Category Archives: THE NATION ISRAEL

How did synagogues originate?

HOW DID SYNAGOGUES ORIGINATE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Our English word is a transliteration of the Greek “sunagoge,” meaning “meeting, assembly, congregation” (“sun–,” “together;” “agein” “bring”). According to Jewish tradition, a minimum of 10 Jewish men—a “minyan”—was needed to form a synagogue.

According to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon: “…an assembly of Jews formally gathered together to offer prayer and listen to the reading and exposition of the Holy Scriptures; assemblies of the sort were held every sabbath and feast-day, afterward also on the second and fifth days of every week (see references below): Luke 12:11; Acts 9:2; Acts 13:43; Acts 26:11…. Synagogues seem to date their origin from the Babylonian exile. In the time of Jesus and the apostles every town, not only in Palestine but also among the Gentiles if it contained a considerable number of Jewish inhabitants, had at least one synagogue, the larger towns several or even many. That the Jews held trials and even inflicted punishments in them, is evident from such passages as Matthew 10:17; Matthew 23:34; Mark 13:9; Luke 12:11; Luke 21:12; Acts 9:2; Acts 22:19; Acts 26:11.”

When the Babylonians sacked Jerusalem and razed Solomon’s Temple in 586 B.C. (2 Kings 25:8-9; 2 Chronicles 36:19), the Jews no longer had any formal place of worship and religious study. Prior to King Solomon, they had the Tabernacle dating back to Moses’ time. The Jews assembled around these structures for religious services. Now removed from the land of Palestine during the 70-year Babylonian Captivity, the Israelites began establishing houses of worship throughout the foreign territories to which they had been scattered. While a remnant of Jews returned to the land of Israel during the ministries of Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah, the majority remained in Gentile domains. Some 500 years after the return from Babylon and the building of Zerubbabel’s Temple, the nation Israel was still dispersed around the world. Hence, we read the following concerning the Day of Pentecost: “And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven (Acts 2:5).

A few decades before Christ’s birth, King Herod the Great renovated and expanded Zerubbabel’s Temple, and this (“Herod’s Temple”) functioned until the Roman troops destroyed it in A.D. 70. This was the Temple operating during Christ’s earthly ministry. In the 2,000 years since its demolition, synagogues have played an integral role in Judaism (Jewish religion).

Being Bible students, we are most familiar with synagogues because of their prominence during Christ’s earthly ministry and the Apostle Paul’s “Acts” ministry. For example, “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people” (Matthew 4:23). “And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people” (Matthew 9:35). “And he preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out devils” (Mark 1:39). “And he preached in the synagogues of Galilee” (Luke 4:44). “Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing” (John 18:20).

As noted earlier, synagogues were places where Jews gathered to read and study Holy Scripture (Old Testament only). “For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day” (Acts 15:21). Look at Luke chapter 4: “[16] And he [Jesus] came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. [17] And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, [18] The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, [19] To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. [20] And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. [21] And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.”

In the case of the city of Philippi, there was no synagogue (see next paragraph). Remember, according to Jewish tradition, a synagogue needed a minimum of 10 Jewish men (“minyan”). One historical authority continues, “Where the Jews were not in sufficient numbers to be able to erect and fill a building, there was the proseucha, or place of prayer, sometimes open, sometimes covered in, commonly by a running stream or on the seashore, in which devout Jews and proselytes met to worship, and perhaps to read.”

Acts chapter 16 provides an example: “[12] And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days. [13] And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither. [14] And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. [15] And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.”

Synagogues were often constructed of stone, and, if possible, set on the point of highest elevation in the city. They were always oriented so people entering them would be facing Jerusalem (as King Solomon instructed in 1 Kings 8:29,30,35 and 2 Chronicles 6:20,26). Toward the synagogue’s “Jerusalem end” was a chest or box that held the Old Testament Bible scrolls—like the Ark of the Covenant contained such holy documents in the Jerusalem Temple (see Deuteronomy 31:25-27). Within two centuries before Christ, the Pharisees began to lead synagogues (see John 12:42).

Near the middle of the synagogue building was a raised pulpit where guests could speak or read, as revealed in Acts chapter 13: “[14] But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down. [15] And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on. [16] Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience.”

Regardless of the synagogue’s size, at least two officials were present. One was “the ruler of the synagogue” (see Mark 5:22,35,36,38; Luke 8:41,49; Luke 13:14; Acts 18:8,17). He oversaw the building and property, organized the public service and kept order, selected people to read Scripture and pray, and asked visitors to speak to the group. Some synagogues had more than one ruler (Acts 13:15). The other synagogue official was the “minister” or attendant, paid to care for the building and furniture. Undoubtedly, his most important role was looking after the Old Testament scrolls—handing them out to speakers and putting them away after use (see Luke chapter 4, quoted earlier—especially verses 17 and 20).

Never forget, Jesus Christ in His earthly ministry and the Apostle Paul in the Acts period visited synagogues because they were where Jews had gathered for worship service and Bible study. Synagogues were the best place to reach Israel concerning the Scriptures, as they would have been most receptive to spiritual truths. Unfortunately, despite all that exposure to the Holy Bible, there was overwhelming unbelief in Israel. It was dead, worthless religion! Had they been studying their Hebrew Scriptures in faith, they would have seen Jesus as Christ, a fulfillment of Messianic prophecies. Through the Apostle John, the Lord Jesus applies a most uncomplimentary title to these Jewish unbelievers! “I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan (Revelation 2:9). “Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee” (Revelation 3:9).

Saul of Tarsus—Paul the Apostle when he was a lost man, before he trusted Christ—visited synagogues to arrest and execute all Messianic Jews (those who trusted Jesus as Christ). “And [Saul] desired of him [the high priest] letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem” (Acts 9:2). “And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee” (Acts 22:19). “And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities” (Acts 26:11).

Then, Saul of Tarsus met the resurrected, ascended, and glorified Lord Jesus Christ in Acts chapter 9—and Saul trusted Jesus Christ as his personal Saviour! “And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God” (Acts 9:20). For the Apostle Paul’s other visits to synagogues as he preached the Gospel of Grace (1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Acts 20:24), read Acts 13:14-42, Acts 14:1-4, Acts 17:1-17, Acts 18:4-8, Acts 18:19-21, and Acts 19:8-9. As Acts chapter 18 shows, the first members of the Church the Body of Christ at Corinth came from the synagogue literally next-door!

Also see:
» What does “joined hard” mean in Acts 18:7?
» Can you explain Paul’s “Acts” ministry?
» Why does the Book of Acts end so abruptly?

Does God suffer from Alzheimer’s disease?

DOES GOD SUFFER FROM ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

According to the American National Institutes of Health, Alzheimer’s disease is “an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, and, eventually, the ability to carry out the simplest tasks.” It is absolutely ironic to find Bible verses that describe God “remembering” Israel’s sins and other verses that speak of Him “not remembering” them. After all, is He not omniscient? Does He not know everything? Then how should we handle these passages? Does Alzheimer’s disease afflict God’s mind? “For what saith the Scriptures?”

GOD REMEMBERING ISRAEL’S SINS

  • Jeremiah 14:10: “Thus saith the LORD unto this people, Thus have they loved to wander, they have not refrained their feet, therefore the LORD doth not accept them; he will now remember their iniquity, and visit their sins.”
  • Hosea 8:13: “They sacrifice flesh for the sacrifices of mine offerings, and eat it; but the LORD accepteth them not; now will he remember their iniquity, and visit their sins: they shall return to Egypt.”
  • Hosea 9:9: “They have deeply corrupted themselves, as in the days of Gibeah: therefore he will remember their iniquity, he will visit their sins.”

Here, the LORD God certainly brings Israel’s sins to mind. He will not let them escape the consequences of their breaking the Old Covenant. Curses or punishments must follow, as per Deuteronomy chapter 28: “[14] And thou shalt not go aside from any of the words which I command thee this day, to the right hand, or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them. [15] But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee:….”

GOD NOT REMEMBERING ISRAEL’S SINS

  • Isaiah 43:25: “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.”
  • Jeremiah 31:34: “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.”
  • Hebrews 8:12: “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.”
  • Hebrews 10:17: “And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.”

While Israel broke the Old Covenant with her repeated idolatry, God will make another agreement with her. This is the New Covenant first promised in Jeremiah 31:31-34, and repeated in the Book of Hebrews (chapters 8 and 10). Yet, how can God simply overlook Israel’s transgressions? What does He do with those sins? He cannot just pretend like they are not there, like they never occurred. Why, He does not remember those sins because He places them under the shed blood of Jesus Christ! Once He ratifies the New Covenant at Christ’s Second Coming (Romans 11:25-29), He will not see Israel’s sins but rather Christ’s righteousness applied to their national account! Instead of concentrating on Israel’s filthy past, He will focus on them washed in the blood of Christ!

Hebrews chapter 10 pronounces: “[1] For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. [2] For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. [3] But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. [4] For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.

“[5] Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: [6] In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. [7] Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. [8] Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; [9] Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. [10] By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 

“[11] And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: [12] But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; [13] From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. [14] For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. [15] Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, [16] This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; [17] And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.

“[18] Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. [19] Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, [20] By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; [21] And having an high priest over the house of God; [22] Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.”

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:
» Is God finished with the nation Israel?
» Are we under the New Covenant today?
» Does the New Covenant take away Israel’s free will?

How shall Elijah “restore all things?”

HOW SHALL ELIJAH “RESTORE ALL THINGS?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who were the “Rechabites?”

WHO WERE THE “RECHABITES?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

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

We open with two simple verses:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why did God command Abraham to physically circumcise Ishmael?

WHY DID GOD COMMAND ABRAHAM TO PHYSICALLY CIRCUMCISE ISHMAEL?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Physical circumcision is, without a doubt, the sign of the Abrahamic Covenant. It indicates death to the flesh, a testament to man’s inability to accomplish God’s will in his own strength. Hence, God ordered Abraham to physically circumcise his son Isaac—the father of the Jewish people. Abraham’s male children through Isaac and Isaac’s son Jacob were to undergo this ritual forever. It was a signification that they were the heirs of the Abrahamic Covenant. Yet—and this is most unexpected—God also ordered Abraham to physically circumcise his descendants through his elder son Ishmael too. Why should the Ishmaelites be physically circumcised? Are they also heirs of the Abrahamic Covenant—possessing just as much right to it as the children of Isaac? Recognizing the sequence of events is tantamount to making sense of this matter.

GENESIS CHAPTER 12. Although occurring historically in chapter 11 (cf. verses 27-32; Genesis 15:7; Acts 7:2-5), God promised childless Abram that He would make a nation of him. Here is the Abrahamic Covenant: “[1] Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: [2] And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: [3] And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”

GENESIS CHAPTER 16. Abram and wife Sarai are still without children, still waiting 10 years since the original promise (cf. 12:4 and 16:16). Finally, Sarai suggests Abram marry and have a child through her Egyptian slave girl, Hagar. Ishmael is thus born to Abram when is 86 years old. Please note this was Sarai and Abram’s plan, not God’s instructions.

GENESIS CHAPTER 17. Verse 1 says Abram is 99 years old now. The LORD God appears to him and changes his name from “Abram” (“exalted father”) to “Abraham” (“father of many;” verse 5). Here, the issue of a covenant reappears. JEHOVAH GOD is working to build on His promise He gave over two decades earlier in chapter 12. He also renames Abraham’s wife “Sarah” (verse 15), promising to give Abraham a son through her (verse 16). This worries Abraham that He might slay 13-year-old Ishmael (verse 18).

Read from Genesis chapter 17: “[7] And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. [8] And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God. [9] And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. [10] This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. [11] And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. [12] And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed. [13] He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. [14] And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.

“[15] And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be. [16] And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her. [17] Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear? [18] And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee! [19] And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.”

Having looked at Isaac, we turn to Ishmael now: “[20] And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation. [21] But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year. [22] And he left off talking with him, and God went up from Abraham.

“[23] And Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all that were born in his house, and all that were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s house; and circumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the selfsame day, as God had said unto him. [24] And Abraham was ninety years old and nine, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. [25] And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. [26] In the selfsame day was Abraham circumcised, and Ishmael his son. [27] And all the men of his house, born in the house, and bought with money of the stranger, were circumcised with him.”

Abraham’s descendants through Isaac continue the ritual today in Judaism because it was later incorporated into the Mosaic Law: “And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised” (Leviticus 12:3). Although different from the Jewish custom, modern Muslims practice male circumcision too. While the Abrahamic Covenant (“the covenant of circumcision;” Acts 7:8) passes from Abraham to son Isaac to grandson Jacob and 12 grandsons, the LORD God promised not to forget about Ishmael. He would bless Ishmael too, but Ishmael would not inherit the covenant (Muslims disagree, generating the Jewish/Muslim conflict we know all too well). Still, why did the LORD command Abraham to physically circumcise Ishmael? In Scripture, physical circumcision—the cutting off the male’s physical foreskin—signifies death to the flesh (see next paragraph). Abraham struggled to produce a son in his own strength (Ishmael), but that was not God’s promised son for him. Therefore, the LORD instructed Abraham to be circumcised, in effect saying: “Abraham, your labor, your legalism, your works-religion, can never substitute for My grace, My efforts, My gifts.” (This is borne out in the Book of Galatians, chapters 3 and 4, as well as the Book of Romans chapter 4.)

Romans 2:28-29 identifies the reason for physical circumcision: “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” The outward/physical circumcision is to be a reflection of an inward/spiritual truth. In the future, under the New Covenant, God will remove Israel’s sin nature and replace it with a new nature, a new heart, a new spirit (see Ezekiel 36:25-28 and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Israel). Deuteronomy 30:6 says to this point: “And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.” Here—in their restoration, in their kingdom—He will accomplish His will in and through them. They will no longer be guilty of idolatry, but will rather be His vessels to reach the nations with His Word.

It is important to note the LORD God did not instruct Abraham to be physically circumcised in Genesis chapter 12 or chapter 16. Ishmael was born in chapter 16, and physical circumcision was implemented in chapter 17, and Isaac’s birth came to pass in chapter 21. Physical circumcision with respect to Ishmael meant he—the product of Abraham’s flesh (works-religion)—was not heir of the covenant. He had been “cut off” in chapter 17. Abraham, now circumcised, then impregnated Sarah to result in Isaac’s conception. Physical circumcision as touching Isaac meant he—the result of God’s work (grace)—was heir of the covenant (reaffirmed concerning Isaac’s birth, not Ishmael’s).

Also see:
» Are the Jews supposed to still get circumcised in the Dispensation of Grace?
» Why did Paul circumcise Timothy but not Titus?
» Why did Abraham say what he did in Genesis 17:18?

Can you explain Matthew 10:41-42?

CAN YOU EXPLAIN MATTHEW 10:41-42?

by Shawn Brasseaux

We read in Matthew chapter 10: “[41] He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. [42] And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.”

These are the closing verses of the first installment of the “Great Commission” (the other installments are in chapter 28, Mark chapter 16, Luke chapter 24, John chapter 20, and Acts chapter 1). In order to get the context, let us start at the beginning of the chapter: “[1] And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. [2] Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; [3] Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; [4] Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.

“[5] These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: [6] But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. [7] And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. [8] Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give. [9] Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, [10] Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat.

“[11] And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence. [12] And when ye come into an house, salute it. [13] And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you. [14] And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. [15] Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city. [16] Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”

Skip to verses 41-42 now: “[41] He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. [42] And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.”

The idea here is Jews receiving Jewish preachers of the Gospel of the Kingdom—especially inviting the 12 Apostles into their homes. Firstly, when the Bible says, “in the name of a prophet/righteous man,” it is in the sense of “in the authority of a prophet [spokesman for God]/righteous man [saint], because he is a prophet/righteous man.” They are acknowledging the office the man is holding. Secondly, when Scripture says “he shall receive a prophet’s/righteous man’s reward,” it refers to sharing in the eternal reward of that prophet or righteous man. There is a reward system of which all Jewish believers in Israel’s prophetic program partake. Let us consider the following sample of verses.

“Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven…. That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly…. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly…. That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly (Matthew 6:1,4,6,18).

“For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works (Matthew 16:27). “Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets” (Luke 6:23). “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be(Revelation 22:12).

The reward is a particular role or job to play—a governmental office to hold—within God’s earthly kingdom. Go to Matthew chapter 19: “[28] And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. [29] And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.”

See now Luke chapter 19, which also applies to the restructuring of Israel’s government when Jesus Christ returns to set up His kingdom on Earth: “[11] And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear. [12] He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. [13] And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come. [14] But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us. 

“[15] And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. [16] Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds. [17] And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities. [18] And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds. [19] And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities. [20] And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin: [21] For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow. [22] And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow: [23] Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury? [24] And he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds. [25] (And they said unto him, Lord, he hath ten pounds.) [26] For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him. [27] But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.”

In a similar manner, when we as members of the Church the Body of Christ support (with prayer, money, time, et cetera) a pastor, missionary, or Bible teacher, we are sharing in his reward. Our resources were useful in him publishing God’s Word—especially the Gospel of Grace. His converts are not only his fruit but our fruit too. We share in his ministry, so we will share in his reward. As touching the Body of Christ, the reward is a role or job within Heaven’s governments (see Ephesians 1:20-23; Ephesians 2:6-7; Ephesians 3:10-11; Colossians 1:16-20). There is a reward system in both the prophetic program and the mystery program.

The Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians chapter 4: “[14] Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction. [15] Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. [16] For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. [17] Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. [18] But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.” Paul was not a greedy man, yet he gladly received the gifts or offerings from fellow saints. These Christians were taking the opportunity to serve him, and were really accumulating reward in Heaven. Like us, they will see their reward at the Judgment Seat of Christ (Romans 14:10-12; 2 Corinthians 5:9-10; Colossians 3:23-25)!

Also see:
» Would God want me to share the Gospel?
» “I believed the Gospel, so why do they not believe?”
» Are there modern-day apostles and prophets?

Who is “Jeshurun?”

WHO IS “JESHURUN?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

The name (or a variation) appears four times in the King James Bible:

  • Deuteronomy 32:15: “But Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked: thou art waxen fat, thou art grown thick, thou art covered with fatness; then he forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation.”
  • Deuteronomy 33:5: “And he [Moses] was king in Jeshurun, when the heads of the people and the tribes of Israel were gathered together.”
  • Deuteronomy 33:26: “There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun, who rideth upon the heaven in thy help, and in his excellency on the sky.”
  • Isaiah 44:2: “Thus saith the LORD that made thee, and formed thee from the womb, which will help thee; Fear not, O Jacob, my servant; and thou, Jesurun, whom I have chosen.”

A transliteration of the Hebrew word “Jeshuruwn”—simply meaning “upright”—it is a symbolic name for Israel, the position of honor JEHOVAH God desired for her. Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon defines it as such: “a poetical and (at the same time apparently) a tender and loving appellation of the people of Israel.” Of course, as verified in Deuteronomy chapter 32, national Israel did not live up to that high calling. Nevertheless, Deuteronomy chapter 33 and Isaiah chapter 44 encourage Israel: her salvation unto becoming God’s kingdom of priests will depend solely upon His efforts as opposed to hers. One day, when the Lord Jesus Christ returns, Israel will truly be “Jeshurun!”

Also see:
» “All Israel shall be saved?”
» Is God finished with the nation Israel?
» Have we been “grafted into Israel?”

How will God “chasten” the seed of David?

HOW WILL GOD “CHASTEN” THE SEED OF DAVID?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Every Bible student should be (is?) familiar with the two great covenants JEHOVAH God made with the nation Israel. The first and foremost agreement is the Abrahamic Covenant of Genesis 12:1-3: “[1] Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: [2] And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: [3] And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”

Israel’s second major covenant is the Davidic Covenant, given to King David roughly 1,000 years later. The Bible says in 2 Samuel chapter 7: “[12] And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. [13] He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever. [14] I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: [15] But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee. [16] And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever.”

Matthew 1:1 teaches both covenants are fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ: “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” We compare this to Romans 1:3 and Galatians 3:16, which we quote respectively. “Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh;….” “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.” However, there is a puzzling feature of the Davidic Covenant—and perhaps you noticed it back in 2 Samuel. According to verse 14, the God of the Bible promised to “chasten” (punish, discipline) the seed of David because of his (that is, the seed’s) iniquity (wrongdoing, sin). Would that make Jesus Christ a sinner then? What exactly is the “chastening” as touching the Davidic Covenant? In this fascinating study, this is the enigma we aim to unravel.

We turn now to Hebrews chapter 1, where the Scriptures again apply the Davidic Covenant to Jesus Christ: “[1] God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, [2] Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; [3] Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; [4] Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. [5] For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?”

Verse 5 directly quotes 2 Samuel 7:14: “I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men.” It is quite unexpected to see the issue of chastening of Jesus Christ, is it not? What did He do wrong? How would He be guilty of iniquity (wrongdoing)? Yet, here is what we must understand. Types and antitypes do not match 100 percent. Although 2 Samuel chapter 7 surely does eventually look forward to Jesus Christ, just as Hebrews chapter 1 says, we need to view the Davidic Covenant as also describing the condition of his son Solomon’s throne leading up to Christ’s accession. That is, we should think of the Davidic Covenant as having a short-term fulfillment and a long-term fulfillment. After all, there are many such “dual-prophecy” verses in the Bible regarding innumerable other topics—one verse applying to two men separated by millennia, a single verse fulfilled by two events occurring centuries apart, et cetera.

Let us look at David’s seed in the near-term. To say the least, it is a dreadful tale. Solomon was indeed David’s biological son, his God-ordained heir, and the builder of God’s House (namely, the Temple in Jerusalem). You can read about his birth in 2 Samuel 12:24-25. His anointing, reign, and construction projects are found in 1 Kings chapters 1–8. Upon David’s demise, King Solomon governed all 12 tribes of Israel for a total of 40 years (1 Kings 11:42-43). Yet, Solomon was a man like us—a sinner. Toward the latter half of his reign, his 1,000 (!) heathen wives turned his heart from the LORD and he became increasingly entrenched in their pagan idolatry (1 Kings chapter 11). Therefore, the LORD revealed to him how his idolatry would cause Him to initiate the second course of judgment or chastisement. In the Mosaic Law, this curse would be God “break[ing] the pride of [Israel’s] power” (Leviticus 26:19). Israel’s political might or governmental authority would be destabilized.

We read in 1 Kings chapter 11: “[28] And the man Jeroboam was a mighty man of valour: and Solomon seeing the young man that he was industrious, he made him ruler over all the charge of the house of Joseph. [29] And it came to pass at that time when Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem, that the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite found him in the way; and he had clad himself with a new garment; and they two were alone in the field: [30] And Ahijah caught the new garment that was on him, and rent it in twelve pieces: [31] And he said to Jeroboam, Take thee ten pieces: for thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, Behold, I will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, and will give ten tribes to thee: [32] (But he shall have one tribe for my servant David’s sake, and for Jerusalem’s sake, the city which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel: ) [33] Because that they have forsaken me, and have worshipped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Milcom the god of the children of Ammon, and have not walked in my ways, to do that which is right in mine eyes, and to keep my statutes and my judgments, as did David his father.

“[34] Howbeit I will not take the whole kingdom out of his hand: but I will make him prince all the days of his life for David my servant’s sake, whom I chose, because he kept my commandments and my statutes: [35] But I will take the kingdom out of his son’s hand, and will give it unto thee, even ten tribes. [36] And unto his son will I give one tribe, that David my servant may have a light alway before me in Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen me to put my name there. [37] And I will take thee, and thou shalt reign according to all that thy soul desireth, and shalt be king over Israel. [38] And it shall be, if thou wilt hearken unto all that I command thee, and wilt walk in my ways, and do that is right in my sight, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did; that I will be with thee, and build thee a sure house, as I built for David, and will give Israel unto thee. [39] And I will for this afflict the seed of David, but not for ever.”

Once Solomon expires at the close of chapter 11, in chapter 12, his son Rehoboam and his servant Jeroboam divide his kingdom. Rehoboam takes the kingdom of Judah—the two southern tribes, Judah and Benjamin—whereas Jeroboam rules over the kingdom of Israel (the northern 10 tribes). Exactly as God prophesied, Judah is loyal to the Davidic dynasty, the family connected to the Davidic Covenant. However, as the centuries pass, David’s descendants assuming the throne alternate between good and evil. Rehoboam himself is idolatrous (1 Kings chapters 12–14), one of the many kings of Judah who embrace heathen religion. Manasseh is most wicked of all, reigning in Jerusalem for an astonishing, abysmal 55 years (2 Kings chapters 20–21). It is his idolatry that greatly vexes JEHOVAH God, ultimately bringing about the Babylonians destroying Jerusalem and Solomon’s Temple (2 Kings 24:1-4)!

Judah’s final king, Zedekiah (David’s great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandson), is the subject of the following prophecy: “[25] And thou, profane wicked prince of Israel, whose day is come, when iniquity shall have an end, [26] Thus saith the Lord GOD; Remove the diadem, and take off the crown: this shall not be the same: exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high. [27] I will overturn, overturn, overturn, it: and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him” (Ezekiel 21:25-27). David’s throne was lost right here. We see now the apex of David’s seed being chastened. God took the crown from his family and gave that governmental authority to the Gentiles (non-Jews). The Babylonians, the first group, invaded Jerusalem thrice and finally burned it to the ground circa 586 B.C. (2 Kings chapters 24–25; 2 Chronicles chapter 36). Solomon’s Temple was demolished too. Daniel chapter 2, among other passages, foretells the Gentile empires who will rule the world now that Israel has politically fallen. Looking back on history, we can see the Babylonians came, followed by the Medes and Persians, followed by the Greeks and Romans.

It looks terrible at this point, does it not? Yet, the LORD knew all that disaster would come to pass because of sin—and He made a provision for it. Let us now look at David’s seed in the long-term. If you will remember, the Davidic Covenant involved a son of David that would reign “for ever” (2 Samuel 7:13). Obviously, this looks beyond Solomon (whose reign was merely 40 years) or any other “short-term” son of David we just discussed. This eternal Son of David will reclaim the throne once lost. It is none other but the Lord Jesus Christ, whose right that throne is (Ezekiel 21:27). The good news is that, “But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee” (2 Samuel 7:15). While God permanently took the kingdom from David’s predecessor Saul and his seed because of his evils (1 Samuel 13:8-14), the kingdom would never be taken from David’s house forever. The Mosaic Law would be broken, and sin would result in the curse of political ruin, but God in His faithfulness would never utterly destroy David’s seed. “And I will for this afflict the seed of David, but not for ever(1 Kings 11:39).

We go now to Luke 1:31-33: “[31] And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. [32] He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: [33] And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” This was the Angel Gabriel speaking to Mary the mother of Jesus. Again, we see the Davidic Covenant fulfilled in the long-term. It has an eternal aspect, looking far, far, far beyond Solomon and all his sinful sons.

David’s seed is perpetuated not through his son Solomon but another son, Nathan. Solomon carries the legal right whereas Nathan carries the blood right. Jeconiah, Solomon’s great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandson, was so wicked God refused to have any of his sons sit on David’s throne (Jeremiah 22:24-30). This disqualifies Solomon’s bloodline from fulfilling the Davidic Covenant. Nevertheless, the LORD God in His wisdom passes David’s bloodline through another son, Nathan. Whereas Jesus’ stepfather Joseph is David’s descendant through Jeconiah and Solomon (Matthew 1:6,11,16), Jesus’ biological mother Mary is David’s descendant through Nathan (Luke 3:23,31). Through both Joseph (legal) and Mary (biological), Jesus Christ is David’s son.

Let us go back to the Davidic Covenant, which says, “He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever” (2 Samuel 7:13). While this “house” is Solomon’s Temple in the short-term, the long-term view is the house of Israel. Jesus Christ will form a group of people—the “Little Flock” (Luke 12:32), Israel’s believing remnant—who will be living temples of the God of Abraham and His kingdom of priests (1 Peter 2:9-10). Hebrews chapter 3 says to this point: “[4] For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God. [5] And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; [6] But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.”

CONCLUSION

The “chastening” of the wicked seed of David as promised in the Davidic Covenant does not refer to Jesus Christ being punished for any wrongdoing (He was sinless, after all!). Rather, it is the chastisement of the sons of David prior to Jesus Christ sitting on that throne. David’s throne was greatly weakened because of the pagan idolatry of his son Solomon. Solomon’s seed was ultimately cut off from the throne because of Jeconiah’s idolatry. David’s throne was finally lost because of Zedekiah’s idolatry. Today, tonight, there is no throne of David in the land of Palestine. It has been over 25 centuries since a son of David has sat on a throne in Jerusalem. Gentiles have been dominating Israel in her land all during this, “the times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24).

Yet, Daniel chapter 2 prophesies: “[44] And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. [45] Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.” Here is Father God giving the kingdoms of this world over to His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Revelation 11:15). Yes, Christ will take up the dominion David once had before Solomon and his sons lost it (cf. Ezekiel 21:25-27). Go back to Hebrews chapter 1, the eternal fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant.

By the way, Solomon’s wise, righteous, and prosperous reign—that is, before he grew apostate—was a glimpse or preview of this other but greater Son of David. Read of Solomon’s amazing, world-renowned kingdom in 1 Kings chapters 3 and 4. Here is a type of Jesus Christ’s reign yet future from us. Christ will repeat Solomon’s righteous works… but on a much grander scale! The worldwide rule of Christ will allow Him to also fulfill the Abrahamic Covenant, blessing all the nations with the light and Word of the one true God!

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:
» Is “the Divine right of kings” a Scriptural teaching?
» Who will be Israel’s King in the Millennium—Jesus Christ or David?
» Could you explain, “I will give you the sure mercies of David?”

How is Jesus Christ “Prophet, Priest, and King?”

HOW IS JESUS CHRIST “PROPHET, PRIEST, AND KING?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

You have probably heard the expression—“Jesus Christ is Prophet, Priest, and King.” Is there a biblical basis for this? If so, what is its importance?

Hundreds of Old Testament Messianic promises foretold God’s “Anointed” (Hebrew, “Mashiyach;” Aramaic, “Messiah;” Greek, “Christos;” English, “Christ”). This special Man—the God-Man—would function in three specific capacities or roles. He would occupy the offices of Prophet, Priest, and King.

  • PROPHET/MESSENGER. Deuteronomy 18:15,18: “[15] The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee [Israel] a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken;…. [18] I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him (cf. Acts 3:22-23).
  • PRIEST/MEDIATOR. Zechariah 6:12-13: “[12] And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD: [13] Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.”
  • KING/MONARCH. Second Samuel 7:13-14: “[13] He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever. [14] I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men:…” (cf. Hebrews 1:5).

According to Matthew chapter 12, Israel refused to have the Lord Jesus Christ serve them in all three offices.

  • PROPHET/MESSENGER. Matthew 12:41: “The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas [Jonah the Prophet]; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.” The Israelites believed they knew all there was to know about religious and spiritual matters, so Jesus’ preaching was of no importance to them. Proverbs 14:12: “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”
  • PRIEST/MEDIATOR. Matthew 12:6: “But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple.” The Israelites did not think they needed a Saviour, believing rather they could access God through their own merits. Romans 10:1-3: “[1] Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. [2] For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. [3] For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.”
  • KING/MONARCH. Matthew 12:42: “The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.” The Israelites were their own rulers, doing their own thing, throughly enjoying the path that they had chosen in life. Isaiah 53:6: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

The Book of Hebrews applies all three offices to the Lord Jesus Christ. In spite of Israel’s rejection of Him, one day, He will still be Prophet, Priest, and King!

  • PROPHET/MESSENGER. Hebrews 1:1-2: “[1] God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, [2] Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;….”
  • PRIEST/MEDIATOR. Hebrews 3:1: “Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;….”
  • KING/MONARCH. Hebrews 1:8-9: “[8] But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. [9] Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.”

SUPPLEMENTAL: KING DAVID, A THREE-FOLD TYPE OF CHRIST

Everyone familiar with the Bible understands David was king of Israel. Very few, however, realize he was also a prophet and a priest. David—as prophet, priest, and king—is a preview of the Lord Jesus Christ some 1,000 years in advance.

The ephod was a priestly garment that resembled a vest. Even though he was not a priest by blood (David was from the tribe of Judah and not the priestly tribe of Levi), David wore an ephod when praising the LORD. “And David danced before the LORD with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod” (2 Samuel 6:14). “And David was clothed with a robe of fine linen, and all the Levites that bare the ark, and the singers, and Chenaniah the master of the song with the singers: David also had upon him an ephod of linen” (1 Chronicles 15:27). David even offered animal sacrifices as a priest would. “And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing. So David bought the threshingfloor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver. And David built there an altar unto the LORD, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the LORD was intreated for the land, and the plague was stayed from Israel” (2 Samuel 24:24-25).

David, as the Holy Spirit moved him, wrote nearly half of the Book of Psalms. “Now these be the last words of David. David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, said, The Spirit of the LORD spake by me, and his word was in my tongue” (2 Samuel 23:1-2). He spoke for God, and is thus called a “prophet.” Acts 2:29-31: “Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.”

By the way, when King Saul attempted to usurp the priest’s office by sacrificing a burnt offering, God took the kingdom from him and gave it to David (1 Samuel 13:8-14)!

Also see:
» Who will be Israel’s King in the Millennium—Jesus Christ or David?
» Why did Jesus forbid others from preaching that He was Christ?
» How is Jesus Christ the “firstborn” of every creature?
» How can Jesus Christ be a priest if He is of the non-priestly tribe of Judah?

Who was “Herod?”

WHO WAS “HEROD?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

A benighted preacher once remarked, “That ‘Herod’ in the Bible certainly was an evil man!” Actually, however, several men bear this name in Scripture. “Herod” is not a first name but rather a designation—much like “Caesar,” “Pharaoh,” “President,” and so on. The word means “hero-like.” Unfortunately, one challenge to comprehending the Herodian dynasty is its innumerable cases of intermarriage. Extensive incest makes this family tree a nightmare to map! Nevertheless, by understanding these different Herods—and looking to secular history for supplementary information—we can better appreciate and date events in the New Testament Scriptures. (Please bear in mind these dates are approximate.)

HEROD THE GREAT (1st generation)

Herod the Great is the most infamous “Herod” because he was the slaughterer of Jesus’ young contemporaries in Bethlehem (Matthew chapter 2; cf. Luke 1:5). He married at least 10 women, fathering numerous sons—the other men bearing the name “Herod,” whom we will discuss shortly. Herod the Great is the second son of an Idumean* called Antipater. Julius Caesar appointed Antipater as procurator of Judaea in 41 B.C., and Herod the Great assumed power over Galilee shortly after. Roman politician Mark Antony eventually chose the Great to be tetrarch of Judaea, and later he became king of Judaea (where Matthew chapter 2 picks up).

(*NOTE: The Idumeans are Gentiles descended from Esau/Edom (Genesis 36:1), brother of the Jewish patriarch Jacob [Genesis 25:19-34]. In other words, the Herods are non-Jews ruling Israel during “the times of the Gentiles” [Luke 21:24]. God removed Israel’s political might in the Earth beginning with the Babylonian captivity circa 600 B.C, and Gentiles will reign over Israel until Christ’s Second Coming when He sits on David’s throne [Daniel chapter 2]. Although non-Jewish by blood, the Herods entertained some aspects of Judaism.)

In 20 B.C., some 16 years before Christ’s birth, Herod the Great began renovating the Jerusalem Temple (built 500 years earlier, in Zerubbabel’s lifetime). Construction continued well after his death—some 46 years total—according to John 2:20. The Great is recognized for erecting numerous monuments in the city, as well as putting some of his own sons to death! When Jesus was just a few years old, the Great died at age 70 from a horrific disease (cf. Matthew 2:19). Overall, he reigned 37 years.

HEROD ARCHELAUS (2nd generation)

Son of Herod the Great through wife Malthace, Archelaus served as governor of Judaea, Idumea, and Samaria from 4 B.C.–A.D. 6. He appears just once in Scripture, a single verse (Matthew 2:22). The Bible simply calls him “Archelaus.”

HEROD ANTIPAS (2nd generation)

Son of Herod the Great through wife Malthace, Antipas was the tetrarch of Galilee and Perea from 4 B.C.–A.D. 39 (Calvary was circa A.D. 30). This Herod reigned during Christ’s earthly ministry (cf. Luke 3:1; Luke 13:31). He imprisoned and beheaded John the Baptist (Matthew 14:1-12; Mark 6:14-29; Luke 3:19-20; Luke 9:7-9). Finally, Herod presided over Jesus’ trial at Pontius Pilate’s direction (Luke 23:7-12,15; Acts 4:27). His name appears briefly in Luke 8:3 and Acts 13:1.

HEROD PHILIP I (2nd generation)

Son of Herod the Great through wife Mariamne, he did not rule. Remaining a private citizen, he was Herodias’ uncle and first husband before she divorced him to marry another uncle, Herod Antipas (cf. Matthew 14:3; Mark 6:17). Herod Philip I died approximately A.D. 34, just a few years after Calvary.

HEROD PHILIP II (2nd generation)

Son of Herod the Great through wife Cleopatra, Philip II was tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis (cf. Luke 3:1). He reigned 4 B.C.–A.D. 34 (Calvary was circa A.D. 30). Herodias’ dancing daughter (see Philip I above) went on to marry him, her great-uncle!

HEROD AGRIPPA I (3rd generation)

Son of Aristobulus, nephew of Herod Antipas, and grandson of Herod the Great, he was king of Judaea from A.D. 37–44 (again, Calvary occurred circa A.D. 29). Agrippa I beheaded the Apostle James, imprisoned the Apostle Peter, and succumbed to a most horrific death after God struck him down for his blasphemy (Acts 12:1-24). Scripture knows him as simply “Herod.”

HEROD AGRIPPA II (4th generation)

Son of Agrippa I, great-nephew of Herod Antipas, and great-grandson of Herod the Great, he was the king of Judaea who presided over the Apostle Paul’s trial in Acts 25:13–26:32 (cf. Acts 23:35). The Bible calls him merely “Agrippa,” so do not confuse him with his father Agrippa I (above).

Also see:
» Who were the “Herodians?”
» Is “Divine right of kings” a Scriptural concept?
» Why did God let James die but deliver Peter?