow.  We are not talking about putting a new suit of clothes on an old man.  We are talking about a total transformation.  To enter into a right relationship with God, demands a total new person.  You have to go back and start all over again and be born all over again into a new life.

Now scripture affirms this.  It isn’t even new, in the New Testament, this was part of the promise in anticipation of the Old Testament.  Jerimiah for example, says the heart of man is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked and Jeremiah says, can the Ethiopian change his skin?  Can he by willingly and by being willing rather and wishing can he change the color of his dark skin?  And then Jeremiah says, can the leopard change his spots?  And the answer is of course not, then, may you also do good that are accustomed to do evil.

You can’t change your life either, so you need a transformation.  That’s Jeremiah 13:23 and over in chapter 31, comes the wonderful promise of that transformation, Jeremiah 31:31, “Behold the days come, says the Lord, I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not according to the covenant I made with their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the hand of Egypt, and so forth.”  He says, “I’ll make a new covenant,” verse 33, “I will put my law in their inward parts.  I will write it in their hearts.  I will be their God and they will be my people.  I am going to get inside and change their inside.”  They can’t do it on their own so it has to be done for them.  Man has to have a change at the very core of his being. 

The natural man, that is the unregenerate man, the man that doesn’t know God.  The sinful man, the unredeemed man, the unsaved man, does not, 1 Corinthians 2:14 says, “Receive the things of the spirit of God.”  He can’t receive them.  He’s dead.  And a corpse doesn’t respond to anything.  And so what does he need?  He needs new birth.  He needs new life.  I just read you Ephesians 2:1 to 3, how that men are dead in trespasses and sin following the lust of the flesh, the lust of the mind, the desires of the flesh, being subject to the leadership of Satan, the prince of the power of the air, they are children of wrath, but it says, even when we were dead in sins in the same chapter verse 5, Christ has made us alive and raised us up.  And here is the idea of a resurrection from the dead, of new life, of a new birth.  In Romans 6, it says, when you put your faith in Christ, you die and you rise to walk in and it uses this wonderful phrase, newness of what?  Of life.  Now that’s what every person has to have, newness of life.  The old life has to be totally done away and a new life has to come.  In Ephesians 4:24, you have put on the new man, which, listen to this, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.  When you come to salvation, you put on a new man, a new person, not new clothes.  A new person. 

It’s a recreation.  The best and most graphic illustration of this is found in the wonderful encounter between Jesus and Nicodemus so turn to John 3 and let’s look at it briefly and remind ourselves of this wonderful, wonderful story.  There was a man of the Pharisees, that was, he was a religious leader of great esteem.  He may have well been as prominent as any teacher because in verse 10 Jesus says, are you and uses the definite article, the teacher of Israel and don’t know these things.

So here is one man who is recognized perhaps publicly as the teacher in Israel of some great stature, a Pharisee well versed in the law.  He approaches Jesus and says we know you are  a teacher from God.  Here is a man of great esteem.  Here is a man who recognizes his own calling, but recognizes one who is even significantly above himself in understanding, so he comes to Jesus and he says in verse 2, we know you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do the miracles that you do except God be with him.  And he never says what’s in his heart.  He doesn’t ask a question, but Jesus reads his heart.  And Jesus answered, that’s an interesting statement because he didn’t ask anything.  He just said, you are a teacher, and went on to say, you come from God, we know that, but Jesus answered the question in his heart and said, Truly, truly I say to you, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God and he knew that what was in the heart of Nicodemus was how do I get into the kingdom.

Here was a man who was the teacher in Israel.  A Pharisee, had it all going religiously, but knew he had not entered into truly to the kingdom of God.  How did he know he hadn’t?  Because there was nothing inside of him confirming that.  So he comes to Jesus and the question of his heart is, what do I do to get into the kingdom and the implication would be, I’m very religious, I study the law, I try to live by the code of the Old Testament.  I’m an ethical man.  I’m a trusted man.  I’m a respected man.  What do I need to add to my life to get into the kingdom and Jesus said, you don’t add anything, you start all over again.

You just kill the whole thing and start with birth.  You have to be born again.  And Nicodemus said to him, how can a man be born when he’s old.  Now he’s not asking the physical thing.  Give him a break.  He’s not saying, physically, how can I go back and be born?  He knows what Jesus is talking about.  He is simply picking up on the same use of veiled language, of parabolic talk of the meshal, the kind of speech that they use.  And he’s picking up on the same metaphor, the same descriptive terms that Jesus is using and he’s saying how does someone so many years in one religion, so many years following one code, so many years to be now a Pharisee and a rabbi and a teacher of the law, ever go back and undo all of that and start all over again.

That’s what he’s saying.  And if you have ever witnessed to an orthodox Jew, of any years, you will understand this mindset.  How can I ever unravel all this lifelong pursuit of religion and start all over again, that’s what was in the mind of Nicodemus.  Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born and he’s tongue in cheek at that point.  He’s saying that again, consistent with the analogy that Jesus was using.  How can I be born again spiritually?  He knows Jesus speaks spiritually.  How can I do it?  How can it happen?  And Jesus says to him, basically, you can’t do it. 

You can’t do it Nicodemus, truly, truly, I say to you, except a man be born of water and the spirit, he cannot what?  Enter the kingdom of God.  He says, you can’t do it.  It has to be done by water and the spirit.  It has to be done by a power and a resource outside yourself, outside of you.  And that power is the water and the spirit.  Now what does that refer too?  That’s the water of salvation, I believe if you go back for a brief moment to Ezekiel 36, you will see Jesus is speaking to Nicodemus in very familiar terms, he knew the Old Testament.  He knew the promise of Ezekiel 36 verse 25, I will sprinkle clean water upon you.

Who is I?  God.  This is a sovereign act.  And you will be clean from your filthiness and from all your idols will I cleans you, what he is saying to Nicodemus is this, number one, you must have a sovereign cleansing by God.  Secondly, it comes through the Holy Spirit.  You need a sovereign salvation that comes from outside yourself.  Just like Ezekiel prophesied, clean water, cleansing your filthiness.  Paul writing to Titus talks about the washing of water through the word.  The water of regeneration, verse 26, a new heart will I give you and a new spirit will I put within you, take away the stony heart out of your flesh, I will give you a heart of flesh, then this, I will put my spirit within you and cause you from the inside to walk in my statues.  You shall keep my ordinances and you shall do them. 

So when Jesus says to Nicodemus you must be born of the water and the spirit to enter the kingdom, he’s taking Nicodemus right back to Ezekiel 36 and saying, you know what the prophet said, you need a sovereign cleansing that comes from God outside yourself and the planting of his holy spirit in your heart to give you a new life and a new heart and a new motivation.  Why?  Verse 6, if you try to do it on your own, that which is born of the flesh is what?  All you are going to do is reproduce what?  Yourself.  More of you.  But that which is born of the spirit is what?  Spirit.  So don’t be surprised that I said you must be born again.  Don’t be surprised.  Then he says, the wind blows where it wants and you hear the sound and you can’t tell from where it comes and where it goes and so is everyone that is born of the spirit.  You know what he’s saying there?  He’s saying, I can’t tell you how or when the Holy Spirit does this, but this is a sovereign act of the Holy Spirit.  It can’t be charted.  You can’t even see it coming or going, but the spirit of God moves in where he wills and gives new birth to whom he wills as sovereign God by the agency of the spirit, through the washing of the water of the word in regeneration, cleanses the heart and plants that spirit within a man.  What you need Nicodemus is a new life and that is a sovereign act of God.  Just what Jerimiah 24 said in verse 7 where God said, I will give them a heart to know me.

A new nature, a new heart, a new life.  If any man be in Christ, 2 Corinthians 5:17, he is a new creature, old things have passed away, behold all things have become new.  So what I’m saying here is a new birth is essential.  That’s what salvation is.  It is God sovereignly coming down to a sinner and by his grace cleansing that sinner and planting his spirit in that sinner so that the cleansing of that sinner takes care of his relationship to God and the planting of the spirit takes care of his power to live in the will of God.  And that’s the purpose or regeneration. 

Now I want to ask four questions in our verse, James 1:18, let’s go back.  That was introduction.  James 1:18, I want to ask you four questions about regeneration.  Very simple questions and it won’t take us but a brief time to answer the four.  First question, what is it?  You’ve just said that man cannot know God without holiness.  Man is not holy.  Man doesn’t recognize his unholiness and when he does, he tends to blame God.  How is he ever going to get out of the dilemma.  Here is he blaming God for it, or not recognizing it.  How is he every going to change.  Well, you say somebody brings him so higher standards, some better ethics, a law that he is supposed to keep and he does it on his own.  No, that which the flesh produces is more what?  More flesh, so what has to happen is, he needs the divine intervention of a sovereign God,  who by his spirit comes in, washes away his sin, plants a new life in him.  Gives him his spirit to energize that new life unto obedience, that is a sovereign act.  That’s really regeneration.  But let’s get into this verse and look at the four questions, question number one.  What is is? What is the nature of regeneration?  And I have already alluded  to it, in fact already covered a great portion, but just this phrase, of his own will be begat us.  That’s the nature of regeneration.

It is God brining us forth, giving birth to us as new beings.  You are not the same.  You are a whole new creating.  Its’ the same verb, by the way, exactly the same one used back in verse 15.  God, when he conceives brings forth regeneration.  Brings forth new life, it’s the very same verb.  It’s in Eros tense so it looks back to the event of salvation when we were born by the divine parent and given new life as children of God.  Now if you want a technical definition for he begat us, here is one that I think is excellent.  It’s given by the theologian Berkhoff many years ago, but really says it.  Regeneration is, that act of God by which the principle of new life is implanted in man and the governing disposition of his soul is made holy.  That is a great definition.  Regeneration is that act of God by which the principle of new life is implanted in man and the governing disposition of his soul is made holy.  That is a total transformation.  That doesn’t sound anything like Romans 3, does it or anything like Ephesians 2:1 to 3.  In fact, Peter says, we become partakers of the divine nature.  God gives us his own life, his own self, his own righteous character, his own holiness is implanted in us, just a tremendous thought.  As a Christian, you and possess the very nature of God, 2 Peter 1:4.  We are partakers of this divine nature.  Now, in its fullness, we are yet to receive all that that implies, but already that new life principle is planted in us.  This is completed in a moment of time.  It is not a process.  It is an event.  It is an act by which God creates you new.  It is a secret work.  It cannot be perceived.  That’s why we can’t, in the words of Jesus, tell the wheat from the tares, because this particular act is imperceptible.  It is known only through its effect.  We can’t see God recreate someone.  That is a divine miracle unseen by any human eye.

But it plants in the person a new life principle and a new disposition that is enabled and driven to keep the law of God. Marvelous.  It overcomes the deadness of sin.  And the deadliness of sin.  No longer are we subject to sin, Paul says in Romans chapter 6, sin no longer has dominion over us.  We now follow a new master willingly and eagerly.

Jesus said in John 10, I am come that they might have what?  Life.  What do dead men need most?  Life.  And so, he comes to give us new life.  So what is regeneration?  What is it?  He begot us.  What does that mean?  He gave us new life.  Total transformation of the inner person.  Second question, who does it?  Well, I have already told you that from John chapter 3, who does it?  Look back at verse 18 again, of his own will, he begot us.  He being God the father mentioned in verse 17 as the source of every good and every perfect gift, of his own will is first in the Greek in the verse, which put is it in the emphatic position showing that the sovereign will of God is the root of this new life.  It couldn’t be any other way, because how is a dead person going to give himself life?  Impossible.  The source of new life is God.  God.  It is the grace of the giver, not the desire of the receiver.  That desire of the receiver is prompted by the grace of the giver.  So it is wholly the choice and the work of almighty God.

If I am saved, and you are saved, who gets all the credit?  God does.  We praise him.  Go back to John 1:12 and I want to just draw a little more on this thought.  You say, but wait a minute, didn’t I receive Christ, didn’t I believe, of course, you did.  You reached out and received him and believed.  Look at verse 12 of John 1, “As many as received him to them gave he the right or the authority to become the children of God, even to them that believe on his name.”  You say that’s right.  I believed and I received.  Didn’t I do that?  Didn’t I initiate that?  Look at verse 13, who were born, not of the blood, not talking about a human birth, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man,” but of what?  “God.”  You believed and you received because it was the will of whom?  Of God.  It is a sovereign thing.  Yes, you believed.  Yes, you received.  Behind it, all was the sovereign, determinative, gracious will of God. 

No, child has ever been born into the world humanly speaking because he or she wanted to be born.  Fair enough?  The birth of a child is strictly the decision of parents, not of unborn children.  Spiritual birth is analogous to that.  It is the decision of the sovereign divine parent.  No man comes unto me Jesus said, except the father what?  Draws him.  Except the father draws him and even the very faith we exercise, is granted graciously by God.  So our conscious experience of conversion, our conscious experience of committing our life to Jesus Christ of believing in his death and resurrection, of opening our hearts to receive him, of believing the gospel, all is a consequence of his sovereign will.

Beloved when you stop to think that you are saved because he predetermined in eternity past to save you, that is a marvelous thing.  God in his grace and love predetermined to have an eternally intimate love relationship with you just because that’s what he wanted, marvelous.  John put it this way, we love him because he first loved us.  A child gives love to a human parent as a response to parental love and care and the life they gave that child.  And because God has willed to save us, because God has willed to give us new life and a holy nature, it is absolutely impossible, James says that he could ever lead us into sin.  You see how absolutely incongruous that is?  What a thrilling thought.  He predestinated us to set his love on us.

To give us new life that we might have eternal fellowship with him and he longs for us to be in his presence and when we go into his presence he will make us like his own son and he will pour out eternal blessing on us forever and ever and ever.  No wonder John says in 1 John 3, “Behold what manner of love the father hath bestowed on us that we should be called the children of God.”  He can’t even think of an adjective.  It’s absolutely indescribable.  He just says, what manner of love, he couldn’t even come up with an adjective to describe that kind of predetermined sovereign free choice to love. 

Now looking back at James 1:18, just one other thought about that particular point, when it says of his own will, it uses the word boultheis, aorist participle.  It is not just a wish, but it is an active will of accomplishment.  It isn’t God just wishing it.  He wishes us to be saved, it is he wills it to the extent that it actually happens.  May I say something to you that’s very profound theologically?  This is what we would say is God’s productive will.  That is when he wills this, it happens.  It is not a wish.  You can wish something, oh, I wish, oh, how I wish this will happen and it may be remotely unrelated to what will happen.  Or you can say, I will that to happen because it’s within your power to make it happen.  That’s the intent of the word here, God’s desire produces the end of that desire.  So what is regeneration?  It is God recreating us.  Who does it?  God does it by his sovereign power and we respond to that sovereign grace.  Third question, okay, we have asked what and who here is the third on, how does it happen?  How does it happen?

You say, well, does God just reach down and bang you are saved, does God just zap you?  How does it happen?  Well, let’s look back at the verse, verse 18, “Of his own will he begot us,” here it comes, “With the word of truth.  With the word of truth.”  Or literally, by truth’s word.  By truth’s word.  That means the word of God, the scripture.  You see, God regenerates us and washes us and cleanses us and gives us a new inner person and plants a spirit in us through the power of his what?  Of his word.  Of his word.  Men are born again by the power of the word.  If you don’t hear the word, you don’t hear the message that saves, in 1 Thessalonians 2:13, Paul is commending the Thessalonians for how they responded to the preaching of God’s word.  He says, “For this cause we thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth the word of God,” listen to this, “which effectually is working also in you that believe.  It is the word that works with a believing heart.  God Sovereignly moves to redeem.  A person responds to the exposure to the word with faith and salvation takes place.  God’s will then of salvation is brought to the heart of a person through an understanding of the word mixed with faith and regeneration takes place.  How does it happen?  It happens through the word of God.  And again, I remind you of Titus 3:5, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done.”  We don’t get salvation and new life by doing things, by trying to obey God in the flesh, but according to his mercy, he saved us, watch this, “by the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit.”  There are the same two things, the washing of the water of the word and the planting of the Holy Spirit.  That’s the sovereign work of God.  SO, the word of truth is the issue.

Now let me just take that phrase a little bit further, the word of truth or truth’s word.  That particular designation is used several times in the New Testament.  In 2 Corinthians 6:7, you don’t need to look these up, I’ll just mention them to you.  It says, by the word of truth, by the power of God and it goes on.  In Colossians 1:5, it says, “Of which you heard before,” listen to this, “in the word of the truth of the gospel.  The word of the truth of the gospel.”  And there the word of the truth is specifically linked to the gospel.  By the way, 2 Timothy 2:15 also mentions the word of truth, rightly dividing the word of truth.  So the word of truth in general is the word of God.

It is that which God brings to us to unfold an understanding to us of his revelation of himself.  In specific, on the basis of Colossians 1:5 we could call it the word of the truth of the gospel.  Now with that in mind, we go back to James and we can just simply say that we wouldn’t be out of line to say, that we are born again with the word of truth, not only God’s general revelation, but as in Colossians 1:5, his specific revelation of the gospel.  And you say what’s the gospel?  The good news that Jesus came, died and rose again, so people are saved then when God sovereignly sets out to give them new birth, to give them a new nature to wash away their sin, to plant his spirit in them.  He brings them an understanding of that through the knowledge that comes in the gospel that is preached or that is given to them.  That mixed with faith results in the new birth.  In Romans 10:17, and I’m just picking up some scriptures that come to mind that I think are related to this as we kind of wind down.  But in Romans 10:17, do you remember this, how then shall they call on him whom they have not believed?  And how shall they believe in him in whom they have not heard?  How shall they hear without a preacher?  And then it says, and how shall they preach unless they be sent and so forth and so on.  It’s talking about we have to have preachers.  How are people going to hear if they don’t have a preacher?  How can we send anybody if there is no one to send?  People have to have a preacher, how beautiful, quoting from Isaiah, are the feet of them that preach the gospel.  How important it is to preach it, why?  Because of verse 17, faith comes by hearing, a speech about Christ.  That’s the proper Greek rending of 10:17, faith comes by hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ, Romans 10:17.  So, God sovereignly saves by moving into a life and recreating that life, but that takes place when a person comes to hear and understand the gospel and it is mixed with faith and that brings about the new birth.  What is it?  It is total transformation.  Who does it?  God does it by his own sovereign will.  How does it happen?  By hearing and believing the gospel of Jesus Christ that he died on the cross and rose again, that comes through the reveled word of God.  One other scripture on this regard is 1 Peter 1.  Being born again, it says, and here is the definition of the means.  Being born again, not of corruptible seed, he’s not talking about human birth, but of incorruptible, here it comes, by the word of God, which lives and abides forever. 

By the word of God which lives and abides forever.  For flesh, you can’t have a new birth in the flesh, it’s just like the grass and the glory of man is like the flower of grass, the grass withers and the flower falls away.  The flesh can’t produce anything lasting, but the word of the Lord endures forever.  Now listen, and this is the word, which by the gospel is preached unto you.  And again he says, you are born again by the word and the word that you are born again by is the gospel and the gospel is the story of Jesus death and resurrection.

So God sovereignly chooses to redeem, comes down, cleanses the heart, plants his spirit, but in order to do that, the heart must be comprehend the gospel as clearly preached and that comprehension mixed with faith brings about new life, new life.  Now, if anything is to change in us, God must do it, but we must respond as well, to the gospel.  Now that leaves us with one question, one question.  Why is it done?  Why?  Why does God bother.  We know what, we know who, we know how, but why?  What is the purpose of making us new?  The end of verse 18, this is marvelous.  In order that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creation.  Boy, what a statement.  We could really go to town on this one.  The ramifications of this are just tremendous, that we should be, that’s an ace with the verb to be, that’s a purpose cause, with the purpose of producing a new kind of creation, that’s what God wants.  He wants a new kind of creation and we are the first fruits of that.

That’s great.  What are first fruits?  Well, if we had time and we won’t take the time, we could study the Old Testament, mark down Exodus 23:19, Leviticus 23, Deuteronomy chapter 18, Deuteronomy chapter 26, that tells about first fruits.  When you planted a crop, God said, I want your first fruits.  First fruits meant two things, I want the first in order and I want the best. 

When you harvest that crop, bring an offering to me and I want the first that you harvest and that will show that you live by faith, because if you take your first, the tendency for a farmer is to take the first thing that he harvest and he hordes it incase nothing else comes through.  So you bring me the first and you bring me the best, that’s the first fruits.  The first of a full crop that’s coming later and that’s exactly what it means here. 

He says, I want you to, this is thrilling, to be the first and the best indicative of a whole crop that’s coming later.  That’s marvelous.  Now listen to me carefully, do you realize people that the world will not continue the way it is right now?  Do you know that?  Do you know that we are headed to a total transformation of the world as we know it?  Do you know that this entire operation on the earth will burn up and the bible tells us that the Lord will recreate this earth, to his own liking?  He will make a new creation, everything will be born again, everything.  Men and women and dirt and hills and valleys and water and grass and plants and animals and everything, in fact, he will make a new heaven and a new earth, there is coming a whole new creation and we are just the first evidence of it. 

As Paul says in Romans 8, the world doesn’t even know what we are going to be yet, because we are still veiled in our flesh and waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God when it becomes clear to everybody what we really are. That’s kind of exciting to know what I am in that regard.  I’m a sample as a Christian and so are you, of what’s coming.  We’re just the first look at the new creation.  Incredible.  We are his.  And he recreates us as symbols, as examples, as illustrations, of his coming new creation.  You want to know what the future is going to be like.  I’ll tell you what it’s going to be like.  It’s going to be like us all new on the inside.  It’s going to be like us after we get all new on the outside too, but we are just the first fruits.  What is that?  The first fruits is the promise of the full crop.  The promise of the full crop.  And we are the first fruits.  What a thought.  God says, I want to take you to be my special possession.  I want to take you to belong to me.  To be symbols of the full new creation yet to come. 

Do you realize that here we are in little Grace Community Church in this little pocket of bricks here tonight and the world has no idea what we are, but we are just first fruits of an incredible new creation when God recreates the whole heaven and the whole earth?  We are just the first fruits.  Creation, it says in Romans 8 is groaning waiting for its recreation.  And we also are crying out for the recreation, not of our soul, we have had that, but of our what?  Of our bodies where the flesh hangs on.

This new life we have in Christ is a taste of future glory when the whole universe will be recreated.  So, what a marvelous privilege is ours.  What is regeneration?  It’s recreation.  Making us all new from the inside.  Who does it?  God does it sovereignly.  When does it happen or how does it happen?  It happens when we hear with believing hearts the word of the gospel and then God mixes his faith with his sovereign power, transforms us and why does he do it?  Because we are to stand out in the world as living examples of where this world is headed when he recreates is.

Now to put this thing back in James context, try to tell me now that God wants us to sin and I’ll tell you you got a screw loss.  There is no way that God wants you to sin.  No way he is pleased with your sin.  He created you to be a model of a sinless society.  That’s what he wants.  So when you sin, don’t blame him.  Put the blame where it out to be on your flesh and long for the day when your flesh is redeemed. 

That’s what it means to be born again and we have much to praise God for.  Let’s bow in prayer.  Our father, we titled our message tonight, Born to Holiness.  And we indeed are committed to that.  That we have been made new in order that we who were unholy might be holy. What a tremendous truth that is.  Father we thank you so much for making us the symbols of your new creation.  And father, we pray that we might shine as lights in the world.

That we might, who have been redeemed be so grateful that we might live in such a way as to properly represent that whole new creation of which we are but the first fruits.  Forgive us for those times when we have blamed you for our sin and help us to realize that it is your desire to recreate us unto holiness.

And help us to pursue that with all our might and the power of the spirit.  And father, if there are some in our fellowship tonight who have never come to Christ who have never been born again, who have not yet received the life principle.  Who have not been changed on the inside.  Who have not been washed from all their sin.  Who have not received a new spirit and a new inner person.  A new life principle.  Who have not received the Holy Spirit to live in them.  Who are not your special beloved and intimate possession, your first fruits and a promise of a whole new universe.  Oh Lord, may this be the night when they embrace Jesus Christ.  May they believe in the one who died on the cross for them, shed his blood to pay the penalty for their sin.  Rose again the third day for their salvation.

May they put their faith in the living Jesus Christ and may they experience that glorious sovereign mercy and grace and the joy of being first fruits, living examples of the coming recreation.  Oh God, help us who know you to live up to who we are.  And rightly represent to this world what is coming in the future.  We pray in Christ’s name, amen.

https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/59-8/born-to-holiness

‘Do not contrive evil’: 2,000-year-old biblical Scriptures unearthed in Israel

First discovery of its kind since Dead Sea Scrolls

March 16, 2021 Joe Kovacs

Sections of the Book of the Twelve Minor Prophets scroll discovered in the Judean Desert. (Photo courtesy Shai Halevi, Israel Antiquities Authority)

In what’s being hailed as the first such discovery in 60 years, a new set of Dead Sea Scrolls matching the Old Testament has been unearthed in the Judean desert of Israel.

The Israel Antiquities Authority on Tuesday announced its four-year archaeological project located fragments of ancient Scriptures from the Book of the Twelve Minor Prophets, including the books of Zechariah and Nahum.

One fragment, written in Greek with God’s name appearing in paleo-Hebrew, quotes Zechariah 8:16-17: “These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to one another, render true and perfect justice in your gates. And do not contrive evil against one another, and do not love perjury, because all those are things that I hate – declares the LORD.”

An archaeologist deals with difficult conditions locating the latest Dead Sea Scrolls. (Photo by Yoli Schwartz, Israel Antiquities Authority)

Another features Nahum 1:5–6, which indicates: “The mountains quake because of Him, And the hills melt. The earth heaves before Him, The world and all that dwell therein. Who can stand before His wrath? Who can resist His fury? His anger pours out like fire, and rocks are shattered because of Him.”

The ancient treasures were located in what’s known as the “Cave of Horror,” which was discovered four years ago. Researchers actually had to rappel down a dangerous cliff to reach the opening of the cave, some 262 feet below the top, with gorges on each side. Archaeologists also used drones to survey portions of caves that were difficult to reach,adding about half of the area remainsunexplored.

A researcher rappelling to the ‘Cave of Horror.’ (Photo by Eitan Klein, Israel Antiquities Authority)

The authority stressed that accessing the cave is forbidden on safety grounds, and the treasures were part of an Israeli project to prevent thieves from stealing Holy Land artifacts, a constant threat since the first Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1947 by a Bedouin shepherd in the same area. That first set of scrolls is considered among the most important archaeological finds of the 20th century.

Israel Hasson, director of the IAA, noted: “The aim of this national initiative is to rescue these rare and important heritage assets from the robbers’ clutches.”

“The newly discovered scroll fragments are a wake-up call to the state. Resources must be allocated for the completion of this historically important operation. We must ensure that we recover all the data that has not yet been discovered in the caves, before the robbers do. Some things are beyond value.”

Archaeologists Hagay Hamer and Oriah Amichai sift finds at the ‘Cave of Horror’ in the Judean Desert. (Photo by Eitan Klein, Israel Antiquities Authority)

Hananya Hizmi, head staff officer of the Civil Administration’s Archaeology Department in Judea and Samaria, said: “This is definitely an exciting moment, as we present and reveal to the public an important and significant piece in the history and culture of the land of Israel.”

“In as early as the late 1940s, we became aware of the cultural heritage remains of the ancient population of the Land of Israel with the first discoveries of the Dead Sea Scrolls,” he added.

“Now, in this national operation, which continues the work of previous projects, new finds and evidence have been discovered and unearthed that shed even more light on the different periods and cultures of the region. The finds attest to a rich, diverse and complex way of life, as well as to the harsh climatic conditions that prevailed in the region hundreds and thousands of years ago.”

Researchers also unearthed a trove of coins from the time of the Bar Kochba Revolt, a 6,000-year-old skeleton of a partially mummified child and a basket they said could be the oldest in the world, as they used a figure of 10,000 years

old.

Is this the oldest basket in the world? (Photo by Yaniv Berman, Israel Antiquities Authority)

A CT scan indicated the child was between 6 and 12 years of age, with skin, tendons and hair partially preserved.

“On moving two flat stones, we discovered a shallow pit intentionally dug beneath them, containing a skeleton of a child placed in a fetal position,” IAA prehistorian Ronit Lupu stated.

“It was obvious that whoever buried the child had wrapped him up and pushed the edges of the cloth beneath him, just as a parent covers his child in a blanket,” she said.

“A small bundle of cloth was clutched in the child’s hands. The child’s skeleton and the cloth wrapping were remarkably well preserved, and because of the climatic conditions in the cave, a process of natural mummification had taken place; the skin, tendons, and even the hair were partially preserved, despite the passage of time.”

WATCH THE EXPLORATION:
https://players.brightcove.net/590066524001/17afba39-9902-4343-a46b-498c3530b08e_default/index.html?videoId=6240882353001

Learn astonishing Bible truth on a higher level than ever before with the Holy Spirit-filled books by Joe Kovacs

Follow Joe on Twitter @JoeKovacsNews

American History Down the Memory Hole?

by Jerry Newcombe, D.Min.

12/1/20

Last week we celebrated Thanksgiving, but is this holiday becoming so politically incorrect that one day it will be doomed to be sent down the “memory hole”?

There is a war on American history. Over the Thanksgiving weekend, Antifa and other leftwing groups toppled more historical statues. Tyler O’Neil of PJ Media (11/28/20) describes the extent of this vandalism, which included the spray-painting of anti-Thanksgiving messages and statues torn down in Chicago, Minneapolis, Portland, and Spokane.

Statues that were toppled or defaced included George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and William McKinley.

It is interesting to note, during these anti-Thanksgiving melees, that George Washington was the first president to declare Thanksgiving as a holiday—a time for the nation to thank God for us having been able to create the Constitution. And Lincoln was the first president to make Thanksgiving an annual holiday.

This weekend’s vandalism, of course, comes a few months after the toppling of all sorts of American historical statues, including Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Ulysses S. Grant, and even abolitionist Frederick Douglas. The war on America as founded continues unabated.

One of the emphases on last week’s new spate of American history-bashing seemed to focus on a grievance of some Native Americans. There was a push for what they called “a national decolonial day of action” and what they called “land back.”

O’Neil explains: “’Land back’ seemingly refers to The LANDBACK campaign, a Native American movement supposedly fighting ‘white supremacy.’ The campaign calls for the dismantling of the ‘white supremacy structures’ supposedly responsible for removing Native Americans from their lands.”

America has never been perfect. Injustices have been done. On the other hand, we have made great strides to address many of these past sins. Meanwhile, notes O’Neil, “the nefarious message of Marxist critical race theory suggests we should upend society in order to satisfy historical grievances in the name of racial justice. This toxic vision undermines the very real progress America has made in terms of establishing civil rights regardless of race and in terms of securing broad prosperity through a free market economy.”

Recently, I spoke with a Native American pastor to get his thoughts on the Pilgrims and American history for a television documentary. Rev. Billy Falling, author of My Cherokee Roots, does not agree with those who denigrate the founding of America for all the bad things that did indeed happen—later—to Native Americans.

For example, Rev. Falling said of the Pilgrims, in whose honor we celebrate Thanksgiving: “The Pilgrims did have good relations with the Indians. The Pilgrims were kind to the Indians. They showed them love. They showed them compassion. They showed them the godly way to live.”

Falling added, “As a Native American, I thank God for the Europeans that brought us the Gospel and brought us Western Civilization.” He said that the Indians need the Gospel as much as any group of people: “We owe everything to those who brought us civilization and brought us out of the cannibalism and out of all of the sins of the flesh that were practiced in the day just like the heathen of the world. It’s hard today to find a ‘sweat’ where you can go as a Native American and go inside and ‘smoke out your sins,’ but it’s easy to find Native Americans in any congregation in the United States, worshiping the Lord Jesus Christ because of the Europeans.  And I thank God for that.”

The war on American history does not bode well for our future. Tens of millions of young Americans are brainwashed into thinking America is evil and always was evil.

In his nightmare vision of a totalitarian future, “1984,” novelist George Orwell speaks of history constantly being rewritten by the state in order to satisfy those in charge. That history which was no longer acceptable to the Party was sent down the “memory holes” where it was to be burned away in “the enormous furnaces which were hidden somewhere in the recesses of the building.”

Orwell adds, “And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed—if all records told the same tale—then the lie passed into history and became truth. ‘Who controls the past,’ ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.’”

Golda Meir, former prime minister of Israel, once noted, “One cannot and must not try to erase the past merely because it does not fit the present.”

Those of us who appreciate what God has done in the creation of America have a lot of work on our hands to try and convince a lot of young Americans who have been brainwashed by Marxist assaults on American history in our schools that our history, flawed as it is, is worth preserving. Abolish Thanksgiving? No thanks.

https://www.djameskennedy.org/article-detail/american-history-down-the-memory-hole


AUDIO Bringing America Back to God

By Rev Bill Woods

Judges 1-2

Judges covers Israel’s history for 305 years after Joshua died… 

    – Israel declined, backslid, and walked away from God. 

      – It’s frightening to see the parallels between Israel then and America today.

God established Israel, and gave Himself to them. 

    – He gave them the Law — the 10 commandments and the covenant. 

      – He gave them Canaan — the best land on earth.  .

All God asked for was their love and obedience.   

    – What’d Israel do? 

      – They denied God, defied His law, and defiled the land.  God had to judge them.

The parallel with America is alarming. 

    – No nation’s had a Christian beginning like the USA. 

      – We’re also given the Lord, the law, and a land — we’ve denied Him, defied Him, and defiled our land.

1.  America’s Denied God!

God’s been expelled from nearly every public venue. 

    – It started back in the ‘60’s in public schools, when Madelyn Murray O’Hair filed a suit  because she didn’t want her son, William, to be exposed to prayers of religious people praying to a God she didn’t believe in.

Since then it’s gone to public places — Assemblies, stadiums, court houses, coins, our Pledge of Allegiance — today we’re even fighting battles about what can be preached in church! 

  • This pandemic has locked our nation down and people have lost their motivation.
  • Churches have been denied the privilege of worship which has caused further deterioration.

It’s not separation of church and state — it’s separation of America from God Who’s blessed us!

  • Currently there is a battle raging in America over who will be President of the United States.  Donald Trump has tried to lead this Nation back to a conservative base which recognizes God’s Standards.
  • Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are Liberals wanting to defy God’s Standards and put in place abortion, gay marriages, drugs, and Marxism.

How will it end?  We will get what we need or what we deserve?

What’s happened that our “Christian” Nation has come to this?  Why have we deteriorated so quickly?

2.  America’s Defied God’s Law!

The Supreme Court ruled the 10 Commandments can’t be displayed in public places.

    – People might ponder them, maybe obey them — that’d violate separation of Church and State! 

America’s trailing the same path that Israel did. 

    – The official position of our government — the 10 commandments are dangerous! 

      – Kids shouldn’t see ‘thou shalt not kill’ because what if they obeyed it!

Ladies, if you broke down in the roughest part of town, and had to walk for help. 

    – Four men come out of a house and walk just behind you………..you’d be terrified! 

 Then you hear them talking about God, they’ve just left a Bible study. 

     – They’re carrying Bibles.  How do you feel now?  (PHEW!) 

The direction our Nation’s going is foolish, and defies common sense.

    – God’s promised to Bless and prosper us doesn’t it seem dumb to “bite the hand that’s feeding us?”    

    – We’re so afraid we’ll force our beliefs on other people and violate their beliefs that we’ve let the world destroy our core of morality.

    – Islam and other pagan, God denying cults aren’t afraid to force their beliefs.

    – The Communists weren’t afraid to force their beliefs.

    – Just Christians are holding the Truth, but so anemic they’ve no backbone to share it!

Like Israel, we’ve denied God, we’ve defied His Law and

3.  America’s Defiled the Land

We’ve done this in many ways — one primary way is the spilled blood of aborted babies.

    – There have been over 57 million abortions since the Supreme Court handed

    down its Roe vs. Wade decision in 1973, allowing virtually unlimited abortions.

If you listened to the Democratic Convention you heard one of their planks is “Women’s Rights.”

    – Giving women a right to control their own body (mostly meaning abortion on demand).

You might not realize it, but the Democratic Party’s never recognized the sanctity of life.

The burning issue that led to the Civil War was the debate over the future of slavery.

The Democrats wanted to keep slaves for economic reasons and even made speeches proclaiming that to rid the country of slavery would destroy the wealth and happiness. – To them, slaves were property like cattle or sheep, not human beings!

The large plantations in the South utilized slaves to tend their agriculture and perform other menial duties.

The Republicans, under Abraham Lincoln, wanted to free the slaves because they recognized Blacks as human beings.

On the eve of the Civil War, some four million Africans and their descendants toiled as slave laborers in the South.

Slavery was interwoven into the Southern economy even though only a relatively small portion of the population actually owned slaves. – Slaves could be rented or traded or sold to pay debts, or even killed with no consequence,     because they were only property to be owned.                                                                                                                                   

Ownership of more than a handful of slaves demanded respect and contributed to social position slaves were just property of individuals and businesses, represented the largest portion of the region’s personal and corporate wealth, as cotton and land prices declined and the price of slaves soared.

The Northern states, one by one gradually abolished slavery.

When Congress established a law against slavery, Southern Democrats rebelled and that dispute led to secession, and secession brought about war in which the Northern and Western states and territories fought to preserve the Union, and the South fought to establish Southern independence as a new confederation of states under its own constitution.

The US Civil War lasted from 1861 to 1865 and led to over 618,000 casualties.

Again, life was and still is cheap to the Democratic Party.

God removed His glory from Israel for sacrificing their children to Molech. 

    – Today He’s removing Himself from the USA. 

      – We need a national revival, a moral and spiritual awakening. 

        – What’ll it take?  If 9/11 and all the recent terrorist attacks isn’t enough, what will be enough?

  • All these natural disasters are God’s efforts to wake us up.  Soon He’ll send Judgment!

God raised 13 Judges to deliver Israel from backsliding and bring national revival.

To understand imagine ‘the family fortune.’ 

    – When a family becomes rich there are 3 stages which usually occur:

           – 1st generation generates the fortune.

·            – 2nd generation speculates their fortune, through compromises and foolish decisions.

               – 3rd generation dissipates the fortune and it’s gone.

That’s how it works with nations. (And churches) 

    – 1st generation generates freedom, 2nd generation speculates it away, 3rd generation dissipates it until its gone.. 

      – Look at those nations that have forgotten God in history.

Generate

What do we know about the Israelites who entered the Promised Land? 

    – Under Joshua God gave Israel one victory after another. 

      – Walls tumbled down — kings were subdued. 

        – They’d never have won such victories without the Power of God.

That’s a picture of America! 

    – The Revolutionary War — Britain had more men, money, better machinery….it was David and

       Goliath but God was on our side — we won!

Patrick Henry’s speech sparked the revolution in 1775: 

    – “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains or slavery?

      Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take but as for me; give me

      Liberty or give me death!”

George Washington — 1st President. 

    – He took office putting his hand on the Bible.  He finished the oath and kissed the Bible. 

      – His 1st official act was to lead Congress in 2 hours of worship.  

        – What would’ve the ACLU said about that.

In his inaugural address he said, “No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the people of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency.” 

    – In plain English — God got us here, and we’d better not forget it!

Our founding fathers were clear this land was founded on God and the Bible. (Today, liberals are trying to discredit them)    

    – The Bible was the 1st book used in public schools — until the 1940’s.

Speculate.

    – Succeeding generations in Israel began to squander it all away.

Judges 2:1-2 — God said, “Look at all I’ve done for you.” 

    – I delivered you from slavery, fed you manna, guided and guarded you into the Promised Land   

      – Now look at you…why have you done this?!

Judges 2:7 — Joshua’s generation saw 1st hand the great works of God.

Judges 2:10: And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel.  — How sad!  Joshua’s generation failed to pass their values on to their children. 

    – America in the 1960’s — look where we are today. 

Americans are brainwashed by humanism, situational ethics, and relativism. 

    – We don’t understand the moral foundations and spiritual principles of our heritage. 

      – We’re trying to rewrite history and remove God.  (Losing Nation for Political Correctness)

        – One publisher said he wouldn’t publish any history before 1840.

Judges 21:25 is saddest verse: Judges 21:25:  In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.   

    – They became people with no absolutes…no standard to live by. 

    – That’s our Nation!  How frightening!

Barna Research found 67% of Americans say there’s no such thing as absolute truth.  That right and wrong aren’t clear…what’s wrong for you isn’t necessarily wrong for me. 

    – Even more frightening — they did the same survey in evangelical churches — 52% said the same thing! 

     – Imagine, Christians saying there’s no right or wrong!

How’d Israel get to this point?  Through compromises.

Judges 2:1-2 — God said drive the enemy out — have nothing to do with them. 

    – They were to separate themselves from sin, as we’re supposed to do.

They Feared the Canaanites — Judges 1:19

    – If they had trusted God they would’ve won — they were afraid to try. 

      – They said, we can’t conquer these people.  We’d better accommodate them, surrender to them — compromise with them.

Are there Canaanites we fear today?

       – Many of our leaders want to surrender in the war on terror. 

          – They say we’re losing — we should quit trying to win. 

        – We should negotiate with the terrorists — stop trying to police the world.                    

            – By doing that we’re just inviting them to come to us.

Many politicians are calling for an end to the war on drugs saying we’ve lost — we should surrender and legalize it — if we legalize it we can control it — marijuana

    – Just like we’ve controlled alcohol! 

     – Trying to control drugs by legalizing them is like trying to control a fire with gasoline.

Parents are surrendering to sexual promiscuity. 

    – “You’re not going to be good, so be careful. — Wear protection.” 

        – What message does that give kids?

We’re putting ambulances at the bottom of the cliff when we’re supposed to put fences at the edge of the cliff!

It’s time to speak up! — God’s Word. 

    – People, God wants you pure and chaste. 

      – He wants you to be a virgin when you marry, not be passed around like a bottle of Gatorade  in a football huddle! 

We’re afraid of confrontation — we might offend someone. 

    – Whom shall I offend?  Man or God? 

      – Truth usually is offensive, but it’s our only hope — John 8:32:  And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

We’re so politically correct about homosexuality that we’re afraid to say anything about it. 

    – Leave it as a personal decision in spite of what God says and in spite of what happens to a society when they go that route.   

Now America’s turning to Socialism. 

    – Ignoring lessons from countries who’ve tried it, we’re speeding down a dead end street that

      leads from Capitalism (which made us strong) to socialism, communism — we’ll soon be a nation with no wealth, no freedom, and no reason to work!

      – We’re at the tail end of the speculation generation — it’s getting scary!

Israel didn’t get rid of The Canaanites

Judges 1:28 When the Israelites grew stronger, they forced the Canaanites to work as slaves, but they never did drive them completely out of the land.

They said we can use these people. 

  – They used them — God said have nothing to do with them!                                                                      

    – Sure they’re wicked, but some good can come out of them.

See America today!  Legalized gambling, the lottery, marijuana and such things. 

    – “Look at the good — we’ll build roads and schools, and generate tax dollars! 

      – Look at the revenue we can generate!”

It’s time to stop saying look at what we can gain and ask, what are we losing?

Now we’ve turned to borrowing, not just from banks, but from the world, especially China, who now owns us. 

    – We’re borrowing our children’s future — they’ll never pay it back…but hey, that’s their problem!

Just like Israel, we favor the world over God.  We have a President who wants to “Make America Great Again,” and honor God’s Standards and the populace wants to get rid of him?

They Fellowshipped With The Canaanites — Judges 1:32 — Instead, the people of Asher moved in among the Canaanites, who controlled the land, for they failed to drive them out.

    –  Hey, they aren’t such bad people! — They worship different gods — they’re good neighbors! 

Israel learned their wicked ways, indulged in their idolatry, sacrificed their children to Molech.

Today’s cry is, there’s nothing wrong with the Gay lifestyle.  What they do is their business.   

    – They should have rights; after all, they’re good neighbors…why can’t we just get along?! 

God says that lifestyle’s an abomination — it’ll be our downfall — breaks down the family, makes a mockery out of marriage…… 

        – If we adopt it we’re begging for His judgment — God’s done it before — He’ll do it again! 

Don’t misunderstand, God loves homosexuals and so should we. 

    – But we love them, not by accepting their sin, but by confronting it with God’s truth, offering the antidote which is their only hope and ours as well!

Israel ended where every man did what was right in his own eyes…and God had to judge. 

    – The parallels today are paralyzing.

Dissipation

Judges 2:3So now I declare that I will no longer drive out the people living in your land. They will be thorns in your sides, and their gods will be a constant temptation to you.”

    – Thorns and snares………….. 

Judges 2:4When the angel of the LORD finished speaking to all the Israelites, the people wept loudly.  

They wept because God was lifting His hand of protection off of them.

On 9/11 terrorists turned planes into missiles. 

    – Jerry Falwell said, “We’d better realize God is removing His protective hand from this nation.” 

He cited our national sins of abortion and homosexuality.  The liberal press crucified him.   

    – He was right.  God’s using our current administration to give us what we’ve asked for. 

      – It’s change, we’re finding out it isn’t change we can believe in.

Revelation describes the downfall of a world power.  It’s an economic disaster.  Is that us?

    Some ask, “Would a loving God allow that?” — If we ask for it! 

“Where was God at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in December, 2012 when 28 people were killed including 20 children?”– We expelled Him in 1962!  We threw out His Bible and prayer and told God, you’re not welcome!

Now we’re in a godless generation — Is this the final generation in America?

We’re facing a very critical election……..Will we get what we need or what we deserve?

Our forefathers generated so much, our parents speculated it away. 

Will this generation dissipate it until it’s completely gone? 

    – We’re one generation away from losing our country. 

Is there any hope?  Where there’s God, there’s still hope!

Judges 2:16 — Then the LORD raised up judges to rescue the Israelites from their attackers.

God would always rather forgive than to judge…but if we insist, we should be afraid.

During the civil war a benevolent gentleman saw a young black lady being auctioned as a slave. 

    – He bid just above every bid he heard and finally won the auction, paying a very high price. 

      – After winning he started to walk away — she followed him. 

        – He said, “Young lady, I didn’t buy you to own you, but to set you free.” 

          – “Free?”  she asked. 

“Yes, free to do whatever you want.” 

    – She replied, “Then I choose to go with you.”

After all God’s done for America, how can we spit in His face? 

    – We need to pray for national revival!

If you’re not saved, consider all God’s done for you…the high price His Son Jesus paid for you.     

    – Will you choose to be His servant and serve Him?

Many soldiers died so you’d have freedom to make that choice.

Christ died so you could make it!

THERE ARE ONLY TWO DEFINING FORCES WHO HAVE EVER OFFERED TO DIE FOR YOU. 

ONE IS JESUS CHRIST AND THE OTHER THE AMERICAN SOLDIER. 

ONE DIED FOR YOUR SINS AND THE OTHER FOR YOUR FREEDOM!


PODCAST: BRINGING AMERICA BACK TO GOD

https://www.buzzsprout.com/824359/6266302


DNA study supports Bible: Canaanites homogeneous group, lived in Israel

The study analyzed individuals who lived over the course of a significant period of time, over 1,500 years.

By ROSSELLA TERCATIN MAY 30, 2020

Views of Megiddo, the ancient city from where most of the Canaanite DNA samples were taken. (photo credit: MEGIDDO EXPEDITION)

A newly published study has shed light on the genomic features of the Canaanites, confirming that the biblical people were indeed a clear and homogeneous group and supporting archaeological findings.

Moreover, the research showed that many present-day populations of the area have ancestries from groups whose ancient proxy can be related to the Middle East.

The beginning of the book of Genesis narrates that God ordered the patriarch Abraham to leave his native land of Haram and embark on a journey to “a land that I will show you.

“When they arrived in the land of Canaan, Abramam passed through the land as far as the site of Shechem, at the terebinth of Moreh. The Canaanites were then in the land,” read verses 5 and 6 in chapter 12.

Archaeologists indeed concur that around the 2nd millennium BCE, or Middle/Late Bronze Age – when according to some interpretations Abraham lived – the Canaanites were the major presence in the land.

“The Bronze Age was a very formative period in the history of Southern Levant, so we were curious to look into them,” Liran Carmel, a professor at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and one of the lead authors of the paper published on Thursday in the academic journal Cell, told The Jerusalem Post, explaining why the group of researchers chose to focus on this specific population.

“Six or seven years ago, the new field of what we can call ‘molecular history,’ emerged, with the idea of using ancient DNA to reveal patterns in more recent human history, the last few thousands of years,” he said. “At the beginning, the research focused on events that happened in Europe and western Eurasia. I thought that I really wanted to bring it here, to study demographic events and populations in this region.”

The study analyzed individuals who lived over the course of a significant period of time, over 1,500 years.

Carmel said that they started to conceive this project five years ago, but collecting the samples was a long process. The group of researchers managed to extract the DNA of 73 individuals whose remains were found in five archaeological sites in the region, including the prominent Tel Megiddo.

Located in northern Israel, Tel Megiddo was once home to one of the most important Canaanite cities and the excavations have uncovered the remains of a palace, a town gate and a sophisticated water system among others.

“We were afraid that it would be very difficult to obtain the DNA, because the climate in Israel is not very hospitable for its preservation, but when we started the project, it was discovered that there is a certain bone in the skull, the petrous bone, which is more likely to provide DNA samples. We decided to focus on that,” the geneticist told the Post. “With this technique we had a success rate of about 50%, which is good.”

In addition to the new DNA samples, the group also employed previously reported data from 20 other specimens from four sites, for a total of 93 specimens.

Even though Canaanites lived in different city-states, archaeological evidence has always suggested that they presented a common material culture. And indeed, as the paper explained, this homogeneity was found mirrored also in their genetic ancestry.

The general findings of the research suggest that among the Canaanites’ ancestors were earlier local Neolithic populations but also populations related to Chalcolithic Iran – and specifically the region of the Zagros Mountains – and/or the Bronze Age Caucasus.

Carmel pointed out that among the more unexpected findings were the genetic profiles of three individuals that at first seemed to have nothing to do with their fellow Canaanites. A more in depth-analysis exposed that they were likely descendants of relatively recent immigrants from the Caucasus.

Finally, the researchers compared the results of their study to the DNA ancestry of 14 present-day populations that bear a historical or geographical connection with Southern Levant. As explained in the paper, both Arabic-speaking and Jewish populations were found compatible with having more than 50% Middle-Eastern-related ancestry.

“In our work we analyzed the genetic makeup of the people who lived here millennia ago. At the same time, we also knew the genetic makeup of those living in the region today. We were interested in exploring whether we could see any major genetic event or if nothing had happened,” the professor explained.

“We found that many present-day populations show a large ancestry component of the combined Zagros-Canaanite element, as well as additional components related to later demographic developments,” he added.

Carmel said that they are now looking into conducting similar studies on other population groups that emerged a little later in the region.

“There were all these kingdoms that were established in the area in the Iron Age: Israel, Judah, Moab, Amon, Edom… We would like to consider them, but it is a big challenge to find samples, so this is what we are working on now,” he concluded.

https://www.jpost.com/israel-news/dna-study-supports-bible-canaanites-homogeneous-group-lived-in-israel-629596

Iranian Persecuted Christians: Majority of Iran Supported Soleimani Airstrike

Maryam Rostampour spoke at the Family Research Council in Washington, DC on Wednesday about being jailed for her Christian faith in Iran and the plight of persecuted Christians in that country. (Penny Starr/Breitbart News)

 

PENNY STARR 6 Feb 2020

Iranians who fled the Islamic Republic after facing persecution and prison sentences for their Christian faith said in remarks to Breitbart News this week that the majority of people in Iran support President Donald Trump’s decision to eliminate Iranian terror chief Qasem Soleimani.

Soleimani, a major general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), was the head of Iran’s Quds Force and responsible for its foreign terrorism strategy. U.S. officials have confirmed that he pioneered the use of roadside bombs in Iraq and Syria to kill and dismember American soldiers. Trump ordered an airstrike on Soleimani in January after a pro-Iran mob attempted to storm the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.

Breitbart News asked two of the women if Trump’s policies toward Iran were helping the people there, and specifically persecuted Christians.

“I think the Trump administration’s policies toward Iran [are] absolutely helping,” Maryam Rostampour told Breitbart News. “If you ask the majority of Iranians they support President Trump and his policies toward Iran.”

“After President Trump came into office you see a lot of standing and supporting the Iranian people,” Rostampour said, adding that remarks from Trump or Secretary State Mike Pompeo supporting Iranians and their fight for freedom “is very encouraging for the Iranian people.”

“I support one hundred percent [Trump’s] policies, especially the killing of General Soleimani,” Rostampour said. “The majority of Iranians believe that he was a terrorist. Not only in the countries of the region but also he was responsible for killing thousands of people in Iran.”

She said many of those inside Iran who were killed were protesters who had no weapons but stood up against the regime nonetheless.

“That’s why we believe the international community, the United States, European countries need to stand with the Iranian people because this is their basic human rights,” Rostrampour said. “They want freedom. They are tired of this regime.”

“And, honestly, it’s so frustrating to see that the media in the West just spreading the Iranian regime’s propaganda instead of standing for what is right,” she said. 

Rostampour said in recent months some 1,500 people have been killed and thousands more thrown into prison for blasphemy and many of those receive death sentences.

“But when we look at the Western media you don’t hear about the suffering of the Iranian people,” she said. “That’s why we appreciate what the Trump administration is doing … standing for the Iranian people and supporting human rights.”

Dabrina Bet Tamraz said she believes Trump’s policies toward Iran have “raised awareness,” especially about the lack of religious freedom in Iran.

Dabrina Bet Tamraz is the daughter of an Iranian pastor who is serving time in prison in Iran because his Christian faith is a threat to national security, the Islamic regime claims. She spoke at the Family Research Council in Washington, DC on Wednesday. (Penny Starr/Breitbart News)

Dabrina Bet Tamraz is the daughter of an Iranian pastor who is serving time in prison in Iran because his Christian faith is a threat to national security, the Islamic regime claims. She spoke at the Family Research Council in Washington, DC, on Wednesday. (Penny Starr/Breitbart News)

“We have not experienced such publicity and focus on religious freedom, especially within the country of Iran,” Bet Tamraz told Breitbart News.

Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh are Christian converts from a Muslim background. Evangelism is illegal in Iran, but the two women were devoted to spreading the gospel and handed out 20,000 copies of the New Testament.

Marziyeh Amirizadeh who fled Iran spoke at the Family Research Council in Washington, DC, on Wednesday about the persecution of Christians in Iran. (Penny Starr/Breitbart News)

Marziyeh Amirizadeh who fled Iran spoke at the Family Research Council in Washington, DC, on Wednesday about the persecution of Christians in Iran. (Penny Starr/Breitbart News)

In 2009, they were arrested and spent almost nine months in the notorious Evin Prison in Tehran. They co-wrote a book about their experience, Captive in Iran.

The women said that they believed they survived their incarceration because so many people around the world prayed for them and made their plight known. And many people sent letters expressing their support.

Although hundreds of letters poured into the prison, they never saw any of them. But in the end, they realized even that was part of God’s plan when prison guards — who did see the letters — asked questions like, “What does it mean when people say Jesus is their Shepherd?”

“Then we realized the letters weren’t for us, but for them,” Maryam said.

Dabrina Bet Tamraz is the daughter of Iranian Pastor Victor Bet Tamraz, who led a church in Iran until 2009. In 2017, he was sentenced to ten years in prison for “acting against national security by forming home churches, attending seminars abroad, and proselytizing Zionist Christianity,” according to a Family Research Council biography. In 2018, Dabrina’s mother, Shamiram Isavi, was sentenced to five years in prison on similar charges, and her brother, Ramiel Bet Tamraz, was sentenced to four months in prison for “spreading Christian propaganda.” All are still waiting to hear about their appeals.

The women took part on Wednesday in a panel discussion at FRC in Washington, DC, about the Iran regime’s ongoing persecution of Christians.

The women also reported that Iran has the fastest growing Christian underground church in the world.

As Breitbart News reported, Soleimani was not just an Iranian military leader:

Soleimani, a major general and the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force, was responsible for Iran’s terrorist operations abroad, particularly against the United States. He was believed to have coordinated a significant number of human rights atrocities in Syria in defense of dictator Bashar al-Assad and was in charge of organizing terrorist activity in Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen, and Latin America, among other areas.

He prioritized the use of roadside bombs to injure and kill American soldiers in battlefields like Iraq, where Iran largely controls the government in Baghdad and its proxy forces on the ground.

Follow Penny Starr on Twitter.

https://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2020/02/06/exclusive-iranian-persecuted-christians-majority-of-iran-supported-soleimani-airstrike/


Raising awareness for the religious freedom of Christians

VIDEO Israel, Joshua 6, Jericho

 

Beginning with “Israel – 1 – A Pagan Breeds A Nation,” through “19 Israel – Honoring The Seventh Day – Keeping The Law – A Discussion,” we have studied the nation of Israel, going back to the time of God’s covenant promise with Abraham. We have discussed such times of God’s covenant people, as their four hundred thirty years’ stay in Egypt (Exodus 12:40-41), and their departure from Egypt. We have studied such gifts of God to Israel, as the Sabbath and the Law. We have seen God’s presence in the Tent of Meeting (the tent of Moses, Ex 33:7-23), where He would speak with Moses, where Joshua was also present. We saw God’s command to Moses to build a Tabernacle in the desert (Ex 25:8), in which His presence was so strong that the following experience was realized at its completion: “34 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 35 And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle” (Ex 40:34-35. NASB 77. Note that the Tabernacle in the desert was also called the tent of meeting). In this timeline of Israel’s travels, we will see God’s covenant people leaving the Sinai desert, crossing the Jordan River, and entering into the Land of Canaan (Joshua 1:2; 3:17). We will see that Canaan was God’s gift to the Israelites, and was a land gift for Israel to conquer and possess (Josh 1:3), although it was not the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant. Canaan will also be an inheritance for the Jews during the Kingdom Age of the millennium (2 Samuel 7:8).

III. KEY CONCEPT OF JOSHUA (See Conclusion, Ephesians 2:1-10).

The key concept of the book of Joshua is possession through conflict by the power of Yahweh, the Captain of the Lord’s host. In this regard, the Book of Joshua is also like Ephesians, for though we are blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ, we must realistically face the fact of our enemies (Eph. 6:12) and strengthen ourselves by putting on the full armor of God (Eph. 6:10-11, 13-18). It is important to realize that Israel’s ownership of the land was unconditional under the Abrahamic covenant, but possession of the land was conditional upon faith and obedience. And so today, conflict and conquest by faith go with laying hold of that which we have positionally in Christ; the experience of our blessings in Christ comes through faith in the midst of conflict. (J. Hampton Keathley III, Deceased, Th.M., 1966 graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary https://bible.org/seriespage/introduction-and-background).

IV. In this article we continue our prophetic journey of Israel, as opposed to a verse-by-verse scripture discussion. We have had a brief look at Joshua in Israel 20 and 21 (I will no longer number Israel posts). In future articles, we will discuss how the Israelites in the Book of Joshua relate to the nation of Israel in the times of the millennium (Kingdom Age), and the eternal state.

V. The following data (A-D) was gathered from the commentary of Joshua by Dr. David M. Howard, Jr., Ph.D.

A. Joshua’s name means, “Yahweh saves,” or “Yahweh delivers.” His name is the same form as Jesus’s name in the New Testament (Iēsoûs, ee-ay-sooce’; of Hebrew origin (H3091)). Joshua was present with Moses at the Tent Of Meeting (tent of Moses) in the wilderness, when God was Present (Ex 33:11). When Moses was about to die, Joshua went with him to the Tent of Meeting (Tabernacle in the desert) to meet God (Deu 31:14). “Israel served the LORD all of the days of Joshua,” which speaks well of his leadership (Joshua 24:31).

B. Joshua’s original name was “Hoshea,” which means “salvation,” or “deliverance,” (Num 13:8, Dt 32:44). Numbers 13-16 explains that Moses gave Hoshea the new name “Joshua.” He accompanied Moses up to Mount Sinai (Ex 24:31). He was one of the 12 spies that went into the land of Canaan, and he and Caleb were the only ones who brought back a positive report (Num 13-14).

C. Joshua was designated as the successor to Moses by the Lord, and Moses took him before the Lord to commission him (Num 27:15-23). During the ceremony, Moses passed his authority to Joshua through the laying on of his hands. Along with Eleazar the priest, Joshua was to distribute the lands to the tribes (Num 32:28; 34:17), a role they carried out when they reached the land (Josh 14:1; 19:51).

D. God used Joshua to save His people by conquering Canaan and apportioning it to Israel as their promised land. The purpose of the Book of Joshua is to give an official account of the historical fulfillment of God’s promise to give Israel the land of Canaan. Specifically, the conquest of Canaan under Joshua’s leadership was based on the Abrahamic Covenant.

E. It is important to understand that the people of Canaan were cousins of the Israelites (very sinful cousins, which we will discuss), whom also descended from the Ark to repopulate the earth (Gen 9:2,18).

VI. In Leviticus 18, God states His laws on moral relations. In that chapter, the many sins of Canaan are exposed by God to Moses. The Israelites were bound by the Law. Lev 18 verses 4-24 state the moral condition of the Canaanites (cousins of the Israelites).

A. Leviticus 18:1-3 (NASB) 1 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘I am the Lord your God. 3 You shall not do what is done in the land of Egypt where you lived, nor are you to do what is done in the land of “Canaan” where I am bringing you; you shall not walk in their statutes.

B. Leviticus 18:4-24, God listed the sins that the people of Canaan were committing: seeing the nakedness of family members, presumably for sexual relations; fornication; adultery; child sacrifice; homosexuality; and bestiality. (https://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/40868/what-sin-did-the-residents-of-jericho-commit)

VII. The following verse shows the severity of the instructions that God gave to Joshua and the Israelites concerning their attack on Jericho:

Joshua 6:17 (NKJV) “Now the city shall be doomed by the Lord to destruction, it and all who are in it. Only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all who are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent.”

VIII. Consider the comment that comes from The Moody Bible Commentary on the Canaanites.

The city was to be destroyed and burned. All of the people and livestock were to be killed. The destruction had been ordered by God (Dt 7:2, 20:16-18) because He wanted these people eradicated: indigenous pagan survivors would bring compromise and syncretism to Israel. These people were unredeemable, exterminated for their wickedness. God had told Abraham 430 years earlier that “the sin of the Amorite was not yet complete” (Gen 15:16). Now it was. ….. They (Israelites) were to kill or drive the Canaanites into exile (Dt 20:16-18)….. Amidst the chaos of the battle, God’s grace came to one believer and her family. Rahab was spared, along with anyone wise enough to separate from their countrymen and join with Israel.

IX. Was Joshua’s conquest justified? Yes it was! Consider the following article from NAMB Blog:

Joshua’s Conquest: Was It Justified?

X. In this article we will look into the details of the triumph of Joshua and the Israelites in the promised land of Canaan, in the conquest of Jericho. In following articles, we will discuss other Israelite triumphs. As we continue forward in our study of God’s plan for His chosen people, Israel (Deu 14:2), consider Joshua’s excellence, integrity, and godly character.

XI. Joshua 6 The Conquest of Jericho (click onto link to see verses)
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Joshua+6&version=NKJV

XII. Consider the following video on the battle of Jericho.

The Walls of Jericho – Joshua 6 | Sunday School Lesson and Bible Teaching Story for Kids |HD| –
Sharefaith Kids – Published on Aug 26, 2016
Sunday School lessons for Kids! Try 4 FREE Lessons: http://sharefaithkids.com
Download the full Sunday School Lesson: http://www.sharefaith.com/set/joshua-…

XIII. God had a strange plan for the battle of Jericho. He told Joshua to have the armed men march around the city once each day, for six days. The priests were to carry the ark, blowing trumpets, but the soldiers were to keep silent. On the seventh day, the assembly marched around the walls of Jericho seven times. (https://www.learnreligions.com/battle-of-jericho-700195)

XIV. The following information (A through D) comes from the works of Pastor David Guzik, Calvary Chapel of Santa Barbara, Enduring Word Bible Commentary, Blue Letter Bible.
(https://enduringword.com/bible-commentary/joshua-6/)

A. Jericho was securely shut up because of the children of Israel (Joshua 6:1): Jericho itself was on full alert; from a human perspective, this would be a hard, if not impossible, battle. From God’s perspective, the battle was already over, because He can say to Joshua, “I have (in the past tense) given Jericho into your hand,” (Joshua 6:2).

1. Up to this point everything had been more or less preliminary and preparatory. Now, the real task before them must be faced and tackled. The Canaanites must be dispossessed if Israel is to occupy that which God has promised them.

2. Jericho was not an exceptionally large city; but it was an important, formidable fortress city. If Israel could defeat Jericho, they could defeat anything else that would face them in Canaan. Again, we see the wisdom of God as opposed to human wisdom, in that Israel faces their most difficult opponent first.

B. You shall march around the city (Joshua 6:3): The method of warfare was one that made absolutely no sense according to military intelligence. It required total dependence on God. It required great faith from Joshua because he had to explain and lead the nation in this plan. It required great faith from the elders and the nation, because they had to follow Joshua in this plan (Joshua 6:4).

C. The wall of the city will fall down flat. And the people shall go up every man straight before him (Joshua 6:5): It was a plan for victory whereby it would clearly be the work of the LORD. Yet God gave them something to do, so that Israel could work in partnership with God.

D. Obviously, it was something that God could have done without Israel’s help at all, but He wanted them to be a part of His work – as He wants us to be a part of His work today.

E. The Moody Bible Commentary. “It likely indicates that the walls fell “outward” and down the slope.” (My note. Consider the walls falling “outward!”)

XV. Video Of Archaelogical Study Of Walls Of Jericho.

Walls of Jericho – Whispering Past – Published on Aug 8, 2017 – The evidence for the ancient city of Jericho and it’s walls falling is there for the pondering!

XVI. Considering the sin of Jericho, Sodom, and Gomorrah (we must consider all three cities).

A. Did God make a mistake? After God ordered the destruction of Jericho, did He say,”Oops!” Has God changed His mind on the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah? Consider that it was sin that caused Adam and Eve to be kicked out of the Garden of Eden, and that it was sin that put Christ on the Cross. Sin is “serious stuff.” Let’s consider the sin that caused the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

B. There are many that hold to the view that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was a lack of hospitality. e.g., “Sodom’s sins are blasphemy, plundering, and persecuting the poor, not homosexual behavior.” https://affirmation.org/sodom-and-gomorrah-arrogant-overfed-and-unconcerned/

C. Let’s take a look at the facts of the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah.

1. Genesis 18:20 (NASB) “And the Lord said, “The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave.”

2. God Questions. https://www.gotquestions.org/Sodom-and-Gomorrah.html (see excerpts below from article.) Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion.” …..while homosexuality was not the only sin in which the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah indulged, it does appear to be the primary reason for the destruction of the cities…Those who attempt to explain away the biblical condemnations of homosexuality claim that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was inhospitality…Sodom and Gomorrah serve as a powerful example of how God feels about sin in general, and homosexuality specifically.

3. Ryrie Study Bible. Genesis 19:5. “that we may have relations with them, i.e., have sex with them. God’s attitude toward the sin of homosexuality is seen in the destruction of Sodom and in Lev 18:22,29; 20:13; Rom 1:26; 1 Tim 1:10.

4. Consider the sin of Gen 18:20 in the world in which we live today, “their sin is exceedingly great.”

(a) Recently, as I was watching the various news reports of Hurricane Dorian, I heard a reporter say, “the storm has a mind of its own.” Really? That is like saying that “Mother Nature” is directing the things that are happening in our world. First of all, let me say that, “there is no Mother Nature!” However, there definitely is, “Father God,” with the following verse of scripture that describes His sovereignty:

(b) Psalm 103:19 (NKJV) “The Lord has established His throne in heaven, And His kingdom rules over all.”

(c) After 911, “god,” little “g,” was welcomed into our nation’s “churches,” little “c.” However, Christ, our Lord and Savior, has been denied His proper place of honor and deity ever since that day, to include “so-called religious places” and places of influence, such as “news, government, media, employment, academia, entertainment, new world order, et el.”

XVII. Conclusion. God’s Love.

There are many people that can not understand how “a loving God,” can destroy complete cities of people, such as Jericho and Sodom and Gomorrah, as well as other cities, to include the destruction that will come during the “yet future” tribulation. Such people cite the unfairness of God, as it relates to those whom may be “the innocents” of His judgments. Psalm 103:19, and other similar scriptures tell of God’s sovereignty over His creation, also His love and mercy over “all.” Consider the nature of God in the following verses:

A. 1 John 4:8 (NKJV) “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

B. Psalm 136:1 (NKJV) “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.”

C. We are told in scripture that, “we must be born again.” We are also told that God causes the New Birth to take place.

1. John 3:3 (NKJV) “Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

2. John 3:8 (NKJV) “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

3. Ezekiel 36:26 (NKJV) “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you;”

4. Ephesians 2:1-10 shows a result of the new birth.

D. Whether the situation of God’s judgment falls on such circumstances as “Jericho and Sodom and Gomorrah,” or where small children are taught by their parents to hate God’s chosen people, Israel (Deu 14:2),” remember the truth of Psalm 136:1. There has never been an instance of Christ expressing anything that is less than love for children (Matthew 19:14). God is ready, willing, and able to cause anybody’s spirit to be born again which, upon death, causes such a person to be in the immediate Presence of God. Consider the account of a beggar, whose name was Lazarus.

1. Context: Luke 16:19-23 https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=luke+16%3A19-23&version=NKJV

2. Specific verse. Luke 16:22 “So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom.”

 Opening video.

The Martins – Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho [Live]
Gaither Music TV – Published on Aug 9, 2012 – The Martins – Official Video for “Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho (Live)”, available now!
Buy the full length DVD/CD ‘The Old Rugged Cross’ here: http://smarturl.it/TheOldRuggedCross
Available at iTunes: http://smarturl.it/TheOldRuggedCross.iT
Sign-Up for the Gaither Newsletter and receive $5 off your next online purchase: http://smarturl.it/GaitherNewsletter

Please follow this blog. I will see you again in seven days.

Original here

VIDEO Iran has world’s ‘fastest-growing church,’ despite no buildings – and it’s mostly led by women: documentary

 

Sept 27, 2019 By Caleb Parke

A new film tells the story of the “fastest-growing church” in the world, an underground, persecuted Christian movement in a country known for exporting radical Islamic terrorism — Iran.

People in Iran, a Muslim-majority nation, are fleeing Islam in droves as believers bow their knee to Jesus and become aggressively pro-Israel, according to the documentary “Sheep Among Wolves Volume II.”

“What if I told you Islam is dead?” one unidentified Iranian church leader says in the film, which was directed by Dalton Thomas and produced by Frontier Alliance International Studios.

“What if I told you the mosques are empty inside Iran?” he continues. “What if I told you no one follows Islam inside of Iran? Would you believe me? This is exactly what is happening inside of Iran. God is moving powerfully inside of Iran.”

IRAQI CHRISTIAN SURVIVES BEING BURNED ALIVE BY ISIS 3 TIMES: ‘[JESUS] SPOKE TO ME’

The pastor adds: “What if I told you the best evangelist for Jesus was the Ayatollah Khomeini? The ayatollahs brought the true face of Islam to light and people discovered it was a lie…After 40 years under Islamic law — a utopia according to them — they’ve had the worst devastation in the 5,000-year history of Iran.”

More Iranians have come to faith in Jesus in the last 20 years than the 1,300 years since Islam swept through Persia-combined.

More Iranians have come to faith in Jesus in the last 20 years than the 1,300 years since Islam swept through Persia-combined.

Thomas calls the movement “the Iranian awakening.”

“It owns no property, no buildings, no central leadership, and is predominantly led by women,” he said in a statement.

NORTH KOREA PROPAGANDA VIDEO DETAILS CHRISTIAN MARTYR’S ‘MISSION FROM THE ENEMY’ TO BUILD UNDERGROUND CHURCH

Named after the Bible verse Matthew 10:16 which says, “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves,” the documentary claims “Muslim-background Iranians are leading a quiet but mass exodus out of Islam and bowing their knees to the Jewish Messiah — with kindled affection toward the Jewish people.”

But the new believers in the Islamic Republic face great risks.

CHRISTIAN PERSECUTION CLOSE TO ‘GENOCIDE LEVELS,’ LARGELY IGNORED DUE TO ‘POLITICAL CORRECTNESS’: REPORT

“We know that if they get us, the first thing they will do to us as a woman is rape us and then they will beat us and ultimately they will kill us,” one believer said. “This is the decision we have made that we want to offer our bodies as sacrifices. Because I have this thought when I wake up, that when I leave, that door I might not come back.”

A leader of the Iranian underground church explains their goal is not planting churches but rather making disciples, the majority of whom are women.

MORE ON FAITH

“Disciples forsake the world and cling to Jesus ’till he comes. Converts don’t,” the leader said. “Disciples aren’t engaged in a culture war. Converts are. Disciples cherish, obey, and share the word of God. Converts don’t. Disciples choose Jesus over anything and everything else. Converts don’t. Converts run when the fire comes. Disciples don’t.”

And a pastor explains everything they do underground is built on prayer.

“We find people of peace through prayer. We even find locations through prayer,” he says. “[Jesus] has come in their dreams or he’s come miraculously in their lives. When we hear this, we know that Jesus has gone ahead of us.”

The Servant of the LORD, Israel, the Messiah; Old Testament Parables and Miracles

The Servant of the LORD, Israel and the Messiah

Isaiah 42:1 – “Behold My Servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.”

Comparison List of Israel and the Messiah
The Servant Israel The Servant Messiah
Similarities Similarities
Israel was Chosen by the LORD. Isaiah 41:8-9; Isaiah 45:4; Isaiah 43:10; Isaiah 44:1; Isaiah 49:7 The Messiah Was Chosen by the LORD. Isaiah 42:1
Israel was Formed by the LORD in the Womb. Isaiah 44:2; Isaiah 44:21; Isaiah 44:24 The Messiah Was Formed by the LORD in the Womb. Isaiah 49:1, 5
Israel was Strengthened and Comforted by the LORD. Isaiah 41:10; Isaiah 42:6 The Messiah Was Strengthened and Comforted by the LORD. Isaiah 42:1
Israel was Hidden in the shadow of the LORD’S hand. Isaiah 51:6 The Messiah Was Hidden in the shadow of the LORD’S hand. Isaiah 49:2
Israel was Endowed with the Spirit of the LORD. Isaiah 44:3 The Messiah Was Endowed with the Spirit of the LORD. Isaiah 42:1
Israel was Honored by that LORD. Isaiah 43:4 The Messiah Was Honored by that LORD. Isaiah 49:5
Israel was A Light to the Nations. Isaiah 42:6; Isaiah 51:4 A Light to the Nations. Isaiah 49:6
Israel Will give the Word of God and Justice to the Nations. Isaiah 51:4-8; Isaiah 42:21; Isaiah 42:24 The Messiah Will give the Word of God and Justice to the Nations. Isaiah 42:4
The LORD Is Glorified in Israel. Isaiah 44:23 The LORD Is Glorified in the Messiah. Isaiah 53:10; Isaiah 49:3
The Servant Israel The Servant Messiah
Differences Differences
Israel Despairs. Isaiah 40:27; Isaiah 41:8-10; Isaiah 49:14, etc. The Messiah is Not Discouraged. Isaiah 42:4; Isaiah 50:7-9 (also see Isaiah 49:4)
Israel is Rebellious and Sinful. Isaiah 48:4; Isaiah 43:27 The Messiah is Obedient And Sinless. Isaiah 50:5; Isaiah 53:4-6; Isaiah 53:12
Israel is Blind and Deaf. Isaiah 42:18-25 The Messiah Hears God’s Words and Obeys. Isaiah 50:4-5
Israel Suffers Gods Wrath Unwillingly. Isaiah 51:21-23, etc. Messiah Willingly Receives God’s Wrath. Isaiah 50:6; Isaiah 53:4-9; (also see Isaiah 50:7-9)
Israel Suffers for Her Own Sins. Isaiah 42:24-25; Isaiah 43:22-28; Isaiah 47:6; Isaiah 50:1 The Messiah Bears the Sins of Others Although He Did Not Deserve It. Isaiah 53
Israel Will Be Redeemed. Isaiah 43:1-7, etc. The Messiah’s Mission Is to Redeem. Isaiah 49:5

Isaiah 49:6 – “And he said, It is a small thing that thou should be My Servant… I will also give thee as a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.”

https://www.bible-history.com/old-testament/types-servant.html


Parables in the Old Testament

Habakkuk 2:6 – Won’t all these take up a parable against him, and a taunting proverb against him, and say, ‘Woe to him who increases that which is not his, and who enriches himself by extortion! How long?’

There were many parables spoken in ancient times and especially in the Bible. The Hebrew word “mashal” referred to a comparison of a familiar earthly thing with a heavenly or spiritual truth that was to be understood.

Parables pointed to the fact that man is made in God’s image, he is of the earth but also of the divine. The power of a parable lies in its ability to use a simple every day experience to help the hearer to understand a truth set forth about God’s kingdom. Parables help man to perceive the difference between man’s kingdom and God’s kingdom. The parable leads the listener to a choice, to choose this day whom to serve.

Jesus confirmed all of the parables mentioned in the Old Testament (Luke 11:49-51).

Below is a list of several Old Testament parables.

List of Parables in the Old Testament
The Parables The Speakers The Bible Verses
The Poor Man’s Lamb Nathan to King David 2 Samuel 12:1-4
The 2 Fighting Brothers and the Avengers of Blood The Wise Widow from Tekoa 2 Samuel 14:1-11
The Escaped Prisoner A Prophet to King Ahab 1 Kings 20:35-40
The Fruitless Vineyard Isaiah to the house of Israel and the men of Judah Isaiah 5:1-7
The 2 Eagles and the Vine Ezekiel to the house of Israel Ezekiel 17:3-10
The Lioness and her Cubs Ezekiel to the house of Israel Ezekiel 19:2-9
The Boiling Cauldron Ezekiel to the house of Israel Ezekiel 24:3-5

2 Samuel 12:7 – “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says…”

https://www.bible-history.com/old-testament/parables.html


Miracles in the Old Testament

Mark 6:52 – For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened.

God did many miracles throughout the Bible, and in the Old Testament there were many miracles surrounding the nation of Israel that the entire world heard about. Below is a list of several Old Testament miracles. A Miracle is when God intervenes in a situation or event that cannot be explained in scientific terms or by human reasoning.

Jesus confirmed all of the miracles mentioned in the Old Testament (Luke 11:49-51).

List of Miracles in the Old Testament
The Miracles The Bible Verses
Egypt
Aaron’s Rod Is Turned into a Serpent Exodus 7:10-12
The 10 Plagues
1. Water Is Turned into Blood Exodus 7:20-25
2. Frogs Exodus 8:5-14
3. Lice Exodus 8:16-18
4. Flies Exodus 8:20-24
5. Murrain (Anthrax) Exodus 9:3-6
6. Boils Exodus 9:8-11
7. Thunder and Hail Exodus 9:22-26
8. Locusts Exodus 10:12-19
9. Darkness Exodus 10:21-23
10. The Firstborn Are Slain Exodus 12:29, 30
The Parting of the Red Sea Exodus 14:6, 21-31
The Wilderness
Healing the Bitter Waters of Marah Exodus 15:23-25
The Manna from Heaven Exodus 16:14-35
Water from the Rock at Rephidim Exodus 17:5-7
The Death of Nadab and Abihu Leviticus 10:1, 2
The Burning of the Congregation at Taberah Numbers 11:1-3
The Deaths of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram Numbers 16:31-35
Aaron’s Rod That Budded at Kadesh Numbers 17:8
Water from the Rock at Meribah Numbers 20:7-11
Lifting up The Brazen Serpent Numbers 21:8, 9
The Parting of the Jordan River Joshua 3:14-17
The Land of Canaan – Joshua
The Fall of Jericho Joshua 6:6-25
The Sun and the Moon Standing Still Joshua 10:12-14
The Land of the Philistines
Dagon Fell and Philistines were Cursed 1 Samuel 5:4-6
The Land of Israel –  The Kings
The Death of Uzzah for Touching the Ark 2 Samuel 6:7
The Withering Of Jeroboam’s Hand 1 Kings 13:4
The Destruction of the Altar at Bethel 1 Kings 13:5-6
Uzziah is Smitten with Leprosy 2 Chronicles 26:16-21
The Land of Israel – Elijah
Replenishing the Oil and Meal at Zarephath 1 Kings 17:14-16
Raising the Widow’s Son at Zarephath 1 Kings 17:17-24
The Sacrifice and Prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel 1 Kings 18:30-38
The Burning of the Captains and their Host 2 Kings 1:10-12
The Parting of the Jordan River 2 Kings 2:7, 8
The Land of Israel – Elisha
The Parting of the Jordan River 2 Kings 2:14
The Healing of the Waters of Jericho 2 Kings 2:21, 22
The Destruction of the Mocking Children at Bethel 2 Kings 2:24
Water Is Supplied to the Armies in Moab 2 Kings 3:16-20
The  Multiplication of the Widows Oil 2 Kings 4:2-7
The Raising of the Shunammite’s Son 2 Kings 4:32-37
Curing the Deadly Pottage 2 Kings 4:38-41
The Feeding of the 100 with 20 Loaves 2 Kings 4:42-44
Naaman the Syrian General is Cured of Leprosy 2 Kings 5:10-14
Naaman’s  Leprosy Clings to Gehazi 2 Kings 5:20-27
The Iron Axe Did Float 2 Kings 6:5-7
The Syrian Army Was Smitten 2 Kings 6:18-20
The Dead Man Was Raised by Touching Elisha’s Bones 2 Kings 13:21
The Mediterranean Sea – Jonah
Jonah is Released from the Great Fish Jonah 2:1-10
The Land of Israel – Isaiah
Destruction of Sennacherib’s Army 2 Kings 19:35
The Sun Dial Returned 10 Degrees 2 Kings 20:9-11
Babylon During the Captivity of Judah
3 Jews in the Fiery Furnace Daniel 3:19-27
Daniel is Delivered from the Den of Lions Daniel 6:16-23
The Writing on the Wall Daniel 5:22-31

John 6:14 – Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.

https://www.bible-history.com/old-testament/miracles.html


Did God Promise You Prosperity?

by Cameron Buettel Monday, July 8, 2019

In the lead-up to the Truth Matters conference in October, we will be focusing our attention on the sufficiency, authority, and clarity of Scripture. Of our previous blog series, none better embodies that emphasis than Frequently Abused Verses. The following entry from that series originally appeared on September 25, 2015. -ed.

What does this verse mean to you?

Most of us have heard that question before—it lurks inside countless Bible studies and Sunday-school classes. It is a postmodern mindset that has become pervasive in the church.

When reading a book, an article, or a blog post, we implicitly understand that its meaning is bound to the author’s intent. The same ought to be true for Scripture—God alone is the arbiter of what He means through what He has revealed in His Word. Yet Scripture is now subject to the whims of the reader, who is prone to read personal experience into the text instead of discovering—and coming under—its objective truth. The worst forms of this are when people think they’re helping God—improving upon His perfection, sanitizing His story, and smoothing out the sharp edges of His truth.

Life is not as subjective as we might like to think. We don’t get to decide what a red light means when we approach a traffic signal. Bank managers can’t arbitrarily determine your account balance. And, thankfully, airlines don’t hire pilots who take the liberty to decide what “runway” means to them. It is absurd to think that we can approach God’s Word with lower standards. God says what He means and means what He says, always speaks without error, and has been kind enough to speak to us with simplicity and clarity.

The tsunami of topical preaching we see today has scarred the evangelical landscape. A topical message is not wrong in and of itself, but problems are inevitable when that becomes the main diet of a congregation. Pastors who preach texts divorced from their context invariably beget congregations who interpret texts divorced from the Author’s intent. The result is that too many believers today have a propensity to treat God’s Word as their own private smorgasbord of theology.

Another place you see this trend—interpreting verses out of context—in action is in choosing of a “life verse.” Many Christians like to pick a verse that speaks to them and try to make it the theme for their lives. It’s no surprise that none of the passages concerning God’s judgment make the cut. Instead, the spectacular promises of blessing and success reign supreme.

And sitting on top of the mountain of verses evangelicals frequently misappropriate and misapply is Jeremiah 29:11, “‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.’”

It’s All About You

Unsurprisingly, Jeremiah 29:11 is a go-to verse for celebrity pastor, Joel Osteen. His takeaway is that “God desires to see you flourish in this life. He wants to see you come out of setbacks stronger, wiser, increased and promoted. He wants to give you hope in your final outcome and see you come to a flourishing finish.” [1]

Andy Stanley, pastor of America’s largest congregation, says “We may not know for certain everything our future holds, but we know that God thinks good thoughts toward us, to give us a future and a hope.” [2]

Rick Warren also typifies that me-centric approach in his book, The Purpose-Driven Life:

If you have felt hopeless, hold on! Wonderful changes are going to happen in your life as you begin to live it on purpose. God says, “I know what I am planning for you. . . . I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you. I will give you hope and a good future.” [3]

One has to wonder if Osteen, Stanley, or Warren understand how badly they have misconstrued and misapplied God’s Word—and how they’ve misled their followers. They give zero acknowledgement to the Author’s original intent or His original audience when they rip this verse from its biblical setting. Reading Jeremiah 29:11 in context paints a starkly different picture and delivers a far more profound truth.

It’s Not About You

The nation of Israel had been taken by the Babylonians into captivity. The Temple, as well as the entire city of Jerusalem, was in ruins. Their king was in chains with his eyes gouged out. The glory of Israel as a nation was finished. But in the midst of that terrible situation, God spoke through His prophet Jeremiah:

Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon, “Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there and do not decrease. Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.” For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, “Do not let your prophets who are in your midst and your diviners deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams which they dream. For they prophesy falsely to you in My name; I have not sent them,” declares the Lord.

For thus says the Lord, “When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,” declares the Lord, “and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.”

Because you have said, “The Lord has raised up prophets for us in Babylon”—for thus says the Lord concerning the king who sits on the throne of David, and concerning all the people who dwell in this city, your brothers who did not go with you into exile—thus says the Lord of hosts, “Behold, I am sending upon them the sword, famine and pestilence, and I will make them like split-open figs that cannot be eaten due to rottenness. I will pursue them with the sword, with famine and with pestilence; and I will make them a terror to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a curse and a horror and a hissing, and a reproach among all the nations where I have driven them, because they have not listened to My words,” declares the Lord, “which I sent to them again and again by My servants the prophets; but you did not listen,” declares the Lord. You, therefore, hear the word of the Lord, all you exiles, whom I have sent away from Jerusalem to Babylon. (Jeremiah 29:4–20)

In context, verse 11 is clearly not meant as a love letter or a promise of blessing to individual believers in the twenty-first century.

And here are a few other points to consider: How do Joel Osteen, Andy Stanley, and Rick Warren know that God is directly speaking to their congregants in verse 11 but not in Jeremiah 29:17–19, where God promises to send “the sword, famine and pestilence”? Have they considered that God’s soothing promises in verse 11 are delivered to Israel while He has His foot on their neck in judgment (Jeremiah 29:4)? What about the fact that those who received the promise in verse 11 would likely not live to experience its fulfillment seventy years later (Jeremiah 29:10). And in their egotistical exegesis, can they grasp the irony that Israel was in Babylonian slavery because they listened to prophets who tickled their ears (Jeremiah 29:8–9)?

There is something far greater and eternally significant that we learn from this story in its true context. God does not abandon His people! In spite of their sin, God was relentlessly faithful to His covenants regarding Israel’s future and His promised Messiah. Not even Babylonian captivity could prevent His promises from coming to pass.

Likewise His promises to us as New Testament believers concerning our calling and election are also unshakeable (John 10:27–29). And they provide far more lasting comfort than Old Testament verses plucked out of context and misappropriated for modern audiences.

https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B150925

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started
%d bloggers like this: