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Archive for November, 2016

God the Designer

Posted by Ez1 Realty on November 22, 2016

Isaiah 40:1-15 God the Designer

Isaiah 40:1-15 NLTse “Comfort, comfort my people,” says your God. (2) “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem. Tell her that her sad days are gone and her sins are pardoned. Yes, the LORD has punished her twice over for all her sins.” (3) Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting, “Clear the way through the wilderness for the LORD! Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God! (4) Fill in the valleys, and level the mountains and hills. Straighten the curves, and smooth out the rough places. (5) Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all people will see it together. The LORD has spoken!” (6) A voice said, “Shout!” I asked, “What should I shout?” “Shout that people are like the grass. Their beauty fades as quickly as the flowers in a field. (7) The grass withers and the flowers fade beneath the breath of the LORD. And so it is with people. (8) The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.” (9) O Zion, messenger of good news, shout from the mountaintops! Shout it louder, O Jerusalem. Shout, and do not be afraid. Tell the towns of Judah, “Your God is coming!” (10) Yes, the Sovereign LORD is coming in power. He will rule with a powerful arm. See, he brings his reward with him as he comes. (11) He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young. (12) Who else has held the oceans in his hand? Who has measured off the heavens with his fingers? Who else knows the weight of the earth or has weighed the mountains and hills on a scale? (13) Who is able to advise the Spirit of the LORD? Who knows enough to give him advice or teach him? (14) Has the LORD ever needed anyone’s advice? Does he need instruction about what is good? Did someone teach him what is right or show him the path of justice? (15) No, for all the nations of the world are but a drop in the bucket. They are nothing more than dust on the scales. He picks up the whole earth as though it were a grain of sand.

You have to love the way Isaiah begins the message in Isaiah 40. “Comfort, comfort my people,” says your God. “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem. Tell her that her sad days are gone and her sins are pardoned. Yes, the LORD has punished her twice over for all her sins.” It’s easy to understand the first part of the introduction, “comfort my people.” The second part should be just as easy to understand but is often misunderstood. “ “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem.” The third past ties in the second and the forth. “Tell her that her sad days are gone and her sins are pardoned.” The forth part of Isaiah’s introduction is what people have problems understanding. “Yes, the LORD has punished her twice over for all her sins.”

How does God comfort His people? There are many ways. In this example God is using His prophet Isaiah as an instrument to deliver a message of comfort. What God really wants is to give everyone personal comfort. God wants each individual to come to Him and listen to His words of comfort. No second guessing, no details or points missed in communication that often happen when a message is passed from one person to the next. Which is what happens when people expect religious leaders to approach God’s throne get a message and rely it to them. No mass message from religious leaders that’s supposed to solved everyone’s problems. No, God doesn’t want that. God wants to deliver His message to you on a one on one level, the Creator to the created being. God wants you to find comfort in the fact He knows about you, your problems and he cares. That is real comfort.

I have to admit, Isaiah 40 has been my favorite chapter for over 10 years. While working as a design engineer I opened some modern translation I was reading at the time and they translated a verse in Isaiah 40 using the word designer. This was getting real personal. I was reading it in the morning as I was preparing for the work day. I think it may have been the NET translation. From whom does he receive directions? Who teaches him the correct technique, or imparts knowledge to him, or instructs him in skillful design? (Isaiah 40:14 NET). Strange as it may seem, I never thought of God as a designer until that day. Then God took on a whole new meaning for me and so did my life.

I had been working a number of years doing what only a few people in this world were able to do, designing industrial paint finishing systems. This was basically designing and installing entire factories which had to be specifically designed, well balanced systems. Ever hear of human error? Ever hear the old saying, ”whatever can go wrong will go wrong?” Such was the the life as an engineer, a human designer.

I began every project with prayer asking God to give me the skill to complete the perfect project. Those projects were so large something was bound to go wrong. And it did. Mistakes took time to correct and added pressure to the job. When I saw God described as a designer it told me I had something in common with God. I looked at the whole world and how God created it with not a single error or mistake. No engineering changes, no redesigning, no wasted time. God created this world perfect the first time. I felt so humbled to think of what God has done and how I seem to create minor errors in everything I do.

There was one project I remember. I used and modified portions of a number of systems previously installed and working. Every detail had been checked and all the previous mistakes corrected. This was like a second chance to get it right. After weeks of designing, shipping, and installation we reached the last week of installation and most of the systems was test started and spot checked. There was one final component to be installed and it was a relatively simple, although huge part of the system. It was an environmentally controlled room erected inside the shop that contained the heart of the system, the paint booths. I figured what can go wrong now? The room and paint booths were provided by our best supplier. The same hour I was praising God for giving me the perfect error free project I received a phone call from our supplier in Florida. He said, “your not going to believe this. I am standing out in the parking lot looking at the box of hardware for your room. Some how it fell off the truck.” How can a box weighing close to 100 pounds fall off an enclosed trailer with the door closed? In all places, the factory parking lot? It’s impossible. But it was God’s way of reminding me to be humble. It was God’s way of reminding me, perfection is reserved only for Him. Although I thought I was doing the right thing by praising God and giving all the glory to Him, people didn’t see it that way. People would have viewed my claim to a perfect job as bragging. God saw how other people would have perceived a perfect job and He would not allow it. After all, God designed them and He knew what was in their hearts.

God did the same thing with Isaiah 40. For years I looked at this chapter as God the designer of the whole world with all those flowers, birds, animals, water, sky, sin, stars, air, and man. Every physical detail is perfect. The shape and function of the hand. The delicate pedal of the iris able to withstand heat, rain, high winds, and hail storms and retain all its beauty. But that pedal can be torn with the fingers of a child. Look deep into God’s design and see how He designs beauty into every detail. The shape of the pedal, scent, how God blended colors. Lift your eyes to the horizon during a sunset to see a combination of colors no artist can reproduce or camera capture. Blink at a sunset and the scene changes. Look along the horizon and see how one color blends with the next. See how God makes a feast of colors for our eyes with air we breath and clouds that bring rain. Everyday and moment is different. “Pay attention to this, Job. Stop and consider the wonderful miracles of God!” (Job 37:14 NLTse).

One of the lessons this study has taught me is to be ready for the unexpected when listening to God’s Spirit who showed me something in Isaiah 40 I never saw until I looked at the parallel chapter the prophecy led me to. God is more than a designer of physical things. God is a designer of life itself. “Clear the way through the wilderness for the LORD! Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God! Fill in the valleys, and level the mountains and hills. Straighten the curves, and smooth out the rough places. Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all people will see it together. The LORD has spoken!” The fulfillment of this prophecy is found in all four gospels. It must be important. One book contains the parallel chapter while the others contain lessons to consider.

Mark 1:1-8 NLTse This is the Good News about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God. It began (2) just as the prophet Isaiah had written: “Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, and he will prepare your way. (3) He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the LORD’s coming! Clear the road for him!'” (4) This messenger was John the Baptist. He was in the wilderness and preached that people should be baptized to show that they had turned to God to receive forgiveness for their sins. (5) All of Judea, including all the people of Jerusalem, went out to see and hear John. And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River. (6) His clothes were woven from coarse camel hair, and he wore a leather belt around his waist. For food he ate locusts and wild honey. (7) John announced: “Someone is coming soon who is greater than I am–so much greater that I’m not even worthy to stoop down like a slave and untie the straps of his sandals. (8) I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit!”

We can see Isaiah 40 leads us directly to John the Baptist. John easily fits the mold of speaking comfortable to God’s people. Although John’s preaching was direct and to the point, it often cut at people the same way John said the ax is going to cut out the roots of the tree. John did tell the people their sins will be forgiven once they repent. Which explains the forth part of the introduction in Isaiah 40. “Yes, the LORD has punished her twice over for all her sins.” The first punishment is the trials and lessons sin brings. The second is confession which may not be so easy for some people who have a difficult time dealing with God’s convicting Spirit.

Filling in valleys and leveling mountains and hills has a spiritual meaning explained by the Bible when we compare the prophecy to its fulfillment. Isaiah provided one of the key details. A voice said, “Shout!” I asked, “What should I shout?” Obstacles are created when people preach their own message. We see this lesson taught when we see contrasts between the philosophy, doctrines, and traditions of those religious leaders compared to the way Jesus taught and what He taught. One of the questions in this prophecy comes up in the next verse. “Shout that people are like the grass. Their beauty fades as quickly as the flowers in a field. The grass withers and the flowers fade beneath the breath of the LORD. And so it is with people. The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.” Notice the contrast in the message comparing people to God’s Word which stands forever. The question is, what people are represented by withering grass? It’s too easy to say the symbol applied to those Pharisees. It’s also too easy to say it applies to people who don’t believe like you. Neither one takes into account being punished twice for your sins.

Since withering grass is compared to God’s Word, would those people have God’s Word or a message of their own? Now we begin to see what valleys need to be filled, and which hills and mountains need to be leveled. Sure people may claim to have God’s Word, but think about it. They’re taking a little here and there to build up their own hills and mountains. God is saying He needs to level it all out so, “the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all people will see it together.” Think of what’s presented here in physical terms. Material hills and mountains are being used to fill in the low spots. God is leveling the field so people can see the full view.

Someone takes a tiny portion of scripture which leaves people in a hole they can’t see out of. Then those people take that portion of scripture and build a whole new idea or concept out of it. They not only place people in a hole but build up hills and mountains making certain people can see only what they want them to see. Today we call this modern religion. Then one day when Jesus returns and He tells those people they never knew Him nor does He know them, they go to cry to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of the one who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb.” (Revelation 6:16 NLTse). Revelation uses the word rocks. People need to realize there is a big difference between building on a Rock and using rocks to build a wall around you. Building on a Rock you can see around you. People piling rocks around you restricts your view. The only time in their lives they’ll see Jesus is when the look up to see Him coming in the clouds. That’s when they’ll try leveling out everything around them but it’ll be too late.

John didn’t want to attract people to himself. His role was to turn people to Jesus. There is a lot of speculation on Elijah’s power we’re supposed to see in the last days. “Look, I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the LORD arrives. His preaching will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers. Otherwise I will come and strike the land with a curse.” (Malachi 4:5-6 NLTse). But most of what you hear misses a major point in that prophecy. He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less. (John 3:30 NLTse). To operate within Elijah’s power in the last day you’ll have to decrease while Jesus increases. Only Jesus knows what’s in people’s hearts and on their minds. Only God saw all their worries and trials long before they occurred. It has never been our role to solve problems and give advice unless we’re specifically directed by God.

After leaving Egypt God told Israel He wanted to make them a nation of priests. God wanted to work with every individual in Israel. God wanted to train those slaves from Egypt to be priests to the world. God needed each and every one of them. But they turned down God’s offer and told Moses to stand between them and God. How did that work out? How many people made it into the promised land? The Bible is filled with evidence those two people who made it to the promised land talked to God and God talked with them. So why in the world are preachers trying to copy a game plan from Israel that didn’t work?

Shout it louder, O Jerusalem. Shout, and do not be afraid. Tell the towns of Judah, “Your God is coming!” That’s it. There’s the simple message. Tell the world God is coming. Now we’re waiting for Jesus to return. In Isaiah’s time the message pointed to Jesus’ birth. How much of the world got the message the first time? Not many. What went wrong? Did God make a mistake? Did God forget something??? The world got the message wrong because the world thought it was safe to leave communication with God in the hands of a few religious leaders. Once Jesus began preaching what did those religious leaders do? They planned to kill Jesus. What makes the world think they can follow a failed plan with different results? You can’t place a hedge of people around and expect them to see Jesus.

We know John’s role was to point people to Jesus. That’s what the prophecy pointed us to. Isaiah filled in a few details. “He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young.” Isn’t Jesus our shepherd as well as the Lamb of God? Now we get into my favorite part of Isaiah 40, God the Creator and designer. God held the oceans in His hand before placing them in this world. God placed them underground before sin called for a reconstruction of this world. Now comes the important part. Who is able to advise the Spirit of the LORD? Who knows enough to give him advice or teach him? Has the LORD ever needed anyone’s advice? Does he need instruction about what is good? Did someone teach him what is right or show him the path of justice?

People have been trying to physically redesign this world. They dig deep into the earth and move mountains looking for gold. They’ve been pumping high pressure water into the ground to push oil to the surface. Both those actions have been poisoning water supplies by causing more pollution than anything ever before. Some countries overlook human slavery to extract precious metals and gem stones from the earth. The world God measured in His hands. Other nations in this world support or cast a blind eye at human slavery to support their sex trade, not to mention body parts for medical use. Some people are forced to sell parts of their bodies to survive. Governments hold long meetings to create laws about human trafficking but do nothing to alleviate the real cause of suffering. Our modern day definition of a politician is a person who’ll spend billions of dollars on lies before they will help feed a single family. How are any of those world leaders going to give God advice on the design of His world and teach him what is right or show him the path of justice? No one can. That would be insanity. We already have one contrast in the form of a renegade angel named Satan insisting a few changes will make this world a better place to live. Look around to see how Satan’s plans have worked to far. Now imagine where we would be if Satan was not restrained.

When we look at other gospels we see another side of God’s design which goes way beyond physical attributes. In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. God sent a man, John the Baptist, to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn–not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son. John testified about him when he shouted to the crowds, “This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘Someone is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.'” From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. (John 1:1-16 NLTse).

Notice how John repeated word and light? John calls attention to a few details in the introduction of his book that link back to Isaiah 40. “They are reborn–not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.” Once sin entered the scene, God’s physical design changed in this world. After God deals with sin He will change it back. It’s safe to assume God will handle that task Himself. The same is true with a spiritual rebirth. A human plan ain’t going to work. Along with a spiritual rebirth, John also tells us a little bit about another birth. John filled in a few details about Jesus’ birth, another aspect of God’s perfect design.

I can tell you a little about a successful design. It takes a great deal of planning. Don’t you think God gave His creation a great deal of planning before He spoke things into existence? John tells us, “God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him.” Don’t you think God and Jesus had long talks about how everything in this world is designed? John’s introduction brings out another facet of God’s design, the birth and ministry of His Son Jesus.

Take a moment to think about the planning and detail God went through to plan Jesus’ birth. The prophecy in Isaiah 40 is also found in Luke 3. Luke tells us some interesting details God had to plan.

Luke 3:1-6 NLTse It was now the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius, the Roman emperor. Pontius Pilate was governor over Judea; Herod Antipas was ruler over Galilee; his brother Philip was ruler over Iturea and Traconitis; Lysanias was ruler over Abilene. (2) Annas and Caiaphas were the high priests. At this time a message from God came to John son of Zechariah, who was living in the wilderness. (3) Then John went from place to place on both sides of the Jordan River, preaching that people should be baptized to show that they had turned to God to receive forgiveness for their sins. (4) Isaiah had spoken of John when he said, “He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the LORD’s coming! Clear the road for him! (5) The valleys will be filled, and the mountains and hills made level. The curves will be straightened, and the rough places made smooth. (6) And then all people will see the salvation sent from God.'”

Luke provided us with the date showing God’s perfect timing while introducing a few of the characters. Then God placed Isaiah’s prophecy in this chapter to lead us to other details in His design of Jesus’ birth and ministry. Jesus was about thirty years old when he began his public ministry. Jesus was known as the son of Joseph. Joseph was the son of Heli. (Luke 3:23 NLTse). Luke also shows us it took Jesus about thirty years to prepare for His ministry. How many people spend thirty years preparing for their ministries before they begin preaching? They may spend 4-6 years in school before getting a degree to teach. Quite a difference between God’s plan and this world’s idea of preparation. Luke goes back in time as he continues in his book.

David was the son of Jesse. Jesse was the son of Obed. Obed was the son of Boaz. Boaz was the son of Salmon. Salmon was the son of Nahshon. (Luke 3:32 NLTse). Here we’ll highlight a few points but imagine the stories awaiting us in Heaven when we get to meet all of Jesus’ relatives and hear their stories. Boaz has an interesting story. He married Ruth who had a history worth looking at. The two sons married Moabite women. One married a woman named Orpah, and the other a woman named Ruth. But about ten years later, both Mahlon and Kilion died. This left Naomi alone, without her two sons or her husband. (Ruth 1:4-5 NLTse). Jesus had a bit of Moab in Him. From some of the earlier studies in this book we’ve seen Moab was one of Lot’s sons who grew up with little or no spiritual guidance. So Moabites seemed to always be a bit of trouble for Israel even though they were distant relatives.

Judah was the son of Jacob. Jacob was the son of Isaac. Isaac was the son of Abraham. Abraham was the son of Terah. Terah was the son of Nahor. (Luke 3:34 NLTse). Abraham has another interesting history. God told him, ‘Leave your native land and your relatives, and come into the land that I will show you.’ So Abraham left the land of the Chaldeans and lived in Haran until his father died. Then God brought him here to the land where you now live. (Acts 7:3-4 NLTse). It’s really interesting when you understand exactly where Abraham came from. And it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came, he, and all his army, against Jerusalem, and encamped against it; and they built a siege wall against it round about. And the city was besieged unto the eleventh year of king Zedekiah. And on the ninth day of the fourth month the famine prevailed in the city, and there was no food for the people of the land. And the city was broken up, and all the men of war fled by night by the way of the gate between two walls, which is by the king’s garden: (now the Chaldeans were against the city round about:) and the king went the way toward the plain. (2 Kings 25:1-4 KJ2000). Abraham came from what was later known as Babylon. In other words, when Judah was sent to Babylon, they were sent back to where it all began. This is another part of Jesus’ ancestors we have to consider.

Luke went all the way back to Adam. Shelah was the son of Cainan. Cainan was the son of Arphaxad. Arphaxad was the son of Shem. Shem was the son of Noah. Noah was the son of Lamech. Lamech was the son of Methuselah. Methuselah was the son of Enoch. Enoch was the son of Jared. Jared was the son of Mahalalel. Mahalalel was the son of Kenan. Kenan was the son of Enosh. Enosh was the son of Seth. Seth was the son of Adam. Adam was the son of God. (Luke 3:36-38 NLTse). Luke wanted us to see how Jesus’ birth was planned since the beginning of this world.

What does that history have to do with the design of Jesus’ birth and ministry? These are all lessons pointing to God’s design. Jesus often ministered to Gentiles and pagans as well as Jews. Jesus made sure everyone understood His message, the Good News was for the world to hear. Every one of those details was important in God’s design. We see other details on God’s design when we look at the summations of the prophecy and compare it to the fulfillment.

Isaiah 40:21-31 NLTse Haven’t you heard? Don’t you understand? Are you deaf to the words of God— the words he gave before the world began? Are you so ignorant? (22) God sits above the circle of the earth. The people below seem like grasshoppers to him! He spreads out the heavens like a curtain and makes his tent from them. (23) He judges the great people of the world and brings them all to nothing. (24) They hardly get started, barely taking root, when he blows on them and they wither. The wind carries them off like chaff. (25) “To whom will you compare me? Who is my equal?” asks the Holy One. (26) Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars? He brings them out like an army, one after another, calling each by its name. Because of his great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing. (27) O Jacob, how can you say the LORD does not see your troubles? O Israel, how can you say God ignores your rights? (28) Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. (29) He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. (30) Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. (31) But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.

Are we beginning to understand God’s design? If not, these two chapters will help provide more details. Isaiah points us back to, “the words he gave before the world began.” Another reference to Luke’s account of Jesus’ genealogy. “To whom will you compare me? Who is my equal?” asks the Holy One. We can look at this in two ways. No one is like God the Creator and designer but when we look at Jesus’ birth line we see we have something in common with our Savior. We all physically came from Adam and all share spiritually with Abraham. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. Jesus shares a bloodline with some of those tribes we consider far from God and difficult to reach. Which shows how well God planned as well as how far the Good News is to spread. When we look at Mark 1 we see how Jesus followed God’s plan of salvation.

Mark 1:35-45 NLTse Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray. (36) Later Simon and the others went out to find him. (37) When they found him, they said, “Everyone is looking for you.” (38) But Jesus replied, “We must go on to other towns as well, and I will preach to them, too. That is why I came.” (39) So he traveled throughout the region of Galilee, preaching in the synagogues and casting out demons. (40) A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. “If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean,” he said. (41) Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” (42) Instantly the leprosy disappeared, and the man was healed. (43) Then Jesus sent him on his way with a stern warning: (44) “Don’t tell anyone about this. Instead, go to the priest and let him examine you. Take along the offering required in the law of Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy. This will be a public testimony that you have been cleansed.” (45) But the man went and spread the word, proclaiming to everyone what had happened. As a result, large crowds soon surrounded Jesus, and he couldn’t publicly enter a town anywhere. He had to stay out in the secluded places, but people from everywhere kept coming to him.

Isaiah repeated key words understanding and strength combining them with weak, powerless, tired, exhaustion, and faint. We often forget Jesus felt those emotions and physical burdens when He walked this world. Jesus grew tired as He worked endless hours healing, ministering, and teaching crowds that gathered around Him. Jesus worked three jobs for no worldly pay at all. I know what Jesus felt like having to work two major jobs from 8 AM to 10 PM for little or no pay while finding time to minister to people, read and study the Bible then finally sitting down to write. Jesus found His rest in prayer – communion with His Father. Have you had days like that? Nothing seemed to go right. Opposition lurked at every corner as it seemed some unseen force planned every little trial. Do you have days when you can’t wait to have a long talk with God asking Him why it all happened and waiting for His answer? Jesus faced opposition from religious leaders. People in His hometown doubted Him. The brothers Jesus grew up with wondered why He didn’t come to them for advice. There was the occasional confrontation with demons. At times groups of them. Day in and day out Jesus witnessed pain and suffering caused by Satan, his agents, and people claiming to follow God. Jesus heard all their excuses, “they’re different, they’re poor, they’re sick, she’s a widow, he’s and orphan, they’re suffering God’s curse, they don’t follow God in the right way like us.” Jesus suffered through an endless list of man made concepts, ideals, and beliefs. Like Isaiah, Jesus wandered through a battle field with enemies on all sides and every side taking full advantage of less fortunate people. How do you feel when you are passionate about a job while people all around you are flooding you with unnecessary paperwork, details, questions, procedures, requests, accusations, rumors, and threats? You can only account for feelings on such matters to the degree related to your income. Jesus had His life at stake as well as the future of this world.

As we can see, Jesus received instructions from His Father while in prayer. When His disciples found Him, Jesus told them what God told Him, “We must go on to other towns as well, and I will preach to them, too. That is why I came.” God told Jesus what He had to do next and why He had to do it. Don’t you think God also told Jesus what to preach, who to talk to, how to reach them, and assured Him, God’s Spirit would be with Him to heal? I just took a break to check my Facebook account and saw a very common request. This was a request from a National Director from a major church asking for prayer. She didn’t know what to preach so asked people to pray for her. To most people this may seem normal because we often hear people making prayer requests like this. I work with a number of local pastors from all denominations. When I hear them preach, they never have notes. We talk about preparing sermons. A wise pastor once told me, “if an evangelist cannot see the what a church needs in ten minutes, they are on the wrong business.” A man of God is just that. He has to be led by God 24/7. I suddenly noticed a difference between some of the pastors on my Facebook account and those I work with in the area. Local pastors I know have full time jobs and minister full time. They don’t ask for prayer about what to say, they spend the entire week in communion with God and get the right message from God at the right time. I’ve been asked to speak at services a number of times. I don’t have time to prepare notes or a collection of scripture. Each and every time I found myself studying the same subject the preacher shared. All I could do is add to or confirm His testimony and maybe add a few details from other texts I studied during the week that came to mind at that moment. Preaching has to be a natural occurrence when it is from God’s Spirit. God confirms His messages. Jesus knew God’s messages and instructions were confirmed as He traveled about preaching. Jesus saw that confirmation on the expressions on peoples faces, when they asked questions God’s Spirit gave them. Jesus also saw confirmation by paying attention to reactions whenever He answered questions. Jesus promised to give this world God’s Spirit. Why not accept Jesus’ promises, if you have faith He can keep them.

I saw one major difference between local pastors working full time to support their families and ministries, and those pastors on Facebook drawing a salary, and calling ministry a job. Those Facebook pastors rely on others for financial support, so naturally rely on them for spiritual support. Strange as it may seem, that is the difference I see.

Working pastors share more faith and reliance on Jesus because they experience more of the trials and opposition Jesus lived through. Sure there are all kinds of degrees of faith, and we all have different strong as well as weak points. There is no hard and fast way to measure the faith of a man or woman. After all, each of us has the same access to God’s Spirit. It all depends on how hard and long we listen, how we listen, and how we cooperate with God’s Spirit. God doesn’t measure us by our education, or how much money we spent on that education, the name of the college, grades, or lack of any formal education in religion. Those can be tools to build on but none of them can ever be a substitute for a personal relationship with God’s Spirit.

Prayer is part of God’s design. We have to face facts. We can remember only so much for so long. Another point is, how can we recall what we haven’t learned? People say God works with people where they are and that’s true. But how much can God teach someone who acknowledges Him only an hour or two a week? We learn a lot from Jesus and the way He prayed. Jesus got away by Himself to pray. Jesus got away from distractions. That is the most difficult part for me when I pray and stop to listen to God’s voice. It can be a battle to keep distractions out. It’s best to pray and listen when there are no distractions. Waves of thoughts can enter your head. When that happens, I concentrate on what I’ve read or what I am studying in God’s Word that day. Then the still small voice can be heard when your mind settles in on one subject like Jesus’ ministry and how it relates to Isaiah 40. But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Jesus needed a super human effort to accomplish what He came to do in three years. Look at Jesus’ answer to His disciples. “That is why I came.” God cheered Jesus on to keep Him going. Not a day or moment could be wasted. God went over details in scripture with Jesus. Details Jesus had to fulfill in a specific way at a specific time. Our lives are the same. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! (Psalms 139:16-17 NLTse). God knows your life as well as He knew Jesus’ life. God recorded your life like He recorded Jesus’ life in scripture. The only difference is, we don’t have the record of our life to read like Jesus did. Which is another reason we have to learn to listen.

One detail in Mark we should pay attention to is Jesus preaching in synagogues and casting out demons. The first demon Jesus cast out was in a synagogue. No one in the synagogue knew the man was possessed by a demon. It’s a little detail Jesus wants us to consider.

There is another detail to consider. People in Jerusalem didn’t listen to God. They also ignored God’s prophets. Without a spiritual connection with God and doubts about His prophets, Jerusalem was lost. They had no intentions of turning away from their own concepts on religion. The same was true in Jesus’ time. With no direct relationship with God’s Spirit, people couldn’t recognize a demon worshiping next to them. Other stories in the Bible tell us how people in synagogues rejected Jesus. They tried to throw Him over a cliff. They questioned Jesus’ ability to heal. They question His healing on the Sabbath. They also questioned His authority to forgive sins. All of those inside synagogues.

How much do people question Jesus in churches today? What do people do in churches? How do people choose a church? People develop their own ideas about religion then search for a church that agrees with their concept of God. It happens all the time. People want to surround themselves with people who think alike. Then they create rules in the church to keep out people who might make waves. They convince themselves their form of worship is advanced and the only correct way to worship. They build a hedge around themselves calling it a form of protection, blocking outside influences from the world. Convincing themselves all that is for their protection, they can’t see their rules, regulations, doctrines, and traditions block out God’s Spirit. They cannot see demons walking among them.

Jerusalem locked themselves inside city walls with people having the same interests which in their case was love of money and power. They had the belief the world outside could die and they would be the chosen race to repopulate the promised land. After all they were God’s chosen people – what could go wrong? Satan uses the same deception inside churches – while demons walk among them.

Isaiah told us that would happen. Who is able to advise the Spirit of the LORD? Who knows enough to give him advice or teach him? Has the LORD ever needed anyone’s advice? Does he need instruction about what is good? Did someone teach him what is right or show him the path of justice? Religious leaders have no problem telling God they have a better way to worship. Some want to wave their hands in the air while praising Jesus because He forgives everyone for everything all the time. Some people get into nothing but music. So they find a church concentrating on the same type of music they appreciate. Some hymns, others gospel, then there is what they call soft Christian rock and of course hard rock Christian music. Some people get into it so deep it becomes the center of religion while Jesus takes a backseat. Some people just like control so they find a church they can control which is usually a church made up of sheep that follow without question. Most Christians want to follow and it is not hard to find a church with a preacher who wants to make all the decisions. Too many churches want to be in control. They’ve forgotten what it means to let God’s Spirit led with Jesus as the head. Like the pastor asking for prayer on what to preach, they forgot how to listen to God’s Spirit. They forgot they have a direct path to God’s throne.

Pastors who like control are like Herod. They think they have control. They may receive a good income. But what happens when membership shrinks and funds dry up? They ask the church what to preach. That’s when pastors are controlled by members. Those pastors stagger like drunks tossed like a reed in the wind going in whatever direction their pointed to protect their income. Some are more like Herod. They like to show off their riches. But how rich are they spiritually? Did you notice how rich preachers showing off their wealth attract the same type of people? If you look at their hand chosen TV audience that’s the image they want to portray. In all likelihood those preachers prey on poor in the back ground. Who do you think their get rich sermons are really pointed to? Their TV programs are marketed using tinsel and glitter. Were you expecting to see a man dressed in expensive clothes? No, people with expensive clothes live in palaces. (Matthew 11:8 NLTse).

Why did Jesus tell the leper not to tell about the miraculous healing performed? This is an important Bible Study lesson. God always provides the answer before raising a question. Looking back we see the obvious answer. But first we’ll look at the result. As a result, large crowds soon surrounded Jesus, and he couldn’t publicly enter a town anywhere. Crowds became so thick, Jesus was not able to work effectively. Now how can God’s Son be over worked and over extended? Shouldn’t God be able to control the situation? Sure, God could have done anything. In this case He is teaching a lesson. Our first lesson is learning how to look back for the answer. While Jesus was alone praying Simon and the others went out to find Jesus. When they found him, they said, “Everyone is looking for you.” What stopped the disciples from praying? Why couldn’t they hear the same message Jesus did? Obviously Jesus’ disciples weren’t ready for those large crowds. They were unprepared to assist Jesus. The disciples could have been a great aid to Jesus if they had learned to listen to God when they prayed. They exhibited the same form of prayer still popular in churches today. It’s seen in a lot of churches. Set aside a little time to pray thinking that’s what the church needs to do. What does that teach people about prayer? Popular prayers are far from teaching people the proper way to pray because prayer is 20% talking and 80% listening. Instead, churches teach people prayer is 100% talking and 0% listening. Does anyone have enough faith to pray in the proper way or do they practice the proper way to pray by waiting for God’s answer, share it with the church, and let people verify God’s answer? Do people have enough faith to pray that way in church or are they afraid God won’t answer? Some churches pray and share God’s message. Most other churches don’t have that ability or connection with God to pray in public and listen for His message. So those other churches point fingers at the few who do, and make up all kinds of stories and rumors to make it appear to be something totally different. I’ve heard people preach about other denominations like they are some kind of experts. Some times I ask the preacher if they were a member of the church they criticized. In almost every case the answer was, “no.” So much for being an expert.

Jesus needs people who know how to pray today as much as He needed them when He worked on His personal ministry here. Would you want other people who don’t know how to pray working on your personal ministry? Jesus worked long hard hours for no pay at all. Jesus was very serious about His job. Jesus received instructions directly from God. Jesus wanted His disciples to receive instructions in the same way. Jesus knew one day He was not going to be there to give them step by step instructions. Jesus was trying to teach His disciples how to communicate with God’s Spirit, but it takes much more than knowing it can be done. Communication with God takes time and effort. Fact of the matter is, those disciples not only disappointed Jesus but failed to reach out and spiritually support those people who went to see Jesus. Those people walked for hours and days to see Jesus while the disciples failed to spend proper time in prayer. How does all this apply to some churches today? People put a lot of time into work, getting ready for church, going to church, paying what they call tithe. Their money represents time, and what do preachers have to offer? Do preachers spend time praying? Are they getting their messages directly from God? If preachers today worked with Jesus, would He feel they were ready for the crowds Jesus faced? Would today’s preachers be prepared to assist Jesus?

Strange how someone can be a leper one day and one of the worlds greatest evangelists the next. The leper knew how to lead people to Jesus. The leper was no expert. Far from it. For years the leper was separated from society forced to associate with only people of his kind. Did the leper go tell only people he associated with? No! He went to everyone. The leper represented people who associate worship with only people of their own kind then finally see the light when they personally meet Jesus . The sad part is the leper was forced from society. Other people make their own life to resemble a disassociated leper by choice. Jesus physically healed that leper and also set him free from the restriction of associating only with people of his kind. That’s one of the lessons Jesus was trying to teach His disciples.

God the designer has patterns and formulas He wants us to follow. God not only wants us to learn those lessons, He needs us to follow those patterns. When the disciples didn’t follow God’s simple pattern of prayer, they couldn’t help Jesus when He needed them. God never changed His patterns no matter how hard men tried to come up with a better plan. God never needed anyone to tell Him what to do. God doesn’t need people constantly insisting they have a better or easier way. God just can’t work with people who insist on following their own rules to fulfill God’s plan of salvation. God’s seen more people try to help Him along with His plan of salvation than we can number. We have some examples. Some of the most prominent are Sarah’s plan to help God by giving her Egyptian slave to Abraham. There were a few more along Jesus’ family line. Then there was the early Christian church that traveled many roads God never wanted them to take. Some of the converted Jews wanted new Christians to be circumcised. Others wanted to bring in a few gods and idols to increase membership. Then of course the belief God had one choice race turned into one chosen church. The list goes on and on. The Old Testament shows us signs and explains a lot about Jesus’ ministry. The gospels recorded details of Jesus’ ministry. The New Testament explains some of those details showing Jesus’ ministry in action then copied by His disciples and other followers. Both the Old Testament and New Testament are filled with examples showing what happens when people follow God’s pattern and what happens when they don’t.


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Isaiah 7:10-16 Virgin Will Conceive a Child

Posted by Ez1 Realty on November 22, 2016

Isaiah 7:10-16 Virgin Will Conceive a Child

Isaiah 7:10-16 NLTse Later, the LORD sent this message to King Ahaz: (11) “Ask the LORD your God for a sign of confirmation, Ahaz. Make it as difficult as you want–as high as heaven or as deep as the place of the dead.” (12) But the king refused. “No,” he said, “I will not test the LORD like that.” (13) Then Isaiah said, “Listen well, you royal family of David! Isn’t it enough to exhaust human patience? Must you exhaust the patience of my God as well? (14) All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’). (15) By the time this child is old enough to choose what is right and reject what is wrong, he will be eating yogurt and honey. (16) For before the child is that old, the lands of the two kings you fear so much will both be deserted.

Once again we have a familiar prophecy to study. This prophecy is quoted by Matthew and referenced by Luke. Since Matthew quoted the scripture, we will limit our study to Matthew’s Gospel. When we look at the actual prophecy we notice God asked Ahaz, Judah’s king to give Him a test. It’s unusual for God to ask for a test, so this must be a special matter. Once we examine the prophecy we see a number of unusual circumstances. Looking back a few verses we see why God offered a sign. God promised to save Ahaz from the invading armies from Israel and Syria. Through Isaiah the prophet, God told Ahaz it would never happen. Ahaz refused to ask for a sign so God decided which sign to give him. All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).

You may be asking yourself why God choose this sign. This obviously points to Jesus who was born generations after Ahaz died. So Ahaz never saw the sign, but God still saved his kingdom. Why would God give Ahaz a sign that wasn’t going to be fulfilled for hundreds of years? In the first place Ahaz said he didn’t need or want a sign. In this case God granted his request and revealed the sign generations later. This leaves one explanation. The fulfillment of the sign God gave Ahaz has spiritual implications that are related to Ahaz’s experience.

It’s becoming obvious we have to begin taking a closer look at symbols used in Isaiah’s prophecies. After all a large portion of Isaiah’s prophecies contain symbols. The next step is of course to compare the fulfillment to the prophecy.

Matthew 1:20-25 NLTse As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. (21) And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (22) All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet: (23) “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.'” (24) When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. (25) But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.

Comparing the prophecy to the fulfillment the first detail we see is the prophecy was delivered by Isaiah a prophet. News of the fulfillment was delivered by an angel. Angels played a large part in this phase of the plan of salvation. An angel personally talked to Mary, Joseph, and Zechariah, John the Baptist’s father. Angels also announced Jesus’ birth. Jesus’ circumcision was also attended by the prophet Simeon and the prophetess Anna. This marked a new phase in the plan of salvation as well as the spiritual battle being fought. There doesn’t appear to be a lot of details to look at. Maybe that’s why Isaiah told Ahaz, “Isn’t it enough to exhaust human patience? Must you exhaust the patience of my God as well?” People look at prophecies will little patience. By doing so they not only test but eventually exhaust God’s patience. Before we get into interpreting symbols, we should compare the introductions and summations. It’s important to know the context before searching for a symbol’s meaning.

Isaiah 7:1-9 NLTse When Ahaz, son of Jotham and grandson of Uzziah, was king of Judah, King Rezin of Syria and Pekah son of Remaliah, the king of Israel, set out to attack Jerusalem. However, they were unable to carry out their plan. (2) The news had come to the royal court of Judah: “Syria is allied with Israel against us!” So the hearts of the king and his people trembled with fear, like trees shaking in a storm. (3) Then the LORD said to Isaiah, “Take your son Shear-jashub and go out to meet King Ahaz. You will find him at the end of the aqueduct that feeds water into the upper pool, near the road leading to the field where cloth is washed. (4) Tell him to stop worrying. Tell him he doesn’t need to fear the fierce anger of those two burned-out embers, King Rezin of Syria and Pekah son of Remaliah. (5) Yes, the kings of Syria and Israel are plotting against him, saying, (6) ‘We will attack Judah and capture it for ourselves. Then we will install the son of Tabeel as Judah’s king.’ (7) But this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “This invasion will never happen; it will never take place; (8) for Syria is no stronger than its capital, Damascus, and Damascus is no stronger than its king, Rezin. As for Israel, within sixty-five years it will be crushed and completely destroyed. (9) Israel is no stronger than its capital, Samaria, and Samaria is no stronger than its king, Pekah son of Remaliah. Unless your faith is firm, I cannot make you stand firm.”

Matthew 2:1-4 NLTse Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, (2) “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.” (3) King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem. (4) He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?”

Studying Proverbs showed how important it is to understand the culture. As seen in Proverbs, the meaning of a shoreline for fishermen was the same as a crossroad for most people. Since our culture is much different than that of Judah, Israel, and Syria, we have to look to the Bible to find out what God wanted us to know about the culture. The first obvious question should be, why is Israel attacking Judah?

Israel was the name give to Jacob after he wrestled with God. At this particular time in history, Israel was the name of the ten northern tribes. Judah was the name of the two tribes left to David’s line. The split up came after Solomon. So now the LORD said to him, “Since you have not kept my covenant and have disobeyed my decrees, I will surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your servants. But for the sake of your father, David, I will not do this while you are still alive. I will take the kingdom away from your son. And even so, I will not take away the entire kingdom; I will let him be king of one tribe, for the sake of my servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem, my chosen city.” (1 Kings 11:11-13 NLTse).

God gave Solomon more than all the wisdom in this world, but Solomon never learned how to use it. He married all kinds of different women thinking some of them would bring safety to his kingdom by forming alliances. By doing that, Solomon took his eyes off God, his real security. How could the wisest man in the world make such a mistake? Come on now, we all do it. Things start going well and we place God on the shelf. We think God is more like a genie we can call up when we’re in trouble then put back in the bottle until a problem comes up. We need to understand Solomon’s mistakes before we can understand Isaiah’s prophecies.

Rehoboam was the best Solomon could come up with to succeed him as king. Of course God already told Solomon the kingdom would be split because of the mistakes Solomon made. There was a chance God would have recognized an honest effort on Rehoboam’s part to bring the kingdom back to God. But when Jeroboam confronted Rehoboam about high taxes, Rehoboam consulted with the elders who of course counseled him to listen to Jeroboam. But Rehoboam didn’t like the answer so he went to the kids he grew up with for advise. Their counsel turned out to be the wrong thing to do. Rehoboam told Jeroboam he was going to put heavier burdens on the people so ten kingdoms decided to recede.

We have to look at what caused this predicament. Solomon married a lot of women who served idols. Think of that for a moment. How does one serve idols made of wood and stone, or silver and gold? Do the statues ask for things? Do stone images ask for food? Do wood carvings ask for ointment? Do silver trinkets demand a warmer room? Do gold idols demand sacrifices? No! They can’t talk. Idols don’t have the ability to write commands, demand traditions, or initiate doctrines. Where do those come from? They come from man’s imagination. Think of it. Any and every man made tradition, doctrine, and sacrifice is a form of idol worship.

Seldom is enough consideration given to the effects of Solomon’s marriages. He married a thousand women who raised thousands of sons and daughters. The idol worship Joshua tried to vanquish found its way back in through Israel’s king. Idol worship spread like a cancer. No one could see the damage until it was too late. Rehoboam was a symbol of what was happening but not a detailed explanation of how far the problem reached.

Jeroboam didn’t do much better with the ten kingdoms he led. He didn’t want to loose people to Judah by going back to the temple in Jerusalem. So Jeroboam build a couple of idols of his own, a few temples, and invented his own religion. Who knows why he choose golden calves like the one Aaron molded after leaving Egypt. Another thing happened. The Levites of course protested. Jeroboam didn’t do much better than Rehoboam when it came to taking advice. Jeroboam took his own advise and began putting down the priests protests any way he could. So in addition to the two tribes in Judah a large number of Levites fled to Jerusalem. This had a number of effects. The cities of refuge where the priests lived were set aside by God as safety zones people could flee to if the accidentally killed someone. Before the break up these should have been some of the safest cites and closest to God. There’s not a lot written about those cities but they may be an interesting study.

Once the Levites left, Jeroboam assigned his own priests, who served in his own temple, and followed the order of worship he invented. It was nothing like the temple or worship in Jerusalem. The temple Solomon built had little in common with the humble Tabernacle Moses built in the wilderness. The Tabernacle still existed, but David took out the ark and moved in to Jerusalem. That is after a failed attempt. God wanted to give David some time to consider his actions. But David was insistent, and eventually God let him move the ark without the Tabernacle. If David would have looked, he would have found a specific order Moses recorded describing how every piece was to be prepared for any move.

David adopted a new form of religion. He looked at the laws Moses recorded as one set for the wilderness and another set of rules for his kingdom. David crossed a dangerous path and was facing the fieriest enemy any would ever face. It was the beginning of Jerusalem’s downfall. Most Christians already heard one account or another about one mistake David made, but I’ve never heard anyone who went back, looked at the actual scripture, and saw how many mistakes David made by separating the ark from the Tabernacle. You can look at those details yourself.

There is a strong spiritual relationship between Israel under Jeroboam and that beast in Revelation 13. Both initiated their own form of service. It’s not by accident Jeroboam left Israel for a time and went to Egypt. Then returned to be Israel’s first king when they split from Rehoboam’s kingdom. He took a lot of out Egypt with him. That’s the easy part to see. But there are spiritual implications that can be seen throughout Israel’s and Judah’s history. As well as mistakes we still see today. Those implications are revealed throughout the Bible all the way through Revelation.

With all those priests who opposed idolatry converging on Jerusalem, you would think the city took a turn for the better. But it seems it had no positive effect. On the other hand Jeroboam had to come up with a new worship system. He initiated his own religion going as far as setting up a new day of worship named after himself. The ten kingdoms in Israel were on a fast downward spiral while Judah was skidding down a slower path. Both were pulling away from God. The message God provided by splitting the kingdom fell on deaf ears.

Jeroboam also needed money to run his kingdom. When he split from Rehoboam, Jeroboam left all the money in Jerusalem. But Rehoboam didn’t grow up with a good example to follow in financial matters. Solomon spend money like water. He numbered and enslaved people to build his kingdom. The main emphasis in the Bible is on Solomon’s temple and palace, but look a little deeper. Solomon built thousands of homes for the one thousand women mentioned in the Bible. Now King Solomon loved many foreign women. Besides Pharaoh’s daughter, he married women from Moab, Ammon, Edom, Sidon, and from among the Hittites. The LORD had clearly instructed the people of Israel, ‘You must not marry them, because they will turn your hearts to their gods.’ Yet Solomon insisted on loving them anyway. He had 700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines. And in fact, they did turn his heart away from the LORD. (1 Kings 11:1-3 NLTse). He also built countless homes for his kids. We also know Jeroboam built temples, palaces, homes, and cities. That takes money and labor. Jeroboam used the same methods to raise money and labor Solomon and Rehoboam used. The king who lead Israel to a promised freedom gave them the same old oppression under new management.

Judah declared war on Israel in an attempt to reunite the kingdom. This of course increased taxes as well as caused a lot of new problems and grief, but God sent a prophet to Rehoboam. “Say to Rehoboam son of Solomon, king of Judah, and to all the people of Judah and Benjamin, and to the rest of the people, ‘This is what the LORD says: Do not fight against your relatives, the Israelites. Go back home, for what has happened is my doing!'” So they obeyed the message of the LORD and went home, as the LORD had commanded. (1 Kings 12:23-24 NLTse). That stopped the war for a while, but God finally let them do what they wanted to do, fight against one another. The war waged on past Ahaz’s reign.

There is one more lesson we see in this study we’ve seen in the previous Bible Study in Isaiah. Instead of looking back and using the introduction in the same chapter, we had to look forward to the next chapter. There may be a number of reasons for this. One is based on the fact Matthew’s introduction in his book recorded Jesus’ birth line. Since the last study in Isaiah showed how we need to look forward, we once again follow that step and compare the introduction for Matthew chapter 2 to Isaiah 7. Looking at them it seems difficult to see the connection. I had to pray about these details for a few days before I finally understood the answer. I don’t like using any book for Bible Study other than the Bible because I see people taking advantage and abusing the use of other books. I also noticed a lot of preachers and teachers fail to provide information on the references they use. I wonder what they are hiding. In this case we need to look at a reliable source to provide some information on history to find out the relationship between Israel, Syria, and Herod. I thought it may have something to do with Herod and where he came from. But as in most cases, when you go with what you think, prepare to be wrong. Here is a bit out of Encyclopedia Britannica and a link to read the rest of the story.

Octavian, who had met Herod in Rome, knew that he was the one man to rule Palestine as Rome wanted it ruled and confirmed him king. He also restored to Herod the land Cleopatra had taken. Herod became the close friend of Augustus’ great minister Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, after whom one of his grandsons and one of his great-grandsons were named. Both the emperor and the minister paid him state visits, and Herod twice again visited Italy. Augustus gave him the oversight of the Cyprus copper mines, with a half share in the profits. He twice increased Herod’s territory, in the years 22 and 2 bc, so that it came to include not only Palestine but parts of what are now the kingdom of Jordan to the east of the river and southern Lebanon and Syria. He had intended to bestow the Nabataean kingdom on Herod as well, but, by the time that throne fell vacant, Herod’s mental and physical deterioration made it impossible. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/263437/Herod

In the prophecy Jerusalem was threatened by Israel and Syria. In the fulfillment Jesus was threatened by Herod the puppet king of both Israel and Syria. After Jesus’ resurrection His disciples and followers were threatened by Rome, the emperor of Israel and Syria. With a little lesson on history we can clearly see the spiritual connection in the introductions. We also find Syria mentioned in the gospels. At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) (Luke 2:1-2 NLTse).

If you search the Internet on articles on Quirinius and the census you’ll find all kinds of conflicting information. After reading a few articles you’ll agree that interpreting prophecies is a lot easier than trying to read and determine which account of history is correct. Don’t forget most of the records were destroyed when one kingdom conquered another. That’s when a lot of history was rewritten from another point of view. So we should never rely on history books and historians as a reliable source. As a matter of fact, this is why I know not to trust any preacher or teacher who does not provide the source of their information. If you search historical records you’ll find conflicting accounts recorded by the same author. Many times history was recorded like news which is supposed to be an unbiased account of an event. That’s why its best to let historians, teachers, and preachers battle over the little details and not get distracted from the more important spiritual details in the lesson.

As a matter of fact, a great deal can be learned about Syria by studying it in the gospels. I took a quick look at Syria in the New Testament and the sequence of texts spells out an important spiritual lesson. I’ll leave that study up to you. All Luke is doing is balancing the gospels with the Old Testament prophecy. The introduction and summation of Isaiah 7 records two powers at work against Jerusalem. Luke points out the fact there are two powers or symbols at work against Jesus at the time, Herod and Rome. Its much more important to concentrate on the meaning of those symbols and how they relate to the lesson than it is to argue individual dates and names. This is why Isaiah told us: Syria is no stronger than its capital, Damascus, and Damascus is no stronger than its king, Rezin. Israel is no stronger than its capital, Samaria, and Samaria is no stronger than its king, Pekah son of Remaliah. We see more spiritual connections in the summations.

Isaiah 7:17-25 NLTse “Then the LORD will bring things on you, your nation, and your family unlike anything since Israel broke away from Judah. He will bring the king of Assyria upon you!” (18) In that day the LORD will whistle for the army of southern Egypt and for the army of Assyria. They will swarm around you like flies and bees. (19) They will come in vast hordes and settle in the fertile areas and also in the desolate valleys, caves, and thorny places. (20) In that day the Lord will hire a “razor” from beyond the Euphrates River–the king of Assyria–and use it to shave off everything: your land, your crops, and your people. (21) In that day a farmer will be fortunate to have a cow and two sheep or goats left. (22) Nevertheless, there will be enough milk for everyone because so few people will be left in the land. They will eat their fill of yogurt and honey. (23) In that day the lush vineyards, now worth 1,000 pieces of silver, will become patches of briers and thorns. (24) The entire land will become a vast expanse of briers and thorns, a hunting ground overrun by wildlife. (25) No one will go to the fertile hillsides where the gardens once grew, for briers and thorns will cover them. Cattle, sheep, and goats will graze there.

Matthew 2:14-23 NLTse That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother, (15) and they stayed there until Herod’s death. This fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: “I called my Son out of Egypt.” (16) Herod was furious when he realized that the wise men had outwitted him. He sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, based on the wise men’s report of the star’s first appearance. (17) Herod’s brutal action fulfilled what God had spoken through the prophet Jeremiah: (18) “A cry was heard in Ramah– weeping and great mourning. Rachel weeps for her children, refusing to be comforted, for they are dead.” (19) When Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt. (20) “Get up!” the angel said. “Take the child and his mother back to the land of Israel, because those who were trying to kill the child are dead.” (21) So Joseph got up and returned to the land of Israel with Jesus and his mother. (22) But when he learned that the new ruler of Judea was Herod’s son Archelaus, he was afraid to go there. Then, after being warned in a dream, he left for the region of Galilee. (23) So the family went and lived in a town called Nazareth. This fulfilled what the prophets had said: “He will be called a Nazarene.”

The summations introduce a few new symbols. We know they are symbols because we see Egypt in both chapters. It’s time we looked at some of those symbols in detail. The first to look at would be Egypt. It would make sense to first interpret the symbol repeated between the Old and New Testament. Don’t forget the simple rule, when God repeats Himself, pay attention.

The most obvious place to look at what Egypt represents is at the beginning. And whenever interpreting symbols always remember, the fulfillment is always much greater than the symbol. Egypt is actually explained in a prophecy given to Abraham.

Genesis 15:5-21 NLTse Then the LORD took Abram outside and said to him, “Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!” (6) And Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD counted him as righteous because of his faith. (7) Then the LORD told him, “I am the LORD who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land as your possession.” (8) But Abram replied, “O Sovereign LORD, how can I be sure that I will actually possess it?” (9) The LORD told him, “Bring me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” (10) So Abram presented all these to him and killed them. Then he cut each animal down the middle and laid the halves side by side; he did not, however, cut the birds in half. (11) Some vultures swooped down to eat the carcasses, but Abram chased them away. (12) As the sun was going down, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a terrifying darkness came down over him. (13) Then the LORD said to Abram, “You can be sure that your descendants will be strangers in a foreign land, where they will be oppressed as slaves for 400 years. (14) But I will punish the nation that enslaves them, and in the end they will come away with great wealth. (15) (As for you, you will die in peace and be buried at a ripe old age.) (16) After four generations your descendants will return here to this land, for the sins of the Amorites do not yet warrant their destruction.” (17) After the sun went down and darkness fell, Abram saw a smoking firepot and a flaming torch pass between the halves of the carcasses. (18) So the LORD made a covenant with Abram that day and said, “I have given this land to your descendants, all the way from the border of Egypt to the great Euphrates River– (19) the land now occupied by the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, (20) Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, (21) Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, and Jebusites.”

You’ll notice Egypt was not mentioned in this prophecy given to Abram, but is named in the recorded Biblical fulfillment of that prophecy. Additional proof we need to study prophecies with their fulfillment to grasp the proper understanding as well as the spiritual lessons. The people of Israel lived in Egypt for 430 years. In fact, it was on the last day of the 430th year that all the LORD’s forces left the land. On this night the LORD kept his promise to bring his people out of the land of Egypt. So this night belongs to him, and it must be commemorated every year by all the Israelites, from generation to generation. (Exodus 12:40-42 NLTse). No one is sure why the prophecy says 400 years and the fulfillment indicates 430 years to the day. This is a mystery of God’s timing you’ll have to study more on. Instead of arguing dates, we’re here to look at some symbols.

No one is sure why God told Abram; “Bring me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” Instead of trying to decipher each animal it is much easier to first look at the whole story for a meaning. That is a general rule of context and an important study method. Look at the whole story then figure out the relationship between details. What linked them together? Some people look at this prophecy as if God gave Abram animals with zippers so they’d be easy to divide. Well if you look at the prophecy, Abram brought God the animals and killed them. Abram didn’t have a huge butcher band saw. If anything he had a knife and maybe an ax. Abram had to divide the entire animal, organs, bones, skull, and all. This was a gruesome task leaving Abram splattered with blood from head to toe. No wonder he laid down and fell asleep. Abram was exhausted after dividing a cow, goat, and ram.

Now here is where is gets sticky. There are two main verses to Abram’s dream we need to compare and examine for details. As the sun was going down, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a terrifying darkness came down over him. After the sun went down and darkness fell, Abram saw a smoking firepot and a flaming torch pass between the halves of the carcasses.

The first symbol to consider describes a terrifying darkness that came down over Abram. The second details are a smoking firepot and a flaming torch. Most people concentrate on only one, the firepot also translated furnace. Some people like to interpret the firepot or furnace as God based on a few texts such as: All of Mount Sinai was covered with smoke because the LORD had descended on it in the form of fire. The smoke billowed into the sky like smoke from a brick kiln, and the whole mountain shook violently. (Exodus 19:18 NLTse). Other people prefer this text to say the furnace represents Egypt. Remember that the LORD rescued you from the iron-smelting furnace of Egypt in order to make you his very own people and his special possession, which is what you are today. (Deuteronomy 4:20 NLTse). The fact of the matter is, this shows how all the details need to be examined as well as the context. Don’t forget, there were two items passing between the divided animals, a smoking furnace and a flaming torch. They may both be right, but are ignoring important rules of Bible Study.

Let’s take a brief look at the animals. There is a cow followed by a goat then a ram and two birds that are not divided. The value and power of each animal diminishes. People may argue about the value and power of a goat and ram but we can refer to Daniel chapter 8 for an explanation. The goat charged furiously at the ram and struck him, breaking off both his horns. Now the ram was helpless, and the goat knocked him down and trampled him. No one could rescue the ram from the goat’s power. (Daniel 8:7 NLTse). There are other prophecies dealing with decreasing value and power we can compare with the prophecy Abram received. At this point those would distract from the study at hand, identifying some of the spiritual symbols Egypt represents. You can take the time to look at those other prophecies and compare them to Abraham’s promise.

Egypt has quite a history in the Bible. Abram was sent to Egypt during a drought. Isaac also went to Egypt as well as Jacob and his family. Abram’s first born son Ismael came from an Egyptian slave. Egypt enslaved Israel for more than 400 years. Egypt suffered a number of plagues in Exodus as well as having their army wiped out in the Red Sea. Shortly after Israel was divided Egypt came and took all the gold and treasures they lost in the Exodus out of Jerusalem and more. So King Shishak of Egypt came up and attacked Jerusalem. He ransacked the treasuries of the LORD’s Temple and the royal palace; he stole everything, including all the gold shields Solomon had made. (2 Chronicles 12:9 NLTse).

Solomon’s first wife was an Egyptian princess. Solomon made an alliance with Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, and married one of his daughters. He brought her to live in the City of David until he could finish building his palace and the Temple of the LORD and the wall around the city. (1 Kings 3:1 NLTse). We also see Solomon invested in horses and chariots from Egypt instead of trusting in God. Jeroboam fled to Egypt when Solomon was king and returned to face his son Rehoboam. Among other details not mentioned in this short study, Egypt also captured Jerusalem and appointed a new king. The king of Egypt then installed Eliakim, the brother of Jehoahaz, as the next king of Judah and Jerusalem, and he changed Eliakim’s name to Jehoiakim. Then Neco took Jehoahaz to Egypt as a prisoner. (2 Chronicles 36:4 NLTse). Each of these has a spiritual significance at a specific time within a particular context. The main point is to provide the meaning to a symbol, you need to study and compare chapters to make sure the interpretation is proper and don’t ever forget to pray.

Another important point to remember is God’s time line and how He uses it to teach spiritual lessons. Take for instance the animals Abram divided. Think of those animals as a reference point along a time line. At each point the furnace and torch would have a different effect and meaning. We can see Egypt was sometimes a threat, other times an oppression, and at times a sanctuary. To Joseph, Egypt was all three. We have to determine context to see which one applies to an individual situation. We cannot take one interpretation and apply it to every event and text. Each of those symbols used in Isaiah chapter 7 as well as the entire book of Isaiah and the other prophets have more than one meaning. This is why it’s so important to learn context before you even decide to look at any of the symbols and try to determine what they mean. You have to also learn what they mean and when they mean it. You have to understand God’s timing before your qualified to interpret God’s scripture. The previous book in the series explains God’s timing and the time line He uses in some detail. Studies on Psalms contains a number of examples to learn from. Here we still need to review some of the similarities and differences in the summations for Isaiah 7 and Mark 2.

Isaiah introduced another interesting symbol, Assyria. Don’t confuse Assyria with Syria. They are different kingdoms and have a different spiritual significance. Here we’ll only cover one aspect of Assyria, but remember it requires a detailed study of scripture, timing, and context to determine to correct meaning.

I think (this will almost always get you in trouble) one of the most significant aspects about Assyria is the role they played in the over throw of Samaria. Don’t forget Samaria was the capital of Israel. Most people think of 2Kings chapter 18 when Assyria surrounded Jerusalem and king Hezekiah prayed to God about the situation. That night the angel of the LORD went out to the Assyrian camp and killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. When the surviving Assyrians woke up the next morning, they found corpses everywhere. (2 Kings 19:35 NLTse). We learn a lot more about how and why Assyria got to Jerusalem if we look back a few chapters. King Ahaz sent messengers to King Tiglath-pileser of Assyria with this message: “I am your servant and your vassal. Come up and rescue me from the attacking armies of Aram and Israel.” Then Ahaz took the silver and gold from the Temple of the LORD and the palace treasury and sent it as a payment to the Assyrian king. So the king of Assyria attacked the Aramean capital of Damascus and led its population away as captives, resettling them in Kir. He also killed King Rezin. King Ahaz then went to Damascus to meet with King Tiglath-pileser of Assyria. While he was there, he took special note of the altar. Then he sent a model of the altar to Uriah the priest, along with its design in full detail. Uriah followed the king’s instructions and built an altar just like it, and it was ready before the king returned from Damascus. When the king returned, he inspected the altar and made offerings on it. He presented a burnt offering and a grain offering, he poured out a liquid offering, and he sprinkled the blood of peace offerings on the altar. Then King Ahaz removed the old bronze altar from its place in front of the LORD’s Temple, between the entrance and the new altar, and placed it on the north side of the new altar. He told Uriah the priest, “Use the new altar for the morning sacrifices of burnt offering, the evening grain offering, the king’s burnt offering and grain offering, and the burnt offerings of all the people, as well as their grain offerings and liquid offerings. Sprinkle the blood from all the burnt offerings and sacrifices on the new altar. The bronze altar will be for my personal use only.” Uriah the priest did just as King Ahaz commanded him. (2 Kings 16:7-16 NLTse).

We see a familiar name, Ahaz. It seems Ahaz funded the Assyrian army and persuaded them to attack Damascus. See the evil web they weaved? No wonder Syria and Israel joined forces. They had no choice since Judah joined forces with Assyria. We also see another important detail. Ahaz decided to copy a pagan alter in Damascus and have one just like it built to replace the alter in the temple at Jerusalem. Keep in mind Solomon didn’t use the alter from the Tabernacle but had a larger one built. Now that one is replaced by a pagan alter. Looking at the particular prophecy we’re studying here, God gave Ahaz an important sign and promised to save his kingdom.

Ahaz took the gold and silver form the temple and palace to pay Assyria who didn’t stop at Damascus. Then the king of Assyria invaded the entire land, and for three years he besieged the city of Samaria. Finally, in the ninth year of King Hoshea’s reign, Samaria fell, and the people of Israel were exiled to Assyria. They were settled in colonies in Halah, along the banks of the Habor River in Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes. (2 Kings 17:5-6 NLTse). Judah financed the over throw of Samaria, Israel’s capital. So we can see Hezekiah’s dad financed the army sitting outside his gates. Assyria quickly turned from an ally to a threat. So which would you use when trying to decide which interpretation fits the symbol in particular texts? Interpreting symbols is not as easy as some people claim it is.

In his summation Isaiah also repeated the symbols yogurt and honey while adding the related symbol milk. We also see Jesus will be eating yogurt and honey. What else did Jesus eat? And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and a honeycomb. And he took it, and did eat before them. And he said unto them, These are the words which I spoke unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, (Luke 24:42-45 KJ2000). Scripture associates honey with opening up the mind and learning about all the scriptures pointing to Jesus. All of the examples here show how important it is to pay attention to the little details. You can’t take the interpretation of a symbol and broaden it out to suit some preconceived idea. The texts clearly show Jesus opened their minds and showed them scripture about Himself. All of those symbols related to honey and milk point to Jesus and the plan of salvation.

Isaiah also repeated briers and thorns three times. When we compare those details to Matthew chapter 2 we can see how Jesus, the promised Messiah has opposing forces all around Him. Not only are those forces trying to kill Jesus, Isaiah helps us see the fact other people are under attack. Some people will see little value in Jesus while others will be fed at a time of spiritual famine. Forces represented by Egypt and Assyria will be hard at work. Its time to look at Egypt as a world power. Egypt is often depicted as the modern day nation we know today which misses the spiritual meaning. In their time as a world power, Egypt extended its reign to all the land around Arabia and much of the Mediterranean sea including parts of Greece. It was a major empire. Assyria shared equal success in their day. The symbols used here were huge empires known as world powers. Rome topped them all by conquering more than 40 modern nations. This is one reason I question many of the modern day interpretations that downscale the symbols. Its easy to see how they downscale the physical attributes of those empires. It takes a lot of study to see how badly those self proclaimed prophets downplay their spiritual significance. All they are trying to do is make themselves look important by trying to make their interpretations look simple. If you pay attention to modern day interpretations you’ll easily see how they use little if any Bible texts. When they do they often use tiny portions of a single text. Most cannot explain the entire chapter of either a prophecy or provide the spiritual explanation of its fulfillment. To think of it, they are like the burning furnace blowing a lot of smoke and making everything more difficult to see.

In addition to the prophecy about God calling His Son out if Egypt, we see another prophecy quoted by Matthew. Our study would not be complete without locating and examining that prophecy and comparing it to its fulfillment.

Jeremiah 31:10-22 NLTse (10) “Listen to this message from the LORD, you nations of the world; proclaim it in distant coastlands: The LORD, who scattered his people, will gather them and watch over them as a shepherd does his flock. (11) For the LORD has redeemed Israel from those too strong for them. (12) They will come home and sing songs of joy on the heights of Jerusalem. They will be radiant because of the LORD’s good gifts– the abundant crops of grain, new wine, and olive oil, and the healthy flocks and herds. Their life will be like a watered garden, and all their sorrows will be gone. (13) The young women will dance for joy, and the men–old and young–will join in the celebration. I will turn their mourning into joy. I will comfort them and exchange their sorrow for rejoicing. (14) The priests will enjoy abundance, and my people will feast on my good gifts. I, the LORD, have spoken!” (15) This is what the LORD says: “A cry is heard in Ramah– deep anguish and bitter weeping. Rachel weeps for her children, refusing to be comforted– for her children are gone.” (16) But now this is what the LORD says: “Do not weep any longer, for I will reward you,” says the LORD. “Your children will come back to you from the distant land of the enemy. (17) There is hope for your future,” says the LORD. “Your children will come again to their own land. (18) I have heard Israel saying, ‘You disciplined me severely, like a calf that needs training for the yoke. Turn me again to you and restore me, for you alone are the LORD my God. (19) I turned away from God, but then I was sorry. I kicked myself for my stupidity! I was thoroughly ashamed of all I did in my younger days.’ (20) “Is not Israel still my son, my darling child?” says the LORD. “I often have to punish him, but I still love him. That’s why I long for him and surely will have mercy on him. (21) Set up road signs; put up guideposts. Mark well the path by which you came. Come back again, my virgin Israel; return to your towns here. (22) How long will you wander, my wayward daughter? For the LORD will cause something new to happen– Israel will embrace her God.”

The first thing we notice is Jeremiah begins where Isaiah and Matthew left off, by giving us hope and a promise. The LORD, who scattered his people, will gather them and watch over them as a shepherd does his flock. When we compare this to Matthew, we see how it is referring to Jesus. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. (John 10:11 NLTse). Jeremiah also promises an abundance of physical food and water which relates to the spiritual food and water Jesus provided. In the middle of the prophecy Jeremiah tells about Rachel weeping for her children which is the slaughtering of all the boys Herod ordered. Jeremiah reminds us to stay on the right path. Don’t be stupid. Set up road signs; put up guideposts. “Mark well the path by which you came. How long will you wander, my wayward daughter? For the LORD will cause something new to happen– Israel will embrace her God.” Do you think your on the right path?

In this study we’ve seen interpreting prophecies is not as easy as some people would lead you to believe. I know the world is filled with preachers who base an entire sermon and their personal interpretations on a single verse or two. Is that form of study right and truthful though? Is it correct? Or is it distracting from the truth? This study has shown how the nations mentioned in Isaiah 7 relate to Matthew chapters 1 and 2. Herod was related to both Israel and Syria. Jesus also sought shelter in Egypt. There is a contrast between Jesus and Jeroboam. Both went to Egypt. Jeroboam came out with all kinds of pagan influences including the golden calves he built for Israel to worship. Jesus came out clean, uninfluenced by the population and false worship around Him. As a small boy Jesus as well as Joseph and Mary showed how trusting in God and obeying His instructions will keep you from falling victim to worldly influences. We’ve also seen how the powers in this study appointed their own kings as well as religions and priests. Herod was a king appointed by Rome. His father bought his way into favor with Rome. When we look at the big picture by comparing what those powers had in common, we see they appointed their own kings and priests without consulting God. They set their own standards. God had His way of using those powers when the time was rights. That is one detail to consider when interpreting those spiritual symbols.

Another common theme was taxes. Taxes put Joseph and Mary in Bethlehem at Jesus’ birth. Taxes also put a huge burden on people from all those nations and the nations they conquered. Where did all that treasure the conquering nations stole come from? The people. Kings don’t work or invest their money. They taxed people and collect all that money from them. There has never been a war common people profited from. War always cost the little people big time. Sure the rich and powerful profit from war, but the little people are always the ones who suffer the most, win, loose, or draw.

We see the same problems today. It’s like Solomon said. These are the words of the Teacher, King David’s son, who ruled in Jerusalem. “Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “completely meaningless!” What do people get for all their hard work under the sun? Generations come and generations go, but the earth never changes. Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content. History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new. Sometimes people say, “Here is something new!” But actually it is old; nothing is ever truly new. We don’t remember what happened in the past, and in future generations, no one will remember what we are doing now. (Ecclesiastes 1: 1-4 ,8-11 NLTse). What is new? We still have taxes. We still have wars. We now see some of the worst taxes in modern history. Whatever gave the authority to governments to collect wealth and redistribute it? I don’t think there is a country in this world not collecting taxes to benefit a few rich people. What government doesn’t support major oil companies a few major banks and lending institutions, and a never ending list of others? Sure we see some governments providing aid when we see a major catastrophe. What churches provide in funds is like a drop in the bucket compared to what governments are able to give. Where are the churches? Maybe churches could do better if the people weren’t taxed 30, 40, 50, 60 percent or more. As a matter of fact governments use taxes to control religions. That’s the major reason most religious organizations won’t speak out against corrupt governments. Churches fear loosing their tax free status governments give them. If they lost their tax free status the government would tax the church 30, 40, 50, 60 percent or more on top of taxing the people.

Even here in the United States, a country founded up the concept of fair taxation is standing silent as taxes and corruption increase at an alarming rate. Churches are afraid to speak out about the most severe issues directly effecting a government founded upon religious values, serving a population made up largely of Christians as well as other religions sharing similar values. The United States is quickly exceeding Israel’s decent under Rehoboam. We are experiencing a ceaseless increase in taxes, wars on all fronts, and laws supporting actions that draw people away from God. I wonder when we’ll see a president establishing their own religion, appointing their own priests, and setting up a day to worship him or her. Today it seems as if that’s just around the corner.

How bad were things when Jesus was born? Jerusalem and all of Judah and Israel were under Roman control who appointed puppet rulers. One of them, Herod had no problem trying to kill Jesus and slaughtering hundreds of children. Rome the controlling power cast a blind eye to all of it. The religious leaders also stood against Jesus and plotted to kill Him after He started His public ministry. Finally Rome and Herod stood still and actually authorized Jesus’ execution.

I see a theme in the message here. Jesus came to this world during a major taxation to show He will be here in the end when we see major taxation, corruption, and appointed rulers all over again.

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Psalms 118:14-27 The Stone the Builders Rejected

Posted by Ez1 Realty on November 22, 2016

Psalms 118:14-27 The Stone the Builders Rejected

Psalms 118:14-27 NLTse The LORD is my strength and my song; he has given me victory. (15) Songs of joy and victory are sung in the camp of the godly. The strong right arm of the LORD has done glorious things! (16) The strong right arm of the LORD is raised in triumph. The strong right arm of the LORD has done glorious things! (17) I will not die; instead, I will live to tell what the LORD has done. (18) The LORD has punished me severely, but he did not let me die. (19) Open for me the gates where the righteous enter, and I will go in and thank the LORD. (20) These gates lead to the presence of the LORD, and the godly enter there. (21) I thank you for answering my prayer and giving me victory! (22) The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone. (23) This is the LORD’s doing, and it is wonderful to see. (24) This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. (25) Please, LORD, please save us. Please, LORD, please give us success. (26) Bless the one who comes in the name of the LORD. We bless you from the house of the LORD. (27) The LORD is God, shining upon us. Take the sacrifice and bind it with cords on the altar.

The obvious prophecy in Psalm 118 is, The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone. This is the LORD’s doing, and it is wonderful to see. This is a verse Jesus quoted, one we’ve studied before. As we know, when God repeats Himself it’s time to pay attention.

Looking at the introduction to Psalm 118 it’s easy to see why we need to pay attention. This prophecy is a song of victory. The strong right arm of the LORD has done glorious things! What are those glorious things? Have we been looking close enough to see them?

The LORD has punished me severely, but he did not let me die. This obviously points to Jesus, and in a spiritual sense points to us who read His Word and take it lightly. Once we study the fulfillment we’ll understand how we actually suffer when we don’t dig deep enough, pray long enough, and listen hard enough to everything God’s Spirit wants to reveal.

It’s time we enter into God’s presence and listen, Open for me the gates where the righteous enter, and I will go in and thank the LORD. These gates lead to the presence of the LORD, and the godly enter there. This points us to the fundamental rule of Bible Study where we rely on God’s Spirit to reveal the lessons.

The Lord will reveal everything we need to understand about His prophecies and their fulfillment. I thank you for answering my prayer and giving me victory! Bless the one who comes in the name of the LORD. We bless you from the house of the LORD. Notice how the blessing comes from the House of the LORD! It doesn’t come from human understanding, science, or religion. The blessing comes directly from God, from His House! This prophecy is quoted by Jesus in three gospels, but we’ll concentrate on one of these and look at the symbolism used. The symbolism Jesus wanted them to see. The summation in Mark 12 tells us how simple it is to understand and how little God asks of us.

Mark 12:1-12 NLTse Then Jesus began teaching them with stories: “A man planted a vineyard. He built a wall around it, dug a pit for pressing out the grape juice, and built a lookout tower. Then he leased the vineyard to tenant farmers and moved to another country. (2) At the time of the grape harvest, he sent one of his servants to collect his share of the crop. (3) But the farmers grabbed the servant, beat him up, and sent him back empty-handed. (4) The owner then sent another servant, but they insulted him and beat him over the head. (5) The next servant he sent was killed. Others he sent were either beaten or killed, (6) until there was only one left–his son whom he loved dearly. The owner finally sent him, thinking, ‘Surely they will respect my son.’ (7) “But the tenant farmers said to one another, ‘Here comes the heir to this estate. Let’s kill him and get the estate for ourselves!’ (8) So they grabbed him and murdered him and threw his body out of the vineyard. (9) “What do you suppose the owner of the vineyard will do?” Jesus asked. “I’ll tell you–he will come and kill those farmers and lease the vineyard to others. (10) Didn’t you ever read this in the Scriptures? ‘The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone. (11) This is the LORD’s doing, and it is wonderful to see.‘” (12) The religious leaders wanted to arrest Jesus because they realized he was telling the story against them–they were the wicked farmers. But they were afraid of the crowd, so they left him and went away.

Most people know Jesus used symbols to illustrate important points in His parables. This parable is no exception. There are a few ways we can find the spiritual meaning of those symbols. We can do a simple key word search. We can look up other texts using the key word until we understand the spiritual meaning. Although this is a good method, it often leads to many paths which increase the chances of getting lost by using the wrong spiritual meaning. Most key words have more than one spiritual meaning. That’s why context is important. Here we use context of more than one chapter to understand its spiritual meaning by comparing the entire chapter of the prophecies to their fulfillment. It’s like a combination lock. A combination lock using one digit is not secure at all. A lock using two digits is not as secure as a lock using four or five tumblers. Keep this in mind when you read or listen to people teach scripture. Using one proof text is not safe at all.

The key word vineyard is a simple word to explain in spiritual terms. The nation of Israel is the vineyard of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. The people of Judah are his pleasant garden. He expected a crop of justice, but instead he found oppression. He expected to find righteousness, but instead he heard cries of violence. (Isaiah 5:7 NLTse).

Although it seems Isaiah summed up the meaning of the spiritual vineyard in Jesus’ parable, this doesn’t tell the full story. So far with one verse we see the vineyard represents the nation of Israel and the garden is the people of Judah. This includes the two southern tribes and ten northern tribes. Now we can assume…. but wait — why should WE assume anything? The prophecy tells us to enter into God’s gates where the righteous enter to bless you from the house of the LORD! Why would we come only so far then turn away to our own understanding? We need to look to God’s Word further, enter into His House and listen harder.

“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:1-2, 5 NLTse).

By looking at a few more verses we learn a lot more. We see the Father is the gardener. This also explains the man who built the vineyard is God. We also see another vital point when we compare all the details in the parable. Now that we understand Jesus’ Father is the gardener, we know the son in the parable represents Jesus. Looking at John chapter 15 we also see the vine in the vineyard represents Jesus. This adds a new view to the parable. The farmers thought they could secure the vineyard for themselves by killing the SON. What they didn’t see was the SON was in the center of the vineyard all along.

Look at this from the context in John 15. “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. (John 15:9-14 NLTse).

Jesus didn’t come to this world to introduce God’s love. He came to reveal it! This also points us to the spiritual meaning of another key word, wall. In that day, everyone in the land of Judah will sing this song: Our city is strong! We are surrounded by the walls of God’s salvation. Open the gates to all who are righteous; allow the faithful to enter. I will give them–within the walls of my house– a memorial and a name far greater than sons and daughters could give. For the name I give them is an everlasting one. It will never disappear! “I will also bless the foreigners who commit themselves to the LORD, who serve him and love his name, who worship him and do not desecrate the Sabbath day of rest, and who hold fast to my covenant. (Isaiah 26:1-2, 56:5-6 NLTse).

One verse tells us a wall can represent salvation. Another verse shows us there is a condition to enter into those walls. We have to remain committed to serving and loving God by holding fast to His covenant. This is where the farmers went wrong. Of course the farmers are identified in each of the gospels this parable is found. The religious leaders wanted to arrest Jesus because they realized he was telling the story against them–they were the wicked farmers. That’s one of the mistakes the religious leaders made. They didn’t know God’s law was a covenant.

The religious leaders thought they were specially gifted. They thought they were above the law. They forgot they were supposed to be a light onto the law by keeping parts of the law centered on their duty as priests. Moses told them to help the poor, the neglected people, widows, orphans, strangers, and foreigners. Priests were held to a higher standard. They didn’t receive land. In exchange for land, they were free from everyday toil. People brought them gifts and offerings they were responsible for sharing. God could have blessed them more and more as they taught people how to live together in peace by honoring God’s law. The more the people were blessed, the more the priests would receive, the more they could work to end poverty in Israel and God’s law would be a light upon all nations who would come to them to learn the secret of their success.

They also lost sight of God’s original plan. They claimed to be descendants of Abraham. In Abraham’s day the head of the household was the priest. This was handed down from father to the first born son. The father as priest of the home turned the hearts of the sons onto God. The role of priest of the home was restored to the fathers at the first Passover before leaving Egypt. Later God revealed His plan to make Israel a kingdom of priests. Once they turned down the chance to become a nation to take God’s law and light into the world, God choose Aaron as His high priest and the tribe of Levites as His first born son and servants.

The priests looked at only a small portion of the story. In their eyes the tribe of Levi was chosen because they didn’t take part in the worship of the golden calf when Moses was on the mountain receiving God’s commandment. They thought this placed them above the other tribes. They looked at what the Levites did and assumed that was their role as priests. So he stood at the entrance to the camp and shouted, “All of you who are on the LORD’s side, come here and join me.” And all the Levites gathered around him. Moses told them, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Each of you, take your swords and go back and forth from one end of the camp to the other. Kill everyone–even your brothers, friends, and neighbors.” The Levites obeyed Moses’ command, and about 3,000 people died that day. Then Moses told the Levites, “Today you have ordained yourselves for the service of the LORD, for you obeyed him even though it meant killing your own sons and brothers. Today you have earned a blessing.” (Exodus 32:26-29 NLTse).

This shows how dangerous it is to take one text and assume it tells the full story. Did they forget it was Aaron, the first high priest who made the calf? They forgot a lot of details. This method of picking and choosing particular texts to produce an assumption is dangerous and only leads to destruction.

We see the same mistakes repeated today. Religious leaders want to take up swords against anyone who doesn’t believe exactly what they believe. Over the past few weeks I’ve seen a video drifting all over the Internet. A pastor took it upon himself to attack other churches. He claims to keep one of God’s commandments above all else and that gives him the right to manipulate or side track other commandments. He doesn’t view his actions as breaking commandments, but twisting the truth is a lie. Keeping one commandment never allows anyone the right to break a number of other commandments no matter how justified the assumptions are. Sure this pastor feels he is leading a worthy cause, but at what cost? His first mistake was delivering a message before praying. Where God is opening windows to pour out a blessing, he is slamming doors shut.

The servants in the parable are another easy symbol to define. At the usual time for offering the evening sacrifice, Elijah the prophet walked up to the altar and prayed, “O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, prove today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant. Prove that I have done all this at your command. The LORD said through his servants the prophets: They refuse to listen to me, though I have spoken to them repeatedly through the prophets I sent. And you who are in exile have not listened either,” says the LORD. (1 Kings 18:36, 2 Kings 21:10, Jeremiah 29:19 NLTse).

The servants in the parable represent God’s prophets who they killed. It wasn’t unusual for kings and priests to ignore God’s prophets. Elijah had to stand up to 400 prophets of Baal appointed by king Ahab’s wife Jezebel. No one helped Elijah with the twelve heavy stones he moved to erect the alter. The people stood by and watched Elijah struggle. They didn’t want to make a public stand until after God sent down fire to consume the sacrifice. Doubt and fear clouded their minds.

Jeremiah had to stand up against a host of prophets when he delivered his message. Some were appointed by the king, others by priests. Neither wanted to believe Jeremiah because it wasn’t the news they wanted to hear. Instead of listening they made up their own interpretations without praying to God. All of their interpretations were designed to benefit themselves because they were centered around what the priests, king, and people wanted to hear. That’s what that pastor wanted to accomplish with his video. I’m sure he feels good about himself as he checks the number of views recorded and convinces himself popular belief out weighs God’s advise and commandments.

The fact remains, the religious leaders knew the parable was about them. Once again we see religious leader understanding one little part and making assumptions on the remaining portions of the parable. We see this all the time. I tried reaching out to that pastor and a host of his followers pointing out the video. I’ve also contended with that pastor and his followers on a few other issues. I know that pastor’s ability to study the Bible is limited to proof texts. I’ve read his studies and seen how shallow and one dimensional they are. I pointed out other texts. I also pointed out how his proof texts are taken out of context. But that doesn’t interest him. Instead he tried to lead his church to a unified form of Bible Study – which is simple proof texts and adopt it as a standard. He wanted to go one step further by convincing the church only qualified, educated individuals should be allowed to interpret scripture. This is another example of how far people will go to maintain control. The main weapon they use is to control knowledge by controlling access to God’s Word. They use many means to accomplish their goal.

My goal isn’t to tell anyone what to believe or provide any answers to questions people have. I know that pastor and many others are not ready for some of the details I’ve been shown in God’s Word. They wouldn’t believe them unless they discovered the details themselves. They are like the priests who wondered why a prophet would reveal himself to a leper before coming to them. All their spiritual education is better left up to God’s Spirit. Only He knows what they are prepared to see and understand and at what pace they are able to learn. All I want to do is share a few fundamental study methods they can use and let God’s Spirit lead them. The next one for us to review is the comparison between the introductions of these two chapters. First the prophecy.

Psalms 118:1-4 NLTse Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. (2) Let all Israel repeat: “His faithful love endures forever.” (3) Let Aaron’s descendants, the priests, repeat: “His faithful love endures forever.” (4) Let all who fear the LORD repeat: “His faithful love endures forever.”

The introduction to the prophecy in Psalm 118 repeats the same phrase four times. It must have a significant meaning, It’s something Aaron’s descendants are supposed to repeat so it must be pointing to something they forgot when the plotted to arrest Jesus. When we compare it to the first verse in Mark 12, we see a connection. Then Jesus began teaching them with stories:

Jesus stories were taught through the faithful love that endures forever! Jesus’ stories weren’t designed to make Him look better by making the priests look bad. Jesus was sending the religious leaders back to Isiah chapter 5 as well as other scripture in the Old Testament. If the religious leaders were the experts in scripture they claimed to be, they would have found more than enough scripture to explain the parable Jesus told them. Neither did Jesus explain the symbols in those parables. He left that up to them and their relationship with God’s Spirit. One of the lessons we need to learn.

That is a major fault I’ve seen in the video being spread on the Internet as well as other videos. Preachers like to take a text, especially a prophecy and leave you with the impression they know every detail. They never seem to share any ideas or instructions teaching how you can study on your own or find answers for yourselves. In essence, they are stealing glory away from God and His Spirit. How many commandments are they breaking? They need to rethink their process to lead you to the open gates inside God’s walls where, “His faithful love endures forever.”

Jesus didn’t make it a habit of interpreting all the symbols. He did it for a few of His parables. Just enough to teach His disciples how to find answers on their own. Jesus sent people back to scripture and God’s Spirit. That’s how Jesus taught and that’s the example we’re given to follow. Psalm 118 explained this.

Psalms 118:5-13 NLTse In my distress I prayed to the LORD, and the LORD answered me and set me free. (6) The LORD is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me? (7) Yes, the LORD is for me; he will help me. I will look in triumph at those who hate me. (8) It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in people. (9) It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes. (10) Though hostile nations surrounded me, I destroyed them all with the authority of the LORD. (11) Yes, they surrounded and attacked me, but I destroyed them all with the authority of the LORD. (12) They swarmed around me like bees; they blazed against me like a crackling fire. But I destroyed them all with the authority of the LORD. (13) My enemies did their best to kill me, but the LORD rescued me.

What did Jesus do when He was in distress? He prayed to the LORD! What happened? The LORD answered me and set me free. No one set Jesus free except for God. The LORD is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me? We may ask, what can mere people do for me? It seems mere people do more to draw people away from God than putting them in a position to draw closer to God. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in people. Sure Jesus defended Himself. How did He do it? With words and with the authority of the LORD. You can’t have one without the other. Look at how Jesus tried to reach the religious leaders. They swarmed around me like bees; they blazed against me like a crackling fire. But I destroyed them all with the authority of the LORD. My enemies did their best to kill me, but the LORD rescued me. Sure enemies can be pests. Sure they can look for ways to destroy you. Sure they can do their best to discredit you and try to silence you. Did they succeed in silencing Jesus? No! Because Jesus silenced them. He answered them with God’s authority which was given to Jesus at the right time with the right words and with enough scripture to back up what He said. Not one or two verse, but chapters.

What does it take to receive that kind of power? Is it available to everyone? We’ve already studied the summation to Mark 12 in this book, but Psalm 118 adds a new dimension in a whole new light. A light none of us could have seen without His Spirit.

Psalms 118:28-29 NLTse You are my God, and I will praise you! You are my God, and I will exalt you! (29) Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.

Mark 12:41-44 NLTse Jesus sat down near the collection box in the Temple and watched as the crowds dropped in their money. Many rich people put in large amounts. (42) Then a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins. (43) Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. (44) For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.”

Once again we see the phrase, His faithful love endures forever.” Now we have a little more information to explain how to express the faithful love we receive from God. The key is in the related words in the summation to Psalm 118. We praise, exalt, and give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! This is what the widow did when she dropped in two little coins. Those coins had little value, but the message is priceless. Your instructions are more valuable to me than millions in gold and silver. You made me; you created me. Now give me the sense to follow your commands. Joyful is the person who finds wisdom, the one who gains understanding. For wisdom is more profitable than silver, and her wages are better than gold. Wisdom is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. My advice is wholesome. There is nothing devious or crooked in it. My words are plain to anyone with understanding, clear to those with knowledge. Choose my instruction rather than silver, and knowledge rather than pure gold. For wisdom is far more valuable than rubies. Nothing you desire can compare with it. (Psalms 119:72-73, Proverbs 3:13-15, Proverbs 8:8-11 NLTse).

After listening to Jesus preach in the temple courtyard, a few coins were a small price to pay for the knowledge the poor widow gained. She wanted others to hear the messages Jesus brought. The widow is a symbol of those giving to the church to spread the message they hear with their own ears, read with their own eyes, and feel with their own heart. The widow symbolizes all those people who trust religious leaders have heard Jesus speak and understand His message. The widow had no way of knowing those religious leaders were planning on killing Jesus any more than people today know if their churches are going to preach how, His faithful love endures forever.” All they can do is trust. The poor widow was also a reminder to the priests of their responsibility. Did they offer that widow a meal, or the orphan a home? Did they welcome and care for the poor, depressed, or strangers in the courtyard that day? Did they fulfill their vows and duty? What happened to those coins? If we looked ahead what would we find the priests doing with money from their treasury?

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Psalms 91:9-13 Dash Your Foot On a Stone

Posted by Ez1 Realty on November 22, 2016

Psalms 91:9-13 Dash Your Foot On a Stone

Psalms 91:9-13 NLTse If you make the LORD your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, (10) no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home. (11) For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. (12) They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone. (13) You will trample upon lions and cobras; you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!

This is one of the most profound prophecies I’ve ever studied. Many people are familiar with the part about Jesus dashing His foot on a stone. How many people know about the next verse in this prophecy? “You will trample upon lions and cobras; you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!” Obviously Satan didn’t know about it, otherwise he would have never quoted this particular prophecy that told about Jesus’ victory over Satan.

Luke 4:9-13 NLTse Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! (10) For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect and guard you. (11) And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.'” (12) Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the LORD your God.'” (13) When the devil had finished tempting Jesus, he left him until the next opportunity came.

I hear a lot of speculation on the few prophecies about Jesus preached and written about these days. This is one of them. It’s nice to teach people about the easy information on the surface, but a dedicated teacher has a strong desire to dig deeper. A good aspect of a teacher is to display the ability to show and encourage students to investigate every situation and give them tools and encouragement they need to accomplish their goals. This is true in almost all fields of education and should be especially practiced in Bible Study. An educated engineer, doctor, chemist, investor, scientist, and almost anyone in any field is more valuable when trained to carefully investigate and collect information on every aspect of the subject they are dealing with. Since God is our Creator and the major function of Bible Study is to learn more about God’s personality to appreciate and understand His ways, wouldn’t it make sense that God would want you to use all the mental facilities and time He’s given you?

Once again we’ve given an easy prophecy to locate and study. Most people know the prophecy in Psalm 91, or at least a portion of it was quoted by Satan while attempting to tempt Jesus. The fact Satan quoted only a small portion of the prophecy illustrates the importance of looking at the entire prophecy before placing a personal interpretation upon it. Placing a personal interpretation on any prophecy is following Satan’s instruction, rule, and method of interpreting scripture. This is why verse 13 contains more than one symbol. When God’s Word is misused and abused, it’ll be more than Satan who will pay the price. Of course we don’t know this is referring to Satan until we look at one of the New Testament texts showing how this was fulfilled.

We can also search scripture to find a few texts explaining what the symbols in Psalm 91 represent. When we do, we have to remember how to keep the symbols within context.

1 Peter 5:8 NLTse Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.

Revelation 20:2 NLTse He seized the dragon–that old serpent, who is the devil, Satan–and bound him in chains for a thousand years.

Finding what symbols represent is found with a simple word study which is simply using the key word or symbol to look up scripture containing that word until you find a description. It’s a simple process that some times produces the correct result, but often misses the spiritual meaning of the lesson. If we only looked at the symbols, the spiritual meaning would be left to man’s imagination. Who knows where that would lead or how much will be missed when God’s Spirit is removed at the beginning of the study.

Some preachers and teachers us simple word studies to impress people – then use the meaning of the symbol to press home an unrelated point often related to doctrine or tradition. That method of study is not far from Satan’s method of interpretation. To see the full meaning, we have to look deeper, gather more information, and most of all, let God’s Spirit lead through His Word.

In this example we see more than the spiritual definition of a symbol which is revealed when comparing the two chapters. You will trample upon lions and cobras; you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet! When the devil had finished tempting Jesus, he left him until the next opportunity came. Not only is the symbol presented in the prophecy defined in the fulfillment, we also find out how the prophecy is fulfilled. That’s a mistake many modern prophets make. Like Satan, self proclaimed prophets look at only one verse but not the following. Neither do they compare introductions and summations to compare context where much of the lesson is contained. Another important rule is to always look at scripture quoted in the texts. Once we follow simple Bible Study rules, we’ll find out more about the lesson being taught. It’s all about gathering information.

Deuteronomy 6:16-18 NLTse (16) You must not test the LORD your God as you did when you complained at Massah. (17) You must diligently obey the commands of the LORD your God–all the laws and decrees he has given you. (18) Do what is right and good in the LORD’s sight, so all will go well with you. Then you will enter and occupy the good land that the LORD swore to give your ancestors.

Now we know what Jesus meant when He said we’ve not supposed to tempt the LORD. But this is only the first step. We also have to check the introduction and summation to understand the context. This also shows how Jesus understood context.

Deuteronomy 6:1-3 NLTse (1) “These are the commands, decrees, and regulations that the LORD your God commanded me to teach you. You must obey them in the land you are about to enter and occupy, (2) and you and your children and grandchildren must fear the LORD your God as long as you live. If you obey all his decrees and commands, you will enjoy a long life. (3) Listen closely, Israel, and be careful to obey. Then all will go well with you, and you will have many children in the land flowing with milk and honey, just as the LORD, the God of your ancestors, promised you.

Deuteronomy 6:22-25 NLTse (22) The LORD did miraculous signs and wonders before our eyes, dealing terrifying blows against Egypt and Pharaoh and all his people. (23) He brought us out of Egypt so he could give us this land he had sworn to give our ancestors. (24) And the LORD our God commanded us to obey all these decrees and to fear him so he can continue to bless us and preserve our lives, as he has done to this day. (25) For we will be counted as righteous when we obey all the commands the LORD our God has given us.’

Comparing the evidence collected so far we see the spiritual connection between God’s law and deliverance from slavery. Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. (Romans 6:16 NLTse). We also see how Jesus freed us from the slavery of sin by defeating Satan. This lesson is much deeper than what we’ll cover here, but other studies will reveal more details as we progress through the prophecies Jesus fulfilled. At this point it’s much more important to learn and practice technique and order. The next step is to compare introductions between the prophecy and fulfillment.

Psalms 91:1-8 NLTse Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. (2) This I declare about the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. (3) For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. (4) He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. (5) Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. (6) Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. (7) Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you. (8) Just open your eyes, and see how the wicked are punished.

Luke 4:1-8 NLTse Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, (2) where he was tempted by the devil for forty days. Jesus ate nothing all that time and became very hungry. (3) Then the devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, change this stone into a loaf of bread.” (4) But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone.'” (5) Then the devil took him up and revealed to him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. (6) “I will give you the glory of these kingdoms and authority over them,” the devil said, “because they are mine to give to anyone I please. (7) I will give it all to you if you will worship me.” (8) Jesus replied, “The Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the LORD your God and serve only him.'”

Key words tell their own spiritual story by leading the mind to examine the effects of the lesson taught in the fulfillment of the prophecies. What do the key words, shelter, refuge, safety, and rescue in Psalm 91 have in common with bread and kingdoms in Luke 4? Before answering that question look at events following Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. What have you been taught about the wilderness Jesus wandered for forty days? Why forty days? Was Jesus preparing for battle against Satan or was there more? Most of the time I hear people describing a hilly desert type environment Jesus wandered for forty days doing little more than starving to death. I’ve often wondered if those people ever experienced a spiritual fast. When we look at Jesus’ ministry after He returned from the wilderness, we find Him teaching in synagogues, where He was rejected and in fields and along the lake shore where vast crowds gathered. Jesus taught in parables. Many of them were about sowing seed, vineyards, and trees. Which of those lead you to believe God’s Spirit led Jesus into a desert wasteland? When we look back before Jesus’ ministry, we see how John ate honey and locust in the wilderness. Common sense would tell us John and Jesus learned in the same if not similar environments. Common sense would also tells us God’s Spirit would teach Jesus how to use the symbols He used in parables by surrounding Him with those symbols found in nature, God’s classroom. And stones. Aren’t they found in fields and forests as well as deserts? Examining events and facts in the Bible reveals a whole new train of thought to reflect upon.

Jesus fasted for forty days by choice, not because of the lack of food many people preach. Jesus was preparing for His ministry as well as learning to overcome temptation. God revealed lessons in scripture to Jesus the same way He reveals lessons to us, through His creation. After experiencing the awe and wonders in God’s creation, it was easy to turn down material treasures, power, and glory Satan offered. God’s classroom taught Jesus lessons of not only prophetic significance but physical as He saw how wind wore down stone and water cut through it which impressed on Jesus’ mind how temporary man’s monuments are.

Stories in scripture also taught Jesus lessons He would need in His ministry. Just open your eyes, and see how the wicked are punished. Jesus saw how Solomon’s stone temple was filled with idols, cleaned out and purified, refilled with idols then purified again when the next king came along. Jesus also saw how men placed more confidence in the gold of the temple than the God who once occupied it’s chambers. Kings stripped gold from the temple to pay off attacking armies or hire mercenaries to defend their kingdom. How futile and temporary are stone walls, iron weapons, and gold treasures. Jesus saw deep into the lessons as God’s Spirit filled the open mind of Jesus with visions of Satan working in the back ground. Satan never wanted to benefit a single person any longer than he had to. Once their purpose was served, Satan promised their riches to another. There was never a shortage of souls willing to sell out for a bit of silver and gold. Jesus found the gold that never fades. Your instructions are more valuable to me than millions in gold and silver. (Psalms 119:72 NLTse). In God’s Word Jesus found the protection He needed.

As Jesus walked along the gentle sloop He looked down at a single home in the valley below. Jesus looked at the farm around the small house thinking about the work the farmer and his family put into clearing land, tilling, seeding, weeding, and caring for the their crops. In such an isolated location farmers had time to reflect on God’s creation and His connection with the seed.

There are a lot of things we don’t consider and science has not been able to explain. One of those details is spring and summer thunder storms. It’s been estimated that something in rain helps crops grow quicker and larger. What makes a seed sprout? Does the seed only require moisture, or is there more?

The earth has a particular relationship with electricity. Much of it is not understood, it just works that way. Man has a lot of ways of producing electricity by burning coal, natural gas, nuclear, and using water and wind power. All of these have one thing in common. They all produce electricity by rotating copper wire windings in a series of magnetic fields. After its use is finished, every free electron returns to ground, the earth. No one knows why. That’s just the way it works.

There is another way to produce electricity. God does it in the heavens. No one is sure how He does it. They think it’s a simple form of static electricity. The kind you see in winter, when it is very dry and you drag your feet along a carpet and touch someone or take off a sweater. It has to be very dry to produce static electricity. No one’s sure how God produces it in a rain storm, but He does. Electricity is nothing more than atoms exchanging an electron. Something so tiny, it’s never been seen. Billions of dollars a year are spent studying electrons. Some people claim to have a microscope able to view electrons, but has anyone seen a picture of one? There are artists renditions of what they think they look like, but I’ve never seen proof of actually seeing an electron. Somewhere under ground in a desert scientists spent billions of tax dollars on some kind of special machine that’s supposed to isolate two atoms or electrons, drive them along a sort of magnetic super highway for miles and smash the two together. There are dozens of sensitive measuring instruments at the point of impact along with electronic microscopes and cameras. Once again, the only evidence scientists can provide after years of research is an artist’s rendering of what they think happened. I wonder how those scientists think they can isolate two atoms in a machine made up of billions atoms. Can they convince you they can produce an environment where only two atoms exist and they have the power to control those atoms? To accomplish this, they would have to create a perfect vacuum in a perfectly clean atmosphere with no dust or other matter. Can they guarantee not a single atom or electron will break off from the walls, magnets, or other materials in that mystic tunnel? Scientists do not have the ability to create such a perfect environment. Their atmosphere is polluted as they stores they feed the world in the attempt to bring glory to themselves.

During a thunderstorm God gathers billions of electrons. At His command they jump from Heaven to earth in a flash. For generations man has tried to harness the power God created in an instant, but have only been able to show success in science fiction stories and movies. Something in that electrical current effects plants in a positive way. Something in the electric discharge to earth is gathered by plants. Something happens in that electrical charge to awaken the seed, awakening it to the beginning a transformation. In God’s creation plants have been able to accomplish what man has tried to harness. Man has missed the point. A child is able to see how the power captured by plants is passed onto men – by eating the plants.

There is a lot about nature that is still hidden from the minds of men. There is also a lot God’s Spirit is willing to reveal in nature. As Jesus looked across the valley, He saw a large house built on the side of a mountain sitting like a palace. Clouds gathered and rain came down. Jesus looked at the farm below as water gathered in small low lying areas and gently flowed through the valley away from the house and fields. The farmer chose the location well. Sloped so excess water will drain, but flat enough to allow water to soak deep into the ground. Jesus imagined the house on the distant mountain. Was it strong enough to withstand the power of fast currents on the steep slope and high winds?

After the rain Jesus came to a large, smooth granite rock half covered in moss. The deep red and gray colors made Jesus think about the red and purple chosen by royalty to represent their status. The golden flakes within the rock reflecting the sun reminded Jesus of the gold kings built up in their palaces and the temple they called God’s house. Jesus thought of the many times they removed gold from the temple’s treasury whenever danger appeared at their gates. Jesus wandered how they forgot about the God they build the temple to glorify. How could those kings trust in riches and forget the God who made them?

As Jesus thought on all those stories about Israel’s and Judah’s kings, a tiny mouse appeared between His feet. The mouse popped out from its house he built under the rock. Jesus laughed as He compared the wisdom of the mouse to that of some of Israel’s kings. The tiny mouse built it’s home under a rock. The entrance of its home was at the base of the rock downhill so water would not gather in its underground home. After a quick look around the mouse darted under a layer of leaves gathered on the ground.

Jesus prepared for more than His battle with Satan. Although many people focus on Jesus’ short encounter with the one who claims to be prince of this world, they often miss some of the main themes Jesus taught in the encounter. They often miss some of the most important lessons Jesus learned in the wilderness. People have often referred to God’s Word as a sword. For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. (Hebrews 4:12 NLTse). This is another example showing how people take one verse, elaborate on what they think it means and turn it into a cliche, robbing it of its life giving power. Like Satan they refuse to look at the rest of the scripture.

Hebrews 4:13-16 NLTse Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable. (14) So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. (15) This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. (16) So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

You can see the links to Jesus’ experience in the wilderness when creation was opened up to Him. Hebrews 4 takes us back to Jesus’ temptation when it tells us, “He faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.” It also provided a promise, “we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Time to find out what that sword can really do. No speculation, just both sides of God’s Word.

To gather some of the most important facts and see how God’s Word cuts in more than one direction, we have to look at the first answer Jesus gave to Satan. Jesus’ answer sends us back to Deuteronomy 8:3 NLTse Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.

(A portion of the study, “Deuteronomy 8:3 Not By Bread Alone,” found in the first book in this series is used here.)

All Satan asked Jesus to do was prove He was the Son of God. Why did he ask a question he already knew the answer to? Satan was out to do more than tempt Him. Satan wanted to hurt Jesus in the worst possible way. Satan knew what relationships meant to Christ. Satan knew Jesus lived on love and depended on close relationships. By pretending he didn’t know Jesus was God’s Son, Satan was telling Jesus he did not remember their relationship in Heaven. It is the same as a father finding a long lost son, and the son pretending he didn’t know who the father was. Imagine the heartbreak of a father spending his time and fortune, giving up everything to find his son. Then when they finally crossed paths, the son pretends he does not know the father.

Jesus pointed to more than the simple answer, “He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. Jesus directed Satan to the entire scripture when He said, “every word that comes from the mouth of God.” The beginning of the lesson begins with, “remember.” Jesus wanted Satan to remember his days standing in God’s court. Jesus wanted Satan to remember it is up to him to prove his character. Everyone will be judged as an individual. Satan knew that. Jesus also reminded Satan that God disciplines everyone based on their individual actions. God does not discipline as a dictator, but as a loving father, calling His sons and daughters back. Jesus wanted Satan to remember who His creator is.

The study in, “Deuteronomy 8:3 Not By Bread Alone,” shows how Jesus answered all of Satan’s temptations in a single chapter before Satan was able to introduce them. No one else could have done that. This is one example showing how God’s Word cuts like a double edged sword. I know there are a lot of speculations on how God’s Word cuts like a sword, but this in one Biblical example showing God’s power in His Word. A prophecy written generations before their meeting in the wilderness, all of Satan’s accusations and temptations were answered in a single chapter. This was the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. There was more than answers to Satan’s questions in Deuteronomy 8. The words Jesus found and used to defend Himself and His Father gave Jesus a sense of inner strength, a power Jesus couldn’t help but share. Jesus returned to society and immediately began His public ministry. A ministry we can study in prophecy and fulfillment. A power we need to search out and learn how to use with the cooperation of God’s Spirit.

Psalms 91:14-16 NLTse The LORD says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. (15) When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. (16) I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.”

Luke 4:40-44 NLTse As the sun went down that evening, people throughout the village brought sick family members to Jesus. No matter what their diseases were, the touch of his hand healed every one. (41) Many were possessed by demons; and the demons came out at his command, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But because they knew he was the Messiah, he rebuked them and refused to let them speak. (42) Early the next morning Jesus went out to an isolated place. The crowds searched everywhere for him, and when they finally found him, they begged him not to leave them. (43) But he replied, “I must preach the Good News of the Kingdom of God in other towns, too, because that is why I was sent.” (44) So he continued to travel around, preaching in synagogues throughout Judea.

David repeated the related words rescue and protect to draw attention to aspects of the fulfillment. Luke repeated sick, diseases, and demons to show another association which draws us back to the previous story. Jesus had to defeat the self proclaimed king of this world to show Satan’s agents the battle was lost and they had no power to stand before Him. When their leader was defeated, Jesus gained victory over all Satan’s demons. At the very beginning of His public ministry, Jesus exhibited His authority over Satan and the demons who served him. Jesus healed diseases and cast out demons. Notice the association?

Satan can’t create, but he has powers to manipulate. No one knows how or what he can manipulate, but Satan is the cause of everything evil in the universe. Today we know diseases are caused by viruses too small for us to see, but we know they exist. We also know viruses somehow mutate in order to stay ahead of the battle immune systems wage on them. The question is, how do virus cells hundreds or thousands of miles away from one another know how to mutate in order to stay ahead of adapting immune systems? What form of communication do they use? When they faced Jesus, not one virus or disease could stand against Him. Satan’s power was broken.

Jesus had to first heal people before they could be effective workers for Him. Jesus healed their ears so they could hear Him speak. Jesus restored sight so they could see who they were speaking to. Jesus healed their legs so they could carry His message far and wide. Jesus cast out demons and set people free from the effects of sin. Notice the connection between healing and preaching the Good News. There is a connection between healing and knowing God’s Word you can study on your own.

In this study we’ve seen Satan is not the expert in scripture some people claim he is. Without God’s Spirit, Satan is helpless against God’s Word. But the Word has to used in the right way at the proper time. When it is, it’s power is beyond imagination. Jesus’ forty days in the wilderness shows the commitment it takes to get in touch with God’s Spirit on such a deep level we’re able to experience His Word in ways few people dream about. It also shows the power God’s Word has over Satan, his temptations, sickness, disease, and demons serving him.

Many people study God’s Word on a shallow depth. Some only use His Word to research beliefs they think are important. Few seek God’s personality and the stories He wants to reveal through His Word. The lessons and power is there, beyond imagination. They’re there for anyone and everyone to read, discover, and share. No one knows the power of God’s Word any more than they can explain how God uses electrons to create electrical power beyond imagination and man’s control or the relationship between those electrical currents and the earth. What would happen if God filled the world with all His power and glory at once? Would He overload us? Would we be ready for it? We have to learn in steps. That’s human nature. We have to understand one lesson before we’re ready for the next. What a mistake it is to think everything is already known and revealed. How can anyone think an infinite God has revealed everything over the few thousand years this world has been in existence? How many people know how much and why angles in Heaven love God. There are more than enough unanswered questions in nature in this world to prove, we know so little about God and why He loves us. Why did He choose to spend so much time and effort on this planet?


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