Category Archives: THE NATION ISRAEL

How could the conception of Christ be a sign to King Ahaz if Ahaz died centuries earlier?

HOW COULD THE CONCEPTION OF CHRIST BE A SIGN TO KING AHAZ IF AHAZ DIED CENTURIES EARLIER?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Read from Isaiah chapter 7: “[10] Moreover the LORD spake again unto Ahaz, saying, [11] Ask thee a sign of the LORD thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above. [12] But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the LORD. [13] And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also? [14] Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

Bible critics form an objection based on this passage. Their argument is quite easy to follow. How could the conception of Messiah be a sign to Ahaz (something he would witness) since Ahaz died long before Isaiah 7:14 was actually fulfilled? Yes, we see a problem here too—a greater problem. They are misreading the Bible, thus misunderstanding it, and thereby misrepresenting it. It is highly significant to point out the nouns and their second-person pronouns, thus making the prophecy read smoothly and remarkably.

Verses 10 and 11: “[10] Moreover the LORD spake again unto Ahaz, saying, [11] Ask thee a sign of the LORD thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above.” “Thee” in verse 11 applies to Ahaz (verse 10). God is speaking to one man here. If you are using a modern English vesion, “thee” reads “you,” thus making it impossible for you to distinguish the singular (“thee/thou/thy/thine”) and plural (“ye/you/your”) forms. Older English, a “dead language,” is superior to modern English in this regard.

Verse 12 is most noteworthy: “But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the LORD.” JEHOVAH God ordered Ahaz to ask for a sign, but Ahaz was so unbelieving that he refused! Yet, he pretended to be pious and respectable—“I will not ask for a sign and I will not challenge the Lord!” In reality, he defied the LORD’S instructions by not asking for that sign!

Read verses 13 and 14: “[13] And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also? [14] Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” This is a different audience than the one in verses 11-12.

Verse 13 addresses a group“ye,” or more specifically, “O house of David.” David’s royal bloodline is in view here. It is his ancestors beyond Ahaz (also a son of David). Verse 14, of course, is the virgin conception of Jesus Christ. However, the Scriptures are not saying such a miracle will occur during Ahaz’s lifetime. The Bible is stating David’s house will see the Messiah conceived. In other words, Israel’s royal family will witness Jesus Christ being born. To the Bible student, there is nothing tenuous here. Were not Mary (Jesus’ mother) and Joseph (His foster-father) present to hear His conception announced and then see His actual birth nine months later? Yes, and, most significantly, they were of David’s house (Matthew 1:1-6,16; Luke 3:23,31)!

Matthew 1:18-25: “[18] Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. [19] Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. [20] But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. [Did you notice how the angel addressed Joseph, Jesus’ legal father, as “son of David?”] [21] And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins. [22] Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, [23] Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. [24] Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: [25] And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.”

Luke 1:26-33: “[26] And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, [27] To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. [Did you notice how Mary, Jesus’ mother, is said to be “of the house of David?”] [28] And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. [29] And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. [30] And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. [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.” (Did you see how Jesus Himself is a descendant of David in verse 32?)

CONCLUSION

King Ahaz himself did not see the virgin conception of Jesus Christ—and the Bible never said he would anyway. It was not a failed prophecy. Ahaz indeed died many years before Christ, but that made no difference whatsoever. The prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 was that the house of David (verse 13) would witness the birth of Christ. King David’s ancestors did see Messiah’s birth. Joseph and Mary, and David’s other royal ancestors alive at the time, bore record of the fulfillment of Isaiah’s magnificent “virgin conception” prophecy. There is no mistake in the Bible!

Also see:
» What is the real “Immaculate Conception?”
» How should we respond to, “If only I saw a miracle, then I would believe?”
» Did God “rape” Mary?

How can Jesus Christ be a priest if He is of the non-priestly tribe of Judah?

HOW CAN JESUS CHRIST BE A PRIEST IF HE IS OF THE NON-PRIESTLY TRIBE OF JUDAH?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Indeed, Levi is Israel’s priestly tribe, as stated in the Bible: “The priests the Levites… the priests the Levites… the priests the Levites” (Deuteronomy 17:9, 17:18, 18:1). High priest Aaron and his sons were descendants of Levi (Exodus 4:14), Levi being a son of Jacob (Genesis 29:34).

However, Jesus Christ is of the tribe of Judah. Joseph, His foster-father, comes from the following family: “Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren;… And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ” (Matthew 1:2,16). Mary, Jesus’ mother, has this family tree: “And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli,… Which was the son of Aminadab, which was the son of Aram, which was the son of Esrom, which was the son of Phares, which was the son of Juda, Which was the son of Jacob, which was the son of Isaac, which was the son of Abraham, which was the son of Thara, which was the son of Nachor,…” (Luke 3:23,33-34). There is no priestly tribe here, only “Juda/Judas” (Greek forms of the Hebrew “Judah”).

The New Testament Scriptures, especially the Book of Hebrews, nevertheless claim that Jesus Christ is a Priest, yea, a High Priest (Hebrews 2:17, Hebrews 3:1, Hebrews 4:14, et cetera). How can this be? Well, Hebrews already anticipated that question, and provided an answer to the discrepancy. Let us see what God Himself says about it.

We start in Hebrews chapter 7, verse 14: “[14] For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. [15] And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest, [16] Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life.” Moses wrote about priests of the tribe of Levi, yet his five Books (Genesis through Malachi) never said one word about Israel having a priest from the tribe of Judah. You are correct in your original claim. Christ’s priesthood, however, does not depend on Judah the man any more than Levi the man. He actually takes on the priesthood of a man from whom He is not biologically descended. We will see why momentarily.

Keep reading: “[17] For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. [18] For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. [19] For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God. [20] And inasmuch as not without an oath he was made priest: [21] (For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec: ) [22] By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament. [23] And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: [24] But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.”

Turning to Psalm 110:4, we compare: “The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.” Written about 1,000 years before Calvary’s cross, this is Father God speaking to Jesus Christ after His resurrection. Notice the absence of the Levitical priesthood. By Divine decree, Christ’s priesthood stems from a man by the name of Melchisedec, who was not a Jew (and who was thus neither of Levi nor of Judah). Christ did not presumptuously assume Melchisedec’s priesthood, or even naturally assume it; God Almighty supernaturally transferred it to Him!

As Hebrews just stated, the Levitical system was flawed in that its priests died because they were sinners. One priest perished and another took his place—that continued for over 1,500 years. In stark contrast, Melchisedec is described in Hebrews 7:1-3 in such a way as to show he had no predecessor or successor. As far as the Scripture is concerned, his priesthood appears briefly and then disappears just as quickly (see Genesis 14:18-24). He was born, but the Bible never provides details. He died, but the Bible never records it. He was a priest, and yet we read nothing about his ordination. There was no connection to the Mosaic Law, as it would be given over 400 years after him.

We continue in Hebrews chapter 7: “[25] Wherefore he [Jesus Christ] is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. [26] For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; [27] Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself. [28] For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.” This is how the chapter ends, but let us go back up to earlier verses.

“[11] If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? [12] For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law. [13] For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar.” The Levitical (Aaronic) priesthood had its limitations—namely, it gained more members because death claimed the earlier ones. It had a definitive beginning (with Aaron) and it had successors. However, we know nothing about Melchisedec’s origin or progeny (God’s Word is silent). There is no record of his genealogy in Scripture. He evidently died functioning as a priest, and no one followed him in his priestly duties.

Verse 3 of Hebrews chapter 7 had said, “Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.” Up until Psalm 110:4 (Messianic—about Jesus Christ), we were unaware of anyone following Melchisedec in his priesthood because nothing was said of him or his priesthood after Genesis chapter 14. With Hebrews chapter 7 entered into God’s Book, and with a completed Bible in hand, now we see Jesus Christ will be a priest of the order of Melchisedec. Melchisedec was a type, shadow, or preview of Christ. Christ’s priesthood is most similar to Melchisedec’s priesthood—and not at all like the Levitical or Aaronic priesthood. It involves one individual, not a group.

Melchisedec was “the priest of the most high God” (Genesis 14:18; cf. Hebrews 7:1). (“Melchizedek” is the Old Testament or Hebrew form; “Melchisedec” is the New Testament or Greek version.) This was centuries before Aaron was anointed as Israel’s first high priest in her religion of Judaism. Whoever Melchizedek was, he was not a Jew either. His priesthood is not limited to Israel (as Aaron’s was). There is nothing recorded about his birth or lineage (as Aaron’s was, as his sons’ was). We never read about Melchisedec’s death either. His ministry is not tied to the Mosaic Law or Old Covenant (as Aaron’s was). With Jesus Christ being of a priestly order separate from Aaron’s, Christ can function apart from the Old Covenant and apart from “Israel only.” Remember, God will make the New Covenant with Israel (Hebrews 8:8-13; Hebrews 10:15-17). His ministry will then go beyond Israel, as Gentiles will be converted once Israel herself is saved (see Isaiah 59:21–60:3 and Zechariah 8:20-23, for example).

Even if Christ were born of the priestly tribe of Levi, He could not function as Israel’s High Priest. The Book of Hebrews makes that case repeatedly. Overall, Jesus Christ is superior to Aaron (the first of the Levitical priests), for He is of an order—Melchisedec’s priesthood—that existed prior to Aaron. In like manner, the Lord Jesus Christ is better than angels (Hebrews chapters 1–2), better than Moses (chapter 3), and so on. The Book of Hebrews, as its name implies, is God’s Spirit moving Israel away from the spiritual immaturity she has long embraced in her religion of Judaism (see Hebrews 5:11–6:3). He is bringing her to His Son, Jesus Christ, whom the components of Judaism pictured and predicted. Israel is to see Jesus Christ as Messiah, King, Redeemer, and High Priest. There is something better than the Old Covenant, someone better than Moses, something better than the earthly Tabernacle/Temple, someone better than Aaron, someone better than angels, better promises, better sacrifices, a better hope, a better testament, a better way, and so on. It all focuses on the Lord Jesus Christ!!

Also see:
» Who wrote the Book of Hebrews?
» Does Hebrews 10:25 really teach we must attend church?
» Should we “plead the blood of Jesus?”

“So shall we ever be with the Lord?”

“SO SHALL WE EVER BE WITH THE LORD?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

A recurrent idea among Christians is that the Church the Body of Christ will return with the Lord Jesus Christ at His Second Coming. Various and sundry verses are offered as support. However, a careful examination of the Holy Scriptures demonstrates this to be a total misunderstanding of both the purpose of the Body and the objective of the Second Coming. (For more info, please see our related studies linked at the end of this article.)

Years ago, when this author began coming to the knowledge of the truth, better understanding the Word of God rightly divided, he struggled to make sense of the above matter. Were we returning with Christ at His Second Coming, as he had been led to believe for so many years? First Thessalonians 4:17 nagged him: “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” What should we make of the phrase, “so shall we ever be with the Lord?” Will we be physically “with” the Lord Jesus when He steps onto the Mount of Olives at His Second Coming? Will we be reigning “with” Him on Earth in Israel’s Davidic kingdom? “For what saith the Scriptures?”

Like most individuals, this author assumed the “and so shall we ever be with the Lord” clause meant that we must be in close proximity to Christ at all times once we are raptured. After He takes us into Heaven in that split second of time (1 Corinthians 15:51-58; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), we will never again leave His side. Wherever He is, we will always be beside Him. Is that what “with the Lord” means in 1 Thessalonians 4:17? No, as this explanation is contrary to many verses in Paul’s writings (we will get to those shortly). First, we need to review the basics.

Creation consists of “heaven and earth” (Genesis 1:1). Offices govern both realms—thrones, dominions, principalities, powers, mights, and every name that is named (Ephesians 1:21; Colossians 1:16). Satan has usurped and corrupted these offices but Father God will bring them all under His authority again through His Son Jesus Christ. In “the dispensation of the fulness of times,” our Heavenly Father shall gather all governments under one Head, Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:9-10). He has thus formed the nation Israel to be His earthly people, and the Church the Body of Christ to be His heavenly people. It is one overall kingdom, functioning in two realms, for one eternal purpose! The Lord Jesus Christ will be glorified forever—regardless of the angels and the humans who refuse to participate and accomplish it.

We the Church the Body of Christ have a heavenly destiny not an earthly destiny. Our realm of blessings and influence is the heavenly places. Observe the following:

  • 2 Corinthians 5:1: “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”
  • Ephesians 1:3: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:….”
  • Ephesians 1:20,22-23: “Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,…. And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.”
  • Ephesians 2:6: “And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:….”
  • Ephesians 3:10: “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,….”
  • Philippians 3:20: “For our conversation [lifestyle reflecting citizenship] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:….”
  • Colossians 1:5: “For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;…..”
  • Colossians 1:16,20: “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:…. And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.”
  • 2 Timothy 4:18: “And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

Consider all the above verses. We are installed to serve in the heavenly places prior to the Second Coming (in perfect accordance with Revelation 12:7-12—Satan and his angels evicted from the second heaven to make room for us there). Therefore, it certainly would not be appropriate for us to use one verse (1 Thessalonians 4:17) to teach that we will come down with Christ to reign on Earth with Him. So, what of “so shall we ever be with the Lord?” In what sense are we “with” Him? Let us quickly survey verses that show us how the English (King James) Bible employs “with” in sentences.

“WITH” (AS IN CLOSE PHYSICAL PROXIMITY, EXISTING BESIDE ANOTHER, ADJACENT OR NEIGHBORING)

  • Acts 8:31: “And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.”
  • Galatians 2:3: “But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised:….”
  • Matthew 9:10: “And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples.” (A similar idea is found in Matthew 14:9 and Acts 11:3.)
  • Matthew 4:21: “And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them.”
  • Acts 11:12: “And the Spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered into the man’s house:….”

(You may also consult Acts 20:14, 2 Timothy 4:11, John 13:18, Acts 9:7, Acts 9:19, Matthew 26:23, Mark 14:18-20, Acts 23:19, Philemon 13, and Acts 27:2.)

The above verses contain probably the most frequent definition of how we use the word “with.” Considering all that has gone before, however, there must be another sense 1 Thessalonians 4:17 is using the word. Our destiny is the heavenly places, recall.

“WITH” (ON THE SAME TEAM, JOINED IN ONE CONDITION, HAVING A SHARED PURPOSE)

  • Acts 16:34: “And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.”
  • Romans 1:12: “That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.”
  • John 13:8: “Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.”
  • Philippians 2:18: “For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me.”
  • Luke 11:23: “He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth.” Matthew 12:30: “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.”
  • Luke 1:58: “And her neighbours and her cousins heard how the Lord had shewed great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her.”
  • Romans 15:30: “Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me;….”
  • 1 Corinthians 12:26: “And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.”
  • Galatians 2:20: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

The idea in these verses is connecting to others around a common goal or experience—rejoicing with others, mourning with others, praying with others, trusting in God with others, and so on. Physical distance is not under consideration. We can do these things with others around the world, though they are quite far from us bodily. If we look at the Bible’s testimony as a whole, this seems to be the most probable notion being communicated by “with” in 1 Thessalonians 4:17.

CONCLUSION

First Thessalonians 4:17 says, “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” The word “with” here is not to be understood in the sense of sitting face-to-face, or side-by-side with another. Scripture also employs the term as united around a mutual action or experience. There is solidarity or camaraderie, teammates achieving one end, fellowshipping as concerning one matter.

In Revelation 3:21, the Lord Jesus says to Israel, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” Certainly, Christ is not speaking of one or two thrones in which He, the Father, and all believing Jews will sit around each other. Close physical proximity is not the issue—that would be most absurd. The idea rather is one of unity in reigning (as in, shared authority or mutual power). Redeemed Israelites are extensions of His earthly authority, just as we (the Body of Christ) are extensions of His heavenly authority. For us to be “with” Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:17) is not about us returning to Earth, but rather sharing His governmental influence in creation—namely, the heavenly places—as Israel will share His influence in the offices of Earth’s government.

One passage to summarize with now is 2 Timothy 2:10-13: “Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.” The “reigning with him” is defined in chapter 4 and verse 18 as entering “his heavenly kingdom.” (Notice the idea of teammates throughout these verses. There is no hint of next-door neighbors but individuals associating around a joint conclusion.)

The idea in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 “with the Lord” means we are on His team, ruling and reigning with Him, but in what realm? Paul’s epistles always speak of our (Body of Christ) realm as the heavenly kingdom. In the ages to come, the Lord will be exercising governmental authority and we will be too. It is all one enormous kingdom, spanning between Heaven and Earth, all to exalt Jesus Christ the Lord of glory. Lastly, remember, we can only be so close to Him physically. Millions of believers from the last 20 centuries will be in Heaven. We cannot all be within arm’s reach of Him, and yet we will be “with Him.” Surely, something beyond physical closeness is under consideration in 1 Thessalonians 4:17.

ATTENTION: We have released our new seven-hour Bible study series—“The Feasts of JEHOVAH.” These lessons are approximately 65 minutes each, totaling 7 1/2 hours. They are quite advanced, as they build on our five-lesson series “Israel’s Covenants” I taught a month ago. It is best to watch all seven videos in order, as they are progressive. May you be edified, encouraged, and enlightened! Enjoy!! Praise our Lord Jesus Christ! Click here to watch.

Also see:
» Will we return with Jesus Christ at His Second Coming?
» Who are the “saints” in 1 Thessalonians 3:13?
» Can you compare and contrast the prophetic program and the mystery program?

Why did Jesus Christ quote Deuteronomy during His temptations

WHY DID JESUS CHRIST QUOTE DEUTERONOMY DURING HIS TEMPTATIONS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Did you ever realize that Jesus was quoting Deuteronomy during His temptations? Why was He using this Book and this Book alone? Why not appeal to something in Psalms, or Proverbs (passages frequently quoted today in difficult times)? What was so special about Deuteronomy that the Lord Jesus used its passages to ward off Satan’s antics?

Matthew chapter 4: “[1] Then was Jesus led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. [2] And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. [3] And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. [4] But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Verse 4 is quoting Deuteronomy 8:3: “And he [the LORD] humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.”

Matthew chapter 4 continued: “[5] Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, [6] And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. [7] Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” Verse 7 is from Deuteronomy 6:16: “Ye shall not tempt the LORD your God, as ye tempted him in Massah.”

Matthew chapter 4: “[8] Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; [9] And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. [10] Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” Verse 10 is taken from Deuteronomy 6:13: “Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name.”

Matthew chapter 4, verse 11: “Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.”

In these temptations, also recorded in Luke 4:1-13, Jesus Christ is identifying with His people, Israel’s believing remnant. Deuteronomy records Israel just as they are about to enter the Promised Land under Joshua. Likewise, Israel’s believing remnant, during Daniel’s 70th Week, will soon enter the land. They will be re-gathered into their land at Christ’s Second Coming (Matthew 24:30-31).

Hebrews chapter 4 says of temptations: “[14] Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. [15] For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. [16] Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

Satan’s evil world system, as it tempted Jesus Christ before He began His earthly ministry, will test Israel’s Little Flock once our Dispensation of Grace ends with the Rapture. Since Jesus Christ quoted applicable Scripture to overcome His time of testing, they are urged to follow His ensample in their period of testing. He left them a pattern, and just as He was faithful during those challenging times, they can rely on Him to get them through their trial. As He was faithful to Father God, He can enable them to be dedicated to Him (Father). This is “the trial of [their] faith” of 1 Peter 1:7.

First John chapter 2 says to those Jewish believers in the future: “[15] Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. [16] For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. [17] And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. [18] Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.” Verse 16 adequately summarizes all temptations—including those of Christ, Israel, and us! “The lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.”

John’s audience exists in Israel’s program before the Antichrist comes (verse 18). They will be alive when he does appear, and will live as he reigns. The Holy Spirit through John has provided information in 1 John so the Jews can distinguish believers and unbelievers during the end times. They will be able to tell who are God’s people, true Jews, and who are Satan’s counterfeits, unsaved Jews (see 1 John 2:21-23, 1 John 3:6-15, 1 John 4:1-4, Revelation 2:9, Revelation 3:9; cf. Matthew 13:25-30,37-50).

Also see:
» What is the “temptation” in 1 Corinthians 10:13?
» What does 1 John 1:8 mean, “We deceive ourselves?”
» How many angels will be with Jesus Christ when He returns?

How should we handle the objection, “If only I saw a miracle, then I would believe!”?

HOW SHOULD WE HANDLE THE OBJECTION, “IF ONLY I SAW A MIRACLE, THEN I WOULD BELIEVE!”?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Dear friends, how often the freethinkers, atheists, agnostics, and all other Bible skeptics smugly declare to us that they would “believe in God” and “follow the Bible” “if only” they “saw a miracle.” Many such individuals emphatically proclaim to be “looking for evidence,” allegedly “seeking to uncover the truth” because they are “open to the possibility of God.” To witness a miraculous demonstration is “the last piece of the puzzle” they wish to solve. (Agnostics assert that they do not look because such information—if it were available—is beyond our grasp anyway. However, being human, they cannot deny that curiosity dwells in them too!)

How should we as Bible believers answer these precious souls who seek supernatural events as “proof that God exists?” Is it appropriate for us to pray for Almighty God to empower us to perform a miracle to convince them? After all, does He not intend to do anything and everything to persuade them to believe in Him and His Word? Should we ask the Lord to eventually show them a miracle (if not by us, but by some other Christian) so they come to trust Him? These are critical questions, and it thus behooves us to consider them in this Bible study.

I. A BRIEF INTRODUCTION

A. CURSORY OPENING REMARKS

Dearly beloved, whoever you are (Christian, non-Christian, atheistic, agnostic, freethinker, skeptic, et cetera—whatever you claim as your persuasion), you should come to terms with some basic facts right from the start. While this author never intends to antagonize you, the realities he will share in this study will likely offend you at some point. You might react quite angrily to this Bible article. Or, perchance you will enjoy the marvelous light of the wonderful spiritual truths contained herein. The author’s intention is never to soften the truth or make it more pleasant. He would rather you dislike him for telling you the truth than gain your friendship because he told you a flattering lie! Woe is unto the author, if he knows this information and fails to share it with you in a plain manner! It is thus his great hope and prayer that this study will assist you in your spiritual journey, wherever you happen to be, to bring you to the place where the God of the Bible would have you to be.

If we look at the record of the Scriptures, we learn that miracles are not always successful in convincing unbelievers. No matter how amazing the miracle is—an event affecting one person to a miraculous demonstration impacting thousands—if the observer has a callous and unbelieving heart, the miracle will not change that person’s attitude. If plentiful miracles are witnessed, there is still no assurance that the spectator will be converted. Pride will get in the way. Our deceitful heart will fool people if they do choose to reject the truth that the miracle conveys. So, as you examine and contemplate the information in this study, consider this word to the wise: Friend, be sure you are willing to receive this information with an open mind, for if you approach it arrogantly and disrespectfully, it will (without any doubt!) harm you beyond your wildest dreams!

B. PSALM 14:1

Psalm 14:1 is an extremely austere verse, but it is definitely a truth for people of all ages living in all ages: “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.”

A “fool” is silly or ridiculous, someone not thinking properly. One can be a college graduate many times over, and still behave most thoughtlessly. This author has seen it firsthand, and you, dear reader, have probably observed it as well. Education does not equal infallibility, for someone can fail to apply that information and wind up confused, misled, and disappointed. A person might have training in specific fields and areas, but that information cannot serve him or her in unrelated situations and circumstances. Advanced degrees have their limitations, and never forget it! Never once has any university or school anywhere ever issued a diploma labeled, “All the requirements for OMNISCIENCE have been met!” Even this author is a frail, limited man—who has no confidence in the flesh, and encourages you not to have any either (Philippians 3:3).

When Psalm 14:1 opens with, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.,” the verse makes the fool’s absurdity most painfully obvious. What has he done? Has he examined evidence and deduced the view to which he holds and champions? No! Remember, by the very definition, a fool does not think properly. Logic cannot be used to describe his beliefs or behaviors. He has not analyzed anything and yet the verse says he, strangely enough, has already reached a conclusion. What has he concluded? “There is no God.” On what basis has he made this assertion? (You already know the answer, do you not?)

The fool has not investigated anything. In his sinful heart, he has arrived at a conclusion, a preconceived idea, and now his only goal is to look for evidence to validate it and it alone. (If you must know, the technical word for this phenomenon is “confirmation bias.”) The fool readily and summarily dismisses whatever contrary evidence there is or possibly is. Since he is resolute in maintaining his original position (“There is no God”), he will never even consider the possibility of any “god” (whatever that “higher power” is makes no difference at this point—we are being as basic as possible for simplicity’s sake). Hence, the scoffer could watch 100 (!) miracles and never be convinced. Why? He has already made the decision not to believe, and that which is designed to cause him to believe is ineffective with him.

Proverbs chapter 18 adds to this point: “[1] Through desire a man, having separated himself, seeketh and intermeddleth with all wisdom. [2] A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself.” Someone who is constantly dabbling in all kinds of belief systems has one goal: he has something he wants to prove, and is seeking his confirmation wherever he can obtain it. While praising himself for being “objective” and “rational,” he is subjective and irrational. He holds to his personal opinions most stubbornly. No matter how absurd they are, he will obsessively cling to them, for the other option is to understand that there is a Creator God to whom he is accountable. His opinions cannot cross-examine him or damn him to Hell, so they do not threaten him as the concept of God intimidates him. The only reason he holds to his “anti-God” and “anti-Bible” view is to intentionally eliminate from his mind the eternal damnation that most assuredly awaits him. (May we aptly say at this point, “Out of mind, out of existence?”)

In the world of science—what the Bible scoffer usually adores and to which he often appeals—a conclusion is not made until data has been collected and analyzed first. If it is “junk science” to posit conclusions without first gathering information, it is equally fallacious to go around making claims about God without first collecting knowledge about Him. With little (if any) understanding of God, and little (if any) understanding of the Bible, the scoffer just outright rejects the spiritual realm. He remains in utter darkness, all the while touting his “enlightenment” the so-called “ignorant, superstitious” Christians lack (that is his claim)!

At this point, you may say, “Oh, Brother Shawn, what a horrible existence you have described! How sad it is to wind up in such a mess! Those poor people, so baffled and deceived, how did they ever end up like that? Is there any hope for them?” While it breaks Almighty God’s heart to see His creation broken and disorderly, He values free will above all. If someone wants to live without Him, He grants that person that right. For brevity’s sake, we quote Romans chapter 1 without commentary:

“[18] For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; [19] Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. [20] For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: [21] Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. [22] Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, [23] And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. 

“[24] Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: [25] Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

“[26] For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: [27] And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

“[28] And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; [29] Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, [30] Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, [31] Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: [32] Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.”

Friend, if ever you wonder how today’s world system and society wound up so evil and perverted, you just read and re-read Romans chapter 1 until it sinks into your mind. The verses are self-explanatory. For the rest of this study, we will deal with various and sundry people from human history, people who constantly battled sin as pertaining to whether or not they believed God and His Word to them. Lest we think they are totally unlike us, that we are better than them, we would do quite well to remember we in the sophisticated 21st century are just as depraved. Technology has greatly advanced, but human nature has remained static all this time!

II. PHARAOH AND MOSES

Before any miracles were performed in front of Pharaoh, he refused to release the nation Israel from being Egypt’s slaves (Exodus 5:1-4). In fact, he further abused the Jews, making their lives increasingly miserable. Since he had hardened his heart against the LORD God’s will, the LORD God would further harden it by pressuring him with miracles (technically, judgments on Egypt’s gods).

JEHOVAH God ordered Moses in Exodus chapter 3: “[19] And I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not by a mighty hand. [20] And I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt with all my wonders which I will do in the midst thereof: and after that he will let you go. [21] And I will give this people favour in the sight of the Egyptians: and it shall come to pass, that, when ye go, ye shall not go empty.”

Moving on to Exodus chapter 7: “[1] And the LORD said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet. [2] Thou shalt speak all that I command thee: and Aaron thy brother shall speak unto Pharaoh, that he send the children of Israel out of his land. [3] And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt. [4] But Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you, that I may lay my hand upon Egypt, and bring forth mine armies, and my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments…..”

“[8] And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, [9] When Pharaoh shall speak unto you, saying, Shew a miracle for you: then thou shalt say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and cast it before Pharaoh, and it shall become a serpent. [10] And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so as the LORD had commanded: and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it became a serpent. [11] Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments. [12] For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents: but Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods. [13] And he hardened Pharaoh’s heart, that he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said. [14] And the LORD said unto Moses, Pharaoh’s heart is hardened, he refuseth to let the people go.”

From here (chapter 7) all the way to chapter 12, the LORD God judges Egypt with 10 plagues. Pharaoh, king of Egypt, saw 10 miracles before he finally relented… and then, that was only in absolute desperation. His nation was completely ruined, and he sought relief from his own pain and suffering. Had he had a sincere heart, the first miracle would have convinced him. Alas, the first miracle did not persuade him. He was not converted under the second miracle either… or the third… or the fourth… or even the tenth! Pharaoh did not come to trust in Israel’s God. He released Israel simply because he had no more country. Among other tribulations, the livestock were dead, the crops were destroyed, the drinking water was polluted, his people were disease-stricken, and his firstborn son had been killed (along with all the other Egyptian firstborn).

Every time the LORD God showed Pharaoh a miraculous demonstration, prideful Pharaoh refused. His heart grew harder, and harder, and harder still! Proverbs 29:1 remarks, “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” As noted earlier, miracles in the Bible are designed to teach doctrine. God was using His miracles in Egypt to achieve two ends. Two lessons were being taught.

Firstly, JEHOVAH God endeavored to show Israel that He would deliver them from their captivity—something they were powerless in doing by themselves. Exodus chapter 6: “[5] And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel, whom the Egyptians keep in bondage; and I have remembered my covenant. [6] Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments: [7] And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. [8] And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for an heritage: I am the LORD.”

Secondly, the LORD God demonstrated beyond any doubt that He was superior to all of Egypt’s idols/gods combined. Turn to Exodus 12:12 to read: “For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD.” Compare that with Numbers 33:4: “For the Egyptians buried all their firstborn, which the LORD had smitten among them: upon their gods also the LORD executed judgments.”

According to Egyptian history, Pharaoh was considered to be a god himself. He did not want to admit that Israel’s God was greater than him and all of his gods collectively. It was a blow to his giant ego. Only after Egypt was devastated with 10 plagues did Pharaoh begrudgingly emancipate Israel. Not to be outdone, he tried again to get the upper hand over Israel’s God. He attacked freed Israel with his army—before Israel’s God had the last word by drowning Pharaoh and all his soldiers in the Red Sea!!

III. ISRAEL IN THE WILDERNESS

JEHOVAH God has just delivered Israel from Egyptian slavery. He has sent 10 afflictions to judge Egypt and her idols. He has caused Israel to pass through the Red Sea safely. He has drowned Pharaoh and his armies in the Sea. Israel is in the wilderness, and watches God’s miracles over and over and over again. Yet, they still doubt the God of Abraham is with them!

  • Exodus 15:24: “And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?” (Did they not think God could and would provide them with water? Why did they grumble? Unbelief!)
  • Exodus 16:2-3: “And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness: And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” (Did they not think God could and would provide food for them? Why did they complain? Unbelief!)
  • Exodus chapter 17: “[2] Wherefore the people did chide with Moses, and said, Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, Why chide ye with me? wherefore do ye tempt the LORD? [3] And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst? … [7] And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the Lord, saying, Is the LORD among us, or not?” (Did they not think God could and would provide give them water to drink? Why did they moan? Unbelief!)
  • Exodus 32:7-10: “And the LORD said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves: They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people: Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.” (Unbelief!)
  • Numbers 14:2: “And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness!” (Unbelief!)
  • Numbers 14:29: “Your carcases shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward which have murmured against me.” (Unbelief!)
  • Numbers 16:41: “But on the morrow all the congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron, saying, Ye have killed the people of the LORD.” (Unbelief!)
  • Deuteronomy 1:27: “And ye murmured in your tents, and said, Because the LORD hated us, he hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us.” (Unbelief!)
  • Psalm 106:25: “But murmured in their tents, and hearkened not unto the voice of the LORD.” (Unbelief!)

IV. KING JEROBOAM

Many centuries after Moses and Israel’s Egyptian deliverance, Jeroboam reigned as the first monarch of the Northern Kingdom (10 northern tribes of Israel). He was quite an evil, idolatrous ruler, as 1 Kings chapter 13 bears out:

“[1] And, behold, there came a man of God out of Judah by the word of the LORD unto Bethel: and Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense. [2] And he cried against the altar in the word of the LORD, and said, O altar, altar, thus saith the LORD; Behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men’s bones shall be burnt upon thee. [3] And he gave a sign the same day, saying, This is the sign which the LORD hath spoken; Behold, the altar shall be rent, and the ashes that are upon it shall be poured out. 

“[4] And it came to pass, when king Jeroboam heard the saying of the man of God, which had cried against the altar in Bethel, that he put forth his hand from the altar, saying, Lay hold on him. And his hand, which he put forth against him, dried up, so that he could not pull it in again to him. [5] The altar also was rent, and the ashes poured out from the altar, according to the sign which the man of God had given by the word of the LORD. [6] And the king answered and said unto the man of God, Intreat now the face of the LORD thy God, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored me again. And the man of God besought the LORD, and the king’s hand was restored him again, and became as it was before.

Remarkably, upon hearing God’s Word, Jeroboam is not repentant or interested in serving JEHOVAH God. We read of no apology, no confession of sin, and no begging for forgiveness. In fact, we read quite the opposite. Years later, he dies an unbeliever. When his illegitimate altar miraculously broke right before his very eyes, he was not converted. Once God smote his hand with paralysis, he was not transformed into a believer. In fact, when the LORD God healed his hand, he never apologized for mistreating God’s prophet. He is never recorded as praying here: he wanted the prophet to pray for him instead. All Jeroboam was interested in was recovering from his crippled physical condition (a striking resemblance to aforementioned selfish Pharaoh).

If you keep reading in the Bible, friend, you will discover that Jeroboam waxes worse and worse in pagan religion until the LORD destroys him and his household. Note the chapter’s close: “[33] After this thing Jeroboam returned not from his evil way, but made again of the lowest of the people priests of the high places: whosoever would, he consecrated him, and he became one of the priests of the high places. [34] And this thing became sin unto the house of Jeroboam, even to cut it off, and to destroy it from off the face of the earth.” Did Jeroboam, after witnessing those miracles, turn to JEHOVAH God in faith? Certainly not! He had no interest in believing the truth or doing right in the eyes of the Creator God. What an episode!

V. GIDEON

Gideon was a believer in the LORD God, but he doubted Him at times. Watch how this interesting scenario plays out. We start in Judges chapter 6:

“[11] And there came an angel of the LORD, and sat under an oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained unto Joash the Abiezrite: and his son Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites. [12] And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him, and said unto him, The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour. [13] And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt? but now the LORD hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.”

Friend, did you sense Gideon’s unbelief? Verse 13, “Oh my Lord, if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us?” “If the LORD be with us…..” Gideon’s unbelief re-re-surfaces in verses 14-15: “And the LORD looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee? And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.”

And Gideon is unbelieving once more in verses 16-17: “And the LORD said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man. And he said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, then shew me a sign that thou talkest with me.” Gideon is seeing miracles indeed. The angel of the LORD has appeared to him. In fact, pay attention to verse 21: “Then the angel of the LORD put forth the end of the staff that was in his hand, and touched the flesh and the unleavened cakes; and there rose up fire out of the rock, and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes. Then the angel of the LORD departed out of his sight.” What a sight that must have been!

Now, skip down to verse 36: “[36] And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said, [37] Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said. [38] And it was so: for he rose up early on the morrow, and thrust the fleece together, and wringed the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water. [39] And Gideon said unto God, Let not thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once: let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew. [40] And God did so that night: for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground.” (Unbelief!) (Unbelief!) (Unbelief!)

Notice how Gideon’s nonbelief surfaced in verse 36: If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said….” He knows God told him something, but he doubts it will come to pass. Gideon wants proof. “God, if what You said will come to pass, do this for me and then do that for me, that I may know what You said will happen.” God, in His mercy, obliges both times. In spite of seeing miracles, Gideon struggled with unbelief… and he was not a scoffer. He was a mighty servant of God, a hero of Jewish military history, and a saint of the Most High God. If this could be possible and be said of a believer, what of an unbeliever? Is it likely that the unbeliever will be converted because of the miracle?

VI. KING AHAB & QUEEN JEZEBEL

The LORD God had warned Israel that, if she broke the Old Covenant (the Mosaic Law) by worshipping and serving idols, He would chastise her using various afflictions and difficulties. One such punishment was that He would withhold rain, and this drought would result in crop failure and famine. The Bible says in Leviticus chapter 26: “[18] And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins. [19] And I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass: [20] And your strength shall be spent in vain: for your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits.”

Now we compare that to Deuteronomy 11:16-17, “Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them; And then the LORD’S wrath be kindled against you, and he shut up the heaven, that there be no rain, and that the land yield not her fruit; and lest ye perish quickly from off the good land which the LORD giveth you.”

When King Ahab and Queen Jezebel declared Baal worship the official state religion of Israel (see 1 Kings 16:29-33), the Prophet Elijah (a Bible student) knew what Moses had written many centuries earlier in Deuteronomy. Elijah thus prayed for it not to rain; therefore, it did not rain for 3½ years. To wit, God did what He had already said He would do in those circumstances of idolatry (cf. Luke 4:25; James 5:16-18).

First Kings 17:1 is the corresponding historical narrative: “And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.” Now, verse 1 of chapter 18: “And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the LORD came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go, shew thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth.” Skip to verses 17-18: “And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel? And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim.” When Elijah stood before Ahab, the king called him a “troublemaker” in Israel! Ahab blamed Elijah for the famine—when it was, in reality, Ahab’s idolatry that caused the dearth!! Ahab knew that God’s man was a threat to his and Jezebel’s religious system. Elijah was standing in the way of “progress”—or so Ahab believed. (Does this sound similar to today’s society?)

Regrettably, time and space do not permit us to quote and discuss all of 1 Kings chapter 18. Therefore, friend, read it in your own time in your own Bible. Despite the miracle of Elijah calling God’s fire down from Heaven, the Baal worshippers are not converted. Rather, they are put to death in their unbelief. Ahab and Jezebel are not converted to JEHOVAH God either. They had not believed God’s Word prior and they would not believe it now; they continued their pagan idol worship. Observe what happens in the subsequent chapter!

Chapter 19 of 1 Kings chapter 19: “[1] And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword. [2] Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time. [3] And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there.”

After the miracle of Elijah calling fire out of Heaven to consume the sacrifice, Jezebel actually wanted to take his life! Eventually, both Jezebel and Ahab died as unbelievers. They did not convert after witnessing and/or hearing about Elijah’s miracles. There is no indication in Scripture that they ever turned to JEHOVAH God from their pagan idols. Like Pharaoh, they had already made their choice in rejecting the one true God—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. No miracle would influence them to be people of faith… and that was to their eternal detriment!!

VII. JESUS CHRIST’S EARTHLY MINISTRY

The Lord Jesus performed miracle upon miracle upon miracle during His three years of earthly ministry. Yet, some onlookers wanted “just one more” to make sure. They had never been satisfied and would never be satisfied! Why? They had already made up their minds not to believe in Him. They became increasingly hardened like Pharaoh King of Egypt. In the ensuing paragraphs, we will look at five such examples—four cases involve unbelievers who never did believe Jesus Christ, and one incident concerns a believer (Apostle Thomas) who experienced a temporary lapse in faith.

A. JOHN 2:23-25

Early in Christ’s earthly ministry, He encountered unbelieving witnesses to His miracles. John 2:23-25 reports: “Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.” They just wanted to be impressed; they were not interested in knowing the significance of those miracles. While they believed in the head, they did not believe in the heart (cf. Romans 10:10; cf. Acts 8:13,20-23). They had no interest in faith, so Jesus did not depend on them to continue to follow Him. As the beginning of His earthly ministry, so would be its duration and conclusion. No matter what He would say or do to validate His message, precious few would be convinced. Friend, this is just as true today as it was 2,000 years ago!

B. JOHN 7:1-5

The Bible says in John chapter 7: “[1] After these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him. [2] Now the Jews’ feast of tabernacles was at hand. [3] His brethren therefore said unto him, Depart hence, and go into Judaea, that thy disciples also may see the works that thou doest. [4] For there is no man that doeth any thing in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly. If thou do these things, shew thyself to the world. [5] For neither did his brethren believe in him.”

What a sad commentary! Not even the Lord Jesus Christ’s own half-brothers and half-sisters believed in Him. They did not see Him as the Son of God, the King of Israel, the Messiah (Christ), the Redeemer. His family spent so much time with Him, and yet, His miracles did not convince them of His identity. They had already chosen not to believe Him. Notice how they did not deny His miracles (verse 4); they merely were not persuaded in seeing any value in them, to learn the lesson (doctrine) Israel’s God wanted to teach using those miraculous demonstrations. The next passage relates to this.

C. MARK 6:1-6

Mark chapter 6 opens with: “[1] And he went out from thence, and came into his own country; and his disciples follow him. [2] And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands? [3] Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him. [4] But Jesus, said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house. [5] And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. [6] And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching.”

Hone in on verse 6. Jesus “marvelled because of their unbelief.” He was God and yet He was Man. He was surprised at what just occurred. To paraphrase what He must have thought: “Even after all this indisputable proof, you still doubt who I am? You refuse to have faith even after all that you have seen Me do?” What was the problem? Were the deeds not miraculous enough? Had they been disproven? No, the eyewitnesses of the miracles had already decided (before the miracles occurred) that they would not believe. Nothing would sway them because they had already chosen not to be persuaded!!! Are you beginning to see the pattern, friend? There is much more to follow!

D. JOHN 20:29

Let us glance at John chapter 20, the famous case of the doubting believer in Christ: “[19] Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. [20] And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. [21] Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. [22] And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: [23] Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.

“[24] But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. [25] The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.

“[26] And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. [27] Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. [28] And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. [29] Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”

The Apostle Thomas shows us that even believers in Jesus Christ can (and do) fall into the trap of unbelief. He originally believed God’s Word, but then circumstances distracted him and Satan used those conditions to deceive him. Thomas said he would not believe that Jesus Christ had resurrected until he touched Jesus’ scars (verse 25). Days later, the Lord Jesus appeared and rebuked Him. Verse 29 again: “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” Scoffers and skeptics (and even Christians!) would do well to make note of this admonition!! We quote it again (this time in bold type): “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”

E. UNBELIEVING ISRAEL NEVER SATISFIED WITH SIGNS

Read Matthew 12:38-39, “Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:….” Now, Matthew 16:1, “The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven.”

This is about halfway through Christ’s earthly ministry. He had been performing miracles throughout the land of Israel for some two years… and they wanted yet anothersign?!” In contemporary English, “Just give us one more sign, Jesus, so we can know You really are Messiah! One more sign, one more sign, just one last sign!” (After ignoring the miracles Christ performed in Matthew 12:9-13 and verses 22-24, they wanted to see Him perform others. This is so downright preposterous, and yet it agrees with all the other passages about unbelief following signs! The miracles are not the problem. The witnesses have the problem—sinful hearts!)

Jesus’ numerous miracles did not convince Israel that He was their long-promised Messiah, Redeemer, King. Notice John 10:24-25: “Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me.” It did not matter how much He did, or how awesome the miracles He performed, they had no interest in believing in Him. While most pitiful, that is the way it was… and still is today!

The Apostle John, toward the end of his Gospel Record, penned in John 20:30-31: “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” Throughout three years of earthly ministry, the Lord Jesus performed miracle after miracle after miracle. Notice chapter 21, the last verse (the conclusion of the Book of John): “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.” Despite all those miraculous demonstrations, Israel was content in her unbelief and killed Him on Calvary!

F. MATTHEW 28:11-15

Matthew chapter 28 contains the Bible’s paramount example of willful dishonesty concerning miracles: “[11] Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done. [12] And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, [13] Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. [14] And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you. [15] So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.”

After being “stone-cold” dead for three days and three nights in the grave, the Lord Jesus has just been bodily resurrected. There was a massive earthquake; an angel came down to roll back the stone from His tomb to reveal it as empty. Some of the Roman guards (soldiers) are terrified. They hurry off to inform the Jewish chief priests of the supernatural events they have just witnessed. All the soldiers and all the Jewish chief priests, upon hearing of Christ’s resurrection, believe on Him. Uh, no, that is not what the Bible says!!! Nothing of the sort!!! They do not turn to God in faith!!! Here, they have just come to realize Christ did resurrect, an angel did come down from Heaven, they did see that angel, they did see the rolled-away stone, and they did see the empty tomb—and, yet, they remain just as faithless as before. In fact, once the chief priests learn of Christ’s resurrection, they bribe the soldiers to lie about what really happened. The rumor is widely circulated that there was no resurrection of Jesus whatsoever. They spread the falsehood that His disciples stole His corpse!

Matthew 28:11-15 says they tried to explain away Christ Jesus’ resurrection. They knew what happened. He had unquestionably risen from the dead. They could not disprove or deny it. Yet, that resurrection would discredit them and validate Jesus’ message. They would have to do or say something, lest they look like fools and lose their religious clout over Israel. They decided the best course of action to take was to dismiss the resurrection as nothing more than a “body-snatching.” His disciples must have broken into the tomb and taken His remains during the night. Many years later, when the Holy Spirit moved Matthew to write his Gospel Record, that rumor was still passing amongst the Jewish people! In unbelief, the common Jewish people published this “body-snatching” lie.

VIII. ACTS 4:13-18

Christ has already resurrected, ascended into Heaven, and sent down the Holy Spirit on believing Israel (Acts chapters 1–2). In chapter 3, the Apostles Peter and John heal a lame man sitting at the gate of the Jerusalem Temple. For the rest of the chapter, Peter preaches to unsaved, wrath-deserving Israel to repent and turn to Jesus Christ in faith. Christ is returning to set up His earthly kingdom, so they had better prepare for Him: He will either be their Saviour or their Judge!

Reading from Acts chapter 4: “[13] Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. [14] And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. [15] But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, [16] Saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it. [17] But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name. [18] And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.

“[19] But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. [20] For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. [21] So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all men glorified God for that which was done. [22] For the man was above forty years old, on whom this miracle of healing was shewed.”

Verse 14 said Israel could see the cripple man now restored, completely healed. The dishonest religious leaders could say nothing against it. All the people in the Temple had seen him sitting there helpless for decades. Now, he was walking, and leaping, and praising God (Acts 3:8-9). Verse 10 said they recognized him as the man who had sat lame for many years, and how he had been miraculously restored under the ministry of Peter and John. See verse 11.

Consider Acts 4:16 again, “Saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it.” These religious leaders knew that Jesus was alive and well, and this miracle proved it. They instantly converted to Jesus Christ. Uh, no!! That is not what the Bible said!! They had no intention of believing on Jesus Christ!! Here they had witnessed a miracle but unbelief arose. They were not about to lose their religion, their political clout, and their business. What they determined to do was intimidate Peter and John into silence. They threatened them (verse 21). In Acts 5:40, later, these deceitful religious leaders of Israel physically beat the Apostles after the Apostles returned to preach about Jesus Christ and His resurrection.

We need to stop and think about this, friend. Not only did these Israeli religious leaders witness the miraculous healing of the lame man in chapter 3, they knew of other miracles the Apostles performed in Acts 5:12-16. They did not believe them either, and they did not believe on Christ either. After this, they imprisoned and beat the Apostles (verses 18,40). Unbelief! Unbelief! Unbelief! Unbelief! Unbelief! Unbelief! Unbelief! Unbelief! Unbelief!

IX. ACTS 16:16-24

Turning to Acts 16:16-18: “And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.”

The miracle concerns the Apostle Paul and his companions. As they travel to Philippi (modern northern Greece), they encounter a slave girl possessed by an evil spirit, a devil, a spirit of divination that allowed her to tell fortunes. Her masters have used her “ability” to make a fortune. This girl, under Satan’s control, pesters Paul and his ministry associates. Paul commands this devil, in the name of Jesus Christ, to leave the girl. The evil spirit departs. How did the girl’s masters react?

Read on: “[19] And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers, [20] And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, [21] And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans. [22] And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. [23] And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: [24] Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.”

These masters did not convert to Jesus Christ, did they? Yet, they knew something was different about the young woman. She no longer had the supernatural ability she once did. The only explanation they had was that Paul had some skill to limit or destroy the power she had possessed. They saw a miracle, but they had no interest in knowing the truth anyway. Hence, they responded negatively by getting Paul and Silas in trouble with the local governmental officials. The government then beat the Apostles and imprisoned them without first trying and convicting them in a Roman court of law! Here is just another easy example in the Bible to show that miracles do not necessarily generate faith. If the observer has no interest in having faith, the miracle will make no difference to him.

X. OUR PRESENT-DAY DISPENSATION OF GRACE: 2 CORINTHIANS 5:7-8

Second Corinthians chapter 5 says: “[6] Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: [7] (For we walk by faith, not by sight: ) [8] We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”

With the arrival of the Apostle Paul’s ministry and the Dispensation of Grace, God gradually withdrew the outward manifestations of His working. Once the Book of Acts concluded, God’s provoking ministry to Israel ended (Romans 11:11-14). JEHOVAH God had successfully shown Israel that He was now working amongst the Gentiles through Paul’s ministry without her national conversion (cf. Romans 15:18-19). The miracles, the signs, the wonders He used to teach the nation Israel doctrine, He made those phenomena pass off the scene (see 1 Corinthians 13:8-13, for example).

Second Corinthians 5:7 thus declares, “We walk by faith, not by sight.” That is the standard for the Dispensation of Grace, our present-day. When the atheist, agnostic, freethinker, or Bible skeptic demands to see outward, physical proof of God working, they are seeking something God said He is not doing anymore anyway. It is foolish to look for something when that something does not exist. If you go around looking for miraculous Divine intervention, and you do not see it, then you have the problem not God. Friend, you cannot make God do something He is not doing!!

XI. MIRACLES IN THE BOOK OF THE REVELATION

In the Book of the Revelation, God’s enemies observe various and sundry strange spectacles. They are being judged for rejecting and crucifying His Son, persecuting His people, and not believing His Word. Do they repent or change their mind, as they suffer His just wrath? No! Are they crying out to Him in faith to receive mercy or relief? No! They blaspheme Him. They curse His name. No miracles convince any of them.

Revelation chapter 16: “[8] And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire. [9] And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory. [10] And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain, [11] And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.

“[17] And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done. [18] And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great. [19] And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. [20] And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. [21] And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great.”

Revelation chapter 9: “[20] And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: [21] Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.”

So, dear friend, what makes you so sure that if you saw God perform miracles, you would believe in Him, trust Him, and follow His Word? This author says you would not. These people in the Book of the Revelation did not start off believing in God, which is why they wound up not believing in God after they saw His miracles! Right this very moment, if you are rejecting the doctrine contained in this study, you are already on the wrong path. You cannot arrive at the city of faith if you are bent on traveling down the road of unbelief. Remember our “word to the wise” issued at the beginning of our study!

XII. SATAN’S MIRACLES

When dealing with skeptics and Bible scoffers, this author always likes to point out that the occurrence of “supernatural” or “inexplicable” events does not necessarily prove God exists and/or that God is at work. In fact, Scripture presents another character who has a ministry designed to mimic the ministry of Almighty God. This creature is Satan, or the Devil. It would do us well here to briefly describe his work.

A. MATTHEW 7:21-23

The simplest way to prove Satan works is to appeal to Matthew chapter 7: “[21] Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. [22] Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? [23] And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” There were certainly miracles performed here, not just “tricks” or “sleights-of-hand”—and Jesus Christ said He had nothing to do with them! Rather, He called them “iniquity” (evil). Who performed them? Satan through sinful men!!

B. DEUTERONOMY 13:1-5

Deuteronomy chapter 13 highlights Satan’s counterfeit miracle ministry yet again: “[1] If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, [2] And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; [3] Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. [4] Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. [5] And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.” These miracles came to pass, and yet God said He had nothing to do with them! Satan was active instead, which necessitated the death of the human participant.

 C. MATTHEW 24:24 & MARK 13:22

Turn to read these words of Christ in Matthew 24:24: “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” And, Mark 13:22: “For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.” These are miraculous phenomena indeed… but Christ said they are nothing but deception! The next point relates to this idea.

D. 2 THESSALONIANS 2:8-12

Second Thessalonians chapter 2 is the cross-reference to the earlier passage: “[8] And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: [9] Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, [10] And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. [11] And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: [12] That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” These are future events from our day—and if Satan will perform miracles to deceive then that means he has the power to do them today! How do we know the “miracles” we seek to show God exists, may in fact be miracles to show Satan exists?! Friend, this is the danger of asking for miracles in unbelief, so we had better think twice before seeking them!

XIII. CONCLUSION

Dear Christian friend reading this, precious brother or sister in Christ, never be intimidated when someone objects and challenges you with, “If only I saw a miracle, then I would trust Jesus Christ as my personal Saviour. I will believe and follow the Bible if you can show me a miracle, a sign from God, evidence that He is really there.” Considering the wealth of information in the Scriptures that we just reviewed, miracles in and of themselves do not guarantee conversion. If the heart of the witness is not right before Almighty God, myriads of miracles have no lasting, positive impact. There is no appropriate view of miracles in the first place, so miracles are being requested for the wrong reasons.

Why do some people in the Bible witness miracles and respond in faith, while others who see those same miracles refuse to believe? The difference is the heart attitude. If there is a sincere heart, there will be faith. Unbelief is the result of being dishonest (assuming you know more than God, supposing you can live without God and get away with it, asserting God does not exist, claiming you can wish God away, and so on). No one will be persuaded because they outright refuse to be swayed. It is an act of defiance—plain and simple boldness. They have no intention of listening to God’s Word, despite the abounding evidence to support it. Psalm 14:1 speaks of such fools. Proverbs 18:1-2 speaks of such fools. Proverbs 29:1 speaks of such fools.

Before the atheist, agnostic, freethinker, and Bible skeptic arrives at the point of rejection, he first rebuffs the miracle of the Bible text itself. He does not believe that God the Holy Spirit miraculously furnished us with the Bible some 2,000 years ago. Since he starts off by denying Scripture, should we expect him to believe after seeing other miracles like Bible miracles? In other words, if the first and most important miracle did not convince him, is it logical to conclude that the other miracles will? What if he saw 100 miracles? Or 1,000? Or 10,000… 100,000… 1,000,000? The patterns are already established in the Bible. He asks for the miracle, not sincerely, but to challenge or defy God. All that will result is more unbelief, more disobedience, more arrogance toward Him.

Second Timothy 3:16-17 tells us, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17] That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” The Bible is for doctrine, reproof, correction, instruction in righteousness. If we do not listen to what Almighty God has to say in His written Word, we are rejecting its reproof and correction. According to Proverbs 29:1, “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” The more reproof from the Bible someone hears, if he is opposed to hearing it, the more he will be antagonistic toward it the next time around. This applies to miraculous demonstrations as well.

Miracles in Scripture are designed to communicate sound doctrine. The LORD God performed miraculous demonstrations, not merely to help people avoid pain and escape difficulties, but to teach them various principles. Those who had responded in faith to information God previously revealed, these people were those willing to believe even more from Him. This is not where today’s Bible challenger is. The atheist, agnostic, freethinker, or skeptic is substituting visible miracles for believing the Bible text. He does not believe the Bible, the basis for miracles, but he will look for a miracle before believing the Bible. Does that make no sense? No! No wonder this never gets the scoffers anywhere. Even if God were in the business today of intervening for physical eyes to see, the ridiculer would remain in spiritual darkness. He already avoided the Bible, the basis for all the miracles God Almighty does.

Lastly, above all, in this the Dispensation of Grace, we “walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). We have a completed Bible, so we do not need partial knowledge in the form of a miracle healing, raising from the dead, et cetera. God has already spoken in the 66 Books of the Bible. Are we willing to read that miraculous Book—and believe it? “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Are we humble enough to believe in our heart that miraculous message unto forgiveness of sins, eternal life, and a home in Heaven? This will be far more important than “seeking this sign” or “seeking that sign” to prove God’s existence!

Also see:
» What are some verses to help me stop focusing on myself?
» Why did God command Israel not to seethe a young goat in his mother’s milk?
» Are we “doom and gloom” prophecy believers?

Why did Saul of Tarsus not refuse his water baptism by Ananias?

WHY DID SAUL OF TARSUS NOT REFUSE HIS WATER BAPTISM BY ANANIAS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

On the basis of 1 Corinthians 1:17, we know the Apostle Paul was not commissioned to water baptize: “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.” Ephesians 4:5, something else Paul wrote, says: “One Lord, one faith, one baptism….” He had also penned in 1 Corinthians 12:13 that that one baptism is not water baptism but the baptism by the Holy Spirit into the Church the Body of Christ. “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” Despite these “anti-water-baptism” verses from Paul’s own pen, we find him (then known as Saul of Tarsus) permitting Ananias to water baptize him!

Turning to Acts chapter 9, we read what Doctor Luke wrote as the Holy Spirit moved him: “[17] And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. [18] And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.”

Chapter 22 affirms: “[12] And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there, [13] Came unto me, and stood, and said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him. [14] And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth. [15] For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard. [16] And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.”

If Paul was so opposed to water baptism, then why was he himself water baptized? Was that not hypocritical? If water baptism does not belong in our dispensation, how is it that Paul allowed Ananias to water baptize him? Was Paul a double-talker? “For what saith the Scriptures?” (Opinions and traditions of men do not concern us!)

Just as the Bible is a gradual revelation or unfolding from cover to cover, so individual ministries within the Bible are progressive. For example, the Lord Jesus Christ said that He had more to tell His 12 Apostles but that they could not bear it at that time. Notice John chapter 16: “[12] I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. [13] Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” He would disclose that information later—the writings of our “New Testament Scriptures” would be the result of the coming of the Holy Spirit.

Likewise, the Apostle Paul received direct revelation from the resurrected, ascended, and glorified Lord Jesus Christ Himself for a period of 30 to 35 years. From the very moment of his salvation and commissioning on the road to Damascus, Saul of Tarsus was aware that more Divine revelation would be given him. He knew something was different regarding God’s dealings with man—although it took over three decades for him to see all the details of that change. In other words, Paul did not immediately receive everything there was to know about God’s new program. It was an extremely slow and steady unfolding of new dispensational truth.

Acts chapter 26 says to this point: “[15] And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. [16] But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; [17] Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, [18] To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” During the Acts period, Paul thus wrote: “It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 12:1).

One day, the Lord Jesus Christ revealed to Paul that water baptism was no longer part of His dealings with man. Paul did not understand that truth at the time of his conversion, and neither did Ananias. Both Ananias and Paul understood that water baptism—up to that time anyway—had played an integral role in the lives of those who trusted Jesus Christ. Water baptism had Old Testament roots (see Exodus 29:4 and Leviticus 8:6), and it related to purification (see John 3:23-25, especially verse 25). Ezekiel 36:25 confirms that water baptism is a ceremonial cleansing: “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.” Israel’s washing in water symbolizes her being purified of her pagan idol worship.

Thus, John the Baptist came with a ministry to wash Israel from her paganism, to demonstrate her change in mind from worshipping idols to trusting JEHOVAH God (and His Son, Jesus Christ, their Messiah-King). Reading from Matthew chapter 3: “[1] In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, [2] And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand…. [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:….” (See parallels Mark 1:4,8 and Luke 3:2-3,16.) Other verses about Israel’s water baptism include John 1:26-34, Acts 2:38-40, Mark 16:15-16, John 4:1-2, Acts 10:37, Acts 13:24, and 1 Peter 3:20-21.

Jesus Himself was water baptized, and those who were water baptized were identifying with Him. Read Matthew 3:16: “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:….” (Parallels are Mark 1:9-10 and Luke 3:21.) Those who rejected John’s water baptism manifested their unbelief: “And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him” (Luke 7:29-30). Now, let us return to the conversion of Saul of Tarsus.

Paul’s salvation outside the city of Damascus is the first step in starting our Dispensation of Grace. God is still describing His new program. Truths never before revealed are now coming to the forefront. Prophecy is fading, to be resumed later, and mystery is becoming more prominent. That switch did not happen instantaneously. During the Book of Acts (chapters 7–28), that transition lasts for at least 30 years. It is conjectured that Paul’s ministry could have continued another five years after Acts. Throughout those three decades, Paul himself grew in God’s Word. The Body of Christ matured with him as he preached and wrote down those new revelations from the Lord.

During the Acts period, with the transitory nature of spiritual gifts under discussion, Paul remarked in 1 Corinthians chapter 13: “[8] Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. [9] For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. [10] But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. [11] When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. [12] For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” Partial knowledge would be completed one day, Paul wrote. Now, we have that complete knowledge.

It is therefore not appropriate for us to use Paul’s latter ministry to vilify his earlier ministry. With a completed Bible, a full revelation from God, it is possible for us to become ill-minded toward the saints in Scripture who did not have that full picture. We see in entirety what they saw in fragments. They walked in the spiritual light they had, and we need to walk in the light we have. We should not demand they should have walked in the light we have. The last thing Paul ever wrote about baptism was Ephesians 4:5 (which was after Acts). Prior to this time—that is, during Acts—he had water baptized Christians. He himself was water baptized. Later, God revealed water baptism was totally unnecessary in the Dispensation of Grace. What belonged in the old program existed for a time, but passed away once the Acts transitional period was over. What Divine revelation came directly to and through Paul, that will stay with us until the Rapture.

As Paul himself commented in 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 (quoted earlier), those saints understood that God would bring to a close His revelation of grace doctrine at some point. Christ’s own words to Saul/Paul on the road to Damascus once again: “But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee(Acts 26:16). The point of ultimate revelation was reached when the Holy Spirit moved Paul to write his farewell Book—his second epistle to Timothy.

Indeed, Paul knew that part of his God-given ministry was to bring the Holy Bible to a close. Prophecy had already been revealed (and written down), and now the last installment of God’s plan (mystery) was slowly being exposed (and written down). Once the final part of mystery truth was divulged, the entire counsel of the triune Godhead was discovered. Beloved, consequently, there is no “secret will of God” today. All of God’s will has been revealed through the pages of the Holy Bible, especially with the addition of the Pauline epistles, Romans through Philemon.

Colossians chapter 1: “[23]… whereof I Paul am made a minister; [24] Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church: [25] Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil [bring to completion] the word of God; [26] Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: [27] To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: [28] Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: [29] Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.”

Ephesians 1:8-10: “[8] Wherein he [Father God] hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; [9] Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: [10] That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:….” With the penning of each of his 13 epistles, Paul began to see more and more into God’s mind. The Body of Christ, when hearing and reading the Holy Spirit through Paul, began to mature in its understanding (cf. Ephesians 3:1-21).

What about Israel’s believing remnant? The Little Flock developed in their spiritual knowledge as well, although they struggled to understand all the details. Nevertheless, these Circumcision saints at least recognized their prophetic program was temporarily interrupted. If necessary, read the entire third chapter of 2 Peter—especially verses 15-18. We will quote two of the highlight verses: “[15] And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; [16] As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” You may also consult Acts chapter 15 and Galatians chapter 2, when Pauline doctrine first became apparent to the Apostle Peter and the Jewish Apostles and Elders associated with him.

As noted earlier, all revelation from God to mankind ceased when Paul wrote his goodbye Book, 2 Timothy, which was before A.D. 70. Therefore, the Bible says in 2 Timothy 3:16-17: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” If we want to know what the Lord God has to say today, we simply open the Holy Bible and read it. We do not go around (like many precious souls do) begging God for wisdom while ignoring the Scriptures. He has already spoken. His words to and about us are Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon. We study all the Bible, for it is all God’s Word, but we study all the Bible “rightly divided” (2 Timothy 2:15). All the Bible is for us, but not all the Bible is to us or about us.

Also see:
» Does Acts 22:16 teach that water baptism washes away sins?
» Why was Jesus water baptized?
» How did the Great Flood’s water “save” the eight souls in 1 Peter 3:20?

Why did the God of the Bible authorize genocide?

WHY DID THE GOD OF THE BIBLE AUTHORIZE GENOCIDE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“The God of the Bible is a bloodthirsty monster. He advocated genocide—the merciless killing of innocent women and children. Why?”

Above is the highly sensitive inquiry that is the most favorite crutch of Bible ridiculers. Dear friends, we must remove it by demonstrating it to be the specious argument that it is. For far too long, Christians (also without knowledge) have permitted mockers to carelessly use the Bible against them. The ignorance concerning this issue is one primary reason why Holy Scripture is endlessly derided. They are all uninformed regarding the things of God! Our goal in the ensuing paragraphs is to fully explain from the Scriptures why the God of the Bible supported genocide (the violent annihilation of entire peoples).

Moreover, it is argued that Allah’s jihad—Islam’s holy war against non-Muslims—is justified because the God of Judaism and Christianity also called for the extermination of unbelievers. Therefore, Jews and Christians (supposedly) should not object to Muslims beheading non-Muslims. How could the God of the Bible encourage the Israelites to commit genocide? Is it not cruel for JEHOVAH God to command the Jews to kill even Gentile children living in the land of Canaan? As Bible-believing Christians, we should have an intelligent response prepared for any sincere seekers. We would be honored to show you how to reply most effectively.

REALITY CHECK!

Without doubt, there is nothing sillier or more pathetic than when a mortal man complains that Almighty God “should have done this” or “should not have done that.” In case you have not noticed, friend, none of us are God!! Consequently, we should stop dictating to Him what we foolishly think He should have or should not have done. Isaiah 55:8-9 reminds us: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Friends, the LORD God has His reasons for whatever He says or does, whether or not we understand them. We can be absolutely sure, beyond any (ANY!) shadow of a doubt, that whatever He does is completely justified. It does not matter if we agree with Him. He is still (and will always be) right! It does not matter if we approve of what He did. He did not have to consult us or ask our permission. It will be a happy day in the lives of billions when they stop pretending to be God and start remembering that we are weaklings and preschoolers compared to Him. Dearly beloved, it is high time for us to quit claiming to be the Creator and be content with being the creature!

THE LAND OF CANAAN: HEATHEN TRESPASSERS

It is highly important that we pause to understand the character and behavior of the Gentiles who lived in the land of Canaan before the Jewish nation entered under their leader Joshua. Those Gentiles were actually living in land that was not their own. Long before Israel was in Egyptian slavery, the LORD God had promised the land of Canaan to Abraham and his seed forever. Genesis 15:13-16 records that oath: “[13] And he [the LORD God] said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; [14] And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. [15] And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. [16] But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.”

Also, Genesis 17:3-8: “[3] And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying, [4] As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. [5] Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. [6] And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. [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.”

Abraham’s son, Isaac, and Isaac’s son, Jacob, were heirs of the Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 26:1-5; Genesis 27:27-29; Genesis 28:12-15). Jacob fathered 12 sons who became the patriarchs of Israel’s 12 tribes, and these 12 tribes inherited the Abrahamic Covenant (Exodus 2:23-25; Deuteronomy 1:6-10). When famine struck Canaan, Jacob and the 12 tribes migrated south to Egypt (Genesis chapters 45–50). This is how the Book of Genesis concludes. The Book of Exodus opens with Israel not only dwelling in Egypt now, but also slaves to the Egyptians (Exodus chapters 1–2).

When God delivers the Jews from Egypt and brings them to the borders of the Promised Land under Moses, they refuse to enter because of unbelief (Numbers chapters 13–14; cf. Hebrews 3:7–4:10). Therefore, the LORD God let Israel wander for 40 years in the desert until that generation of unbelievers died off. Moses expires and God buries him at the end of Deuteronomy. Under Joshua, the nation Israel enters the Promised Land. We will stop, as this is enough background for our purposes here. We move on to the Bible’s “genocide” passages that greatly vex people.

Deuteronomy 20:16: “But of the cities of these people, which the LORD thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth:….” Joshua 10:40: “So Joshua smote all the country of the hills, and of the south, and of the vale, and of the springs, and all their kings: he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the LORD God of Israel commanded.” Joshua chapter 11: “[11] And they smote all the souls that were therein with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying them: there was not any left to breathe: and he burnt Hazor with fire…. [14] And all the spoil of these cities, and the cattle, the children of Israel took for a prey unto themselves; but every man they smote with the edge of the sword, until they had destroyed them, neither left they any to breathe.”

Joshua chapter 10: “[28] And that day Joshua took Makkedah, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and the king thereof he utterly destroyed, them, and all the souls that were therein; he let none remain: and he did to the king of Makkedah as he did unto the king of Jericho…. [30] And the LORD delivered it also, and the king thereof, into the hand of Israel; and he smote it with the edge of the sword, and all the souls that were therein; he let none remain in it; but did unto the king thereof as he did unto the king of Jericho…. [32] And the LORD delivered Lachish into the hand of Israel, which took it on the second day, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and all the souls that were therein, according to all that he had done to Libnah. [33] Then Horam king of Gezer came up to help Lachish; and Joshua smote him and his people, until he had left him none remaining.

“[35] And they took it on that day, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and all the souls that were therein he utterly destroyed that day, according to all that he had done to Lachish…. [37] And they took it, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and the king thereof, and all the cities thereof, and all the souls that were therein; he left none remaining, according to all that he had done to Eglon; but destroyed it utterly, and all the souls that were therein. [39] And he took it, and the king thereof, and all the cities thereof; and they smote them with the edge of the sword, and utterly destroyed all the souls that were therein; he left none remaining: as he had done to Hebron, so he did to Debir, and to the king thereof; as he had done also to Libnah, and to her king. [40] So Joshua smote all the country of the hills, and of the south, and of the vale, and of the springs, and all their kings: he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the LORD God of Israel commanded.”

The God of the Bible, the God of creation, had given the land of Canaan to Israel. During the 40 years of Israel’s wandering in the wilderness, the Gentiles in Canaan heard the news of the parting of the Red Sea and God’s destruction of Egypt. They knew that the land belonged to Israel, and yet they were still there when Israel arrived under Joshua. They were usurpers, people cooperating with Satan to corrupt the land that God had reserved for Himself. Almighty God, JEHOVAH God, the Creator of the Earth, could give the land to whomever He wanted. It was nobody’s land but His, and He had a right to give it to Israel’s 12 tribes. “For all the earth is mine(Exodus 19:5). “The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein” (Psalm 24:1).

Some three centuries after Joshua, JEHOVAH God instructed Israel’s first king, Saul, in 1 Samuel chapter 15: “[1] Samuel also said unto Saul, The LORD sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the LORD. [2] Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. [3] Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass. Since Amalek fought and attempted to steal God’s provision from Israel centuries earlier (Exodus 17:8-16), God would see to it that Amalek’s descendants be thoroughly destroyed (cf. Deuteronomy 25:17-19). They cursed Israel, and now God would curse them (Genesis 12:3).

WHY KILL THE YOUNG CHILDREN, ESPECIALLY THE BABIES?

Surely, God did not view the young children and babies as evildoers when they were unable to know right from wrong. We do not know God’s mind here, as Scripture is silent in these passages. However, there is enough revelation given elsewhere in the Bible to allow us to make inferences.

Firstly, Almighty God gave the land of Canaan to the Israelites. If Gentile children were allowed to remain therein, then they would have grown up and outnumbered God’s people in their own land. Pharaoh King of Egypt had adopted a similar mentality when dealing with multiplying Israel in Exodus 1:7-14. With the Jews experiencing a population explosion, Pharaoh realized that they would eventually side with Egypt’s enemies in wartime. The Egyptians would lose their authority in their own territory. The same was true with Israel and the heathen inhabitants of Canaan. The Gentiles had to be removed so God could reclaim the land for Himself. God’s nation needed to flourish, and the only way was to remove the competition. “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25).

Secondly, it was actually to the Gentiles’ benefit that their children be killed. When we read about the horrible acts that the nations committed in God’s land before He brought Israel into it (we will read those Bible passages shortly), we can see that these youngsters were spared adult lives of pagan darkness and utter wickedness. There is no doubt in this author’s mind that God had mercy on these little ones’ souls, and they did not meet the eternal doom their parents did. The same could be said of all the millions of young children who perished in the Great Flood of Noah’s day. “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25).

Thirdly, at least some of these heathen children carried the genes that gave rise to the giants in the Promised Land. These giants were Satan’s primary method in discouraging Israel from fighting to possess the land in Moses’ day (see Numbers 13:26-33; Deuteronomy 3:11; Deuteronomy 9:1-2). The corrupt seed-line had to be exterminated—and it was by means of the efforts of David (killing Goliath in 1 Samuel 17:4-58) and others (2 Samuel 21:1-22)! “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25).

Lastly, had God not commanded Israel to fight and slay in battle all the Gentiles of Canaan, Satan’s policy of evil would have continued unabated in the Earth. The property—yea, all the planet—would be polluted again with idolatry. Through Noah, functioning as a prophet, God had cursed Canaan and his children (Genesis 9:25-27). God knew that Israel would have to come centuries later into the Promised Land and conquer the evil Canaanites. “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25).

At this point, a simple question must be asked, friends. Do you let strangers come into your house and take over as if it were their own? Do you throw your children out and let foreigners enter and eat all your food, use your amenities, and sleep in your beds? No? Then do not get upset with JEHOVAH God when He refused to let His enemies take over and enjoy His land! You have your right to personal property, and so does the Creator God. He does not have to check with anyone before determining who is and who is not going to enter His property. He makes the rules. Again, we should stop being disrespectful, cease our prideful claims, and start showing reverence to our Maker. He does not owe us one thing. Without Him, we would not even exist. He is self-sufficient, and does not need us. Show Him some respect!!

THE LAND OF CANAAN: HEATHEN DEFILEMENT

Deuteronomy 18:9-14 delineates for us the Satanic influence in the land of Canaan as operating in and through the Gentiles:

“[9] When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. [10] There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch. [11] Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. [12] For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee. [13] Thou shalt be perfect with the LORD thy God. [14] For these nations, which thou shalt possess, hearkened unto observers of times, and unto diviners: but as for thee, the LORD thy God hath not suffered thee so to do.” 

The LORD God told Israel, in Leviticus 18:24-30, not to repeat the errors of the Gentiles in the Promised Land: “[24] Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you: [25] And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants. [26] Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you: [27] (For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled; ) [28] That the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you. [29] For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people. [30] Therefore shall ye keep mine ordinance, that ye commit not any one of these abominable customs, which were committed before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein: I am the LORD your God.”

The warning is repeated again, in Leviticus 20:22-26: “[22] Ye shall therefore keep all my statutes, and all my judgments, and do them: that the land, whither I bring you to dwell therein, spue you not out. [23] And ye shall not walk in the manners of the nation, which I cast out before you: for they committed all these things, and therefore I abhorred them. [24] But I have said unto you, Ye shall inherit their land, and I will give it unto you to possess it, a land that floweth with milk and honey: I am the LORD your God, which have separated you from other people. [25] Ye shall therefore put difference between clean beasts and unclean, and between unclean fowls and clean: and ye shall not make your souls abominable by beast, or by fowl, or by any manner of living thing that creepeth on the ground, which I have separated from you as unclean. [26] And ye shall be holy unto me: for I the LORD am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine.”

What were the horrific and specific sins of the Gentiles living in Canaan when Israel entered? Read Leviticus chapters 18–20, a really eye-opening section of Scripture!!

WHAT SHOULD WE CHRISTIANS BELIEVE AND DO TODAY?

Do the aforementioned verses mean that Christianity today involves killing non-Christians? No!! Today, in the Age of Grace, the God of the Bible offers peace to us through Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork. All nations have access to Him by faith in Calvary’s sacrifice. The ground is level at the foot of Calvary’s cross. We do not have to become converts of any special religion (Judaism) to have a right standing before God. No water baptism is necessary. Speaking in tongues is unnecessary. Sabbath-day keeping is not required. No confession of sin is needed. No commandment-keeping is necessary.

It should also be noted that the God of the Bible is not interested in purging or reclaiming the Earth today. He is currently forming the Church the Body of Christ, a heavenly people, who will be His agents in establishing His headship in the government of the heavenly places (read Ephesians chapters 1–3 and Colossians chapter 1). In time past, He was interested in cleansing the Earth of Satan’s policy of evil. That purpose has been temporarily suspended because its prophetic program has been paused. God is operating our Dispensation of Grace today, the mystery program, which we read about in Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon.

Also see:
» How can God be jealous and not sin?
» “Neither round the corners of your heads nor mar the corners of your beard?”
» “Neither make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead nor print any marks on you?”