Category Archives: THE NATION ISRAEL

Can you explain Isaiah 5:8, “Woe unto them that join house to house…?”

CAN YOU EXPLAIN ISAIAH 5:8, “WOE UNTO THEM THAT JOIN HOUSE TO HOUSE…?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

We read in Isaiah 5:8: “Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth!” What is this all about?

Here is the first of six “woes” in Isaiah chapter 5 (cf. verses 11,18,20,21,22). In these verses, JEHOVAH God is pronouncing warnings to the Jews concerning their specific sins.

To “join house to house,” to “lay field to field,” is qualified by “till there be no place.” In other words, they have crammed into one plot of land as much as they possibly can. Think of massive apartment complexes or merged estates that have no vacant spaces between them. Avarice—extreme greed—has consumed the nations Israel and Judah. They are so materialistic and selfish: their purpose or intent in packing the land is “that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth!” They do not want neighbors; they want God’s land all for themselves.

Contemporaneous with the Prophet Isaiah, the Prophet Micah wrote in chapter 2 of his Book concerning the covetous Jews: “[1] Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil upon their beds! when the morning is light, they practise it, because it is in the power of their hand. [2] And they covet fields, and take them by violence; and houses, and take them away: so they oppress a man and his house, even a man and his heritage. [3] Therefore thus saith the LORD; Behold, against this family do I devise an evil, from which ye shall not remove your necks; neither shall ye go haughtily: for this time is evil…. [8] Even of late my people is risen up as an enemy: ye pull off the robe with the garment from them that pass by securely as men averse from war. [9] The women of my people have ye cast out from their pleasant houses; from their children have ye taken away my glory for ever.

The Jews have perverted their own court systems so as to steal property from their fellow Israelites (thus making them poor and homeless). They purchase that land, disobeying the Law of Moses that said they were neither to sell the land nor let it fall into the hands of Jews from other tribes. Plots of land were to stay within the family.

Reading the Law of Moses in Leviticus 25:23-25: “[23] The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is mine, for ye are strangers and sojourners with me. [24] And in all the land of your possession ye shall grant a redemption for the land. [25] If thy brother be waxen poor, and hath sold away some of his possession, and if any of his kin come to redeem it, then shall he redeem that which his brother sold.”

With excessive greed driving the Jews of Isaiah and Micah’s day to buy up land and build houses, the LORD gives them a solemn promise. Let us go back to Isaiah chapter 5: “[8] Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth! [9] In mine ears said the LORD of hosts, Of a truth many houses shall be desolate, even great and fair, without inhabitant. [10] Yea, ten acres of vineyard shall yield one bath, and the seed of an homer shall yield an ephah.(Verse 10 is severe famine, extreme agricultural hardships.)

The houses they were so fixated on buying and building, the land they were so determined to purchase and keep for themselves, God would take it all away during the fifth course of judgment or chastisement. Gentiles (Assyrians and Babylonians) would enter the land of Palestine in the decades following Isaiah and Micah and take the Israelites (north and south) captive! Both Bible history and secular/world history testify to that fact that the Jews lost their land as they were scattered amongst the Gentiles’ lands.

Leviticus chapter 26: “[27] And if ye will not for all this hearken unto me, but walk contrary unto me; [28] Then I will walk contrary unto you also in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins. [29] And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat. [30] And I will destroy your high places, and cut down your images, and cast your carcases upon the carcases of your idols, and my soul shall abhor you.

“[31] And I will make your cities waste, and bring your sanctuaries unto desolation, and I will not smell the savour of your sweet odours. [32] And I will bring the land into desolation: and your enemies which dwell therein shall be astonished at it. [33] And I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you: and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste. [34] Then shall the land enjoy her sabbaths, as long as it lieth desolate, and ye be in your enemies’ land; even then shall the land rest, and enjoy her sabbaths. [35] As long as it lieth desolate it shall rest; because it did not rest in your sabbaths, when ye dwelt upon it.”

Also see:
» Why do Amos 4:4 and Amos 5:5 give opposite commands?
» Why did Ezekiel in Babylon warn of Jerusalem’s fall?
» How could God forbid Jeremiah to pray for His people?

Does the New Covenant take away Israel’s free will?

DOES THE NEW COVENANT TAKE AWAY ISRAEL’S FREE WILL?

by Shawn Brasseaux

No. The Bible verses about the New Covenant causes a Calvinist to say, “See, God’s grace cannot be resisted! He has chosen Israel and she must follow His will!” Indeed, while God has chosen the nation Israel to serve Him, individuals within the nation are given the free will to cooperate with Him by faith or rebel against Him in unbelief. Whoever in Israel trusts His Son automatically falls under the New Covenant.

The primary New Covenant passage is Jeremiah chapter 31: “[31] Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: [32] Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: [33] But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. [34] And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

Now, Ezekiel 36:24-28: “[24] For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. [25] Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. [26] A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. [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.”

The Jews under the New Covenant will have the indwelling Holy Spirit just as we Christians do today. After all, without the strengthening of the third Member of the Godhead, they are as powerless in doing God’s will as we would be powerless.

John chapter 14: “[16] And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; [17] Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. [18] I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you…. [26] But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”

John chapter 16: “[13] Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. [14] He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. [15] All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.”

Luke 24:49: “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” (See also Acts 1:4-5 and Acts chapter 2, the coming of the Holy Spirit on Israel’s Little Flock.)

As concerning Israel under the New Covenant (which is yet future from us), the individual Jews have already exercised faith in God’s Word to them. Redeemed Israelites (corporately, redeemed Israel) came to faith in Christ—already making a willful choice—prior to the inauguration of that covenant. They knew they would have their sin nature removed and they came by faith to God in order for Him to do just that for them. At the beginning of the Millennium and onward into eternity future, their sin nature will be removed. Through the indwelling Holy Spirit, they will automatically and completely accomplish God’s will.

One day, friends, as members of the Church the Body of Christ, we will have our sin nature removed as well. When we get to Heaven, sin will no longer be an issue for us. Until then, we are exhorted in 1 Thessalonians 5:19, “Quench not the Spirit.” We are also encouraged to “be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). The implication here is we most definitely can (!) and do (!) refuse to let the Holy Spirit work in our hearts and lives. If we Christians were unable to sin, such instructions would be completely unnecessary. We have free will even now, after coming to Christ. We exercised volition when we trusted the Gospel of the Grace of God in order to pass from eternal death to eternal life. The difference between Israel and us is that we have a relationship with Almighty God through the blood of Jesus Christ apart from any covenants (Ephesians 2:13).

Historical, national Israel most surely can—and did—refuse Almighty God. Most individuals within the nation rejected Jesus Christ and demanded His crucifixion. The Lord Jesus declared in Matthew 23:37-39: “[37] O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! [38] Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. [39] For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” He also stated in John 5:43: I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.” (Since they rejected Jesus, they will receive Antichrist. Again, God gives them over to free will!) The Holy Spirit through Stephen accused Israel in Acts 7:51: “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.”

Also see:
» How are we “able ministers of the new testament?”
» How did the Israeli patriarchs “resist” the Holy Ghost?
» What are the “sins that are past” in Romans 3:25?

What exactly is going on in John 11:49-52?

WHAT EXACTLY IS GOING ON IN JOHN 11:49-52?

by Shawn Brasseaux

We will start at verse 46 of John chapter 11:

“[46] But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done. [47] Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. [48] If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation. [49] And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, [50] Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.

“[51] And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; [52] And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. [53] Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death. [54] Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples.”

It is quite clear from the text that Caiaphas the high priest was not aware of what he was saying when he spoke of Christ’s impending death during the trial. Verse 51 again, “And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation;….” The priest’s office in Israel was designed to be a method of communicating God’s Word. Israel was encouraged to seek Divine words at the priest’s lips, seeing as to the Levitical priests are God’s messengers: “For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts” (Malachi 2:7). Consequently, Zadok the priest was called a “seer” or prophet—a spokesman for the LORD God—in 2 Samuel 15:27 (cf. 1 Samuel 9:9).

Although an unbeliever and thoroughly corrupt, Caiaphas was used by the LORD to speak His inspired Word. During those brief moments described above, Caiaphas unknowingly became God’s spokesman! God the Holy Spirit used him to predict the death of Christ, His death for Israel, but Caiaphas was merely expressing a fear that Jesus would have to die or they—the perverted Jewish religious leaders—would lose their spiritual and political clout over Israel (go back to John 11:48). Caiaphas’ argument was thus: if they (the Jews) did not “take care of” Jesus, Rome would intervene and destruction would occur—the Jerusalem Temple would have been lost, Judaism would have disintegrated, and so on.

“The children of God that were scattered abroad” refers to the Jews dispersed under every nation under heaven centuries earlier. Due to the Assyrian and Babylonian Captivities, they were now in foreign lands instead of the land of Canaan where Caiaphas was speaking in Jerusalem. The divided kingdom—Israel (the northern 10 tribes) and Judah (the two southern tribes)—had arisen after King Solomon’s death. These would be united again under the Davidic dynasty. At Christ’s Second Coming, both kingdoms will be under one king and no longer two.

You may read all of Ezekiel chapter 37—Israel’s national restoration under the New Covenant, which looks to Jesus Christ’s Second Coming and onward into the Millennium. The New Covenant will be based on the shed blood of Christ (see Hebrews 10:1-22). Read this segment of Ezekiel chapter 37:

“[11] Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts. [12] Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. [13] And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, [14] And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD….

“[21] And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: [22] And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all…. [25] And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children’s children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince for ever.”

We can also compare this to Ezekiel chapter 34: “[11] For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. [12] As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. [13] And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country.”

It was in light of Ezekiel’s prophecies—among other Old Testament passages—the Lord Jesus Christ announced in John chapter 10: “[14] I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. [15] As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. [16] And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. [17] Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. [18] No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.”

Also see:
» Is John 10:16 a reference to the Body of Christ?
» Does the Bible support British Israelism?
» Who will be Israel’s King in the Millennium—Jesus Christ or David?

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 are “vanities” in Scripture?

WHAT ARE “VANITIES” IN SCRIPTURE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation” (Deuteronomy 32:21). What are these “vanities?”

Using context clues, we surmise that they are bad. Notice how Israel’s “vanities” have made JEHOVAH God jealous. The Jews should be paying attention to Him, but they ignore Him because these “vanities” have preoccupied them. Thus, He is angry with them, and will not overlook their association with “vanities.”

First Kings 16:13 says: “For all the sins of Baasha, and the sins of Elah his son, by which they sinned, and by which they made Israel to sin, in provoking the LORD God of Israel to anger with their vanities.” And verse 26: “For he walked in all the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and in his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin, to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger with their vanities.”

We read in Jeremiah 8:19: “Behold the voice of the cry of the daughter of my people because of them that dwell in a far country: Is not the LORD in Zion? is not her king in her? Why have they provoked me to anger with their graven images, and with strange vanities?” Jeremiah 10:8 says: “But they are altogether brutish and foolish: the stock is a doctrine of vanities.” Jeremiah 14:22 provides even more information: “Are there any among the vanities of the Gentiles that can cause rain? or can the heavens give showers? art not thou he, O LORD our God? therefore we will wait upon thee: for thou hast made all these things.”

Finally, Acts 14:15: “And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein:….” Our English word “vanity” means “the quality of being worthless or futile.” It comes from the Latin vanitas, from vanus “empty.” That perfectly describes the “vanities” in Scripture.

Looking closely at Deuteronomy 32:21, notice two sets of parallel clauses. “That which is not God” is equivalent to “their vanities”“those which are not a people” is the same as “a foolish nation.”

Jeremiah 8:19 again: “Behold the voice of the cry of the daughter of my people because of them that dwell in a far country: Is not the LORD in Zion? is not her king in her? Why have they provoked me to anger with their graven images, and with strange vanities?” Notice the “graven images” (carved idols) and “strange vanities” (“strange” as in “foreign”). Jeremiah 14:22 again: “Are there any among the vanities of the Gentiles that can cause rain? or can the heavens give showers? art not thou he, O LORD our God? therefore we will wait upon thee: for thou hast made all these things.” So, “vanities” are “strange” (foreign) or “of the Gentiles.”

Acts chapter 14: “[11] And when the people saw what Paul had done [healing the lame man], they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men. [12] And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker. [13] Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people. [14] Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out, [15] And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: [16] Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways.” Clearly, Israel’s “vanities” are the Gentiles’ pagan idols!

Again, “vanity” means “emptiness.” Earlier, we saw that “vanities” in Scripture actually refers to idols (“that which is not God”—see Deuteronomy 32:21). Why are they “empty?” Psalm 115 is a believing Jew speaking: “[1] Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake. [2] Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is now their God? [3] But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased. [4] Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. [5] They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: [6] They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not: [7] They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat. [8] They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them” (cf. Psalm 135:15-18).

Idols have mouths but do not speak. They have eyes but do not see. They have ears but do not hear. They have noses but do not smell. They have hands but do not handle. They have feet but do not walk. They have throats but do not speak through them. To wit, idols are totally useless, worthless, profitless. “They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.” This is certainly harsh. It means, “Idol makers and idolaters are as incompetent/useless as their idols are to them!”

The God that created the nation Israel is “the living God” and He is starkly different from “vanities” (Acts 14:15). Yet, throughout the “Old Testament,” most of Israel forgot the one true God (JEHOVAH God). They embraced that which was totally void of anything worthwhile. Deuteronomy 32:21 says that, unlike the idols, the “living God” can and will react to such disrespect.

Recall the two sets of parallel phrases: “that which is not God” with “their vanities,” and “those which are not a people” with “a foolish nation.” Now, we are particularly interested in the latter set. Who are these “not a people,” this “foolish nation?”

Deuteronomy chapter 32 is “the Song of Moses.” Some of Moses’ parting words to the nation, it covers Israel’s history and future (prophecy, events beyond our day). Verse 21 points to the future by first pointing to the past. Remember, Israel was to be God’s nation of priests. Every Jew was to have a spiritual relationship with JEHOVAH God, that every Israelite, in a coming earthly kingdom, would share the message of his God with the Gentiles/nations (see Genesis 12:1-3, Isaiah 60:1-3, Isaiah 61:6, Zechariah 8:20-23, Matthew 28:18-20, Luke 24:47-48, Acts 1:8, et cetera).

Jeremiah 2:11, almost 1,000 years after Moses spoke in Deuteronomy, says that Israel worshipped idols and abandoned the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: “Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit.” God actually gave Moses the insight to see Israel’s apostasy that Jeremiah witnessed centuries later. Deuteronomy 32:21 takes it a step further though. God will still get a Jewish people for His name. He will reach within the nation Israel and pull out a believing remnant. That believing remnant will become “new Israel,” His kingdom of priests.

Notice what the Lord Jesus said in Luke chapter 12: “[31] But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. [32] Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” In contrast to the idolatrous Jews, His followers would be that “foolish nation,” heirs of that earthly kingdom. Just as unbelieving Jews had given Him up for idols, He will give them up for believing Jews.

Speaking to the apostate (anti-Jesus, idol-worshipping) Jews, especially Israel’s religious leaders, the Lord Jesus said in Matthew 21:43: “Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” This “nation” is the “foolish nation” of Deuteronomy 32:21 (the “Little Flock” of Luke 12:32). In the eyes of their lost and idolatrous Jewish relatives, they are “foolish” for believing JEHOVAH God’s Word (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:14; Acts 26:24; Acts 4:13).

In 1 Peter 2:8-10, the Apostle Peter spoke to “new Israel,” that believing Jewish remnant: “[8] And [Jesus Christ is] a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient [unbelieving]: whereunto also they were appointed. [9] But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; [10] Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.”

Every Jew should have had a personal relationship with the one true God. After all, JEHOVAH God had promised Israel various covenants He had not given the Gentile nations (cf. Romans 9:4-5 and Ephesians 2:11-12). Alas, most Israelites preferred to worship idols (cf. Deuteronomy 32:21). This will be true even after our dispensation. God will consume them in His wrath (seven-year Tribulation and Second Coming), leaving the believing Jews to enter His earthly kingdom and become His priests (Millennium).

Unbelieving Jews will be permanently cut off from the God whom they could have had as their own. With Him accepting believing Jews, it will make the unbelieving Jews “jealous” (He was supposed to be their God by covenant relations too). As the unbelieving Jews replaced Him with idols (“vanities”), so the Lord Jesus Christ will replace them with believing Jews.

Also see:
» Who is the “foolish nation” of Romans 10:19?
» How can God be “jealous” and not sin?
» Who were the “strong bulls of Bashan” standing before Christ’s cross?

Why do Amos 4:4 and Amos 5:5 give opposite commands?

WHY DO AMOS AMOS 4:4 AND AMOS 5:5 GIVE OPPOSITE COMMANDS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Amos chapter 4 says: “[4] Come to Bethel, and transgress; at Gilgal multiply transgression; and bring your sacrifices every morning, and your tithes after three years: [5] And offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven, and proclaim and publish the free offerings: for this liketh you, O ye children of Israel, saith the Lord GOD.”

Now, we go to chapter 5: “[4] For thus saith the LORD unto the house of Israel, Seek ye me, and ye shall live: [5] But seek not Bethel, nor enter into Gilgal, and pass not to Beersheba: for Gilgal shall surely go into captivity, and Bethel shall come to nought. [6] Seek the LORD, and ye shall live; lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and devour it, and there be none to quench it in Bethel.”

Two unexpected points are worth making. Firstly, the LORD God instructs Israel to come to Bethel and “transgress” (sin), and “multiply” that evil in Gilgal. Why is God encouraging rebellion against Him? Secondly, in the next chapter, He tells them not to be interested in Bethel, and not to go to Gilgal and Beersheba.

Never, ever forget that the God of creation, the God of Israel, values free will. No matter the dispensation, He always wants people to obey Him. However, we sinners want to do what we want to do. Through the Prophet Amos, God offers two choices. Israel can follow Him by faith, or they can ignore His words and do something else! He does not force them to behave one way or the other. It is entirely up to them.

Read Amos chapter 4 again: “[4] Come to Bethel, and transgress; at Gilgal multiply transgression; and bring your sacrifices every morning, and your tithes after three years: [5] And offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven, and proclaim and publish the free offerings: for this liketh you, O ye children of Israel, saith the Lord GOD.” The Israelites love to be religious in Bethel and Gilgal. What exactly entices them to have pilgrimages to these towns? Chapter 3 already revealed the answer: “[13] Hear ye, and testify in the house of Jacob, saith the Lord GOD, the God of hosts, [14] That in the day that I shall visit the transgressions of Israel upon him I will also visit the altars of Bethel: and the horns of the altar shall be cut off, and fall to the ground.” How did these altars wind up in Bethel?

About two centuries prior to Amos, King Jeroboam the son of Nebat reigned over Israel (not to be confused with Jeroboam the son of Joash, Israel’s king at the time of Amos’ ministry). We start in 1 Kings chapter 12: “[25] Then Jeroboam built Shechem in mount Ephraim, and dwelt therein; and went out from thence, and built Penuel. [26] And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David: [27] If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah.

“[28] Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. [29] And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan. [30] And this thing became a sin: for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan. [31] And he made an house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi.

“[32] And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar. So did he in Bethel, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made. [33] So he offered upon the altar which he had made in Bethel the fifteenth day of the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised of his own heart; and ordained a feast unto the children of Israel: and he offered upon the altar, and burnt incense.” (See also chapter 13 in full. It was here predicted that a King of Judah, Josiah, would destroy Jeroboam’s idol in Bethel. This came to pass centuries later in 2 Kings chapter 23, after Amos’ ministry concluded.)

Jeroboam the son of Nebat created a counterfeit religious system in the Northern Kingdom of Israel. It was designed to keep against God’s religious system down south in Jerusalem (Solomon’s Temple, the Mosaic Law, and the Levitical priesthood). Jeroboam constructed altars, he devised a religious calendar, and he founded a new priesthood. These idols were in Bethel (southernmost part of northern Israel) and Dan (northernmost part). Here is the evil religious system in existence during Amos’ day.

What about Gilgal? The Prophet Hosea was a contemporary of Amos. Listen to Hosea’s words: “Though thou, Israel, play the harlot, yet let not Judah offend; and come not ye unto Gilgal, neither go ye up to Bethaven, nor swear, The LORD liveth” (4:15). “All their wickedness is in Gilgal: for there I hated them: for the wickedness of their doings I will drive them out of mine house, I will love them no more: all their princes are revolters” (9:15). “Is there iniquity in Gilead? surely they are vanity: they sacrifice bullocks in Gilgal; yea, their altars are as heaps in the furrows of the fields” (12:11). False religion has crept into Gilgal as well… in addition to another Jewish town, “Bethaven” (“House of Wickedness,” God’s preferred name for “Bethel” [“House of God”]).

Back to Amos chapter 4 one last time: “[4] Come to Bethel, and transgress; at Gilgal multiply transgression; and bring your sacrifices every morning, and your tithes after three years: [5] And offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven, and proclaim and publish the free offerings: for this liketh you, O ye children of Israel, saith the Lord GOD.” This is sarcasm rooted in truth. Paraphrased, Almighty God exhorts them, “You know you want to get involved with the heathen nonsense in Bethel and Gilgal, so come on and flock to these worthless idols!” We find parallel situations in 1 Samuel 8:1-22, Matthew 23:1-39, Romans 1:18-32, 1 Corinthians 14:37-38, and 2 Thessalonians 2:8-12. The God of the Bible gives people over to what they want!

However, Amos chapter 5 was God’s original plan for Israel: “[4] For thus saith the LORD unto the house of Israel, Seek ye me, and ye shall live: [5] But seek not Bethel, nor enter into Gilgal, and pass not to Beersheba: for Gilgal shall surely go into captivity, and Bethel shall come to nought. [6] Seek the LORD, and ye shall live; lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and devour it, and there be none to quench it in Bethel.” For those Jews who wanted to believe in the God of Abraham, He invites them to fellowship with Him. He would like them to commune with Him instead of those pagan idols. Again, though, it is a free will choice!

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:
» Why did Paul not give the Gospel of Grace in Acts 17?
» Has God’s Word failed?
» Why did God give Israel King Saul if Saul turned out to be evil?

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

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

by Shawn Brasseaux

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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