Monthly Archives: May 2020

Is “Ask and ye shall receive” applicable to us?

IS “ASK AND YE SHALL RECEIVE” APPLICABLE TO US?

by Shawn Brasseaux

The Lord Jesus said in John 16:23-24: “And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.”

Unanswered prayer is confusing. Have you ever prayed to God for something, and yet you never received it? Why did John 16:23-24 not work? Did God lie? Not at all. Dispensational Bible study dispels confusion and doubt: that verse was not spoken to us. Jesus Christ in His earthly ministry spoke exclusively to Israel. “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24). “Salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22). “Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision [Israel] for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers” (Romans 15:8).

Faith healers and prosperity preachers enjoy Matthew 18:19: “Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.” This too has nothing to do with us Gentiles: it belongs to Israel’s apostles.

If you pray according to John 16:23-24 (or Matthew 7:7; Matthew 18:19; et cetera), and do not receive what you prayed for, it is not because the Bible has mistakes, or because God does not love you, or because you had too little faith, or because God lied. God demonstrated His love for us, fully and clearly, at the cross of Calvary. These verses do not work today because God did not speak them to us. God is not doing today what He did with Israel in time past.

When our Apostle Paul prayed three times for the Lord to deliver him from his “thorn in the flesh,” Jesus Christ answered “No” three times. Second Corinthians 12:7-10: “[7] And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. [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.”

Why did John 16:23-24 not work for Paul? Again, it was spoken to Israel, not to Paul or us in this Dispensation of Grace. Saints, while God will not answer our prayers in the same way He answered Israel’s prayers, He does hear our prayers. Regardless of what happens, Philippians 4:6-7 will always be true: “[6] Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. [7] And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Also see:
» How can I have an “effectual” prayer life?
» How should I pray?
» Should I recite “The Lord’s Prayer?”

With God “all things” are possible?

WITH GOD “ALL THINGS” ARE POSSIBLE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

In six Bible verses—involving four accounts—we read “with God all things are possible” or “with God nothing shall be impossible.” How should we approach these most terribly abused passages? Are there limits as to what God will and will not do? Or, can we “name and claim” whatever we want and, based on these Scriptures, expect God to surely bring it to pass without exception? Let us “search and see!”

MATTHEW 19:26 / MARK 10:27 / LUKE 18:27

“But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). “And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible” (Mark 10:27).

Read 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. [25] When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? [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. [26] And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved? [27] And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.

Now, the parallel, 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. [26] And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved? [27] And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.

The context has nothing to do with walking on water, performing a miracle of physical healing, receiving a “supernatural financial blessing,” and so on. As we can see, the situation is whether or not a man can save himself. The answer, of course, is a resounding NO! When the sinner is “performing” in religion—which performance can never be perfect—it is apparent works can play no role whatsoever in gaining eternal life. However, when God’s grace is involved, the sinner can have eternal life because God works on the sinner’s behalf. “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them” (Galatians 3:10). “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Romans 4:5).

MARK 9:23

“Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth” (Mark 9:23).

Read Mark chapter 9: “[17] And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; [18] And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not. [19] He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me. [20] And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming.

“[21] And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child. [22] And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us. [23] Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. [24] And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”

Satan has afflicted this child for his whole life, so recovery looks utterly hopeless. For many years, he has suffered unspeakable physical and mental torture. His father, just like the Apostles, is not walking by faith. According to Jesus, “all things are possible to him that believeth” (verse 23). It is God’s will that Israel be delivered from Satanic bondage and influence—the tormented man symbolizes Israel’s spiritual captivity to the evil world system. The man’s father doubted Jesus could help (“if thou canst do any thing”—verse 22), but the Lord could and does! Although Israel could not deliver herself, all things that accompanied Israel’s liberation were possible with God. Satan had a firm grip on the nation, but God cures the man and proves He was infinitesimally more powerful!

MARK 14:36

“And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt” (Mark 14:36).

Read Mark chapter 14: “[32] And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: and he saith to his disciples, Sit ye here, while I shall pray. [33] And he taketh with him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy; [34] And saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch. [35] And he went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. [36] And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.”

On the night of Christ’s arrest, He is praying in the Garden, speaking to His Heavenly Father concerning His impending crucifixion. Jesus speaks of the “cup” of Father God’s wrath. This cup is that from which the damned souls of the ages drink, suffering under the endless righteous wrath of a holy God! “And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name” (Revelation 14:9-11).

When Christ expressed, “Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt,” He was asking if there was some way to pay for sins other than Him personally going to Calvary’s cross. Of course, the answer was a resounding NO! Doubtless, Father God searched out every imaginable plan, every conceivable idea, but there was only one plausible strategy. It would have to be Heaven’s best to die for Earth’s worst, or man’s sin debt would never be settled. Eventually, through prayer, the Lord Jesus Himself (both God and Man) realizes it and accepts it. He set aside His own will, choosing instead as a perfect Man to submit to His Father’s will. “And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt(Matthew 26:39).

LUKE 1:35-37

“For with God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37).

Read Luke chapter 1: “[35] And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. [36] And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. [37] For with God nothing shall be impossible.”

Through God’s working, two children would be conceived. One was John the Baptist, born to a mother, Elisabeth, who was beyond childbearing years. Elisabeth’s cousin was Mary, and Mary had never been sexually connected to a man before. However, the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary to inform her the Holy Ghost would work in her—without the intervention of a man—to produce the human body of the Son of God. This was the virgin conception of Jesus Christ. Almighty God would work in bringing about the humanity of the Lord Jesus, and He would also cause His forerunner or heralder (John the Baptist) to be born as well. Both births were impossible with men, but not impossible with God.

CONCLUSION

While God intervened in Bible days to produce mighty results that physical eyes could see, we should be careful to understand He is doing something different today. The Bible says, “The Jews require a sign” (1 Corinthians 1:22). While God was dealing with Israel, He used miraculous demonstrations to teach them various doctrines. The physically ill were instantly cured. Children were conceived under miraculous circumstances.

However, we can read Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, and see how God is doing something different today. A drastic dispensational change occurred in the middle of Acts. Even the miracles that accompanied Paul’s “Acts” ministry gradually disappear as we move into his latter writings. The Lord’s “provoking” ministry to Israel—in Acts—was over. (See our related study linked at the end of this article.) Try as hard as we might, we cannot force God to do something He is no longer doing. (See our related study about “limiting God” linked at the end of this article.) God’s Word to and about us is Romans through Philemon, so we should walk by faith in this Divine revelation and not attempt to make God repeat something He did elsewhere in Scripture. That which is possible with God is only that which He Himself has already chosen to do by writing in His Book “rightly divided” (2 Timothy 2:15)!

Although we in the Dispensation of Grace have not been promised financial blessings, physical healing (only at the resurrection—Rapture), or any other miraculous demonstration, the God of the Bible is still saving souls from sin and Hell as He was 20 centuries ago. Just as we read it was impossible for man to save himself in Christ’s earthly ministry, so it is impossible now. We must come to God by faith in Calvary’s finished crosswork alone: “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Nothing we can do will please Father God enough to let us it into His Heaven. He is well pleased with His Son, Jesus Christ, so we must rely on His Son’s work if we are to please Him. Otherwise, our entrance into Heaven will be impossible!

Also see:
» Why could the disciples not cast out the devil in Matthew 17:14-21?
» Can you explain Paul’s “Acts” ministry?
» Are we dispensationalists guilty of “limiting God?”
» Does God intervene in my life? If so, how?

Who were the “Epicureans” and the “Stoicks?”

WHO WERE THE “EPICUREANS” AND THE “STOICKS?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

They appear only once, Acts chapter 17: “[16] Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. [17] Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him. [18] Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection. [19] And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is? [20] For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean. [21] (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.)”

In short, the Epicureans and the Stoicks were adherents to competing schools of pagan philosophy. For a more detailed analysis, consult the following information.

EPICUREANS

The word “Epicureans” means “defenders, helpers.” Dr. Scofield wrote the following marginal note: “Disciples of Epicurus, B.C. 342-271, who abandoned as hopeless the search by reason for pure truth (cf. John 18.38), seeking instead true pleasure through experience.”

Smith’s Bible Dictionary says: “Derived their name from Epicurus (342–271 B.C.), a philosopher of Attic descent, whose ‘Garden’ at Athens rivalled in popularity the ‘Porch’ and the ‘Academy.’ The doctrines of Epicurus found wide acceptance in Asia Minor and Alexandria. (95–50 B.C.) The object of Epicurus was to find in philosophy a practical guide to happiness. True pleasure and not absolute truth was the end at which he aimed; experience and not reason the test on which he relied. It is obvious that a system thus framed would degenerate by a natural descent into mere materialism; and in this form Epicurism was the popular philosophy at the beginning of the Christian era. When St. Paul addressed ‘Epicureans and Stoics,’ Acts 17:18, at Athens, the philosophy of life was practically reduced to the teaching of these two antagonistic schools.”

STOICKS

The word “Stoics” means “of the portico,” referring to a porch in Athens (more on this later). Regarding them, Dr. Scofield said: “Disciples of Zeno, B.C. 280, and Chrysippus, B.C. 240. This philosophy was founded on human self-sufficiency, inculcated stern self-repression, the solidarity of the race, and the unity of Deity. Epicureans and Stoics divided the apostolic world.”

Smith’s Bible Dictionary thus defines them: “The Stoics and Epicureans, who are mentioned together in Acts 17:28, represent the two opposite schools of practical philosophy which survived the fall of higher speculation in Greece. The Stoic school was founded by Zeno of Citium (cir. B.C. 280), and derived its name from the painted portico at Athens in which he taught. Zeno was followed by Cleanthes (cir. B.C. 260); Cleanthes by Chrysippus (cir. B.C. 240), who was regarded as the intellectual founder of the Stoic system. ‘They regarded God and the world as power and its manifestation, matter being a passive ground in which dwells the divine energy. Their ethics were a protest against moral indifference, and to live in harmony with nature, conformably with reason and the demands of universal good, and in the utmost indifference to pleasure, pain and all external good or evil, was their fundamental maxim.’—American Cyclopaedia. The ethical system of the Stoics has been commonly supposed to have a close connection with Christian morality; but the morality of Stoicism is essentially based on pride, that of Christianity on humility; the one upholds individual independence, the other absolute faith in another; the one looks for consolation in the issue of fate, the other in Providence; the one is limited by periods of cosmic ruin, the other is consummated in personal resurrection. Acts 17:18. But in spite of the fundamental error of Stoicism, which lies in a supreme egotism, the teaching of this school gave a wide currency to the noble doctrines of the fatherhood of God, the common bonds of mankind, the sovereignty of the soul. Among their most prominent representatives were Zeno and Antipater of Tarsus, Seneca and Marcus Aurelius.”

If you read Paul’s sermon (Acts 17:22-31), you will see the Holy Spirit through the Apostle reasoning with these pagans to come to faith in Jesus Christ and thus abandon their vain philosophical nonsense. Although a few believed, the majority refused. They favored their religious error!

Also see:
» Why did Paul not give the Gospel of Grace in Acts 17?
» How long should I keep witnessing to the same person?
» Would God want me to share the Gospel?

Is “rooms” a King James Bible mistake in Matthew 23:6?

IS “ROOMS” A KING JAMES BIBLE MISTAKE IN MATTHEW 23:6?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues,…” (Matthew 23:6). “And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts:…” (Mark 12:39). “Beware of the scribes, which desire to walk in long robes, and love greetings in the markets, and the highest seats in the synagogues, and the chief rooms at feasts;…” (Luke 20:46).

While we usually assume our English word “room” indicates a place such as a bedroom or bathroom, it can be used in a more general sense. According to The Oxford English Dictionary, “room” simply means “a space that can be occupied.” (Size is irrelevant—it can be large or small.) For instance, we would say, “Make room so I can sit down.” “Room” here is obviously not an enormous space like part of a house. We just mean an empty area. Thus, there is no mistake when the King James Bible translators rendered the Greek word into English. “Room” in Scripture refers to a space at a table that someone can fill. We must be sure to do careful research before we start unfairly maligning our 1611 translators.

The same idea appears in Luke chapter 14, also referring to dining at a table: “[1] And it came to pass, as he [Jesus] went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him…. [7] And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them, [8] When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; [9] And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room. [10] But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee. [11] For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”

Israel’s apostate religious leaders enjoyed drawing attention to themselves (read the contexts of the quoted verses). They sought the most prominent positions at the table. “Pay attention to me! I deserve the most distinguished seat—whether to eat at a home or worship at a synagogue! Look at me!” Such is nothing more than man’s sinful flesh, and we should be careful not to adopt this attitude.

Also see:
» What are “phylacteries?”
» Is it truly a good deed if done for selfish reasons?
» What are some verses to help me stop focusing on myself?

Is “Gergesenes” a mistake in Matthew 8:28 in the King James Bible?

IS “GERGESENES” A MISTAKE IN MATTHEW 8:28 IN THE KING JAMES BIBLE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Our Authorized Version has come under heavy criticism for an alleged “mistake” in Matthew 8:28. Moreover, to strengthen this argument, Mark and Luke as found in the King James text have been pitted against Matthew as found in the King James text. Here, through the eyes of faith, we will examine this technical issue and hopefully shed light on it to the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Here are the three King James Bible texts we must consider:

  • Matthew 8:28: “And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way.”
  • Mark 5:1: “And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes.”
  • Luke 8:26: “And they arrived at the country of the Gadarenes, which is over against Galilee.”

Upon studying the contexts of these three accounts, we conclude they describe the same basic event (for more info, see our related study linked at the end of this article). Yet, there is one striking discrepancy, an alleged “textual error” of the King James Bible and its underlying Greek Textus Receptus. Both read “Gergesenes” (“Gergesenon”) in Matthew 8:28. However, in Mark 5:1 and Luke 8:26, both have “Gadarenes” (“Gadarenon”). Which reading is correct? Did Jesus go into the country of the “Gergesenes” or the country of the Gadarenes?” Why does God’s Word provide conflicting accounts? How do we resolve the matter?

Textual criticism is often more of a burden than a blessing. However, we must look at the manuscript evidence in order to see what is going on:

 

MATTHEW 8:28 — “GERGESENES” (KJB) OR “GADARENES?”
King James Bible (“Gergesenes”) following Textus Receptus (“Gergesenon”)

  • Gergesenes – KJV, Darby, Geneva (1599), New King James Version (NKJV), Wycliffe’s Translation, Young’s Literal Translation (YLT)

Modern English versions (“Gadarenes”) following Critical Text (“Gadarenon”)

  • Gadarenes – American Standard Version (ASV), Amplified (AMP), Contemporary English Version (CEV), Roman Catholic Douay-Rheims American (DRA 1899), English Standard Version (ESV), God’s Word (GW), Good News Translation (GNT), Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB), “Jehovah’s Witness” New World Translation (NWT), Knox’s Translation (KNX), Living Bible (LB), The Message (MSG), Mounce’s Translation, New American Standard (NASB), New Century Version (NCV), New English Translation (NET), New International Version (NIV), New Living Translation (NLT), New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), Phillips’ Translation, Revised Standard Version (RSV), The Voice

 

MARK 5:1 — “GADARENES” (KJB) OR “GERASENES?”

King James Bible (“Gadarenes”) following Textus Receptus (“Gadarenon”)

  • Gadarenes – KJV, Darby, Geneva (1599), NKJV, Wycliffe, Young

Modern English versions (“Gerasenes”) following Critical Text (“Gerasenon”)*

  • Gerasenes – ASV, Amplified, Roman Catholic Douay-Rheims American (1899), CEV, ESV, God’s Word, Good News Translation, HCSB, “Jehovah’s Witness” New World Translation, Knox, Phillips, RSV, Message, Mounce, NASB, NCV, NET, NIV, NLT, NRSV, Voice
  • (Living Bible has no proper name in Mark 5:1.)

* Some CT manuscripts read “Gergesenon” in Mark 5:1.

 

LUKE 8:26 — “GADARENES” (KJB) OR “GERASENES?”

King James Bible (“Gadarenes”) following Textus Receptus (“Gadarenon”)

  • Gadarenes – KJV, Darby, Geneva (1599), NKJV, Wycliffe’s, Young

Modern English versions (“Gerasenes”) following Critical Text (“Gerasenon”)*

  • Gerasenes – ASV, Amplified, CEV, Roman Catholic Douay-Rheims American (1899), ESV, God’s Word, Good News Translation, HCSB, “Jehovah’s Witness” New World Translation, Knox, Message, Mounce, Living Bible, NASB, NCV, NET, NIV, NLT, NRSV, Phillips, RSV, Voice

* Some CT manuscripts read “Gerasenon” in Luke 8:26.

 

LUKE 8:37 — “GADARENES” (KJB) OR “GERASENES?”

King James Bible (“Gadarenes”) following Textus Receptus (“Gadarenon”)

  • Gadarenes – KJV, Darby, Geneva (1599), NKJV, Wycliffe, Young

Modern English versions (“Gerasenes”) following Critical Text (“Gerasenon”)*

  • Gerasenes – ASV, Amplified, Roman Catholic Douay-Rheims (1899), CEV, ESV, God’s Word, Good News Translation, HCSB, “Jehovah’s Witness” New World Translation, Knox, Message, Mounce, NASB, NCV, NET, NIV, NLT, NRSV, Phillips, RSV
  • (Living Bible and The Voice have no proper name in Luke 8:37.)

*Some CT manuscripts read “Gergesenon” in Luke 8:37.

 

Having looked briefly at the Greek and English versions, and understanding why they read as they do, we move to analyzing the English words themselves.

GERGESENES

This term is found only once in the King James Bible (Matthew 8:28), and not at all in the modern versions because of dissimilar manuscript sources. While written off as “erroneous” (because Mark and Luke use “Gadarenes”), it is not a mistake. The Gergesenes were the “Girgashites,” a people native to the land of Palestine (Genesis 10:16; Genesis 15:21; Deuteronomy 7:1; Joshua 3:10; Joshua 24:11; 1 Chronicles 1:14; Nehemiah 9:8). Gergesa was a city on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, precisely where Jesus is at the close of Matthew chapter 8. Both Gergesa and Gadara were east of the Jordan River.

GADARENES

The name appears thrice in the King James Bible (Mark 5:1; Luke 8:26,37). Modern versions do not have it because their Greek source is different, and thus use “Gerasenes” instead. Gadara was a town east of the Jordan River, but there is no consensus as to its precise location. Some believe it was near the southern extremity of the Sea of Galilee. Others think it was more to the south, toward the northern end of the Dead Sea. To complicate matters, there was a town by a similar name—Gerasa. It was also east of the Jordan River, and roughly halfway between Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. See next paragraph.

GERASENES

This is not found in the King James Bible at all, but modern versions use it in Mark 5:1 and Luke 8:26,37. Relying on a different set of Greek witnesses, the King James reads “Gadarenes.”

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION

Matthew 8:28 reads “Gergesenes” in the King James Bible. Gergesa was a city on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. The Gergesenes are also known as the “Girgashites,” people native to the land of Palestine (Genesis 10:16; Genesis 15:21; Deuteronomy 7:1; Joshua 3:10; Joshua 24:11; 1 Chronicles 1:14; Nehemiah 9:8). The modern English versions do not use “Gergesenes” in Matthew 8:28; they rely on another Greek manuscript reading (“Gadarenes”).

Mark 5:1 has “Gadarenes” in the King James Bible. Gadara was eight miles (13 kilometers) southeast of the Sea of Galilee, and was one of the 10 cities of Decapolis (cf. Matthew 4:25). The modern English versions do not use “Gadarenes” in Mark 5:1; they rely on another Greek manuscript reading (“Gerasenes”). Gerasa was the name of both a city and a region. The city was 35 miles (56 kilometers) southeast of Gadara—and in the same region, Decapolis, that Gergesa was.

Luke 8:26 and 37 read “Gadarenes” in the King James Bible. The modern English versions do not use “Gadarenes” here; they rely on another Greek manuscript reading (“Gerasenes”).

Everyone agrees all three cities—Gergesa, Gadara, and Gerasa—were east of the Jordan River. The English and Greek versions shuffle these names in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. However, it is best to follow the King James Bible readings here and not let the modern English versions distract us. “Gergesenes” is the correct reading for Matthew 8:28 (as in the King James). “Gadarenes” is the correct reading for Mark 5:1 and Luke 8:26,37 (as in the King James). The modern versions are based on different Greek manuscripts than the King James Bible; hence, they introduced into the English-speaking world a name (“Gerasenes”) that merely sidetracks us. For over 400 years, English-speaking Christians have used the King James Bible. Only in the last 140 years has unbelieving “scholarship” encouraged them to discard that manuscript family in a favor of a so-called “older and better” new Greek text (resulting in a new English text, thereby introducing changes in terminology). That, in actuality, is a relinquishing of the Protestant Bible text of the Reformation (King James manuscript family—the Antiochan Text or Textus Receptus) to pick up a Roman Catholic text (Alexandrian perversions—the Critical or Alexandrian Text).

Except unbelief, we have no reason to correct any King James readings. Yet, even if we eliminate the conflicting readings the modern versions bring, we still have the King James Bible text at odds with itself. Matthew 8:28 in the King James has “Gergesenes.” Mark 5:1 and Luke 8:26,37 have “Gadarenes.” Why? Remember, the miracle involved two possessed men (Matthew 8:28), but Mark (5:2) and Luke (8:27) single out one of those two. One man may have been from Gadara and the other from Gergesa, resulting in two proper names. Or, they were Gadarenes living in or near Gergesa. Or, maybe they were Gergeshites living in or near Gadara. Or, one region could have been known by two names (“country of Gergesenes”  and “country of the Gadarenes” being interchangeable). There are various ways to explain these differences, but the fact remains there is no mistake in the King James Bible. The mistakes are in the modern English versions because they rely on a Greek manuscript minority whereas the King James Bible depends on a Greek manuscript majority!

Remember, divergences in the Four Gospel Records are not contradictions or mistakes. Instead, they show their uniqueness. Mark and Luke did not copy Matthew, so they will not read word-for-word. John did not copy any of those three. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are four separate portraits of one Jesus Christ. They do not read word-for-word because they were not meant to read verbatim. Jesus is functioning in four separate capacities, fulfilling four different roles. Therefore, the Holy Spirit edited each Book to stand apart from the others. It is the same earthly ministry of Christ, but presented from four angles so as to highlight His four offices (Matthew as King, Mark as Servant, Luke as Man, and John as God).

Also see:
» Are Matthew 8:28-34, Mark 5:1-19, and Luke 8:26-39 the same miracle?
» Should we strive to distribute the Four Gospel Records?
» Are Matthew through John “Old Testament” or “New Testament” books?

Are Matthew 8:28-34, Mark 5:1-19, and Luke 8:26-39 the same miracle?

ARE MATTHEW 8:28-34, MARK 5:1-19, AND LUKE 8:26-39 THE SAME MIRACLE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

There are a number of striking similarities between Matthew 8:28-34 and Mark 5:1-19. Does that make them the same miracle? But, what about the differences? How do we account for the variations?

MATTHEW 8:28-34

“[28] And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way. [29] And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time? [30] And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding. [31] So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine. [32] And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters. [33] And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and told every thing, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils. [34] And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coasts.”

MARK 5:1-20

“[1] And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes. [2] And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, [3] Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains: [4] Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him.

“[5] And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones. [6] But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him, [7] And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not. [8] For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit. [9] And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many. [10] And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country.

“[11] Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding. [12] And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them. [13] And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand; ) and were choked in the sea. [14] And they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done. [15] And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid. 

“[16] And they that saw it told them how it befell to him that was possessed with the devil, and also concerning the swine. [17] And they began to pray him to depart out of their coasts. [18] And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him. [19] Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee. [20] And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel.”

LUKE 8:26-39

“[26] And they arrived at the country of the Gadarenes, which is over against Galilee. [27] And when he went forth to land, there met him out of the city a certain man, which had devils long time, and ware no clothes, neither abode in any house, but in the tombs. [28] When he saw Jesus, he cried out, and fell down before him, and with a loud voice said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God most high? I beseech thee, torment me not. 29 (For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For oftentimes it had caught him: and he was kept bound with chains and in fetters; and he brake the bands, and was driven of the devil into the wilderness.)

“[30] And Jesus asked him, saying, What is thy name? And he said, Legion: because many devils were entered into him. [31] And they besought him that he would not command them to go out into the deep. [32] And there was there an herd of many swine feeding on the mountain: and they besought him that he would suffer them to enter into them. And he suffered them. [33] Then went the devils out of the man, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the lake, and were choked.

“[34] When they that fed them saw what was done, they fled, and went and told it in the city and in the country. [35] Then they went out to see what was done; and came to Jesus, and found the man, out of whom the devils were departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid. [36] They also which saw it told them by what means he that was possessed of the devils was healed. [37] Then the whole multitude of the country of the Gadarenes round about besought him to depart from them; for they were taken with great fear: and he went up into the ship, and returned back again.

“[38] Now the man out of whom the devils were departed besought him that he might be with him: but Jesus sent him away, saying, [39] Return to thine own house, and shew how great things God hath done unto thee. And he went his way, and published throughout the whole city how great things Jesus had done unto him.”

Two main points of controversy surround these passages. One is a technical textual issue, which “scholars” claim is a “mistake” in the King James Bible. (See our companion study linked at the end of this article—why Matthew says “Gergesenes” but Mark and Luke use “Gadarenes.”) The second problem people have with these passages is Matthew 8:28 speaks of two devil-possessed men while Mark 5:2 and Luke 8:27 claim it was one devil-possessed man. Why is there this discrepancy? Is it a mistake?

Matthew presents Jesus as King, the rightful heir to King David’s throne. The “two men” are the two nations or two kingdoms that resulted after David’s son King Solomon sinned and died. Read 1 Kings chapter 11 to learn about the 12 tribes of Israel dividing into 10 northern tribes (collectively called “Israel”) and two southern tribes (collectively titled “Judah”). According to Jeremiah 31:31 and Ezekiel 37:15-28, Messiah (Jesus, Son of David) and the New Covenant will reunite Israel and Judah, that they become one nation as they were before. Matthew, in presenting the two cases of the two possessed men cleansed, therefore reminds his readers that the Lord Jesus Christ will one day exorcise Israel and Judah of their spiritual and political corruption Satan has brought upon them. Mark and Luke, however, focus on the single nation Israel God originally called Israel to be before Solomon ruined the arrangement with his pagan idolatry. For more info, read our “Matthew 20:29-34” study linked below.

Also see:
» What belongs in Matthew 8:28—“Gergesenes” or “Gadarenes?”
» Are Matthew 20:29-34, Mark 10:46-52, and Luke 18:35-43 the same miracle?
» Why does “overturn” appear thrice in Ezekiel 21:27?

Are Matthew 20:29-34, Mark 10:46-52, and Luke 18:35-43 the same miracle?

ARE MATTHEW 20:29-34, MARK 10:46-52, AND LUKE 18:35-43 THE SAME MIRACLE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Bible scrutinizers lambaste Matthew 20:29-34, Mark 10:46-52, and Luke 18:35-43 as “contradictory.” When we turn to those Scriptures, we see that the details indeed vary. As believers in Christ, how do we reconcile these differences? If they are not mistakes, why do they read thus?

Matthew 20:29-34: “[29] And as they departed from Jericho, a great multitude followed him. [30] And, behold, two blind men sitting by the way side, when they heard that Jesus passed by, cried out, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou son of David. [31] And the multitude rebuked them, because they should hold their peace: but they cried the more, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou son of David. [32] And Jesus stood still, and called them, and said, What will ye that I shall do unto you? [33] They say unto him, Lord, that our eyes may be opened. [34] So Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes: and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed him.”

Mark 10:46-52: “[46] And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging. [47] And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me. [48] And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou son of David, have mercy on me. [49] And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee. [50] And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus. [51] And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight. [52] And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.”

Luke 18:35-43: “[35] And it came to pass, that as he was come nigh unto Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the way side begging: [36] And hearing the multitude pass by, he asked what it meant. [37] And they told him, that Jesus of Nazareth passeth by. [38] And he cried, saying, Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me. [39] And they which went before rebuked him, that he should hold his peace: but he cried so much the more, Thou son of David, have mercy on me. [40] And Jesus stood, and commanded him to be brought unto him: and when he was come near, he asked him, [41] Saying, What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee? And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight. [42] And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee. [43] And immediately he received his sight, and followed him, glorifying God: and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise unto God.”

Here are the major details that vary between Matthew 20:29-34, Mark 10:46-52, and Luke 18:35-43:

  1. Matthew has Jesus leaving Jericho and healing two blind men (verses 29-30).
  2. Mark has Jesus leaving Jericho and healing one blind man, Bartimaeus (verse 46).
  3. Luke has Jesus entering Jericho and healing one blind man (verse 35).

In other words, was it two blind men (Matthew), or one blind man (Mark and Luke)? Also, was Jesus leaving Jericho (Matthew and Mark), or was He entering Jericho (Luke)?

Here is the simplest explanation. Evidently, Luke writes of a miracle Jesus performed on a single blind man before entering Jericho. Matthew and Mark focus on what Jesus did after He left Jericho. There were two men healed here—one, apparently the spokesman or leader of the two, was named Bartimaeus.

If Matthew 20:29-34 and Mark 10:46-52 are the same miracle, and they appear to be, then why does Matthew speak of two men whereas Mark mentions just one? Matthew emphasizes the dispensational view, and we have already seen in his Gospel Record a similar miraculous demonstration presented in like manner. (See also our study on Matthew 8:28-34 linked at the end of this article.)

A few years earlier in His earthly ministry, Christ had delivered the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chapters 5–7) and the Holy Spirit moved Matthew to select 10 special miracles to authenticate that Kingdom message (chapters 8–9). The ninth miracle is recorded in Matthew 9:27-30: “[27] And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying, Thou son of David, have mercy on us. [28] And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him: and Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto him, Yea, Lord. [29] Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you. [30] And their eyes were opened; and Jesus straitly charged them, saying, See that no man know it.”

We see two blind men healed in Matthew chapter 9, and two more blind men healed in chapter 21. The key to understanding them is they both underscore Jesus as “Son of David” (Matthew 9:27; Matthew 20:30-31). Matthew presents Jesus as King, the rightful heir to King David’s throne. The “two men” are the two nations or two kingdoms that resulted after David’s son King Solomon sinned and died. Read 1 Kings chapter 11 to learn about the 12 tribes of Israel dividing into 10 northern tribes (collectively called “Israel”) and two southern tribes (collectively titled “Judah”). According to Jeremiah 31:31 and Ezekiel 37:15-28, Messiah (Jesus, Son of David) and the New Covenant will reunite Israel and Judah, that they become one nation as they were before. Matthew, in presenting the two cases of the two healed blind men, therefore reminds his readers that the Lord Jesus Christ will one day heal “blind” Israel and Judah of their spiritual and political blindness.

Mark 10:46-34 focuses on one of the two blind men Jesus healed as He departed Jericho. This man—whom Mark alone names “Bartimaeus” (“son of the unclean;” typical of the sinner)—symbolizes the single nation Israel God originally called Israel to be before Solomon ruined the arrangement with his pagan idolatry. Bartimaeus was the more outspoken of the two blind men Jesus healed as He left Jericho, which is why the Holy Spirit moved Mark to stress him (particularly his descriptive name).

Also see:
» Are Matthew 8:28-34, Mark 5:1-19, and Luke 8:26-39 the same miracle?
» How will God “chasten” the seed of David?
» How should we handle the objection, “If only I saw a miracle, then I would believe!”?

How shall Elijah “restore all things?”

HOW SHALL ELIJAH “RESTORE ALL THINGS?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

“And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things (Matthew 17:11). “And he answered and told them, Elias verily cometh first, and restoreth all things; and how it is written of the Son of man, that he must suffer many things, and be set at nought” (Mark 9:12). In what sense will Elijah “restore all things?”

Our best option in interpreting this is to appeal to the original Old Testament passage being quoted, the final two verses of Malachi chapter 4: “[5] Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: [6] And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”

The Word of God, if permitted, would have brought societal unity in the nation Israel. However, the Jews allowed spiritual error—false religion (pagan idolatry)—to creep in and it destroyed them from the inside out. In Malachi’s day, some 400 years prior to Christ’s earthly ministry, Jewish fathers and children are at odds with each other. Micah chapter 7, written over three centuries before Malachi, says: “[5] Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide: keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom. [6] For the son dishonoureth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter in law against her mother in law; a man’s enemies are the men of his own house.”

Christ quoted Micah in the Book of Matthew, chapter 10, when He commissioned His 12 Apostles: “[21] And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. [22] And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. [23] But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come. [24] The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. [25] It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?….

“[32] Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. [33] But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. [34] Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. [35] For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. [36] And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. [37] He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. [38] And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. [39] He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.”

As touching John the Baptist’s ministry, an angel of the LORD told his father Zacharias in Luke chapter 1: “[16] And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. [17] And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” John the Baptist conducting his ministry “in the spirit and power of Elias [Elijah]” meant he, like Elijah eight centuries earlier, would be fighting against Israel’s apostate leadership (see 1 Kings chapter 17–2 Kings chapter 2). As a believing remnant was formed because of Elijah’s message, so a Little Flock of believers would be created in Israel when John preached. John’s converts would be ready to accept Jesus Christ.

Combining all the foregoing information, we take Elijah “restoring all things” as meaning thus: (1) the Holy Spirit will use his ministry to “recover” and proclaim truth that has been pushed aside because of false teaching, and (2) the Holy Spirit will reestablish the spiritual and social stability in Israel lost because of said false teaching. The truth unites people; it is error that divides. Unfortunately, a majority in Israel will retain their error, which will further divide Jewish families. This was true in Elijah’s day, it was applicable during John the Baptist’s time, and it will be true even beyond our dispensation leading up to Christ’s Second Coming (Matthew chapter 10).

Revelation chapter 11 prophesies of “two witnesses” who will have ministries during the reign of the Antichrist. As the Lord Jesus Himself confirmed, Elijah will be one of these men who will precede His Second Coming (cf. Malachi 4:5-6 and Matthew 17:11). Therefore, as Elijah of old preached sound Bible doctrine that unified Jews spiritually, as John the Baptist proclaimed sound Bible doctrine that united Jews spiritually, so Elijah (who never physically died) will be brought back to Earth in the future to preach sound Bible doctrine that unifies Jews spiritually. This believing remnant in Israel formed will then make way for Messiah Jesus to return and usher His earthly kingdom.

Also see:
» Was John the Baptist really Elijah?
» How could John the Baptist question if Jesus really is Christ?
» As Christians, should we hate our parents?

Who were the “Rechabites?”

WHO WERE THE “RECHABITES?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

These mysterious characters appear a solitary time in Scripture—Jeremiah chapter 35. In short, the Rechabites were nomadic Gentiles living in Jerusalem several centuries before Christ. The LORD God directed the Prophet Jeremiah to use them to teach his Jewish brethren a critical spiritual lesson. We can learn from this as well.

We open with two simple verses:

“And when he was departed thence, he lighted on Jehonadab the son of Rechab coming to meet him: and he saluted him, and said to him, Is thine heart right, as my heart is with thy heart? And Jehonadab answered, It is. If it be, give me thine hand. And he gave him his hand; and he took him up to him into the chariot” (2 Kings 10:15).

“And Jehu went, and Jehonadab the son of Rechab, into the house of Baal, and said unto the worshippers of Baal, Search, and look that there be here with you none of the servants of the LORD, but the worshippers of Baal only” (2 Kings 10:23).

One Bible dictionary says: “…It was from this Rechab that the tribe of the Rechabites derived their name. In 1 Chron. 2:55 the house of Rechab is identified with a section of the Kenites, a Midianitish tribe who came into Canaan with the Israelites, and retained their nomadic habits. The real founder of the tribe was Jehonadab. He and his people had all along been worshippers of Jehovah, circumcised, though not looked upon as belonging to Israel, and probably therefore not considering themselves bound by the Mosaic law and ritual. The worship of Baal was offensive to them.”

We can now move to reading Jeremiah chapter 35, where the Rechabites appear:

“[1] The word which came unto Jeremiah from the LORD in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, saying, [2] Go unto the house of the Rechabites, and speak unto them, and bring them into the house of the LORD, into one of the chambers, and give them wine to drink. [3] Then I took Jaazaniah the son of Jeremiah, the son of Habaziniah, and his brethren, and all his sons, and the whole house of the Rechabites; [4] And I brought them into the house of the LORD, into the chamber of the sons of Hanan, the son of Igdaliah, a man of God, which was by the chamber of the princes, which was above the chamber of Maaseiah the son of Shallum, the keeper of the door: [5] And I set before the sons of the house of the Rechabites pots full of wine, and cups, and I said unto them, Drink ye wine.

“[6] But they said, We will drink no wine: for Jonadab the son of Rechab our father commanded us, saying, Ye shall drink no wine, neither ye, nor your sons for ever: [7] Neither shall ye build house, nor sow seed, nor plant vineyard, nor have any: but all your days ye shall dwell in tents; that ye may live many days in the land where ye be strangers. [8] Thus have we obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab our father in all that he hath charged us, to drink no wine all our days, we, our wives, our sons, nor our daughters; [9] Nor to build houses for us to dwell in: neither have we vineyard, nor field, nor seed: [10] But we have dwelt in tents, and have obeyed, and done according to all that Jonadab our father commanded us. [11] But it came to pass, when Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon came up into the land, that we said, Come, and let us go to Jerusalem for fear of the army of the Chaldeans, and for fear of the army of the Syrians: so we dwell at Jerusalem.

“[12] Then came the word of the LORD unto Jeremiah, saying, [13] Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Go and tell the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, Will ye not receive instruction to hearken to my words? saith the LORD. [14] The words of Jonadab the son of Rechab, that he commanded his sons not to drink wine, are performed; for unto this day they drink none, but obey their father’s commandment: notwithstanding I have spoken unto you, rising early and speaking; but ye hearkened not unto me. [15] I have sent also unto you all my servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them, saying, Return ye now every man from his evil way, and amend your doings, and go not after other gods to serve them, and ye shall dwell in the land which I have given to you and to your fathers: but ye have not inclined your ear, nor hearkened unto me. [16] Because the sons of Jonadab the son of Rechab have performed the commandment of their father, which he commanded them; but this people hath not hearkened unto me: [17] Therefore thus saith the LORD God of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring upon Judah and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem all the evil that I have pronounced against them: because I have spoken unto them, but they have not heard; and I have called unto them, but they have not answered. 

“[18] And Jeremiah said unto the house of the Rechabites, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Because ye have obeyed the commandment of Jonadab your father, and kept all his precepts, and done according unto all that he hath commanded you: [19] Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not want a man to stand before me for ever.”

Returning to the aforementioned Bible dictionary: “Jehonadab inaugurated a reformation and compelled a more rigid adherence than ever to the old Arab life. They were neither to drink wine, nor build houses, nor plant nor have any vineyard. All their days they were to dwell in tents. Jer. 35:6,7. This was to be the condition of their retaining a distinct tribal existence. For two centuries and a half they adhered faithfully to this rule. The invasion of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar, in B.C. 607, drove the Rechabites from the tents to Jerusalem, where they stood proof against temptation, and were specially blessed. Jer. 35:2-19.”

The LORD God instructed Jeremiah to take the Rechabites into the Temple complex in Jerusalem and offer them wine to drink (verses 2,5). These men replied, “We will drink no wine: for Jonadab the son of Rechab our father commanded us, saying, Ye shall drink no wine, neither ye, nor your sons for ever… Thus have we obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab our father in all that he hath charged us, to drink no wine all our days, we, our wives, our sons, nor our daughters;…” (verses 6,8). JEHOVAH God then instructed Jeremiah to go to the men of Judah and tell them about his exchange with the Rechabites. Whereas the Rechabites followed their father’s commandments, the men of Judah did not obey their Heavenly Father’s commandments. This is a stunning rebuke! (Judah’s rebellion will lead to their removal from the Promised Land in just a few years, the 70-year Babylonian Captivity.)

Never should we look down upon the men of Judah for their deliberate sinfulness and hypocrisy. Millions upon millions of Christians today use their lips to claim to “love the Lord” but then deny Him with their worldly mindset and lifestyle. Just as Israel failed to listen to Moses, God’s spokesman to them, so we as the professing Church have ignored the Apostle Paul, God’s spokesman to us. To the extent the Rechabites hearkened unto their father Jonadab, to the degree the Jews should have listened to God’s Word through Moses, so we should obey by faith God’s grace principles laid out in Paul’s epistles of Romans through Philemon!

Also see:
» Has God’s Word failed?
» Must one be a “King James Bible Pauline dispensationalist” to have eternal life?
» Why do some Christians persistently behave like lost people?

How are the days of Matthew 24:22 “shortened?”

HOW ARE THE DAYS OF MATTHEW 24:22 “SHORTENED?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

We read in Matthew chapter 24: “[21] For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. [22] And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.”

This chapter outlines the events leading up to Christ’s Second Coming. Verses 4-14 of Matthew chapter 24 are the first half of Daniel’s 70th Week (see Daniel 9:24-27—a “week” here equals seven years, like our English word “dozen” means 12). Verses 15-22 are the midpoint. Verse 23 onward is the second half, leading up to the Second Coming itself (verses 30-31, for example). For more information on timing, note these quick facts: Revelation 11:2 speaks of 42 months or 1260 days (3½ years), whereas Revelation 12:6 and Revelation 13:5 concern another 42 months (3½ years). Overall, these are the final seven years of Daniel’s prophecy, that which will occur after our Dispensation of Grace runs its course and we the Church the Body of Christ have been removed from Earth. Remember, the 490 years of Daniel chapter 9 concern Israel and Jerusalem (Daniel 9:24)—not us!

We understand these seven years are halved—divided in two. For several reasons (beyond the scope of this study), Divine wrath progressively intensifies and conditions increasingly deteriorate. Revelation chapters 6–18 cover all seven years, with the Antichrist arising in chapter 6 and Jesus Christ returning in chapter 19. Read these passages in order, and notice the escalating judgment and suffering! There will be great wars, various horrific diseases, astronomical anomalies, devastating earthquakes, carnivorous animals eating people, evil spirits tormenting human society, extreme drought and famine, Israel’s believers in Jesus Christ being imprisoned and executed for refusing to follow Antichrist, and numerous other crises. Matthew 24:21 summarizes the second half of Daniel’s 70th Week, in Jesus’ words, as “great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” Those concluding 42 months are particularly noteworthy. We see them in terms of years in Revelation 12:14: “a time [1] and times [+2], and half a time [+½].

“Shortened” in Matthew 24:21-22 is not to be taken in the sense of reducing a day to 23 hours instead of its usual 24, subtracting years from the seven, removing days from months, making a month less than four weeks, or anything of the sort. Otherwise, we start “readjusting” the entire 490-year period predicted in Daniel 9:24, redefining these “weeks,” and increasingly losing their precision with every modification. If the Bible speaks of “a thousand two hundred and threescore [60] days” (Revelation 11:3), individual days are important here and thus cannot be deleted.

Here is how we are to understand Matthew 24:21-22: “[21] For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. [22] And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.” The severity of Daniel’s 70th Week becomes so great, the loss of life inflates to such an extent during its last half, that if God does not restrict it to a mere 42 months, no one would be left alive! In order for “flesh” (physical bodies) to be “saved” (delivered, surviving), He limits that latter half to 3½ years. An exact schedule has been established, so Daniel’s 70th Week cannot and will not go on indefinitely. If Almighty God permitted those dangerous days to go beyond that allotted time frame, no flesh would be saved. Again, the issue here is not soul salvation (justification unto eternal life, forgiveness of sins). It is physical salvation—a deliverance of flesh-and-blood bodies. Consequently, members of Israel’s Little Flock (“the elect”) are alive and waiting for Christ to come back for them!

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Also see:
» Is the Antichrist alive right now?
» Are we “doom and gloom” prophecy believers?
» Will the Antichrist be a Jew or a Gentile?