Category Archives: JUST ASKING / CURIOUS QUESTIONS

How could John the Baptist question if Jesus really is Christ?

HOW COULD JOHN THE BAPTIST QUESTION IF JESUS REALLY IS CHRIST?

by Shawn Brasseaux

We read in Matthew chapter 11: “[2] Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, [3] And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?” How could John the Baptist question if Jesus really is Christ/Messiah? Let us search the Scriptures for the answer.

John the Baptist conducted his ministry along the Jordan River, just north of the Dead Sea. Matthew chapter 3: “[13] Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. [14] But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? [15] And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. [16] And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: [17] And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

Now, John chapter 1: “[29] The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. [30] This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. [31] And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. [32] And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. [33] And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. [34] And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.

John the Baptist confessed that he knew Jesus was the Son of God, the Anointed One whom Israel had been expecting for many centuries. Yet, ironically, as we read in our opening comments, John expressed doubt concerning Jesus as Christ/Messiah. What made John change his mind?

In Matthew chapter 3, John the Baptist preached: “[7] But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? [8] Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: [9] And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

“[10] And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. [11] I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: [12] Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

John proceeds to water baptize the Lord Jesus (verses 13-17). The Lord undergoes a series of temptations in the wilderness (4:1-11). Just beginning His earthly ministry, Jesus hears about John the Baptist’s imprisonment (4:12; cf. Luke 3:19-20). (The details of John’s arrest, incarceration, and death can be found in flashbacks recorded in Matthew 14:1-12 and Mark 6:14-29.)

The Bible says in Matthew 11:1-3: “[1] And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding his twelve disciples, he departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities. [2] Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, [3] And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?” John, in jail, is quite surprised to learn what Jesus is doing. His changed mind is the result of him being “in the prison,” for he never expected to wind up there!

Not only was John stunned at what Jesus was doing, he was also shocked by what Jesus was not doing. John has been incarcerated for at least a year—possibly two. Why had the Lord Jesus not overthrown that corrupt king, Herod, who had imprisoned John? While free, John had warned unbelieving Israel of “the wrath to come.” Yet, the Lord was not pouring out wrath, was not liberating imprisoned John (His forerunner or heralder), and was not taking away the sin of the world (John 1:29). John was puzzled, so he sent messengers to Jesus.

Jesus had a message for John, reassuring him that He was Christ/Messiah. He was already beginning to fulfill Old Testament passages and—in due time—He would accomplish the others (namely, the wrath verses). Read from Matthew chapter 11 again: “[2] Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, [3] And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? [4] Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: [5] The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. [6] And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.”

Luke 7:22, the companion verse: “Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached.” (Jesus was indeed Messiah, for when Messiah would come, healing miracles would abound—see Isaiah 35:4-6 and Isaiah 53:4 cf. Matthew 8:16-17.) John should not lose faith!

Father God had sent John the Baptist to announce the arrival of His Son, Jesus of Nazareth (John 1:1-8; Matthew 3:1-17; Isaiah 40:3). Yet, John, just a man, did not have unlimited insight concerning God’s Son. John had not been given Divine revelation as to the timing of the events of Christ’s life. It was not that John had grown apostate; he just did not understand that Christ’s healing miracles would continue beyond his imprisonment and execution. John had no idea that we would be here right now—20 centuries later—still waiting for God’s enemies to be judged and Earth’s governments to be cleansed of wicked rulers.

Jesus’ answer to John was, “And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended [skandalidzo] in me” (Matthew 11:6; Luke 7:23). In other words, “John, happy is the man who will not find scandal or an occasion of stumbling in Me. You have no need to be embarrassed that you endorsed Me. I am who you announced Me to be. Do not lose faith.” Christ had not come to judge sin—as in, overthrow evil kings—at His First Coming. No, He had come to die for sin.

“[52] And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him. [53] And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem. [54] And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? [55] But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. [56] For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village” (Luke chapter 9).

“He that should come” will return at His Second Coming, to finish fulfilling the rest of the Messianic prophecies.

Also see:
» Did Jesus ever claim to be God?
» How did John’s converts “justify God?”
» Was John the Baptist really Elijah?

What is “nitre?”

WHAT IS “NITRE?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

The word appears two times in the Authorized Version:

  • Proverbs 25:20: “As he that taketh away a garment in cold weather, and as vinegar upon nitre, so is he that singeth songs to an heavy heart.”
  • Jeremiah 2:22: “For though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before me, saith the Lord GOD.”

We can make a few cursory remarks using these contexts. Firstly, “nitre” is in connection to something destructive, volatile, and useless. Pairing vinegar and nitre is like removing a garment in cold weather. Mixing vinegar and nitre is equivalent to making light of someone suffering from sadness or depression. Secondly, “nitre” can be used to wash in bathing. (By the way, since British scholars produced the King James Bible, it has the British spelling. In American English, it is “niter.”)

Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon has the following entry:

“nitre (Gr. nitron, litron), prop. natron of the moderns, fossil alkali, potash (different from [Hebrew] vegetable alkali), which, when mixed with oil, is used even now for soap, Prov. 25:20; Jer. 2:22. It appears to be so called because, when water is poured upon it, it effervesces or ferments.”

Nitre is a mineral—what we call “carbonate of soda,” “sodium bicarbonate,” or “baking soda.” Historically, it is a type of salt. The Egyptians used it as an agent to embalm mummies, wash clothes, and cook (yeast). When mixed with vinegar, it was used to cure a toothache.

Also see:
» What is the “burning ague?”
» What is a “wen?”
» What is the “caul?”

What is a “besom?”

WHAT IS A “BESOM?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

Isaiah 14:22-23: “[22] For I will rise up against them, saith the LORD of hosts, and cut off from Babylon the name, and remnant, and son, and nephew, saith the LORD. [23] I will also make it a possession for the bittern, and pools of water: and I will sweep it with the besom of destruction, saith the LORD of hosts.”

Our first context clue is that a “besom” is something used to “sweep.” It is actually a crude broom formed by tying twigs to a stick. In other words, JEHOVAH God attacking and defeating Babylon (and its king—verse 4) is like Him sweeping trash, filth, or dirt on a floor! The idea is a purging or cleansing of evil, that which is disgusting in His sight being forced out of His sight. Chapters 13 and 14 described historic Babylon being destroyed (see Daniel 5:25-31). This was a few centuries after Isaiah’s ministry.

Yet, there is a prophetic significance as well, for the Lord Jesus Christ at His Second Coming will permanently conquer a new Babylon (see Revelation chapters 17-18). This is still awaiting fulfillment. We can also refer to Jeremiah chapters 50 and 51, as well as the little Old Testament Book of Habakkuk. These are all about ancient and modern Babylon being conquered because of their alliance with Satan and false religion (pagan idolatry). Among these prophecies are the rise and fall of the coming Antichrist. In other words, they are dual prophecies—linking the past and future so they mirror each other.

Also see:
» Will the Antichrist be a Jew or a Gentile?
» Are we “doom and gloom” prophecy believers?
» Why does Daniel 5:25 say “Upharsin” but Daniel 5:28 say “Peres?”

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?”

Why did Jesus curse the “poor” fig tree?

WHY DID JESUS CURSE THE “POOR” FIG TREE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

A noted atheist once grumbled about the Bible account in which Jesus cursed the fig tree. Christ was allegedly wrong in causing that tree to wither away and never bear fruit again. Some dismiss the Lord as petulant, throwing a tantrum because He was hungry and had found nothing to eat. Others argue He destroyed public property. Beloved, this is such reckless and thoughtless slander, indisputable proof that man in all his “wisdom” cannot make sense of God’s holy words!

Oh, how unfair and mean Jesus was to that poor tree! Or was He? Friends, why do we not give the Lord the benefit of the doubt and actually do some Bible research before griping about things we are not qualified to discuss? If we must critique God’s Word, then the least we can do is actually read it first! Moreover, honestly, let us grow up and cease thinking childishly. Here is an example of how, if we approach the Scriptures irreverently, we will get nothing meaningful out of them. If we have the eyes of faith, the Holy Spirit will illuminate us so we see the many things the “natural man” cannot (1 Corinthians 2:9-16).

WHO IS GOD (AND WHO IS NOT)

Before delving into the specifics of the Bible account under consideration, here is one fact we should never forget. Who are WE to dictate to GOD what HE can and cannot do? After all, it is His creation. “The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein” (Psalm 24:1). He owns everything because He made everything! What right do wepuny, weakly creatures that we are!—have attempting to control Almighty God? Do we go to someone’s house and command him or her to do as we want? Then, my friend, do not live in God’s universe and audaciously assume He needs your permission to act!

If you disagree with God, my friend, here is what you can do. Create your own universe, go live in it, and then you can make your own rules. In the event that you cannot create a universe—and this author suspects that to be the case!—then you must remain here in God’s world and powerlessly watch Him do what He wants. You may keep on throwing tantrums, whining, and screaming “Foul!,” but Almighty God will forever continue doing “His good pleasure!” (With that straightened out, my friend, we can get to addressing the cursing of the fig tree.)

THE CURSING OF THE FIG TREE

Of the Four Gospel Records (Matthew through John), only Matthew and Mark record the account of the Lord Jesus cursing the fig tree. We provide those verses now for your consideration.

Matthew chapter 21: “[18] Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungred. [19] And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away. [20] And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away!” (If you study the context, Matthew is not interested in chronology but rather lays out events around a common theme. Mark, on the other hand, follows a timeline. These facts account for the differences in the two Records.)

Mark chapter 11: “[12] And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry: [13] And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet. [14] And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it…. [20] And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. [21] And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away.”

Friend, could there be a logical explanation to this bizarre narrative? Was Jesus punishing the fig tree? Had it displeased Him in some way? Why this tree of all plants? And, the greatest question of all… Why was this fig tree cursed forever? Why such severity? On the surface, it seems silly. To the aforementioned atheist, and those who agree with him, the things of God are indeed “foolishness” (1 Corinthians 2:14). Such a “natural man,” one lacking interest in learning Divine truth, is completely unable to grasp the wonderful truths of God’s Word. Without any capacity to appreciate spiritual light, he will (with superficial awareness) immaturely complain about the matter. If he would only take God’s Word, submit to its authority (what he refuses to do because of sIn!), and allow the Holy Spirit to teach him, then he would learn concepts he would never imagine in a billion years!

As people who believe the Bible (do we?), we genuinely seek answers here (are we?). Something amazing is transpiring in this strange situation and we must search the Scriptures to discover it. Watch how God’s Word interprets itself. Here are a few preliminary observations we can make about the cursing of the fig tree. Firstly, it happened in Jerusalem. After spending the night in nearby Bethany, Jesus returned to Jerusalem in the morning to find the unproductive fig tree (cf. Matthew 21:12-19; Mark 11:11-15). Secondly, that fig tree is associated with Jesus cleansing the Jerusalem Temple that has been corrupted with false doctrine (cf. Matthew 21:12-23 [especially verses 12-13]; Mark 11:11-21 [especially verses 15-17]). These two points will prove quite useful in our study later. For now, we look for some verses… and (that “dreaded” word) study!!!

Why choose the fig tree? It is highly beneficial for us to see that Jesus did not randomly select the tree He cursed. Why not an olive tree, an almond tree, or a pomegranate tree? Why not a grapevine? These were growing in the region as well, but the Lord deliberately chose a fig tree because it has scriptural significance in this situation. Again, we will give the Bible a fair hearing and let it keep explaining itself.

Figs first appear in Scripture in Genesis, chapter 3, verse 7: “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.” If you are familiar with this passage, friend, you know this happened immediately after the Fall of Man, when Adam and Eve sinned against the LORD God by eating the forbidden fruit. Therefore, from that time onward, figs in the Bible carry the meaning of man attempting to cover his spiritual nakedness (sin problem). Thus, the fig tree in Scripture is indicative of religion.

Now, turn to Luke chapter 13: “[6] He [Jesus Christ] spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. [7] Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? [8] And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: [9] And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.”

This parable is quite simple, provided we remember our earlier comments. A certain man, really the LORD God, planted a fig tree (Mosaic Law at Mount Sinai, Judaism, the Jewish religion—Exodus chapter 19) in His vineyard (Israel—Isaiah 5:1-7). That system, because it was God’s perfect Law, should have generated faith and righteous deeds in Israel. Using the Law, Israel could have become the nation who could do, by faith, what JEHOVAH God wanted them to do.

However, when Jesus Christ came to Israel during His earthly ministry, He was disappointed. He spent three years looking for fruit—seeking faith and good works, righteous living, a people ready to work by faith in accomplishing God’s will. Sadly, the Lord found no such nation living in the Promised Land. That religious system could not make Israel God’s people because it always emphasized their performance. Since the Jews were sinners like all descendants of Adam, their performance was never enough to please God. Religion could not permanently deal with their sin problem any more than it could help the Gentiles in their sin. (This is made quite clear in the first three chapters of the Book of Romans.)

Romans 8:3 says, “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh….” The Law cannot help the sinner do right because the sinner is by nature a failure! God’s Word says in Romans 3:19-20: “[19] Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. [20] Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”

Galatians 3:19 affirms, “Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.” The Law was added to the promise (Abrahamic Covenant—Genesis 12:1-3) in order to prove to Israel their works would not result in the promise. In other words, the promise would be given completely by God’s grace, not by their efforts. The same is true today for us. If we want sin to reign in our lives, the Law will cause just that! First Corinthians 15:56 says, “The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.” (See also Romans chapter 7, and Romans 6:14-15.) No sinner needs a set of rules to follow to gain a right standing before God. That outcome is impossible. The sinner needs God to give him a right standing. (Hence, Romans chapter 3 outlines justification by faith alone in the shed blood of Jesus Christ alone. It is all about what Christ did for us—grace—and not what we do for God!)

While tangential to our discussion, we must point this out in passing. Luke 13:8-9 talks about God permitting Israel a one-year extension to display faith and works: “[8] And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: [9] And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.” This is the one-year period of mercy as recorded in Acts chapters 1–7. When that one-year ministry of the 12 Apostles resulted in more persecution and unbelief, not faith, God temporarily set national Israel aside. The ascended Lord Jesus Christ raised up Saul of Tarsus, saved him, and sent him out as Paul, “the apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13). (See our related study on Acts 7:55-56, linked at the end of this article.)

Returning to the account of the cursing of the fig tree, we find the Lord Jesus “hungry” (Matthew 21:18; Mark 11:12). He desires faith and works in Israel: He wants Israel to function as His earthly people as He intended. Traveling from Bethany to the Temple in Jerusalem, He comes across a fig tree. Displaying a complete set of green leaves (Matthew 21:19; Mark 11:13), the tree is a very spectacular sight compared to the surrounding brownish, arid (desert) landscape. “And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet.” That tree’s appearance was highly misleading. It looked promising in providing fruit to satisfy the hungry soul. Alas, it was nothing but leaves—completely fruitless!

The Palestinian fig tree yields leaves and small figs in early March. It was thus unexpected to find a fig tree with leaves but lacking fruit. The leaves obscured the tree’s barrenness. Even today, religion has a nice outward appearance but—on the inside—it abounds with spiritual death! “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. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity” (Matthew 23:27-28). Despite the “fair shew in the flesh” (Galatians 6:12-13), God was not impressed. That hypocritical nation was not what He intended. Israel’s perverted works-religious system did not fool the Lord! They pretended to be righteous, but it was all artificial. In fact, they worshipped the religious system instead of the God who gave it to them. Lastly, in their “religious goodness,” they will demand the Lord Jesus (God’s Son) be put to death!

Christ Jesus responded to Israel’s fruitless religion by pronouncing over the fig tree, “Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever” (Matthew 21:19). Mark 11:15 reports it this way: “No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever.” By the way, the tree was on the side of the road, making it public property. No one owned it; Jesus did not destroy “private property.” In making this decree, Christ was showing how He would one day end the Mosaic Law system (which was only temporary anyway—see Galatians 3:15-26). The Old Covenant will pass away so the New Covenant can be established. Rather than an arrangement that depends on Israel’s faithfulness (which will produce nothing that pleases God), the LORD God will institute a new system. This New Covenant will be entirely dependent upon Him causing Israel to obey His law. It will be His Spirit working in them to accomplish His end.

Notice Hebrews chapter 8: “[6] But now hath he [Jesus Christ] obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. [7] For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. [8] For finding fault with them, he saith [Jeremiah 31:31-34], Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: [9] Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.

“[10] For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: [11] And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. [12] For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. [13] In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.” (The fig tree “withers” in verse 13.)

The New Covenant will be established at the Second Coming of Christ. For example, see Acts 3:19-21: “[19] Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. [20] And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you….” Also read Romans 11:25-27: “[25] For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. [26] And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: [27] For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.”

Based on the shed blood of Jesus Christ at Calvary (Hebrews chapters 9 and 10), the New Covenant will take care of Israel’s sins committed under the Old Covenant (Mosaic Law). Under the New Covenant, God will place His Holy Spirit into believing Jews to cause them to keep His laws. What religion could not do for Israel, what Israel could not do for herself, that is precisely what God will do for Israel. GRACE! They could not become His people in their own strength, but He can make them His people. GRACE! Ezekiel the Prophet wrote in chapter 36, over five centuries before Christ: “[27] And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. [28] And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.” (This will fulfill the Abrahamic Covenant of Genesis 12:1-3, allowing Israel to then be a blessing to all nations in the Millennial Reign of Christ.)

God will never again institute the Mosaic religious system (Old Covenant) in Israel. Instead, He will replace it with the New Covenant. Nevertheless, one person in the Bible will “resurrect” the Mosaic system—the satanic Antichrist. This man is future even from our time. In A.D. 70, the Romans overran Jerusalem and destroyed its Temple that existed during Jesus’ earthly ministry. Those Judaistic animal sacrifices, first instructed by Moses, have been suspended for nearly 2,000 years. The Antichrist will rebuild the Temple and resume its worship services (including the animal sacrifices). Daniel 9:27 says to this point: “And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.”

The Antichrist will restore the Mosaic system in Israel, before replacing it with the worship of himself (Daniel 11:36-39; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12; Revelation 13:1-18; cf. Romans 1:25). In other words, the Antichrist will restart the Mosaic system—the very system Jesus Christ already condemned forever by cursing the fig tree perpetually. God is not going to cause the Mosaic system to resume in Israel. Satan will be behind it, and he will use the Antichrist to do it!

SUPPLEMENTAL: JONAH AND THE GOURD

In an interesting parallel to any silly atheist carping about Almighty God cursing a fig tree, we find equally-clueless Jonah irritated that God killed a gourd plant.

The final chapter of the Book of Jonah says: “[6] And the LORD God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd. [7] But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered. [8] And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live. [9] And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death. [10] Then said the LORD, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night: [11] And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?”

In other words, Jonah’s complaint was just as hollow as the atheist’s. Jonah did not create the gourd, God did. God, the plant’s owner, killed it. Thus, Jonah had no right to whine about it dying!

Also see:
» Was Jesus justified in “destroying private property?”
» What about the “Jewish Roots” Movement?
» Is Israel “fallen” or not? Is Israel “cast away” or not?

Was Jesus justified in destroying “private property?”

WAS JESUS JUSTIFIED IN DESTROYING “PRIVATE PROPERTY?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

Read Matthew chapter 8: “[28] And when he [the Lord Jesus] 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.”

The Lord Jesus has been faulted here for “destroying private property.” After all, when He cast out the devils, He granted them their request to enter the herd of swine. The swine, now devil-possessed, ran into the nearby sea and drowned. (Mark 5:13 gives the estimate of 2,000 pigs!) How could Jesus allow these animals to perish when they belonged to someone else?

Before we denounce Christ here, perhaps we should read the whole Bible. Notice Leviticus 11:7: “And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you.” And, Deuteronomy 14:8: “And the swine, because it divideth the hoof, yet cheweth not the cud, it is unclean unto you: ye shall not eat of their flesh, nor touch their dead carcase.” The Law of Moses demanded that Israel not eat pork or touch a dead pig’s body. In Christ’s earthly ministry, however, pigs are being kept in God’s land. Moses’ kosher food laws are being ignored. These devil-possessed pigs dying was one way of God purging His people and real estate of spiritual uncleanness. They should not have owned pigs anyway!

We must remember that, ultimately, Jesus Christ is the Creator God (Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2). Everything belongs to Him: “The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein” (Psalm 24:1). If He wants to do something with His creation, He does not have to ask anyone’s permission concerning anything… any creature… any place!

Also see:
» Why did Israel have to observe so many “strange” laws?
» How does Satan operate today?
» Should we use the word “demons?” Are they the same as devils?

What does the Bible mean, “Shake the dust from your feet?”

WHAT DOES THE BIBLE MEAN, “SHAKE THE DUST FROM YOUR FEET?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

Friend, you have likely heard the expression, “Shake the dust from your feet,” in Christian contexts. It is indeed derived from the Scriptures. Have you ever wondered what it means?

The phrase (or a slight variation) appears five times in the King James Bible:

  • Matthew 10:14: “And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.”
  • Mark 6:11: “And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.”
  • Luke 9:5: “And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them.”
  • Luke 10:11: “Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.”
  • Acts 13:51: “But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium.”

According to Bible historians, when a Jew returned from traveling in a Gentile land, he literally shook the dust from his clothes and feet because he did not want to bring heathen soil into Judaea. It was a gesture of disgust. Similarly, when the Apostles (led by Peter) in Israel’s program went around preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom, or when the Apostles (led by Paul) in our mystery program went around preaching the Gospel of the Grace of God, they “shook the dust” to show God’s disapproval of their unbelieving audiences. It was an insult for a Jewish town to be treated as though it were Gentile (and, in fact, those unsaved Jews were just as unbelieving as the unsaved pagans)!

The dust cleaving to the shoes of these Gospel preachers was proof that Almighty God’s spokesmen had been present in the cities and houses but the citizens had rejected those Divine messages. Such preachers of Christ were not to linger indefinitely in one place, wasting precious time with people who did not want to hear the truth and had no interest in believing God’s Word anyway. They were to shake the dust as a sign of condemnation!

Also see:
» “If any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant?”
» How long should we keep witnessing to the same person?
» Did Paul engage in “missionary journeys?”