Living Water

December 8, 2008

Extraterrestrial water; science is bent on finding it and governments have spent billions on programs undertaking its exploration. Why? Because water is believed to be the prerequisite for life. Water is necessary to sustain life, without it we humans could not survive. But a glass of cool refreshing water can only sustain us for so long. Eventually we will need more water, then again and again; a cycle we will repeat throughout our lives.

Jesus, like all of us, experienced thirst. When He had journeyed to about the halfway point between Judea and Galilee, Jesus encountered a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. With His disciples having departed to town for food, Jesus asked the woman for a drink. The woman was astonished that a Jew would ask a Samaritan for water, but Jesus told her that if she knew the gift of God, and who it was that asked her, she would have asked Him for water and He would have given her living water. He told her something that was obvious, “Whosoever drinks of this water shall thirst again.” Then He said something astounding: “But whosoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

The prophet Ezekiel was given a vision from God of a river flowing from the temple. It flowed from the altar which represents Christ. (Rev. 22:1) He walked through the river at a thousand cubits beyond the east gate and the water was ankle deep. At another thousand cubits the river was knee deep; and another thousand the water was waist deep. Before long Ezekiel could not pass through the river without swimming. Eventually, Ezekiel was told, the river flows into the sea where it brings healing. He also saw trees that grew along side the river that, be virtue of drinking that healing water, produced fruit for the healing of the nations.

It is interesting to read of a river that increases as it propagates with no tributaries emptying in to it. But if, as Jesus said, those who receive from Him the living water, themselves become springs of living water, than indeed the river of life will grow deeper. And all who receive the water from Christ will live, as Ezekiel heard and recorded:

And it shall come to pass, that every thing that lives, which moves, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed; and every thing shall live whither the river cometh. And it shall come to pass, that the fishers shall stand upon it from Engedi even unto Eneglaim; they shall be a place to spread forth nets; their fish shall be according to their kinds, as the fish of the great sea, exceeding many.” (Ezk. 47:9-10)

Follow me,” Jesus said to Peter and Andrew, “and I will make you fishers of men.” (Mat. 4:19)

The truly satisfying water is the living water freely given by Christ to all who are willing to receive it. It is the only water that once received will sustain life forever.
Governments will continue to spend and science will continue to search for water that gives temporal life, but may we who have received living water, spring forth and freely give as we have received.

Revelation 12 Part 1

November 2, 2008

And a great sign was seen in heaven: a woman arrayed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars; and she was the child; and she cried out, travailing in birth, and in pain to be delivered. (v1-2)

This commentary is presented with the belief that the child in this verse represents Christ as evidenced in verse five of this chapter.

The elements John sees in this vision of the sun, moon, and stars are found together in one other place in the Bible; the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis.

Then he [Joseph] dreamed another dream, and told it to his brothers, and said, “Behold, I have dreamed another dream; and behold, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” But when he told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him, and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall I and your mother and your brothers indeed come to bow ourselves to the ground before you?” (Gen. 37:9-10)

The connection to the description of the woman from Joseph’s dream and Jacob’s rebuke, suggests that the woman is somehow tied to the family of Jacob. In Joseph’s dream, the sun represents his father Jacob, the moon his mother Rebecca, and the eleven stars his eleven brothers. The sign does not necessarily represent these individuals, but rather the family of Israel.

Some believe that the woman represents the nation Israel; others think she represents the church; and some find elements of both. There are even those who believe the woman to be the virgin Mary. Evidence that the woman is Mary the mother of Jesus, however, is base solely on the fact that she gave birth to Jesus; there is no biblical evidence outside of that fact that lends credence to the theory. But whether the woman represents Israel, the church, or something else requires more biblical examination. The following reference may help furnish some insight to the investigation.

Then he said, “Your name shall no more be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” (Gen. 32:28)

Jacob wrestled the angel not by his own strength, but by the strength God provided him. The prophet Hosea testifies, “In the womb he took his brother by the heel, and in his manhood he strove with God. He strove with the angel and prevailed, he wept and sought his favor. He met God at Bethel, and there God spoke with him.” (Hos. 12:3-4) Jacob was in prayer when the angel met him and continued in prayer with weeping throughout the struggle. At one point the angle put Jacob’s thigh out of joint with the touch of his hand. Jacob would not have prevailed had he not drawn strength from God through faith. Thus, the angel gave him a new name. No longer was he called Jacob (supplanter) but Israel (God Prevails). By faith Jacob prevailed and received the blessing from God of God’s governess. Thus signifying that his descendants would be governed of God.

In Old Testament times the governed of God were those who believed God and trembled at His word. The majority of the nation often failed to fit this description. Evidence from the prophets reveal that the believing Jews have, through most of Jewish history, been a mere remnant of the nation of Israel.

God, by His prophet Isaiah, asked the Jews a provocative question:

Thus says the LORD: “Heaven is my throne and the earth is my footstool; what is the house which you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest? All these things my hand has made, and so all these things are mine, says the LORD. But this is the man to whom I will look, he that is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word. (Isa. 66:1)

The Jews revered the temple as the house of God; it was the place of the arch and Spirit of God dwelt among His people there. The Jews did offer sacrifice in the temple, but many did it carnally and with complete absence of divine worship. God reveals the true sacrifice He desires which should have accompanied their offerings. For through His offering of His only Son, God shows mercy to such who love Him and tremble at His word. But for those who followed the letter of the Law and rejected the spirit of the Law by delighting in their scandals, God sharply answers with this:

“He who slaughters an ox is like him who kills a man; he who sacrifices a lamb, like him who breaks a dog’s neck; he who presents a cereal offering, like him who offers swine’s blood; he who makes a memorial offering of frankincense, like him who blesses an idol. These have chosen their own ways, and their soul delights in their abominations; I also will choose affliction for them, and bring their fears upon them; because, when I called, no one answered, when I spoke they did not listen; but they did what was evil in my eyes, and chose that in which I did not delight.” (Isa. 66:3-4)

Clearly God distinguished between those Israelis who feared Him and those who followed their own ways.

Hear the word of the LORD, you who tremble at his word: “Your brethren who hate you and cast you out for my name’s sake have said, ‘Let the LORD be glorified, that we may see your joy’; but it is they who shall be put to shame. (Isa. 66:5)

Indeed, when Christ was risen to glory the believers of Israel found peace and joy though they were put out of the synagogue and dishonored by their people. The nation of Israel had the opportunity the rest of the world lacked, they had the promises, the Law, and the prophets. Yet they rejected God and His grace. But a remnant of that chosen nation has always been faithful and always will be faithful. The Apostle Paul tells us that the nation is indeed the bearer of Christ according to the flesh, but think not that their rejection has in any way impeded the promises of God, for Paul confirms what we read from the prophets; that they are not all true Israelites.

For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen by race. They are Israelites, and to them belong the son-ship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ. God who is over all be blessed for ever. Amen. But it is not as though the word of God had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his descendants; but “Through Isaac shall your descendants be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are reckoned as descendants. (Rom. 9:3-8)

It is my conclusion, based on the biblical evidence, that the sign John sees in verse one represents true Israel, because in reality, this was not man’s doing but of God’s.

To Anoint the Most Holy

January 19, 2008

 [Daniel 9:24]  The literal translation is to anoint the Most Holy Place or Holy of Holies. This is a reference to the inner sanctuary of the Temple of God. Once a year, the high priest would enter the inner sanctuary to atone for his sins and the sins of the nation. Once in the Most Holy Place, the priest would sprinkle the blood from the sacrifice of the brazen alter onto the arc of the covenant and the mercy seat above it. “And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.” (Heb. 9:22)

It is difficult for some to see Jesus having already entered the Holy Place since He never entered the temple sanctuary. But that Holy Place was made with hands (by man).  It was merely a model of the true temple of God which is in heaven (Mark 14:58, Heb. 9:11); this is the Holy Place Christ entered.  Nothing could be clearer than what the writer of Hebrews said concerning this.

The high priest anointed the Most Holy Place with the blood of animals for the sins of the people. The animal’s blood foreshadowed Christ’s sacrifice and had to be repeated every year:

But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.” (Heb. 9:11-12)

The temple and the inner sanctuary the high priest entered every year was a model of the “greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands.” Christ entered not the temporal Holy Place, but the actual Holy Place in which the temporal was a model. He anointed the Holy place with His own blood, not the blood of animals. And He didn’t have to do it over and over again for the sins of Israel; he did it once for all who would believe on Him.

The Chronology of Revelation

January 17, 2008

Revelation is not a chronological book from beginning to end.  There are three major somewhat chronological sections from chapter 4 to chapter 18, all describing the same events from different perspectives.

The first section spans from chapter 4 to chapter 11.  Here John is caught up into the Temple of God.  He sees the throne of God, the 24 elders, the Lamb of God slain, the seals being opened, the multitude worshiping, and the angels with trumpets standing before God to signal His wrath and judgment.  This section concludes with the kingdoms of the earth becoming the kingdoms of Christ depicted also in chapter 19.  Chapter ten, however, breaks from chronology and reveals for us the conclusion of Daniels vision of Christ descending to the earth, and also John is commanded to prophecy again, this time from an earthly perspective, which begins in chapter 12.

The second section spans from chapter 12 to chapter 16.  Here John sees the dragon waiting to devour the Christ as soon as He was born, Christ ascending into heaven, Satan being cast out of heaven because Christ is triumphant, and the wickedness of Satan’s war with those who hold the testimony of Christ; the church.  Here the glorious appearing is depicted symbolically as Christ reaping the harvest and an angel reaping the grapes of wrath.  He also sees the bowls of God’s judgment; seven angels standing outside the temple pouring out God’s wrath as signaled (I presume) by the trumpets blown by the angels standing before God.  This section concludes the same as the first.

The third section spans chapter 17 to 18.  These chapters give details concerning the trials and tribulations of the church not detailed in the two previous sections.  It also details the wrath of God upon Mystery Babylon and depicts Christ’s glorious appearing as an angel coming down from heaven lighting the earth with His glory (18:1)