Don’t Neglect the Blessings! – III

I Corinthians 10:6-11

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

The Apostle Paul wrote in I Corinthians 10:6 through 11 that the Israelites…lusted…after evil things…” (verse 6) as they trekked through the Sinai wilderness for forty years!

Here is our featured Scripture:

Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.” Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. (I Corinthians 10:6-11).

In verses 7 through 10, Paul names four ways their lust was manifested:

  • Verse 7 – They became idolaters!
  • Verse 8 – They committed sexual immorality!
  • Verse 9 – They tempted Christ!
  • Verse 10 – They complained about Moses and God!

We covered the first two in the last Gem. Let’s go on:

  • The artist rendering above depicts the third way the Israelites lust was manifested: the people tempted Christ. (I Corinthians 10:9). The incident is found in Numbers 21:4 through 9 (Good News Bible):
The Israelites...lost their patience and spoke against God and Moses. They com-plained, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt to die in this desert, where there is no food or water? We can't stand any more of [manna] this miserable food!” Then the LORD sent poisonous snakes among the people, and many Israelites were bitten and died. The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the LORD and against you. Now pray to the LORD to take these snakes away.” So Moses prayed for the peo-ple. Then the LORD told Moses to make a metal snake and put it on a pole, so that anyone who was bitten could look at it and be healed. So Moses made a bronze snake and put it on a pole. Anyone who had been bit-ten would look at the bronze snake and be healed. 

✡ There is no count given of the number of Israelites who died before the bronze snake was raised up, or who refused to even ... look and be healed...! (verse 9).

✡ We are only told, “...many Israelites were bitten and died.” (Verse 6).

One might question, “How could they …tempt Christ…in the Old Testament?” In Don’t Neglect the Blessings! – I, Paul wrote in I Corinthians 10:4: “For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.” If the apostle saw Christ in the smitten rock that brought forth water (see Exodus 17:3-6; 20:8-11), why wouldn’t he see the Israelites tempting Christ in the incident of the fiery serpents? (see John 3:14, 15).

The fourth way the Israelites lusted is reported in I Corinthians 10:10. “…some of them also murmured….” Numbers 13 and 14 tells of the murmuring, disobedience, and outright rebellion of God’s people:

✡  Twelve men, one from each of Israel’s tribes, were sent “...from the wilderness of Paran...” (Numbers 13:3) “...to spy out the land of Canaan...” (Numbers 13:2), “... to search out the land...and bring back word...of the way by which [the Israelites] ...should go up, and of the cities into which [they]...shall come.” (Deuteronomy 1:22).

✡ But ten of the twelve men brought back...a bad report...saying, ‘The land... devours its inhabitants, and...we saw... giants...of great stature....and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and ...in their sight.’” (Numbers 13:32, 33).

✡ “And all...Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron, and...said to them, ‘If only we had died in...Egypt! Or...in this wilder-ness! ...Would it not be better...to return to Egypt? ...Let us select a leader and return to Egypt.’” (Numbers 14:1-4).

✡ “...Joshua...and...Caleb...” (Numbers 14:6) were the only men sent out to come back and give a good report of the land of Canaan. They tried to encourage their fellow Israelites: “...the land...it's very good. If we obey...the LORD...will surely give us that...rich...land.... So don't rebel. We have no reason to be afraid.... The LORD is on our side, ...they won't stand a chance against us!” (Numbers 14:6-9 – Contemporary English Version).

Moses interceded for the people: “Pardon the iniquity of this people...as You have forgiven...from Egypt...until now.” And God “...pardoned [the Israelites]...according to...[Moses’] word.” (Numbers 14:20).

✡ But the Israelites still paid an awful price for their rebellion!

...the LORD said, “...they...shall not
see the land [of Canaan]....your car-
casses...shall be consumed, and...die
...who have murmured against Me....In
this wilderness...you shall bear your
guilt...[for] forty years...according
to the number of days in which you
spied out the land, forty days, for
each day...one year...until you...
are consumed...all of you who were
numbered...from twenty years old and
above.” (Numbers 14:23, 27, 29, 33-35).

➔ “...they were destroyed by the
Angel of Death.
” (I Corinthians
10:10 – Good News Bible).

➔ From the census taken in Num-
bers chapter 1: “...all who
were numbered of the children
of Israel...from twenty years
old and above...who were able
to go to war...were...six hun-
dred and three thousand five
hundred and fifty.” (Numbers
1:45, 46). This means 603,548
Israelites died in the wilder-
ness of Sinai, and never enter-
ed God’s Promised Land! (the
full census number of 603,550
minus Caleb and Joshuasee
Numbers 14:38).

In review (from I Corinthians 10:6 through 10), Paul warned the Christians of Corinth (and us!): Do not…lust after evil things…! (I Corinthians 10:6).

  • …do not become idolators…!
  • …do not…commit sexual immorality…!
  • …do not…tempt Christ…!
  • …do not…murmur…against God or His leaders!

There will be one more Gem in this series, Don’t Neglect the Blessings!

Don’t Neglect the Blessings! – II

I Corinthians 10:6-11

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

In the last Gem, we saw the four miracles the Apostle Paul referenced in I Corinthians 10:1 through 4, miracles that delivered the Israelites from Egyptian domination and sent them on their way to the Promised Land of Canaan:

  • Verse 1 – “…all our fathers were under the cloud….The cloud is described in Exodus 13:21 and 22, and Exodus 40:36: “…the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud…and by night in a pillar of fire…to lead the way….He did not take away the pillar…from before the people…in all their journeys.
  • Verse 1 – “…all our fathers…passed through the sea [the Red Sea]….
✡  “...the LORD said to Moses, ‘...lift up your rod...and divide the sea.... And the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.’...So... Israel went into...the sea... and the wat-ers were a wall...on their right ...and left.” (Exodus 14:15, 16, 22).

✡ “And the Egyptians pursued and went after them...and...the LORD said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand...’ ...and...the sea returned to its full depth....So the LORD overthrew the Egyptians....Not so much as one of them remained.” (Exodus 14:23, 26-28).
  • Verse 3 – “…all ate the same spiritual food….” This miracle was the provision of manna, described in Exodus 16:13, 14, and 31 (Good News Bible):
...in the morning there was dew all around the camp. When the dew evaporated, there was something thin and flaky on the surface of the desert....When the Israelites saw it, they didn't know what it was and asked each other, “What is it?” Moses said to them, “This is the food that the LORD has given you to eat.” ...The people of Israel called the food manna. It was like a small white seed, and tasted like thin cakes made with honey. 
  • Verse 4 – “…all drank the same spiritual drink….
✡  The miracle of spiritual drink is des-
cribed in Exodus 17:3 through 6 (Eng-
lish Standard Version):

...the people thirsted...for water,
and...grumbled against Moses..., “Why
did you bring us up out of Egypt, to
kill us and our children and our live-
stock with thirst?” So...the LORD said
to Moses, “...[take] with you...the
staff with which you struck the Nile,
and go. Behold, I will stand before
you there on the rock at Horeb, and
you shall strike the rock, and water
shall come out of it, and the people
will drink.”

Paul goes on to say in verse 4 that the
struck rock that poured out water signi-
fied the presence of the pre-incarnate
Jesus Christ!For they drank of that
spiritual Rock that followed them, and
that Rock was Christ.

Let’s go on to our featured Scripture for this Gem, I Corinthians 10:6 through 11:

Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.” Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

Despite of all of God’s miracles, The Israelites…lusted…after evil things…! (I Corinthians 10:6). What did they do?

  • I Corinthians 10:7 – “…some of them… [had] become idolaters….” Their most flagrant idolatry was the making of the golden calf – recorded in Exodus 32:1 through 6:
Moses was forty days on the mountain 
receiving the law of God!

✡ The Israelites lost patience: “When
the people saw that Moses delayed
coming down from the mountain, they
gathered around Aaron. They said to
him, ‘We don't know what has happen-
ed to this Moses, who led us out of
Egypt. Make gods who will lead us.’
(Exodus 32:1 – God’s Word to the
nations).

✡ “Aaron said to the people, ‘Bring me
the gold earrings that belong to your
wives, sons, and daughters.’” (Exodus
32:2 – Easy-to-Read Version).

✡ “...then he melted them and made an
idol in the shape of a young bull.
All the people said to one another,
‘This is the god who brought us out
of Egypt!’” (Exodus 32:4 – Contem-
porary English Version).

✡ “When Aaron saw what was happening,
he built an altar in front of the
idol and said, ‘Tomorrow we will
celebrate in honor of the LORD.’
(Exodus 32:5 – Contemporary English
Version).
  • I Corinthians 10:8 – “…some of them committed sexual immorality…” (Lexham English Bible).
✡  “...the next morning they brought 
some animals to burn as sacrifices
and others to eat....The people
sat down to a feast, which turned
into an orgy of drinking and sex.
(Exodus 32:6 – Good News Bible).

✡ Later, “...the children of Israel
...camped in the plains of Moab on
the [eastern] side of the Jordan
across from Jericho...” (Numbers
22:1).

➔ “...Balak the king of Moab
...” (Numbers 23:7) hired
the false prophet Balaam to
...come and curse Israel...
for me.” (Numbers 23:7 –
International Standard Ver-
sion).

➔ God would not allow Balaam
to curse Israel. Instead of
cursing the people of the
LORD, he shared a devious
plan with King Balak!
The
plan was as Jesus described
it in Revelation 2:14, “...
Balaam...taught Balak to put
a stumbling block before the
children of Israel, to eat
things sacrificed to idols,
and to commit sexual immoral-
ity.


➔ The Moabites ‘attacked’ them
with two weapons: “...eat
things sacrificed to idols,
and...commit sexual immoral-
ity.
  • How did God punish them for their “…lust after evil things…? (I Corinthians 10:6).
✡  “The plague broke out among them...
And those who died in the plague
were twenty-four thousand.
(Psalm 106:29; Numbers 25:9).

➔ But Paul, in I Corinthians
10:8 puts the number at “...
twenty-three thousand....

➔ How is this discrepancy re-
solved?

✡ “...1,000 men were slain in conse-
quence of the examination instituted
[see Numbers 25:4], and 23,000 in
consequence of the orders given [see
Numbers 25:5]; making 24,000 in the
whole. St. Paul [in I Corinthians
10:8] probably refers only to the
latter number.” (Adam Clark’s Commen-
tary on the Bible).

There are two more areas where God punished the Israelites for their disobedience, tempting the LORD, and murmuring against Him. But we will cover those in the next Gem.

Don’t Neglect the Blessings! – I

I Corinthians 10:1-5

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

It was one of the greatest miracles recorded in the Old Testament! Up to three million Hebrew slaves marched out of Egypt under the leadership of Moses!

  • Later, “…a census of…every male…from twenty years old and above…” (Numbers 1:2, 3) revealed that there were “…six hundred and three thousand five hundred and fifty…who were able to go to war in Israel…” (Numbers 1:45, 46).
  • Including the women, children, adolescents, and older men, the number of Israelites could have easily reached three million!

God led this multitude to the edge of the Red Sea. (Many scholars think that the Red Sea reference is actually the southern arm of Lake Menzaleh, a large body of water connected to the Meditteranean Sea on Egypt’s coast.)

  • That is when “…the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians marched after them. So they were very afraid…” (Exodus 14:10).
  • But Moses quieted them, “Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD….For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see them again no more forever. The LORD will fight for you…” (Exodus 14:13, 14).
  • …the LORD said to Moses, ‘…lift up your rod…and divide the sea…. And the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.’ …So…Israel went into…the sea…and the waters were a wall…on their right…and left.” (Exodus 14:15, 16, 22).
  • And the Egyptians pursued and went after them…and…the LORD said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand…’ …and…the sea returned to its full depth….So the LORD overthrew the Egyptians….Not so much as one of them remained.” (Exodus 14:23, 26-28).

This is just one of the miracles that the Apostle Paul mentions in I Corinthians 10:1 through 5 (our featured Scripture):

Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to 
be unaware that all our fathers
[the Is-
raelites referenced above] were under the
cloud, all passed through the sea, all
were baptized into Moses in the cloud and
the sea, all ate the same spiritual food,
and all drank of that spiritual Rock that
followed them, and that Rock was Christ.
But with most of them God was not well
pleased, for their bodies were scattered
in the wilderness.

Paul references three other miracles here that the LORD performed for the children of Israel:

  • I Corinthians 10:2 – “…all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea….” This is the first of the three miracles (We have already covered the sea above).
✡  The cloud is described in Exodus 
13:21 and 22, and Exodus 40:36:
...the LORD went before them by
day in a pillar of cloud...and by
night in a pillar of fire...to
lead the way....He did not take
away the pillar...from before the
people...in all their journeys.


Why does Paul express these two
experiences as “...being baptized
into Moses...”?

➔ In Strong’s Greek Dictionary,
baptized is the past tense of
the Greek word, βαπτίζω (pro-
nounced bap-tid’-zo) meaning,
“...to make [over]whelmed
(that is, fully wet)....”

The Israelites followed Moses
who led them (baptized them)
through the Red Sea and in-
structed them to closely fol-
low God’s cloud.
  • I Corinthians 10:3 – “…all ate the same spiritual food….” The second miracle involves spiritual food because it was sent by God six days a week to feed the entire nation!
✡  Here is how it is described in Exodus 
16:13 and 14, and 31 (Good News Bible):

...in the morning there was dew all
around the camp. When the dew evapo-
rated, there was something thin and
flaky on the surface of the desert
....When the Israelites saw it, they
didn't know what it was and asked
each other, “What is it?” Moses said
to them, “This is the food that the
LORD has given you to eat.” ...The
people of Israel called the food
manna. It was like a small white
seed, and tasted like thin cakes
made with honey.

Manna is called...

➔ ...in Psalm 78:25,“...angels’
food....

➔ ...in Psalm 105:40,“...the
bread of heaven....

According to the quartermaster general
in the army, it is reported that Moses
would have to have 1,500 tons of food
each day. It would take two freight
trains, each a mile long, to feed that
many people – every day!” (From www.
sermon cen-tral.com/sermon-illustra-
tions/84125/the-daily-needs-of-israel-
in-the-wilderness).
  • I Corinthians 10:4 – “…all drank the same spiritual drink….” This third miracle is described in Exodus 17:3 through 6 (English Standard Version):
   ...the people thirsted...for water, 
and...grumbled against Moses...,
“Why did you bring us up out of
Egypt, to kill us and our children
and our livestock with thirst?” So
Moses cried to the LORD, “What shall
I do with this people? They are al-
most ready to stone me.” And the
LORD said to Moses, “...[take] with
you...the staff with which you
struck the Nile, and go. Behold, I
will stand before you there on the
rock at Horeb, and you shall strike
the rock, and water shall come out
of it, and the people will drink.”

✡ Paul, under the inspiration of the
Holy Spirit, interprets the struck
rock that poured out water this way
in I Corinthians 10:4: “For they
drank of that spiritual Rock that
followed them, and that Rock was
Christ.

✞ Jesus, in five New Testament passages,
is referred to as a stone or a rock:

➔ Matthew 16:16 through 18 – “Jesus
answered and said to...Simon Peter
...‘...you are Peter, and on this

rock I will build My church, and
the gates of Hades shall not pre-
vail against it.’

➔ Matthew 21:42 and 44 – “Jesus
[referring to Himself] said to
[the chief priest and elders]...
Did you never read in the Scrip-
tures: ‘The stone which the
builders rejected has become the
chief cornerstone...? ...whoever
falls on this stone will be bro-
ken; but on whomsoever it falls,
it will grind him to powder.

(see also Mark 12:10; Luke 20:17,
18; Acts 4:11; I Peter 2:4-8).

By the way, Moses and Aaron got into trouble bringing forth water a second time in “…the wilderness of Zin…” (Numbers 20:1).

  • God told Moses to “Speak to the rock…and it will yield its water…for [the Israelites]…and their animals.” (Numbers 20:8).
  • Moses took the staff…. Then Moses and Aaron…said to…the assembly… before the rock, ‘Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?’ …Moses struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly….” (Numbers 20:9-11 – English Standard Version).
  • Because of their disobedience, both of these leaders of the Israelites were not allowed to lead them into the Promised Land of Canaan!

These two ‘water out of the rock’ incidents point to a profound truth concerning Jesus Christ:

  • The first time, the rock was struck to bring forth the blessing of cleansing and quenching water. Jesus wasstruckonly once when He suffered and died to bring forth the blessing of salvation to those who believe in Him, “…that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10).
  • At one time you were far away from God and were his enemies because of the evil things you did and thought. But now, by means of the physical death of his Son, God has made you his friends, in order to bring you, holy, pure, and faultless, into his presence.” (Colossians 1:21, 22 – Good News Bible).
✞  Jesus does not need to be struck 
(crucified) again! (see Hebrews
9:24-28).

Having given us eternal redemption,
all we have to do now to receive
His blessing is just speak to Him!

Ask, and you will receive,
that your joy may be full.

(John 16:24).

We will continue this study in the next Gem.

Garments

Isaiah 61:10

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

The Bible says quite a bit about garments!

We will start by looking at the garment Jesus wore on the Mount of Transfiguration.…after six days, Jesus took Peter, James, and John…brought them up on a high mountain…and was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.” (Matthew 17:1 and 2).

  • This is a preview of how He will appear as He reigns over the whole earth! (see Luke 1:33).
  • It is also a bit of a preview of the transformation that Jesus will accomplish in His followers when He returns, for “…we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” (I John 3:2).

Now, in an unseen but true spiritual sense, we are already clothed with pure white garments when we accept the Son of God as our Savior!

  • In Isaiah 1:18, the LORD Almighty makes this declaration:Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” It doesn’t matter the extent of our sins. He washes us clean of our transgressions when we trust in Him!
  • In II Corinthians 5:21 Paul describes this transaction this way: “For He [the Father] made Him [the Son] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Zechariah 3:1 through 5 presents a dramatic picture of this spiritual transaction:

Then he showed me Joshua the high priest 
standing before the Angel of the Lord, and
Satan standing at his right hand to oppose
him. And the Lord said to Satan, “The Lord
rebuke you, Satan! The Lord who has chosen
Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand
plucked from the fire?” Now Joshua was
clothed with filthy garments, and was

standing before the Angel. Then He answer-
ed and spoke to those who stood before Him,
saying, “Take away the filthy garments
from him." And to him He said, "See, I
have removed your iniquity from you, and
I will clothe you with rich robes” ...they
put a clean turban on his head, and they
put the clothes on him.
  • Joshua was the high priest of the Jews! He was, from a human point of view, the most righteous person in all the Israelite kingdom!
✡   Yet, as he was appraised before God, 
who is absolutely holy, Joshua, the
high priest, was clothed in the rags
of sin!

✡ Spiritually speaking, like all the rest
who wish to abide in the LORD’s pre-
sence, he needed a spiritual change of
garments to be acceptable to God!
  • What about you and me? We all fit the description found in Isaiah 64:6: “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags [before God]; and we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
If...our righteousnesses...,” the 
very best we can do, “...are like fil-
thy rags...in the sight of our holy
God, what do our sins look like to Him?

✡ Is it any wonder that we also need a
change of our spiritual garments?

Isaiah 61:10 (our featured Scripture) describes this change, and the joy of being dressed before the LORD in clean clothes!

I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my 
soul shall be joyful in my God; for He
has clothed me with the garments of sal-
vation, He has covered me with the robe
of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks
himself with ornaments, and as a bride
adorns herself with jewels.

What a blessing,
What a joy
to be clean
before the Heavenly Father!

I will close this Gem describing seven words from Ephesians 1:6 that have meant so much to me: “…He has made us accepted in the Beloved.

  • Dressed in the garment of righteousness of the Son of God, I am totally accepted by my holy and righteous Heavenly Father!
✞   It is nothing that I have done or 
could ever do to deserve this bles-
sing!

✞ It is the gift of God...

...the gift of salvation and eter-
nal life that Jesus procured for

me and for all humanity! (see
I Timothy 2:4; 4:10)

It was purchased by His suffering,
dying on the cross, and rising
again from death to live forever!

✞ I have simply received it all by faith,
believing that my Savior did it for ME!
  • And now, clothed in His garment of righteousness, I am…accepted in the Beloved…!

As much as the Father accepts the Son…
…I am that accepted in Him!

Won’t you join others who have had a divine change of garments?

  • Come to the Lord Jesus Christ, and confess your sins and your need for Him!
  • Experience the humbling joy of the change of garments God is so willing to give you!

Can These Bones Live?

Ezekiel 37:1-14

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

The prophet Ezekiel had quite a divine experience, recorded in Ezekiel 37:1 through 14. Was it an actual transport by the Holy Spirit, or a God-given vision? Most commentators agree it was a vision; for this spokesman of God was given multiple visions!

  • Here is how verses 1 and 2 describe the opening scene:
The hand of the LORD came upon me and 
brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD,
and set me down in the midst of the val-
ley; and it was full of bones. Then He
caused me to pass by them all around, and
behold, there were very many...and indeed
they were very dry.”
  • We learn later in verse 11 that God told Ezekiel, “…these bones are the whole house of Israel. [The Jews]…say, ‘Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!They had been conquered by Nebuchadnezzar’s army and deported to Babylon for 70 years because of their unfaithfulness to the LORD.

But God gave a message of hope in verses 12 through 14 – hope that Ezekiel was to deliver to all the dispirited Israelites in Babylon:

Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, O My peo-
ple, I will open your graves and cause you
to come up from your graves and bring you
into the land of Israel. Then you shall
know that I am the LORD, when I have open-
ed your graves, O My people, and brought
you up from your graves. I will put My
Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I
will place you in your own land.

What did it take for the dry bones to become the living soldiers of a large army? For if the prophet had only seen dead and dry bones in this vision, there would be no reason to hope! Even God’s very words in the Scripture above would lose their impact!

So in Ezekiel 37:4 through 10 the LORD added these powerful scenes to the vision:

Again He said to [Ezekiel]...“Prophesy to 
these bones...‘O dry bones, hear the word
of the LORD! ...“Surely I will cause breath
to enter into you, and you shall live. I
will put sinews...and flesh upon you, cover
you with skin and put breath in you; and
you shall live. Then you shall know that I
am the LORD.”’” (Ezekiel 37:4-6).

So I prophesied as I was commanded; and...
there was...suddenly a rattling; and the
bones came together, bone to bone. Indeed,
as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came
upon them, and the skin covered them over;
but there was no breath in them. (Ezekiel)
37:7, 8).

Then He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath
...and say...‘Thus says the LORD God: “Come
...O breath, and breath on these slain,
that they may live.”’” (Ezekiel 37:9).

So I prophesied as He commanded me, and
breath came into them, and they lived, and
they stood upon their feet, an exceedingly
great army. (Ezekiel 37:10).

Note of interpretation:…breath…” is translated from the Hebrew word רוּחַ (pronounced roo ’-akh) and meaning, “…wind, breath, mind, spirit…” (Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Definitions). In two literal translations plus four others of the thirteen versions I have on my computer application, e-Sword, roo ’-akh is translated “…Spirit….” So God is commanding Ezekiel, “Prophesy to the Spirit. Prophesy, son of man, and say to the Spirit, So says the Lord Jehovah: Come from the four winds, O Spirit, and breathe on these slain ones, that they may live.” (Ezekiel 37:9 – Literal Interpretation of the Holy Bible).

The Israelites then had hope once again that God would…

  • …give them life in God’s presence!
  • …restore them to their own homeland!
  • …revive their spirit with His Spirit in them!
  • …make them to know and obey Him!

The fulfillment of God’s promises through Ezekiel in chapter 37 are now only in part. This vision will not be totally fulfilled until, as Paul wrote in Romans 11:26, “…all Israel will be saved.

What about today and the problems of our own society in this country?

  • When you consider Ezekiel’s opening vision of a valley full of dry dead bones, could it be applied to us in the USA?
  • Have you been thinking that the best days of America are behind us?
  • Do the events that are happening in our society and the world seem like we are heading toward destruction?
  • Does it have you wondering, is there any hope for this once great country, the United States?

Dear people…

  • If God could restore dead Israel to vibrant life, could He not also do the same for our dry bones today?
  • If the LORD has sent the Holy Spirit in powerful revivals in the past, does He not have the power to revive us again?

There is still the promise that God gave to Solomon almost three thousand years ago, and it is still valid today:If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (II Chronicles 7:14).

Will You not revive us again,
that Your people may rejoice in You?
Show us Your mercy, O LORD,
and grant us Your salvation.

(Psalm 85:6, 7)

Cardiosclerosis – III

Mark 6:51, 52

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

Rock hard hearts! How does it happen? It is said one can learn much of the spiritual world by observing the natural physical world. So let’s take an illustration from the natural physical world. In this case, I will use my own experience.

  • In high school I played four years of football – hard-hitting, full-tilt football! Three of my four high school years I was on the varsity team as an offensive and defensive lineman. My sophomore year I was scrimmaging with and against Juniors and Seniors who were bigger, stronger, and more experienced than I was. But by my Senior year, the big guy was me (weighing in at about 220. And I was strong (the champion weight-lifter in our school). There were a few varsity team members of other schools we played against that were bigger and maybe stronger than I was, but I was serious about football and played with all my might!
✔  As a varsity lineman my spine took a beating...

...on offense, I pushed open lanes
for our running backs, and I blocked
onrushing defense opponents!


...on defense, I manhandled offensive
linemen, and I tackled runners try-
ing to charge through!


I’m sure my lifting of heavy weights also compressed my spine!
  • I was in the Air Force, stationed in New York State at Saratoga Springs Radar Site. In May of 1967, I was riding my 500 BMW motorcycle in heavy traffic when a dog ran out to chase a car pulling a trailered boat coming from the opposite direction. I saw that the animal had cleared my lane of the road so I continued, keeping up with the flow of traffic at about 50 mph. But the dog, with its eyes still on the retreating boat, suddenly turned and ran right into the path of my motorcycle just a few feet in front of me!
With no time to brake, I hit the animal broadside and flew over the handlebars!

I remember hitting the road and then gaining my feet, but I was turned backward and moving quickly! Both the heels of my boots were torn off!

My body tumbled down the road at high speed. I fell to the pavement on my back, my helmeted head hitting the surface so hard that my helmet cracked up the back! I was knocked unconscious! If it wasn’t for the helmet taking the shock of hitting the road, I believe I would have split my skull open and died on the spot!

✓ I came to rest in the middle of the road about 100 feet from where I hit the dog! The motorcycle slid about another 25 feet but stayed in the road.

I was wearing a leather belt about an inch and a half in width. The belt snapped in three places at once, the torque on my body was so great!

A sergeant from the radar site where I was stationed lived nearby and was one of the first people on the scene. I briefly came to and saw this sergeant’s face looking down at me. It came to my befuddled mind that I had died! But I didn’t know where I was at that moment, in heaven or hell! Sorry, Sarge!

I was rushed to the hospital a few miles away. It was determined that I miraculously had no broken bones, but the strains and stresses on my muscles, nerves, ligaments, and tendons were so severe that it took me half an hour that first night in the hospital to roll from my back to my side!

Between football injuries, a severe motorcycle accident, and other misfortunes, my back, especially in the lumbar region, has taken a beating! And it has given me many problems over the years!

  • I started having extremely painful back spasms at about age 27. The first one put me in the hospital for a week! The spasms lasted on and off for years, until my first lumbar surgery. But the general lower back pain remained and increased!
  • I have had six spinal surgeries:
✔  I fell, breaking a vertebra in my neck, but I didn’t know it until the nerve from my neck to my right hand inflamed! The pain was unbearable! The doctor diagnosed my injury as “double-crush syndrome,” damaging both ends of the nerve running from my cervical spinal cord to my right hand. 

➔ I had carpal tunnel surgery on my
right wrist.

➔ I underwent cervical spine surgery
where a disk and bone chips were
removed. The vertebrae fused natur-
ally – but I have a stiff neck!

✔ My next surgery was a lumbar laminec-tomy, where the lamina (the back portion of the vertebrae) is removed to make more room for the spinal cord. In my case, spinal stenosis (arthritis) was constricting the nerve root openings for the nerves to my legs. I was losing feeling in my feet and lower legs (more about this in a moment). After removing the lamina, the surgeon enlarged the nerve root open-ings in the vertebrae to relieve the constriction.

But a laminectomy tends to destabilize the decapitatedvertebrae! So about four years later I underwent the fusion of three vertebrae of the lumbar region! It entailed installing metal supports, screws, and cadaver bone material!

✔ Three more surgeries were minor compared to the first three. I had spinal stimulator wires implanted in my spinal column to deal with the pain!

➔ The first surgery was implanting
test wires to see if I was a can-
didate for permanent implantation.

The second surgery was the implant-
ing of permanent stimulation wires
in the spinal column,
and placing
a rechargeable battery under the
skin just above my beltline.

✔ I was trying to be careful to let scar tissue grow over the next six weeks to hold the wires in place, but both wires slipped, the left one enough to be ineffective! So a third surgery was necessary to remove the two wires and implant new stimulation wires!
  • As I now am traversing my senior years, the problems with my spine have increased, especially the pain in my lumbar area!

One Thanksgiving evening before my lumbar surgeries, I was hospitalized with increasing numbness in my feet and lower legs. Tests showed the problem was that the lumbar nerve roots of nerves to my lower extremities were being pinched!

  • I was tested to determine the level of numbness in my feet:
Right foot – eighty percent loss of feeling!

Left foot – fifty percent loss of feeling!
  • From the toes of each foot up toward the knees the numbness decreases

Even after the laminectomy, fusion, and spinal stimulator implants, the numbness has never gone away! It has been over 25 years since the nerves were damaged, and I have learned to live with it. However, I have to be careful. Twice I have dropped something heavy on my right big toe breaking the bone! But with major numbness especially in the toes, it didn’t hurt, so I thought my toe was fine!

How does all this relate to cardiosclerosis?

  • I was hardly aware of spinal damage caused by the first few injuries from weight lifting and football. I was young, in good physical shape, and healed quickly with no lingering pain.
  • The motorcycle accident resulted in more serious damage. But I was 21 years old, and in about two weeks I healed quite well and was soon riding my repaired motorcycle again.
  • But the cumulative effect of spinal abuse and injuries have so affected me that now, in my seventies, I have constant pain, walk with a limp, and I am under regular chiropractic and other medical and pain care!

I have tried to give myself as an example of repeatedly abusing my body. The injuries took a while to catch up with me but, indeed, they have! If I had realized the consequences years ago, I would not have to face my senior years in constant pain!

Can you begin to see the spiritual lesson in what I have related? I advise you to read again the last Gem, Cardiosclerosis – II, concerning the warning Wisdom (the Holy Spirit) gives!

Don’t keep refusing to respond
to the Lord`s leading!

  • God initially calls you to accept Jesus as your Savior! He died bearing your sins and mine! He ever lives to receive those who come to Him by faith believing! He forgives your sins and gives you eternal life, sealing you with the Holy Spirit!
  • Christian, if God is calling you to respond to His will instead of your own, just say, Yes, Lord.Consider the example the perfect One left us just before He suffered and died: Father, if it is Your will, remove this cup [of suffering] from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42).

The physical body can only take so much
abuse before the pain sets in!

The heart can only endure so much
of rejecting God’s call before it hardens!

Cardiosclerosis – II

Proverbs 1:20-33

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

Cardiosclerosis is a medical condition that describes the hardening of the heart! But it is also a spiritual condition according to Proverbs 1:20 through 33. These fourteen verses are too long to reproduce here, but I will highlight some of the spiritual concerns about which the author, King Solomon is warning his readers. One of the main features of the book of Proverbs concerns wisdom.

  • Here is how Solomon begins his treatise – verses 1 through 4:
The proverbs of Solomon....To know wisdom 
and instruction, to perceive...understand-
ing, to receive the instruction of wisdom,
justice, judgment, and equity; to give
prudence to the simple, to the young man
knowledge and discretion....
  • Starting in verse 20 of chapter one, wisdom takes on the personification of a living being! And that personification in the Old Testament is often equated to the third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit!

So it is with Proverbs 1:20 through 34. As you read ‘wisdom’ in this Proverbs abridged passage, think ‘Holy Spirit.

  • Verses 20 through 23 – “Wisdom calls aloud outside….she speaks her words….How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity…[and] hate knowledge…? …Turn at my reproof….
  • Verses 24 through 27 – “Because you disdained all my counsel…I also will laugh at your calamity…when your terror comes like a storm…when distress and anguish come upon you.
  • Verses 28 through 30 – “Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently, but will not find me…they hated knowledge and did not fear the LORD, they would have none of my counsel and despised all my reproof….
  • Verses 31 and 32 – “Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way…their own fancies. For the turning away of the simple will slay them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them.
  • Verse 33 – “But whoever listens to me shall dwell safely, and will be secure without fear of evil.

I challenge you to read two early Gems from September 13th and 16th, 2013, entitled “Sealed From Beneath!” and “Almost Sealed From Beneath!” They are based on the Holy Spirit as depicted in Proverbs 1:20 through 34.

The last Gem featured Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who was so hard-hearted that it cost him dearly, even the lives of Egypt’s firstborn, all his soldiers, and most likely even his own life as he led his army to re-enslave the Israelites. But such a hard-hearted condition is not confined to the Old Testament!

In the four decades after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, the gospel was proclaimed across the Roman Empire and beyond. The Book of Hebrews was most likely written to Jewish Christians in Rome in the last half of the 60’s of the first century, as persecution was escalating and the temple was still standing.

  • But in light of the growing intolerance against the followers of Jesus (Emperor Nero’s persecution started in AD 64), there was a strong temptation of Hebrew Christians to leave the faith and go back to the relative safety of Judaism.
  • So the author of Hebrews warns these Jewish believers:
Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of 
you an evil heart of unbelief in departing
from the living God; but exhort one another
daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any
of you be hardened through the deceitful-
ness of sin. For we have become partakers
of Christ if we hold the beginning of our
confidence steadfast to the end, while it
is said: “Today, if you will hear His
voice, do not harden your hearts as in the
rebellion.” (Hebrews 3:12-15).
  • To what is the author of Hebrews referring in his quote of verse 15 about the rebellion? It was concerning the Israelites, “…who came out of Egypt, led by Moses…with whom …[God] was angry forty years…who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness…to whom…He [swore]…they would not enter into His rest…because of unbelief.” (Hebrews 3:16-19).
✡   Read through Exodus and Numbers 
and you will see how rebellious the
Israelites were as they escaped Egypt
and eventually came to the Promised
Land of Canaan!


Rebellion finally sealed the death
of all but two of the adult Israelites
as they wandered forty years in the
Sinai desert!


➔ They had camped at the wilder-
ness of Paran from which God sent
twelve men into Canaan to spy out
the land they would occupy.

➔ Ten of the men brought back a
negative report of the land that
discouraged the encamped Israelites:

❏ “The land...devours its in-
habitants...! (Numbers 13:32).

❏ “...the people whom we saw
...are men of great stature...
giants...”! (Numbers 13:32).

❏ “We are not able to go up
against the people, for they
are stronger than we.” (Numbers
13:31).

➔ “Then all the congregation lifted
up their voices and cried...‘If only
we had died in...Egypt! Or...in this
wilderness! Why has the LORD brought
us to this land...? ...Let us select a
leader and return to Egypt.’” (Numbers
14:1-4).

These were the ones to whom the author
of Hebrews was referring!

These were the ones who had hardened
their hearts beyond repair!

“Today, if you will hear His voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

(Hebrews 3:15).

Do not miss out on that final place of rest
God has for His children!
Don’t harden your heart
against His call to follow His Son!

There will be one more Gem concerning Cardiosclerosis!

Cardiosclerosis – I

Romans 2:4, 5

(Good News Bible)

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

You have probably heard of a condition called hardening of the arteries. The technical name is arteriosclerosis. This happens when the inner two layers of an artery thicken, restricting blood flow from the heart to other parts of the body. Arteriosclerosis is usually found in people over 50, although it can occur earlier due to certain conditions such as kidney disease.

I once preached a sermon entitled “Cardiosclerosis,” meaning “hardening of the heart!

  • Cardio – from the Greek word καρδία, (pronounced kar-dee’-ah) meaning “…the heart, that is, (figuratively) the thoughts or feelings (mind)…” (Strong’s Greek Dictionary).
  • Sclerosis – from the Greek word σκληρύνω (pronounced sklay-roo’-no) meaning “…to make hard, harden…(metaphorically)…to become obstinate or stubborn…” (Thayer’s Greek Definitions).

I thought I was quite clever in inventing a new word, ‘cardiosclerosis’ that fit “…a hard and stubborn heart…” (Romans 2:5 – Good News Bible). But according to the mayoclinic.org website, ‘cardiosclerosisis an actual medical term! According to the online Merriam Webster Medical Dictionary, cardiosclerosis is the “…induration [hardening] of the heart caused by formation of fibrous tissue in the cardiac muscle….” (www.merriam-webster.com/medical/ cardiosclerosis).

But whether I made it up or it is an actual medical condition, it is still a good word! And it fits what Paul is describing in our featured Scripture, Romans 2:4 and 5 (Good News Bible). According to three verses before, the apostle is addressing those who condemn others for grievously sinning, but are committing the same kind of sins! Here are verses 4 and 5:

Do you think you will escape God's judg-
ment? Or perhaps you despise His great
kindness, tolerance, and patience. Surely
you know that God is kind, because He is
trying to lead you to repent. But you have
a hard and stubborn heart, and so you are
making your own punishment even greater on
the Day when God's anger and righteous
judgments will be revealed.

A person with …a hard and stubborn heart…: that is what Paul is describing! What are some of the characteristics of such a person?

  • That one despises “…[God’s] great kindness, tolerance, and patience.” (Romans 2:4 – Good News Bible).
✞   How great is God's kindness? Paul, in his epistle to Titus, explains it this way: 

...the kindness and the love of God
toward man appeared, not by works of
righteousness which we have done, but
according to His mercy He saved us,
through the washing of regeneration
and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom
He poured out on us abundantly through
Jesus Christ our Savior, that having
been justified by His grace we should
become heirs according to the hope of
eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7).

✞ How much tolerance does God have? In Ephesians 4:2 and 3 (International Standard Version) the apostle writes, “...accept...
one another in love. Do your best to main-tain the unity of the Spirit by means of the bond of peace.

➔ In Ephesians 4:2 (Contemporary
English Version) Paul admonishes,
Patiently put up with each other
and love each other.” Sometimes
we just have to put up with a per-
son who rubs us the wrong way –
and love them anyway!

Are we alwayslovelyto God,
lovely enough for Him to want to

love and redeem us? This is how
Paul describes it in Romans 5:8:
But God demonstrates His own
love toward us, in that while we
were still
[unlovely] sinners,
Christ died for us.


✞ How much patience does God have?

➔ Peter tells us in II Peter 3:7
and 10 that “...the day of the
Lord...the day of judgment...
will come...”
At that time of
judgement, “...the heavens will
pass away with a great noise,
and the elements will melt with
fervent heat; the earth and the
works that are in it will be
burned up.
” (II Peter 3:10).

➔ With the wickedness that is now
going on in the world, as well
as what has happened all through
history, why has the Lord waited
so long to bring world-ending
judgment upon His creation? He

...is patient toward you. He
does not want anyone to be lost.
He wants everyone to change their
ways and stop sinning.
” (II Peter
3:9 – Easy-to-Read Version).

How can anyone despise [God’s] great kindness, tolerance, and patience.” (Romans 2:4 – Good News Bible).

  • Surely you know that God is kind, because He is trying to lead you to repent.” (Romans 2:4 – Good News Bible). He wants us to repent and be reconciled to Himself!
✞   This is proof of our Lord’s great kindness!

As Jesus preached at the very start
of His public ministry, “The time is ful-
filled, and the kingdom of God is at hand.
Repent, and believe in the gospel.
(Mark 1:15).
  • But you have a hard and stubborn heart, and so you are making your own punish-ment even greater on the Day when God’s anger and righteous judgments will be revealed.” (Romans 2:5 – Good News Bible). There are notorious examples of hard and stubborn-hearted people in the Bible!
Pharoah is one prime example: God poured out ten plagues on the land of Egyptians because Pharaoh refused to let his Israelite slaves leave Egypt. During that time of plagues Pharaoh’s reaction is recorded as follows:

➔ Exodus 7:13 – Moses and Aaron
displayed God’s power before
the plagues began by turning
Aaron’s staff into a serpent
which swallowed the staffs-
turned-snakes of the king’s
magicians (see Exodus 7:8-12).
And Pharaoh’s heart grew hard,
as the LORD had said.

➔ Exodus 7:22 – The first plague
occurred as Moses and Aaron
stretched out Aaron’s staff
over the waters of Egypt, and
all the waters turned to blood!
...and Pharaoh’s heart grew
hard.


➔ Exodus 8:15 – The second plague
brought frogs up from the Nile
River covering Egypt. “But...
Pharaoh...hardened his heart....

➔ Exodus 8:19 – The third plague
turned the dust of Egypt into an
invasion of lice. “But Pharaoh’s
heart grew hard....

➔ Exodus 8:32 – The fourth plague
brought thick swarms of flies.
But Pharaoh hardened his heart
at this time also, neither would
he let the people [the Israel-
ites] go.

➔ Exodus 9:7 – The fifth plague
brought deadly disease on the
livestock of Egypt. “But the
heart of Pharoah became hard,
and he did not let the people
go.

➔ Exodus 9:12 – The sixth plague
resulted in painful boils on
the Egyptians and their animals.
But the LORD hardened the heart
of Pharaoh....

➔ Exodus 9:35 – The seventh plague
was God-sent hail and fire on
all of Egypt. “...Pharaoh sinned
yet more; and he hardened his
heart...neither would he let the
children of Israel go....

➔ Exodus 10:20 – The eighth plague
brought locusts, devouring every
growing plant in Egypt. “But the
LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart,
and he did not let the children
of Israel go.

➔ Exodus 10:27 – The ninth plague
brought three days of thick dark-
ness to all the Egyptians. “But
the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart,
and he would not let them [the
Israelites] go.

➔ Exodus 11:10 sums up Pharaoh’s
reaction through the first nine
plagues: “So Moses and Aaron
did all these wonders before
Pharoah; and the LORD hardened
Pharoah’s heart, and he did not
let the children of Israel go
out of his land.

The tenth plague resulted in the death of all the firstborn in Egypt, both human beings and animals! And it was this final plague that forced the hard heart of Pharoah to break. He demanded that the Israelites leave Egypt immediately! They left that night! It is estimated that over two million Israelites vacated Egypt.

✡ Exodus 13:8 and 9 – “And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh ...and he pursued the children of Israel...[with] all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, his horsemen and his army, and overtook [the Israelites camping] by the [Red] sea....” You have probably heard the story...

God parted the waters of the
Red Sea, and the Israelites
crossed the dry seabed to the
other side!


➔ Exodus 14:23 – “And the Egyp-
tians pursued and went after
them into the midst of the sea,
all of Pharaoh’s horses, his
chariots, and his horsemen.

➔ Exodus 14:26 and 28 – “Then the
LORD said to Moses, ‘ Stretch

out your hand over the sea...’
Then the waters returned and
covered the chariots, the horse-
men, and all the army of Pharaoh
....Not so much as one of them
remained.

So much for continually hardening the heart against God!

More on hard-heartedness in the next Gem.

An Old Dog’s Tale!

Ecclesiastes 3:18-21; Revelation 19:11, 14

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

I call him “The dog with a dangerous tail!

  • That tail is often wagging…
...keeping a beat with his tongue 
as he laps up water from his bowl!


...while he stands in a doorway, whapping the door fame on either side!

...even knocking things that are ‘tail-height’ off on the floor!
  • But most of that tail wagging is just a friendly greeting!

Carson was my daughter’s dog for about 7 years when she was planning to give him away to a good home. They had three other dogs, two of which were much more active than this laid-back Golden Retriever! It was quite chaotic at times, and Carson was not prospering.

  • For a long time it seems that Carson had picked me out as his favorite person! My daughter told me more than once, “He gets so excited when you stop by to visit!
  • So instead of going to a stranger’s home, He became my dog about two years ago.

Carson loves being my dog!

  • He wants to be near me wherever I am!
He sleeps right next to my bed, so close that I have to be careful not to step on him if I happen to get up during the night.   

✔ As I sit in my antique rocker reading my Bible or praying, there he is, taking a nap within five feet of me (often closer).

✔ As I work at my computer in the downstairs study, Carson is snoozing close by!

✔ If my wife and I go on errands or a dinner date, and it is too hot or cold for him to comfortably be outside, he deposits himself at the top of our split-level entry staircase waiting for us to come home! Then he greets me with all sorts of doggie sounds (no barking), just shaking all over!
  • He has a fenced-in backyard of about half an acre where he runs untethered after squirrels, chipmunks, birds, and any other creature that he thinks is invading his private property! Once in a great while, he’ll catch some little animal, and he proudly deposits the body on the mat outside our back door! Thank you, Carson!
  • I give Carson treats (dog biscuits) several times a day – four-flavored, large size. But I break them into three or four pieces, so he gets the equivalent of one-and-a-half to two biscuits a day.
  • We play outside in his backyard at least once a day. I bought him “Indestructible Rope Toys” (that’s how they were advertised) and he gets excited when he sees me have one in my hand!
✔   I throw it as far as I can, and Carson runs to fetch it. He is a Retriever, after all!

✔ Then it is either ‘Keep-away’ or ‘Tug-of-War’! He usually wins!
  • Although He sheds his winter coat each spring and into the summer (fine dog hairs everywhere!), I regularly brush him out.
He loves to be brushed!

✔ And I tell him, “I’m saving all your hair so I can build another dog just like you!

Did I tell you that Carson is a BIG dog? He tips the scale at over one hundred pounds! And he is strong! I think an intruder would not have much of a chance if they tried to break in and/or hurt one of us!

Carson will be ten years old in October.

  • He is getting a bit lame in his hips. But we have him on Glucosamine Chondroitin for dogs. It does help.
  • According to my research, “The lifespan of a Golden Retriever is generally around 10 to 12 years, although some can live longer with proper care and attention to their health. …The oldest Golden Retriever…lived an exceptional 20 years and 11 months.” (caninejournal.com).
  • I hope to have my wonderful dog around in good health for another three or four years.

Now, I want to get theological about my Carson, and animals in general: Do animals go to heaven? There are two Scriptures that shed some light on this, although neither one is absolutely clear on the issue.

Solomon was David’s son, the second king of the Judean dynasty. He was extremely wealthy and the wisest among the wise! (see I Kings 3:12, 13). In his later years, King Solomon wrote the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes. Here is what he says in Ecclesiastes 3:18 through 21:

I said in my heart, “Concerning the estate of the sons of men, God tests them, that they may see that they themselves are like beasts.” For what happens to the sons of men also happens to beasts; one thing befalls them: as one dies, so dies the other. Surely they all have one breath; man has no advantage over beasts, for all is vanity. All go to one place: all are from the dust , and all return to dust. Who knows the spirit of the sons of men, which goes upward, and the spirit of the beast, which goes down to the earth? 
  • There are a couple of things to remember when interpreting Ecclesiastes:
Solomon made a good and godly start in his reign (see I Kings 3:5-14). But he forsook the LORD in his later years (see 
I Kings 11:1-8).

He was a man who had tried every-
thing to make himself happy and be
at peace!


But nothing he tried seemed to work!
As he wrote in the opening of his
treatise, Ecclesiastes 1:2, “‘Vanity
of vanities’ says the preacher; ‘Van-
ity of vanities, all is vanity.’


✡ Believers in Jehovah God in Old Testament times did not have the revelation and comprehension of the afterlife (heaven and hell) that we have received from the New Testament.
  • There is then not much we can discern for certain from the statement in Ecclesiastes 3:21, “Who knows the spirit of the sons of men, which goes upward, and the spirit of the beast, which goes down to the earth?

The other Scripture is from Revelation 19, verses 11 and 14. The Apostle John tells what he saw concerning the Second Coming of Christ:

Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in right-eousness He judges and makes war. ...And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses.
  • From where did the white horses come?
✞   Were they once earthly horses that went to heaven upon their death?

OR...

✞ Were they specially created in heaven for this momentous event?
  • We cannot say for certain from where the horses came!

I have had a dozen beloved dogs throughout my almost fourscore years. I grew up on a dairy farm and also had cats that were wonderful pets. I even had a pet Holstein calf, Curly (she had curls between her horns), that I raised to be a good milk cow. Also, there was a beloved duck called Shadow, because she followed us so closely. Do I really want to spend eternity with dogs, cats, cows, and a duck?

Yes, we love our pets! I cannot say for sure if they will be in heaven or not. I tend to think they will not be there. But one thing I do know: There will be no sadness in heaven! For God tells us in Revelation 21:4…

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes;
there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying;
and there shall be no more pain,
for the former things are passed away.

Perfection Restored! – III

Romans 8:18-23

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

We have spent our time in two previous Gems concerning our restoration to the perfection our first parents experienced before sin devastated the human race. Now let’s focus on what the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 8:18 through 23:

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope;  because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.

Paul mentions in Romans 8:18 the exciting transformation that we as Christians have in store,…the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18).

  • Adam and Eve bore “…the image of God…” (Genesis 1:27) when they were created. But that image was marred when they disobeyed God and fell into sin!
  • The Father restored that lost glorious image in His Son Jesus at His resurrection!
  • God has promised to all Christians that same transformation at Jesus’ return! (see I Corinthians 15:51-54; Philippians 3:21; I John 3:2).

But the apostle goes on to say God’s restoration involves much more than just that which will affect our own personal selves! In Romans 8:19 through 21 Paul writes:

…the earnest expectation of the [entire] creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility…because the creation itself will also be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
  • All nature was…subjected to futility…the bondage of corruption…” (Romans 8:20, 21). Sin brought God’s curse upon all creation! And that curse brought drastic changes! Consider some of the changes that occurred:
✡   Before the curse Adam and Eve were designated to be caretakers over an abundant creation. Isaiah 35:1, 2, 5 and 6 (Bible in Basic English) gives a glimpse of what it was like by describing the restored creation:

The waste land and the dry places will
be glad; the lowland will have joy and
be full of flowers. It will be flower-
ing like the rose; it will be full of
delight and songs.... Then the eyes of
the blind will see, and the ears which
are stopped will be open. Then will
the feeble-footed be jumping like a
roe, and the voice which was stopped
will be loud in song: for in the waste
land streams will be bursting out, and
waters in the dry places.

✡ But after sin entered creation, Adam was told...“Cursed is the ground...in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you...in the sweat of your brow you shall eat bread....
  • Animal life was drastically altered!
✡   Again, restored creation, described in Isaiah 65:25, will host fauna as at the beginning: “‘The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, the lion shall eat straw like an ox....They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain.’ says the LORD.” (see also Isaiah 11:6-9).

✡ In Hosea 13:7 and 8 (Good News Bible), God warns Israel that He will be to them like wildlife made vicious after sin and the resultant curse invaded creation:
   I will attack you like a lion. Like 
a leopard I will lie in wait along
your path. I will attack you like a
bear that has lost her cubs, and I
will tear you open. Like a lion I
will devour you on the spot, and
will tear you to pieces like a wild
animal.
  • Human life was profoundly affected!
In Revelation 21:4 and 5 the Lord reveals some wonderful restoration 
truths:

...God will wipe away every tear
from their eyes; there shall be no
more death, nor sorrow, nor crying;
and there shall be no more pain,
for the former things have passed
away....these words are true and
faithful.

✡ God had warned Adam in Genesis 2:16 and 17, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

Adam ate, and Adam died! He did
not die physically for many more
years (see Genesis 5:5). But he
died spiritually immediately upon
eating! (see Genesis 3:8).

Separation from God because of
sin is spiritual death!
If this
condition is not rectified in
this present life, a human being
will be assigned to hell, separ-
ated from God for all eternity!

The only way to resolve the problem of being separated from the LORD, is to have our sins washed away by the blood of Jesus Christ!
Come to Him and ask Him to be YOUR Savior!

Romans 8:21 through 23:

...creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.

Yes, I am waiting,
and I hope you are too,
for the return of our Lord Jesus
and the amazing Perfection Restored!

And don’t forget,
we are joined in this anticipation by all creation!