Category Archives: JUST ASKING / CURIOUS QUESTIONS

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?”

Is that a UFO in Ezekiel chapter 1?

IS THAT A UFO IN EZEKIEL CHAPTER 1?

by Shawn Brasseaux

We should be careful not to read science fiction into the Bible. One case in point is the idea that “space aliens” landed on Earth in Ezekiel chapter 1 in some kind of craft or UFO (unidentified flying object). This is nothing but nonsense, empty speculations and people’s imaginations clouding the simple truths of Holy Writ. Mark well these words, friends: trouble is sure to come when people use mythology or Hollywood to interpret Scripture!

Begin reading in Ezekiel chapter 1: “[1] Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God. [2] In the fifth day of the month, which was the fifth year of king Jehoiachin’s captivity, [3] The word of the LORD came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the LORD was there upon him.

“[4] And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire. [5] Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man. [6] And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings. [7] And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf’s foot: and they sparkled like the colour of burnished brass. [8] And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings. [9] Their wings were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward.

“[10] As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle. [11] Thus were their faces: and their wings were stretched upward; two wings of every one were joined one to another, and two covered their bodies. [12] And they went every one straight forward: whither the spirit was to go, they went; and they turned not when they went. [13] As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, and like the appearance of lamps: it went up and down among the living creatures; and the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning. [14] And the living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning.

“[15] Now as I beheld the living creatures, behold one wheel upon the earth by the living creatures, with his four faces. [16] The appearance of the wheels and their work was like unto the colour of a beryl: and they four had one likeness: and their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel. [17] When they went, they went upon their four sides: and they turned not when they went. [18] As for their rings, they were so high that they were dreadful; and their rings were full of eyes round about them four. [19] And when the living creatures went, the wheels went by them: and when the living creatures were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up. [20] Whithersoever the spirit was to go, they went, thither was their spirit to go; and the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels. [21] When those went, these went; and when those stood, these stood; and when those were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels.

“[22] And the likeness of the firmament upon the heads of the living creature was as the colour of the terrible crystal, stretched forth over their heads above. 23 And under the firmament were their wings straight, the one toward the other: every one had two, which covered on this side, and every one had two, which covered on that side, their bodies. [24] And when they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of great waters, as the voice of the Almighty, the voice of speech, as the noise of an host: when they stood, they let down their wings. [25] And there was a voice from the firmament that was over their heads, when they stood, and had let down their wings.

“[26] And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it. [27] And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about. [28] As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake.”

One common theme throughout the Book of Ezekiel is that God’s throne (His presence, the “Shekinah glory”) should be in Israel’s midst and yet He is gradually withdrawing from them. They have been such a sinful people, so idolatrous, that He is now leaving them to their own ways (see Hosea 5:15; cf. 2 Chronicles 36:23). Four cherubim (spirit beings similar to angels, though not exactly the same) carry His throne on an enormous wheeled platform. We can view this as a colossal chariot, carrying Divine judgment to Israel (namely, Judah, the Southern Kingdom, since the Northern Kingdom has already been judged). The LORD God’s peaceful presence should be abiding with them but they had broken His covenant of Law so they are reaping the curses of Leviticus chapter 26 and Deuteronomy chapter 28.

There are three phases to God’s withdrawal from Israel and her Jerusalem Temple recorded in the Book of Ezekiel. There are also three phases of her political fall (the three times “overturn” appears in Ezekiel 21:25-27 correspond to the last three kings of Judah—Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah [see 2 Kings 24:1-7, 2 Kings 24:8-20, and 2 Kings 25:1-30]).

  • Ezekiel 10:4: “Then the glory of the LORD went up from the cherub, and stood over the threshold of the house [the Temple]; and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of the LORD’S glory.”
  • Ezekiel 10:18: “Then the glory of the LORD departed from off the threshold of the house, and stood over the cherubims.”
  • Ezekiel 10:23: “And the glory of the LORD went up from the midst of the city [Jerusalem], and stood upon the mountain which is on the east side of the city [Mount of Olives].”

The glory of the LORD will not return to Jerusalem until the Second Coming of Christ, as predicted in Ezekiel 43:1-4 (cf. Ezekiel 21:25-27 and Luke 1:31-33).

Also see:
» Should we Bible-believers investigate and promulgate conspiracy theories?
» What does the Bible say about “ghosts?”
» Are we “doom and gloom” prophecy believers?

What is “Huzzab” in Nahum 2:7?

WHAT IS “HUZZAB” IN NAHUM 2:7?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Nahum 2:7: “And Huzzab shall be led away captive, she shall be brought up, and her maids shall lead her as with the voice of doves, tabering upon their breasts.”

Since it is certainly an obscure term, there is disagreement as to the meaning of “Huzzab” here. Some ridicule it as a “King James mistranslation.” Following the 1881 Revised Version, the modern English translations remove the proper noun and render it as “it is decreed.”

Does “natsab” (the Hebrew word) function here as a noun or a verb? Individuals of the “noun” persuasion offer various ideas as to the gist of “Huzzab”—the queen of Assyria, the city of Nineveh itself, a pagan goddess of Nineveh, the city of Babylon, some unknown region east of the Tigris River, and so on.

Those of the “verb” camp offer these possibilities—to decree, to appoint, to set up, to stablish. Here, we must change the King James Bible text. We would have to force the Scriptures to read something like, “It is decreed [natsab]. She will be led away captive….” (Compare King James Bible, “And Huzzab shall be led away captive….”)

As in all our studies, we will take the position of faith and not alter the King James Bible. As the rest of their work bears out, our 1611 scholars were fully competent Christian linguists. They correctly translated the Hebrew word “natsab” as “Huzzab.” We may not know what it means, but that does not mean the text is wrong. It is our responsibility to do research and see why the King James Bible says what it says where it says it, rather than (taking the easy way) whining and complaining that we are ignorant and cannot understand. In this case, even with research, however, we cannot arrive at a definite conclusion.

All we can say on the basis of Scripture is that Nineveh is clearly identified by name in verse 8: “But Nineveh is of old like a pool of water: yet they shall flee away. Stand, stand, shall they cry; but none shall look back.” It would seem to this author thus: since verse 8 contrasts with verse 7, verse 7 implies something other than Nineveh. “Huzzab” does not appear to be Nineveh the city—at least this much is clear. Read the verses together: “[7] And Huzzab shall be led away captive, she shall be brought up, and her maids shall lead her as with the voice of doves, tabering upon their breasts. [8] But Nineveh is of old like a pool of water: yet they shall flee away. Stand, stand, shall they cry; but none shall look back.”

Whatever “Huzzab” is, it ultimately does not have significance in our Christian walk, the Church the Body of Christ, or God’s current dealings with man. Let us be careful never to get “bogged down” with obscure Old Testament references and terms. God the Holy Spirit will give the most illumination to the party to whom that portion of Scripture is addressed. Let us be thus content with that.

Saints, please remember us in your monthly giving—these websites do cost money to run! 🙂 You can donate securely here: https://www.paypal.me/ShawnBrasseaux, or email me at arcministries@gmail.com. Do not forget about Bible Q&A booklets for sale at https://arcgraceministries.org/in-print/booklets-bible-q-a/. Thanks to all who give to and pray for us! By the way, ministry emails have really been backed up this year. I am handling them as much as humanly possible. Thanks for your patience. 🙂

Also see:
» What does “under colour” mean in Acts 27:30?
» What does “Fetch a compass” mean?
» What does “joined hard” mean in Acts 18:7?

Could you explain Acts 2:34?

COULD YOU EXPLAIN ACTS 2:34?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Explain Acts 2:34: “For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,….” Why does the Apostle Peter say David has not ascended?

Since David was the writer of the particular psalm Peter was quoting (see Psalm 110:1), someone would assume David was referring to himself as not seeing corruption and David ascending to the right hand of God (see Acts 2:25-28 and Psalm 16:8-11).

To correct that erroneous thinking, Peter clarified that David’s physical tomb was not far away from them as they stood in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. See verse 29 of Acts chapter 2: “Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.” David saw corruption; his body was decaying. He certainly had not ascended into the heavens. For the last 900 years, David’s remains had been entombed and were still decomposing. However, David wrote of a man who did not see corruption—that is, this Man’s physical body never experienced the process of rotting. Here is the Lord Jesus Christ. Rather than being in a grave (as David), He was alive and well. Christ had ascended to the Father’s right hand in heaven. The tomb in which Jesus had been buried no longer held His body.

When writing in Psalms, David was speaking of someone other than himself. If David were speaking merely of himself, then the passage could not be Messianic (about Christ). Once David was eliminated as the subject of the passage, that would make it easier for Peter’s audience to see it applied to Jesus (which then show them Jesus was their Messiah).

Keeping in mind these comments, we now read an excerpt from Peter’s sermon on Pentecost (Acts chapter 2):

“[22] Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: [23] Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: [24] Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.

“[25] For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: [26] Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: [27] Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. [28] Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.

“[29] Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. [30] Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; [31] He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. [32] This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. [33] Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.

“[34] For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, [35] Until I make thy foes thy footstool. [36] Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” (Did you see how Peter concluded, not by referring to David, but by affirming the Psalms were speaking of Jesus Christ?)

Also see:
» Why did Jesus Christ stand in Acts 7:55-56?
» Can Jews who believe in God, the Father, but who reject Jesus, be saved from eternal damnation?
» Can you explain Romans 10:9-10?

Why is the Bible Book of “Ecclesiastes” thus named?

WHY IS THE BIBLE BOOK OF “ECCLESIASTES” THUS NAMED?

by Shawn Brasseaux

The title is derived from the Greek word (“ekklesia”) for “church, congregation” (literally, “a called-out assembly”). Think of our English word “ecclesiastical” (church-related matters).

Whomever the Holy Spirit used to write Ecclesiastes—and the extensive internal evidence leads us to conclude it was King Solomon—the man calls himself “the Preacher” (1:1-2,12; 7:27; 12:8-10). In Hebrew, the word is “Qoheleth,” meaning “assembler, lecturer.” (Compare this to the Greek term above.)

Now, the overall picture comes into view. The Book of Ecclesiastes is about a speaker who has gathered a class or audience to listen to what he has discovered firsthand in life. He has some important advice to issue for their welfare. The emphasis of his sermon is his “learning the hard way” about the disappointments and futility of living for the world, the flesh, and the Devil. Conducting one’s life apart from the one true God (the Lord Jesus Christ) will lead to such indescribable deception, frustration, hopelessness, and misery.

Although the intended audience is the nation Israel as she faces—and ultimately overcomes—Satan’s lie program under the Antichrist, we as the Church the Body of Christ can benefit as well. The same evil world system attempts to corrupt us too, so we need to be on guard with sound Bible doctrine (dispensational Bible study). See also 1 Corinthians 1–3, Colossians 2:8, and 1 John 2:15-17.

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