ISAIAH – AN ANCIENT PROPHET WITH A MODERN MESSAGE

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Who today does not yearn for relief from the problems that face mankind? Yet, how often our longings go unfulfilled! We dream of peace, but we are plagued by war. We cherish law and order, but we cannot stem the rising tide of robbery, rape, and murder. We want to trust our neighbor, but we have to lock our doors for protection. We love our children and try to instill wholesome values in them, but all too often we watch helplessly as they succumb to the unwholesome influence of their peers.

We might well agree with Job, who stated that man’s short life is “glutted with agitation.” (Job 14:1) This seems especially so today, for society is deteriorating on a scale never seen before. We have watered down our moral standards to the point where many of our youth are confused, discouraged and in deep trouble. We are reaping the harvest of parental neglect, divorce, child abuse, teen pregnancy, school dropouts, illegal drugs, and streets full of violence.

However, we are not left without hope. Some 2,700 years ago, God inspired a man of the Middle East to utter a series of prophecies that have special meaning for our day. These messages were recorded in the BIble book bearing that prophet’s name- Isaiah. Who was Isaiah, and why can we say that his prophecy, recorded almost three millenniums ago, provIdes light for all mankind today?

A RIGHTEOUS MAN IN TURBULENT TIMES

In the first verse of his book, Isiah introduces himself as the son of Amoz” and he tells us that he served as God’s prophet in the days of Uzzah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, king of Judah.” (Isaiah 1::1) ‘Thiss would mean that Isaiah continued as God’s prophet to the nation of Judah

for no less than 46 years, likely beginning at the end of Uzziah’s reign – about the year 778 B.C.

Isaiah and his family lived during a turbulent period in Judah’s history. Political unrest was common, bribery tainted the courts, and hypocrisy tore the religious fabric of Society. The hilltops were covered with altars to false gods. Even some of the kings promoted pagan worship. Ahaz, for instance, not only tolerated idolatry among his subjects but personally engaged in it, making his own offspring “pass through the fire” in a ritual sacrifice to the Canaanite god Molech.” (2 KIngs 16:3, 4; 2 Chronicles 28:3, 4) And all of this took place among a people who were in a covenant relationship with Jehovah! – Exodus 19:5·8.

A MESSAGE OF SALVATION

Isaiah’s name means “Salvation of Jehovah,” and this could well be called the theme of his message. True, some of Isaiah ‘s prophecies are of judgment. Still, the theme of salvation comes through loud and clear. Repeatedly, Isaiah related how in due time Jehovah would release the Israelites from captivity in Babylon, allowing a remnant to return to Zion and bring the land back to its former splendour. No doubt the privilege of speaking and writing prophecies concerning the restoration of his beloved Jerusalem gave Isaiah the greatest joy!

But what do these messages of judgment and salvation have to do with us? Happily, Isaiah does not prophecy simply for the benefit of the two- tribe kingdom of Judah. On the contrary, his messages have special significance for our day. Isaiah paints a glorious picture of how God’s Kingdom will soon bring grand blessings to our earth. In this regard, a large portion of Isaiah’s writings focuses all the foretold Messiah, who would rule as King of God’s Kingdom. (Daniel 9:25; John 12:41) Surely It Is no coincidence that the names Jesus and Isaiah express virtually the same thought, the name Jesus meaning “Jehovah Is Salvation.”

Of course, Jesus was not born until some seven centuries after Isaiah’s day. Yet, the Messianic prophecies contained in the book of Isaiah are so detailed and so accurate that they read like an eyewitness account of Jesus’ life on earth. One source noted that in view of this, the book of Isaiah is sometimes called the “Fifth Gospel” Hence, it is hardly surprising that Isaiah was the Bible book most frequently quoted by Jesus and his apostles in order to make a clear identification of the Messiah.

Isaiah paints a glorious word picture of “new heavens and a new earth” wherein “a king will reign for righteousness Itself” and princes will rule for justice. (Isaiah 32:1,2; 65:17, 18; 2 Peter 3: 13) Thus the book of Isaiah points us to the heart-warming hope of God’s Kingdom, under the Messiah Jesus Christ as enthroned King. What an encouragement for us to Jive each day in joyful expectation of “salvation by Jehovah”! (Isaiah 25:9; 40 :28-3 1) When you study the precious message in the book of Isaiah, your confidence in God’s promises will be greatly strengthened.

Do not allow any Amillennialist, Preterist or anyone else steal your joy!

A DISPENSATIONAL VIEW OF THE GOSPELS IN SMALL CHUNKS (15)

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CHAPTER V (CONTINUE)

The Middle Galilean Period (Continue)

In this part, we are looking at the second and third of the ten divisions of the Sermon on the Mount.

B. Moral Standards: Matt. 5:17-48; Lk. 6:27-36. The scribes and Pharisees were very meticulous in observing the Law of Moses outwardly. Paul had been a Pharisee and he could say that he was blameless in its observance (Phil. 3:4-6), but this observance produced only self-righteousness. To enter the Kingdom one must have a better righteousness than that. It must be an inward righteousness.

As long as a man did not actually commit adultery, the Mosaic Law on sex could not touch him, even though he may have lived daily with a burning desire for another man’s wife. But according to the higher law which Christ enunciated, such a man was an adulterer before God. In vs. 28, “whosoever looketh on a woman,” looketh is in the present tense and therefore has the idea of continuous action, “keeps on looking and lusting after her.” When Jesus spoke these words the people of Israel were still under the dispensation of Law, as borne out by the fact that Jesus spoke of bringing their gifts to the altar (vs. 23-26).

Jesus quoted from two of the Ten Commandments which deal with the foundations of society: “Thou shalt not kill,” and “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” and explained how the fulfillment depended upon the inner condition of purity of the heart.

He next quoted two laws which have a very wide application in the inner-relationships of men. One deals with truth and the other with justice. Lev. 19:12 is first quoted: “Thou shalt not forswear thyself,” that is “Thou shalt not swear falsely, but perform unto the Lord thine oaths.” But Jesus says, “Swear not at all . . . let what you say be a plain yes or no. Anything more than this has a taint of evil.” If a man has to swear an oath to prove he is telling the truth, it may well be doubted that he is trustworthy.

Jesus next quoted Ex. 21:24, “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.” This is strict justice, but Jesus tempers justice with mercy. He tells His disciples to give to others more than they deserve. Instead of love your neighbor and hate your enemy, Jesus says, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you.”

We believe Jesus was speaking metaphorically when He spoke of cutting off one’s hand or foot or other bodily member. God forbad actual mutilation of the human body, and besides such mutilation would be equivalent to suicide, for one would probably bleed to death. There are those who believe that Jesus intended this instruction to be carried out literally, but if so, we have no record of anyone obeying the command. Nor do we believe Jesus intended that His disciples give away all they possessed to anybody for any reason. Even Jesus under certain circumstances did not turn the other cheek (cf. John 18:23). We are sure Jesus did not mean that if a robber entered the house of a disciple he should gladly give him all of his worldly possessions and permit his loved ones to be sexually abused and then give him a kiss of brotherly love and send him on his way rejoicing.
When Jesus spoke of a person having a beam or a big log in his eye, we understand He was using hyperbole, for how could one get the whole trunk of a tree in his eye? Paul likewise tells us to “mortify, that is, put to death our bodily members which are upon the earth” (Col. 3:5). Do we take this literally, or do we understand it to mean that since we were crucified and put to death together with Christ, we are therefore to reckon ourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God?

One needs only to read Rom. 12:17-13:10 to see that Paul gives almost identical instructions to members of the Body of Christ as Jesus gave to His Kingdom disciples. Listen to just a few of his Words: “Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head… Love worketh no ill to his neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”

Notice how Luke renders Matt. 5:45-48 in Lk. 6:32-36. Luke says, “If ye love them that love you, or do good to them that do good to you, or lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye?” The Greek reads: “What grace is there in that?” We have previously pointed out the seeming influence of Paul upon Luke’s writing, and here we see it again.
C. Righteous Acts: Matt. 6:1-18. The word translated “alms” in vs. 1 should read “righteous acts.” Alms, Prayer and Fasting are here included as righteous acts.

Alms: Alms is a word which comes from the Anglo-Saxon, a word having the same meaning as eleemosynary, which is a transliteration of the Greek word used in our text. It is derived from the word mercy and means showing mercy or compassionateness. God can reward only that which is done from the heart and for His glory. A man might give all of his money to feed the poor, and if he did it to promote his own prestige, Jesus says whatever prestige he received would be his full reward. This same principle holds for any kind of so-called humanitarian or religious good works (cf. 1 Cor. 13:1-3).

Prayer: The Lord’s Prayer, which might better be called the Disciple’s Prayer, is related also in Luke 11:1-4, but on an entirely different occasion. The prayer was doubtless intended to be a sample or model for prayer: not a prayer to be memorized and repeated word for word, over and over again. Jesus warned against using vain repetitions in prayer. When God has answered our requests we do not continue to ask for that thing. If He has supplied not only our bread for today but for a week or month in advance, we should thank Him for the supply; not continue to petition Him. There is progressive revelation concerning prayer which must also be considered. It should be noted that the “Our Father” prayer makes no mention of the name of Jesus. Toward the end of Jesus’ ministry He gave further instructions for prayer. He said, “Hitherto (that is, up to the present time) have ye asked nothing in my name.” Now, He says: “Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you,” (John 16:23,24). Asking in His name means to ask in His behalf, or for His sake. It is easy to end a prayer with the words, “in Jesus’ Name” without having analyzed whether the petition is really for the glory of Christ. With these introductory thoughts in mind, let us look at each element of the prayer.

“Our Father, which art in heaven.” Many Jews could not have ‘prayed this prayer, for Jesus said, “Ye are of your father the Devil,” (Jn. 8:44). It is most important to recognize the fact that the disciples were children of God, both as far as the prayer is concerned and as far as the following context is concerned. Otherwise we may become confused on the matter of the security of the believer. All prayer should begin with praise and worship of God.

“Hallowed be thy name.” The word “hallow” means to be holy, to sanctify, to make a person or thing the opposite of common. God’s name stands for God Himself. That is why God commanded that we should not take His name in vain, or lower His name to the base and commonplace things of this world. This is a petition, which means that the one praying is asking for God’s name to be hallowed in his own personal life.

“Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” These two requests are very closely tied together, for when the Kingdom comes God’s will shall be done in earth as it is done in heaven. This request is another evidence that the Kingdom in the Gospel accounts is the yet future Messianic Kingdom which shall be established here upon the earth. As we have seen, the Kingdom was near at hand but it had not yet come. It is a strange anomaly that many Christians who do not believe that Jesus will ever come back to establish a Kingdom on earth, often pray this prayer for the coming of the Kingdom, even in public service or at their churches. Even though Israel rejected Him and had Him crucified, He prayed for their forgiveness and a new opportunity was given them in the early chapters of Acts to repent, but they again rejected Him and the Kingdom establishment was postponed until God’s hitherto secret purpose concerning the Church is fulfilled.

“Give us this day our daily bread.” There has been much controversy over the exact meaning of the word translated “daily.” We have already commented on the inconsistency of praying for that which we already have. However, there are millions of hungry people in the world who could consistently pray such a prayer. But to place the prayer in its proper context of the coming Millennial Kingdom which will be preceded by the Great Tribulation, this request takes on added meaning. We know that when the Beast comes to power in that day no man will be permitted to buy or sell unless he has submitted to the Beast and received his mark in his right hand or upon his forehead, (Rev. 13:17). We can well imagine the awful plight of the godly Jewish remnant in that day, and how they will have to pray in earnest this prayer for daily bread. While we believe the prayer will have special significance for Israel in the time of Jacob’s trouble, it is surely a legitimate prayer for God’s people at any time in a state of emergency. Some understand the word “bread” to refer to spiritual, rather than physical sustenance. Christ is the Bread that came down from heaven (Jn. 6:33). “Bread” also relate to basic needs as it is wrong to pray for luxurious things we do not actually need.

“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” Often this verse is placed in contrast to Eph. 4:32, where we are told to forgive one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven us. It is said that in the Kingdom order one had to forgive others in order to be forgiven by God; whereas today we are to forgive others because we have been forgiven. We do not think this distinction is justifiable. In the prayer as recorded by Luke this request reads: “And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive everyone that is indebted to us.” Besides this, the tense of the verb “forgive” in Matthew should be rendered as a perfect, and practically all of the other English versions render the Matthew passage: “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” The forgiveness in this passage is the Father’s forgiveness of His child, and not the once for all judicial forgiveness which one receives when he becomes a child of God. We will have more to say on this point when commenting on the verses which follow the prayer.

“And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” Here we must stop and ask whether God ever leads any one into temptation? Does not James state: “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man,” (Jas. 1:13). The solution to the problem lies in the proper understanding of the word translated “temptation.” This word does not necessarily mean a solicitation to sin. The word means a trial or test of any kind. Notice how the word is used in the following passages. When Jesus asked Philip, “Whence shall we buy bread, that these (5,000) may eat?” we read that Jesus said this “to prove him.” Here Jesus was testing Philip’s faith; not tempting him to sin (John 6:5,6). When the Jewish leaders tried to trap Jesus with the question of whether it was lawful to give tribute to Caesar or not, Jesus answered: “Why tempt ye me?” (Lk. 20:23). Jesus surely did not mean that these Jews were tempting Him to commit sin. They were putting Him on trial. When Peter at the council in Jerusalem asked: “Why tempt ye God, to put a yoke on the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?” (Acts 15:10), it is evident that he did not mean that they were tempting God to sin. When we read, “By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac,” (Heb. 11:17), we understand that the word in this context means that God was testing or trying Abraham’s faith: not that He was tempting him to sin.

Also the word “lead” us not into temptation has in it the connotation of seducing or enticing to sin. The Greek word means “to bring into.” The American Standard version translates it: “And bring us not into temptation.” Today’s English version has it, “Do not bring us to hard testing.” The New English Bible reads, “And do not bring us to the test.”
While it is true that God never tempts any one to sin, He does sometimes bring us into situations where our faith is sorely tested, and in such situations there is the possibility of yielding to temptation to choose our own way and thus transgress God’s way. But James is quick to point out that “every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed,” (Jas. 1:14). It is not God who entices us to evil, but our own sinful lusts. Thus, this petition is to keep us out of situations in which it would be beyond our strength to keep from sinning. We cannot live in such a world as ours without confronting tests and temptations to evil daily, but we have the promise that “God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it,” (1 Cor. 10:13).

The negative part of the petition is, “Don’t bring us into severe tests.” The positive part is, “But deliver us from evil,” or as many translate, “Deliver us from the evil one.” Satan is ever on the job of enticing people to sin, but in the coming Tribulation period when he is cast out of heaven into the earth, we read, “Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time,” (Rev. 12:9-12). Since the primary interpretation of this prayer belongs to the Kingdom disciples who are destined to go through the Tribulation, we can see the special significance of praying to be delivered from the evil one.

“For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” This final statement is omitted from the prayer as given in Lk. 11, and it is also omitted from certain of the Greek manuscripts of the prayer in Matthew. Most modern English versions also omit it. Whether these words were spoken by Jesus or added later by a scribe to complete the prayer we may not be sure, but the ascription of power and glory to the Father is true.

After giving the prayer to the disciples, Jesus continues to speak of forgiveness. He says: “But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Does this mean that one who does not forgive his fellow man will lose his salvation? or that one who does forgive, as in the previous verse, will gain salvation by forgiving? It is a serious mistake to equate forgiveness with salvation, since forgiveness is only one of the many facets of salvation. It is also a mistake to equate the Father’s forgiveness of His child with the judicial forgiveness of the sinner at the moment of salvation. When one is saved the judicial penalty is forgiven once for all. After one becomes a child of God he still has the possibility of sinning, and such sin has to be dealt with, either by the child of God or by the Father. If the child confesses it to the Father, it is forgiven, (1 John 1:9). If the child does not confess it, then the Father must settle the matter, and He does this through judging the sin Himself and this results in chastening of some kind. Paul says, “If we would judge ourselves (confess our sins), we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world” (1 Cor. 11:31,32). Always remember, that a child of God will not lose his salvation but sin and bad works may impact his rewards.

An analogy might help at this point. A man may break into a store and steal merchandise. He is arrested and brought before the judge. He receives a penalty of punishment for a certain period of time in jail. On the other hand, a child may steal some money from his father’s purse. What does the father do? Take the child to court and have him sent to jail? Of course not. The father knows what his son has done and he waits to see if he will recognize that he has done wrong and will come and own up to what he has done. Until the son confesses his wrong there is a strained relation on the part of the son to the father. But if the son does not come voluntarily to set matters right, then the father must take the matter in hand and administer some kind of chastisement. The sin of a Christian is just as sinful, if not more so, than that of the unsaved person, but God deals differently with the sin of the unsaved and that of those who are His beloved children.
Fasting: Fasting has never been commanded by God, but when it is done the same rule applies as in the case of almsgiving and prayer. It should be done in secret before God and not before man. It is perhaps one of the most difficult things a minister of the Word has to contend with, when he receives the praise of his fellow-Christians, to give all of the glory to God and not to feel a little pride in what he has done.

(Main Source: Understanding The Gospels – A Different Approach – Charles F. Baker)

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THE RAPTURE SERIES 5: ISRAEL’S ROLE

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THE RAPTURE SERIES 5: ISRAEL’S ROLE

Israel is God’s chosen nation but will not be raptured.

Our Blessed Hope

The Rapture is an orthodox doctrine which cannot be denied. The purpose of this part of our series is to encourage the Church to believe in the words of Jesus, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself that where I am, there ye may be also ” (John 14:1-3) Therefore, we joyfully await the Lord! The apostle Paul warns believers to be “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). Therefore, based on the Scripture, we believe in the immanency of the Rapture!

The Necessity Of Faith

Some claim that since you cannot humanly explain something, it does not exist. Such conclusions are faulty because the Bible says, “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2nd Corinthians 4:18).

The Bible is a book of faith, and only to the extent that we are willing to subject our intellect to the authority of the Holy Scriptures are we able to understand its message. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” This verse speaks in scientific and legal terms: Faith is “substance” and “evidence.”

For this very reason, it is futile to argue the doctrine of the Rapture with those who deny the absolute authority of the Holy Scriptures. The apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonians in the simplest of terms and listed only one condition when he described the coming Rapture, “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again…” (1st Thessalonians 4:14). Therefore, if we do not believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus, we cannot be born again. As a result, we will not be raptured.

Israel: The End time Sign

When we talk about the Rapture, we must realize that this is not an isolated event concerning only the Church of Jesus Christ, nor is it a doctrine established only in the New Testament. That is far from the truth. We notice from many passages, Romans 11 in particular, that the Church of Jesus Christ mainly consists of Gentiles and is actually part of Israel; we are organically one. The Bible clearly supports the position of the Gentiles with the following words, “… wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?” (verse 24). Verse 17 gives further clarification, “…thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them par-takest of the root and fatness of the olive tree.”

Since the olive tree represents Israel, the Gentiles who believe in Jesus have been joined with Israel, making us one. When the Rapture takes place, it will undoubtedly affect Israel, as we will see later on.

This organic unity is also emphasized in Ephesians 2:12, “That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.” And of course, we must not forget to mention Ephesians 3:6, “That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel.” Therefore, if part of the promise was addressed to the Church from among the Gentiles, we can conclude that Israel must be the greatest end-time sign for the Church and that the Rapture is close at hand. With that in mind, let us take a closer look at Israel.

Israel To Be Separate

Very few seem to realize that the union of the Jews and Gentiles clearly violates God’s order. According to Deuteronomy 14:2, Israel cannot be integrated into the nations of the world, “For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God, and the Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth.” God set the Jews apart, “above all other nations.” They are chosen for God’s purpose. If Satan, the prince of this world, who is also called the god of this world, is successful in mixing the Jews with the Gentiles, then he can eradicate the Jews, dissolving them in the ocean of Gentiles, ruining God’s promises. We know from the Bible that in the end, Satan will not succeed. The Lord will see to it that Israel will be saved out of this terrible coming day, the Great Tribulation.

Israel Failed To Separate

From reading the Old Testament, we know that Israel failed to completely fulfill this commandment of God. For as long as Joshua lived, the people followed the Lord’s instruction to destroy their enemies. However, after Joshua died, we read over and over in the book of Judges that the tribes of Israel did not completely drive out the enemies from within their allotted territory. We arrive at this conclusion based on the following examples:

• Judah and Simeon “… could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley…” (Judges 1:19).
• “And the children of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites that inhabited Jerusalem…” Judges 1:21)
• “Neither did Manasseh drive out the inhabitants of Bethshean…” (Judges 1:27).
• “… when Israel was strong… they put the Canaanites to tribute, and did not utterly drive them out” (Judges 1:28).

Israel failed to execute God’s commandment. This has carried over to the present problem in the Middle East and is nothing other than the result of Israel’s disobedience, even thousands of years ago! Israel deliberately refused to separate herself from the nations and has continuously allowed some degree of integration.

Israel Failed To Receive The Kingdom Of God

In the fullness of time, Jesus, Son of God and Messiah came and proclaimed that the kingdom of God was at hand. Finally, Israel had the opportunity to be a unique nation above all others as a visible testimony to the heathen.

John the Baptist, the herald of the coming Messiah, proclaimed,
“…Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2). John did not come out with this statement of his own initiative, but quoted the prophetic Scripture, “For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight” (Matthew 3:3). When Jesus was baptized by John, we hear the heavenly Father’s confirmation, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).

Fulfilled Prophecy

It is fascinating to notice that all of these events took place in accordance with the prophetic Word, “… that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet…” (Matthew 1:22). Even the religious people who in reality did not wait for the coming of the Messiah had to confess, “…for thus it is written by the prophet” (Matthew 2:5). In verse 15 we read, “… that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet….” And in verse 17, “Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet…”When His parents had settled in Nazareth, we read, “… that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene” (Verse 23). Jesus came to fulfill the perfect will of God the Father. The New Testament repeatedly testifies of His works as being the fulfillment of prophecy.

The scribes, the Pharisees, and the other religious authorities should have recognized that Jesus was the Messiah, but they did not. Why not? Because prophecy had to be fulfilled. Matthew 13:14-15 bears witness that, “…in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” The Prince of Peace, the Lord Jesus Christ, was in their midst! However, Israel stumbled, and the Jews fell deeply into unbelief because they had wanted the kingdom and the king on their own terms!

Israel Isolated Through Judgment

After the children of Israel refused to obey God and keep His commandments, which would have separated them from the heathen nations around them, God used the nations as a tool of judgment to separate the Jews from their land and scatter them across the entire world!

Since the destruction of the Temple by the Roman forces in A.D. 70, the Jews have been severely persecuted throughout the world.

Volumes have been written about the horrible suffering of the Jewish people during the course of the last 2,000 years.

God ordained them to be distinctly identified, isolated, and separated: not for the purpose of uniqueness in a positive sense, but often for discrimination, oppression and even death.

Israel’s Miraculous Birth

Through Hitler’s Nazi killing machine, more than six million Jews perished, not because of any crime or wrongdoing on their part, but simply because they were Jews. They were different!

It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to understand why God permitted such horrifying judgment upon His chosen people. Many have asked the question without receiving a definite answer. All we know is that Israel arose immediately after the Holocaust and became a nation. The horrible injustices suffered by the Jewish people contributed to the United Nations’ decision to grant them the right to establish a homeland in the territory named by the British-Palestine.

At the beginning the Jews and Arabs lived together in relative harmony in the Holy Land. However, with the founding of the state of Israel on May 14, 1948, and the wars that followed as a result, Israel became divided from her Arab neighbors. The division of these two groups caused the world to pressure Israel into compromise regarding the coexistence between them and the Arab-Palestinians.

Even today, Israel still desires peaceful coexistence with all the Arabs, and undoubtedly, this division will be dealt with in a democratic fashion so that one day Israel will live in peace with all of her Arab neighbors. It must be stressed, however, that this peace will only be temporary because it is a false peace.

Israel’s Uniqueness

We deliberately emphasize Israel’s position in relation to the Church and the Gentile nations so that we may understand why it is necessary in these end times to expect a supernatural intervention. God must fulfill His Word; “For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth” (Deuteronomy 14:2). How can God make Israel a special, chosen people above all the nations of the world if they are expected to become one with the world?

Now that we are witnessing the integration of the Jews with the nations of the world, we are forced to ask, “How much longer will it be until God must supernaturally interfere in order to maintain the national identity of His chosen people?”

Israel: The Origin Of The Church

Many readers might be asking, “Does Israel have a direct relationship with the Church and the Rapture?” The answer is “yes” because Israel has been given to us as an example. Therefore, we must also analyze the Church in regard to her chosen position as a separate identity, using Israel as our pattern! This will be done in part 6 of our series.

(MAIN SOURCE: The Great Mystery of the Rapture – Arno Froese – 1999)

 

THE RAPTURE SERIES 4: THEN WE WHICH ARE ALIVE

0 RAPTURE

“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1st Thessalonians 4:16-17).
What a tremendous encouragement! We will meet the Lord and then be with Him forever. This is a fundamental teaching in the Holy Scriptures. This should remind us of the Lord’s invitation, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest ” (Matthew 11:28). The next to the last verse in our Bible reads, “… Surely I come quickly, Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20). Those who have accepted His invitation now desire His coming, which is expressed throughout the entire Bible.

For almost 2,000 years, believers in Christ have yearned for the experience described in the above verses. This unique, one-time event in the Church of Jesus Christ has not yet happened. Before and during this event, which will take place suddenly, and without announcement, the news media will be silent. However, they will quickly try to conjure up an explanation for this occurrence soon after. Judging by the media and entertainment industry today, we can well imagine that they will concoct some explanation.

When the Rapture does take place, the removal of millions of “fanatic, fundamental Bible-believing Christians” will be easily accepted by most of those who have been left behind. Based on the succession of events in the book of Revelation, recognition of the truth and subsequent repentance will virtually be non-existent.

The following verses indicate that those left behind will remain unrepentant. “And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts” (Revelation 9:20-21); and Revelation 16:11, “And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.”

The Two-Phase Coming

2nd Thessalonians 2:1, begins with the statement, “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him.” This verse depicts two events: the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering unto Him.
The coming of Jesus Christ is clearly identified as “the day of Christ.” This is not speaking of the Rapture, but of the literal return of the Lord Jesus Christ to earth. Quite apparently the believers during Paul’s time were confused by some false teachers who were proclaiming that “the day of Christ is at hand.” Paul corrects them and writes, “…for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed…” (verse 3). Paul is referring to the revelation of the Antichrist, which must take place before the day of Christ, not before the Rapture.

Surprisingly, he asks, “Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?” (verse 5). Notice that Paul reverses the direction of events, then reveals the answer in verses 6-7, “And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. As a result, the revelation of the Antichrist cannot take place while the Church remains on earth. The Holy Spirit, who dwells in the Church and within each believer for eternity, must “be taken out of the way.” Only “… then shall that Wicked be revealed….”

His Coming At His Appointed Time

The saved will be gathered to the Lord and the lost will be left behind, ready to be fully deceived by the powers of darkness.
The coming of the Lord for His saints is based upon His appointment alone and will be based solely on His own eternal resolution.
Israel will be just as surprised as the rest of the world. This element of surprise makes the Rapture so exciting. We know with absolute certainty that it will take place; we just don’t know when.

A Summary
Before we go any further in our study, it is vital to highlight some key points from the first three parts of our series.
• “The Lord Himself shall descend from Heaven” is a unique, onetime event. He will come to receive the Bride whom He purchased with His own blood. There is no doubt that instead of confusing the languages as He did during the building of the Tower of Babel, He will unite us, so that we will understand each other perfectly as we communicate in a heavenly language.
• The “Voice of the Archangel” is also unprecedented. No where else in Scripture do we read about the Lord Himself coming from Heaven with the “voice of the archangel.” We’ve determined that the archangel would be Michael, who will defend the children of Israel. The moment the Rapture takes place, Israel will lose her spiritual protection, and she will be exposed to the enemy. Therefore, Michael will have to intervene on her behalf: “…at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people…” (Daniel 12:1).
• “The trump of God'” is another absolutely unique occurrence. The “trump of God” must not be confused with any of the other trumpets mentioned in the Bible. Because it is the “last trump of God,” we asked about the first trump of God. We found the answer in Exodus 19:16-19, which revealed that the trump is identical to the voice of God, which was so loud that the people in the camp could not bear the sound. This obviously illustrates that in their sinful state, they were not able to face the Living God as He spoke directly to them.
• “The dead in Christ shall rise first” brought us to the conclusion that this is only natural because “the dead in Christ” will have waited longer for the coming of the Lord.
It is important to understand that the statement, “The dead in Christ shall rise first,” is not addressed to all people who have died; only those who have died “in Christ” will rise first.

Two Types Of Dead

1) Those who die without faith

More than 700 years before the birth of Christ, Isaiah spoke of those who died without faith in the substitutionary sacrifice that was to be accomplished in the fullness of time through Jesus, the Son of God (Isaiah 26). Those who rejected faith in God’s prophesied salvation were considered this way, “They are dead, they shall not live; they are deceased, they shall not rise: therefore hast thou visited and destroyed them, and made all their memory to perish” (Isaiah 26:14). Clearly there is no hope for those who refuse to accept God’s provided atonement; they are lost for all eternity. The Bible does not make any provisions regarding a second chance in such cases.

The Roman Catholic Church teaches the existence of purgatory, which is supposed to purify sinners and make them ready to enter Heaven. On the contrary, the Word of God makes no such promise.

2) Those who live by faith

The second type of “dead” are those who lived by faith. Verse 19 reads, “Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.” Here we see a very clear contrast between “They are dead, they shall not live” and “Thy dead men shall live.” Prophetically speaking, this might just as well be a picture of the Rapture, during which the dead in Christ will rise first.

First Thessalonians 4:18 clearly shows that the Rapture has been the hope of the Church from the very beginning: “Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” Throughout the millennia, believers in the Lord Jesus Christ have been comforted by knowing that Christ could come at any moment. Think of those who have suffered so terribly during times of persecution, particularly under the Roman government and later under the Roman church. Those believers who were condemned to death and prepared to die drew strength from knowing that Jesus could come at any moment, and indeed, they were greatly comforted.

The First Living Rapture

In the listing of biblical genealogy, beginning with Adam, we read in Genesis 5:22-24, “And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.” What a testimony! Twice we read that “Enoch walked with God.” We will discuss Enoch later in this part of the series.

We Are Already Dead

We must never underestimate the fundamental fact taught in Scripture that the Spirit of God dwells in us: “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you” (Romans 8:11). This pertains to the living believers. For all practical purposes, we are dead in sins and trespasses. But in Christ we have died with Him, as proclaimed in Romans 6:6, “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” Our body is only the vehicle in which the newly-born Spirit dwells.

It should be pointed out that our flesh and blood, in which the Holy Spirit dwells during the very short span of our lifetime, is not what counts. Our bodies (outward man) will perish; they must be done away with. However, our inner man, created through the new birth, is what is important.

This helps us understand the apostle Paul’s admonition in Romans 8:13, “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.”

This may be a very difficult fact to accept, but for all practical purposes, our body is dead. The devil, who is the father of lies, has reversed this simple, biblical doctrine in the opposite direction. Satan says, “You must recognize your self-worth, build your self-esteem and consider yourself extremely important. When someone insults you, be sure to defend yourself to the utmost to preserve your ‘good name.’

Anti-Christianity

This is typical of the spirit of the Antichrist, “Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God”‘(2nd Thessalonians 2:4).

Daniel describes the Antichrist in chapter 11:36 with the following words, “And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods….” Only when we are spiritually alert can we clearly recognize the ways of the spirit of Antichrist within the Church today.

The gospel of the Antichrist is being preached with great success around the world. A perfect description of end-time Christianity is given to us in 2nd Timothy 3:1-4, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despis-ers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.” From pulpits all over the world, we are being taught to love ourselves, yet the Bible clearly identifies those who are “lovers of their own selves” as anti-Christians. In writing to his spiritual son Timothy, the apostle Paul concludes his description of anti-Christians with these words, “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (2nd Timothy 3:5).

Fellowship Of Suffering

What is this power that they are denying? It is none other than the power which enables us to live a holy life in the presence of God. The power of the precious blood of Jesus that cleanses the sins of the worst sinner and presents that person spotless before the throne of the Father. It is the same power which made the apostle Paul pray this prayer, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death” (Philippians 3:10).

This prayer request diametrically opposes the tendencies of our day. Paul is actually praying to be integrated into “the fellowship of his suffering.” Who wants to suffer? Surely, no one does. It is contrary to our nature, for we want to pamper the flesh and serve our egos.

Paul sought the Lord in prayer three times for an unspecified physical ailment. That was and is quite normal; however, the answer to his prayer was contrary to his request. Yet he accepted it, “My grace is sufficient.”

When Paul prayed about being integrated into the fellowship of his suffering, he was speaking on a much higher level. He no longer cared about his physical body; he wanted to be closer to his Lord.

In today’s world, the greatest battles are not being fought against politicians, or against the abominable practices of sodomy, abortion, or crime. The greatest battle is described in Galatians 5:17, “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” Who is winning the battle in your life?

If we could fully understand that the Bible teaches that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, we would better understand Paul’s prayer. Our bodies, in the flesh, are never sanctified and will always remain under the curse of sin. Therefore, our task is to subject our physical bodies—with all of their desires, habits and passions—to the guidance of the Spirit. The Bible says, “… Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).

Fellowship With Death

The apostle Paul goes one step further in his prayer, “… being made conformable unto his death” (Philippians 3:10). This fact testifies that he had, in practical terms, accepted the death of Christ for himself. He was finished with his life on earth; he knew that there was no future for him in his mortal body.

We live in our bodies on this earth temporarily, yet within these perishable tabernacles dwells that which is born again of the Spirit of God, and is eternal. Thus, we understand the contradictory relationship between flesh and blood and the Spirit. Paul testified, “For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you” (Philippians 1:23-24).

Enoch Walked With God

We have discussed what it means to walk with God, and as mentioned earlier, we know from the Bible that Enoch did just that. As a result, “he was not, for God took him.”
Not only did Enoch “walk with God,” but he believed God to the extent that God was pleased, “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God” (Hebrews 11:5). Enoch did not die; the Bible testifies that he did “not see death.” Instead, we read three times that he was “translated.” This is precisely what we are waiting for! The coming of our Lord for us will result in our translation.

What will happen at the moment of our translation? We will no longer be burdened with the “old tabernacle,” our bodies, which are not subject to the Spirit. For that reason, Paul rejoices, “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ”‘(Titus 2:13).

Rapture Of Enoch

Enoch demonstrated how we are to walk with God. His testimony was very clear: he believed God and as a result, the Lord had pleasure in him. Jude 14 confirms that Enoch prophesied about the coming of the Lord, “. ..Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints.”
Clearly, this is not a prophecy of the coming of the Lord in humility, born in a stable in Bethlehem. Rather He comes “with ten thousands of his saints.” Enoch, therefore, was a prophet for the end times. Before Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Israel, Enoch had already spoken of the return of the Lord. Undoubtedly, he meant the Rapture as well, because the Lord cannot come with the saints unless He first comes for His saints, that is, His Church. Enoch experienced the translation of his body into the glorious image of the Lord. Had he not, he would not have been with God.

When Enoch spoke of the coming of the Lord, as many prophets had throughout the Old Testament, he mentioned all three comings in one breath: His first coming in Bethlehem when the Word became flesh and dwelt among us; His Second Coming which will take place in the clouds of the air to call His blood-bought Church to Himself; and His third coming when His feet stand on the Mount of Olives.

At that time, He will implement salvation for Israel and pronounce judgment upon the world. Verse 15 of Jude reads, “To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” That verse refers to the final coming of the Lord for the purpose of judgment. The word “all” and “ungodly” are each mentioned four times in this verse. This will be the result of the Great Tribulation when the Lord Himself will descend upon the Mount of Olives and cause unprecedented change in Israel and world history.

When Enoch spoke about the end times, he included the coming of the Lord, the Rapture. We must not make the mistake of separating one event from the other. The coming of the Lord is one, yet it occurs in two stages.

The Rapture Of Elijah

The story of the Rapture unfolds when the Jordan River is divided: “…they two went over on dry ground” (2nd Kings 2: 8). Elijah and Elisha walked side-by-side to their destination. Then came the point of their parting, “And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me. And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so” (verses 9-10). Although this is not a direct prophecy, we can conclude that this is an indirect prophecy demonstrating the Church of Jesus Christ pictured by Elijah, and Israel pictured by Elisha. The Church will be taken out of the way, but Israel will be left behind.

The Church was founded when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the waiting disciples. From that day forward, the Spirit continues to flow into the empty vessels of repentant sinners and will continue to do so until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.

Undoubtedly, Israel is yet to experience mighty things unprecedented in history. Through Israel, the Lord will fill the world with His precious Word.

Rapture By A Whirlwind

Finally we come to the Rapture of Elijah, “And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven” (2nd Kings 2:11).

As far as the Church and Israel are concerned, this will definitely happen. Although organically we belong together, we will be parted. Let’s take a closer look at the unity of Israel and the Church.

The Olive Tree

Israel, symbolized by the olive tree, never ceased to exist. Contrary to nature, the Gentiles were grafted in, as Romans 11:24 confirms,
“For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?” Israel will stand alone when the Church is raptured.

Church To Be Separated

Hear the words of the apostle Peter, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1st Peter 2:9). The distinct difference between Israel and the Church lies in the fact that Israel has a national calling, “above all the nations” and we have a spiritual calling as a “royal priesthood” to let His light shine in the darkness. The danger of mixing with the world is a strong warning to every child of God.

Sadly, it is becoming more and more difficult to distinguish Christians from non-Christians. Both speak the same language, use the name of Jesus, claim to believe the Bible, build churches, proclaim the message of God over the radio, publish literature, operate successful television ministries, and even send out missionaries. Both do everything that can possibly be done, yet one is real and the other counterfeit.

The False Gospel

The apostle Paul warns us emphatically of the false Jesus that is preached by another spirit, that constitutes another gospel, and that is promoted by false apostles and ministers of unrighteousness. He writes in 2nd Corinthians 11:2, “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” Then he explains, “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles. ..For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works” (verses 3-5, 13-15).

Only those who are born again of His Spirit heed the clear call to separate from the things of the world. The true Church is in the world but not of the world and the true members hear the voice of the one true Shepherd. Those are mentioned in 1st Thessalonians 4:17, “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” May the Lord, by His grace, protect each one of us from the deceitfulness of the works of Satan. As our time on earth is rapidly coming to an end, “He who hath an ear, let him hear what the spirit saith unto the churches.”

(MAIN SOURCE: The Great Mystery of the Rapture – Arno Froese – 1999)

A DISPENSATIONAL VIEW OF THE GOSPELS IN SMALL CHUNKS (14)

0 Dispensationalism

CHAPTER V

The Middle Galilean Period

RESUME

This period of our Lord’s ministry extends from the calling of the Twelve Apostles to His withdrawal into northern Galilee. Again in this section we will notice that the order of events in Matthew differs somewhat from that in Mark and Luke. Matthew will skip from Ch. 12, where we ended the last section, to Ch. 10, and then to Ch. 5, 6, 7, then to Ch. 11 – 13, back to Ch. 8 and 9, and on to Ch. 14 and 15. Mark carries consecutively from Ch. 3:7 through 7:23. Luke likewise carries consecutively from Ch. 6:17 through 9:17. John Ch. 6 comes in at the close of the section.

1. Jesus Withdraws to the Sea of Galilee
References: Matt. 12:15-21; Mk. 3:7-12; Lk. 6:17-19

Although the Jewish leaders had been very upset over the claims of Jesus, this is the first time a council is held to find a means of destroying Him. Jesus, knowing their plot, withdrew Himself from them, but His fame was spreading so that people thronged from Jerusalem, Judea, Idumea, the areas east of Jordan, and from the seacoast to Tyre and Sidon to hear His preaching and to be healed. He tells those who were healed not to publicize Him. Matthew adds that this was done to fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy (42:1-4).

It would have been easy for Jesus to raise up an army in revolution against those who were plotting His death, but this was not His purpose in coming into the world. “He shall not strive, nor cry out; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax he shall not quench,” These words refer to the character of His first coming. But Isaiah also saw the second coming of Christ. Jesus did not act in judgment upon His enemies, but the prophecy continues, “TILL he send forth judgment unto victory, and in his name shall the Gentiles trust.” When He returns, He will execute judgment upon the ungodly; He will establish His Kingdom, and in that Kingdom the Gentiles will come to Israel’s Light.

There are differences of opinion concerning the meaning of the bruised reed and smoking flax. We believe that this prophecy teaches Christ’s restraint from judgment during His ministry of grace. He withdrew in order that He might not smite them. These were His enemies. He cannot break or quench until He sends forth judgment to victory.

2. Jesus Chooses His Twelve Apostles
References: Matt. 10:1-4; Mk. 3:13-19; Lk. 6:12-19

Luke informs us that before Jesus chose the Twelve He went out into a mountain to pray and continued all night in prayer to God. Important decisions should be preceded by much prayer. Luke also tells us that He called His disciples and chose from them twelve, whom He also named apostles. Apostle means one who is sent, an envoy, a missionary. These twelve were entrusted with special power and authority. As we shall see later, they are to sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel in the Millennial Kingdom.
In comparing the names in the three accounts it will be seen that Matthew speaks of Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus (vs. 3), whereas Luke calls him Judas the son (not brother) of James. The second Simon is called the Canaanite by Matthew and Mark, but Luke calls him the Zealot. The A.V. incorrectly calls him a Canaanite. The Greek reads, “Cananaean.” The Zealots were a Jewish party which professed great zeal for the Law and resorted to violence in their hatred for foreigners. Simon apparently belonged to that party before becoming a disciple.

Luke tells us that Jesus came down from the mount and stood in the plain or a level place and great crowds came and were healed. There follows after this in Luke what appears to be an abbreviated form of the Sermon on the Mount. Some scholars think this discourse in Luke is separate and distinct from the Sermon on the Mount, and they call it the Sermon in the Plain. Since the two are so similar, they will be considered together under the next heading.

3. The Sermon on the Mount
References: Matt. 5, 6, 7; Lk. 6:20-49

The Sermon on the Mount is a summary of the moral and spiritual qualifications of candidates for the Millennial Kingdom. There are certain moral and spiritual absolutes which are unchangeable and which apply equally to God’s people in all ages. Therefore, many of the principles enunciated in this Sermon are as applicable to members of the Body of Christ as they are to members of the Kingdom. But there are certain features of this Sermon which are applicable only to members of the Kingdom, and there is, therefore, need to rightly divide this portion of the Word.

The purpose of the Sermon is also to instruct the disciples how to live in view of the persecutions and tribulation which they would suffer while waiting for the actual establishment of the Kingdom. They are instructed to pray for the Kingdom to come. The Sermon was given to the disciples in the presence of a multitude. The Sermon does not present the Gospel of salvation or explain how sinners may be saved: rather, it is addressed to people who were already saved, who could call God their heavenly Father. Much confusion has come from supposing that one can become a Christian by trying to live up to the Sermon on the Mount. There is a vast difference between living in order to become a saint, and living as becometh a saint (cf. Eph. 5:1-3).

With these introductory thoughts in mind, let us examine the following ten divisions:
A. Character: Matt. 5:1-16; Lk. 6:20-26. This division deals with the character and the blessedness of the Kingdom saints. It consists of what is generally called the Beatitudes, or the pronouncement of blessedness upon the eight traits of character which are enumerated. The first is poverty of spirit, the realization of one’s moral and spiritual bankruptcy before God, which is just the opposite of pride of spirit, which characterizes the unconverted, who suppose they have such abundance of goodness in themselves that they have no need of a Savior. See the poverty of spirit of Isaiah in Ch. 6:5 of his prophecy, or that of Job in Job 42:1-6, or that of David in Ps. 51:1-5, or that of Paul in Phil. 3:7-9. Many of the parables of Jesus illustrate man’s spiritual poverty by nature, such as the two debtors of Lk. 7:42. The Kingdom of heaven, not heaven, not the Church, but the Millennial Kingdom will belong to the poor in spirit.

The second blessing is upon those that mourn. But doesn’t everyone in this world mourn at one time or another? People mourn over their losses, over their misfortunes and reverses, but all such mourning is based upon selfishness. Jesus mourned and wept over Jerusalem, over the suffering and injustice in society, over man’s sinfulness and hardness of heart. This is the kind of mourning which we believe is meant here. And the promise is that all such will be comforted. There is comfort in knowing that some day God will put down everything that offends and the promise of comfort in this verse will be realized in the sabbath-rest of that glorious Kingdom.

Thirdly, there is blessing upon the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart:and ye shall find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:29). Meekness is not weakness. It is humility, submissiveness to God, mildness, gentleness. Whereas the word “meek” appears but three times in the Gospels, once in this beatitude and twice in reference to Christ, Paul admonishes meekness in the members of the Body of Christ nine times (1 Cor. 4:21; 2 Cor. 10:1; Gal. 5:23; 6:1; Eph. 4:2; Col. 3:12; 1 Tim. 6:11; 2 Tim. 2:25; Tit. 3:2). This meekness is not a product of human nature: it is the fruit of the Spirit. Paul would surely pronounce blessedness upon the meek also, but he never promises that because of their meekness they will inherit the earth. This earthly inheritance belongs to Israel’s Kingdom saints. The Church’s inheritance is heavenly. It is only in a secondary sense that members of the Church as joint-heirs with Christ will share in all that is His, which includes the redeemed earth.

Another characteristic for which there is blessedness is a hunger and thirst for righteousness. There is the imputed righteousness of God which is given as a free gift to all who believe as a result of justification by faith, and there is an imparted and inwrought righteousness of character which is the product of the burning desire for likeness to God. If there is a desire, a hungering and thirsting to be like Christ, God will satisfy that longing.

The fifth beatitude is upon the merciful; for they shall obtain mercy. It is because God is rich in mercy that anyone is saved (Eph. 2:4). Mercy emphasizes the misery with which grace deals. Bengel remarks: “Grace takes away the fault, mercy the misery.” God desires mercy more than sacrifice (Hos. 6:6; Mic. 6:6- 8). The wise man of old had observed that “the merciful man doeth good to his own soul; but he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh” (Prov. 11:17).

The pure in heart are singled out next, for they shall see God. There were many ceremonial purifications practiced in the Old Testament, which touched only the flesh, the outward man, but they were all typical of the inward purification which is now wrought by the Spirit of God in those that believe. Paul, in speaking of that work of God states: “Our Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify unto himself a people for his own possession, zealous of good works” (Tit. 2: 14). Paul speaks also of purity of heart and purity of conscience.

Next, there is blessedness for peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God. Again, Paul has much to say about this subject. He says, “God has called us to peace” (1 Cor. 7:15). “Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3). “And be at peace among yourselves” (1 Thes. 5: 13). “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men” (Rom. 12:18). Does this mean that all of those at the United Nations should be called the children of God? Are they not supposed to be there to bring about world peace? It should be evident to any unbiased observer that each of the nations represented in that body are there to keep peace only if it results in benefits to its own selfish interests. God and the peace of God are foreign to all of their undertakings. The peacemakers of our text are children of God.

We have purposely emphasized the fact that all eight of these character traits for the Kingdom saints are to be found in greater degree even in the Pauline writings to members of the Body of Christ, for the reason that charges are often made that a dispensational approach robs the believer of the truth in the Sermon on the Mount. If there is any dispensational difference, it is that in the full blaze of revelation in the Pauline epistles, we in this dispensation are under greater obligation to manifest these godly traits of character than were the people of Jesus’ day. As we have seen, there are dispensational differences between promises made to the Kingdom saints and the Body saints, and as we shall see there is progressive revelation which produces changes, but there are other things which never change.

Finally there is blessedness for those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. Peter has a wonderful commentary on this passage:
“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you. But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy (blessed) are ye: for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Yet, if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God on this behalf” (1 Pet. 4: 12-16).

The beatitudes conclude with two brief parables, that of the salt and the candle. Salt is a seasoning and a preservative. Light dispels darkness. The disciples were to be both the Light of the world and the Salt of the earth. Salt is needed where there is corruption, and Light where there is darkness. These two parables teach that the main work of the disciples was to influence for good those round about them. Salt that has lost its saltiness and a candle that is placed under a bushel are worthless: neither can fulfill its intended function. These principles are as valid today as they will be for Israel in the coming tribulation. (Col. 4:6).

(Main Source: Understanding The Gospels – A Different Approach – Charles F. Baker)

NOTE: Dear friends, we wish to expand the ministry, Lord willing, and to distribute tracts to the Zulu people in the area in South Africa where we live.
We humbly ask for any donations, no matter how small. Should you feel led to donate, donations can be made to our PayPal account.
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THE RAPTURE SERIES 3: THE DEAD IN CHRIST SHALL RISE FIRST

0 RAPTURE

THE DEAD IN CHRIST SHALL RISE FIRST

” and the dead in Christ shall rise first” (1st Thessalonians 4:16b).

Our Lord’s Resurrection Power

The initiating power of this translation was, of course, the resurrection power of our Lord. We all know that He appeared in the same body He had before His death. The disciples recognized Him, as did many other people.

The apostle Paul writes about the resurrected Lord and confirms in 1st Corinthians 15:5-8, “… that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.”

The resurrection of the Lord is a major event in God’s history of salvation. When Jesus victoriously arose on the third day, we read, “…behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door…” (Matthew 28:2). That was an earth-shaking event! The power of that resurrection caused the awakening and subsequent translation of the bodies of some of the saints.

Three Important Points

To better understand our message “And the Dead in Christ Shall Rise First,” we should consider three important points:

  •    What does the word “resurrection” mean?
  •    The resurrection as a fulfillment of prophecy.
  •    The first and second resurrection.

1) What Does “Resurrection” Mean?

In simple terms, the word “resurrection” means to go from death to life. Obviously, this must be preceded by the change from life to death. Resurrection reverses that process.

Resurrection from the dead is essential to Christian doctrine and concerns itself primarily with the resurrection of our Lord. Later, we will see different types of resurrections; however, none of them compare to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ because His is the firstfruit of the resurrection to eternal life.

When the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians about the Rapture in 1st Corinthians 15:12-14, he specifically emphasized the absolute necessity of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. “Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen; And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.” Paul’s point is very clear. Without Christ’s resurrection, the preaching of the Gospel is invalid; furthermore, our faith is in vain.

Christ is coming again! The components which make up the resurrection can be identified in this order: life, death, resurrection, ascension, and return.

Paul continues, “…we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins ” (Verses 15-17).

Without the resurrection of Christ, there would be no salvation.

Equally, we would have no hope of resurrection if Christ had not been raised from the dead. Subsequently, with no resurrection of the dead in Christ, we which are alive could not be caught up in the Rapture, and “… they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished”‘ (verse 18).

Faith in the Rapture is a requirement for the Rapture. First Thessalonians 4:14 says, “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.” Notice the word “if.” This is a clear revelation that those who do not believe in the physical resurrection of the Lord Jesus are in reality not believers. As a result, they will not be raptured.

Christ: The Firstfruits

Paul dismisses the theory prevalent in the Corinthian church regarding the non-resurrection and confirms the absolute reality of the resurrection of Christ, “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming” (1st Corinthians 15:20-23).

In this passage, Paul identifies Christ as “the firstfruits” two times. This is significant because none of the other resurrections documented in the Bible belonged to the “firstfruits.” More importantly, the Lord’s resurrection is the one that leads to eternal life.

National “Resurrection” Of Israel

Ezekiel documents a special resurrection that doesn’t belong to the resurrection of the firstfruits. It is the national resurrection of Israel.

“The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry. And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, 0 Lord God, thou knowest” (Ezekiel 37:1-3).

National identity had to be resurrected as well. For all practical purposes, this was virtually impossible because the Jews were scattered over the entire face of the earth. It seemed as though wherever they settled they were always faced with oppression and persecution. Where they have been permitted to remain, they have become part of the landscape of the nation in which they lived. In Europe they have become European Jews; in Africa they have become African Jews; in Asia they have become Asian Jews; and in America, American Jews. Despite the odds, they have remained Jews; an invisible bond has kept them together. This bond centers on the Bible, their heritage. The Bible has been the only cord of unity binding the Jews throughout the Diaspora.

2000 years after the Diaspora, they are still Jews. Before the state of Israel was founded, many leading anthropologists predicted that it would take hundreds of years for Israel to become a nation of one people again. In spite of these seemingly impossible odds, Israel survived and has become a nation as the matter was taken care of by the Lord. They are caming from virtually all the nations of the world, yet they became “… one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel…”

Resurrection reverses the process from death to life.

First Corinthians 15:23 gives us the order, “But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.” This includes all who are in Christ, who belong to Him, and are saved based on His shed blood.

The dead in Christ must rise first because their spirit-souls are already in the presence of the Lord without their glorified bodies. Keep in mind that the glorified body can only be attained through the resurrection of the old body. For that reason, we unconditionally believe in the physical resurrection of the Lord.

2) The resurrection as a fulfillment of prophecy.

Now comes the important part: Jesus led His disciples to the prophetic Word. He knew that miracles which we see and hear do not necessarily lead to a living faith, “And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day”‘(Luke 24:44-46).

The resurrection is a fulfillment of Bible prophecy and this fulfillment will continue until He has accomplished all things, “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death” (1st Corinthians 15:26). Death will be destroyed when His Body is completed.

“So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (1st Corinthians 15:54-55).

3) The First And Second Resurrection

We cannot emphasize strongly enough that there is no salvation outside of the Lord Jesus Christ. He clearly stated, “No one cometh unto the Father, but by me.” He is the door, He is the way, He is the truth, He is the light, and He is the life. People are saved only through the shed blood of the Lamb of God.

All believers of all times who have trusted the Lord and are saved for all eternity belong to the first resurrection, “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection…” (Revelation 20:6). The first resurrection nullifies the power of death, “…on such the second death hath no power… ” (verse 6).

The last resurrection is described in Revelation 20:12-14, “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. ” Grace is not included in this last resurrection.

(MAIN SOURCE: The Great Mystery of the Rapture – Arno Froese – 1999)

A DISPENSATIONAL VIEW OF THE GOSPELS IN SMALL CHUNKS (14)

0 Dispensationalism

CHAPTER V

The Middle Galilean Period

RESUME

This period of our Lord’s ministry extends from the calling of the Twelve Apostles to His withdrawal into northern Galilee. Again in this section we will notice that the order of events in Matthew differs somewhat from that in Mark and Luke. Matthew will skip from Ch. 12, where we ended the last section, to Ch. 10, and then to Ch. 5, 6, 7, then to Ch. 11 – 13, back to Ch. 8 and 9, and on to Ch. 14 and 15. Mark carries consecutively from Ch. 3:7 through 7:23. Luke likewise carries consecutively from Ch. 6:17 through 9:17. John Ch. 6 comes in at the close of the section.

1. Jesus Withdraws to the Sea of Galilee
References: Matt. 12:15-21; Mk. 3:7-12; Lk. 6:17-19

Although the Jewish leaders had been very upset over the claims of Jesus, this is the first time a council is held to find a means of destroying Him. Jesus, knowing their plot, withdrew Himself from them, but His fame was spreading so that people thronged from Jerusalem, Judea, Idumea, the areas east of Jordan, and from the seacoast to Tyre and Sidon to hear His preaching and to be healed. He tells those who were healed not to publicize Him. Matthew adds that this was done to fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy (42:1-4).
It would have been easy for Jesus to raise up an army in revolution against those who were plotting His death, but this was not His purpose in coming into the world. “He shall not strive, nor cry out; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax he shall not quench,” These words refer to the character of His first coming. But Isaiah also saw the second coming of Christ. Jesus did not act in judgment upon His enemies, but the prophecy continues, “TILL he send forth judgment unto victory, and in his name shall the Gentiles trust.” When He returns, He will execute judgment upon the ungodly; He will establish His Kingdom, and in that Kingdom the Gentiles will come to Israel’s Light.

There are differences of opinion concerning the meaning of the bruised reed and smoking flax. We believe that this prophecy teaches Christ’s restraint from judgment during His ministry of grace. He withdrew in order that He might not smite them. These were His enemies. He cannot break or quench until He sends forth judgment to victory.

2. Jesus Chooses His Twelve Apostles
References: Matt. 10:1-4; Mk. 3:13-19; Lk. 6:12-19

Luke informs us that before Jesus chose the Twelve He went out into a mountain to pray and continued all night in prayer to God. Important decisions should be preceded by much prayer. Luke also tells us that He called His disciples and chose from them twelve, whom He also named apostles. Apostle means one who is sent, an envoy, a missionary.

These twelve were entrusted with special power and authority. As we shall see later, they are to sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel in the Millennial Kingdom.
In comparing the names in the three accounts it will be seen that Matthew speaks of Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus (vs. 3), whereas Luke calls him Judas the son (not brother) of James. The second Simon is called the Canaanite by Matthew and Mark, but Luke calls him the Zealot. The A.V. incorrectly calls him a Canaanite. The Greek reads, “Cananaean.” The Zealots were a Jewish party which professed great zeal for the Law and resorted to violence in their hatred for foreigners. Simon apparently belonged to that party before becoming a disciple.

Luke tells us that Jesus came down from the mount and stood in the plain or a level place and great crowds came and were healed. There follows after this in Luke what appears to be an abbreviated form of the Sermon on the Mount. Some scholars think this discourse in Luke is separate and distinct from the Sermon on the Mount, and they call it the Sermon in the Plain. Since the two are so similar, they will be considered together under the next heading.

3. The Sermon on the Mount 

References: Matt. 5, 6, 7; Lk. 6:20-49

The Sermon on the Mount is a summary of the moral and spiritual qualifications of candidates for the Millennial Kingdom. There are certain moral and spiritual absolutes which are unchangeable and which apply equally to God’s people in all ages. Therefore, many of the principles enunciated in this Sermon are as applicable to members of the Body of Christ as they are to members of the Kingdom. But there are certain features of this Sermon which are applicable only to members of the Kingdom, and there is, therefore, need to rightly divide this portion of the Word.

The purpose of the Sermon is also to instruct the disciples how to live in view of the persecutions and tribulation which they would suffer while waiting for the actual establishment of the Kingdom. They are instructed to pray for the Kingdom to come. The Sermon was given to the disciples in the presence of a multitude. The Sermon does not present the Gospel of salvation or explain how sinners may be saved: rather, it is addressed to people who were already saved, who could call God their heavenly Father. Much confusion has come from supposing that one can become a Christian by trying to live up to the Sermon on the Mount. There is a vast difference between living in order to become a saint, and living as becometh a saint (cf. Eph. 5:1-3).

With these introductory thoughts in mind, let us examine the following ten divisions:
A. Character: Matt. 5:1-16; Lk. 6:20-26. This division deals with the character and the blessedness of the Kingdom saints. It consists of what is generally called the Beatitudes, or the pronouncement of blessedness upon the eight traits of character which are enumerated. The first is poverty of spirit, the realization of one’s moral and spiritual bankruptcy before God, which is just the opposite of pride of spirit, which characterizes the unconverted, who suppose they have such abundance of goodness in themselves that they have no need of a Savior. See the poverty of spirit of Isaiah in Ch. 6:5 of his prophecy, or that of Job in Job 42:1-6, or that of David in Ps. 51:1-5, or that of Paul in Phil. 3:7-9. Many of the parables of Jesus illustrate man’s spiritual poverty by nature, such as the two debtors of Lk. 7:42. The Kingdom of heaven, not heaven, not the Church, but the Millennial Kingdom will belong to the poor in spirit.

The second blessing is upon those that mourn. But doesn’t everyone in this world mourn at one time or another? People mourn over their losses, over their misfortunes and reverses, but all such mourning is based upon selfishness. Jesus mourned and wept over Jerusalem, over the suffering and injustice in society, over man’s sinfulness and hardness of heart. This is the kind of mourning which we believe is meant here. And the promise is that all such will be comforted. There is comfort in knowing that some day God will put down everything that offends and the promise of comfort in this verse will be realized in the sabbath-rest of that glorious Kingdom.

Thirdly, there is blessing upon the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart:and ye shall find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:29). Meekness is not weakness. It is humility, submissiveness to God, mildness, gentleness. Whereas the word “meek” appears but three times in the Gospels, once in this beatitude and twice in reference to Christ, Paul admonishes meekness in the members of the Body of Christ nine times (1 Cor. 4:21; 2 Cor. 10:1; Gal. 5:23; 6:1; Eph. 4:2; Col. 3:12; 1 Tim. 6:11; 2 Tim. 2:25; Tit. 3:2). This meekness is not a product of human nature: it is the fruit of the Spirit. Paul would surely pronounce blessedness upon the meek also, but he never promises that because of their meekness they will inherit the earth. This earthly inheritance belongs to Israel’s Kingdom saints. The Church’s inheritance is heavenly. It is only in a secondary sense that members of the Church as joint-heirs with Christ will share in all that is His, which includes the redeemed earth.

Another characteristic for which there is blessedness is a hunger and thirst for righteousness. There is the imputed righteousness of God which is given as a free gift to all who believe as a result of justification by faith, and there is an imparted and inwrought righteousness of character which is the product of the burning desire for likeness to God. If there is a desire, a hungering and thirsting to be like Christ, God will satisfy that longing.

The fifth beatitude is upon the merciful; for they shall obtain mercy. It is because God is rich in mercy that anyone is saved (Eph. 2:4). Mercy emphasizes the misery with which grace deals. Bengel remarks: “Grace takes away the fault, mercy the misery.” God desires mercy more than sacrifice (Hos. 6:6; Mic. 6:6- 8). The wise man of old had observed that “the merciful man doeth good to his own soul; but he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh” (Prov. 11:17).

The pure in heart are singled out next, for they shall see God. There were many ceremonial purifications practiced in the Old Testament, which touched only the flesh, the outward man, but they were all typical of the inward purification which is now wrought by the Spirit of God in those that believe. Paul, in speaking of that work of God states: “Our Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify unto himself a people for his own possession, zealous of good works” (Tit. 2: 14). Paul speaks also of purity of heart and purity of conscience.

Next, there is blessedness for peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God. Again, Paul has much to say about this subject. He says, “God has called us to peace” (1 Cor. 7:15). “Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3). “And be at peace among yourselves” (1 Thes. 5: 13). “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men” (Rom. 12:18). Does this mean that all of those at the United Nations should be called the children of God? Are they not supposed to be there to bring about world peace? It should be evident to any unbiased observer that each of the nations represented in that body are there to keep peace only if it results in benefits to its own selfish interests. God and the peace of God are foreign to all of their undertakings. The peacemakers of our text are children of God.

We have purposely emphasized the fact that all eight of these character traits for the Kingdom saints are to be found in greater degree even in the Pauline writings to members of the Body of Christ, for the reason that charges are often made that a dispensational approach robs the believer of the truth in the Sermon on the Mount. If there is any dispensational difference, it is that in the full blaze of revelation in the Pauline epistles, we in this dispensation are under greater obligation to manifest these godly traits of character than were the people of Jesus’ day. As we have seen, there are dispensational differences between promises made to the Kingdom saints and the Body saints, and as we shall see there is progressive revelation which produces changes, but there are other things which never change.

Finally there is blessedness for those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. Peter has a wonderful commentary on this passage:

“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you. But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy (blessed) are ye: for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Yet, if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God on this behalf” (1 Pet. 4: 12-16).

The beatitudes conclude with two brief parables, that of the salt and the candle. Salt is a seasoning and a preservative. Light dispels darkness. The disciples were to be both the Light of the world and the Salt of the earth. Salt is needed where there is corruption, and Light where there is darkness. These two parables teach that the main work of the disciples was to influence for good those round about them. Salt that has lost its saltiness and a candle that is placed under a bushel are worthless: neither can fulfill its intended function. These principles are as valid today as they will be for Israel in the coming tribulation. (Col. 4:6).

(Main Source: Understanding The Gospels – A Different Approach – Charles F. Baker)

NOTE: Dear friends, we wish to expand the ministry, Lord willing, and to distribute tracts to the Zulu people in the area in South Africa where we live.
We humbly ask for any donations, no matter how small. Should you feel led to donate, donations can be made to our PayPal account.

https://heavenlyremnantministries.blog/paypal-donations/?