Monthly Archives: July 2019

What exactly is “hypocrisy?”

WHAT EXACTLY IS “HYPOCRISY?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

What exactly is a “hypocrite?”

The word appears 20 times in the “New Testament” Scriptures. Matthew 6:2 is the first occurrence: Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. Our English “hypocrite” is a transliteration of the Greek term, hupokrites (“under judge”). It was used to describe an actor under an assumed identity. He or she wears a costume, mask, and/or makeup to transform into someone else. To be candid, he or she is a pretender. It would do us well to look at these verses to see just what makes hypocrites so insincere.

Reading Matthew 6:2 again: “Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.” Here, a hypocrite gives alms (money/goods to the poor and needy)—not to help others or glorify God—but to be noticed and praised of men.

Matthew 6:5 mentions a second type of hypocrite: “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.” They pray—not to have fellowship with God or reflect upon His Word—but to be observed and praised by others.

Verse 16 features a third hypocrite: “Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.” The hypocrite here also seeks the attention and glory of men—they advertise their fasting by using their faces. They are not interested in true mourning, deep contemplation of their sin, and so on.

Just as someone would play another role on a stage, so the hypocrite “plays his part” for all society to give him a standing ovation.

Christ famously stated in Matthew chapter 7: “[1] Judge not, that ye be not judged. [2] For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. [3] And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? [4] Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? [5] Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” The hypocrite appears to promote righteous living. However, his lifestyle is far below the standard to which he holds others.

Jesus took what was true during the Prophet Isaiah’s lifetime and applied it to His own day 700 years later. He issued the following severe denunciation in Matthew chapter 15: “[7] Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias [29:13] prophesy of you, saying, [8] This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. [9] But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”

Israel abounded with pretenders. Outwardly, they prayed to “Adonai” (the Lord), recited the Mosaic Law, and sang the Psalms of David. Yet, their internal behavior was something else entirely. The Lord Jesus saw directly into their souls: while acting and sounding like worshippers of God, they had no faith/trust in His Word. It was just meaningless, worthless religion! They actually preferred their manmade traditions to His revelation. How do we know? Did not Israel shortly conspire with the Gentiles to kill Adonai’s Son on Calvary? Had they truly valued the Scriptures of Adonai and Moses and David, they would have believed Jesus was the embodiment and fulfillment of those very words! Alas, what hypocrites.

Our Lord Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry is winding down—Calvary is a few months away at most. For three years, He has performed miracle after miracle after miracle in the midst of His Jewish brethren, but has been overwhelmingly mistreated and ridiculed. Israel’s religious leaders have striven to demean and discredit Him at every possible opportunity. In Matthew chapter 12, for the first time, they plot to kill Him (verse 14). Shortly, He begins His parables and increasingly withdraws from public ministry.

As chapter 16 opens, those Christ-rejecting Israeli religious leaders approach Him. After disregarding His other miraculous deeds, and still wallowing in their unbelief, they feign themselves as genuine truth-seekers in verse 1: “The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven.” They are not interested in being converted to faith in Him; they are “tempting” or challenging Him, seeing if He will pacify them. “[2] He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. [3] And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?”

They prided themselves in studying nature to predict the weather, but how pathetically ignorant they were of more critical (eternally important!!!) matters. Discounting the earlier miracles, they had not recognized that Messiah (He Himself!) had arrived and they were outright rejecting their only chance at forgiveness of sins and eternal life! He chided them further: “[4] A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.” There are more hypocrites to come, and the Lord Jesus will soon address them with His most unpleasant words yet.

Most of the Bible’s acridest comments about hypocrites are found in Jesus’ final Temple sermon. Matthew chapter 22, verse 15: “Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk.” They send allies in verses 16 and 17, “Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?” Verse 18, “But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?” While playing like they were law-abiding citizens, they (like all Jews) had no interest in funding an oppressive Gentile government. Their only goal was to get Jesus in trouble with the Roman authorities.

Chapter 23 of Matthew is Christ’s censure of the pervasive corruption within this the ranks of Israel’s religious leadership. His words, while sharp, are necessary to expose Satan’s strongholds within the nation. The pretenders in Israel will now be uncovered for all in the Temple complex to see.

Verse 13, for example: “But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.” Despite their pious appearance, they discouraged and intimidated any and all from participating in God’s will! Verse 14: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.” In the name of religion, they stole large sums of money to “pray” for the dead!

Now, verse 15: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.” They diligently sought converts to Judaism—not to teach them God’s Word and lead them to salvation—but simply to get new church members. Indeed, the hypocrites have infiltrated Israel. They have permeated the professing church today as well.

The Lord Jesus thundered in Matthew 23:23: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” They seemed to honor and follow the Mosaic Law, although they limited themselves. Consumed by tithing the smallest spices to obey Moses, they ignored God’s major commandments—judgment (justice), mercy, and faith.

Now, verse 25: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.” This is formalism—emphasis on outward appearance—yet again. They painstakingly wiped (and wiped!!!) cups and platters (dishes) used in religious services. How attractive were those washed vessels! When God looked into the souls of those cleaning, He saw filth and ugliness. Their motives were greed and incontinency: they could not help themselves but take, take, take from the common Jewish worshippers to support that extravagant religion!

And, verse 27: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.” Jesus employs a simile. These religious leaders are painted, decorated tombs… yet, innumerable corpses and utter impurity are hidden inside! Spiritual death personified!

Finally, verses 29-32: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.” They supposedly “lamented” their fathers killing God’s prophets of old. Nevertheless, ultimately, they will soon demand Jesus Christ’s crucifixion.

Our Lord Jesus Christ issued the grave admonition in Luke 12:1: “In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” As “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (1 Corinthians 5:6; Galatians 5:9), Pharisaical hypocrisy throughly subverted Israel! (Its absurdity is described in Luke 13:11-17.)

Israel’s hypocrisy culminated at Christ’s barbaric crucifixion. Indeed, Calvary’s cross will forever be an emblem of God’s grace in spite of man’s sin. Yet, it will also always be a reminder of how opposed organized religion is to God’s grace. It was not thieves, drug abusers, drunkards, gangbangers, pimps, prostitutes, and atheistic evolutionary college professors who demanded God’s only begotten Son be crucified! No, it was the most “pious” people who ever lived! Religion was everything to them, and Heaven’s Best meant absolutely nothing to them! Mere hours after shedding His innocent blood, they, without one scintilla of remorse, held a religious feast—Passover!

James spoke of divine wisdom as being “without hypocrisy” (3:17). There is no deceitfulness with God; thus, the same should be true of His children. “Provide things honest in the sight of all men” (Romans 12:17). If we have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ who is anything but a hypocrite, we should therefore behave like the people we are (Christians) and not the people we are not (unsaved)!

By the way, what became of organized religion? First Timothy 4:2 says, “Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;….” Its proponents still masquerade as “truth-tellers.” They are non-dispensational—ignoring Pauline revelation (grace) and exalting everything else as “Christian” thought and behavior (see verses 1-16). Beware, dear friends, that ye be not hypocrites! Cast off the masks, makeup, and costumes! “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof” (Romans 13:14)!

Also see:
» Why did Jesus curse the “poor” fig tree?
» “Thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?”
» Why do some Christians persistently behave like lost people?

Why did the Lord Jesus never tell jokes?

WHY DID THE LORD JESUS NEVER TELL JOKES?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Why did Christ never tell jokes? (This question implies that He did not have a sense of humor. He did!)

The Lord was not a standup comedian but He was willing to “tell it like it was”—even if it meant employing amusing language to expose religious nonsense. Since we have a written record (and not audio), we cannot identify with certainty the tone in which these statements were made. Still, they are especially ridiculous, said in such a way as to pinpoint spiritual silliness in Israel’s midst. Similar words could be used to describe today’s religious absurdities.

STRAINING AT A GNAT, SWALLOWING A CAMEL

Matthew 23:24: “Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.” Is not this a most preposterous idea? Israel’s religious leaders are utterly insane as concerning priorities. They consider it utterly repulsive to find a tiny gnat in their wine, so do their best to filter it out before they eat it. Yet, they let a gigantic camel remain therein and proceed to swallow it with the wine! They willfully lack spiritual discernment: instead, they emphasize the minor and ignore the major. Moreover, as leaders, they are misguiding others to repeat their errors. They had the Word of God (Old Testament Scriptures), but they did not care to believe them. In fact, they had Jesus Christ in their midst and they did not want to hear Divine truth from His lips either.

ATTRACTIVE TOMBS, HIDEOUS CORPSES

Matthew chapter 23: “[27] Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. [28] Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.” On the outside, these religious leaders looked like they were God’s servants. They had a nice outward appearance wearing their gorgeous clothing, performing their humbling ceremonies, and working in sumptuous buildings… but it was all an act, a duplicitous show. On the inside, they had ugly hearts of sin, unbelief, and spiritual death. (For more information, see our “fig tree” study linked at the end of this article.)

LARGE CAMEL, SMALL EYE

Matthew chapter 19: “[23] Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. [24] And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” Mark chapter 10: “[23] And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! [24] And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! [25] It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” Luke chapter 18: “[24] And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! [25] For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”

The idea of trying to fit a camel through a needle’s eye is another ridiculous scenario. Christ was intentionally absurd to prove a simple point. Wealthy people in Israel’s program—if given the opportunity to choose between their riches and faith in God—they would invariably decide to keep their wealth. Read the contexts of these verses: an affluent man was so materialistic he rejected Jesus in order to retain his fortune. The idolatrous wealthy would be as able to enter God’s kingdom as the camel could pass through the needle’s eye. Impossible! (See our related study linked below.)

Also see:
» Why did Jesus curse the “poor” fig tree?
» What is “the eye of the needle” in Matthew 19:24?
» Should we be “fruit inspectors?”

Who or what is “the desire of all nations?”

WHO OR WHAT IS “THE DESIRE OF ALL NATIONS?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

Who or what is “the desire of all nations” in Haggai 2:7? “And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts.” In this study, we will consider the two common views of the term, and use the context to identify the correct definition.

One idea is it refers to Jerusalem. In light of verse 8, it is said that all nations will desire Jerusalem and bring their wealth to Jerusalem: “The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the LORD of hosts.” They then pair the verse with Isaiah 60:6,11; Isaiah 61:6; and Zechariah 14:14. This is a rather bizarre interpretation, as Jerusalem does not agree with the word “coming” in verse 7. Is Jerusalem “coming?” Of course not. “The desire of all nations shall come” is impending, approaching. Who or what could this possibly be?

The other view is that “the desire of all nations shall come” is a reference to Messiah/Christ. This is the most likely scenario, seeing as to the context describes the glory of the LORD coming and returning to Jerusalem: “[6] For thus saith the LORD of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; [7] And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts. [8] The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the LORD of hosts. [9] The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the LORD of hosts.

Ezekiel the Prophet foresaw God’s glory returning to Jerusalem, which is the event necessary to start the Millennial Reign. Chapter 43: “[1] Afterward he brought me to the gate, even the gate that looketh toward the east: [2] And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east: and his voice was like a noise of many waters: and the earth shined with his glory. [3] And it was according to the appearance of the vision which I saw, even according to the vision that I saw when I came to destroy the city: and the visions were like the vision that I saw by the river Chebar; and I fell upon my face. [4] And the glory of the LORD came into the house [Millennial Temple] by the way of the gate whose prospect is toward the east. [5] So the spirit took me up, and brought me into the inner court; and, behold, the glory of the LORD filled the house.” This Millennial Temple—previewed by Zerubbabel’s Temple under construction during Haggai’s ministry—will function throughout the 1,000-Year Reign of Jesus Christ on Earth.

God’s glory, in the Person of Jesus Christ, will return to Jerusalem at His Second Coming. “And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it” (Isaiah 40:5). “[1] Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee [Israel]. [2] For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee (Isaiah 60:1-2; Messiah’s coming occurred in the closing verses of chapter 59.)

Some individuals would ask how Jesus Christ is “the desire of all nations.” After all, the world certainly does not want Him today. Indeed, if they had the chance, they would eagerly crucify Him on a cross again! However, as with all Bible themes, we must look at this whole matter dispensationally. Worldwide revival will occur at His Second Coming. Conditions on Earth today will be quite different after our Dispensation of Grace closes and the prophetic program resumes. Again, let the Bible speak for itself.

“Yea, all kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him [the Lord Jesus Christ] (Psalm 72:11). “His name shall endure for ever: his name shall be continued as long as the sun: and men shall be blessed in him: all nations shall call him blessed (Psalm 72:17). All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, O LORD; and shall glorify thy name (Psalm 86:9). “Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest” (Revelation 15:4).

Zechariah chapter 8: “[20] Thus saith the LORD of hosts; It shall yet come to pass, that there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities: [21] And the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the LORD, and to seek the LORD of hosts: I will go also. [22] Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the LORD. [23] Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.

Also see:
» What is the “Apocalypse?”
» Who will be Israel’s King in the Millennium—Jesus Christ or David?
» Are we “doom and gloom” prophecy believers?

How could God forbid Jeremiah to pray for His people?

HOW COULD GOD FORBID JEREMIAH TO PRAY FOR HIS PEOPLE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Read these three surprising verses:

  • “Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee” (Jeremiah 7:16).
  • “Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up a cry or prayer for them: for I will not hear them in the time that they cry unto me for their trouble” (Jeremiah 11:14).
  • “Then said the LORD unto me, Pray not for this people for their good(Jeremiah 14:11).

Friend, is it not inconceivable that JEHOVAH God would actually order the Prophet Jeremiah not to pray for His people the Jews? Nevertheless, we cannot alter God’s Word. There is no mistake; Scripture says what it means and means what it says. Even worse, it says it not once but thrice!

As we read through the Book of Jeremiah, more difficulty arises. Chapter 15, verse 1: “Then said the LORD unto me, Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind could not be toward this people: cast them out of my sight, and let them go forth.” Why would even Moses and Samuel be unable to intercede on Israel’s behalf here? In times of great sin, Moses successfully pled for God’s mercy so Israel would not be consumed (see Exodus 32:7-14,30-35; Exodus 33:12-23; Exodus 34:4-10; Numbers 11:1-23; et cetera). Samuel also intervened with God centuries later (1 Samuel 7:1-17; 1 Samuel 12:1-25). When we come to Jeremiah’s ministry, however, that option is not available. Why?

After picking out key verses in the context of Jeremiah’s ministry, we can note several ruinous events. Wicked King Manasseh reigned over Jerusalem and Judah for 55 years. His flagrant, extensive pagan practices greatly kindled God’s wrath against the Southern Kingdom of Judah. One of his most atrocious sins was the shedding of innocent blood—especially offering his son as a burnt sacrifice to heathen idols! God singled out this single behavior as quite horrific. Jeremiah’s ministry began after Manasseh’s reign (see Jeremiah 1:1).

“Notwithstanding the LORD turned not from the fierceness of his great wrath, wherewith his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations that Manasseh had provoked him withal. And the LORD said, I will remove Judah [Southern Kingdom] also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel [Northern Kingdom], and will cast off this city Jerusalem which I have chosen, and the house of which I said, My name shall be there” (2 Kings 23:26-27).

“Surely at the commandment of the LORD came this upon Judah, to remove them out of his sight, for the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he did; And also for the innocent blood that he shed: for he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood; which the LORD would not pardon (2 Kings 24:3-4).

As we turn back to chapter 21, our comments will be quite limited. Let us just read the verses, for they will speak for themselves: “[1] Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Hephzibah. [2] And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, after the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD cast out before the children of Israel. [3] For he built up again the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed; and he reared up altars for Baal, and made a grove, as did Ahab king of Israel; and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served them. [4] And he built altars in the house of the LORD, of which the LORD said, In Jerusalem will I put my name.

“[5] And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD. [6] And he made his son pass through the fire, and observed times, and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits and wizards: he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger. [7] And he set a graven image of the grove that he had made in the house, of which the LORD said to David, and to Solomon his son, In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all tribes of Israel, will I put my name for ever: [8] Neither will I make the feet of Israel move any more out of the land which I gave their fathers; only if they will observe to do according to all that I have commanded them, and according to all the law that my servant Moses commanded them. [9] But they hearkened not: and Manasseh seduced them to do more evil than did the nations whom the LORD destroyed before the children of Israel.

“[10] And the LORD spake by his servants the prophets, saying, [11] Because Manasseh king of Judah hath done these abominations, and hath done wickedly above all that the Amorites did, which were before him, and hath made Judah also to sin with his idols: [12] Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Behold, I am bringing such evil upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whosoever heareth of it, both his ears shall tingle. [13] And I will stretch over Jerusalem the line of Samaria, and the plummet of the house of Ahab: and I will wipe Jerusalem as a man wipeth a dish, wiping it, and turning it upside down.

“[14] And I will forsake the remnant of mine inheritance, and deliver them into the hand of their enemies; and they shall become a prey and a spoil to all their enemies; [15] Because they have done that which was evil in my sight, and have provoked me to anger, since the day their fathers came forth out of Egypt, even unto this day. [16] Moreover Manasseh shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another; beside his sin wherewith he made Judah to sin, in doing that which was evil in the sight of the LORD.”

Jeremiah chapter 15: “[1] Then said the LORD unto me, Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind could not be toward this people: cast them out of my sight, and let them go forth…. [4] And I will cause them to be removed into all kingdoms of the earth, because of Manasseh the son of Hezekiah king of Judah, for that which he did in Jerusalem. [7] And I will fan them with a fan in the gates of the land; I will bereave them of children, I will destroy my people since they return not from their ways.”

Jeremiah chapter 16: “[10] And it shall come to pass, when thou shalt shew this people all these words, and they shall say unto thee, Wherefore hath the LORD pronounced all this great evil against us? or what is our iniquity? or what is our sin that we have committed against the LORD our God? [11] Then shalt thou say unto them, Because your fathers have forsaken me, saith the LORD, and have walked after other gods, and have served them, and have worshipped them, and have forsaken me, and have not kept my law; [12] And ye have done worse than your fathers; for, behold, ye walk every one after the imagination of his evil heart, that they may not hearken unto me: [13] Therefore will I cast you out of this land into a land that ye know not, neither ye nor your fathers; and there shall ye serve other gods day and night; where I will not shew you favour…. [17] For mine eyes are upon all their ways: they are not hid from my face, neither is their iniquity hid from mine eyes. [18] And first I will recompense their iniquity and their sin double; because they have defiled my land, they have filled mine inheritance with the carcases of their detestable and abominable things.”

Jeremiah chapter 17: “[1] The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond: it is graven upon the table of their heart, and upon the horns of your altars; [2] Whilst their children remember their altars and their groves by the green trees upon the high hills…. [16] As for me, I have not hastened from being a pastor to follow thee: neither have I desired the woeful day; thou knowest: that which came out of my lips was right before thee. [17] Be not a terror unto me: thou art my hope in the day of evil. [18] Let them be confounded that persecute me, but let not me be confounded: let them be dismayed, but let not me be dismayed: bring upon them the day of evil, and destroy them with double destruction.

“[19] Thus said the LORD unto me; Go and stand in the gate of the children of the people, whereby the kings of Judah come in, and by the which they go out, and in all the gates of Jerusalem; [20] And say unto them, Hear ye the word of the LORD, ye kings of Judah, and all Judah, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, that enter in by these gates: [21] Thus saith the LORD; Take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem; [22] Neither carry forth a burden out of your houses on the sabbath day, neither do ye any work, but hallow ye the sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers. [23] But they obeyed not, neither inclined their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear, nor receive instruction.

“[24] And it shall come to pass, if ye diligently hearken unto me, saith the LORD, to bring in no burden through the gates of this city on the sabbath day, but hallow the sabbath day, to do no work therein; [25] Then shall there enter into the gates of this city kings and princes sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they, and their princes, the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: and this city shall remain for ever. [26] And they shall come from the cities of Judah, and from the places about Jerusalem, and from the land of Benjamin, and from the plain, and from the mountains, and from the south, bringing burnt offerings, and sacrifices, and meat offerings, and incense, and bringing sacrifices of praise, unto the house of the LORD. [27] But if ye will not hearken unto me to hallow the sabbath day, and not to bear a burden, even entering in at the gates of Jerusalem on the sabbath day; then will I kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched.”

Jeremiah 18:15: “Because my people hath forgotten me, they have burned incense to vanity, and they have caused them to stumble in their ways from the ancient paths, to walk in paths, in a way not cast up;….”

Jeremiah chapter 2: “[20] For of old time I have broken thy yoke, and burst thy bands; and thou saidst, I will not transgress; when upon every high hill and under every green tree thou wanderest, playing the harlot…. [26] As the thief is ashamed when he is found, so is the house of Israel ashamed; they, their kings, their princes, and their priests, and their prophets. [27] Saying to a stock, Thou art my father; and to a stone, Thou hast brought me forth: for they have turned their back unto me, and not their face: but in the time of their trouble they will say, Arise, and save us. [28] But where are thy gods that thou hast made thee? let them arise, if they can save thee in the time of thy trouble: for according to the number of thy cities are thy gods, O Judah. [29] Wherefore will ye plead with me? ye all have transgressed against me, saith the LORD. 

“[30] In vain have I smitten your children; they received no correction: your own sword hath devoured your prophets, like a destroying lion. [31] O generation, see ye the word of the LORD. Have I been a wilderness unto Israel? a land of darkness? wherefore say my people, We are LORDs; we will come no more unto thee? [32] Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? yet my people have forgotten me days without number.”

Need we read any more verses, friend? The Jews in Jeremiah’s day have now grown far worse than their fathers during the days of Moses and Samuel. Here is the track record of the Jews up to and during Jeremiah’s ministry. They have been engaging in idol worship for nine centuries (since Moses’ time). It is more than double the time they had been idolatrous up to Samuel’s ministry. They have habitually defiled God’s city Jerusalem (which was not established as Israel’s capital city until David). Jehovah’s Jerusalem Temple—built by King Solomon—has been defiled with false religion for 300 years. Idols are numerous throughout Judah and Jerusalem. King Manasseh, for over a half-century (!), has led Judah further and further from the God of Abraham.

While the God of the Bible is gracious and longsuffering, He is still bound to keep His promise of chastisement. Judgment must fall at some point because the Law Covenant has been habitually broken (Leviticus chapter 26; Deuteronomy chapter 28). His prophets have been ignored, mocked, and abused. His words have been scorned and trampled under foot. The first, second, third, and fourth courses of chastisements have already come to pass. Yet, the Jews have not reformed. The fifth and final phase must be brought about at some point; otherwise, the contract made at Sinai is meaningless. Consequently, in Jeremiah’s time, judgment cannot be averted.

The entirety of the punishment/curse associated with the Old Covenant must be brought to pass. If Israel failed, she was in due time to receive all five phases. The last course must come about now. Jeremiah’s people have finally reached “the point of no return.” They will now be scattered throughout the world, Gentiles entering the Promised Land and taking them politically and physically captive. Although individuals within the nation can be converted, the nation overall is doomed. The covenant was made with the whole nation. Despite the remnant of believers in the nation, unbelief and idolatry have ensnared the vast majority. JEHOVAH God is not in the hearts and minds of all Jews, so chastisement will follow.

Second Chronicles chapter 36: “[15] And the LORD God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place: [16] But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy.” (Read the rest of 2 Chronicles, where the Babylonians entered and destroyed Jerusalem and its Temple, and took Judah captive to Babylon.) As with all the Prophets, the Jews refused to hear Jeremiah, they mocked him, wrongly criticized him, imprisoned him, and so on. Indeed, they were ripe for judgment. Jerusalem had to fall! “There was no remedy!”

Also see:
» Is it disrespectful to call it the “Old Testament” or “Old Covenant?”
» Is God finished with the nation Israel?
» What are the “sins that are past” in Romans 3:25?

Does 2 Corinthians 12:16 mean Paul was dishonest?

DOES 2 CORINTHIANS 12:16 MEAN PAUL WAS DISHONEST?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Someone emailed this author to complain that, on the basis of 2 Corinthians 12:16, she concluded that the Apostle Paul was a false prophet, a liar, a fraud. The Bible says in that verse: “But be it so, I did not burden you: nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you with guile.” Is God’s Word claiming here that Paul was deceitful?

The verse is merely sarcasm. It is not that Paul lied, was dishonest, or was hypocritical. Someone can strategize and be totally honest. “Crafty” can mean “skillful, clever, shrewd, having sharp power of judgment.” A crafty person is not necessarily evil or malicious. For example, we can see God’s craftiness in 1 Corinthians 3:19: “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written [Job 5:13], He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.” God in His wisdom (true wisdom) outsmarts sinful man in his “wisdom.” Now, “guile” is trickery or deceit, and this is true of the Corinthians but certainly not descriptive of Paul!

Consider 1 Thessalonians chapter 2: “[1] For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain: [2] But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention. [3] For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile: [4] But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts. [5] For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness: [6] Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ.” To accuse God’s Apostle of the Gentiles, Paul, of dishonesty or evil, is to be most dishonest with Scripture. Would the Holy Spirit actually lead Paul to admit he lied? Utter nonsense!

If we read 2 Corinthians 12:16 with its context, all will make sense: “[15] And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved. [16] But be it so, I did not burden you: nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you with guile.” In verse 15, can you not sense Paul’s tenderness, his charity, his genuine care and immense love for these precious saints at Corinth? He was willing to expend his time, energy, and resources to evangelize them and edify them. How did they react? They were callous and indifferent toward him!! He had entered Corinth knowing they would take advantage of him, that they would not appreciate him, that they would be ungrateful and greedy, but he visited them anyway to win them to Christ! (He “put them to the test”—and they failed!) Read chapters 10–13 of 2 Corinthians. Paul has to defend his apostleship, for some saints at Corinth are questioning and challenging his God-given office!!

Let us face it, friends. Some “Christians” just hate the Apostle Paul—and that was true of a segment of the Corinthians 20 centuries ago. The lady who emailed this author is one of the many modern examples. She was willing to grab and pervert any verse she could in order to attack and discredit Jesus Christ’s “apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13). “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I [Paul] write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant (1 Corinthians 14:37-38).

Also see:
» Was the Apostle Paul a false prophet?
» “If any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant?”
» Do we study only Paul’s epistles?

What does the Bible say about lunar exploration and settlement?

WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT LUNAR EXPLORATION AND SETTLEMENT?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Exactly 50 years ago this weekend, United States astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first man to ever set foot on the Moon. Within five years, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) plans to return to the Moon… with the intention of sending a woman as well. Should we be visiting the Moon? What does the Bible say about humans establishing permanent lunar colonies? Would God endorse our settling some other celestial body such as the planet Mars?

As a member of the natural science community, this author enjoys learning about Earth. He is an amateur astronomer (stargazer) too. For the last 20 years, Earth and space science have greatly fascinated him. They were his favorite subjects in elementary and high school, and then particularly college. In fact, he once toyed with the notion of becoming a planetary scientist. Eventually, he obtained Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Geology (Earth science). He absolutely is not “anti-science” or “scientifically-illiterate.”

Why do we endeavor to explore outer space, friends? Why land on the Moon again? Why do we wonder about the feasibility of settling Mars or some other planet? If we can answer these questions, then we can compare those answers to the Bible. This will thus reveal to us whether or not God approves of such plans.

GOD IS NOT ANTI-SCIENCE BUT SCIENTISTS ARE OFTEN ANTI-GOD

Here is what we know about the scientific community (and, remember, this author speaks from personal, or firsthand, experience). Except for the occasional creationist or theistic evolutionist willing to speak up, the concept of God is shunned and discouraged in scientific discussion. The Bible is unwelcome, reduced to nothing more than a book of superstition, fables, myths, legends.

The following is usually heard or read with respect to God and science: “Unless we can analyze it with our five senses, it just is not real and has no place in the scientific method. There is no ‘god’ and we have no need for ‘god’ anyway. The notions of ‘god’ and religion are imaginary, shallow explanations our ancestors invented long ago to account for events they really did not understand. They described things as best they could but now we have abandoned those primitive and superstitious views. Today, we have so much more enlightenment about the natural laws governing our universe. It was those laws, not ‘god,’ that originated the universe and life itself.”

Why is there a desire to land on the Moon? Why explore outer space? This author doubts most of these proponents want to enjoy God’s creation. Almighty God’s glory is not being sought because His Word has already been rejected (refer back to the previous paragraph). Man is much more than curious; he wants to be his own god. Remember, sinful man can be summed up as follows: “Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen” (Romans 1:25). Sinful man endeavors to create his own rules and conduct his life apart from the Creator. Science and religion are the two most useful methods to accomplish this end! Religion can be used to replace God and science can be employed to wish away God.

SELF-SUFFICIENT MAN

It is not uncommon to hear the following paranoia expressed today: “Climate change is real! The data shows warming oceans, melting glacial ice, and rising sea levels! Pollution (air, water, soil) is going to drive human civilization to extinction! If we are to survive, we need to find a new home. We must populate the Moon, Mars, and beyond. Humans are destroying Earth and we must save ourselves!” Here is man’s attempt to sidestep his reliance on God. After all, they say, we do not know whether or not there is a ‘god’ and we cannot know one way or another anyway. We cannot take any chances, though. Once this world goes, we go with it! We have to take it upon ourselves to save our species from oblivion! (We Bible believers have no reason to fret, for we are not those who have no hope!)

Friends, it is no secret that people are usually on a quest to disprove the Bible… and so-called “science” is an easy route to take! If they can discover life forms past or present—namely, evidence of advanced civilizations—on other planets, then they can dismiss Earth as “just another planet.” Then, they can argue that life did not originate on Earth as Scripture says but rather was possibly brought to Earth from some remote location. Maybe “aliens”—not the God of the Bible—are responsible for Earth’s biosphere. See, as long as God is challenged, we can pass off whatever “science” we can find. If the scientific data does support Scripture, that data is disregarded. The technical name for this is “confirmation bias,” and scientists can be guilty of suppressing data that does not back their suppositions.

Here is how this author, as a Bible-believing scientist, views science: “I want to better understand God’s creation. If I could discover some cure for this disease, if I could design a new machine to make that task much easier….” These are noble endeavors. There is nothing sinful here. Now, watch how science can be used nefariously and dishonestly. “What scientific evidence do we have against the teachings of the Bible? What new discoveries can we make to discredit the ‘miracles’ of Jesus?” We could go on and on here, but we will stop and proceed to dealing with the question at hand.

GOD’S HEAVENLY SOLUTION TO COLONIZING THE HEAVENS

What about Moon colonization? Mars colonization? Other planets? Ultimately, the human body is not meant to function in outer space. Earth’s magnetic and gravitational fields keep us healthy and protected from ultraviolet radiation. Microgravity detrimentally affects astronauts’ physical bodies. Earth’s atmosphere contains the correct types and proportions of gases we need to breathe. Temperatures on Earth are just right for life, the planet being the appropriate distance from the Sun. When astronauts enter outer space, they require special suits. If we can minimize the effects outer space has on the human body, we can safely leave Earth for a time. However, permanent settlement outside Earth could be problematic with human means. Eventually, God will instate a plan for human colonization throughout outer space.

In the ages to come, humans will most definitely live throughout the universe. How will that be possible? One day, Almighty God will intervene into human affairs and give Christians new glorified bodies. This is the eternal destiny of the Church the Body of Christ. We will have new bodies that can function in the heavenly places and glorify the Lord Jesus Christ there.

Ephesians chapter 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:…. [19] And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, [20] Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, [21] Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: [22] And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, [23] Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.”

Ephesians chapter 2: “[6] And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: [7] That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”

Philippians chapter 3: “[20] For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: [21] Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.” (You may also read 1 Corinthians 15:35-58 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 to learn more about our resurrected or redeemed physical bodies and their heavenly nature. Romans 8:18-25 and Colossians 1:16-21 are other insightful passages.)

Instead of worshipping creation (namely, the celestial bodies), worship the Creator, the God of the Bible: “Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name:…” (Amos 5:8). Worldly-minded Israel had to be corrected here, and billions today need a similar adjustment in their thinking.

Psalm 19: “[1] The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. [2] Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. [3] There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. [4] Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, [5] Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. [6] His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof. 

“[7] The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. [8] The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. [9] The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. [10] More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.”

Also see:
» Why are “the heavens not clean in God’s sight?”
» Should we Bible-believers investigate and promulgate conspiracy theories?
» Why does Ephesians conclude with such a “dark” passage?

Who or what are the “seven Spirits” found in Revelation?

WHO OR WHAT ARE THE “SEVEN SPIRITS” FOUND IN REVELATION?

by Shawn Brasseaux

We read about them on four occasions in the Bible, and only in the Book of the Revelation:

  • Revelation 1:4: “John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;….”
  • Revelation 3:1: “And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.”
  • Revelation 4:5: “And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.”
  • Revelation 5:6: “And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.”

A common attempt to identify these seven Spirits is to correlate them with Isaiah 11:2: “And [#1] the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, [#2] the spirit of wisdom and [#3] understanding, [#4] the spirit of counsel and [#5] might, [#6] the spirit of knowledge and of [#7] the fear of the LORD.” However, great difficulty is encountered when linking Isaiah to Revelation. The capitalization in Revelation causes people to conclude that the seven Spirits are actually the Holy Spirit. While it is true that the Holy Spirit is often capitalized in the English Bible (that is, “Spirit”), there are some exceptions. Isaiah 11:2 (quoted earlier) contains one such exception—“the spirit of the LORD” is the Holy Spirit. There are not seven “Holy Spirits.” Neither Isaiah 11:2 nor the Holy Spirit are under discussion in the Revelation passages.

Revelation 1:4 says these seven Spirits send forth a message of grace and peace. They are living entities, beings, not inanimate or nontangible concepts such as the last six “spirits” of Isaiah 11:2. They are called “the seven lamps of fire burning before the throne” in Revelation 4:5. Such could not be true of wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, and knowledge of the fear of the LORD. Again, the seven Spirits in the Book of Revelation are creatures of some kind, individuals with radiant bodies like burning fire (see angels described as such in Hebrews 1:7 and Psalm 104:4). Revelation 5:6 says they are, “seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.” This helps further identify them.

Before John the Apostle wrote the Book of the Revelation, the Old Testament had already spoken of “seven” special “Spirits.” The capitalization signifies they are not ordinary beings or common angels. They are unique angelic creatures, evidently having a distinctive purpose in God’s plan. While shrouded in mystery, we can find three references to them. They are called “the watchers.”

  • Zechariah 4:10: “For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth.” (This end-time Book links to Revelation—the Second Coming of Christ.)
  • Second Chronicles 16:9: “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars.”
  • Daniel 4:17: “This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.”

Also see:
» Do people become angels when they die?
» Are angels women?
» Do we have guardian angels?