Is Good King Jehoash In Heaven? II Kings 11:21; 12:1, 2

Speak the Truth in Love: Why Talk About Heaven And Hell?

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

In Old Testament times, before Jesus walked the earth (BC), people were saved into eternal life the same way as after (AD) – by faith in the promises of God!

  • AD (anno Domini, Latin meaning “in the year of the Lord”) – After the death and resurrection of Christ, salvation is as explained in Romans 3:25 (Easy-to-Read Version): “God gave Jesus as a way to forgive people’s sins through their faith in Him. God can forgive them because the blood sacrifice of Jesus pays for their sins.
  • BC (meaning “before Christ”) – people were saved by faith in God’s promises concerning the coming Messiah. For instance, Adam and Eve both believed and were saved!

In Genesis 3:15 God prophesied to the snake the proto evangelium (Latin for the first mention of the gospel): “…I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.Satan would severely wound the Messiah, even to death! But when He rose from the grace, Christ would utterly crush the devil’s head!

How do we know Adam and Ever were saved?

In Genesis 3:15 God prophesied to the snake the proto evangelium (Latin for the first mention of the gospel): “…I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.Satan would severely wound the Messiah, even to death! But when He rose from the grace, Christ would utterly crush the devil’s head!

     From what Eve exclaimed...

      ...when Cain was born, “I have gotten a man 
                from the LORD...” (Genesis 4:1).  She must  
               have thought this was the One who would de- 
               feat the devil and restore humankind to 
               paradise! But Cain killed Able, Adam and 
               Eve’s second son (see Genesis 4:8), so nei- 
               ther Cain nor Abel could be the Messiah! 

...when Seth was born, “...God has appointed 
               another seed for me instead of Abel, whom 
               Cain slew.” (Genesis 4:25). It is as if Eve 
               exclaimed, “Maybe this child is the promised 
               One! From what Adam named his wife.  “And Adam called 
          his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother 
          of all living.” (Genesis 3:20).  In the midst of 
          God’s curse; in the midst of the loss of paradise; 
          in the midst of the introduction of sickness and 
          death in creation.......He named her, “…Eve…the  
          mother of all living…!

Let’s get to our featured Scripture, II Kings 11:21 through 12:2:

     Jehoash was seven years old when he became king...and 
     he reigned forty years in Jerusalem....Jehoash did what 
     was right in the sight of the Lord all the days in which 
     Jehoiada the priest instructed him.

And there is more positive evidence, from II Kings 12:4 and 5:

     And Jehoash said to the priests, “All the money of the 
     dedicated gifts that are brought into the house of the 
     Lord...each man's census money, each man's assessment 
     money...and all the money that a man purposes in his 
     heart to bring into the house of the Lord, let the 
     priests take it themselves, each from his constituency; 
     and let them repair the damages of the temple, wherever 
     any dilapidation is found.” 

Well, that all sounds pretty good, because “Jehoash did what was right in the sight of the Lord….” And he was instrumental in repairing God’s temple. So he must be in heaven!

…or is he?

There is more information concerning King Jehoash in II Chronicles, chapters 22 through 24 (he is called Joash in II Chronicles). Queen Athaliah (the only reigning queen over the Jew’s southern or northern kingdoms) was the grandmother of Jehoash and a very wicked woman who ruled in Judah for six years! She had killed all royal heirs to the throne of Judah after her son King Jehoram died in Samaria (see II Chronicles 22:5-9), so she would have no competitor to rule.

  • II Chronicles 22:10-12 – But “…Jehoshabeath, the daughter of King Jehoram, the wife of Jehoiada the priest…hid [young Jehoash]…from Athaliah…for six years…so that she did not kill him.
  • II Chronicles 23:1-3 – “In the seventh year Jehoiada…made a covenant with the captains of hundreds…and…the Levites from all the cities of Judah, and the chief fathers of Israel….Then all the congregation made a covenant with the king….And he [Jehoiada] said to them, ‘Behold, the king’s son shall reign, as the Lord has said of the sons of David.’
  • II Chronicles 24:2 – “Joash [Jehoash] did what was right in the sight of the Lord all the days of Jehoiada the priest.

But then we read…

  • II Chronicles 24:15 – “…Jehoiada grew old and was full of days…one hundred and thirty years…and he died.
  • II Chonicles 24:17-19 – “Now after the death of Jehoiada the leaders of Judah came and… the king listened to them. Therefore they left the house of the Lord God of their fathers, and served wooden images and idols; and wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem because of their trespass. Yet He sent prophets to them, to bring them back to the Lord; and they testified against them, but they would not listen.
  • II Chronicles 24:20-22 – “Then the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest…and said to…the people…, ‘Because you have forsaken the Lord, He also has forsaken you.’ So…at the command of the king they stoned him with stones in the court of the house of the Lord. Thus…the king did not remember the kindness which Jehoiada…had done to him, but killed his son; and as he died, he said, ‘The Lord look on it, and repay!’
  • II Chronicles 24:23-25 – “…in the spring of the year…the army of Syria came…with a small company of men…to Judah and Jerusalem, and destroyed all the leaders of the people…and sent all their spoil to the king of Damascus…the Lord delivered [Judah’s] very great army into…[Syria’s] hand, because they had forsaken the Lord God of their fathers. So they executed judgment against Joash….when they had withdrawn…they left him severely wounded…, [and] his own servants conspired against him because of the blood of the sons of Jehoiada the priest, and killed him on his bed. So he died.
  • II Chronicles 25:25 – “And they buried him in the city of David, but…not…in the tombs of the kings.” This indicates that the people of Judah had lost total confidence in Jehoash the king, because of his exceeding wickedness!

There are two later Scriptures that apply to Jehoash’s case, Ezekiel 18:4 through 28 and Ezekiel 33:12 through 19. Verse 26 of Ezekiel 18 is a good summation of Jehoash’s example: “When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, commits iniquity, and dies in it, it is because of the iniquity which he has done.The fact that he dies in it does not just refer to physical death! Revelation 21:8 tells us:

     But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers,  
     sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars 
     shall have their part in the lake which burns with  
     fire and brimstone, which is the second death.

Murderer and idolater apply to King Jehoash at the very least! So from what the Scriptures say…

…he is in hell!

In the next Gem we will look at Manasseh, the most wicked king ever to reign in Judah!

Is Jesus Really Almighty God? Exodus 3:13-15; John 8:24

The Alpha and Omega (With images) | Pictures of jesus christ ...

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Moses, having been raised in Pharaoh’s palace, fled Egypt after he killed an Egyptian who was mistreating a fellow Hebrew (see Exodus 2:10-15). Now, after 40 years had passed, and he was 80 years old, Moses had a life-changing experience in the Sinai desert! God met him through a burning bush that was not consumed, and directed him to go back to Egypt and lead the Israelites out of slavery and into the Promised Land! (See Exodus 3:1-12).

     Then Moses said to God, “Indeed, when I come to the 
     children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your 
     fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, 
     ‘What is His name?'’ what shall I say to them?” And 
     God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.”  And He said, 
     “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I 
     AM has sent me to you.’”  Moreover God said to Mos-
     es, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: 
     ‘The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, 
     the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me 
     to you. This is My name forever, and this is My me-
     morial to all generations.’” (Exodus 3:13-15).

I AM….This is My name forever…! So holy is this name to Orthodox Jews, they refuse to write it or even pronounce it! Instead, most use the term ‘HaShem’, which simply means ‘the Name.But Jesus used it! And He applied it to Himself ten times in the Gospel of John! Yes, ten! Many say there are seven “I AM” statements in the fourth gospel, but there are three more than seven! Let’s look at them from the Jubilee Bible (the only version I have available that properly translates these passages by capitalizing I AM):

  • John 6:35 – “I AM the bread of life; he that comes to Me shall never hunger, and he that believes in Me shall never thirst.
  • John 8:12 – “I AM the light of the world; he that follows Me shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life.
  • John 10:9 – “I AM the door; whosoever enters in by Me shall be saved and shall go in and out and find pasture.
  • John 10:11 – “I AM the good shepherd; the good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.
  • John 11:25, 26 – “I AM the resurrection and the life; he that believes in Me, though he is dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.
  • John 14:6 – “I AM the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes unto the Father, but by Me.
  • John 15:1 – “I AM the true vine, and My Father is the husband-man.
  • John 15:5 – “I AM the vine, ye are the branches: he that abides in Me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit; for without Me ye can do nothing.

The last three, listed out of numerical order, and all from John chapter 8, are perhaps the most profound!

  • John 8:24 – “…ye shall die in your sins, for if ye do not believe that I AM, ye shall die in your sins.
  • John 8:28 – “When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then ye shall know that I AM and that I do nothing of myself, but as my Father has taught me, I speak these things.
  • John 8:58 – “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I AM.

There is much to say about the meaning of each I AM statement, but the purpose of these ten is to highlight the fact that Jesus was equating Himself with the Very God of the Old Testament! The Jews recognized this immediately after the Lord declared Himself to be the eternal God in John 8:58: “Before Abraham was, I AM.” For in verse 59 it says, “Then they took up stones to throw at Him….” Another time, shortly after His I AM statement concerning being the good shepherd, the Jews took up stones to kill Him! Jesus had told the Jews in John 10:30: “I and My Father are one.” Here are the next verses, 31 through 33 (Literal Translation of the Holy Bible):

     Then again the Jews took up stones, that they might 
     stone Him. Jesus answered them, “I showed you many 
     good works from My Father. For which work of them do 
     you stone Me?” The Jews answered Him, saying, “We do 
     not stone You concerning a good work, but concerning 
     blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Your-
     self God.”

This is also why the Jews, in John 8:59, “…took up stones to throw at Him…! Jesus was declaring Himself to be God! Blasphemy! …to the Jewish leaders (the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the priests, and the scribes). Even the common Jew would be offended! For they were all taught, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!” (Deuteronomy 6:4). This Scripture begins their great statement of faith called the Shema,’ the most holy prayer which begins their morning and evening prayer services. So if Jesus was also God, how could God be one? Since God isone,’ this man has just spoken blasphemy! He is to be stoned!

Christians also recognize there is only one God….in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit! And in these ten I AM statements, Jesus is showing Himself to be God, the Very God of the Old Testament, the One who introduced Himself to Moses at the burning bush telling him, I AM WHO I AM….This is My name forever…!

The two I AM statements, John 8:24 and 28, are a solemn warning to anyone who is rejecting Christ as their Savior!

  • John 8:28 states Jesus’ proof of His deity: “When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then ye shall know that I AM….” He was lifted up to die on the cross. But He was lifted up again from the grave when He was resurrected, to live forever! Only God could do that!
  • John 8:24 states the actual warning: …if ye do not believe that I AM, ye shall die in your sins.

It is important what you believe!

       Jesus never sinned (see I Peter 2:22), something 
         every other person who ever lived could never do!

     He laid down His life on the cross voluntarily 
         (see John 10:17, 18), bearing the sins of the 
         world, including my sins (see I Peter 2:24),  
         and fully paid the debt we all owe God! (See 
         Romans 6:23; I John 2:2). 

     ✞   He rose again from the grave three days later, 
         conquering sin, death, the devil, and hell! 
         (See Isaiah 25:8; Romans 6:9, 10). 

     ✞   He lives forever (see Hebrews 7:25), seated at 
         the right hand of the Father in heaven (see He-
         brews 12:2), ready and willing to receive all who 
         come to Him by faith believing! (See John 6:37). 

…but only God could do this! And Jesus Christ the Lord is God!

Walking Around The Kingdom! Genesis 13:14-17

Walk As A Kingdom Minded Warrior

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

I wonder how much land modern day Jews would occupy in Israel if 4,200 years ago Abraham had not obeyed what God told him in Genesis 13:14 through 17:

     And the Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated 
     from him: “Lift your eyes now and look from the place 
     where you are — northward, southward, eastward, and 
     westward; for all the land which you see I give to 
     you and your descendants forever.  And I will make 
     your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that 
     if a man could number the dust of the earth, then 
     your descendants also could be numbered.  Arise, 
     walk in the land through its length and its width, 
     for I give it to you.” 

The Contemporary English Version translates verse 17 this way: “Now walk back and forth across the land, because I am giving it to you.” And this promise is repeated in a more exact way in two other places:

  • While they were camped east of the Jordan River in the land of the Moabites, Moses told the children of Israel in Deuteronomy 11:24:
         Every place on which the sole of your foot treads 
         shall be yours, from the wilderness and Lebanon, 
         from the river, the River Euphrates, even to the 
         Western Sea shall be your territory.
  • When Joshua took the leadership position over Israel after Moses death, God spoke to him in Joshua 1:2 through 4:
         ...arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this 
         people, to the land I am giving to them — the 
         children of Israel.  Every place that the sole 
         of your foot will tread upon I have given you, 
         as I said to Moses.  From the wilderness of this 
         Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Eu-
         phrates, all the land of the Hittites, and o the 
         Great [Mediterranean] Sea toward the going down 
         of the sun, shall be your territory.

Every time this promise was reiterated, it carried the same requirement: You have to actually walk and explore the extent of what I, the LORD, am giving you.Only once was the kingdom of Israel approaching the borders of the territory promised! And that was under Solomon’s reign, circa 970 to 931 BC. The Jews fell short of the promised boundaries because they failed to walk with God and claim the land, as well as receive many of the blessings the LORD wanted to give them!

So it is with many Christians today! God has amazing promises for those who enter into His kingdom through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. In John 10:9 and 10 He said,

     I am the door.  If anyone enters by Me, he shall be 
     saved, and will go in and out and find pasture....I 
     have come that they may have life, and that they may 
     have it more abundantly. 

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught in Matthew 7:13 and 14:

     Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and 
     broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there 
     are many who go in by it.  Because narrow is the gate 
     and difficult is the way which leads to life, and 
     there are few who find it.

In the latter, Jesus is the narrow gate. In the former, the door. But there is more, so much more, than just entering into the kingdom by the door, the gate! There is…

  • …the pasture to find and in which to freely feed!
  • …the way to walk, though it be difficult !

I met an affable young man yesterday. As we talked, I asked him if he was a Christian. He said yes, without hesitation. But as we conversed further, I asked if he was married. “No,” he replied, “I haven’t found the right person. I have gone through a couple of bad relationships.” I told him that maybe God has someone special for him. He might find her in church. “Yeah,” He said, “I guess I should start going.” I asked him if he read the Bible. He answered, “I really need to start reading my Bible again.He had gone through the door, the gate, into the kingdom, but he was still standing just inside the entrance!

I have met so many believers who claim to have entered the kingdom through faith in Jesus! From what they say, they are saved! They are born again! (See John 3:3-5; I Peter 1:23). But there is so much more to learn and to do, to explore!…….and they are just standing there – just inside the gate!

What must one do to begin Walking Around The Kingdom? There are several basic things:

  • First and foremost – Get in the Word! Read it! Study it! Meditate on the passages that the Holy Spirit brings to your attention. Memorize the verses that jump off the page because they apply to you. If I could identify the one most important thing a Christian should do, it would be get in the Bible! (See Colossians 3:16; Isaiah 34:16; II Timothy 2:15; Psalm 119:11; Joshua 1:8). There is so much more the Word of God can do in the believer’s life! Check out What the Word Will Do, published on April 24th.
  • Obedience to the Lord is of utmost importance for the Christian as he or she explores the kingdom! Jesus posed this question to the religious Jews in Luke 6:46: “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say? He could ask the same of many who identify themselves as Christians today!
        He plainly told His disciples, “...the first 
            of all the commandments is ‘...love the LORD 
            your God with all your heart, with all your 
            soul, with all your mind, and with all your 
            strength.’” (Mark 12:29, 30).  

        Jesus further stated in John 14:15, “If you 
            love Me, keep My commandments.”  Or, “If you 
            love Me, OBEY Me!”  So we can substitute the 
            word ‘obey’ for ‘love’ in the Great Command-
            ment:  “...OBEY the LORD your God with all 
            your heart, with all your soul, with all your 
            mind, and with all your strength.’

And where do we find what He wants us to do? In the Bible!

  • Prayer is a vital part of walking around God’s kingdom! There are so many promises concerning prayer in the Bible. Check out the three Gems of May 22nd, 25th, and 30th; Does Jesus Understand? These three expound one of the greatest prayer promises in the Bible, Hebrews 4:14 through 16. So important is prayer in a Christian’s life that Paul rates it as one of the two offensive weapons of the armor of God! (See Ephesians 6:18). No wonder the apostle tells us in I Thessalonians 5:17, “Pray without ceasing.
  • It is written in Hebrews 10:24 and 25:
         And let us consider one another in order to stir up 
         love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of 
         ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but 
         exhorting one another, and so much the more as you 
         see the Day [of the Lord’s return] approaching. 

This is referring to the Church, the body of believers regularly gathering together for worship, fellowship, teaching, encouragement, and more. Too many who identify as Christians tell me, “I don’t go to church. I worship the Lord in my own way.” But do you realize Christ established the Church, paying for it with the exorbitant price of His own precious blood? How dare we neglect this aspect of exploring His kingdom! (See I Peter 2:4-8 – Read also the warning in Hebrews 6:4 through 6.)

  • Let the redeemed of the LORD say so…,” wrote the psalmist in Psalm 107:2. Sharing your faith with others is part of walking around the kingdom! What Jesus told His disciples in Acts 1:8, just before He ascended into heaven applies to all believers today: “…you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.Start where you are, and reach out further from there! (See also Matthew 28:18-20; I Peter 3:15). Someone had to share the gospel with you, in order for you to believe!
  • Giving is a vital part of the kingdom! And it goes far beyond opening your wallet or purse! Paul wrote in II Corinthians 8:1 through 4 concerning the stewardship of the Macedonian Christians. He wrote this to stir up the generosity of the believers in southern Greece:
         Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the 
         grace of God bestowed on the churches of Mace-
         donia:  that in a great trial of affliction the 
         abundance of their joy and their deep poverty 
         abounded in the riches of their liberality.  For 
         I bear witness that according to their ability, 
         yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely 
         willing, imploring us with much urgency that we 
         would receive the gift and this fellowship of 
         the ministering to the saints [in Jerusalem].  
         And this they did, not as we had hoped, but first 
         gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by 
         the will of God.

This is the order of all giving:

     ✞   First give yourself to the Lord!  Not just in-
         itially, but daily (moment by moment) following 
         and obeying Him! (See Mark 8:34-38; I Corinthians 
         15:31; Galatians 2:20).

     ✞   Then, as He leads by His Holy Spirit, obey His 
         leading, and give...of your time, your prayers, 
         your actions, your possessions, your money! 

God always richly repays! It may not be in this life, but the Christian has all eternity to enjoy the Lord’s riches!

There is so much more to the kingdom of which we are a part as soon as we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior. Paul exclaimed in awe of all this when he wrote in Romans 11:33: “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! ” And so he prays for the believers in Ephesians 1:17 through 23,

     ...that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father 
     of glory...give to you the spirit of wisdom and reve-
     lation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your un-
     derstanding being enlightened; that you may know what 
     is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of 
     the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what 
     is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who 
     believe, according to the working of His mighty power 
     which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the 
     dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly 
     places, far above all principality and power and might 
     and dominion, and every name that is named, not only 
     in this age but also in that which is to come. And He 
     put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head 
     over all things to the church, which is His body, the 
     fullness of Him who fills all in all.

Now get up! Start Walking Around The Kingdom! Explore what God, through Jesus Christ the Lord, has given you!

Sound Heart, Good Bones! – II Proverbs 14:30

Undivided Food Co.

Note: Over a month ago, I wrote two Gems – Sound Heart, Good Bones – I and II. But somehow I forgot to publish the second one! So here it is, the second installment of Sound Heart, Good Bones!

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

So what does a sound heart have to do with good bones? First, let’s examine the structure of Hebrew poetry: One of the main features is parallelism, where the first line of the poem is expressed in some way in the second or more lines.

  • Synonymous – the lines express the same thought in different words.
  • Antithetical – the lines express opposite thoughts by means of contrast or stating the positive and the negative.
  • Synthetic – the next two or three lines develop the thought.

Proverbs 14:30 is definitely antithetical: A sound heart is the life of the body, but envy is rottenness to the bones.” As discussed in the last Gem, having a sound heart is to have correct thinking that results in proper actions before God and toward others!

www.mayoclinic.org will bring you to the Mayo Clinic website. Click on Patient Care and Health Info, then Stress Management, then Show More Related Content, then Positive Thinking. Here is something that caught my eye in the article:

     Researchers continue to explore the effects of positive 
     thinking and optimism on health. Health benefits that 
     positive thinking may provide include:

         Increased life span

         Lower rates of depression

 Lower levels of distress

 Greater resistance to the common cold

       Better psychological and physical well-being

    Better cardiovascular health and reduced risk 
             of death from cardiovascular disease

       Better coping skills during hardships and times 
             of stress

This is what a sound heart can do for your bones (your whole physical self)!

The opposite of sound heart thinking is dwelling on negative things, like envy. But there is a lot more negativity on which to dwell than envy! They are commonly known as The Seven Deadly Sins: lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride! Why pick on envy? King Solomon wrote this proverb, and Solomon’s 40 year reign over Israel was the most prosperous time in the nation’s history. It is written in II Chronicles 1:15, “…the king made silver and gold as common in Jerusalem as stones….” But even in such prosperity, there were still people who were poor and sick, and such poverty and ill health might have been caused by their sinful heart outlook on life! They could very well have been envious of those who enjoyed prosperity and good health! So envy was chosen as the antithesis for a sound heart.

But any pronounced sinful thinking can be substituted for envy in this proverb – any one of the Seven Deadly Sins mentioned before, and a lot more sinful focuses! And if this is true, then pronounced sinful thinking will result in:

Shortened life span

Increased rates of depression

Raised levels of distress

Less resistance to the common cold

Worse psychological and physical well-being

 Poorer cardiovascular health and increased risk of 
        death from cardiovascular disease

  Decreased coping skills during hardships and times 
        of stress [such as the Corona virus pandemic]
        

This type of sinful negative thinking produces…rottenness to the bones…!

Is it any wonder that Saint Paul would stress to the Philippi Christians in Philippians 4:8:

     Finally brethren, whatever things are true, whatever 
     things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever 
     things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever 
     things are of good report, if there is any virtue and 
     if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these
     things... 

…and nothing else!

And, by the way, the best thing upon which to meditate, the best thing to give you a sound heart and good bones…….is God’s Word! Fill your life with Scripture, and you will go a long way to have healthy unrotten bones!

Does Jesus Understand? – III Hebrews 4:14-16

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

A family friend has recently spent ten days in the hospital, in part because of the stresses and strains over the last three months brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. Social contact has been effectively cut off! Entertainment has been localized to the home and yard (no restaurants, theaters, playgrounds, play dates etc.)! Income has been reduced by 60%! The kids are not responding to being home schooled! The list could go on.

Others have it worse!

  • So many have been stricken with the virus (1.8 million to date in the US; 6.07 million worldwide), and far too many have died (almost 105,000 in the US; 368,000 worldwide).
  • A number of businesses are on the brink of failure – or have failed.
  • We hear of health care workers (especially in Coronavirus hot spots) who have had breakdowns, and some have taken their own lives.
  • Because of stay-at-home orders, marital problems, spousal and child abuse have risen dramatically.

…and so much more!

How can Jesus, so far away in heaven, know the mental and emotional strain that we mortals are going through in such a time as this? Hebrews 4:14 through 16 makes a bold claim concerning this very question:

     Seeing that we have a great High Priest who has passed 
     through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold 
     fast our confession.  For we do not have a High Priest 
     who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in 
     all points tempted as we are yet without sin.  Let us 
     therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we 
     may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. 

In the Gem, Does Jesus Understand? – I, we have learned…

  • …that sympathize in verse 15 means, “…more than knowledge of human infirmity. It is feeling it by reason of a common experience with men.” (M.R. Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament).
  • …that tempted means, “…to test…that is, endeavor, scrutinize…” (Strong’s Greek Dictionary). To test and scrutinize something, you have to be in the middle of it!

Our Lord Jesus Christ was in the ‘middle of it’ as He walked upon this earth! He feels what we are going through by reason of a common experience with us! (See Hebrews 2:14). What exactly did He experience?

  • Stress Jesus intensively prayed in Gethsemane, anticipating His soon-coming passion! (see a description of His sufferings in Does Jesus Understand? – II). Beyond the physical torture, the holy Son of God was to be made sin before the Father, who would turn away from the Son and pour out eternal judgments upon Him that we deserved! (See Isaiah 53:5, 6; Matthew 27:46; II Corinthians 5:21; I Peter 2:24). We read in Luke 22:44 that “…being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. And His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” It’s called hematedrosis! According to Medical News Today, in the article “Hematadrosis: Can People Sweat Blood?” it says, “…tiny blood vessels that cause bloody sweat are more likely to rupture under intense stress. The stress can be physical, psychological, or both.Was there ever anyone who has been under more stress than our Lord Jesus?
  • Disappointment – Was Jesus ever disappointed with…
 ...His disciples?  Peter denied Him three 
              times! Yes, Jesus predicted that very thing 
              before it happened (see Matthew 26:34), but 
              I’m sure He still felt disappointment in one 
              of His inner circle.  

              And what of the other two closest to Him?  
              James and John schemed to be next to Jesus 
              in the kingdom! (See Matthew 20:21; Mark 10:
              35-37).  They were also the ones who wanted 
              to call fire down on the Samaritan village 
              for not receiving Jesus! (See Luke 9:52-55).  

              Then there was the time His followers tried 
              to chase away those who ...brought infants 
              to Him that He might touch them....But Jesus 
              said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, 
              and do not forbid them; for of such is the 
              kingdom of God.’” (Luke 18:15, 16).

         ✞   ...the Jews of Jerusalem?  In Matthew 23, the Lord 
             had a confrontation with the scribes and Pharisees, 
             the religious leaders of Israel.  After challenging 
             their hypocrisy, He called them out in verse 33: 
             “Serpents, brood of vipers!  How can you escape the 
             damnation of hell?”  Then He turned His attention 
             to the city in verse 37:  

                O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills 
                the prophets and stones those who are sent 
                to her!  How often I wanted to gather your 
                children together, as a hen gathers her 
                chicks under her wings, but you were not 
                willing! 

             Though He knew the fact of such rejection (see Psalm 
             118:22; John 1:11), Jesus was certainly disappointed
             His own people would not receive Him!

         ✞   ...the majority of the world’s population rejecting 
             Him?  It is written in I Timothy 4:10, “...the 
             living God...is the Savior of all men, especially 
             of those who believe.This is a statement of 
             unlimited atonement – that Jesus paid for the sins 
             of all people of all times!  Of course, not all 
             believe.  So it stands to reason that the Lord is 
             disappointed (heart broken!) over those who reject 
             the Way of eternal life already completely paid for 
             and open to them!
  • Loneliness – Did Jesus ever feel lonely?
         He had four brothers and at least two sisters
             according to Matthew 13:55 and 56.  But they “...
             did not believe in Him...” (John 7:5) until after 
             the resurrection.  in that respect He certainly 
             was alone among His siblings as He grew into man- 
             hood!  I wonder if He felt lonely at times in His 
             own home? 

         And what happened at the end of His ministry?  
             Jesus was surrounded for almost three years by 
             His hand-picked disciples.  But when the temple 
             police and Roman soldiers came to arrest Him, 
             the disciples fled in fear, leaving Him alone! 
             (See Mark 14:30).  He predicted this would hap-
             pen in John 16:32: 

                Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now 
                come that you will be scattered, each to 
                his own, and will leave me alone.  And 
                yet I am not alone, because the Father 
                is with Me. 

             I suppose twinges of loneliness could have hap-
             pened then.  Surely loneliness did happen when 
             He was abandoned even by His Heavenly Father! 
             (See Forsaken below).

         ✞   Jesus was fully God as He walked upon this earth!  
             But He was also fully human!  Many times in the 
             gospels it refers or infers to Him being alone. 
             Since, in our featured Scripture, it says He 
             experienced everything we have, that must include 
             loneliness! 
  • ForsakenWe know that on the cross Jesus felt abandoned and forsaken when even the Father turned away from Him! And the Son cried out, My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46 – emphasis added). Why? Because …He…was made sin for us…! (II Corinthians 5:21).
  • Not knowing the future – Now this seems strange to say Jesus didn’t know the future. After all, being fully God He is omniscient! But being human, He lived upon this earth, having veiled His attributes of deity (see Philippians 2:5-8). However it did happen once when He said…
          Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the 
          clouds with great power and glory....But of that 
          day and hour no one knows, neither the angels in 
          heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. (Mark 
          13:26, 32 – emphasis added).

There are other things that could be added to show that Jesus humanly experienced all that touches our lives! But this Scripture of Hebrews 4:14 through 16 especially shows that when we are in trials, and we need to…

     ...obtain mercy and find grace to help in [our] time 
     of need..., Let us...come boldly to the throne of grace  
     ....For we...have a High Priest who can...sympathize 
     with our weaknesses, [who] was in all points tempted 
     [tested, tried] as we are yet without sin.

Come boldly! For Jesus understands! And He is available, all-powerful, and willing to help!

Does Jesus Understand? – II Hebrews 4:14-16

Sick People Shouldn't Be Allowed in Public -

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Sickness has hit many people due to Covid -19! A lot of people have been sickened by the virus, and far too many have died. Some have described the symptoms as “…the worst case of the flu imaginable…I couldn’t breathe, I had severe body pains, headache, fever…” and so on. Others have had little or no symptoms.

Jesus was perfect man and perfect God! Did He ever so much as catch a cold? Or have to remove a painful splinter? How can He possibly say He has experienced everything that we have? In our featured Scripture of Hebrews 4:14 through 16 the Lord tells us exactly that:

     Seeing that we have a great High Priest who has passed 
     through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold 
     fast our confession.  For we do not have a High Priest 
     who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in 
     all points tempted as we are yet without sin.  Let us 
     therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we 
     may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. 

As we saw in the last Gem, the word sympathize in verse 15 means, “…more than knowledge of human infirmity. It is feeling it by reason of a common experience with men.” (M.R. Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament). And the word tempted means “to test…that is, endeavor, scrutinize….” (Strong’s Greek Dictionary). And, as I wrote in that Gem,To test and scrutinize something, you have to be in the middle of it! We are…and He has been in the middle of it! And He is in the thick of things with us now!

So how does Jesus Christ know experientially what we are going through when we become sick? The last 20 hours of the Lord’s life before He died was a horrendous experience of physical maladies!

  • In Matthew 26:67 and 68, He was beaten by the members of the Sanhedrin after He was falsely accused of blaspemy: “Then they spat in His face and beat Him, and others struck Him with the palms of their hands, saying, ‘Prophesy to us, Christ! Who… struck You?’That mistreatment resulted in pain both immediate and lingering!
  • Governor Pilate, to appease the bloodthirsty Jews, had Jesus flogged by Roman soldiers! (See Mark 15:15). The Jews, for humanitarian reasons, forbid anyone to be whipped more than 40 times (see Deuteronomy 25:2, 3). But the Romans were not held by such constraints! We don’t know how many times the whip landed on Jesus’ body, but each time it left it’s horrible mark! According to the website, https://www.bible-history.com /past/flagrum:
          The Roman scourge, also called the “flagrum” or 
          “flagellum” was a short whip made of two or three 
          leather (ox-hide) thongs or ropes connected to a 
          handle....The leather thongs were knotted with a 
          number of small pieces of metal, usually zinc and 
          iron, attached at various intervals. Scourging 
          would quickly remove the skin....Deep lacerations, 
          torn flesh, exposed muscles and excessive bleeding 
          would leave the criminal “half-dead.”
  • After that horrible experience of Roman flogging, we are told in Mark 15:16 through 20:
          Then the soldiers led Him away...and they called 
          together the whole garrison.  And they clothed Him 
          with [a] purple [robe]; and they twisted a crown 
          of thorns, put it on His head....Then they struck 
          Him on the head with a reed and spat on Him; and 
          bowing the knee, they worshiped Him.  And when they 
          had mocked Him, they took the purple [robe] off 
          Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him out 
          to crucify Him.
               

More pain and humiliation inflicted! And I wonder what it felt like on Jesus’ raw back with blood drying when they roughly pulled the purple robe off Him?

  • In Isaiah 50:6 and 52:14 (Contemporary English Version) we learn more of the extent of the torture Jesus endured:
          I let them beat My back and pull out My beard. I 
          didn't turn aside when they insulted Me and spit 
          in My face....Many were horrified at what happened 
          to Him. But everyone who saw Him was even more    
          horrified because He suffered until He no longer 
          looked human.
  • John 19:17 and 18 – “And He, bearing His cross, went out to…where they crucified Him….” Most likely it was only the cross beam of the cross which Jesus was forced to carry. But still it was too heavy, too much for Him in His weakened condition. So “…they laid hold of a certain man, Simon a Cyrenian…and on him they laid the cross that he might bear it after Jesus.” (Luke 23:28). The Romans didn’t want the Lord to die under the cross before they nailed Him on it!
  • Then there was the crucifixion itself! While crucifixion was not invented by the Romans, you could say they perfected the most agonizingly painful and humiliating method of capital punishment ever invented!
    ✞    A person was either nailed through wrists and feet 
         (as in the case of Jesus – see Psalm 22:16) or bound 
         by ropes to a cross.  

    As He hung on the cross, His bones pulled out of joint! 
         Or perhaps the soldiers roughly pulled His shoulders out 
         of joint as they stretched His arms out to drive the 
         nails into pre-positioned holes (see Psalm 22:14).

    ✞    He endured terrible thirst as dehydration and fever 
         raged! (See Psalm 22:15; John 19:28).  

    ✞    Breathing was exceptionally difficult!  Due to the 
         position of His body on the cross, Jesus could inhale, 
         but to exhale He had to painfully pull up on nailed 
         wrists and push up on nailed feet to allow the dia-
         phragm to push stale air out.

    ✞    The humiliation was extreme!  Jesus hung naked, wetting
         and messing Himself!  Mark 29 through 31 says:

             And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging 
             their heads and saying, “Aha!  You who destroy 
             the temple and build it in three days, save 
             Yourself and come down from the cross!” Like-
             wise the chief priests also, together with the 
             scribes, mocked and said among themselves, “He 
             saved others; Himself He cannot save. Let Christ 
             the King of Israel, descend now from the cross, 
             that we may see and believe.” And those who were 
             crucified with Him reviled Him. 

So now, what do you think? Does the Lord Jesus Christ know from human experience the limitations sickness has placed upon you? Does He understand your fever, pains, congestion, weakness, thirst, and hunger? Yes, He is God! He knows everything! But isn’t it comforting to know your Lord and Savior knows from personal experience what you are going through?

And He, being God, has all the authority and power to bring comfort and healing…and to give you the patience as you wait for Him to act!

Does Jesus Understand? – I Hebrews 4:14-16

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

The first confirmed Covid-19 case in the United States happened on January 20 – a man from Washington State who had returned from visiting family in Wuhan, China. In four short months (I write this Gem on May 20) the virus has spread to every state and territory in the US (except American Samoa), totaling, as of today, 1,558,631 confirmed cases, and 92,258 deaths! This pandemic has turned the country and the world upside down! *Globally, the Coronavirus pandemic has produced 4,892,550 confirmed cases, with 322,821 deaths.

I don’t have to ask, “Is the Coronavirus affecting you?Of course it is! The question is, “How much is it affecting you? ” With loss of jobs and incomes, social life, travel, even individual health and/or that of loved ones, our lives feel as if they have been put on hold! One thing I miss so much is regular communal times of worship and fellowship with my church family.

Does God know? Does God care? Does He actually understand what I am going through? After all, this is 2,000 years since Jesus walked the earth. Things are different today! How can He identify with all this?

The next several Gems will be based on a Scripture that points us to the answer of all these questions, and more – Hebrews 4:14 through 16:

     Seeing that we have a great High Priest who has passed
     through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold 
     fast our confession.  For we do not have a High Priest 
     who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in 
     all points tempted as we are yet without sin.  Let us 
     therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we 
     may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. 

We will start with this: “I don’t know how I will financially make it! I have lost most of my income! My savings are about gone! Even my home is now in jeopardy! How can Jesus understand my financial problems?

  • Did you know that Jesus had no regular source of income? There is no record in the Bible that He had any personal income from occupa-tion, savings, or investments.
      But He did have some money, for it says in John 
          12:6 (Contemporary English Version), “Judas...
          carried the moneybag and sometimes would steal 
          from it.Judas not only betrayed Jesus (see 
          Luke 22:4, 48), he was also a thief!  
      Where did the money come from?  Luke 8:1 through 3
          tells us: 

             ...Jesus traveled through towns and villages, 
             preaching the Good News about the Kingdom of 
             God. The twelve disciples went with Him, and 
             so did some women who had been healed of evil 
             spirits and diseases:  Mary (who was called 
             Magdalene), from whom seven demons had been 
             driven out;  Joanna, whose husband Chuza was 
             an officer in Herod's court; and Susanna, and 
             many other women who used their own resources 
             to help Jesus and His disciples.  
  • Did you know that the Lord was homeless?
     At the beginning of His ministry, Jesus came 
          to Nazareth and taught in their synagogue.  He 
          challenged his hometown listeners because of 
          their skepticism that their local boy could be 
          God’s Anointed One (see Luke 4:16-27).  They 
          became so angry that “...they got up and took 
          Him out of the town to the edge of the moun-
          tain on which their town was, so that they 
          might send Him down to his death.” (Luke 4:
          29).  He escaped, but thereafter would not 
          accept that place as His home.

Nazareth was where His family (mother and at 
          least six siblings) still lived (see Matthew 
          13:54-56).  But Jesus did not acknowledge them 
          as His main family!  When they came to see Him 
          in Mark 3:32, “The multitude...sitting around 
          Him said... ‘Look, Your mother and brothers are 
          outside seeking You.’But He answered them, saying, “Who is My 
             mother, or My brothers?”   And He looked 
             around...at those who sat about Him, and 
             said, “Here are My mother and My brothers!  
             For whoever does the will of God is My 
             brother and My sister and mother.” (Mark 
             3:33-35).

         Why did Jesus ‘reject’ His family?  They thought 
         He was crazy!  The crowds were so big, and the 
         needs so great, it tells us in Mark 3:20 and 21 
         (Modern King James Version) that Jesus and His 
         disciples, “...could not even eat.  And when His 
         family heard it, they went out to seize Him, for 
         they were saying, ‘He is out of His mind.’When a man expressed to Jesus a desire to “‘...
          follow You wherever You go....’  Jesus said to 
          him, ‘Foxes have holes and birds of the air have 
          nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His 
          head.’”  
  • Did you know the Lord had to twice borrow a coin to make a point?
      The first time was from a fish in Matthew 17:27 
          when Jesus told Peter... 

             ...go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take 
             the fish that comes up first.  And when you 
             have opened its mouth, you will find a piece 
             of money; take that and give it to them [the 
             tax collectors] for Me and you.

The second time Jesus answered a question posed by 
          the chief priests and the scribes to entrap Him: 
          “Teacher, we know...you do not show personal favor-
          itism, but teach the way of God truly:  Is it lawful 
          for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” (Luke 20:21, 
          22).  His answer? 

             “Why do you test Me?  Show Me a denarius.  
             Whose image and inscription does it have?”  
             They...said, “Caesar’s.”  And He said to 
             them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things 
             that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that 
             are God’s” (Luke 20:23-25).

Back to the question at the beginning of this Gem: “How can Jesus understand my financial problems?Can you begin to see how He understands what you are going through?

  • First of all, He is God – the Son of God, God the Son! (See Isaiah 9:6, 7; John 1:1, 14; Hebrews 1:8). And God is omniscient (all-knowing)! So Jesus Christ knows what you are going through! (See John 2:24. 25).
  • In our featured Scripture, verse 15, we are told, “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
   The word sympathize in Greek is συμπαθέω (pronounced
          soom-path-eh’-o).  M.R. Vincent’s Word Studies in the 
          New Testament says, “This is more than knowledge of 
          human infirmity.  It is feeling it by reason of a 
          common experience with men.”  It’s as if Jesus is 
          saying to us, “I know what you mean!  I have been 
          there and done that...as one of you! The word tempted is πειράζω (pronounced pi-rad’-zo), and it means “...to test...that is, endeavor, scrutinize....” (Strong’s Greek Dictionary).  To test and scrutinize something, you have to be in the middle of it!  We are...and He has been in the middle of it!  And He is in the thick of things with us now!

One final thought – and this will apply to the next several Gems also – Jesus Christ does not just know our difficulties, financial or otherwise, because He has humanly experienced the challenges we face. He is big enough, and powerful enough to enter into the situation, any situation, and radically alter it!

  • He healed the incurable leper! (See Matthew 8:2, 3; Luke 17:12-14).
  • He raised people from the dead! (See Mark 5:35-42; Luke 7:11-15; John 11:38-44).
  • He fed thousands with a few fish and loaves! (See Matthew 14:13-21; 15:32-38).
  • He stilled the winds and waves! (See Matthew 14:22-32).
  • He sacrificed Himself so we could be saved! (See John 3:16; I Peter 2:24).
  • He is KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS!” (Revelation 19:16).

…He is God!

Covering, Confessing, Forsaking Proverbs 28:13

See the source image

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

There are three things you can do with sin in your life, according to Proverbs 28:13: “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.You can cover sin, you can confess it, and you can forsake it! Of those three things, the first stands alone – covering your sins! The next two must be linked together to be effective – confessing and forsaking your sins! Let’s consider these three in more detail:

  • He who covers his sins….Brown – Driver – Briggs’ Hebrew Definitions describes כּסה (pronounced kaw-saw’) this way: “to cover, conceal, hide….If a person thinks there is no option to get rid of his or her sins, that one tends to cover, conceal, and hide them! That’s what Jesus taught in John 3:19 and 20:
         And this is the condemnation, that the light has 
         come into the world, and men loved darkness rather 
         than light, because their deeds were evil.  For 
         everyone practicing evil hates the light and does 
         not come to the light, lest his deeds should be 
         exposed. 

What is the light to which the Lord refers? In John 8:12 Jesus plainly answers that question: “I am the Light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the Light of life.” (Modern King James Version).

And if the one who confesses and forsakes their sins has mercy, the one who covers his sins does not have mercy! And what is mercy? It is akin to grace…as Paul opens his three pastoral epistles (I and II Timothy, Titus) with “Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.” Simply put…

    Mercy is God not giving us what we so justly 
        deserve – His condemnation!

    ✞   Grace is God giving us that which we do not 
	deserve – His blessings!

And so the person who tries to cover, conceal, hide his or her sins remains under God’s condemnation (see John 3:36) lacking both mercy and grace!

  • …but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.” As said before, these two – confession and forsaking – must be combined if mercy (as well as grace) is to be received! It has been wrongfully said that “…being forgiven means that I can go do what I want! I can then confess my sins and go back to my lifestyle, and it really doesn’t matter what I do!Yes, it does matter! Let’s look more closely at these two words:
    ...confesses....”  Hebrew, יָדָה (pronounced 
         yaw-daw’).  Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary gives 
         several related meanings, but here in verse 
         13 the most fitting one is, “...intensively 
         to bemoan (by wringing the hands): - cast 
         (out), (make) confess (-ion)....”  To confess, 
         then, means to grieve over sin, and to want 
         to cast it out!  But wanting to cast out sin 
         and doing it are not the same thing!

By the way, in the New Testament, the Greek word for confession, οʽμολογέω (pronounced hom-ol-og-eh’-o) according to Thayer’s Greek Definitions, means “…to say the same thing as another…,that another is God! And as He sees our sin – we are to fully agree with Him! That is Biblical confession!

...forsakes....”  Hebrew עָזַב (pronounced aw-zab’),
        meaning “...to leave, loose, forsake...to depart 
        from, leave behind...let alone....” (Brown - Driver -
        Briggs’ Hebrew Definitions).  Confession is not 
        enough, if we are not willing to forsake what offends 
        our LORD!

John the Baptist had it right in Matthew 3:1 through 12. Here is a con-densed version of what he told “…the multitudes that came out to be baptized by him.” (Luke 3:7)

        In those days John the Baptist came preaching in 
        the wilderness of Judea, and saying, “Repent, for 
        the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”  ...Then Jeru-
        salem, and all Judea, and all the region around 
        the Jordan went out to him and were baptized...
        confessing their sins.  But when he saw many of 
        the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, 
        he said to them, “Brood of vipers!  Who has warned 
        you to flee from the wrath to come?  Therefore bear 
        fruits worthy of repentance....”

Notice, “…the multitudes…were baptized…confessing their sins.But John told them it wasn’t enough! He added, “…bear fruits worthy of repentance…” or, forsake what is sinful and produce what is righteous and good in your life! The Apostle Paul listed what should be forsaken and what should be gained in Galatians 5:19 through 23:

        Now the works of the flesh...are...adultery, forni-
        cation, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, 
        hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, 
        selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, mur-
        ders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like...But the 
        fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffer-
        ing [patience], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 
        gentleness, self-control. 

Forsake the works of the flesh, and gain the fruit of the Spirit! If this seems over-whelming to you, remember, “…God…works in you [through His Holy Spirit] both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13).

Now, a word of warning and encouragement to those who struggle to fulfill forsaking sins! I know the struggle this can entail! I have a very addictive/compulsive nature, struggling against sin over the many years of my Christianity. I was fighting against ongoing sins – addictions to nicotine, overeating, pornography, alcohol, drugs…among other things displeasing to God. Oh, how I wanted to forsake such sinful addictions! I’d try, and then fall back so many times! But I kept trying, praying, and asking God for His help and healing! I learned, through Philippians 2:13 (above) and other Scriptures to stop struggling and rest in the Lord’s love (see Romans 8:31-39), acceptance (see Ephesians 1:6), and power (see Psalm 147:5; Ephesians 1:19). These addictions, one by one over the years, began to fade away! (See John 8:32, 36; Romans 6:18, 22; 8:2; Galatians 5:1). Sometimes with addicted people it miraculously happens in a moment! It is no less a miracle when God takes His time teaching us and applying to us His power of deliverance and healing! That is more of what happened with me.

So take heart, dear people! Confess your sins and forsake them by His mighty power! God’s work in you might be instantaneous, or it could take a long time to learn to rest in His love, acceptance, and power.

War No More!

Image result for military cemetery

Proverbs 16:7

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Jesus foretold in Matthew 25:6 and 7:

     And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars....For 
     nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against 
     kingdom, and there will be famines, pestilences, and 
     earthquakes in various places.

There are several more signs the Lord said would be manifested at the end of the age. But let’s focus on wars and rumors of wars. Although there are many heroic actions in time of war, still (as they say) war is hell! Loss of life, maimed bodies of many survivors, and injured minds (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) affect people long after the battles have ended! But there is one verse in the Bible that tells us how to stop war, Proverbs 16:7 – “When a man’s ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

But,” you might argue, “that’s talking about an individual person. How can this stop wars between nations?” Yes, the interpretation is individualistic. But the principle behind this proverb can also be applied to major wars! And Israel’s history proves it!

Moses prophesied in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 concerning the future of Israel. Many of the LORD’s blessings for the obedience of the people and many of His curses for their disobedience are listed in both chapters. I will focus on the blessings concerning the Jews’ relationship with surrounding nations:

• Leviticus 26:3, 5, 6, 7, 12:

     If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments, 
     and perform them...you shall...dwell in your land 
     safely.  I will give peace in the land, and you shall 
     lie down, and none will make you afraid ....You will 
     chase your enemies, and they shall fall by the sword 
     before you....I will walk among you and be your God, 
     and you shall be My people. 

• Deuteronomy 28:1, 7, 10:

     Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey 
     the voice of the Lord your God, to observe arefully 
     all His commandments which I command you today, that 
     the Lord your God will set you high above all nations 
     of the earth....The Lord will cause your enemies who 
     rise against you to be defeated before your face....
     Then all peoples of the earth shall see that you are 
     called by the name of the Lord, and they shall be a-
     fraid of you. 

But the opposite would be true if the Israelites did not obey God! (Read Leviticus 26:14-46; Deuteronomy 28:18-68). And their history proves it!

Let’s briefly look at Israel’s history:

• The book of Judges is the record of the Israelites over 350 years before kingship in Israel was established. The key to this book is found in two verses, Judges 17:6 and 21:25 that say the same thing: “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” There are six to eight major judges, depending on how one defines ‘major’. In Judges 2:10 through 19 is described the cycle that was repeated under the major judges! Here is a shortened summary from these verses:

     ...another generation arose...who did not know the 
     LORD nor the work which He had done for Israel...
     the children of Israel...forsook the LORD God...and 
     they followed...the gods of the people who were all 
     around them...Baal and the Ashtoreths.  And the an-
     ger of the LORD was hot against Israel.  So He de-
     livered them into the hands of...their enemies....
     Then the LORD raised up judges who delivered them
     ...all the days of the judge....And...when the judge 
     was dead...hey reverted and behaved more corruptly
     ...by following other gods, to serve them and bow 
     down to them....

At least six cycles were repeated in the course of 350 years! Here is what each cycle consisted of:

             Freedom
                   Apostasy
                         Bondage
                               Repentance
                                     Deliverance 

Solomon, David’s son, was the third king of Israel. God gave him great wisdom to rule. It says in I Kings 4:31, “…he was wiser than all men….” In his wisdom, especially in the early part of his forty-year reign, Solomon walked with God – and the nation pretty much followed suit! The result? I Kings 4:24: “…he had dominion over all the region on this side of the River [Euphrates]…and he had peace on every side all around him.

Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, was the next king. But he did not follow the LORD, and he split Israel into two kingdoms as a result of an ungodly decision! Rehoboam ended up ruling two Israelite tribes in the south, and Jeroboam became king of ten tribes in the north (see I Kings 12:1-20). Beyond that initial sin that split the united kingdom of Israel, Rehoboam did not follow the LORD! His 17 year reign is summed up in II Chronicles 12:14: “And he did evil, because he did not prepare his heart to seek the LORD.The king’s disobedience affected all his subjects, and the peace of the whole nation! It is recorded in verse 15, “And there were wars between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all their days.

Asa was Rehoboam’s grandson. He obeyed God for 35 of his 41 year reign!And there was no more war until the thirty-fifth year of his reign.” (II Chronicles 15:19 – Good News Bible). But then King Baasha of the northern Israel kingdom invaded Asa’s southern kingdom. And Asa turned away from the LORD and depended on godless Syria for help! The prophet Hanani confronted the king for his disobedience, finishing his rebuke with this: “In this you have done foolishly; therefore from now on you shall have wars.” (II Chronicles 16:9). It proved to be true!

Now, let’s get back to our featured Scripture: “When a man’s ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” This proverb is given as applied to an individual. But it can also be applicable to a national setting!

When a nation’s ways please the LORD, He makes even that nation’s
enemies to be at peace with it!

If it proved true for Israel, it can work today for America – for peace and the LORD’s blessing, for wars and God’s curse! Is it any wonder that it is written in Psalm 33:12, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD….

God’s blessing or His curse! You decide what you will pursue, Christian!

Leaning The Right Way! Proverbs 3:5, 6

See the source image

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Our featured Scripture is Proverbs 3:6 and 7: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” And in the last Gem, we spent some time on “…lean not on your own under- standing…”, that is, leaning the wrong way! Now let’s see what this proverb says about leaning the right way!

Let’s put the first and last parts of the proverb together: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart…in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

•    “Trust in the LORD...” – We are to trust in the LORD with 
     our whole being – with all our heart, with all our soul, 
     with all our mind, and with all our strength! But what 
     does it mean to trust the LORD? In The New Scofield 
     Reference Bible, annotates Psalm 2:12. The verse closes
     Psalm 2 with this: “Blessed are all they who put their 
     trust in Him [the King enthroned in Jerusalem – Jesus 
     Christ].” The annotation of the word trust reads thus:
          Trust is the characteristic O.T. word for the 
          N.T. “faith” and “believe.” It occurs 152 times 
          in the O.T., and is the rendering of the Hebrew 
          words signifying to take refuge...to lean on...
          to roll on...[and] to wait for....
     Perhaps we could say that trust is to have faith enough to 
     act upon what you have faith in! That is trusting in God 
     with our whole being!

But why should we trust God? Because He has proved to be trust-worthy!

         The testimony of His saints, written centuries
           ago, or of today, especially those who have
           walked with Jesus for a long time, testify to
           His trustworthiness, His faithfulness. I have
           been a Christian for 55 years and, although I
           have let myself down many times, the Lord has
           never failed in being faithful to me! I know
           I can trust Him!
     ✞     The testimony of His Word shines forth the truth
           of God being trustworthy! It is not just the re-
           cord of His work to and through Bible aints. That
           Record is a living Word (see Hebrews 4:12), able
           to increase our faith and trust! (See Romans 10:
           17).

Notice there are two ‘all s in this short two-verse proverb:

•     “...with all your heart...” – In both Old and New 
      Testaments we find this phrase up to 29 times, de-
      pending upon the Bible version. The first one that 
      might come to mind is the Great Commandment found 
      in...
Deuteronomy 6:5 – “You shall love the LORD 
           your God with all your heart, with all your 
           soul, and with all your might.Mark 12:30 – “...you shall love the LORD your 
           God with all your heart, with all your soul, 
           with all your mind, and with all your strength.” 

While Jesus adds strength to the equation, both references of 
the Great Commandment promote the idea that we are to love God
with our whole being, both...

      ✞     the inner selfheart, soul, and mind, and...

      ✞     the outer self strength.
•    “…in all your ways…” – This is everything that comes out 
     of our mind, heart, soul, and strength – everything out 
     of our whole being – every thought, word, and action!
•    “…acknowledge Him…” – It sounds like a nodding acquaintance,
     to just acknowlege Him. Far from it! Acknowledge in Hebrew 
     is ידע (pronounced yaw-dah’). There are so many definitions 
     for the word in Greek dictionaries, it might help if we 
     listed how other Bible versions translate it:
In all your ways give ear to Him...” 
           (Bible in Basic English).

Always let Him lead you...” 
           (Contemporary English Version).

     In all your ways think on Him...” 
           (1899 Douay-Rheims Bible).

With every step you take, think about what 
           He wants...” (Easy-to-Read Version).

     Remember the LORD in everything you do...” 
           (Good News Bible).

     In all thy ways know thou Him...” 
           (1898 Young’s Literal Translation). 

Realizing God is with us in everything we do, say, or think, we must not lean on our own understanding (see the last Gem), but we must instead let Him lead us…

•     “…and He shall direct your paths.” There are many paths 
      we might take, but only one right way! That one is the 
      One! For Jesus said in Matthw 7:13 and 14:
           Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate 
           and broad is the way that leads to destruction, 
           and there are many who go in by it. Because 
           narrow is the gate and difficult is the way 
           which leads to life, and there are few who 
           find it.  

      That broad way is the wrong way, comprised of the many 
      ways people try to connect with God.  But they all lead 
      to destruction! (See Proverbs 14:12; 16:25).  The narrow 
      gate is Jesus, the only right way!  As He said in John 
      10:10, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one 
      comes to the Father except through Me.

Follow Proverbs 3:5 and 6! You will not go wrong!