Wednesday, May 26, 2021

False Prophets and the Infallible Scriptures

But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him. -Deuteronomy 18:20-22

    In ancient Israel, the penalty for being a false prophet was death.  It was a serious offense, as a false prophet could devolve all God's people into sin.  Although we now live in an age of grace, where God will receive all to himself who accept Him, the standard to measure a false prophet still remains the same.  The biblical standard for a false prophet is simple, that if there is even one false prophecy proclaimed out of the mouth of the individual, we are to reject their words.  Charles Taze Russel the founder of the Jehovah Witnesses serves as a perfect example of failing the biblical test for a true prophet.  In contrast, the Bible itself can be trusted as it affirms dozens upon dozens of fulfilled prophecies, confirmed by true prophets.

    Charles Taze Russel falsely predicted in 1914 that the end of human rulership would usher in the millennial reign of Christ. When this failed, it led to kicking the date goal post forward several times over with false prophecies becoming the norm.  Rutherford, a later head theologian of the Jehovah's Witnesses (pictured at the head of this article) had his fair share of false prophecies set to be completed in the early 20th century that never came to fruition.  The sad part of it all is that if any of these followers, past or present,  decided to trust the biblical standard by measuring it against their organization's claims, they would've never allowed these false proclamations to gain root in their minds.

    The devil himself, the father of lies, serves as the first false prophet.  Peddling a false prophecy, the devil deceived Adam and Eve into believing that they themselves could become as gods if they partook of the forbidden tree:

For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. -Genesis 3:5

It's clear that Adam and Eve did not become as gods, but rather just the opposite happened.  They lost their immortality and death entered the world by sin (Genesis 3:17; Romans 5:12). Mankind became separated from the only true and living God. This lie still promulgates across the world today, with many believing they can become gods, such as those involved in the New Age movement. The Bible warns about the deceit of the devil, and of the false prophets he cunningly puppeteers (Matthew 5:17).  However, one may wonder about the Bible itself and the accuracy of its prophecies.  Luckily God has several that has been fulfilled with pinpointed accuracy.  The prophecies of Christ and his fulfillments are numerous.  One of my personal favorites is found in Psalm 22.

    When Christ was on the cross, he cried out: "My God My God why hast thou forsaken me?"  Many don't realize that Christ is actually quoting the opening line in Psalm 22 written by King David approximately a thousand years before.  It wasn't uncommon in that day for Jewish rabbis to invoke certain passages by stating the first line.  In other words, those witnessing the death of Christ, who understood the scriptures, would recognize the Psalm Christ mentioned.  There are multiple reasons as to why Christ stated this line, but the ultimate reason is found in the prophetic fulfillment of Psalm 22. Let's look to the author of Psalm 22, King David as a prophetic type of Christ before we unpack the prophetic fulfillments in the famous Psalm. 

    David is constantly referred to as a man after God's own heart (1st Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22).  David was also born in Bethlehem, was a shepherd, and was the King of Israel.  Likewise, Christ was also born in Bethelem, is called the good shepherd (John 10:11,14), and will be the everlasting King of Israel.  In addition to several other parallels, King David is a shadow of what would ultimately be fulfilled in Christ.  When King David wrote Psalm 22, we can see David himself in distress and calling upon the Lord.  Although this had a present time application with David, it had an ultimate prophetic fulfillment in Christ.

Psalm 22:1 would be a fulfillment of Christ's own words on the cross before his death. Many in the audience undoubtedly would seek out the Psalm after Christ's death on the cross and witness its fulfillment.

Psalm 22:4-5 statesOur fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them. They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded. David is referencing Exodus 2:23-24, when his fathers cried to God for deliverance from their slavery in Egypt. These verses point to the Passover. Prior to sending the 10th plague over the land of Egypt, God commanded His people to use an unblemished lamb and paint its blood over their doorposts.  The death angel would then pass over all doorposts painted with the blood of the lamb. All those who failed to place their trust in God received the repercussions of the plague, the death of their firstborn sons.  This Passover is a picture of Christ (1st Corinthians 5:7), all those who place their trust in the blood of the lamb will be delivered from death into eternal life. Just as God led his people out of bondage in Egypt, Christ is our exodus from death into life. Trusting in Christ is the only way (John 14:6). 

Psalm 22:7 All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.  It's easy to see the prophetic fulfillment here, many in the audience of Christ's crucifixion laughed Jesus to scorn as mentioned in the gospels such as Matthew 27:42.

Psalm 22:14-16: I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feetThis prophetic passage starts with the fulfillment of when Christ's side was pierced and water poured from the wound (John 19:34).  The Roman punishment of crucifixion was excruciating.  As Christ hung on the cross his muscles would give way, causing the weight of his body to hang creating pressure on the joints, leading them to be made out of place. Christ would later be buried into the dust of death, he was pierced in his hands and his feet (John 20:27).  Roman crucifixion was not a thing in the day David wrote it which makes this prophecy all the more compelling.

Psalm 22:18-19 They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture. But be not thou far from me, O LORD: O my strength, haste thee to help me. This was fulfilled in Matthew 27:35, when the Romans soldiers cast lots and gambled for the Messiah's clothes.

Psalm 22:26-31 My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear him. The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the LORD that seek him: your heart shall live for ever. All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. For the kingdom is the LORD'S: and he is the governor among the nations. All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship: all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him: and none can keep alive his own soul. A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation. They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this. Notice that all kindreds of nations shall worship the one and true God, this prophecy was fulfilled in God reaching all nations by the preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 22:21). Christianity today has spread to all nations as also prophesied in Isaiah 49:6. God has made a people unto himself and all he requires is faith in the promised Messiah.  Notice how this prophetic Psalm is layered: the author King David is prophetically a type of Christ mentions in his writing the Passover another prophetic type of Christ, and then lists several prophecies that Christ himself would fulfill.

    God's Word has been fulfilled prophetically through the Lord Jesus Christ. Psalm 22 is one of several examples. Hundreds of years before Christ was born of a virgin, it was prophesied that he would come to suffer for the sins of humanity in passages such as Isaiah 53.   God's Word has been gifted to us as our standard of truth.  The heart is not the standard of truth (Jeremiah 17:9), feelings are not the standard of truth, God's Word is the standard of truth. No other book can boast a flawless prophetic record. This is one of the many reasons all should receive God's gospel.  What is the gospel? The gospel literally means good news, Paul summarizes the Gospel in 1st Corinthians 15:1-4:

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

    Christ died for our sins, was buried and rose again, and was seen by several witnesses mentioned in verses 5-7.  Why did Christ die for our sins?  Because we all are guilty of sin, we have all broken God's commandments (Romans 3:10; Romans 3:23). As a result, we are all under the penalty of death and risk eternal separation from God (Romans 6:23; Revelation 20:15; Revelation 21:8).  Luckily Christ came and died in our place, God's Word has been prophetically fulfilled in that our sins can be justified in God's sight (Romans 5:8). God paid for your sin debt, all you have to do is receive the gift that he provided on the cross (Ephesians 2:8-9).  Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, that he died, was buried, and rose again, and you will be raised in likewise fashion into the glorious realms of eternity (John 3:16; Romans 10:9).

Monday, May 10, 2021

Pictures of redemption

For so long as we are anchored to the earth in this life, we have a choice to embark on.  We can choose our way or God's way.  The Bible provides pictures of men and their failed attempts at redemption contrasted to God and his perfect way to salvation. In a man's fallen nature the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life cause him to love his darkness rather than light.  Men like to make life about themselves, so it comes as no surprise that they like to construct a destination that seems fit for them.  Men want to avoid their creator, enjoy the pleasures of this life, and ultimately create a belief system unto themselves.  Men love working their way through life in what seems right in their own eyes, instead of yielding and trusting in a loving God who draws all men unto Himself.  

There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. -Proverbs 14:12

    I can recall being tethered to the chains of addiction.  I was seeking to cover the sin in my life in my own way.  I felt in spite of my mental affair with alcohol and drugs, that I was a pretty good person and it would all pan out in the end. However, at the end of the day, the bottle in my hand served as a metaphor for what I felt inside, empty and without hope. I was trusting in myself instead of my creator.  Nothing is new under the sun, in fact, men have been attempting to cover their sin since the beginning...

And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. Genesis 3:6-7

    After disobeying God, and in effect doing things their own way, we find the parents of all living men marinated in shame.  We then see a vain attempt to cover up their sin and shame by the works of their hands-- stitching fig leaves together to make aprons. This is a picture of man's attempt of working to cover sin and shame by their own power. Luckily and shortly thereafter, we find God presenting his picture of redemption: 

Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them. -Genesis 3:21

    God provided his own covering, a covering that required the blood of an animal.  Years later in ancient Israel, an unblemished Lamb would be used to temporarily atone for sin.  The shedding of blood in both these cases ultimately pictures the future fulfillment of the Messiah's blood shed on the cross for the redemption of man.  Christ's sacrifice is the ultimate covering.   He was the final sacrifice, the Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world (John 1:36).

    Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first [covenant], that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. -Hebrews 10:8-10

    Christ's sacrifice was the ultimate and final sacrifice, our trust in Him offers redemption, the works of our hands only offer condemnation. We see this picture again in the historical account of Cain and Abel:

    And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD.  And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. -Genesis 4:3-4

In bringing God the works of his hands, we see Cain trying to please God by his own works. This pictures man's attempt to please God. In contrast, we see Abel trusting God, by bringing the firstlings of his flock.  Abel's offering illustrates innocent blood being shed for the remission of sin, another picture of the Messiah.  We can know God had instructed Cain and Abel in this story as God tells Cain in Genesis 4:7: "If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?" Abel did it God's way, Cain did it his way.  One was accepted, the other rejected.

  The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. -Ecclesiastes 1:9

    Some men feel if they're good enough they'll make it out okay, some men feel you can't know God so it's best to live in the moment. Some men say there is no God while speaking in a perpetual complaint of Him. Some men will follow the ritual of his religion, while all God requires is a relationship. What does a true relationship with God require?  Only trust. Christ died for you, and His Word says you can know Him (1st John 5:13).  Believe what is written in His Word, and he promises he will save you. Believe that he died, was buried, and rose again for your sake. All those who come to Him He will in no wise cast out.  

And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day. -John 6:35-40

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

The curse and the cure..

And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a treeHis body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance. Deuteronomy 21:23

    In ancient Israel, those who committed serious capital offenses were hung on a tree.  God unequivocally states here in the Torah, that those hung on a tree were accursed.  It is also important to note that it was illegal to leave the body hanging overnight. One may ask the reason: "Why would God have criminals hung upon a tree?"  Well to deter crime for one, but if we look deeper it's actually a prophetic picture of what Christ would do for us. One day, Christ himself would become a curse for us, on a tree known as the cross.  He also would be removed from the cross, and taken down the very same day.

Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: Galatians 3:13

    First, it's paramount to understand that the word "tree" is actually the Greek word xulon, which can be referred to as a beam for hanging or a cross.  In addition, it was also a Jewish reference to those who were accursed as stated in Deuteronomy 21.  To establish that the tree is, in fact, the cross we can look to Acts 10:39, where Peter in witnessing to the Gentiles states: "And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree."  This Jewish reference to Christ being hung on a tree is also mentioned in Acts 5:30: "The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree."  So in establishing that the tree is the cross, it's also imperative to understand that the tree is where Christ suffered for our sins and became a curse for us. Peter by the Holy Spirit writes: "Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed."  So in comparing scripture with scripture, we find that the tree is not only the cross, but also a Jewish reference to the curse of one who is hung on the tree.  

Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say, Amen. -Deuteronomy 27:26

    So why did Christ, the sinless Lamb of God become a curse for us?  Well because all are under the curse of sin.  Nobody is perfect, as Romans 3:10 and Psalm 14:3 states: "There is none righteous, no not one.." Even breaking one commandment such as lying, stealing, lusting, etc. makes you guilty of judgment as God's Word mentions: "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all." -James 2:10.  God's standard is perfection.  In fact, if this were not the case, Adam could still be in the garden.  Adam's first offense in disobeying God, led to a curse (Genesis 3:17), a separation from God, and death then entered the world by sin (Romans 5:12). This is why Christ had to die for us, we could never keep the whole law, in fact, our own righteousness is as filthy rags in his sight (Isaiah 54:6).  Man needed a mediator, one who could bridge the gap of death and separation, one who could fulfill the law perfectly (1st Timothy 2:5). That bridge is in the fulfillment of Christ, and the bridge is made available to all who place their trust in him (John 3:16). 

    Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: -Romans 5:12

    But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: -John 1:12

And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day. -John 6:40

    God draws all men to himself (John 12:32), and faith is his gift (Ephesians 2:8-9). Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17).  Faith can only be received in humility, as God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). Harden not your hearts, if you hear his voice  (Hebrews 3:15).  When faith is placed in Christ, his righteousness is eternally branded upon the individual who receives him (Romans 3:22).  By prophetically becoming a curse for us in having no sin, Christ effectively paid our debt of sin on the cross and satisfied the Father (Romans 6:23).  We are given the same righteousness that was applied to Abraham by faith (Genesis 15:6).  Man does not have to suffer under the condemnation from the curse of sin, but rather can discover freedom and eternal life in trusting in his creator (John 3:16).  Justice of sin was satisfied in God's eyes 2,000 years ago on the cross, but it's conditional.  The gift of eternal life is solely based on the condition of your trust in Him.  He stands at the door of your heart and knocks, won't you let him in?

♪ Only trust Him; Only trust Him;

Only trust Him now.

He will save you; He will save you

He will save you now. ♪


Saturday, May 1, 2021

The cross foretold in an Old Testament allegory

 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. -Romans 5:14

One of my favorite studies in all of scripture is the discovery of  Christ in the Old Testament. Christ himself said that the scriptures were written of him (John 5:39; Luke 24:27; Luke 24:44).  Paul writes in the above-stated verse, that Adam is a figure of him that was to come. Who was the one that was to come?  Jesus Christ, which Paul confirms in the very next verse. The Greek word for figure can also be rendered type, and thus we have the study of typology.  Typology is a special kind of symbology, types such as a figure like Adam, or an object like the tabernacle (Hebrews 9:8-9) are a type of Christ.  That is, these types (as it relates to Christ) are imperfect but contain prophetic characteristics or actions that represent who Christ is, what he would do, and what he continues to do.  Many say that what is concealed in the Old Testament is revealed in the New Testament. For example, The Passover lamb was a shadow, Christ the Lamb of God was the reality.  One of my favorite symbolic representations of Christ and a picture of salvation itself is the historical account of the brazen serpent on the staff:

And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived. -Numbers 21:8-9

    Shortly after God had given the Israelites the victory over the Canaanites, many of the Israelites became discouraged because of the journey they had embarked on. Their discouragement snowballed into complaints against the Lord. As a result, God sent fiery serpents into the camp that killed several people.  As Moses did several times before, he interceded for Israel, prayed for deliverance, and God ordered Moses to create a brazen serpent and raise it up upon a pole.  All those who were bitten and simply looked upon the brazen serpent on the pole were healed and their lives were spared.  This historical event, was a shadow of what Christ would actually do, as Christ himself reveals this to us in John 3:14:

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up.

    Just as the brazen serpent was lifted up on a pole and cured the afflicted Israelites, Christ was lifted up on the cross, and all those (Jew and Gentile) who believe on him will be cured, or rather forgiven of their sins.  The beauty is in its simplicity. Just as the Israelites were under judgment for their attitude towards God, we all are under judgment for our sin.  Just as looking upon the serpent healed the Jews, looking to Christ heals us.  All one has to do is to believe in Christ's finished work on the cross, just as the prophet Isaiah foretold: Who hath believed our report? (Isaiah 53:1) Isaiah asks, who will believe in the one God sent? After he asks who believes, we find this tidbit he writes shortly thereafter: his stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5).  We are healed/forgiven by believing in his sinless sacrifice.  

    Some may wonder, how is Christ symbolically represented by a brazen serpent?  Well just as a serpent can be symbolic of sin, Paul by the power of the Holy Spirit answers this: For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (2nd Corinthians 5:21).  The pole represents the cross, and the serpent represents the sin Christ was made to be on our behalf. He bore our sins on the cross as Peter states in 1st Peter 2:24.  Trusting in God's sacrifice is a free gift, he paid the penalty out of his love for us (Romans 5:8). There is nothing left for us to add, Christ himself in John 19:30 emphatically states: "It is finished!". Church attendance and good works cannot save. Nothing but the belief in Christ's finished work, for without blood there is no forgiveness of sins (Hebrews 9:22). Some may question, wouldn't believing in Christ be considered a work towards salvation?  Well no as Paul writes in Romans 4:5 below.  His free gift for trusting him is eternal life, as Paul writes: For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6:23). 

But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. -Romans 4:5

    Moses wrote about the brazen serpent circa 1400 BC in the Torah, as tradition holds it.  Over a thousand and some centuries years later, this prophetic picture has been fulfilled. No book on earth can light a candle to the Bible in terms of its prophetic fulfillments. Who could write such a book that has accurately predicted future events by using 40 or so authors who penned 66 books, across 3 continents, with harmoniously woven themes, over the span of 1500 years? You guessed it, only the good Lord himself! Types of Christ are all over the Old Testament and have been revealed in the New.  Have you discovered these for yourself?  God wants you to, he seeks to draw all men unto himself (John 12:32). Amen to Him for that.

Christ's Forgotten Promise: What most religions miss

I love my young daughter to death.  Watching her smile, and yell "Daddee, dadeee daddeeee!" when I get home just melts my heart to...