Monthly Archives: November 2015

Why did Paul write, “I lie not?”

WHY DID PAUL WRITE, “I LIE NOT?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

On four occasions (Romans 9:1; 2 Corinthians 11:31; Galatians 1:20; 1 Timothy 2:7), the Apostle Paul wrote, “I lie not.” Why pen such a “weird” statement—especially four times? Was he implying that he was lying all the other times in his epistles? Dear friends, this puzzling phrase is quite easy to understand. Whenever we approach the Bible, God expects us to use a little common sense. It will go a long, long way. (I lie not!)

Let us pause and consider the meaning of, “I lie not.” Think about expressions we often use in our speech or writing. When we say to someone, “I am being serious,” are we implying that every other time we speak we are joking? Of course not! It is just that we want people to pay special attention to the words we have just spoken or the words we are going to speak shortly thereafter. The same is true of the expressions “I am being honest” and “I am telling you the truth.” In that light, we appreciate Paul’s phrase, “I lie not.” The Apostle Paul is endeavoring to tell us some very important truths. Yet, people are calling him a liar. They are not taking his words seriously. They are making light of God’s Word to them. The Holy Spirit is putting great stress on these four instances, so we need to look at them and see why these truths are just so difficult for people to grasp.

ROMANS 9:1-2
“[1] I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, [2] That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart.”

As Saul of Tarsus, the Apostle Paul had gained a notorious reputation for mercilessly imprisoning and slaughtering Jews who followed Jesus Christ (Acts 9:13-14; Acts 26:9-11; Galatians 1:13,23; Philippians 3:5-6; 1 Timothy 1:13). Once he came to trust Jesus Christ as his personal Saviour, he realized just how wrong he had been for all those years. Now, a saved man, he was filled with regret, having killed his own brethren for believing the truth of their fathers’ God. For ever so long and ever so hard, he had fought against the JEHOVAH God he had thought he was serving in killing Messianic Jews. Many years were wasted serving Satan. Saul, a religious leader, was the primary figure for leading Israel’s rebellion against Jesus Christ, probably during the Four Gospels but especially during the early Acts period. We can read the closing verses of Acts chapter 7 and the opening verses of chapters 8 and 9 to see just how ruthless Saul was!

As the Apostle Paul, he was now preaching that Israel had fallen, and that salvation was now going to the Gentiles through his ministry without Israel (Acts 13:46-48; Acts 18:6; Acts 28:28; Romans 11:11-13; 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16). That infuriated unbelieving Israel. No wonder they persecuted him during his Acts ministry. The thought that Israel was no different from the pagan Gentile “dogs” that she had looked down upon for centuries. How offensive! The lost Jews called Paul “anti-Semitic,” some renegade Mosaic scholar now gone insane. They called him a “Jew-hater,” some “crazy man” with an “outlandish message.” (Do they not call us that today when we preach Pauline truths?) So, the Holy Spirit through Paul conducted his ministry during Acts so that unbelieving Israelites could be enticed to join the Body of Christ (Romans 11:13-14). Paul did not hate Israelites. Rather, he hated what he had done to them as a lost man, how he had led them to embrace such error. So, he would passionately preach in their synagogues, hoping to save them from that apostasy. Paul had such a heavy heart that his nation was literally going to hell, and worst of all, he had played a very vital role in it! (The unbelieving Jews were saying Paul hated them, but he reassured them, even saying that the Holy Spirit bore witness, that he was not lying when he said how he felt so sorry for them and felt so sad about their spiritual condition.)

2 CORINTHIANS 11:30-31
“[30] If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities. [31] The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not.”

It was very ridiculous. Whenever people ridiculed the Apostle Paul as being a “nobody,” he would defend himself, and then they would call him egotistical. (Sounds just like how people react to us today when we preach Jesus Christ according to Paul’s ministry!) In this chapter, Paul described the immense sufferings he endured to preach the Gospel of the Grace of God to lost and dying Gentiles. He was beaten, imprisoned, stoned with rocks, shipwrecked, and suffered various deprivations (hunger, nakedness, sleepless nights, et cetera). Read it for yourself, in the verses preceding:

“[22] Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. [23] Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. [24] Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. [25] Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; [26] In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; [27] In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. [28] Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. [29] Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?”

So, what are the “infirmities” that Paul found worth in in 2 Corinthians 11:30? It was all his troubles and hindrances delineated in the previous eight verses! He did not find value in being praised by men, receiving religionists’ approval, et cetera. He found value in remembering that Jesus Christ was strong when he was weak (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). In the grand scheme of things, Paul’s suffering was nothing. Gentiles were being saved from idolatry and hell, and God’s grace that was saving them from sin was saving him from misery and defeat! “[30] If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities. [31] The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not.”

GALATIANS 1:20
“Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.”

Throughout the first 19 verses of chapter 1, Paul discusses his special apostleship and message. He continued this into chapter 2. We will only focus on chapter 1 here. In verses 1, 11-12, 15-16, 17-18, and 19, we see Paul giving five reasons why his apostleship and message are totally separate from the 12 apostles’ ministry and message.

“[1] Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)… [11] But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. [12] For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. [15] But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, [16] To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: [17] Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. [18] Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. [19] But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother.”

Paul did not have contact with any of the 12 apostles for the first three years of his Christian life. He received divine revelation directly from the risen, ascended, and glorified Jesus Christ. The 12 apostles taught Paul nothing. Rather, he taught them something (Galatians 2:2,6-8). This “lie not” statement is related to the final “lie not,” which we now discuss.

1 TIMOTHY 2:7
“Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.”

There were various people—especially false teachers in Corinth (see 2 Corinthians chapters 10-13)—who denied Paul’s apostleship to the Gentiles. Jewish false teachers would especially try to discredit Paul, since his ministry was so radically different from the Old Testament prophetic program. Whenever Paul would claim that he was an apostle of Jesus Christ, his critics would call him a liar. Hence, he wrote “I lie not” in 1 Timothy 2:7. He lied not in that he was indeed—in faith and in verity—truly “a teacher of the Gentiles.”

CONCLUSION

Regarding these four instances, Paul was being accused of lying. He was affirming that he was telling the truth concerning these four issues. They were important truths that needed to be believed instead of being casually brushed off as falsehoods.

Also see:
» What about Romans 10:9-10?
» Why did Jesus forbid others from preaching that He was Christ?
» Who was Judas’ replacement—Matthias or Paul?

If God knows who will serve Him and who won’t, why witness?

IF GOD KNOWS WHO WILL SERVE HIM AND WHO WON’T, WHY WITNESS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“If God already knows who will serve Him and who won’t, why then do we continue to share this Grace message?”

Hello, my friend. What a question! Yes, God already knows who will serve Him and who will not serve Him, but it is still our duty—yea, our honor—to reach those who will listen. (I know how some Christians like to use your question as an argument/excuse so they do not have to witness. They are robbing themselves of one of the greatest joys of Christian living!) The only way we can reach those who will ultimately believe is to share the Gospel of God’s Grace with everyone. That includes sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with those who will receive those precious words, and preaching them to those who will reject those words. That means preaching to those who will be saved, and preaching to those who will never be saved. Ultimately, it is their choice—accept God’s offer or reject it. The gift of salvation through Jesus Christ is never forced on anyone. It is “unto all” (Romans 3:22). God offers it to all the nations of the world (2 Corinthians 5:19), and the only way all the peoples of the world can hear about it if we (the Church the Body of Christ) preach it to them.

Let us look at three Biblical examples of how God’s people—including His Son Jesus Christ—preached to the masses, despite the widespread rejection of the Gospel message they preached.

Noah. Only seven people believed Noah’s message. Yet, he still preached to the millions of the world that a global flood was coming. Genesis 7:13 says that his wife, their three sons, and their three wives, entered the ark with him. The rest of the people of the world perished in the Flood. As 2 Peter 2:5 says, “And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;” Over 99.9 percent of Noah’s audience mocked and laughed, and died. God knew only eight people would be saved from that Great Flood, and yet He still directed Noah to preach! By sending Noah to preach, the people who rejected God’s Word would be without excuse. They heard how to escape that wrath, and yet they deliberately refused it. When they are resurrected in the future, that rejected message will be brought to their minds. Before they are consigned to an everlasting fire and brimstone, they will be confronted with all those “lost opportunities for salvation.” (More on this shortly.)

Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry. The Lord Jesus said, “But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him” (John 6:64). Surely, Jesus knew that only a few Jews would trust in Him as their Messiah-King. He knew that “from the beginning [of His ministry],” the Bible says, that Judas would betray Him. Moments after Jesus uttered those offensive words, verse 66 says what happened next: “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.” Talk about a waning crowd, beloved! That day, Jesus Christ probably lost His greatest amount of “listeners.” They loved to hear Him speak “beautiful words,” they loved His “free lunches” and His free healing miracles, but they did not have one bit of interest in having their sins forgiven through Him. When He exposed their unbelief, they left quick and never followed Him again!

Jesus Christ began His ministry with Matthew chapter 7, “[13] Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: [14] Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Certainly, Jesus knew the majority of people would prefer to stay lost, dead in their trespasses and sins, thoroughly content (prideful) to stay heading toward “destruction.” Just a few would want eternal “life.” We would be fools to disagree with Jesus Christ and say those words of His are not equally true of our audiences today.

Later, Acts 1:15 says there were only 120 believers in Jerusalem after Christ’s earthly ministry was over!! Yet, Jesus still preached, so the people who refused Him would be condemned by those words He preached. The Lord Jesus later said in John 12:48: “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” This a reference to the lost world being judged at the Great White Throne Judgment. That verse is the key to understanding how all lost people of all time will be judged before they are tossed into the lake of fire.

The Holy Spirit led the Apostle John to write in Revelation 20:11-15: “[11] And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. [12] 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. [13] 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. [14] And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. [15] And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”

According to the Lord Jesus (John 12:48), in the distant future, the Holy Bible will be used to condemn unsaved people, to sentence them to the lake of fire to burn alive forever. (What a strong case for Bible preservation this is!!!!!!!!) They all had at least one opportunity to hear the life-giving words of the God of the Bible. In fact, Romans 1:20 says they are “without excuse.” Whatever dispensation was operating during their day in human history, they will be fully accountable for rejecting it, and the Lord Jesus Christ will bring it before these people as they stand before Him. They rejected it, and He now formally rejects them before all. What He is doing with these lost people is demonstrably 100 percent righteous, totally fair.

The Apostle Paul. Paul knew he would never convert many or most. In fact, he confessed that his preaching would only save some Jews from their national apostasy (Romans 11:14; 1 Corinthians 9:22). Father God will use us, the Body of Christ, to reach everyone with the message of salvation through Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork. This way, no one can say, “I did not know” or “I did not have chance.” But, only a few will choose to trust Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour. Even though God knew just a few people would believe His written Word, He still preserved it for the benefit of those who would believe it. Yes, God’s preserved Word and our preaching it will be used against the lost when they are ultimately judged. Paul wrote, “In that day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel(Romans 2:16).

CONCLUSION

Brethren, let us warn everyone we can of their need of Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork as sufficient payment for their sins! The rich man in hell wanted his loved ones on Earth to hear God’s Word, that they not come to the same place of torment he was now suffering (Luke 16:28). Let us remember all of these peoples’ relatives who are in hell today. Those people would want us to tell their family and friends on Earth about the reality of everlasting hellfire and God’s solution for it. They must be told about God’s righteous wrath against their sin, and we Christians need to tell them! They need to hear about the shed blood of Jesus Christ to pay for their sins! If they do not believe the Message of God’s Grace that we preach, they will be haunted forever in hell about why they did not have to go there. Let us reach them in love and for the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ… before it is too late!

Colossians 1: “[28] [Jesus Christ] Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: [29] Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.”

2 Timothy 2:24-26: “[24] And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, [25] In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; [26] And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.”

2 Corinthians 5:11: “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.”

Also see:
» What about those “strange distractions” when we witness to others?
» Is there a simple way to present the Grace Message to children and teens?
» Why did Jesus forbid others from preaching that He was Christ?

Should we “name and claim” Jeremiah 29:11?

SHOULD WE “NAME AND CLAIM” JEREMIAH 29:11?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Jeremiah 29:11 is quoted ad nauseum in Christendom, especially in “evangelical” and “conservative” circles: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Can and does this apply to us in this the Dispensation of Grace? Should we “name and claim” it? What is it really talking about? It does not matter what the preachers say or the denominations say. What matters is what God’s Word actually says. “For what saith the Scriptures?” If we look at the context, it is apparently clear what Jeremiah 29:11 is discussing and to whom it applies.

Today’s lukewarm Christianity mindlessly quotes Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” However, who quotes Jeremiah 21:10, a verse found in the same Bible book? “For I have set my face against this city for evil, and not for good, saith the LORD: it shall be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire.” Why does religion just select one appealing verse but toss out the verses that do not support the system they are promoting? What dishonesty! What a shameful way to treat the Book of the God of the universe.

THE CONTEXT OF JEREMIAH 29:11

Before JEHOVAH God could have good thoughts toward Jerusalem and the nation Israel, He had to first deal with their sins. Rather than relying on God’s grace—God freely giving them everything they needed—they agreed to enter into a covenant with Him (Exodus chapters 19-24). This was the Old Covenant, the Mosaic Law (part of it was the Ten Commandments). Israel contracted to perform perfectly to gain His blessings and acceptance; to fail in a single point was to merit His wrath and curses. Even today, “Christian” people get hung up on Israel’s works-religion system. They never learned the lesson of Israel’s history. Shame!

Exodus 19:3-6: “[3] And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel; [4] Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself. [5] Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: [6] And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.”

“And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the LORD our God, as he hath commanded us” (Deuteronomy 6:25).

Finally, Deuteronomy chapter 28: “[1] And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: [2] And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God…. [14] And thou shalt not go aside from any of the words which I command thee this day, to the right hand, or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them. [15] But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee:….”

Israel was doomed to fail right from day 1, but God loves freedom so much that He gave them exactly what they wanted. They wanted religion, and they got just that, along with the consequences of weak human nature.

So, we reach the time of the Prophet Jeremiah. Nine hundred years after the ratification of the Mosaic system, and Israel (technically, the southern kingdom of Judah) is entering the fifth course of judgment. What began in the book of Judges (because of her pagan idolatry) is now in its fifth and final phase—after four previous attempts of JEHOVAH trying to reform them with chastisement, Leviticus 26:27-39 says Israel must now be removed from the Promised Land. Jeremiah 21:10 is Jeremiah’s message from God to warn Judah that the Babylonian armies are coming: Jerusalem will be sacked, its walls burned to the ground, the Temple destroyed, and the Jews will be led away captive to present-day Iraq. The Jews are instructed not to fight but rather capitulate to their enemies’ desires. In 586 B.C., Jerusalem was decimated—the Babylonians cleansed JEHOVAH’S land of idolatry. Jeremiah 29:11 is Israel’s hope in such a hopeless condition!

We read in Jeremiah 29:14: “And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.” From 606 B.C. to 536 B.C., Judah was captive in Babylon. JEHOVAH told them that after those 70 years (Jeremiah 25:11-12; cf. Daniel 9:2), He would bring these Jews back to Jerusalem; He would not leave them hopeless, for He still had marvelous plans for them despite their unbelief and disobedience.

Read Jeremiah 29:11 in its context: “[10] For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place. [11] For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. [12] Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. [13] And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. [14] And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.”

The Jewish Bible, which ends with 2 Chronicles, concludes with Israel back in her homeland (chapter 36): “[20] And them that had escaped from the sword carried he away to Babylon; where they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia: [21] To fulfil the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years. [22] Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, [23] Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the LORD God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? The LORD his God be with him, and let him go up.”

These two Jewish expeditions from exile to Jerusalem are recorded in the Bible books of Ezra and Nehemiah. Nevertheless, many Jews are still scattered worldwide today, and certainly not enjoying God’s earthly kingdom as they should have. Again, Jeremiah 29:11 is Israel’s hope in such a hopeless condition!

We read in Jeremiah 23:5-6: “[5] Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. [6] In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”

The Old Testament “Major Prophets” (the five “large” books of Isaiah through Daniel) and the “Minor Prophets” (the 12 “small” books of Hosea through Malachi) have two main themes—God’s judgment on the Jews in response to their centuries of pagan idolatry by forcing them out of His land, and God’s forgiving and restoring Israel to return to that Promised Land and enjoy His earthly kingdom forever. Although Jeremiah devoted large portions of his ministry and book to that impending divine wrath, the Holy Spirit moved him to also preach and write verses that declared that God’s Messiah would come to deliver Israel from the religious (spiritual), social, and political mess in which she put herself (see Jeremiah 23:5-6 above).

While Judah was captive in Babylon, JEHOVAH revealed to the Prophet Daniel that in addition to 70 years necessary for the Promised Land’s cleansing, 70 weeks of years (or 490 years) were needed to cleanse the Jewish people (Daniel 9:24-27). After this 490-year period, Messiah would come and deliver Israel from her sins and her enemies. Once Jesus Christ came, Israel had the prospect to be a redeemed people in a cleansed land. Just as that 69th week of years expired, they delivered Him to the Romans to have Him die on an awful Roman cross. He resurrected and returned to heaven rejected.

Now, one seven-year period (Daniel’s 70th week) remains on the prophetic calendar before Jesus Christ can return for Israel and establish her kingdom (Jeremiah 23:5-6). When He comes the second time, He will use His blood shed at Calvary to establish a New Covenant to take away Israel’s sins (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Acts 3:19; Romans 11:26,27; Hebrews 8:8-13; Hebrews 10:15-17). Yes, Jeremiah 29:11 is still true—God’s wonderful plans for Israel are to be fulfilled in His own time!

Jerusalem, the Babylonians are coming, the Babylonians are coming!
Jerusalem, the Jews are coming, the Jews are coming!
Jerusalem, the Messiah is coming, the Messiah is coming!

JEREMIAH 29:11 AND US IN THE DISPENSATION OF GRACE

Never once does our Apostle Paul quote Jeremiah 29:11 as applicable to us. It is a good verse, a wonderful verse, but it is not to or about us. It is to and about the nation Israel. The basic fallacy in Christendom today has been the 2,000-year-long practice of grabbing Israel’s verses, completely disregarding the contexts, and making them apply to us. For example, Matthew 28:19-20, Isaiah 45:15, Acts 2:38, 1 John 1:9, Psalm 55:11, Matthew 16:18, James 5:14-16, Deuteronomy 8:18, 2 Chronicles 7:14, Malachi 3:8-11, et cetera. Jeremiah 29:11 applies to people who were taken captive to Babylon (verse 10!). Were we ever in Babylonian captivity? No, but Israel was. We cannot claim verse 10 as true of us; therefore, verse 11 does not apply to us either. Let us leave Jeremiah 29:11 exactly where it is in the Bible, and no confusion will result. It really is that simple.

Friend, if you want some positive, uplifting verses, wonderful promises from God, why not believe God’s Word to you rather than stealing Israel’s verses and ignoring their context? Friend, you search the Pauline epistles, Romans through Philemon, and you see such glorious truths true of us Gentiles in the Dispensation of Grace and members of the Church the Body of Christ:

Ephesians 1:3: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:”

1 Corinthians 1:30: “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:”

2 Corinthians 5:8: “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”

Galatians 5:1: “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”

Colossians 1:13-14: “[13] Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: [14] In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:”

Romans 5:8: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

Philippians 1:6,11: “[6] Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:… [11] Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.”

Titus 3:4-7: “[4] But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, [5] Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; [6] Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; [7] That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

Also see:
» What are our spiritual blessings in Jesus Christ?
» Must I maintain fellowship with God?
» Should we pray for the peace of Jerusalem?

Why are all of Israel’s tribes not listed in Revelation 7?

WHY ARE ALL OF ISRAEL’S TRIBES NOT LISTED IN REVELATION 7?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“Dan is named in Genesis 49:17 and Numbers 13:12 as one of the twelve tribes of Israel, but in Revelation 7:5-8 the tribe of Dan is omitted. Levi is named in Dan’s place. What would be the reason for this?”

Okay, great question! This can get a little tricky, but hopefully, we will be simple to understand here. You are asking about one of two challenges people experience with this passage. Enlightenment concerning both issues is necessary, especially if we are to answer those who like to pick on Revelation chapter 7 and say it is “riddled with errors.”

Abraham’s grandson Jacob (Israel) had 12 sons—Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Dan, Joseph, Benjamin, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher (1 Chronicles 2:1-2; cf. Genesis 35:22-26; Genesis 49:1-28). This is the origin of Israel’s 12 tribes.

However, when it came to organizing Israel for military purposes, God told Moses He did not want the priestly tribe of Levi fighting wars with the rest of Israel. So, since Joseph had two sons—Manasseh and Ephraim (Genesis 48:1,5,9)—that division in Joseph’s tribe created a new “tribe” to make up for the Levites’ absence (Numbers 1:32-35, 47-50). Recognizing that division in the tribe of Joseph helps us to partly understand the odd list of Jewish tribes in Revelation chapter 7.

Revelation chapter 7 talks about 12,000 Jewish preachers from each of Israel’s 12 tribes. These 144,000 men will evidently convert other Jews to form the Little Flock, Israel’s believing remnant. Revelation 7:4-8 is a list of the 12 tribes, their names transliterated from Greek, which explains the spelling differences between the New Testament and the Old Testament (Hebrew)—Juda, Reuben, Gad, Aser, Nepthalim, Manasses, Simeon, Levi, Issachar, Zabulon, Joseph, and Benjamin. Note that “Ephraim” and “Dan” do not appear here. See how “Levi,” “Joseph,” and “Manasses” (Manasseh) are mentioned. Why this deviation from the standard Old Testament lists of the 12 tribes? The answers lie in understanding the Old Testament.

WHY THE NAME “DAN” IS NOT FOUND IN REVELATION CHAPTER 7

According to the book of Judges, chapter 18, Dan was the first tribe to wholly embrace Baal worship (pagan idolatry). Being one of the 10 northern tribes, Dan was influential in polluting the Northern Kingdom with false religion. Since Dan was the first tribe to be unfaithful to God’s Word, God will not use any of the Danites to form the 144,000. The Levites, as you noted, will take Dan’s place in that special ministry. Remember, being the (special) priestly tribe, Levi was normally not mentioned when the 12 tribes were named in the Old Testament. Joseph’s two sons—Manasseh and Ephraim—formed two tribes instead of one. This division allowed Levi to be removed and yet Israel would still have 12 tribes for her army. Because the Danites are not part of the 144,000, thus causing the total to be 12,000 short, there are the 12,000 Levites to make up for the missing tribe of Dan.

WHY THE NAME “EPHRAIM” IS NOT FOUND IN REVELATION CHAPTER 7

You did not seem to notice, so let me point out to you that the name “Ephraim” is also absent from Revelation chapter 7. However, Ephraim is implied. “Joseph” and “Manasseh” are mentioned by name (verses 6 and 8), and that terminology forces “Joseph” to be Ephraim. (Joseph can only be divided into his two sons of Manasseh and Ephraim, and Manasseh was already named in the passage.) Evidently, God eliminated the name “Ephraim” here since Ephraim was another idolatrous tribe. With Dan, Ephraim was the other major tribe of the Northern Kingdom that eventually embraced idolatry and refused to abandon that paganism (Hosea 4:17). Nevertheless, there are still 12 tribes in Revelation chapter 7, with a different way of dividing Jacob’s descendants.

SUPPLEMENTAL: ONE FINAL CLARIFICATION

The list in Revelation chapter 7 has nothing to do with salvation unto eternal life and nothing to do with salvation into heaven. The Russellites—commonly called “the Jehovah’s Witnesses”—are probably best known for their “only 144,000 will be taken from earth into heaven” doctrine. Revelation chapter 7 is their favorite passage. The context, however, is not salvation unto eternal life. We know this because Revelation 14:4 says these 144,000 “were not defiled with women; for they are virgins.” In other words, the 144,000 are Jewish men who never had sexual relations with women!

Are only 144,000 men going to heaven? What about women? See, the 144,000 are not as the Jehovah’s Witness people tell us. The 144,000 are Jewish men whom God will use to preach to other Israelites during Daniel’s 70th Week, commonly called the seven-year Tribulation. These men, when their preaching ministry to Israel on Earth is over, will be taken into heaven (Revelation 14:1-5). The 144,000 are certainly not “Jehovah’s Witnesses,” and the 144,000 are not the only individuals going to heaven. In fact, we see others going into heaven during that Tribulation period—the two witnesses, for example (Revelation 11:12). Furthermore, we see the Church the Body of Christ destined for the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6-7). I think it is quite safe to say more than 144,000 Christians have lived on Earth during the last 2,000 years who died and went to heaven, no? Revelation chapter 7 has nothing to do with a limited number of people in heaven. Ridiculous!

Also see:
» Why does Israel have 12 apostles?
» Did David’s father Jesse have seven or eight sons?
» How many daughters did Lot have?

Are Galatians 3:28 and 1 Timothy 2:11-12 contradictory?

ARE GALATIANS 3:28 AND 1 TIMOTHY 2:11-12 CONTRADICTORY?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“How should we understand Galatians 3:28 & 1 Timothy 2:11-12?”

Hello, friend. I presume that you are inquiring about how gender is a non-issue in Galatians 3:28 while it is an issue in 1 Timothy 2:11-12. Are they contradictions? Not at all, dear friend. These verses sit in two different contexts. Both passages say exactly what they mean, and they mean exactly what they say. Let us look at these verses within their contexts and they will become amazingly clear. “For what saith the Scriptures?”

GALATIANS 3:28

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Whether Jew or Gentile, all members of the Church the Body of Christ are equal before God. Verses 26-27 say: “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” They are all equally “blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). They are all “complete in [Christ]” (Colossians 2:10). Today, there is no merit before God if you are a Jew. (This was not true in time past, Romans 9:4-5 says). Today, there is no disfavor before God if you are a Gentile. (This was not true in time past, Ephesians 2:11-12 says.)

No matter your ethnicity (Jew or Greek/Gentile), regardless of your social class (bond/servant or free), and no matter your gender (male or female), if you have trusted Jesus Christ alone as your personal Saviour, you are united with all other members of the Church the Body of Christ. All Christians are one in Jesus Christ. It may be hard for some to believe, but God has no “favorite” Christians. He does not bless some Christians while cursing other Christians. He does not love (or bless) some Christians more than He does other Christians. He does not put the pastors and teachers on a level higher than He does the ordinary church members. All people who have believed Paul’s Gospel of Grace, they are all equally accepted in God’s beloved, Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:6). Whether king or peasant, a Christian is a Christian, saved by the same blood of Jesus Christ. Whether rich or poor, black or white, male or female, there is complete and total equality in the Church the Body of Christ (cf. Colossians 3:11). No one in Christ is disadvantaged. Only those outside of Jesus Christ are disadvantaged.

While there is no difference in the Body of Christ between skin colors, genders, or social statuses, there are still physical distinctions that make us separate and unique. That is okay because that is the way God designed creation. Our skin color does not change when we trust Christ as our personal Saviour. We do not get an increase in salary simply because we become a Christian. Our gender does not change when we become a member of the Body of Christ. We still drive different classes of automobiles and live in different types of houses, right? People still look down on us whether our skin is light or dark, correct? We still have men’s restrooms and women’s restrooms in our local church buildings, right? See, these physical and material distinctions still exist. But, God does not look at them and pick favorites based on these criteria. He blesses all Christians in Christ equally. That is the teaching of Galatians 3:28. The Galatians thought they had to behave a certain way or become a certain type of person for God to accept them. They thought they had to keep the Law of Moses (and physical circumcision) to be pleasing in God’s sight (see Galatians 5:1-5). “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love” (verse 6). Paul had to remind these precious saints that God was already pleased with them because they were in Jesus Christ, His Son. It did not matter whether they were physically circumcised or physically uncircumcised (or Jew or Gentile, or male or female, et cetera).

1 TIMOTHY 2:11-12

“[11] Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. [12] But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.”

Now, when we come to the first epistle to Timothy, this is delineating the order of the local church assembly. How has God designed a local grace church to function? Chapter 3 describes how God has established the offices of bishops (verses 1-7) and deacons (verses 8-13). Church members in general are given instructions in verses 14-16.

But just before that, in chapter 2, Paul discussed acceptable behaviors of men and women in the local church. While there is no gender distinction when it comes to spiritual blessings (cf. Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:11), there is a gender distinction when it comes to leadership in the local church. The offices of bishop and deacon are reserved only for men (1 Timothy 3:1,2,11,12). Why? Because long before the Church the Body of Christ existed, God had already established the order of the sexes in creation. In other words, the husband is to be the spiritual leader in the family (Genesis 3:16). Eve was drawn away from Adam’s spiritual headship, and that caused her to be open to Satan’s attack.

Note 1 Timothy 2:13-15, the verses that immediately follow 1 Timothy 2:11-12: “[13] For Adam was first formed, then Eve. [14] And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. [15] Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.”

God does not want the local church to be vulnerable to the Devil’s wiles as Eve was when she eventually led to man’s fall. There is “salvation” (deliverance) from Satan’s deception when men lead the local assembly. This is why gender is an issue in 1 Timothy 2:12. It is not that God picks on women. Rather He is safeguarding Christian women from deception, for Satan is the one who likes to pick on women (remember Eve?).

Also see:
» Should Christian women wear head coverings in the local church?
» What is the role of women in the ministry?
» What about unmarried, divorced, and remarried men in the ministry?

Have we been “grafted into Israel?”

HAVE WE BEEN “GRAFTED INTO ISRAEL?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

Have we been grafted into Israel? Is that what Romans 11:16-24 teaches? As always, my dear readers, we look at the Bible and let it interpret itself. We should not have a denomination or religious tradition to promote. We should have a Person to exalt, and the Lord Jesus Christ is magnified when His Word is studied and believed no matter whom it contradicts!

No question about it. There is much controversy surrounding Romans 11:16-24. Honestly, there are some very outlandish ideas about what it teaches. Beloved, we should never, ever isolate a Bible passage. This set of verses is especially critical to our understanding as members of the Church the Body of Christ. We must get it right or we will face unanswerable confusion for the rest of our lives on Earth. Remember—Context! Context! Context! There are five preceding verses that lead up to Romans 11:16-24, and we need to heed them, lest we stumble over the verses they precede.

ROMANS 11:11-14

We begin reading Romans chapter 11: “[11] I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. [12] Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? [13] For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: [14] If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.”

According to the Old Testament, Israel was to rise to kingdom glory and be the channel of blessing and salvation to the Gentiles/nations (Genesis 12:1-3; Exodus 19:3-6; Isaiah 2:2-4; Isaiah 60:1-3; Isaiah 61:6; Zechariah 8:20-23). Through Israel (in her literal, physical, visible, earthly kingdom), Gentiles were to have a relationship with the one true God. Israel was to be God’s kingdom of priests. That has yet to happen. Something interrupted that prophetic program. It is our Dispensation of Grace, called “the Dispensation of the Grace of God” (Ephesians 3:2). In light of Romans 16:25, we can call it “the mystery program.” (Contrasted with Israel’s “prophetic program” of Acts 3:21). This present-day administration or arrangement was a mystery (secret) that God hid in Himself until He revealed it to the Apostle Paul (Ephesians 3:1-11; Colossians 1:24-29). In Romans chapter 11, we are reading about some truths that make up that revelation the resurrected, ascended, and glorified Lord Jesus Christ gave to the Apostle Paul.

Romans chapter 11 declares that Israel has fallen before God. She has now lost her special status before God, albeit only temporarily Israel is fallen. That was the secret God kept hidden in the Old Testament. That was the mystery that He finally revealed to the Apostle Paul. In our Dispensation of Grace, Israel has lost the opportunity to be the head of the nations. She cannot be God’s channel of salvation and blessing to the Gentiles (nations). Gentiles cannot approach God through Israel and her kingdom. Why? Because Israel herself is in unbelief and Satanic captivity. Yet, we Gentiles have access to God today, and we Gentiles have had access to Him for almost 2,000 years now. How is this possible?

As we read earlier in Romans 11:11-12, Israel is temporarily “cast away,” fallen before God. By God removing Israel from her privileged position, Romans 11:11-12 explains what this means for the whole world: “[11] I say then, Have they [Israel] stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. [12] Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?

In our dispensation, “the world” (all people/nations) has been “reconciled” to God. All people (Jew and Gentile) can now approach Him—not through Israel or her kingdom—but through Paul’s ministry (Romans 11:13) and Paul’s Gospel. God no longer makes the distinction between Jew and Gentile—to God, even Jews are “Gentiles.” Unlike in time past, in the but now, there is no “special nation of God” today. God only sees people in His Son (whether Jew or Gentile), and people outside of His Son (whether Jew or Gentile).

Romans 11:13, again: “For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office.” Paul is our apostle. That is, the risen, ascended, and glorified Lord Jesus Christ commissioned him to preach to us—all nations (Romans 1:5; Romans 16:26)—the good news of Calvary (“the Gospel of the Grace of God;” Acts 20:24). Reading from 2 Corinthians 5:19,21: “[19] To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. [21] For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”

Now, “the world” (all nations) has the opportunity to be made “nigh” (near) to God by Christ’s shed blood. It has nothing to do with Israel because Israel is not an issue with God today. We have not been “grafted into Israel” because there is no “Israel” to be grafted into! Let us see Ephesians 2:11-13: “[11] Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; [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: [13] But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”

“In Christ Jesus,” in this context (verse 13), is a reference to members of the Church the Body of Christ. “The blood of Christ”—the Gospel Message that Paul preached—is the means whereby we approach Father God today. When we trust the shed blood of Jesus Christ as sufficient payment for our sins, God credits that to our account as righteousness, and we are fit for heaven forever (Romans 4:1-8). There is no redeemed Israel here. There is no earthly Israeli kingdom here. Our salvation is dependent entirely upon what Jesus Christ did at Calvary, not upon what we do or do not do, not upon Israel, not upon her kingdom, not upon anything else.

While more could be said, for brevity’s sake, we must move on to the rest of Romans chapter 11.

ROMANS 11:15-24

Reading Paul’s words in Romans chapter 11: “[15] For if the casting away of them [Israel] be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead? [16] For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches. [17] And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; [18] Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. [19] Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. [20] Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: [21] For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. [22] Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. [23] And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again. [24] For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree?”

What Romans 11:16-24 is talking about is that we (“the world,” the nations; see verse 15) have now been given access to God, the access Israel enjoyed before she fell, the access we were to have as Gentiles had Israel not fallen. Because of Christ’s finished crosswork, we can partake of the spiritual things once offered to Israel—eternal life, justification, sanctification, peace, forgiveness, love, acceptance, et cetera. Olive wood is a symbol of access or entry into God’s fellowship/blessings. The Temple, God’s house, had olive doors (1 Kings 6:31-32). Access to God’s glory back then involved passing through olive-wood doors.

One day, God will “cut off” the nations of the world (verses 20-22). They will no longer have access to Him apart from Israel. As Israel’s unbelief led to her fall, the nations’ unbelief (rejection of Paul’s Gospel) will eventually lead to their fall (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12). Once prophecy resumes, Israel will again be brought to the forefront in God’s dealings with mankind. When our program ends with the Rapture, Gentiles who remain on Earth will have to approach God through Israel as Gentiles did before our Dispensation of Grace began. That is the warning of Romans 11:20-24. (It is not loss of salvation for members of the Body of Christ. People make that mistake here. It is talking about unsaved Gentiles losing their “without-Israel” method of access to the God of the Bible.) God’s grace will not always be offered to mankind as it has been in our Dispensation of Grace. Gentiles who are not part of the Body of Christ are urged not to be prideful, bragging about how Israel fell so they (Gentiles) could enjoy God’s blessings, for one day Gentiles will lose the privilege we as the Body of Christ members now enjoy. Israel will be restored one day, and those Gentiles outside of the Body of Christ will have to bless Israel to fellowship with the one true God (Matthew 25:31-46). Once Israel’s program resumes after our program, those Gentiles who do not bless Israel will wind up in everlasting hellfire (again, see Matthew 25:31-46).

We are not grafted into Israel. Israel is “fallen” and “enemies of God” (Romans 11:11,28). In 1 Thessalonians 2:16, Paul says, “the wrath [of God] is come upon them to the uttermost.” What advantage is there in being grafted into a nation that God does not acknowledge? It is nonsense. Is it really a privilege to be in a nation that God’s wrath has fallen upon, which wrath caused that nation’s fall? Of course not.

We (Gentiles, the world) have been “graffed in” in that God has paid for our sins at Calvary and He offers us fellowship with Him without Israel’s participation. We have access to Father God by faith in Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork. In fact, Jesus Christ’s faith is His trust in God the Father’s Word to send Him to Calvary. Notice again what Paul wrote to us Gentiles. “For through him [Jesus Christ] we both [Jew and Gentile] have access by one Spirit unto the Father” (Ephesians 2:18). “[Christ Jesus our Lord] In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him” (Ephesians 3:12). There is nothing about Israel’s involvement. We have fellowship with Father God through Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork at Calvary. Jesus Christ alone is the one Mediator between God and men (1 Timothy 2:5).

CONCLUSION

Romans 11:15-24 is basically saying that all Gentile nations are “graffed in” in the sense of we having equal access to God through Calvary (Ephesians 2:11-15). All nations can approach God today without Israel. In fact, even Israel is considered as a Gentile nation. Olive wood in the Bible symbolizes access to God: for example, the doors of the Temple were olive wood (1 Kings 6:31-34).

One day, after our Dispensation of Grace, God will resume His dealings with Israel, thus “cutting off” the Gentile nations. At that time, Israel will have preeminence again and every nation will have to approach God through Israel (as prophecy dictates). The Gentiles should not boast about God cutting off Israel today, since God will one day restore Israel and judge and destroy those Gentiles who fail to approach Him through Israel (verses 20-24). This passage, contrary to common belief, is not talking about the Church the Body of Christ being cut off (as in “loss of salvation”), but rather the warning in Romans 11:19-22 is spoken to those Gentiles who do not become members of the Body of Christ. If they do not become members of the Body of Christ by faith in Paul’s Gospel, they will have spurned God’s offer of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:19-21), and they will be lost in Israel’s program when it resumes under the Antichrist’s reign (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12).

Also see:
» Can you please explain Paul’s “Acts” ministry?
» What is “Replacement Theology?”
» Is prophecy being fulfilled today in the Dispensation of Grace?

Why did Cornelius have to hear Peter’s preaching?

WHY DID CORNELIUS HAVE TO HEAR PETER’S PREACHING?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“Although Cornelius in Acts 10 is described as a devout man, why did he still need to hear what Peter had to say regarding Jesus Christ?”

What a fascinating question! Thank you.

Yes, a Gentile, Cornelius was a “devout [religious] man” (Acts 10:2). He had some knowledge about the one true God. That knowledge motivated him to “pray to God alway.” He knew some of the Old Testament. Most of the Gentiles of that time did not have a clue as to what those Old Testament scrolls said. God had given His Word to Israel (Romans 3:1-2) and not to Gentiles (nations). Romans chapter 2: “[17] Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, [18] And knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law; [19] And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, [20] An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law.”

A Roman centurion (commander of 100 soldiers), Cornelius knew that he as a Gentile had to relate to the God of creation by blessing His nation, Israel. There was instruction and spiritual light to be received from Jews, since they had communication with Him. Cornelius understood the Abrahamic Covenant of Genesis 12:1-3. God would bless Gentiles who blessed Abraham’s seed, Israel: “And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”

Notice what Cornelius’ servants told Peter in Acts 10:22: “And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee.” As verse 2 said, he “gave much alms [goods/money for the poor] to the people [Israel].” Cornelius blessed Israel. As Peter later learned and then preached to Cornelius, “Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him” (verses 34-35). The reverence that Cornelius had toward Israel’s God was manifested in his “works of righteousness”—that is, in his blessing God’s nation Israel.

As noted earlier, Cornelius was better off than most Gentiles at the time because, through Israel, he had access to the one true God. Yet, Cornelius’ spiritual knowledge was limited. He recognized that he was missing some truths. He prayed for that spiritual understanding to come to him (verse 2), and God responded by sending the Apostle Peter to impart that spiritual knowledge to him (Acts 10:22). More revelation had been given since the Abrahamic Covenant, and Cornelius needed to be made aware of it. Jesus Christ had already come as Israel’s Messiah and had already been rejected and resurrected. Peter preached that message to Cornelius in Acts 10:34-43. Peter came to tell Cornelius and his household how to be saved through Jesus Christ. See Peter’s words in Acts 11:13-14. There had been additional revelation from God and Peter was sent to tell Cornelius. Furthermore, Cornelius had not yet fully given up his pagan behavior. He fell down and wanted to worship Peter (Acts 10:25). By Peter preaching the truth to Cornelius, that additional spiritual light could help Cornelius purge himself of his remaining pagan/Satanic thoughts and actions.

What we can learn from this is that simply because people pray, that does not automatically mean they are saved unto eternal life. In fact, prayer itself does not make one a Christian. The Lord Jesus talked about “heathen” (pagan idolaters) who “pray” (Matthew 6:7). In order to be delivered from Satan and our sins, we have to hear the Gospel. Prayer never saved anyone. Cornelius learned that and we must learn it. We have to believe the Gospel message later revealed by God to the Apostle Paul—“how that Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). When we trust that, that simple Message of God’s Grace alone, we need not be encumbered with vain repetitious prayers, water ceremonies, confessionals, almsgiving, and all the other burdens religious leaders attempt to tack onto Christ’s finished crosswork.

CONCLUSION

By the time of Acts chapter 10, it was not enough anymore for a Gentile just to bless Israel in order to have a relationship with the Creator God. Beginning with Cornelius, a Gentile had to also believe in Jesus Christ for the remission of sins (Acts 10:43). All Gentile believers in Israel’s program have to personally believe in Jesus Christ. He is the central Person, whether in our mystery program or Israel’s prophetic program. Whether in our program or Israel’s program, Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the only means whereby we can approach the one true God. Cornelius’ salvation experience is a preview of how Gentile salvation will operate in Israel’s program in the future. After our Dispensation of Grace ends, Gentiles will be saved in a manner similar to Cornelius’ conversion, with redeemed Israel preaching to Gentiles (see Isaiah 60:1-3 and Zechariah 8:20-23).

What should be also noted is that Peter’s visit to Cornelius’ house was then useful for Peter defending Paul’s Gentile apostleship (Acts 15:7-9). The Lord had Peter go to Cornelius’ home so Peter could come to Paul’s defense many years later. For more information, please see our Bible study linked below, “Does Acts 15:11 disprove dispensational Bible study?”

Also see:
» Does Acts 15:11 disprove dispensational Bible study?
» What happened to the Gentiles of Acts 10?
» Can Jews who believe in God, the Father, but who reject Jesus, be saved from eternal damnation?

Why did God give Israel King Saul if Saul was evil?

WHY DID GOD GIVE ISRAEL KING SAUL IF SAUL WAS EVIL?

by Shawn Brasseaux

During a recent family Bible study, my inquisitive 10-year-old niece asked me, “If God knew the future, why did He let Saul become king of Israel? Saul was bad.” So, why did God allow evil Saul to assume Israel’s throne? In a few words, “The God of the Bible loves free will that much.” To the Scriptures we go!

We begin reading in 1 Samuel chapter 8: “[1] And it came to pass, when Samuel was old, that he made his sons judges over Israel. [2] Now the name of his firstborn was Joel; and the name of his second, Abiah: they were judges in Beersheba. [3] And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment.” How extremely unfortunate! Samuel’s sons were terrible, godless rulers. Their wickedness encouraged Israel to look for someone else to replace Samuel when he died.

We keep reading in the Bible: “[4] Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, [5] And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations. [6] But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the LORD.”

Israel was ungrateful. She did not like the special position that God had given her. Like most professing Christians today, the Jews wanted to be like everyone else. They refused to be the “oddball” nation anymore. “Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.” Samuel knew this is trouble in the making, so he prayed to the LORD. Let us see what the LORD says: “[7] And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them. [8] According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee. [9] Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them.”

The LORD told Samuel some very simple words. Samuel was to give Israel exactly what she wanted. Israel had not really rejected Samuel but she had really rejected Samuel’s God. Israel had really rejected JEHOVAH God. They do not want Him to rule over them. As they had done centuries earlier (the book of Judges, for example), Israel went and worshipped pagan gods. They did not submit to the one true God. They preferred idols of wood and stone. God was not surprised that Israel now wanted a king. She had a false religion like the heathen. Now, she wanted a government like the heathen. But, God wanted to warn them. He instructed Samuel to warn them of the disadvantages of a monarchy. Notice what Samuel did with God’s instructions and how Israel reacted:

“[10] And Samuel told all the words of the LORD unto the people that asked of him a king. [11] And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots. [12] And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots. [13] And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers. [14] And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants. [15] And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants. [16] And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work. [17] He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants. [18] And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the LORD will not hear you in that day. [19] Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; [20] That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.”

Verse 19 says Israel “refused to obey the voice of Samuel.” They said, Nay; but we will have a king over us.” They stubbornly refused to listen to God’s warnings. They wanted a king, no matter what the result. Samuel told the LORD: “[21] And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he rehearsed them in the ears of the LORD. [22] And the LORD said to Samuel, Hearken unto their voice, and make them a king. And Samuel said unto the men of Israel, Go ye every man unto his city.”

Note, “And the LORD said to Samuel, Hearken unto their voice, and make them a king.”

Israel was so determined to have a king. She twice argued with Samuel to anoint a king. She did not want God ruling over her as King. Like all sinners, descendants of Adam are no different today. They want to be their own ruler. So, God gave Israel exactly what she wanted. He loves free will that much! Your sinful decisions will end in disaster but God will give you your way if you insist. You study 1 Samuel chapters 8-31, to see the horrible outcome of Israel’s decision to have a king instead of God being their Ruler!

Why is the world in so much trouble today? Romans 1:28 explains: And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.”

Also see:
» Did God give angels free will as He gave to mankind?
» Why does God let Satan exist?
» How do God’s foreknowledge and our free will work together?

How should we cope with the death of a pet?

HOW SHOULD WE COPE WITH THE DEATH OF A PET?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Having experienced this very thing just a month ago, I can relate to this question.

Our Australian Cattle Dog died October 10, 2015, at the age of 11 years (about 60 in human years). He lived a good, long life, although for the last five months of his life, he battled prostate cancer. Our veterinarian estimated he only had two weeks to live. Orion lived 10 times longer—five months! We enjoyed every minute of him after his diagnosis. For five months, we prepared ourselves to lose him. When he finally passed, we were ready. All of the family members miss him still, but he is suffering no more. Every chance I remember him, I thank Father God for the time He did give him to us. Orion knew he was loved, and that is all that matters.

The death of a pet is never an easy life event with which to deal. After all, pets take on a strange, human-like form in our minds. They become a part of our family. We feel excitement when they are happy and we feel sadness when they appear lonely. They like for us to talk to them, scratch them, and play with them. In their own special way, they “talk” to us—facial expressions, vocal sounds, scratching gently at our clothes or on our skin, and so on. When they die, it feels just like a human being died. Once they die, a part of us dies with them.

As King Solomon observed in Ecclesiastes chapter 3: “[19] For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. [20] All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. [21] Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?” There is one common trait between humans and animals—they are both destined to die and their physical bodies will return to the earth. Humans, however, are different in that they are “living souls” (Genesis 2:7), and thus can never pass into nonexistence. Humans merely leave the physical world and enter the spirit world (heaven for Christians, hell for everyone else).

There is some good news in the death of a pet, though. When pets die, they do not exist anymore. They just disappear entirely. They do not go to heaven or hell. There is no more suffering for them. We need no longer worry if they are well feed, well watered, sheltered, and healthy. We can release them to the ages. Our heart can grieve the loss, our mind can recollect the good times and wish there were more to come, but we can be at peace. These creatures served us well, and we creatures served them well. Will we see our pets again? The Bible is silent in answering and we too are silent in answering. (Certainly, God can call them back into existence if He so chooses.)

Sin kills. It takes. It divides. It hurts. Creation is fallen. Every creature, man or animal, has to die at some point. This is not the way God intended life to operate. Never, ever blame Him for what Adam deliberately chose to do. God never uses the death of people or pets to punish us or teach us lessons. That is religious nonsense. Additional good news is that creation is not hopelessly lost to sin forever. With each passing day, we hasten toward the time when God will make all things new. In that new creation, sin and death will be absent. They will never be heard from again.

I have found it most beneficial in my own life to thank God upon every remembrance of Orion. Whenever you miss your deceased pet, friend, just be thankful that Father God gave the animal to you at all. Which is better? Having never had the joy of a pet in your life, or having had the joy of having it for the time you did?

As we learn from our Apostle Paul, whether good times or bad, whether in times of need or in times of prosperity, Jesus Christ can and will see us through them. Difficult circumstances will not be easy, but they will be easier. You can cry or weep, but, rather than being bitter and saying, “Oh God, You are so mean because You took my pet away from me!,” you can say, “Oh God, thank You so much for my having the animal at all!” That is the key to overcoming the grief, no matter what the difficulty in life. Philippians 4:11-13: “[11] Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. [12] I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. [13] I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

And, as Paul had to learn about his trials and tribulations, 2 Corinthians chapter 12: “[8] For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. [9] And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. [10] Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” No matter what the difficulty in life, Jesus Christ has given us an internal capacity to endure it. We can bear the trouble using His power. It does not have to destroy us. His grace (everything He can do for us through His finished crosswork) will certainly see us through every difficulty and struggle in life… whether concerning people or pets! 🙂

Also see:
» What about “modern-day faith healing?”
» Why did Jesus weep when Lazarus died?
» What is the Lord’s will for my Christian life?

How could ‘wise’ King Solomon let foreign women deceive him?

HOW COULD ‘WISE’ KING SOLOMON LET FOREIGN WOMEN DECEIVE HIM?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Friends and brethren, a most tantalizing question, is it not? It is especially peculiar when recalling that King Solomon issued several admonitions throughout the book of Proverbs for his audience to avoid relations with “strange,” or idolatrous/pagan Gentile women. In this study, we will compare Scripture with Scripture to understand why King Solomon, despite his wisdom, behaved very foolishly, especially toward the latter part of his reign over God’s nation, Israel. There is a lesson in it for us, too!

DAVID’S PARTING CHARGES TO SOLOMON

King Solomon started out well. Before dying, David his father had advised him concerning JEHOVAH God and His laws. That counsel is 1 Kings chapter 2: “[1] Now the days of David drew nigh that he should die; and he charged Solomon his son, saying, [2] I go the way of all the earth: be thou strong therefore, and shew thyself a man; [3] And keep the charge of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself: [4] That the LORD may continue his word which he spake concerning me, saying, If thy children take heed to their way, to walk before me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not fail thee (said he) a man on the throne of Israel.”

Dying David charged young Solomon not to forsake the Law of Moses. David knew the spiritual disaster that awaited Israel if Solomon failed. The nation would receive JEHOVAH’S curses, and ultimately she would be cast of out of His land (Deuteronomy chapter 28; Leviticus chapter 26). As head of state, Israel’s king had to be a spiritual example. David knew Solomon had divine commandments to follow. In fact, through Moses, the Holy Spirit had given instructions to all of Israel’s kings some 500 years before Solomon ascended to the throne.

Deuteronomy chapter 17: “[14] When thou art come unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, and shalt possess it, and shalt dwell therein, and shalt say, I will set a king over me, like as all the nations that are about me; [15] Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the LORD thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother. [16] But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: forasmuch as the LORD hath said unto you, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way. [17] Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold. [18] And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites: [19] And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them: [20] That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel.”

Israel’s king was to copy out the parts of the Bible that had been written up to his point in time (at least Moses’ five books, Genesis through Deuteronomy). He was to study this, his personal copy of the Old Testament scrolls. Again, as Israel’s leader, the king had a grave responsibility. God was ruling over Israel through him. All the Gentile nations around Israel were to see what it was like to have the Creator of heaven and earth reigning over a nation. Israel’s king was to so familiarize himself with JEHOVAH’S laws that he could govern His people according to those decrees. David had done it (mostly), and he was now charging Solomon to be sure he kept JEHOVAH’S laws forefront in his thinking. That Mosaic Covenant was not to be broken. If it was, Israel could not be God’s kingdom of priests (Exodus 19:3-6) and would ultimately be exiled into foreign lands.

One of the passages Moses had written was Exodus chapter 34: “[11] Observe thou that which I command thee this day: behold, I drive out before thee the Amorite, and the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite. [12] Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee: [13] But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves: [14] For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God: [15] Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice; [16] And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods. [17] Thou shalt make thee no molten gods.”

Numbers 25:1-3 is one case in point: “[1] And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab. [2] And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods. [3] And Israel joined himself unto Baalpeor: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel.” Once Israel’s men got sexually involved with the daughters of Moab (pagan Gentiles), the Jews began to worship the idols of the Moabites. God had correctly predicted this would happen.

Judges 3:5-7, which also occurred centuries before Solomon, is another example of Israel’s intermarriage with Gentiles as being utterly disastrous: “[5] And the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, Hittites, and Amorites, and Perizzites, and Hivites, and Jebusites: [6] And they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons, and served their gods. [7] And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and forgat the LORD their God, and served Baalim and the groves.”

Unfortunately, however, Solomon did not learn these lessons from his nation’s history.

SOLOMON’S GRADUAL SPIRITUAL DECLINE

Within the first few years of his reign, we read of Solomon’s actions in 1 Kings chapter 3: “[1] And Solomon made affinity with Pharaoh king of Egypt, and took Pharaoh’s daughter, and brought her into the city of David, until he had made an end of building his own house, and the house of the LORD, and the wall of Jerusalem round about. [2] Only the people sacrificed in high places, because there was no house built unto the name of the Lord, until those days. [3] And Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of David his father: only he sacrificed and burnt incense in high places.”

Solomon’s first mistake recorded in Scripture was that he married a pagan Egyptian woman, and then he brought her into God’s Holy Land. Marriages were often done to guarantee treaties with other nations. Pharaoh king of Egypt offered Solomon his daughter in marriage, that their agreement be strengthened. For David’s sake, the LORD was gracious to Solomon despite his faults. God will change His dealings with Solomon in the coming decades, as Solomon drifts further away from Him and His precepts.

Later, the LORD appeared to Solomon, asking him what he wanted. Solomon said in part, “[7] And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in. [8] And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude. [9] Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?”

There is a little hint as to Solomon’s age. He called himself “a little child” (verse 7). In Deuteronomy 1:39, we see God referring to “little ones” and “children.” These individuals were 19 years old and under (Numbers 14:29-33). Thus, Solomon may have been in his late teens when he assumed Israel’s throne. Regardless of his precise age, Solomon admitted to God that he did not have the experience or wisdom needed to lead His people. So, he asked God for wisdom. God granted Solomon unparalleled wisdom. Continuing in 1 Kings chapter 3: “[10] And the speech pleased the LORD, that Solomon had asked this thing. [11] And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; [12] Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.”

While God indeed blessed Solomon with material blessings too (verse 13), Solomon undoubtedly went against God’s Word. In direct opposition to Moses’ words in Deuteronomy 17:16 (which we read earlier), Solomon began to multiply horses to himself (1 Kings 4:26). We can see Solomon, the wisest king in history, beginning to slide further down spiritually.

Continuing in 1 Kings chapter 4: “[29] And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore. [30] And Solomon’s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt. [31] For he was wiser than all men; than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, and Chalcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol: and his fame was in all nations round about. [32] And he spake three thousand proverbs: and his songs were a thousand and five. [33] And he spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall: he spake also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes. [34] And there came of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all kings of the earth, which had heard of his wisdom.”

So, from Scripture, we learn that wise Solomon spoke 3000 proverbs and 1005 songs (verse 32). People came from afar to Jerusalem to hear Solomon. His wisdom was literally world-renown! In the book of Proverbs, we read in the first verse of chapter 25: “These are also proverbs of Solomon, which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied out.” A good portion of Solomon’s 3000 proverbs is evidently found in our Bible book of Proverbs. God was true to His Word. Solomon could now guide God’s people into His truth. Did he?

As the years passed, wise Solomon was corrupted even further, largely by his Egyptian wife. The Bible says he spent seven years building God’s Temple in Jerusalem (1 Kings 6:38) but he spent 13 years building his own house (1 Kings 7:1). Verse 8 says, “…Solomon made also an house for Pharaoh’s daughter, whom he had taken to wife, like unto this porch.” Chapter 9, verse 24, says: “But Pharaoh’s daughter came up out of the city of David unto her house which Solomon had built for her: then did he build Millo.” In 2 Chronicles 8:11, we see that Solomon did not want to defile his father David’s house with this pagan woman living where the Ark of the Covenant had come. Hence, Solomon built that house for his Egyptian wife, that she live outside of the holy city of David.

Approximately 20 to 25 years into Solomon’s reign (cf. 1 Kings 9:10), he began to drift away from JEHOVAH God even more. In direct opposition to Moses’ words in Deuteronomy 17:16 (we read it earlier), Solomon began to multiply horses to himself, now horses from Egypt, and he began to accumulate silver as stones, which Moses had also forbidden. Solomon’s Egyptian wife undoubtedly encouraged him to trade with her nation, Egypt, and he did so extensively (see 1 Kings 10:26-29). A very sad aspect of the tale now begins to unfold. King Solomon’s 40-year reign (1 Kings 11:42) is now halfway over, and he is becoming increasingly idolatrous. In fact, his sins are now spiraling out of control.

We read in 1 Kings chapter 11: “[1] But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites: [2] Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love. [3] And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. [4] For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. [5] For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. [6] And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father. [7] Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. [8] And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods. [9] And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the LORD God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice, [10] And had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods: but he kept not that which the LORD commanded. [11] Wherefore the LORD said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant. [12] Notwithstanding in thy days I will not do it for David thy father’s sake: but I will rend it out of the hand of thy son. [13] Howbeit I will not rend away all the kingdom; but will give one tribe to thy son for David my servant’s sake, and for Jerusalem’s sake which I have chosen.”

The various women that Solomon got involved with, they were pagan idolaters. They worshipped false gods, idols, not JEHOVAH God, the one true God. Solomon was so emotionally attached to them he did practically anything to please them, even when it meant displeasing his God and the God of his fathers. Verse 3 says that Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines (servant-wives). With that many heathen women in close relations with him, he was pressured to burn incense and sacrifice to their idols. Imagine worshipping the gods of 1,000 different women! His father David would have been sorely grieved to see his son so far away from the truth. Those wretched, worthless women had taken Solomon and corrupted God’s people! God’s judgment would fall, but for David’s sake, it would not happen in Solomon’s lifetime. Israel had reached her pinnacle in worldwide fame, but now she was going downhill. As chapter 11 continues and concludes, once Solomon died, his kingdom was divided—the 10 northern tribes went to Solomon’s servant Jeroboam and the two southern tribes went to Solomon’s son Rehoboam. Israel would never be the same. Her glorious kingdom was gone.

A little tidbit worth noting. In 2 Samuel 5:13, we read that King David had many concubines and wives. David was not a good example for his son Solomon. Actually, Solomon may have gotten romantically involved with so many women because his father had behaved similarly.

Post-exile, circa 444 B.C., after the Jews in Persia returned to Jerusalem, under Nehemiah’s leadership, some Jews began to intermarry with the pagan Gentiles. Nehemiah commented in Nehemiah 13:23-27: “[23] In those days also saw I Jews that had married wives of Ashdod, of Ammon, and of Moab: [24] And their children spake half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak in the Jews’ language, but according to the language of each people. [25] And I contended with them, and cursed them, and smote certain of them, and plucked off their hair, and made them swear by God, saying, Ye shall not give your daughters unto their sons, nor take their daughters unto your sons, or for yourselves. [26] Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? yet among many nations was there no king like him, who was beloved of his God, and God made him king over all Israel: nevertheless even him did outlandish women cause to sin. [27] Shall we then hearken unto you to do all this great evil, to transgress against our God in marrying strange wives?”

“STRANGE” WOMEN IN THE BOOK OF PROVERBS

There are 10 references to “strange” women in the book of Proverbs. Whether Solomon wrote these verses before or after those women corrupted him is not apparent. He certainly learned his lesson, either way. Remember, the context is not odd women, but rather foreign women, those outside of Israel and her covenants (cf. Ephesians 2:12, “strangers from the covenants of promise”). They are idolatrous women, and to be frank, they used flattery and sexual advances to entice Israel’s men. As the Bible relates, they would play on these men’s emotions and fornication would result. (Sound familiar?) This happened in Numbers chapter 25, which we read earlier. You are encouraged to look at the following verses in their context. Our goal is to simply show you this common idea found in Proverbs:

  • Proverbs 2:16: “To deliver thee from the strange woman, even from the stranger which flattereth with her words;”
  • Proverbs 5:3: “For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil:”
  • Proverbs 5:20: “And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger?”
  • Proverbs 6:24: “To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman.”
  • Proverbs 7:5: “That they may keep thee from the strange woman, from the stranger which flattereth with her words.”
  • Proverbs 20:16: “Take his garment that is surety for a stranger: and take a pledge of him for a strange woman.”
  • Proverbs 22:14 “The mouth of strange women is a deep pit: he that is abhorred of the LORD shall fall therein.”
  • Proverbs 23:27: “For a whore is a deep ditch; and a strange woman is a narrow pit.”
  • Proverbs 23:33: “Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things.”
  • Proverbs 27:13: “Take his garment that is surety for a stranger, and take a pledge of him for a strange woman.”

God warned Israel—particularly her men—to guard against idolaters. While much could be said, suffice it to say that the book of Proverbs will be useful for Israel’s believing remnant during the seven-year Tribulation. The wisdom contained therein will help believing Israel avoid the Antichrist’s false religious system—the same idolatry that Israel failed to guard against going all the way back to Moses’ time!

We will look at two verses from the Revelation. Revelation chapter 2, which will be true during the future 70th week of Daniel: “[14] But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. [20] Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.” Do you see how this loops back to Numbers chapter 25? Do you see why God, in the Law of Moses, told Israel intermarriage with heathen men and women would corrupt them with idolatry? This same thing happened in Ezra chapters 9 and 10, although beyond the scope of our discussion here.

One more note about women and the book of Proverbs. Chapter 31 contains the famous “virtuous woman” passage (verses 10-31), quoted by Christian women everywhere. The “virtuous woman” is the woman who is the opposite of the “strange woman.” The “virtuous woman” is the woman filled with sound Bible doctrine just as the “strange woman” is the woman filled with the Devil’s doctrine. Israel is urged to be that virtuous woman, that she may be the spotless wife of JEHOVAH when Jesus Christ returns at the end of the seven-year Tribulation, to establish His kingdom on the earth through her.

SOLOMON, A SON OF DAVID AND A SON OF ADAM

So, now that we have established background, we can answer the question originally posed. Why did Solomon warn his readers to guard against strange women, when he himself did not? Why did he write about seeking the virtuous woman when he himself did just the opposite? First and foremost, it was to teach Israel a lesson, in history and yet future. God wrote those sins of Solomon in His Book so it would be useful for Israel’s believing remnant in the future. They are to see Solomon’s mistakes and learn from them.

We have to remember that Solomon, although blessed with divine wisdom, was a son of David and a son of Adam. Solomon was still a sinner. All the men whom God used, save the Lord Jesus Christ, they were sinners. Moses was a murderer. Peter was a Christ-denier. David was an adulterer and a murderer. Solomon was an idolater. Samuel and David were poor excuses for fathers. Paul was a murderer and a blasphemer. Thomas was a Bible doubter. God’s power worked in them, and yet they failed repeatedly… sometimes miserably and repeatedly.

As wise Solomon himself said to JEHOVAH God when he dedicated the Temple in 1 Kings chapter 8: “[46] If they sin against thee, (for there is no man that sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them to the enemy, so that they carry them away captives unto the land of the enemy, far or near;…” (cf. 2 Chronicles 6:36).

CONCLUSION

When, Paul wrote to the Corinthians about their idolatry, he commented on Israel’s idol worship during Moses’ leadership. Reading from 1 Corinthians chapter 10: “[11] Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. [12] Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. [13] There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but 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. [14] Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.”

Unfortunately, wise Solomon was not immune from sin. Neither are we, brethren. We have God’s completed Word, the Holy Bible’s 66 books, and yet we are not insulated from sin. We are the Church the Body of Christ, but we can still fall into the same sins the nation Israel did. Satan always uses the same basic tactics to corrupt God’s people and cause them to stumble. Never should we get the idea, “Oh, look at what he or she just did! I would never do such an awful thing!” Take heed, my friend, you will fall from your pedestal of self-righteousness! See also Galatians 6:1-2. The truth is, my friend, we are just as human as the Israelites, as Solomon, as all descendants of Adam. Solomon undoubtedly learned his lesson in dabbling in paganism, but by then it was too late. We Christian men need to be especially cautious, that we notNOT!—get romantically involved with unsaved women! Period. My Christian sisters, you should notNOT!—get romantically involved with lost men! Period. We need to learn from Solomon’s mistakes. Avoid giving over your heart to someone who does not have the Lord Jesus Christ in his or her heart. Solomon is the primary proof that such an arrangement is a disaster literally in the making!

In the nine centuries between Solomon’s death and Jesus’ birth, Israel grew weaker politically and spiritually. Almost 3,000 years later, Israel today has yet to recover!! If marriages with lost people caused that much damage to a nation, just think about how it affects a family. This cannot be stressed enough. Again, this cannot be stressed enough. Once more, this cannot be stressed enough. (I would say it 1,000 times if I could. I would say it 1,000,000 times if I could. I would say it 1,000,000,000 times if I could. I would say it 1,000,000,000,000 times if I could.) In my life and in the lives of those around me, I have seen just how disastrous and devastating it often is for a Christian to date or marry a lost person. Very rarely will it be a healthy union. Chances are, the Christian will compromise with the lost person rather than the lost person getting saved. We members of the Body of Christ should notNOT!—get romantically involved with lost people. No exceptions. “Missionary dating or missionary marriage”—trying to convert lost people by using love as leverage—99 percent of the time does not work. Beloved, “marry only in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:39). Remember poor King Solomon!

SUPPLEMENTAL: ADDITIONAL DISASTROUS “MIXED” MARRIAGES IN SCRIPTURE

About a century after Solomon died, Jehoram, his great-great-great grandson, married a daughter of pagan King Ahab (2 Chronicles 21:5-6). Jehoram turned out to be a wicked king, following after the sins of Israel (Ahab’s kingdom), including Baal worship (verses 12-13). For sake of brevity, we will not quote those verses here. Please read them in your own study time.

A few centuries after Solomon, King Ahab experienced his own troubles with a pagan idolatrous woman. Ahab married Jezebel, and she corrupted him and Israel the northern kingdom with Baal worship. The northern kingdom never recovered! We read in 1 Kings 16:29-33: “[29] And in the thirty and eighth year of Asa king of Judah began Ahab the son of Omri to reign over Israel: and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty and two years. [30] And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD above all that were before him. [31] And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him. [32] And he reared up an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he had built in Samaria. [33] And Ahab made a grove; and Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him.”

And 1 Kings 21:25-26 verifies: “[25] But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the LORD, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up. [26] And he did very abominably in following idols, according to all things as did the Amorites, whom the LORD cast out before the children of Israel.”

The last three verses of 1 Kings, found in chapter 22, says Ahab and Jezebel had a son who was just as pagan as they were: “[51] Ahaziah the son of Ahab began to reign over Israel in Samaria the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and reigned two years over Israel. [52] And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of his father, and in the way of his mother, and in the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin: [53] For he served Baal, and worshipped him, and provoked to anger the LORD God of Israel, according to all that his father had done.”

Some three centuries after Solomon’s death, King Josiah of Judah initiated significant reforms to combat the paganism that had gripped his nation for some many decades. Notice, in 2 Kings 23:13-14, who had built the shrines and idols that Josiah destroyed: “[13] And the high places that were before Jerusalem, which were on the right hand of the mount of corruption, which Solomon the king of Israel had builded for Ashtoreth [pagan goddess] the abomination of the Zidonians, and for Chemosh [pagan god] the abomination of the Moabites, and for Milcom [pagan god] the abomination of the children of Ammon, did the king defile. [14] And he brake in pieces the images, and cut down the groves, and filled their places with the bones of men.”

Just a few decades after Josiah, God’s wrath fell upon Judah. The Babylonians came in and eventually destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple. Solomon’s pagan shrines and false religious system stood for nearly 300 years, highly influential in causing the southern kingdom of Judah to lose their Promised Land and fall into Gentile captivity. Why? All because of marriages to unsaved women!

Also see:
» Did Paul quote verses out of context in 2 Corinthians 6:14–7:1?
» Does Hebrews 10:25 really teach we must attend church?
» Was God unfair to punish us for Adam’s sin?