Sunday, November 30, 2014

Giving Thanks

In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight.  Luke 10:21  NKJV

“What are you thankful for?”  How many times have you heard this question, especially around this time of year when many gather together for the sole purpose of giving thanks?  I’m sure that over the years most of us have thought about this and made mental lists of all the things we are thankful for, and more than likely if we compared our lists we would find that a great many of us are thankful for many of the same things.  As I thought this week about thankfulness, I began to wonder if it would be appropriate to consider what it might be that God is thankful for, and to consider what, if anything, He would put on His list of things to be thankful for.

There have been times in my life where I wished I was a lot smarter than I am, yet truthfully all I have to do at times like that is read this passage from Luke and give thanks that I am a simple minded soul.  I understand the simplicity of the Gospel and the need I have for salvation, so it makes perfect sense to me that God created me, loves me, and has provided a way for me to spend eternity with Him.  The one question I continually seem to ask myself, however, is I can’t help but wonder if God is thankful that He made me, especially when I think about all the times I have failed Him?

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”    Jeremiah 1:5  NKJV

Something God tells Jeremiah in this passage applies equally to all of us, and that is that in His omniscience God not only knew us before we were conceived, He also was the one who formed us in the womb.  Before He ever made me, God knew exactly how I would turn out, the decisions I would make that would hurt Him, and especially all of the times I would disappoint Him.  God still chose to create me.  I think the question “ is God thankful He created me?” was answered when He made the decision to do so.  My response should be to do everything in my power to please Him in thankfulness for what He has done for me.

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; “that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. “And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: “I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. “O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. “And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”    John 17:20-26  NKJV

In this passage Jesus is praying to the Father just before He is to suffer the agony of the cross.  Yet His prayer is for us, those who have made the choice to accept the sacrifice He is about to make on our behalf, and not for Himself.  Have you ever thought about the fact that the Son of God has prayed for you?  That His concern in the last moments of His life on earth was for us, and not Himself?  Just thinking of that gives us all something to be eternally thankful for and something we should never forget.  Of all the things we might consider giving thanks for, Jesus Christ loves us.

“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.                            John 15:13-15  NKJV

Sharing the message of the Gospel of Christ with others is the reason we are here, and the way in which we can thank God for what He has done for us.  As we arrive at the time of the year for giving thanks, and giving presents, may we never forget the greatest gift we have been given, and the reason we have to give thanks.  May we all commit to look for ways to share this joy with others in the short time we have left in which to do it.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.  James 1:17  NKJV

Keep watching.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

How Many Temples?

“And beside the border of Judah, from the east side to the west side, shall be the allotment which you shall set apart, 25,000 cubits in width, and in length like one of the portions, from the east side to the west side; and the sanctuary shall be in the middle of it. “The allotment that you shall set apart to the LORD shall be 25,000 cubits in length and 10,000 in width. “The holy allotment shall be for these, namely for the priests, toward the north 25,000 cubits in length, toward the west 10,000 in width, toward the east 10,000 in width, and toward the south 25,000 in length; and the sanctuary of the LORD shall be in its midst.             Ezekiel 48:8-10  NASB
As most are by now aware, one of the largest flashpoints and point of contention between Muslims and Jews is access to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.  The movement to rebuild the Jewish Temple seems to grow stronger by the day, and lately it also seems that it has begun to evolve from a solely religious movement to a political one as well.  As more and more Jews begin to express their desire to see the Temple rebuilt, we see anger and violence on the part of the Muslim community grow to an extent that not only are there protests, but as we saw a few weeks ago, an attempted assassination of a Jewish rabbi who has long advocated simply for the right of Jews to pray on the mount.

Many scholars believe that the only person capable to solve this conflict to the satisfaction of both sides is the coming world leader known as the antichrist.  After the defeat of Israel’s enemies by God revealed in Ezekiel 38-39, it is believed that as part of the peace agreement enforced by the antichrist Israel will be allowed to rebuild their temple and resume their worship according to Old Testament law.   The generally accepted school of thought is that this temple will be built on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem sharing space with the existing Muslim shrines, will be defiled by the antichrist after three and one half years, and eventually be destroyed at the end of the Great Tribulation when the Temple Mount is split in two by a great earthquake.

And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, Which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, From east to west, Making a very large valley; Half of the mountain shall move toward the north And half of it toward the south.                   Zechariah 14:4  NKJV

This destruction will naturally require a fourth temple to be built, which is the one we find described by Ezekiel in chapters 40-48 which scholars refer to as the “Millennial Temple”.  It is a massive structure much larger than the original temple, and according to the description given in the passage above, is located not in Jerusalem but north of the city “beside the border of Judah”.  By studying scripture and comparing the geographical descriptions of the different areas revealed in this passage, many believe that the location of the temple will be where the ancient city of Shiloh was located.  There is historical precedent for this location because this is where the Tabernacle stood for close to 400 years before the Israelites made Jerusalem their capitol.

Of course, leave it to me to throw a wrench into the accepted school of thought.  As I studied the subject of the temple, and began to search the scripture for passages relating to temples past and present, I noticed a few things that made me wonder if there was something we might be missing if we follow the accepted school of thought concerning four temples.  First of all, the Bible only speaks of three temples, not four.  Nowhere are we told of a third temple being built on the Temple Mount, rather it has simply been assumed that one will be.  The only temples revealed in scripture are Solomon’s temple, Zerubbabel’s or Herod’s temple, and the Millennial temple.  

Now you might think that in itself may not be enough to cause those who advocate for four temples to rethink their position, and I would agree.  So let’s look at something else that might be cause to reconsider.  Most understand that the antichrist will defile the temple after three and a half years have elapsed after the peace agreement, an event referred to as the “abomination of desolation”.

Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate.”          Daniel 9:27  NKJV

We also know that this has happened once before in 167 BC by Antiochus IV Epiphanes.  This resulted in a revolt by the Jews and eventually to a cleansing and rededication of the temple which is celebrated to this day by the Jewish holiday Hanukkah.  So what is my point?  There is a saying by biblical scholars which states; “pattern is prologue”.  The study of typology in the scripture has shown that much of what has happened throughout the Bible was setting a pattern that would be repeated at a later date.  My question is this; if the antichrist defiling the temple is a repeat of the first “abomination of desolation”, wouldn’t it be logical to assume that the future temple will be cleansed and rededicated rather than destroyed?

I want you to look closely at a verse from this same chapter from Daniel, which contains a phrase that I believe may be overlooked by many.

“Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place.                    Daniel 9:24  NASB

This verse relates what has come to be known as the prophecy of Daniel’s seventy weeks.  It reveals God’s plan for the nation of Israel from that time until the end when He will return to earth.  It also lists six things which will be accomplished at the end of those seventy weeks.  Did you catch that last phrase?  “and to anoint the most holy  place”.  This phrase in the Hebrew is “mashach qodesh qodesh” , which is translated “to Anoint; to smear, anoint, spread a liquid”.   Anoint what?   Scholars and commentators agree that the most holy (place) is the temple.  If this is the case, doesn’t it seem logical to assume that it is not destroyed, but rather consecrated for millennial worship?   Are we being told here that there are just three temples, not four?  This phrase was used in the book of Exodus as well and was also referring to anointing the Tabernacle.

And thou shalt take the anointing oil, and anoint (mashach) the tabernacle, and all that is therein, and shalt hallow it, and all the vessels thereof: and it shall be holy. Exodus 40:9

Again, this might not be enough for some to change their belief in how many temples there will be, but I want to suggest that this scenario is a very believable one in light of the current situation that exists between the Muslims and the Jewish people.  It seems much more believable that the antichrist could get the Islamic world to allow a temple to be built in Shiloh rather than on the Temple Mount.  With the authority of the prophecy of Ezekiel, it seems reasonable that the Jewish people would agree as well.  As I have studied this subject, I have found that there are others who have asked this same question and written their own take on this possibility.  One whom you might be familiar with is Jack Kelley of I would highly recommend that if you are interested in this idea, visit his website and read his conclusions about the temple in Shiloh.

Whatever God’s plans for the temple mount are, it appears that we will know very, very soon just what they are.  Of course, let’s not forget that as believers in Jesus Christ, and having accepted His sacrifice for our sins, we will watch these events from the comfort of our heavenly home.

Keep watching.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Temple Belongs to God

Even them I will bring to My holy mountain, And make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices Will be accepted on My altar; For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.”    Isaiah 56:7  NKJV

As a result of recent events, I believe most everyone by now understands that the area in Jerusalem known as the Temple Mount is by far the most contentious piece of real estate in Israel.  The attempted assassination of Yehudah Glick, a Rabbi who has long advocated for allowing Jews to pray on the Temple Mount, has brought new and increasing tensions to an already volatile area of the Middle East.  Riots and protests have been the order of the day for the past week or so and only in the past few days have we seen a calming of the tensions surrounding the mount.

Yet might this simply be the calm before the real storm?  I enjoy reading quotes in the news from both Islamic and Jewish officials arguing over the Temple Mount, especially when they choose to use the term “ownership”.  From conversations I have, sometimes I think I am the only one who has noticed this?  In the prophecy of Isaiah, it seems to me that God chooses to address this very argument by four times stating exactly who the real owner is.  Of the Temple, God says “My holy mountain”, “My house of prayer”, “My altar”, and “My house”.  I think you could make the case here that He settles the ownership issue rather emphatically if not completely.

Yet in spite of the opposition by those opposed to an place of worship for the Jews, the Bible makes it very clear in many places, including the Isaiah passage, that there soon will be a rebuilt Temple in Israel for worship and for sacrifice.  I am sure you will recall this passage from Daniel referring to the coming desecration which will occur in the Temple by the antichrist at the beginning of the Great Tribulation.

Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate.”    Daniel 9:27  NKJV

Paul the Apostle also refers to this same event in his letter to the Thessalonians.

Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.                                                2 Thessalonians 2:3-4  NKJV 

So if there obviously will be a rebuilt Temple sometime in the near future, it seems logical that as watchers we should be sensitive and cognizant of any and all developments surrounding the Temple Mount and the movement to allow the Jewish people a place to worship.  How soon might all of this play out?  Most scholars believe that it is the antichrist who manages to convince all parties to agree to the construction of the future Temple in Israel.  This will obviously be quite an accomplishment yet there is a possible answer to the “how” part of this question which I think might surprise you, and the key to that is found in the following prophecy from Ezekiel.

“by the border of Judah, from the east side to the west, shall be the district which you shall set apart, twenty-five thousand cubits in width, and in length the same as one of the other portions, from the east side to the west, with the sanctuary in the center. “The district that you shall set apart for the LORD shall be twenty-five thousand cubits in length and ten thousand in width. “To these—to the priests—the holy district shall belong: on the north twenty-five thousand cubits in length, on the west ten thousand in width, on the east ten thousand in width, and on the south twenty-five thousand in length. The sanctuary of the LORD shall be in the center.            Ezekiel 48:8-10  NKJV

Exactly what is this passage telling us?  Well, I think I will take that up next week but in the meantime I will leave you with a few links which I hope will give you some idea as to the situation in Jerusalem right now and the seriousness of the tensions surrounding the Temple Mount.

Keep Watching.

We’re Ready to Rebuild the Temple

Trudy Rubin: Pull back, before Armageddon

Violence leads Israel to close contested Temple Mount-Al Aqsa site
Tensions continue at Jerusalem holy site

Muslim Internet 'list' targets Temple Mount activists

‘Netanyahu to meet Jordan king again for Temple Mount talks’

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Thoughts on Noah's Flood

Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the LORD said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.               Genesis 6:5-8  NKJV

This coming Tuesday will be the anniversary of Noah’s flood, (if you use the sighting of the new moon to establish the start of the Jewish month as they did in Old Testament times), and I thought since Jesus linked the flood of Noah to the end of this age I would share some of my thoughts on the subject.  For no reason I can think of, (other than the prompting of the Holy Spirit), I have always been fascinated by the story of Noah.  In fact, so much so that at one point in time I spent considerable time and effort to research the possible location of where the ark might have come to rest.  

Much has been said and written lately on the subject of God judging this world, and even singling out America as a nation deserving God’s special attention.  As we see evil growing and manifesting itself in sometimes horrific ways around the world, is it any wonder that many believe that we are approaching, or even have arrived at the time where God will once again reveal Himself to mankind by directing His wrath upon an unbelieving, sinful world.  As believers, we know that God has already warned that there will be a coming time of judgment just as there was in Noah’s day but instead of using water, this time around He will use fire.

knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.             2 Peter 3:3-7  NKJV

While many in the world would use promises like this to portray God as being cruel and vindictive, they choose to not only ignore the fact that this judgment is well deserved, but also that God has provided both a way of escape and given mankind ample opportunity to make the right choice.  In Noah’s day, even those witnessing the ark being constructed over a period of so many years never made the choice to join Noah and his family on the ark.  It has been almost two thousand years since Jesus Christ lived, died, and rose again as a sacrifice for mankind’s sin, yet slowly but surely that sacrifice has been ignored by more and more of the world’s population until we find ourselves once again facing the time of God’s judgment.

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.                       2 Peter 3:9  NKJV

I’m sure most of us have heard people say that although they believe, the rapture of the church is still many years away and the world is no worse off than it ever was.  Unfortunately these people mistake God’s patience for indifference or “slackness”.  I can recall while raising my children and setting boundaries they often mistook my patience for indifference.  The looks on their faces when my promise of judgment actually occurred was often priceless.  Although God has promised a sure and final judgment, He is giving the world time to make the right choice because as a loving father, He wants no one to go to hell.  Yet as in Noah’s day, more will choose to ignore God’s providence than accept it.
And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.                                                    2 Thessalonians 2:11-12  NKJV

The lie that God will not judge is the same one that Satan introduced in the Garden of Eden so many years ago when he convinced Eve to ignore God’s warning not to eat the fruit of the tree.  Just as he was able to deceive Eve, he is also able to deceive many in the world today.  The question for us as believers is how do we react to the situation we find ourselves in as the world looks more and more like it did in Noah’s day?  Noah made the choice to be obedient to God, and followed His instructions to build an ark.  In much the same way, salvation by faith in the gospel of Christ is the modern day ark which will save mankind from the coming judgment, and it is our responsibility to share it with an unbelieving world.

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

Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.  Have you?  Have you made the choice to accept the gift of salvation made possible by the sacrifice of God’s Son, Jesus Christ?  If not, if you are reading this you still have time to do so before God’s judgment begins.  Becoming a believer is accomplished by asking Christ to come into your life and to begin to help you live life as He directs.  If you want to do that today, simply pray this prayer to Him; "Dear Lord Jesus, I know I am a sinner. I believe You died for my sins.  I want to turn from my sins and open the door of my heart and life to you. I confess You as my personal Lord and Savior. Thank You for saving me. Amen."  

If you have done this today, or have done it in the past, you have God’s promise that you will be spared from the judgment He has promised is going to occur to those who choose not to believe.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools,               Romans 1:18-22  NKJV

Keep watching.