Category Archives: THE NATION ISRAEL

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?

How could God forbid Jeremiah to pray for His people?

HOW COULD GOD FORBID JEREMIAH TO PRAY FOR HIS PEOPLE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Read these three surprising verses:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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?

How did Eli honor his sons more than he honor God?

HOW DID ELI HONOR HIS SONS MORE THAN HE HONOR GOD?

by Shawn Brasseaux

The Priest-Judge Eli discouraged his priestly sons from following Satan (Baal worship), but they disregarded his words. Yet, God censures Eli for not doing more, accusing Eli of thus: “[thou] honourest thy sons above me” (1 Samuel 2:29). What did the LORD God expect Eli to do?

We start in verse 12: “[12] Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD…. [22] Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. [23] And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people. [24] Nay, my sons; for it is no good report that I hear: ye make the LORD’S people to transgress. [25] If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the LORD, who shall intreat for him? Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the LORD would slay them….

“[27] And there came a man of God unto Eli, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Did I plainly appear unto the house of thy father, when they were in Egypt in Pharaoh’s house? [28] And did I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to offer upon mine altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before me? and did I give unto the house of thy father all the offerings made by fire of the children of Israel? [29] Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice and at mine offering, which I have commanded in my habitation; and honourest thy sons above me, to make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel my people?

“[30] Wherefore the LORD God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the LORD saith, Be it far from me; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed. [31] Behold, the days come, that I will cut off thine arm, and the arm of thy father’s house, that there shall not be an old man in thine house. [32] And thou shalt see an enemy in my habitation, in all the wealth which God shall give Israel: and there shall not be an old man in thine house for ever. [33] And the man of thine, whom I shall not cut off from mine altar, shall be to consume thine eyes, and to grieve thine heart: and all the increase of thine house shall die in the flower of their age.

“[34] And this shall be a sign unto thee, that shall come upon thy two sons, on Hophni and Phinehas; in one day they shall die both of them. [35] And I will raise me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in mine heart and in my mind: and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before mine anointed for ever. [36] And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left in thine house shall come and crouch to him for a piece of silver and a morsel of bread, and shall say, Put me, I pray thee, into one of the priests’ offices, that I may eat a piece of bread.”

Verse 12 says Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phinehas, are “sons of Belial.” This is a title of people under Satan’s control. The Law of Moses condemned such idolatrous individuals. God expected Israel to punish them, lest they pollute the whole nation with devil worship.

Deuteronomy chapter 13: “[6] If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; [7] Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth; [8] Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: [9] But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. [10] And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. [11] And all Israel shall hear, and fear, and shall do no more any such wickedness as this is among you.

“[12] If thou shalt hear say in one of thy cities, which the LORD thy God hath given thee to dwell there, saying, [13] Certain men, the children of Belial, are gone out from among you, and have withdrawn the inhabitants of their city, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which ye have not known; [14] Then shalt thou enquire, and make search, and ask diligently; and, behold, if it be truth, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought among you; [15] Thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly, and all that is therein, and the cattle thereof, with the edge of the sword. [16] And thou shalt gather all the spoil of it into the midst of the street thereof, and shalt burn with fire the city, and all the spoil thereof every whit, for the LORD thy God: and it shall be an heap for ever; it shall not be built again. [17] And there shall cleave nought of the cursed thing to thine hand: that the LORD may turn from the fierceness of his anger, and shew thee mercy, and have compassion upon thee, and multiply thee, as he hath sworn unto thy fathers; [18] When thou shalt hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep all his commandments which I command thee this day, to do that which is right in the eyes of the LORD thy God.”

Perhaps Eli was late in his rebukes of his sons’ waywardness. He obviously should have barred them from the priesthood. Based on Deuteronomy chapter 13, he really should have executed them for their idolatry! Yet, he let them continue to live and serve as priests. Hence, God killed those two sons in battle, and promised to remove Eli’s other descendants from the priestly line. Samuel and his sons would form a new line of priests (see 1 Samuel 2:27-36; cf. 1 Samuel 4:1-22).

Also see:
» Why did God judge Nadab and Abihu so strictly?
» How do we identify false teachers?
» Why did the God of the Bible authorize genocide?