Monday, March 30, 2020

Verse of the Week: 1 Peter 5:8

Verse of the Week: 1 Peter 5:8

(The majority of the footnotes are taken from the Ryrie Study Bible, to clarify additional verses quoted in this writing.)

                In the first part of 1 Peter 5, Peter has addressed the leadership of the church and given them their duties and rewards for faithful exercise of those duties. The false teachers are moving into the church, suffering and trial was manifesting itself in the church, and believers were learning what it truly meant to live in a pagan and corrupt world and maintain their Christian beliefs. Persecution had not fully developed into martyrdom at this time, but that would soon come. The Christian church was faced with slander, bigotry, misunderstanding, and small outbursts of physical persecution. Leaders must prepare their people for these circumstances when they come into the life of those the Lord has put in their charge.

After delivering his message to the leaders, Peter turns to address those who have placed themselves under the leadership. These are your everyday, pew-sitting, constantly in the world believers. They are the “rank and file” who go out each day and try to make a living. They are common believers that the world may never know but their Heavenly Father knows them each by name:

                1 O LORD, Thou hast searched[1] me and known me.
                2 Thou dost know when I sit down and when I rise up,
                                Thou dost understand my thoughts from afar.
                3 Thou dost scrutinize my path and my lying down,
                                And art intimately acquainted with all my ways.
                Psalm 13:1-3

And our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ know us by our names:

                14 “I am the good shepherd; and I know My own, and My own know Me,
    15 “even as the Father knows me and I know the Father, and I lay down My life for      the sheep.
    John 10:14-15

                Peter understands that rough times are coming for the believers. His writings are warnings to us about what we should be looking for and what this life has in store for us. Christians are never promised a beautiful path in this life lined with roses along a golden path that is marked out clearly for us to follow. But instead of us facing this life in our wisdom and knowledge God has given us His word to be a guide. Peter writes on of the most repeated verses in Scripture. “Though believers should place their confidence in God, they should not be careless. Christians in conflict are to be on the alert, made strong and steadfast by Christ Himself.”[2]

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

                Be- A state of being. How we are to conduct ourselves. This is something that we make a choice to do. This is not something that is inherently in us. We all breath without thinking about it. Peter writes that we are to choose to live in this state.

                Of sober spirit- Peter clarifies what state of being we should maintain. We are to be mentally alert and thinking clearheadedly. Our minds, if we keep them on Him, should be calm and in control.  “Sober” is translated from the Greek word that means calm and collected, to have good sense, good judgement, wisdom, and level-headed in times of stress.

In other places in the Bible we are warned against being drunk. In fact Peter writes on the value of soberness earlier in the book:

For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousals, drinking parties and abominable idolatries. 1 Peter 4:3

Just as we are not to allow our physical bodies to come under the intoxicating effects of alcohol we are not to become intoxicated with false teachers and false doctrine. When we read and listen to the Word of God being taught, we are to evaluate it with a clear head and not a head that is listening for a teacher that tells us what we want to hear. If we are not clear-minded and listening with a discerning ear we will not be able to detect when Satan is coming against us and we will fall into his snares. We are to “watch with diligence, care, and industry, keeping a good lookout, minding and observing everything that presents, and remembering the power and cunning of the enemy;”[3]

Be- Once again, be in a state of readiness.

On the alert- Be vigilant, be aware. Imitate the watchmen that is carefully scanning the horizon for the enemy in the field. We must keep our eyes open at all times for you never know when the devil will pounce upon you or come upon you in a manner that you would never expect.

Your adversary- This description of Satan gives us a look at one of the characteristics of his personality. In his role as adversary Satan is consistently opposing God’s Person, His plan, and His will for his creations on the earth.

Satan at one time was a holy angel who was apparently very powerful. He fell from heaven because of pride being found within him. He now desires to usurp God's power making him God's enemy who opposes Him, His purposes, and His people.

In Ezekiel we are given a description of Satan as he is described as one of the cherubim and the highest of the created angels.

      12 “Son of man, take up a lamentation over the king of Tyre,[4] and say to him,            ‘Thus says the Lord GOD,
                                “You had the seal of perfection,[5]
                                Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty
                 13 “You were in Eden, the garden of God;
                                Every precious stone was your covering:[6]
                                The ruby, the topaz, and the diamond;
                                The beryl, the onyx, and the jasper;
                                The lapis lazuli, the turquoise, and the emerald;
                                And the gold, the workmanship of your settings and sockets,[7]
                                Was in you.
                                On the day that you were created
                                They were prepared
                 14 “You were the anointed cherub who covers,[8]
                                And I placed you there.
                                You were on the holy mountain of God;
                                You walked in the midst of the stones of fire. Ezekiel 28:12-14

Instead of remaining in this most exalted position Satan became proud. His beauty and position began to take control of his thinking. Why should he be in second place? Didn’t he have every right to be the number one in the creation? He decided he wanted God's place and to sit on His throne as the highest being.

    15 “You were blameless in your ways
                From the day that you were created,
                Until unrighteousness was found in you. Ezekiel 28:15

                13 “But you said in your heart,
                                ‘I will ascend to heaven,
                                I will raise my throne above the stars of God,
                                And I will sit on the mount of assembly
                                In the recesses of the north.
                14 ‘I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
                                I will make myself like the Most High.’ Isaiah 14:13-14     

Because of his pride and sinful desire to take the sovereignty, which is only rightfully God's, he was cast from heaven. Satan is nothing if not tenacious. Despite what history has shown he believes he will conquer at the end. Even at the last moment of earthly, human history, after one thousand years in a bottomless pit, Satan still believes he can conquer:

                7 And when the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his                                      prison,
    8 and will come out to deceive the nations which as in the four corners of the earth,      Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the      sand of the seashore.
    9 And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the      saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them.
    10 And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and             brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be forever tormented day and night forever and ever. Revelation 20:7-10

The devil- Satan is a person, not just an idea or an evil influence. Throughout the Old Testament we see him conversing with the Lord and in the New Testament with Jesus Christ.

Prowls about- Think about how a cat attacks. Generally, a cat does not come at an opponent with a full-frontal assault. The cat thinks, plans, he checks his surroundings with his eyes while his ears and nose and in full combat mode. Slowly the cat approaches his prey and in a blazing fit of energy pounces upon them.

The same is true of Satan. He observes us (through his demonic servants) and looks for our weaknesses. He does not charge in with a full-frontal assault on believers. By such observation he knows our feelings and our circumstances. Probably he knows more about us than we do. Once he finds our weaknesses, he will exploit it (or them) to its fullest potential to harm us and hinder our relationship with our Savior.  

On a side note, Satan is a finite being. He is NOT omnipresent (nor can her read minds or possess believers). He can only be at one place at one time. However, the unceasing energy he puts forth towards believers and the 24 hrs. a day 365 days a year work of his associates make it seem like he is everywhere at all times. Though Satan may know much about us God knows more than he does and can do more for us than we can possibly imagine.

Like- The roar is a deception. This is his lies told in our ears that might scare us, but who has been defeated at the cross:

When He had disarmed[9] the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over then through Him. Colossians 2:15

A roaring lion- Yet, despite being disarmed, Satan still has the sound of his roar, possibly an allusion to the lies he tells all of us, believers and unbelievers, are still potent. Satan still has power, but it is a false power. He utilizes this power by convincing unbelievers not to choose Christ or robbing believers of their joy Satan.  

Seeking someone- Satan has been doing this for some time now:

6 Now there came a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them.
7 And the LORD said to Satan, “From where do you come?” Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.” Job 1:6-7

                Seeking indicates a persistence in what he is doing. He will never be satisfied with taking down the one Christian. His goal is all believers to have a broken relationship with their Savior.

To devour- To swallow, to gulp down, to overcome. Satan is not looking to nibble on us. Satan is not looking to lick us.

This is a very strong Greek word indicating that this is one of the devil’s chief aims. This devouring indicates that Satan is able take away, for a time, our effectiveness as Christians. He cannot steal our salvation, nothing can separate us from Christ, but he can rob us of our first love, our witness, our desire to walk with the Lord and instead turn it into walking in our own way (which is his way).

The Christians at the time of Peter’s writing needed these words. The false teachers and false doctrine were moving in fast. The Word of God was not available to them as it is for us today. Two thousand years of study, learning, and debate was not available for them to access. But just as they had an enemy which seeked to devour them, so do we today. Satan is an enemy whose ultimate purpose is destruction and death. He is an enemy to all that is good, Godly, and true.

We will give the last word to Spurgeon:

“He can never be content till he sees the believer utterly devoured. He would rend him in pieces, and break his bones and utterly destroy him if he could. Do not, therefore, indulge the thought that the main purpose of Satan is to make you miserable. He is pleased with that, but that is not his ultimate end. Sometimes he may even make you happy, for he hath dainty poisons sweet to the taste which he administers to God’s people. If he feels that our destruction can be more readily achieved by sweets than by bitters, he certainly would prefer that which would best effect his end.”

[1] Searched- Used of the careful scrutiny involved in mining operations (Job 28:3) and in exploring a country (Judges 18:2)
[2] The Bible Knowledge Commentary: Epistles & Prophecy, Roger M. Raymer, p 94
[4] This section (vv. 11-19) with its superhuman references, apparently describes someone other than the human ruler of Tyre; namely, Satan. If so, Satan’s unique privileges before his fall are described in verses 12-15 and the judgment on him in verses 16-19.
[5] Satan was the consummation of perfection in his original wisdom and beauty.
[6] Dress or robe.
[7] Settings and sockets. The sockets or grooves used as the settings for the precious stones.
[8] Satan had occupied a special place of prominence in guarding the throne of God (cf. Exodus 25:20).
[9]Disarmed. Literally stripped (as was done to enemies).

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Verse of the Week: Matthew 24:34

These are the words of Jesus concerning His Second Coming given to his apostles. This has commonly been called the Olivet Discourse as His teachings were conducted on the Mount of Olives. However this part of the Olivet Discourse has caused much discussion and we will take a look at the passage in greater detail. First, a little background.

Figure 1Mount of Olives,

The Mount of Olives is located east of Jerusalem across the Kidron Valley. The apostles have come to Jesus with three questions:

And as He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” Matthew 24:3

Jesus teaches them in vv. 4-28 about the signs of the end of age answering their last question first. This teaching is broken down into two parts, vv. 4-14 concern the first half of the tribulation, vv. 15-28 concern the second half of the tribulation or what is known as the Great Tribulation. Each half will have a duration of 3 ½ years for a total of 7 years (Daniel 9:24-27).

Now Jesus turns to the second question, “…what will be the sign of Your coming…”. Matthew 24:29-31 furnishes the answer for the apostles of what will surround the coming of the Lord. Each verse gives us the Old Testament passage that for any Jew would confirm what they were seeing had been predicted long ago. In v.31 Jesus will send forth His angels to gather His brethren from the entire world and to prepare them to enter His Kingdom reign. There is more to these verses, much more, that we will hopefully examine in the future.

The first question is not answered in Matthew’s recording.

Then we come to a very puzzling verse that has perplexed interpreters for centuries:

We will take each part of this verse, examine it, and attempt to draw a conclusion as to who Jesus was speaking of.

However, we must remember the audience the Messiah is talking to. He is speaking to Jews, the passage here is Jewish, the future recipients are Jews. There is in no place or mention of the church or gentiles. Christ is given directions, instructions, admonitions for the Jewish people when they see such events happening to act on His words because His appearance is near. While the church can learn principles and be admonished to action by the words of Christ, these words are not for us. They are for the Jewish people. Louis A Barbieri, Jr. writes concerning this passage:

“They have nothing to do with the church, which Jesus said He would build (16:18). The church is not present in any sense in chapters 24 and 25. The disciples’ questions related to Jerusalem, Israel and the Lord’s second coming in glory to establish His kingdom.”[1]

Since the church is not in mind in this passage, we can forgo any thoughts concerning the rapture, the Bema Seat Judgment, or the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Our minds are to be exclusively on Jewish thoughts and interpreting this passage in light of Old Testament passages concerning the Jewish people and their role in the end times.

Let’s begin our breakdown of this passage:

“Truly- “PAY ATTENTION”, “this is of extreme importance”, “I am not talking to you to hear Myself speak, this is an extremely important lesson that you need to hear.”

I find it interesting that we only have one Truly in this passage. Typically, we see it repeated twice which demonstrates the mega importance of the teaching from Jesus. Possibly Jesus had given them so much information beforehand, 28 verses, that He was concerned with overloading them. This information was important but maybe more important was listening and working out what He was saying.

I say to you, - Direct teaching from Jesus Christ. I think we often overlook the fact when we read this the teaching is coming from the mouth of God. Many today lament that “if only God would talk to them, tell them what to do”. We have had God talk to us. Through the Bible, both Old and New Testament,we have His recorded words and the words of His Son, who is also God in the flesh. When we rationalize it out God has been speaking to us since the beginning of Creation as He walked and had communion with Adam.

this generation- Wow. These two words have caused an immense amount of problems for interpreters. Everyone seems to have an opinion on what this means. I will list several of the more popular opinions concerning this phrase but this is not an exhaustive list. This appears to capture the more “popular” opinions of writers.[2] Numbers 1-6 have problems, though they may contain a kernel of truth. Number 7 seems to contain what Jesus is truly teaching in this passage.

1.       The Jewish race. While this has been a very popular viewpoint this is lacking in support. While the Greek word genea can be employed to mean “race”, this would be the only place in the New Testament utilizing such an interpretation. Also, an examination of secular Greek writers does not uncover a use of this Greek word in any of their writings to indicate “race”. To top it off it is only used once in the Septuagint.
2.       Creation. In all my research on this passage and the Olivet Discourse as a whole I have never seen any support of this position.
3.       The human race. This is only slightly true. It is people who will experience this, but the passage is not written for the entire human race. It is written for the Jewish people.
4.       The destruction of Jerusalem. Impossible. When we look at this we see at least one promise that was made by Jesus that had not come to pass, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come.” Matthew 24:14. Did this happen before the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70? The simple answer is NO. The gospel has barely penetrated into what is now known as Britain, Germany, and Russia. The gospel had not made its way to the Americas in any form. Also the gospel that was being preached by the apostle’s and their converts was what we still preach today, “The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.” The “gospel of the kingdom” includes this but also adds “And He is coming back soon to set up His Kingdom as promised by the prophets.” The Antichrist will hate this going on a rampage killing all who preach this as they vocally confirm their resistance to him and the empire he has built.
When will Matthew 24:14 be fulfilled:

“And I [John the apostle] saw another angel flying in midheaven, having an eternal gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people: Revelation 14:6[3]

5.       The church. No chance as the church has been raptured out before this event. We will not be around to experience any of the tribulation. More on this in future articles.
This position stems from a lack of interpretation principles and is produced only when lax principles of interpretation are employed.
6.       The apostles directly. But it is only a promise that they will see it commence but may or may not live to the end. No support can be found for this assertion.

Now that we have looked at erroneous interpretations what do we have left.

7.       The people then living. Not the apostles that Jesus taught, but to the Jewish people who have survived during the Tribulation period and will soon be witnesses to the Second Coming of Christ. This is the generation who witnesses all these events and apparently will witness the Second Coming of Christ. This will be the generation of the Jewish people that will fulfill Zechariah:

“And I will [God’s sovereignty, even here He is in control] pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look [spiritually and physically] on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him,[4] as one mourns for an only son, and they [the Jewish survivors of the Tribulation} will weep bitterly over Him, like the bitter weeping over a first-born. Zechariah 12:10           
             As Ryrie states, “At the second coming of Christ, Israel will recognize Jesus as her Messiah, acknowledging with deep contrition that He is the One whom their forefathers pierced.[5]

will not pass away- Why will they not pass away? These are believing Jews who have become Saints during the Tribulation because of their heartfelt sorrow for sin centered around two reasons:

1.       Their wholehearted rejection of Jesus Christ during their lives. To think it took this to bring them to a living faith in their Messiah when he had offered His love and acceptance for their entire lives.
2.       They realize that the only reason they are able to be accepted by Him is because of the sacrifice He made, “…even those who pierced Him;…” Revelation 1:7. They now understand the price that He paid. They are not listening to stories or looking at man’s vain attempts to display (movies, plays, art) the torments He went through. They are seeing Jesus and seeing the price that their disobedience (and ours) required.

Now that their Messiah has arrived, they have seen Him in the flesh protecting them from their enemies. It is difficult to believe that at this stage He would allow any harm to come to His brethren. These Jewish brethren will enter the Millennial Kingdom and will inherit the Abrahamic Covenant in their fleshly bodies while Old Testament Jewish saints (and Jewish saints who have died in the Tribulation) will inherit the Abrahamic Covenant in their glorified bodies.

until all these things- Everything that is described in vv. 4-28.

take place. -  Until all the things described by Jesus in vv. 4-28 occur there will not be a Second Coming.

This is another reason that this is not a Rapture passage. The Rapture is a sign less event. There is nothing, NOTHING, that needs to occur for our Savior to return in the clouds and take us unto Himself (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). The Rapture can occur at any moment, at any time.
The Second Coming has a multitude of signs. Revelation 4-19 details many of the events that must occur before the Second Coming of Christ.    
The chart I have included only gives a small amount of the passages comparing the Rapture and the Second Coming.

            I sincerely hope this has cleared up possible misconceptions and misinterpretations on this passage. These verses are magnificent teaching for Jews living during the most anti-Semitic period in human history. Jesus Christ has given to His people a timeline that they can refer to, in an attempt to understand what his happening to them at the hands of the antichrist and his minions. And though it appears very dark and hopeless for the Jewish people [compare the Minor Prophets who use this same formula in their writings] suddenly their Savior appears and delivers them:

They [the apostles] were looking intently up into the sky as He was going, when suddenly two men [angels] dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven.” Acts 1:10-11 | NIV

So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him. Matthew 24:44 | NIV

“Look, He is coming with the clouds,”
and “every eye will see Him,
even those who pierced Him”;
and all peoples on earth “will mourn because of Him.”
So shall it be! Amen. Revelation 1:7 | NIV

[1] The Bible Knowledge Commentary, New Testament, p 76
[2] The Second ComingBible, William E. Biederwolf, p 347
[3] God’s last call of grace to the world before the return of Christ in judgment. Ryrie Study Bible, p 1912
[4] This is the mourning for sin that will be prompted by the Spirit.
[5] Ryrie Study Bible, p 1427

2 Peter 2:14-22