People of The Living God

Psalms 149

 

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September 2016



 

 

 

 

 

WATCHMEN ON THE WALLS

“THOU HAST LEFT THY FIRST LOVE”

Alfred King

        Jesus, in speaking of the latter days, gave a grim warning in Matthew 24:12, “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.”  Such a thought alerts any serious Christian to a couple of very important facts.  One is that sin will increase in the days prior to His return, no doubt to a degree as it was in the days of Noah and in the days of Lot.  Second is that this increase of sin will have a tremendous drawing power upon Christians.  Daniel tells us that “knowledge shall be increased” (chap. 12:4) in this same time period.  Today, knowledge and inventions have increased to such a degree that one wonders what else can be invented.  With all the modern means of communication, knowledge is at one’s fingertips.  However, along with this knowledge and man’s inventions have come a flood of every sort of entertainment, games, puzzles, news, information; all of which are designed to rob man’s time for God.  Not only do we live in a busy world, trying to acquire the latest gadget (and learning how to use it) but attempting to meet all the demands placed upon us by our modern society.  It seems that men today are constantly running from one thing to another trying to get everything done before they fall, exhausted into bed to gain some rest for the next day’s “rat race”.

        When we as Christians feel the pressures that modern life places upon us, we must remember the words of Jesus, “because iniquity shall abound, the love of many will wax cold.”  We must not allow the demands of life and the lasciviousness in our world lure us into their grip or rob us of our time for God.  Satan’s tactics have been successful in causing many to forsake the path of righteousness because it seems they just don’t have time for God.  Not only does the individual Christian face this bombardment upon their time but the church in general is experiencing it as well, which is evident by the declining membership.  The church’s diminishing attendance reveals a two-fold problem: one already mentioned with the cares of this life, but the second is found in Revelation 2.

The Church at Ephesus

        In chapter one of Revelation, Jesus appeared to John with instructions that letters be sent to the seven churches in Asia.  The first letter was to the church at Ephesus in which He commends them for their faithfulness in certain things.  “I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted” (Rev. 2:2-3).  I believe that if Jesus wrote these words to most of our churches today, we would be very happy with such a good report.  We would feel we were on the right track and things were pretty good, assured that God was pleased with us.  But such was not the case with the Ephesian church, for Jesus did not stop with His commendations but proceeded to address the main issue for His letter: they had left their first love (Rev. 2:4).  While Jesus was satisfied with their faithfulness in many things, there was a major flaw in the church that demanded attention, for it would soon destroy those things which were commended, and with them the church itself.  It was Jesus’ love for this church that He brought to light this critical issue.  He encourages them to return to Him by speaking to them of the blessings which they would receive if they had ears to hear (that means to listen and make the proper response).  “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God” (Rev. 2:7).

        The church in Asia was introduced to the Gospel of Jesus Christ by the Apostle Paul in his evangelistic journeys.  Paul stayed one time in Ephesus for two years teaching and preaching during which time many received his words as God confirmed the Gospel with miracles following (Acts 19:1,8-12).  Paul was grateful for this church in Ephesus and spoke highly of them when he wrote his letter, Ephesian 2:12-17.  “That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.  In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.  Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him.”  Notice how great this church began.  Paul was excited about their life-changing response to the Gospel and the spiritual maturity he observed among those who first heard.  His letter to this church reveals much of the desire that God has for His church today: that we must grow up into Christ (Eph. 4:15), that we be no more children (Eph. 4:14), but that we all reach that state of a “perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ (Eph 4:13).  In chapter six Paul encourages the Ephesian church to continue on so they might become a glorious church without spot or wrinkle but one without blemish and completely holy (Eph. 5:27).

        Such was the church at Ephesus in its beginning.  However, approximately 30 years had passed from the time Paul wrote his epistle and the letter John sent while on the isle of Patmos.  What had happened over those thirty years?  How had the love once experienced and manifested among them slipped from them.  Jesus said, “Nevertheless,” in spite of all the commendable things, “I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love” (Rev. 2:4).

“Thou Hast Left Thy First love”

        Was it because “iniquity” already abounded as Jesus predicted and consequently they were sidetracked from the glorious Gospel?  Was it because they became so busy making a living, providing for their personal needs?  Was it because they began to strive in the same pursuits that the world did?  Was it because they began to become sectarian and felt they had all the truth they needed?  Was it because they became critical of one another rather than allowing the love of God to flow as it once had?  One thing is certain, they left that first love, that love which was graciously shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Spirit.  It slipped away over the years.

        The indictment against this church came with a certain warning of judgment and that judgment was, “I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” (Rev 2:5)  In Revelation, chapter one we are told what the candlestick is.  Verse 20 “the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.”  In other words, Jesus was going to remove the church completely.  The seven churches to whom John wrote were located in what is today modern Turkey.  Turkey was considered Christian for a few hundred years after John’s letter was written.  It was about 98% Christian.  (I use the term “Christian” very loosely here but at least Christ was preached to some degree.)  However, over time Islam began to infiltrate the country pushing out Christianity so that today Turkey is about 98% Muslim and barely 1% Christian.  Those few Christians who live there suffer for their faith.  God’s judgment fell upon those churches in Asia and one specific reason was they had left that love they once possessed for God and for one another.

The Church in America

        The church in America is following in the footsteps of the church at Ephesus.  We have left our first love.  Christ’s admonishment to the church in Ephesus is the same for America’s church today.  “Remember from whence thou are fallen.”  Remember that effervescence of love, joy and peace that once permeated our congregations.  That peace that passed all understanding, the joy that superseded all the pleasures of the world, those God-given graces which once existed in our hearts.  There once was a love that possessed our hearts to such a degree that we wanted everyone to know this Savior, Who could not only forgive our sins but was able to completely satisfy every desire.  We eagerly awaited the next service when we would gather with other Christians and hear the word of God.  We loved to sing the songs of Zion which glorified Jesus Christ, and as His presence came in it would fill our hearts with praise.  Such was that first love.  But somehow that love has slipped through our fingers.  Like a leaking bucket the churches in America are finding themselves dry and lifeless, and we wonder why membership is dropping.  While iniquity does abound and demands of life tax us physically, mentally, and financially, it does not have to be so.  We may look at our church and feel much like the church at Ephesus, that we have many good things.  We may say, “things aren’t perfect but at least we have truth” or “we are hanging in there” or “we are not like so many others.”  However true those statements may be, the warning is that unless we repent and return to that first love our church will cease to exist.  The axe will be laid to the root of the tree and it will be hewn down.  It is time for the churches in America to quit waving their own self-righteous flag and begin to seek God, for we live in perilous times.  We live in a time when we need God more than ever before.  Let us heed the words written to the church at Ephesus.  Let us remember from where we have fallen, repent and do whatever we did when we first came to know Jesus Christ so that we not follow in the steps of the Ephesian church.  Rather, let us return to God with all our hearts.  I close with a verse from Jeremiah, chapter 29 verse13: “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”

 

 

 

 

WHO IS YOUR GOD?

Eda Sanderson

        Who is God?  To Moses, He identified Himself, “I am that I am.  Tell them I Am sent you” (Ex. 3:14).

        “Am” is a state of being verb.  A noun usually follows to identify who “I am” is (i.e. I am a teacher; I am his wife; I am your friend.)  Or, there may follow an adjective to describe the subject: I am kind; I am tired; I am hungry.  But notice, God did not add anything to His statement to further identify Himself.  Can your mind truly comprehend a God who is, who was, and who always will be?  That is our God!

        God revealed Himself to Isaiah (and us) in glorious ways.  Isaiah 40:12 begins a discourse that leads us to think on who this God is that we serve: “Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?”  In Genesis, we read about the creation of the heavens and the earth.  It says that God spoke and it was done.  But, have you thought of just how God created the right shapes, sizes and amounts of each creation?  Here, in Isaiah, we see some of the details of how marvelous (such a poor word for what God did at creation) the process of creation was.  There were no random words.  When He spoke, things came into being just exactly as He planned them.  “Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scale, and the hills in a balance?”  Isaiah 42:5 says, “Thus saith God the Lord, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it: he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein.”  God told Isaiah, “I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded” (Isa. 45:12).  “Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens; when I call unto them, they stand up together” (Isa. 48:13).

Our God Is The Only God

        “Thus saith the Lord the King of Israel and his redeemer the Lord of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God” (Isa. 44:6).  “I am he; I am the first, I also am the last” (Isa. 48:12).  I have picked out a few phrases in Isa. 44:10-13; but, you should open your Bible and read the whole account: “Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord…I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.  I, even I, am the Lord: and beside me there is no saviour…therefore ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, that I am God…before the day was I am he.”  Since some people think that the Old Testament was done away, let’s read a verse in the New Testament.  “Fear not; I am the first and the last” (Rev. 1:17).  He is the same one who said that in Isaiah 48.  To further identify who is the first and the last, He goes on to say in verse 18: “I am he that liveth, and was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore.”  Then, at the end of Revelation, the Lord again tells us who He is, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last” (Rev. 22:13).

Our God Is A Jealous God

        He demands that He be the only God in our hearts and lives.  “I am the Lord; that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images” (Isa. 42:8).  “and I will not give my glory unto another” (Isa. 48:11b).   In Exodus 20:3-5 God tells us how He feels about other gods.  “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.  Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image…Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.”  God does not take lightly our having other gods in our lives.  Our other gods do not have to be “graven images.”  Anything or any person that turns our hearts from the God of heaven is a god, and He will not have it.

Our God Is Omnipotent

        The Greek word for omnipotent, pantokrator, means “the all ruling, i.e. God (as absolute and universal sovereign)” (Strong’s Concordance).  Interestingly, the only reference in the scriptures that uses the word “omnipotent” is found in Revelation 19:6: “and I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.”  Elsewhere in the Bible, pantokrator is translated Almighty with a capital A.  There is a popular song which quotes from Revelation and says, “For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.”  Why is He worthy of the accolades of the “great multitude”?  Read about the travels of the children of Israel.  There are examples too numerous to put in one article of God’s omnipotence.  He worked miracle after miracle for those people.  He gave them water out of rock, food from heaven, caused their clothes and shoes to not wear out for 40 years, and on and on.  Job uses the creation to show God’s omnipotence.  “He divideth the sea with his power” (Job 26:12).  In the same chapter, Job speaks of God’s creating power, “He…hangeth the earth upon nothing…hath compassed the waters with bounds” (verses 7 & 10).  Webster says omnipotent means “having unlimited power or authority; all-powerful.”  In Matthew 28:18, Jesus told the disciples, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.”  From where did that power come?  Obviously, from God, who is the only one who can give power.  One cannot give what one does not have.

Our God Is Omniscient

        Webster says omniscient means “knowing all things.”  The word omniscient is not found in the Bible.  However, there are scriptures which tell of God’s all-knowingness.  Acts 15:18 says, “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.”  At the time that Jesus walked on the earth, He said that God alone knew the day and the hour of the end (Mat. 24:36).  That was a long time ago, and man still does not know when the end will be (although men have tried to predict it through the years).  Daniel 2:22 says, “he knoweth what is in the darkness.”  God told Job, “Behold, I know your thoughts, and the devices which ye wrongfully imagine against me” (Job. 21:27).  He told Moses and Joshua, “for I know their imagination which they go about, even now” (Deut. 31:21).

        As I used to tell my students, “You can’t hide what you think or what you do from God.  He sees and knows all.”  Paul says in I Cor. 3:20, “The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.”  God said, in Ezek. 11:5, “Thus have ye said, O house of Israel: for I know the things that come into your mind, every one of them.”  Here are a few scriptures that say that God knows the heart: “And God, which knoweth the hearts” (Acts 15:8)).  “Ye are they which justify yourselves before men: but God knoweth your hearts” (Luke 16:15).  “The Lord knoweth them that are his” (II Tim. 2:19).  What does this have to do with the heart?  Because it is in the heart that a person believes or doesn’t believe.  “For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things” (I John 3:20).

Our God Is Omnipresent

        This could be a whole article in itself, so I am just going to give a few insights.  In the Old Testament, God was with His people day and night.  He was an external force leading and guiding His people.  In the travels of the children of Israel, God dwelt in the tabernacle.  As long as His glory was over the tabernacle (a cloud) the people stayed where they were.  When the cloud moved, they moved.  He was in the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire at night.  As long as the people followed Him, they were safe.  God spoke to His people through Moses, instructing, admonishing, encouraging.  Throughout the Old Testament time, God spoke and directed His people.  The books of the prophets are the words God spoke to His people.  However, God was with them, but not in them.

        When Jesus was on the earth, He was with His disciples day and night (except when He went off alone to pray or sent them away for ministry or business).  During His time with them, He guided them and taught them how to live and how to minister to the world.  He was an external force in their lives.  Before He went to the cross, however, He told His disciples that He was going away, but not to worry, He would send the Holy Spirit to be with them, to teach and guide them, to comfort them.  This is found in John 16.  Read it; there is great comfort in that chapter.  The Holy Spirit is “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27).  Now, not only is God with us, He can be in us.  Jesus said in John 14:17, “but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.”  “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (I Cor. 3:16)  “What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” (I Cor. 6:19)  “Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (II Cor. 13:5)  Paul wrote to the Romans about God being in them: “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you…And if Christ be in you…But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.”

        The Holy Spirit, the third being in the Trinity, has a very important job in our lives.  As mentioned above, He will guide, teach, and comfort His people.  Phil. 2:13 says, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”  II Thess. 1:12 says, “That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Now the God of peace…make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight” (Heb. 13:21).  And a word of comfort and hope to all “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”

Conclusion

        Once again, I ask, “Who is your God?”  Notice, I capitalized the word God, so be careful.  That word, capitalized, refers only to the God of heaven.  If you aren’t serving Him, then your god has a small letter.  The other so-called gods are not worth calling gods.  They cannot create anything; they are not all powerful; they cannot speak.  In looking at the other religions, I see that they are hopeless religions.  The people have to do this or that in “hope” of being worthy to make it to their heaven.  However, they die never knowing if they were worthy or not, of if they will come back to life as a lesser being.  Our God is a God of hope.  We can have what my grandmother called “a know-so salvation.”  In other words, we can know for sure we are saved and can know where we will go when we die.  Think of the blessed rest in our minds and hearts knowing that.  I pray that you are serving our God.  If so, then someday we will meet and will sing with “the multitude,” “Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.”

 

 

 

 

THE POWER OF THE CROSS

James Sanderson

        “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.  For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” (I Cor. 1:17-18).  The Cross of Jesus Christ is the foundation stone of the Christian faith.  The world does not understand nor does it truly value the extraordinary sacrifice that our Lord Jesus Christ made when He willingly gave Himself that eventful day on Golgotha's hill.  The Cross is far more than a fetish or sentimental religious symbol.  As the Apostle Paul declared, the Cross is “the power of God.”  The Apostle Paul so valued the Cross that he wrote, “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Gal. 6:14).  Remove the Cross and the Christian faith becomes little more than an insipid philosophical system similar to that of the Epicureans and Stoics of Athens (Acts 17:18).

        The word power in this portion of Scripture is δύναμις from which the English language derives the word dynamite.  This particular Greek word occurs 118 times in the New Testament (Vine, page 13).  It is often translated ability, might, power, and strength (Strong's Concordance).  The Cross of Christ is the powerhouse of the Christian faith.  God has chosen to accomplish His work in the hearts of men only through the Cross of Calvary.  The Cross is the conduit through which the Lord is fulfilling His mighty work in the earth.  Just as an appliance must be connected to a source of power to perform its task so also must an individual be connected to the Cross in order to find a relationship with God.

        In what way is the Cross “the power of God”?  The Word of God reveals at least five major areas in which the Lord uses the Cross to accomplish His marvelous work: salvation, true life, peace and reconciliation, victory over all enemies, and perfection and holiness.  It might be well to explore each of these areas in the life of the Christian.

The Cross Brings Salvation

        “And thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).  One of the cardinal truths of the Christian faith is that one finds salvation through Jesus Christ and through Him alone.  As the Apostle Peter stood before the high priest after the glorious outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, he boldly declared, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).  Reinforcing this truth, the Apostle Paul wrote, “Christ died for our sins” (I Cor. 15:3).  It was Christ's death on the Cross that made atonement “for the sins of the whole world” (I John 2:2).  The Apostle Peter wrote, “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God” (I Peter 3:18).  The good news of the gospel is that man can now find complete victory over sin through the work of Jesus Christ at the Cross of Calvary.  Man no longer has to live in bondage to sin.

        Before the Cross, the high priest entered into the most holy place once every year with the blood of an animal in order to atone for the sins of the people (Heb. 9:25).  Now the glorious message is that Christ Himself has appeared “once in the end of the world…to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Heb. 9:26).  No longer is it necessary to sacrifice continually a sheep or a goat and offer up its blood for sin.  Christ purchased us “with his own blood” (Acts 20:28).  The Cross is the power of God unto salvation.

The Cross Brings Life

        “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit” (John 12:24).  It is quite ironic that life is found in an object of death.  Nevertheless, God has ordained it to be this way.  The world does not grasp this truth.  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).  Life issues from the work of the Cross.  If one desires to find true life, go to the Cross.

        “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).  The Apostle Paul discovered what true life is all about when he came to the Cross and experienced deliverance from sin.  In his letter to the Romans, Paul also wrote, “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:11).  Jesus declared, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.  This he said, signifying what death he should die” (John 12:32-33).  The Cross of Christ is the power of God for life to “whosoever will” (Rev. 22:17).

The Cross Brings Peace And Reconciliation With God

        “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself” (II Cor. 5:19).  Thayer in his lexicon states that reconcile means to receive one into his favor (Thayer, page 333).  He goes on to say that it means “to be restored to the favor of God, to recover God's favor.”  When we were sinners, we were enemies of God, following our own paths in life, set on doing our own will, and working in opposition to God.  The death of Jesus on the Cross opened the way for reconciliation with God.  The Apostle Paul emphasized this wonderful truth throughout his epistles, “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled” (Col. 1:21).  “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life” (Rom 5:10).

        In his expository dictionary, discussing the term reconciliation, Vine writes, “With regard to the relationship between God and man, the use of this and connected words shows that primarily reconciliation is what God accomplishes, exercising His grace towards sinful man on the ground of the death of Christ in propitiatory sacrifice under the judgment due to sin…By reason of this men in their sinful condition and alienation from God are invited to be reconciled to Him; that is to say, to change their attitude, and accept the provision God has made, whereby their sins can be remitted and they themselves be justified in His sight in Christ…until this change of attitude takes place men are under condemnation, exposed to God's wrath” (Vine, page 942).  One must understand, God never has to be reconciled to man.  On the contrary, it is man who must be reconciled to God.  It is man who has rebelled against God through disobedience.  “It is propitiation, which His righteousness and mercy have provided, that makes the reconciliation possible to those who receive it” (Vine, page 943).  Because of this work at the Cross, the Apostle Paul could declare, “We have peace with God” (Rom. 5:1).  The Cross is the power of God that effects peace and reconciliation with God.

The Cross Brings Victory Over All Enemies

        “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil” (I John 3:8).  The Cross of Calvary not only made it possible for man to enter into a restored relationship with God but also brought utter defeat to the powers of darkness.  “And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it” (Col 2:15).  Before the Cross, Satan and his cohorts had certain powers that our Lord Jesus Christ later stripped from them.  For example, the devil himself could enter into that heavenly realm and bring railing accusations against the people of God.  The biblical account of Job illustrates this fact.  With the appearance of Jesus Christ, Satan could no longer take advantage of God's people in this manner.  “And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night” (Rev. 12:10).  Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself declared, “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out” (John 16:31).  See also John 16:11.

        Satan also had a certain amount of authority in the realm of the dead.  The death and resurrection of our Lord effected changes in that area, as well.  “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Heb. 2:14-15).  Jesus Christ now holds “the keys of hell and of death” (Rev. 1:18).

        The Word of God indicates that because of this marvelous work of Jesus Christ at the Cross of Calvary, God's people now have victory over the works of the devil in their lives.  “And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.  And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.  Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you” (Luke10:17-19).  “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he many devour: whom resist stedfast in the faith,” (I Pet. 5:8-9).  “Submit yourselves therefore to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

The Cross Brings Holiness And Perfection

        “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14).  The eternal heartbeat of God is the production and manifestation of “a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing,” that is, a people who radiate the divine nature of God Himself (Eph. 5:27).  The death of Jesus Christ on the Cross paved the way for the fulfillment of this marvelous plan.

        Under the old covenant, an earthly priesthood performed various rituals and offered up carnal sacrifices on a literal altar for the sins of the people.  Although this covenant was God's provision for the “time then present,” these sacrifices had certain limitations.  “For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect” (Heb. 10:1).  The death of Jesus on the Cross and the institution of the new covenant promised “better things.”  “For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Heb. 9:13-14)  God's people can now enter with boldness and full assurance into the holiest of all by the blood of Christ, having their hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience (Heb. 10:19-22).  “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified” (Heb. 10:14).  It is through the power of the Cross that holiness, righteousness, and purity can now be manifested in their fullness in the life of the believer.

The Cross Remains

        When the Romans and Jews crucified our Lord, they assumed that they had finally rid themselves of Him and His movement forever.  Little did they realize that the most stunning victory and triumph that the world has ever witnessed was accomplished on that lonely hill outside Jerusalem over two thousand years ago.  Even to this day, the Cross of Christ remains a beacon of hope and assurance to a fallen world.  The Cross may be foolishness to the world, but unto us who are saved it is still the power of God.

 

 

 

 

MIRACLES OF GOD IN THE TRAVELS OF THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL

Harry Miller

(Study No. 7)

        The last camp that Israel made south of the mountains of Sinai they called Rephidim – just a place in the desert.  Great mountain ranges towered above them in huge piles of granite and red limestone.  There were no plain highways here; only a few fragments of trails.  Many times, within an hour after the passing of a huge caravan, the wind would have blown the sifting sand across the trail and covered all of the tracks.

        There were few scouts who knew the way, but Israel was led through a narrow canyon toward the heart of Sinai.  The sounds of the tramp of the many feet and the crunching of wagon wheels on the pebbly path, echoed hollowly through the weather-worn walls of this rocky corridor.  At times the way became so narrow that the wagons were forced to travel singly through the constricted defile.

        The heat of the midsummer sun was stifling to both man and beast as the cavalcade crawled slowly up through this weathered mountain gorge.

        After long days of weary toil, the first contingent of the camp emerged upon the vast plain that lies at the foot of mount Sinai.  After the oppression of the narrow defile with its clouds of dust, its stumbling beasts, and weary men, it was a great joy to push through into this beautiful grass-covered plain.

        For thirty days, Israel seemed to pour her people into the vast plain before the mount.  It was slow, tortuous going for such a large company to pass through the narrow confines of this rocky bottleneck.  The early comers began preparation of the camping ground; and it was here that Israel would spend the greater part of a year.

        God was fulfilling His promise to Moses, for He had told him that He would bring Israel to this very mountain where they would worship Him.  Here upon the lush green carpet of the plain, surrounded by towering peaks and majestic pinnacles of stone, God's children were to worship the King of Glory.

        The wildest and the grandest architecture of nature, wrapped in earth's most profound silence and solitude, made a sanctuary which no hand of man could ever duplicate.  Unmarred by the mechanics of human ingenuity this cathedral of naked granite, with its craggy spires reaching their mammoth fingers heavenward, impressed every man in the camp and caused each one to realize that he was in the house of God, that here was the very door to the eternal.

        As the last man erected his tent in the border of the camp, Moses made his way, alone, up a narrow gorge to the great mountain at the head of the plain.  Sinai proper is seven thousand feet above sea level; the plain, two thousand feet below the summit.

        The Lord called unto Moses out of the mount and told him to speak unto the people the words of His covenant, for, said He: “If ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.”  Moses was instructed to return and carry this message to the people.

        The great men of the Bible were the men who OBEYED the voice of the Lord.  Too many people think great things are done for the kingdom of God by the works of man: but human devices are not what the Lord requires of man.  He is seeking men and women who will be as “errand boys” for Him.  God seeks men who will do His will.

        OBEDIENCE to God's will is the greatest virtue of man.  “If ye love me, KEEP my commandments.”

        Bear in mind that God is not limited by any material shortage, or barrier, but He limits Himself when men will not give Him faith and obedience.  A sea was no barrier; a desert could not thwart His plan; He could supply bread for millions; these material things which are so important to man are as nothing in the sight of the Creator.  He has an abundant supply of them all.  What He seeks is true devotion in the hearts of His people.

        God made a conditional covenant with Israel: “IF ye will obey.”  The word “IF” made the covenant conditional.  All of God's promises are upon condition.  Even the “new covenant” is conditional, for we read where Christian believers will break the “everlasting covenant” (Isa. 24:5).

        When Moses brought God's message to the people, the elders and all of the people of Israel readily promised, “All that the Lord hath spoken that will we do.”  Yet in less than forty days, Israel had broken this covenant by worshipping the golden calf.  (Promises are easy to make, but it takes character to carry them out.  Many people make great promises to the Lord in their consecrations, but as soon as the going gets a little rugged, they give up in despair.)

        Moses ascended the mountain the second time: “And…returned the words of the people unto the Lord.”  The Lord knew what the people had said, but He listened unto His servant Moses, for He honored him as His chosen leader.  Government in the kingdom of God honors every power of leadership.  In the New Testament we read, “Obey them that have the rule over you.”

        God instructed His servant to sanctify the people.  They were to wash their clothes, and be prepared for the third day.  This preparation was necessary, for God was going to speak unto them.  Our garments must be clean if we are to commune with the Almighty.  If these people must make such a great preparation before the mountain could “be touched,” how much greater preparation should we make who come to the Eternal mount of the Most High God (Heb. 12:16-29).

        Moses returned again to the people, and preparation was made according to the commandment of the Lord.

        On the morning of the third day, the deep sound of thunder and flash upon flash of lightning turned Sinai into a roaring inferno.  And in the midst of all this heart-trembling tumult, the sound of the trump of God blasted forth “exceeding loud.”  “All the people that were in the camp trembled.”

        Great cloudy billows formed a writhing canopy of black smoke and obscured the lofty towers which dominated the plain.  As the storm increased its tempo, the crashing of the thunder seemed to come ominously nearer.  Great slashes of blazing lightning knifed through the overcast, and the summit began to look like the top of a huge and furiously boiling cauldron.

        A mighty gust of wind shook every tent in the camp; yet no one moved.  Before the rising crescendo of the trumpet, all other sounds faded into insignificance.  Then the earth began to tremble.  Its tremors at first were slight, yet distinct.  The roar of fire and the incessant thunder had now reached the place of one indistinguishable deafening vibration.

        Then the Lord descended upon the mount, and it “quaked greatly.”  Moses, alone at the foot of the mountain, cried out to God – for he, too, was afraid, and trembled within himself.  God answered him by voice, and every man in the camp heard the words of the Almighty as He called to Moses to come up upon the mount.

        Moses, trembling as he climbed, made his way upward over the quaking mountains, at times groping through the writhing veil of smoke that obscured his way.  Suddenly, from deep within the dense clouds, God spoke and told him to go down again and charge the people that they come not near the mount lest they die.  The priests, he was told, were to sanctify themselves and be prepared to come before the Lord.

        Moses, like other men who had conversation with the Lord, tried to inform the Lord: “The people can not come up to the mount,” he said.  But the Lord answered, “Away, get thee down.”  So Moses went down to speak unto the people.  But all that great company had “removed and stood afar off.”  They said unto Moses, “Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us lest we die.”

        “And Moses said unto the people, “Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.”

“I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage,” God told Israel.

        But the liberty and freedom into which the Lord had delivered them did not grant them any license to sin.  Sin, which is ANY transgression of ANY law of God, has never been licensed to anyone.

        There are many people today who have the mistaken idea that because we live in a day of grace, they can do anything that they please, and that in this day there is no law to constrain us.  Only a rebel would desire a condition such as that – and all scripture teaches obedience, not rebellion.

        God the Father, He is God, and the FIRST comandment is that man shall have no gods before him.  “Gods” were not mere things of wood and stone which men set up in order to have something to bow down before.  Any idolater will tell you that the image is not the real god, but only represents the invisible spirit behind the image.  Idols are really in the heart of the idolater.

        God's contention with Israel when they backslid was “their heart is gone far from Me,” and “these men have set up their idols in their hearts” (Isa. 29:13; and Ezek. 14:3).  A businessman may make his business his god; a woman can make her home or her children her gods.  Anything that stands between man and his Lord is an idol.

        The tragedy of Israel was that after their deliverance from a life of bondage, they sold themselves into a bondage far worse than that of Egypt – TRYING TO JUSTIFY THEMSELVES BY WORKS.  This brought darkness to their souls.  Many Christians have gone the same way, and have failed to learn by this “ENSAMPLE” or example, given us (I Cor. 10).  Also read Isa. 1:11-16; Ezek. 23:38,39; John 8:33-36.

        Israel's salvation was not based upon merely keeping certain laws, going through certain forms, and practicing certain ceremonies.  Such religion NEVER was pleasing to the Almighty (Rom. 3:20; Gal. 3:24).  Just the act of keeping law can justify no man.

        It is possible for us, as it was with Israel, to come under a bondage which is far worse than that state of the sinner.  Sinners know that they need God, but people who think they are pleasing God by their works are not easily convinced of the error of their ways (Gal. 5:1).

        We still have the same standard that Israel had; as a matter of fact, it has been made higher and greater: “He shall MAGNIFY THE LAW.”  We CAN keep it IF we will (Gal. 5:14; John 14:15,23; I John 5:3).

 

 

 

 

THE KINGDOM OF GOD

Elder Wilfred H. Olson

PART I

THE KINGDOM OF GOD REVEALED

        The prophets with one accord pointed to the first advent of Christ as the time when the Kingdom of God would be established.  Jesus taught the same truth; “Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:14,15).  When Jesus came in His first advent the time was “fulfilled;” the kingdom of God was “at hand.”  Need I remind the reader that anything that is “at hand” is not two thousand years away?  Daniel had seen this: “Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet…then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and beame like the summer threshing floors…and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth” (Dan. 2:34, 35).  This stone is the kingdom of God.  Jesus said, “Upon this rock I will build my church” (Matt. 16:18).  It began with the preaching of John the Baptist who declared, “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 3:2).  Jesus said, “The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it” (Luke 16:16).  It goes without saying that no one can “press into” something that does not exist.

        True to the promise of Jesus Christ that the “gates of hell shall not prevail against it,” we have seen earthly kingdoms rise and fall, but this spiritual kingdom stands unshaken upon the Rock of eternal truth.  It has come down through martyrdom bathed in the blood of saints, pushed aside by selfish religious leaders, ignored by many in high places, but yet it stands as pure and noble in His robes of righteousness, as it did when first the Holy Spirit fell upon it in that great phenomena on the day of Pentecost.

        Micah prophesied of the coming kingdom of God in these words, “But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be established above the hills; and people shall flow into it.  And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.  And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks; nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more…In that day, saith the Lord, will I assemble her that halteth, and I will gather her that is driven out, and her that I have afflicted; And I will make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast far off a strong nation: and the Lord shall reign over them in mount Zion from henceforth, even for ever” (Micah 4:1-7).  This clear prophecy of the estabalishment of the kingdom is often misplaced to be fulfilled after the return of Christ.  This was to take place “in the last days” (see vs. 1).  If we can locate the “last days,” we can locate the exact time of its fulfillment.  Turn to Hebrews 1:1,2, “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son.”  According to this writer, the “last days” were in existence in his time, and since this is true, surely they are in existence in our time too.

        Let us look closer at this prophecy.  The “mountain of the Lord,” clearly applies to mount Zion, (See verse 7).  The Hebrew believers had “come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem” (Heb. 12:22, 23), which Paul denominates “the general assembly, and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven.”  Jesus called His church in this dispensation “a city that is set on a hill” (Matt. 5:14).  The “house of the God of Jacob” (Micah 4:2) is “the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (I Tim. 3:15).  The flowing of many nations into it has been fulfilled since the day of Pentecost.  During the days following Pentecost, multitudes believed the Gospel and joined the Church of God (See Acts 2:41; 4:4; 18:8; 19:17,18).

        In Old Testament times the true God was known only to Israel, but now salvation is for “all people” (See Luke 2:8-10; Matt. 28:19,20; Mark 16:15,16; Rom. 9:24-26).  The Gospel of Jesus Christ embraces and includes the Law given from Sinai, but it includes much more than that; it now includes all the teachings of Jesus Christ and also His example, and “the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.”  Jesus told his disciples that, “repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47).  This began on the day of Pentecost, and it swept over the known world with remarkable speed, for Paul said in his day that the gospel “was preached to every creature which is under heaven” (Col. 1:23).

The Kingdom Of God Brings Peace

        The beating of swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks, a time when they shall “learn war no more,” is a clear prophecy of the glorious unity, peace, and love which exists in the hearts of the members of the Church of God.  Since the day the angel made the announcement to the shepherds of old that a Savior was born into the world who would bring “peace on earth and good will toward men,” this has resulted in all who have opened their hearts to the work of the Holy Spirit.  By His grace, we are brought into “one fold” (John 10:16); belong to “one” organized “body” or church, the “Church of God” (Rom. 12:4,5; Eph. 4;4; Acts 20:28, etc).  This body of believers is “of one heart and one soul” (Acts 4:31-33), “one mind” (II Cor. 13:11), “all speak the same thing,” and “are perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (I Cor. 1:10), all have “one faith” (Eph. 4:5), “one spirit” (I Cor. 6:17), “one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Phil. 1:27), “rejoice together” (I Cor. 12:26), “assemble together” (Heb. 10;25), and “see eye to eye” (Isa. 52;8).  And, lastly, we may add that the redeemed in this present age have “One God…who is above all, and through all, and in you all…being knit together in love” (Eph. 4:6; Col. 2:2).

        These blessings are now present in the Church of God, that is, among those who are members of the Church whose names are written in the book of Life, penned there, and watched over with tender care by Jesus Christ.  If you have been “translated into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Col. 1:13) you can “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say rejoice” (Phil. 4:4).  If our salvation does not bring us “joy” and “happiness” even beyond words to express it, then I ask, why pass it on to another?  Micah wrote, “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting…and he shall stand and feed in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God; and they shall abide: for now shall he be great unto the ends of the earth” (Micah 5:2, 4).  Here the birth of Christ and the glory of His kingdom are foretold in one prophecy, and meets its fulfillment in this Gospel age.  To read of the fulfillment of this prophecy turn to Matt. 2:4-6 and John 7:42.

        A sublime description of the peaceful kingdom of God is found in the eleventh chapter of Isaiah.  “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots” (verse 1).  This clearly refers to the first advent of Christ.  “And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord…with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked” (Isa. 11:2-4).  Was this not true in the personal ministry of the Lord?  Did not Paul refer to Jesus with these words, “In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3)?  Did not the people say who heard Jesus speak, “Never man spake like this man” (John 7:46)?  Did He not silence the most wicked of his attackers, and did He not slay them with His superb wisdom and knowledge?

        Then the prophet goes on to write further of the conditions in this spiritual kingdom of God: “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.  And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.  And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den” (Isa. 11:6-8).  Here, the millennial teacher thinks he has a strong point, for he says, “this will happen after Jesus sets up his kingdom after the Second Advent.”  Let us consider well where we place all these events, for we are duty bound to teach a harmonious doctrine in all things.

        Where shall we place II Peter 3:10-13 and II Thess. 1:7,8?  These two texts, along with many others, speak of a time of total destruction and must come either at the beginning of the 1000 years or at its end.  Let me assure you that it will happen – we cannot escape that.  It will happen as Peter was shown, regardless of what we think or accept.  If the millennium is a definite period of exactly one thousand years – during that time all the living righteous and resurrected righteous and converted(?) righteous and even sinners, perhaps, spend all that time in renovating, remodeling, repairing, and fixing-up this old earth into an “earth-made-new” (an unscriptural term), then at the end of all this time and effort it is destroyed as Peter saw in II Peter 3:10-13 – let us inquire as to the usefulness of such an endeavor.  If this is true, then after one thousand years of repair, this work and effort are totally wasted, for Peter tells us, “the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (II Peter 3:10).  Is it not better, is it not more consistent, is it not totally in harmony with all the Bible teaching that indeed this earth and its works are destined to total destruction at the Second Coming of Christ and not a thousand years later?  Is it not the teaching of Peter and John in their writings that we look “for a new heaven and a new earth” (II Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:1)?

        Then what is the meaning of Isa. 11:6-8?  Nothing in these verses is said about Christ's second advent; they refer entirely to His first advent to this earth, and the fulfillment is evidenced everywhere today.  Various animals are used in the Bible to show different characteristics of men.  For example, Jesus said to his disciples, “Be ye harmless as doves,” and to Peter he said, “Feed my lambs.”  Concerning Herod he said, “Go ye, and tell that fox” (Luke 13:32).  False teachers are said to be “ravening wolves” (Matt. 7:15).  Paul declared, “grievous wolves” (Acts 20:29) would “enter in among you, not sparing the flock.”  Surely he did not mean four footed beasts with long, rough hair and vicious teeth – yet he said “wolves” – and the meaning is clear.  Paul said also, “Beware of dogs” (Phil. 3:2).  John saw the unsaved and called them “dogs” (Rev. 22:15).  Jesus called other hypocritical professors “serpents” and “vipers.”  God's people, He called “sheep,” and the unsaved He calls “goats.”  In Ezekiel, we find false teachers are called “beast of the field” (Ch. 34:8); His people called “my sheep” (vs. 11); “cattle” (vs. 17); others he called “rams and he goats” (vs. 17).

        This is the sense in which we are to understand Isa. 11:6-8.  It teaches how the grace of God in this glorious dispensation of the Kingdom of God in the hearts of men destroys the serpent-like, devouring, natures of men; and the most lion-hearted sinners, the most ferocious characters of wickedness personified, can be changed into docile and harmless “sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation” (Phil. 2:15).  The changeless power of Jesus Christ can change the most wicked into the likeness of “doves” and “lambs” until a “little child” can teach and “lead them.”

        Paul taught that this change would be real in his day, for he assures the readers, “the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Rom. 14:17).  No wrangling, no backbiting, no belittling one another's motive or intent, but “helpers of each other's joy” and “workers together” in the great commission.  Then the prophet adds, “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain” – the Church of God, for this kingdom is a kingdom of peace reigned over by the Prince of Peace himself.  On this “highway of holiness” upon which the redeemed have travelled throughout the past, “no lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there” (Isa. 35:9).  Surely none of us are so blind spiritually as to think that “the way of holiness” is a literal road of stone and mud over which the redeemed are to walk unmolested by savage “ravenous beast” or bloodthirsty lions of the forest.

Sitting On David's Throne

        In this study it is impossible to cover every minute angle of this great question, but we must look to a few more tests before leaving the issue up to you and your Maker.

        It is asserted by some, that Christ is not sitting on the throne of David in this dispensation, and therefore, there must be another age or period of a thousand years in which Christ will sit upon David's throne.  Many go so far as to say that the throne of David will be re-established in the present City of Jerusalem, and that Christ will move into some of the buildings there, to reign for the millennium period.

        In the firstplace, the literal throne of David never can be re-established, for it was destroyed centuries ago.  The word throne denotes sovereign power or dignity.  Therefore, as David was exalted to this place of power and government in Israel, so the Lord Jesus, who is the seed of David, was to be raised up and exalted to a state and place of sovereign power, a king to rule in righteousness.  This is all that can be meant by Christ sitting upon the throne of David.  If it can be shown that Christ now, during the present dispensation, fills this place that the prophets foretold; then the millennial contention will be refuted.

        In II Samuel 7:12-16 we find, “And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.  He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever…and thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever.”  In the foregoing prophecy, it was God's promise to David, and primarily to reach its fulfillment in Solomon, who sat upon David's throne; but in it is contained a reference to the government of the spiritual kingdom – the Kingdom of the Messiah.  “I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever.”  “Thy house and thy throne shall be established for ever.”  These expressions refer to Christ and the spiritual kingdom He came to establish.  The “house” in this prophecy refers both to the temple Solomon built at Jerusalem and to the Church which Christ established, for the Church is declared to be, “the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (I Tim. 3:15).

        First, we notice that at the very time this kingdom and throne were to be established for ever, it was said of David himself, “Thou shalt sleep with thy fathers.”  So instead of Christ sitting on David's throne AFTER the resusrrection, as some suppose, this text proves that it was to take place while David was still sleeping with his fathers.  This harmonizes perfectly with the New Testament declaration of Peter, recorded in Acts 2:29-30, “Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.  Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne.”  Here, we have the application of God's promise to David.  It referred to Christ, and reached its fulfillment at the time of Christ's resurrection from the dead.  David himself refers to this promise in Psalm 132:11, “The Lord hath sworn in truth unto David; he will not turn from it; Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne.”  It is clear what Christ meant when He said, “Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne.”

        The following shows its fulfillment, “Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.  Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne…This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.  Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted…he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear” (Acts 2:29-33).  “which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures, concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness” (Rom. 1:2-4).  The angel said unto Mary, “And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.  He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever: and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:31-33).  Now, do we have two dispensations presented in this prophecy?  Not by any means.  The birth of Christ, His name, His throne and reign, are all connected and must be in the same dispensation; that is, in the present one.  His government and kingdom shall be eternal.  Revolutions may destroy the kingdoms of earth, but the powers of darkness and death shall never be able to destroy the kingdom of God.  We have this assurance, “Unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom” (Heb. 1:8).  Since Jesus said, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth,” does it not follow that His throne is far superior to any throne to that any man may have occupied anywhere, at anytime, in the long history of Israel?  Most certainly, this is true.

        The following text is also one that is often misapplied, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever.  The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this” (Isa. 9:6,7).  The fifth verse reads, “For every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood; but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire.”

        When is the fulfillment?  Is it at the beginning of the Christian dispensation, or at the beginning of the supposed Millennium dispensation?  The answer is that it was when a child was born unto us, when a son was given.  It was to be with “burning and fuel of fire.”  We ask, When does this burning begin?  John the Baptist said, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matt. 3:11,12).  Here, it is clear that it is in this dispensation that Christ sits upon David's throne, while the government rests upon His shoulder, and rules His kingdom with judgment and justice.

        Another text to consider is as follows, “And in mercy shall the throne be established: and he shall sit upon it in truth in the tabernacle of David, judging and seeking judgment, and hasting righteousness” (Isa. 16:5).  Has Christ not been doing this throughout this present dispensation?  Did He not spend every waking moment while here to establish the very things mentioned in this text?  Has not the Holy Spirit been sent to carry on the same great mission, since Jesus ascended to the Father?  Further, we find that the angel promised Mary that, “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:32,33).  The birth of Christ, His name, His origin, His throne and reign are all connected, and must be fulfilled in one dispensation – that is the present one.

        Another misunderstood text is, “In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old: That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the Lord that doeth this” (Amos 9:11, 12).  This scripture is quoted by the apostle James in Acts 15:13-17, which reads exactly as the Septuagint Version.  We learn in Isa. 16:5 that the throne and tabernacle of David are identical; therefore, if the raising up of the tabernacle of David can be proved in this dispensation, the throne of David being identical with it, will prove to be also in this dispensation.  Our proof shall come when we turn to the New Testament.

        Acts 2:30 says of David, “Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.”  David says that Christ was to be crucified – put to death – but if He was not resurrected, He could not sit upon his throne.  Since He came sitting on the throne of David during His incarnation, He must be resurrected in order to continue upon the throne.  The prophet seeing this before, spoke of the resurrection of Christ, that His soul was not left in hell – hades – neither did His flesh see corruption.  Had His flesh seen corruption, then the prophecy that Christ was to sit upon David's throne henceforth even for ever would have been nullified; but as His body did not see corruption, He therefore continues to reign upon the throne of David.

        Further study and proof that Jesus did sit upon the throne of David is found in comparing Psalm 132:11, with Acts 15:13-17.  Those who will read this will find that the visiting of the Gentiles and seeking out of them a people for His name was building the tabernacle of David, and, as we have observed before, the throne of David was in the tabernacle of David.  It is in this dispensation that the Gentiles are called out, and therefore it is in this dispensation when Jesus sits on the throne of David.

Christ Is King

        As further proof that Christ now sits upon David's throne, we call your attention to the fact that David is a title name for Christ in the following texts: Jer. 30:9; Ezek. 34:23, 24; 37:24-28; Hosea 3:5; Heb. 4:7.  Since Christ is called David, it then follows that if Christ sits upon His throne, it must be David's throne, from the fact that He is called David in these prophecies.

        The objection is made that Christ was not a “king,”and therefore He could not sit on a throne.  Let us examine this.  “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem; behold thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass” (Zech. 9:9).  Can anyone imagine this is to be fulfilled again at some future time, when we find it already fulfilled during His incarnation?  The 10th verse reads, “And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off: and he shall speak peace unto the heathen: and his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth.”  “Speak peace unto the heathen” refers to the salvation of the Gentiles.  These two verses agree, and each alike evidences the fact that it is in this dispensation, and not a succeeding one, that Christ is King, and His kingdom, or dominion, extends to the ends of the earth.  Consider this further proof that Jesus is King, now reigning over the Kingdom of God, in this and all generations since His ascension.

        “And they brought the colt to Jesus, and cast their garments on him; and he sat upon him.  And many spread their garments in the way; and others cut down branches off the trees, and strawed them in the way.  And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest” (Mark 11:7-11).  The people believed then that Christ had come in the kingdom of his father David, – Jesus did not deny it!  Matthew says that this was done to fulfill the prophecy of Zechariah, “Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass” (Matt. 21:5).  “Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.  Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then?  Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king.  To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.  Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice” (John 18:36, 37).  Here Jesus agrees with Pilate that He was king and endorsed his word.  It might be perplexing to some if they understood David's kingdom to be of this world and Christ's kingdom not of this world, how Christ could be on David's throne.  The subjects of David's kingdom were the children of God in that dispensation, while the children of God are the subjects of Christ's kingdom in this dispensation.

 

 

 

 

OBJECT LESSON

Harry Miller

        Faith is a potent thing.  It moves man to DO things which are pleasing to his Lord.  True faith is never inert; those who have it always demonstrate the fact by proper WORKS.  The mere fact of “belief” is accepted by multitudes as the evidence of faith.  This is one of the tragedies of our present day.

        It is belief in the historical facts concerning the man Jesus Christ that so many have accepted as being THE FAITH.  But such belief has no more virtue than belief in the fact that there was a man named Napoleon, or Nero, or Caesar.

        Every genuine Christian has used his belief to FIND THE LORD.  Such people have believed and then sought until they FOUND HIM.  Having FOUND CHRIST, they have a personal relationship with Him; a divine communion; a sweet, secret fellowship.  Their faith is not a HEAD knowledge, but a HEART UNDERSTANDING.

        Such an individual is not satisfied with the mere external trappings of church attendance, he has a perpetual drive to please his Lord; he seeks ways and means to SERVE GOD.  A knowledge of Jesus as a personal Lord gives one a divine ardor to please Him.  This holy love fans a sacred flame within the breast of the disciple, and the barometer of LIFE records the intensity.

        The “ACTUAL STATE” of the divine character of a new–born Christian may be a most deplorable condition; but God RECKONS each individual, not by their STATE, but by the true intention of the heart.

        Every soul who has ever had a born–again experience will testify that in the hour when they FOUND CHRIST, they were most prodigal; they committed their all unreservedly to Him.  They so love Him that they cast every possession, every hope, plan, ambition at His feet.  In that hour they made a complete surrender.  It was upon the basis of this surrender, or consecration, that God RECKONED the full and complete righteousness of Christ to the repentant sinner.  That moment the repentant sinner became as holy as God was holy, and his past sins were blotted out.

        The believer, after being reconciled through this act of FAITH, is now under a NEW COVENANT.  Bear in mind that he has MADE A COVENANT with God.  “The New Covenant” is not without its conditions.  God is not the only one OBLIGATED by this covenant; man is also under OBLIGATION.  “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son” is promised to us daily, IF WE WALK IN THE LIGHT AS HE IS IN THE LIGHT (I John 1:7).  If man fails to walk, it is because his love for his Lord has grown cold.  Then God must adjust the “reckoning” according to the actual intention of the heart.  The Holy Spirit will strive with the believer as long as there is any hope of restoring the “first love,” but it is a sad fact that many become so satisfied with the dregs of Pharisiam that they lose their way completely with God.  After men practice a “form of godliness” for any length of time they become so hardened of heart that nothing can awaken them.  Such people have broken the everlasting covenant; and by their hypocrisy, they put the Lord to shame.