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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Isaiah 4:5

And the LORD will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defense.

For further study - Isaiah 4:1-6

The passage chosen today for our devotional reading is actually a vision of the future kingdom of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. This is a vision that God gave to the ancient Jewish prophet Isaiah.

I chose this passage to confront the philosophy that is spreading among many churches and Christians today that we are now living in the kingdom here on earth. This "kingdom now" idea is totally contradictory to God's Word and plan for the Jewish people of the future.

For one thing, most "kingdom now" thinkers believe that the promise of the "kingdom" for the Jews has been negated and those promises now apply to the Church, Christians. That is not only anti-Biblical but it is very anti-Semitic.

Any thinking which says the "kingdom" promised to the Jews when Jesus Christ returns is not literal is saying that all of the covenants that God made with the Jews have been broken and basically the Lord is a liar.

We all know that God cannot lie so thus His "kingdom" promise to the Jews must be kept. Notice in verse 2 that the "Branch", that's Jesus Christ, in His beauty and glory will be back on earth and ruling from Jerusalem from a Temple He himself will build, Zechariah 6:12.

Verse 3 reveals to us that the "kingdom" headquarters will be Mt Zion, Jerusalem. These two, Zion and Jerusalem, are synonymous terms, they are the same geographical location.

Verse 4 says the time of the Kingdom will be when Messiah, Jesus Christ, has cleansed the Jewish people. That is yet future, after the seven year Tribulation Period.

The word "tabernacle" used in verse 6 is "suca" in Hebrew which is actually a "thatched hut" used by the Israelites during their 40 years of wandering in the wilderness before they entered the Promised Land.

Today during the "Feast of Tabernacles" Jewish people celebrate that "seven-day" Jewish feast by living, sleeping, eating and fellowshipping in a "suca" that they erect at their homes.

Remember Peter wanted to build three tabernacles, "suca's", on the Mount of Transfiguration, Matthew 17:4. Peter thought it was the "Kingdom" period and therefore the fulfillment of the Jewish "Feast of Tabernacles". Thus the three "suca's", would have been one each for Jesus, Moses and Elijah.

The "Kingdom" is yet future, howbeit, the near future. The "Kingdom" is not in operation now. That is a very dangerous theology. When Hitler wanted to set up the "kingdom" he had to slaughter the Jews first.

The promise of the "Kingdom" for the Jews is yet to be fulfilled. Isaiah's "vision of the Kingdom" in our reading for today is a "promise" of that coming Kingdom, in a near by tomorrow.

PRAYER THOT: Thank You, Lord, for the Biblical basis for understanding the "end times."
Monday, March 30, 2009

Song of Solomon 2:9

My beloved is like a roe or a young hart: behold, he standeth behind our wall, he looketh forth at the windows, shewing himself through the lattice.

For further study - Song of Solomon 2:8-17

The "Song of Solomon" is the English title for the Biblical book in the Jewish Bible known as the "Song of Songs." It is what the Jewish people consider the "holies of holies" of the Bible. The Jewish interpretation of the Song is the "allegorical" method of interpretation.

I do not interpret Song allegorically, I use the "literal" method of interpretation. Doing that you must conclude that Solomon, the author of Song, is revealing to us the scripture method of courtship, marriage and the married life. The study of Song using the literal interpretation is a great and important Bible study.

Having said that, I want to return to the Jewish allegorical method of interpretation to reveal some very interesting reasons for Jewish spiritual activities. In the Jewish understanding of Song the "beloved" is the Messiah. Notice in Song 2:9 the "beloved" is behind the wall.

In the 2nd century Rabbi Akkiva was the Jewish Sage that gave the Jewish people a reason for praying at the Western “retaining wall’ in the Old City of Jerusalem. Three times every day those religious Jews living in the Old City of Jerusalem make their way to the Western Wall to pray.

The Western Wall is not one of the remaining walls of the Temple that once stood there on the Temple Mount. There are no walls remaining of that Temple. The Western Wall is a “retaining wall” of the Temple Mount. In fact, the Jews do not face towards where the Temple stood - but straight ahead, looking towards the Mount of Olives at the Western Wall.

The Mount of Olives is the mount that will split when Jesus returns to Earth. In fact, that is what "Bethar" means "the mountain of separation". As the Jewish people pray they are looking to the spot where the Messiah, Jesus Christ, will return one day. Then they will look on Him whom they have pierced.

That day of His return is closer now than it's ever been. Remember, the Rapture happens seven years before His return, and it could happen today.

PRAYER THOT: Help me Lord, to look and live every day for You to come.
Sunday, March 29, 2009

Ecclesiastes 2:11

Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.

For further study - Ecclesiastes 2:1-11

A key phrase in the book of Ecclesiastes is "under the sun" which is used a number of times in Solomon's journal of his life. Remember, Solomon was the third king of Israel, the son of Israel's second king, David.

Let me also mention that this book was actually a journal written by one of the wisest men to ever live on earth and most assuredly the richest man to ever live at any time in history.

I just noticed the statement by Solomon that he "gathered...silver and gold," verse 8. A record of how much gold the king received just in one year is found in I Kings 10:14 where it says that "666 talents" of the precious metal came into Solomon's coffers in just one year.

If you define "talents" it would mean that the amount of gold would have been 25 tons, 50,000 pounds, or 800,000 ounces of gold. At the present day price of gold at around $900 per ounce, and you can see how rich this man would have been.

Verse 4 says that Solomon built himself houses. I Kings 7:1-8 records the information about Solomon's home that took him 13 years to build. That is 6 more years to build his house than it took him to build the Temple, I Kings 6:38. His home was 11,250 square feet, the Temple only 2,700 square feet.

I guess Solomon needed such a large house for all of his wives and concubines, 700 wives and 300 concubines. Solomon did not have an "ipod" to download music but instead he had "men singers" and "women singers" and the "delights of the sons of men as musical instruments," verse 8.

The truth of the matter is that whatever Solomon saw with his eyes that he wanted, he got. In today's world of "consumption" Solomon would have been “number one”.

But notice his statement, verse 11. All he got was vanity and vexation of spirit, "there was no profit under the sun." How much like our world today was Solomon in his day. Solomon concluded, "there was no profit under the sun," he was a very "egocentric" man.

That word, "egocentric," does describe our world today. However, as we continue to look for Jesus to come back and keep our focus on the heavenlies, we will become "Christo-centric" , Christ will be our focus.

We will take our eyes off of fulfilling our needs and look for Him who said He would fulfill His promise to gather us up to be with Him forever more someplace beyond the "sun." Even so, come Lord Jesus.

PRAYER THOT: Help me, Lord, not to be "egocentric" but to become "Christo-centric" as I eagerly await Your return.
Saturday, March 28, 2009

Proverbs 15:3

The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.

For further study - Proverbs 15:1-33

Someone has said that a Christian should read one chapter of Proverbs every day of the month. In fact that works very well because there are 31 chapters in Proverbs. May I encourage you to read today this 15th chapter of Proverbs. It is packed with wisdom for everyday living.

As you read through this nugget of God's wisdom please notice verse 3. What an awesome thought, "the eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good."

These words remind me of other verses that convey that same truth to the reader: Proverbs 5:21 --- “the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord”: Job 34:21 --- “His eyes are upon the ways of man, and He seeth all His goings”: Jeremiah 16:17 --- “Neither is their iniquity hid from mine eyes”: Jeremiah 32:19 --- “For thine eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of man”: Hebrews 4:13 --- “neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight”.

John the Revelator wrote in the description of the "resurrected, glorified" person of Jesus Christ, found in Revelation 1:12-16, that His eyes, verse 14, were as a "flame of fire." A further word study of this description would indicate that the Lord has “x-ray vision”. He sees all, everywhere and at any time. His eyes are upon our every activity, our every word, our all.

What an awesome thought as we await the One described in Revelation that will call us up to be with Him forevermore. This truth should be used to bring us more in line with “His image” as we prepare to enter into “His eternal presence”.

PRAYER THOT: Lord help me this day to live my life before you, the One who sees all that I do, both good and evil.
Friday, March 27, 2009

Psalms 19:9

The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.

For further study - Psalm 19:1-14

This passage selected for our reading today is so rich. Our key verse has prophetic significance, which we must consider and will do so in a moment. Before that, let's look at several "great truths" found in Psalm 19.

The very first verse of our extended reading is such a blessing. We are given the way to see the "glory of the Lord" - we just look up to the heavens. During the fourth day of creation, Genesis 1:14-19, the Lord uttered three words, "the stars also" and the "star-filled" heavens appeared.

This space is not large enough to even consider the extent of those three words. Might I suggest you take some time in the near future to stop to view the heavens. Notice the "handiwork" of the Lord and see how the heavens declare "His glory." I have done this and have been blessed.

Verses 2-4 reminds us how we fail to observe the passing of each day and each night. The truth is that like precision clockwork each day and night appear and then are gone.

The passage speaks of the sun and how the Lord has a special dwelling place, a tabernacle for it each night. That, of course, from my perspective - while those on the other side of the earth will have another perspective.

Notice what the Psalmist, this Psalm written by King David, says about the Word of the Lord, which is the "law of the Lord." Reading the Lord's Word, which is perfect and sure will lead you to Him as Savior and make you wise. The Word will also show us any secret sins that must be dealt with, verse 12.

Before we come to our "Prayer Thot", please notice verse 9. It starts out, "the fear of the Lord." That phrase is a statement of Old Testament "piety" meaning "reverential trust" with "hatred of evil."

In verse 9, there is a statement about judgment, judgment to come. Let me remind you of two of the future judgments, the Great White Throne and the Judgment Seat of Christ.

The Great White Throne, Revelation 20:11-15, is where lost people will stand to be sentenced to the "Lake of Fire" joining Satan, Antichrist, and False Prophet.

The Judgment Seat of Christ, II Corinthians 5:10and Romans 14:10, will be a time for Christians, when Jesus will hand out rewards for those "righteous acts" we have done in His power and for His glory.

Notice how the Psalmist refers to the judgments, "true and righteous." Someone will only stand at the Great White Throne if they have never trusted in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

All Christians will stand before Jesus at the Judgment Seat of Christ. We must prepare today for that judgment, in a future tomorrow.

PRAYER THOT: Lord, let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, Psalm 19:14.
Thursday, March 26, 2009

Job 2:6

And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life.

For further study - Job 2:1-10

In a future reading for our daily devotions from the book of Job, we will discuss the creation of "angels" that took place on the first day of Creation, between the time the Lord created the "heavens" and the "earth," Job 38:4-7. In today’s extended reading, we eavesdrop on a conversation between God and Satan.

They are discussing Job, and the Lord speaks of Job as one like none other on the earth. Job is an "upright man," one "who feareth God and escheweth evil." He is a man who "holdeth fast his integrity." All of the above characteristics could be found in Job.

Satan responds that God is protecting His servant Job. The Lord then allows Satan to test Job to the point of death saying to Satan, "he is in thine hand; but save his life," verse 6. Satan went from the Lord to Job and began to severely test God's servant.

Notice that in the testing, even Job's wife told her husband to "curse God and die," verse 9. I love the last 10 words of our reading, found in verse 10, "in all this did not Job sin with his lips." What a testimony, which has echoed down through the centuries of time, all the way to us today. In this present-day world, we need that same kind of integrity.

Please notice before we leave this devotional reading the pattern that Satan follows which will be his "trademark" throughout his time as the "ruler of this world." Satan will attack and test the believers in an effort to turn them against the "Most High God."

There is a New Testament passage that is key to our understanding of Satan's devices in the end times, which are revealed in Ephesians 6. Ephesians 6:11 tells us to put on the "whole armor of God" so that we can stand against the "wiles of the devil."

Paul warns us that in the last days we will not wrestle against flesh and blood, Ephesians 6:12, "but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in the heavenlies."

Paul, in this passage, defines all that is a part of Satan's "kingdom of darkness." He describes the same attack by Satan today as Job described over 4,000 years ago. As we get closer to the Lord's return the more intense will be the Satanic attacks. As then, so now also, the Lord is our "protector" from Satan.

PRAYER THOT: Lord, help me to pattern my life after Job, a life of integrity. And at the same time, thank you, Lord, for the "armor" that I can put on to fight the "wiles of the devil."
Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Esther 3:6

And he thought scorn to lay hands on Mordecai alone; for they had shewed him the people of Mordecai: wherefore Haman sought to destroy all the Jews that were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus, even the people of Mordecai.

For further study - Esther 3:1-6

Haman, the number two man in the Persian Kingdom under King Ahasuerus, was furious when Mordecai did not bow to him as he entered the gates to the city. Haman then convinced the King that all the Jews throughout all of the Kingdom must be killed. King Ahasuerus accepted Haman's plan and signed the “law of the Medes and Persians” to set in motion the total destruction of the Jewish people.

The rest of the book of Esther is the story of how the Persian Queen Esther had come into the kingdom for "such a time as this." Unbeknown to the king, his Queen was Jewish and her cousin Mordecai had told her not to reveal her Jewishness. However, it was God's timing for Esther to approach the King for her people, and "if she perish, she would perish".

The book of Esther is a record of God's intervention to protect His chosen people, even though the name of God is not mentioned in the book. In fact, the Jewish people celebrate annually the feast of Purim in honor of Esther intervening and the saving of the Jewish people.

As you read Esther 3, notice verse 0ne. It reveals the family background of the villain of the book of Esther, Haman. The number two leader in the Persian Kingdom is an Agagite, the son of Hammedatha. The Agagites are the descendants of Agag, the King of the Amalekites, I Samuel 15:8. Remember, the Amalekites are descendants of Amalek, the grandson of Esau, Genesis 36:12.

This line of Esau's descendants has been, and are all involved today in trying to kill all the Jews in the world. Remember, this was the "blessing" that Esau's father Isaac had bestowed upon him, Genesis 27:40-41.

These descendants can be traced through Herod the Great all the way to the Palestinians of today (see my study on Esau and the Palestinians) These are a people who will meet their end at the return of Jesus Christ to the earth, Obadiah 15-18.

But before that prophecy is fulfilled, seven years before, Jesus Christ will call Christians to join Him in the air, at the Rapture of the Church, which could happen today. Keep looking up.

PRAYER THOT: Thank you Lord for revealing the future in Your Word so that I may be able to understand the times I’m living in so that I live eagerly awaiting Your shout to join You in the air, at the Rapture.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Nehemiah 4:17

They which builded on the wall, and they that bare burdens, with those that laded, every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon.

For further study - Nehemiah 4:10-23

What a great book is, Nehemiah, the one containing our reading for today. Nehemiah was still among the Jews that had not returned to the land of Israel. When he got word of the deplorable conditions of his beloved city of Jerusalem he immediately sought permission from the king to return to Jerusalem and to rebuild the "walls" of the city and repair its "streets".

He would face much opposition to the task God had given him. In fact, there would be those who wanted the building stopped. Those who opposed the Jews would even resort to killing the workers. Nehemiah prepared his workers to both rebuild the walls and streets of the city and to protect themselves from the attacks.

As I read through the extended passage for today, I was impressed with what happened about 2,500 years ago and what has been going on in the modern-day Jewish state of Israel. Nehemiah's helpers would work with one hand and hold their weapon with the other as they worked.

That principle extended to the other workers with a portion of them at the work of refurbishing Jerusalem and the other portion of the Jews with shields and spears to protect the workers.

I almost feel like I am reading out of the local Israeli newspaper reporting on a normal life in the Middle East. Today, the Jewish nation of only five and a half million people is building a nation with one hand working to build this Jewish nation and the other half of the nation protecting all Jews from total destruction.

A great statement is used as an exhortation to the Jewish people then - and now. "Our God shall fight for us," found in verse 20, is a reminder to the Jewish people of who they are and what the God of heaven will do for them. They are the “Sons of Jacob”, the one who had his name changed to "Israel" which literally means, “my God will fight for you”.

The truth of the matter is that those five and a half million Jews today are surrounded by at least 350 million Arabs and Muslims who all claim to despise the Jews and want to rid the world of all of them. So what's new?

The only way the Jews will sustain existence is by God fighting for them, which He has done for about 4,000 years. That in and of itself is proof of the reality of a true, all- powerful, holy God who will indeed continue to fight for His “chosen people”, the Jewish people.

PRAYER THOT: Thank you Lord for taking care of the Jewish people, which gives me comfort that You will also take care of me, fighting for me, as a member of Your body.
Monday, March 23, 2009

Ezra 2:1

Now these are the children of the province that went up out of the captivity, of those which had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away unto Babylon, and came again unto Jerusalem and Judah, every one unto his city;

For further reading - Ezra 2:1-70

I know exactly what you are going to do for the extended reading today. You will skim quickly through the list of names of the heads of families and how many of each family will return to Jerusalem for the purpose of rebuilding the Temple.

By the way, this will be the Second Temple to be built in Jerusalem. The first was the one Solomon built around BC 1000. This Temple will be erected around 500 years before the birth of Christ by the names of the list that is our reading for today.

The first chapter of Ezra records the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy that God would raise up a Persian leader, Cyrus, who would allow a number of Jews to return to Jerusalem and build the Second Temple.

God raised up Zerubbabel to lead the almost 50,000 Jews back to the land of Israel, to Jerusalem to build the Temple. Ezra 2 records the heads of family, where they lived, and how many of their family would travel back to Jerusalem. This is a very important list that Ezra includes in his history book.

Let me answer your question not mentioned. Why read this passage? What can we learn from this information? That is a good question. Let me remind you that II Timothy 3:16 tells us that all scripture is profitable.

Let me introduce you to that which helps us see that God was allowing for all the Jewish people to return to the land. However, a smaller number than the entire Jewish population will return to build the Temple. There are included in this list peoples from all twelve tribes of Israel, meaning all twelve tribes or their representatives would travel back into the land of Israel.

These almost 50,000 Jews were not just people from the two southern tribes, Benjamin and Judah, which was known as Judah. We will see that when the Babylonians captured the Assyrians who had taken the ten northern tribes into captivity all twelve tribes would be joined together once again. Some from all twelve tribes would return to Israel at this time.

Two examples. The men of Bethel in verse 28 who were of the tribe of Ephraim. Also verse 29 speaks of the children of Nebo, which is on the eastern side of the Jordan River and was given to the tribe of Reuben. There are other tribes mentioned in this list, which helps us know that members of all twelve tribes returned to the land under the Medes and the Persians.

This proves there are no "lost tribes" and also that a prophecy of two Jewish states in the future, Ezekiel 37:15-23, could be ready for fulfillment in the near future (see my study of Ezekiel). Verse 70, "all of Israel in their cities."

The stage is set for Ezekiel's "two Jewish states" prophecy to be fulfilled. Today Jews have returned to the land of Israel as one people in one Jewish state. Ezekiel reveals two Jewish states in the future and the stage is set for that to happen.

Bible prophecy will be fulfilled.

PRAYER THOT: Thank you Lord for Bible Prophecy that has been fulfilled in the past, which is a basis for me to believe that all unfulfilled Bible prophecy will be fulfilled.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

II Chronicles 5:14

So that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God.

For further reading - II Chronicles 5:1-14

Solomon spent seven years building the First Temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, I Kings 6:38. Verse 1 of our reading for today tells us Solomon and those who worked for those seven years were now finished.

This permanent worship center for the Jewish people was now set to house the “Ark of the Covenant”, which had been standing in the temporary “transportable worship center”, the Tabernacle.

Prior to King Solomon placing the Ark in the Holy of Holies it had rested in a Tabernacle that King David provided for this very sacred piece of Temple furniture. The Tabernacle, housing the Ark, was erected by David in the City of David, Zion and also known as Jerusalem, the original site to the south of the Temple Mount.

This account of the moving the Ark from the Tabernacle to the Temple took place during the "Feast of Tabernacles" that was being celebrated in Jerusalem at the time, verse 3.

This is thrilling to read, the account of what happened as the priest brought the Ark into the Holy of Holies of the newly built Temple, verses 11-14. The “Glory of the Lord” rested on the "Mercy Seat" of the Ark, between the outstretched wings of the cherubim atop the Ark. It was the presence of the Lord, on the Ark, that caused such a blessing to the priests and the rest of the workers in and around the Temple.

The Ark was a “prototype”, a model of the “One to come”, Jesus Himself. In Jeremiah, the ancient Jewish prophet tells that in a coming Temple - the one Jesus will build and rule and reign from, Zechariah 6:12-13, in that Temple there will be no Ark of the Covenant, Jeremiah 3:16.

In the Temple the Messiah Jesus will build at the end of the Tribulation there will be no Ark. The reason is that the Ark is the model of Him to come. When you have the real thing, you no longer need the model.

However, in the next Temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, the "Tribulation Temple", there will be a need for the Ark. Those preparing for the next Temple know exactly where the Ark is located today.

The Ark is ready to be taken into the Holy of Holies in the Tribulation Temple - that is how close we are to that Temple, which will be erected on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

Remember, the Rapture, Jesus calling us to join Him in the heavenlies, happens before that Tribulation Temple is built.

PRAYER THOT: Help me this day to live as if the Rapture will happen today, because it may well happen today.