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God Does Not Want His Children To Be Disillusioned

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.
(Matthew 17:1-13 ESV)

Six days after Jesus had predicted that some of His disciples would see Him in all His glory, He led three of them, Peter, James, and John, up a high mountain and fulfilled this prophecy.

While on the mountain Jesus was transfigured before them. We know little about what this means other than what the gospel writers tell us which is simply that Jesus’ face shone like the sun and His clothes became white as light. I’m sure there were other details but these men were likely too awestruck to remember anything more specific.

The Greek word translated “transfigured” is μεταμορπηοο (pronounced: met-am-or-fo’-o) and is the word from which we get our English word “metamorphosis” which means “a change of the form or nature of a thing or person into a completely different one”. This is the word we use to describe the change of a caterpillar into a butterfly: an entirely different creature.

Jesus, who up until this point has been seen only in human form, now revealed to three of His closest disciples His divine radiant glory. This was, to date, Jesus’ most obvious confirmation of His deity. He showed Himself for who He truly was – God.

This was not a miracle. This was the temporary cessation of a miracle. The miracle was that God placed Himself into a human body and walked on this earth for thirty years with His glory shielded from the eyes of those around Him. The transfiguration is Jesus pressing the pause button on His humanity and letting His divine nature be exposed.

As we’ve learned, at this point in His ministry Jesus is no longer teaching the masses. He is spending these last six months of His life preparing His twelve disciples for the time when He will leave this earth. He’s told them that He was going to Jerusalem to be arrested, beaten, and crucified. After following Him for over two and a half years the disciples were likely discouraged at that news. Perhaps they were wondering if they had wasted these many months following someone who was a fraud.

Jesus had already given them some words of encouragement and will continue to do so. But the events in today’s passage would have left no doubt in the minds of Peter, James, and John that Jesus was God, just like He said He was, and that there was hope.

Sometimes we can get discouraged when life doesn’t go the way we expect. Maybe we lose a job. Or a relationship goes south. Or we get a scary medical diagnosis. It’s okay be discouraged at times, but God does not want His children to be hopeless or disillusioned.

The transfiguration was Jesus’ giving hope to disillusioned disciples. Today we have the Bible, filled with story after story of who God is and offering us hope in God’s eternal plan for His children.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.



Jesus Is Coming Again

Then Jesus told his disciples, “For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
(Matthew 16:27-28 ESV)

One thing God always does is provide good news after He’s given bad news. In the previous passages Jesus has just told His disciples that He was going to be beaten and crucified when He goes to Jerusalem. He then told them that if they wanted to follow Him they, too, must take up their cross (figuratively if not literally). All this certainly caused the disciples quite a bit of uneasiness and discouragement.

So today Jesus gives them some encouragement. Someday Jesus (referring to Himself as the Son of Man) would return (come) in glory. This is Jesus’ first revelation of His second coming.

When Jesus returns He will repay each person according to what he has done. It’s important to note that Jesus is not saying that our deeds lead to salvation. He is saying that our deeds are evidence (or lack of it) of salvation. Many people will have done good things. But if those things were not done in Jesus’ name – for His sake – then those deeds will count for nothing [Matthew 7:21-23, 10:39].

Once someone receives God’s forgiveness and is forgiven, that person receives the Holy Spirit who guides them through the rest of their life. One thing the Holy Spirit does is allow us to do good deeds [Galatians 5:22-23].

Jesus is again claiming to be God. No one but God has the authority to judge everyone’s life. Not to mention that He says He will return with His angels. No mere human being leads a cadre of angels. Only God has a team of angels.

Jesus’ comments here are a warning. Everyone will have to answer to Him as they transition from this life into eternity. And where they spend eternity will be based on what they did to promote Jesus while on this earth.

Jesus’ comment about some standing there who will not die before they see Jesus coming in His kingdom has been the fodder of may a Bible critic. All the disciples died long before Jesus’ second coming, so these critics claim the Bible, therefore, cannot be trusted as the word of God.

But it’s quite possible that Jesus was not referring to His second coming, thousands of years in the future. It is very common for Bible prophecy to speak of both near-term events and longer-term events. Here Jesus could have been referring to the near-term future when the Holy Spirit (the power of God) was poured out on believers.

Another possibility is that Jesus is referring to His transfiguration, which took place six days later, in which He reveals His heavenly glory to three of His closest disciples: Peter, John, and James. We’ll read about that tomorrow.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.


The Steep Cost Of Following Jesus

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?
(Matthew 16:24-26 ESV)

Over the past few days we’ve studied Jesus’ prediction that He would go to Jerusalem only to be mistreated and killed. These words shocked and confused the disciples. But Jesus’ comments today would have shocked them even more. In this passage Jesus tells His disciples, which includes Christians today, that we must go through the same things as He if we want to come after (follow) Him.

First, one must deny himself. The Greek word for “deny” here is an imperative verb meaning “to completely disown”. This is the same word used to describe Peter’s denial of Jesus after He was arrested [Matthew 26:70, 72, 74].

Jesus calls on His followers to categorically renounce our sinful, rebellious nature. We are to want no part of it. We are to believe, as Paul did, that there is nothing good indwelling us [Romans 7:18] and that we have nothing to commend ourselves before God. Only the person who recognizes how sinful he is who can experience God’s forgiveness [Luke 18:14].

Second, one must take up his cross. Today we wear crosses around our necks as decorations. But the cross originated as a cruel implementor of a slow, tortuous death. Jesus’ listeners would have seen it as such.

A person sentenced to be crucified was forced to carry the very cross they would be nailed to through the streets to the place of execution. Someone who was carrying his cross was, therefore, on a death march. The outcome would be gruesome. It would be shameful. It would be excruciatingly painful. It would not be changed.

Jesus’ followers must be willing to endure the same for His sake. While this may not involve being killed (although it might), following Jesus is a one-way trip. We can’t be holding onto the things of the past, including our past self. We must be willing to lose all that we could be in this world. .

This is what it takes to follow Jesus. Anyone who is unwilling to give up his worldly, earthly life will lose out when it comes to eternity, as we learned previously [Matthew 10:37-39]. Note that Jesus is not talking about temporary hardship here, such as losing a job. He is talking about intentionally adopting a lifestyle that will most assuredly bring persecution (especially in our day) yet never wavering and instead continuing to move forward behind Jesus’ lead.

This passage (and others) clearly debunk the prosperity gospel. God never promises anyone a life of ease and luxury. Don’t believe anyone who tells you He does. He promises just the opposite. There are blessings awaiting those who believe, for sure. But those come later. There is a suffering before glory. There is losing before winning.

There is nothing in the whole world worth forfeiting one’s soul over. One’s soul is eternal. It is therefore the most precious thing one has. As famous missionary Jim Elliot said: “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.


God Knows What He’s Doing

And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
(Matthew 16:22-23 ESV)

After hearing Jesus predict that He would be mistreated and killed by the Jewish authorities, Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. The disciples had been taught from their youth that the Messiah would come in power, glory, and conquest. Those words from Jesus did not fit these expectations they had of the Messiah.

While the disciples recognized Jesus as the Messiah, they were still far from understanding God’s plan of redemption, which included the Messiah’s death as explained in the Old Testament hundreds of years before [Isaiah 50:6, 53:12; Zechariah 12:10; Psalm 22, 16:10 et. al].

So Peter’s words were in opposition to God’s plan. Peter, who a moment before had spoke as a messenger of God, was now speaking as a messenger of Satan. It’s not that Peter chose to speak for Satan or that his intentions were evil. He simply looked at the situation from a human perspective, not from God’s, and as a result was being used as an instrument of Satan.

Satan had tried to get Jesus to escape the cross during Jesus’ wilderness temptation [Luke 4:1-12]. At that time he was unsuccessful. But he didn’t simply give up. He continued to find opportune times to tempt Jesus to short-cut God’s plan [Luke 4:13]. This was one of several.

Satan’s main tactic is appeal to our pride, convincing us we know more than God. But that is never true [Isaiah 55:8]. When we think we know more than God we will act according to our own plans, not God’s. This is exactly why the world is a mess. The problems on this earth are multiplying because our so-called “solutions” don’t solve anything; they only create more problems that we can’t solve.

Peter’s intentions were sincere. He honestly thought he had Jesus’ best interests in mind. But God knew better. God actually solved our sin problem by sending Jesus to the cross. Peter’s solution would have solved nothing.

Sincerity is not enough. A sincere heart coupled with having our mind set on the things of man rather than on the things of God, leads to disaster. If Jesus had followed Peter’s advice He would have avoided the cross, but that would have done infinitely more harm than good. Without the cross no one can have their sins forgiven. And if no one has their sins forgiven, then everyone ends up in hell for all eternity. Peter did not yet understand that.

Peter, like all of us, was an imperfect man with imperfect understanding. He thought he understood more than he did. But God knew what He was doing. He always does.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.


Jesus Was Nailed To A Cross Because God Loves Us

From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.
(Matthew 16:21 ESV)

With about six months left to live Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, suffer, and be killed. Such news would have certainly confused the disciples. They had given up their lives to follow Jesus for 30 months, the whole time expecting Him to go to Jerusalem, overthrow the Roman occupation, and restore Israel to glory. But that was never God’s plan.

Peter, and probably all twelve, had figured out that Jesus was the Christ – the long awaited Messiah sent by God [Matthew 16:13-16]. It was only after that that Jesus reveals today’s awful news. Jesus had to establish who He was before the disciples could understand anything else about Him.

Such is still the case today. It is impossible to understand God’s plan to save mankind from hell, which is what the Bible is all about, without first understanding who Jesus is. This is why the question “Who is Jesus?” is categorically the most important question in a person’s life [Matthew 16:13-15]. Without knowing and understanding the correct answer to that question, a person can never arrive at any other spiritual truth.

It is only when someone realizes that Jesus was God on earth and that He came from heaven to save mankind from the abhorrent penalty of their sins that all the rest of what God tells us in the Bible can make any sense.

That plan consisted of sending His perfect son to earth. We know the son as Jesus. The son would suffer many things from the leaders of the Jewish community: the elders, the chief priests, and scribes ultimately resulting in His being killed.

But notice that this plan ends in hope. On the third day the son will be raised. The gates of hell had no chance of holding Jesus [Matthew 16:18].

All this had been prophetically foretold by God hundreds of years before [Isaiah 50:6, 53:12; Zechariah 12:10; Psalm 22, 16:10 et. al]. The Jews, especially the religious leaders, should have known this. But they didn’t. They didn’t know their Bibles and were, therefore, living in spiritual ignorance.

The same thing exists today. People want God to solve their earthly problems and they lose faith in Him or even deny Him if He doesn’t. What they don’t understand – because they don’t read and study their Bibles – is that they have a much more dire problem (sin) that has the power to separate them from God for all eternity.

Notice that these things had to (must) happen. Having His son nailed to a cross was always part of God’s plan. The Greek word for “killed” here does not mean justifiably executed, as in a death penalty case. It means murder. God’s plan included having His son unjustifiably murdered.

These things had to happen because of God’s love for us. That love motivated Him to unilaterally solve our biggest problem by sending His perfect, innocent, son into the world to pay the penalty for our sins by being nailed to a cross. The proof of that payment was His resurrection.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.


God Is Building A Family Based On The Truth Of Jesus’ Deity

And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.
(Matthew 16:17-20 ESV)

Yesterday Peter made the highly accurate observation that Jesus was God. In response Jesus tells him (addressing him by his given name; Bar Jonah means “son of Jonah”) that he is blessed because (for) it was Jesus’ Father (God) who revealed this to Peter. The concept that God would come to earth and live among His own creation to save them from their fate is not something that the human mind (flesh and blood) would ever have invented. To receive such insight from God is truly a blessing. In fact, the gospel cannot be understood without divine intervention [1 Corinthians 2:14].

The rest of today’s passage is quite complex. Arriving at a definitive conclusion is difficult.

Jesus changes Simon’s name to Peter and goes on to say that on this rock He will build His church. He also states that He will give Peter the keys to heaven along with some authority to bind (forbid) and loose (permit)

The meaning of Jesus’ words hinge on the what He intended as the antecedent for the word “this”.

The Catholic church claims that “this” refers back to Peter and that Jesus is therefore giving Peter authority over the entire Christian faith. As such they claim this passage is proof that Peter was the first Pope and is also now standing at the gates of heaven, controlling who gets in. Such a conclusion is unlikely for a few reasons.

First, while the word for “Peter” in Greek, Pετροσ (pronounced: pet’-ros), does mean “rock”, it is a masculine noun. The word Jesus uses for “this rock” is πετρα (pronounced: pet’-ra), a feminine noun. Since these words disagree in gender they cannot be referring to the same subject (nouns have gender in Greek just like Spanish and French).

Second, the disciples did not see this as a reference to Peter’s superiority because they continued to argue over who was greatest and Jesus did not correct them by pointing to Peter as the leader [Matthew 18:1, 20:20-21]. Third, Peter never claimed sole authority over Christianity. In fact, he claimed just the opposite [1 Peter 5:1; 2 Peter 1:1].

It’s more likely that the antecedent for “this” is Peter’s confession that Jesus is God, which we studied yesterday [Matthew 16:13-16]. The church (which in this context simply refers to all believers all over the world and throughout time) is built on the fact that Jesus is God. Peter was the first person to acknowledge Jesus’ deity so he is the first “rock” of the church. The church is metaphorically referred to by God as a building composed of many rocks with Jesus being the cornerstone [Ephesians 2:19-22].

This community of believers, built upon Jesus, shall not be prevailed against by the gates of hell. Death has no power over God’s family. Jesus conquered death and the associated penalty of eternity in hell.

As far as the keys to the kingdom and the binding and loosing… these are more difficult phrases. Seemingly Jesus is referring to the earthly leadership role Peter will have after Jesus’ ascension into heaven. Peter was the main teacher in the early years of the church, as recorded by the book of Acts [Acts 1:15-22, 2:14-40 et. al].

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.


The Most Important Question Of Your Life

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
(Matthew 16:13-16 ESV)

At this point in His ministry Jesus, with only about six months left to live, spent all His time in remote locations such as Caesarea Philippi, teaching the disciples the information they would need to carry on after His death.

In today’s passage Jesus asked His disciples a question: “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” The term “Son of Man” was how Jesus’ often referred to Himself. It was the term the prophet Daniel used to refer to the Messiah [Daniel 7:13]. Jesus humbly declared Himself the Messiah each time He used it.

Jesus posed this question not because He didn’t know the answer or because He cared what people thought. He is getting the disciples to think (a la the Socratic method) and is also setting them up for His next question.

Some thought Jesus was John the Baptist, perhaps because Jesus and John proclaimed the same message [Matthew 3:2, 4:17]. Others thought Jesus was Elijah, who Jews consider the greatest prophet. In the Old Testament, God promised to send Elijah back to earth before the day of judgment. In fact, to this day Jews leave a vacant chair during their Passover celebrations as a symbolic expectation of Elijah’s return. Finally, some believed that Jesus was Jeremiah, another revered prophet who, like Jesus, was full of lament and grief for the Jewish people.

Notice that in each of these cases the people thought Jesus to be a forerunner of the Messiah but not the Messiah himself. While they recognized His supernatural abilities, they did not accept Him as their savior since He didn’t use those abilities to conquer Rome, as the Jews had been erroneously taught the Messiah would.

But none of these are the correct answer to Jesus’ question as we can tell from His next question: “But who do you say that I am?”. The inclusion of the word “but” tells us that these answers are wrong.

Not surprisingly it is Peter who answers Jesus. Peter was the leader of the disciples and was never shy about speaking up, even when He says the wrong thing, which often did. This time, however, He says the right thing. He declares that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. Whereas others thought Jesus was a precursor to the Messiah, Peter recognizes Jesus as the Christ (which is Greek word for the Hebrew word “Messiah”).

Since Jesus’ day many speak highly of Him as a prophet (as Muslims do) or a great teacher (as some atheists do). But even the most complimentary of human accolades are inadequate to describe Jesus. Calling Jesus John the Baptist, or Elijah, or a prophet is a great tribute. But it falls woefully short of the truth.

The truth is Jesus is the Son of God. That is, He is deity. He is God. Thinking Jesus is anything but God is to deny who He is and to deny the fact that He is the Savior each of us most desperately need [Isaiah 43:11, 45:21-22; Hosea 13:4 et. al].

The question “Who is Jesus” is the question that will ultimately determine each person’s eternal destiny. If one does not believe Jesus is God then that person will not cast their sins upon Him and therefore won’t receive forgiveness of those sins. They will, therefore, be ineligible to enter heaven.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.


The Danger Of Legalism & Liberalism

When the disciples reached the other side, they had forgotten to bring any bread. Jesus said to them, “Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” And they began discussing it among themselves, saying, “We brought no bread.” But Jesus, aware of this, said, “O you of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? How is it that you fail to understand that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
(Matthew 16:5-12 ESV)

After rowing their boat to the other side of the lake in today’s passage the disciples had worked up an appetite. But they realized that they had forgotten to bring bread and could not satisfy their hunger. Even after spending two years with Jesus watching Him perform miracle after miracle the twelve disciples’ had little faith. They still primarily thought on a physical, not spiritual, level.

The fact that they had no bread was of no concern for Jesus, as He points out. Jesus had feed the five thousand and the four thousand with just a small amount of loaves, something the disciples amazingly had forgotten. Certainly, Jesus could meet their immediate needs right then and there.

We have many earthly needs. And while God is willing and able to satisfy them, He often uses our condition to attempt to meet a greater need – a spiritual one. That is exactly what Jesus does in this passage. He turns the disciples’ physical need into a spiritual lesson.

Jesus tells the disciples not to be so concerned with physical bread but to watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees. We previously learned, through a parable, that leaven makes dough rise [Matthew 13:33]. In Israel the term “leaven” was often used figuratively to represent an influence – usually (but not always), a negative one.

The influence of the Pharisees was hypocrisy [Luke 12:1]. Their brand of alleged godliness was based on self-righteous legalism. It was more important for the Pharisees to adhere to, and impose upon others, outward nit-picky behavioral rules without addressing one’s internal character.

The influence of the Sadducees, on the other hand, was extreme liberalism. They disregarded much of God’s word, specifically the supernatural (e.g. angels) and the afterlife (e.g. heaven, hell). They lived for what this earth had to offer and nothing more.

Many of us grew up in a denominational church were rules were stressed but a relationship with God was not. Or, we grew up in a home were materialism and earthly pleasures were emphasized while spirituality was ignored. Both of these approaches to life are wrong.

It’s certainly easy as human beings to fall into the trap of legalism or liberalism, which is why Jesus tells us to watch for them. The Greek word here is ηοραο (pronounced: hor-ah’-o) which means “to be on the look out for; to anticipate”. Such false doctrines exist and we should not be surprised to encounter them. But we must not believe them.

Following any teaching other than that set down by God in the Bible is playing with fire [Jude 23]. In fact, years after the events of this passage, Paul would write to the churches in Galatia and Colossae warning them about their legalism and liberalism, respectively.

The biggest problem man has is the depravity of his heart, which needs replacing [Genesis 6:5; Jeremiah 17:9; Mark 7:21]. Controlling others through power, as the Pharisees did, doesn’t address a person’s heart issue. Neither does following an “anything goes” approach to life, as the Sadducees espoused.

Only God’s word – exactly as it is written – can do that.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.


The Most Sobering, Tragic Words In The Bible

And the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” So he left them and departed.
(Matthew 16:1-4 ESV)

Yesterday we read a story of the Jewish leaders approaching Jesus for the sole purpose of starting an argument. This was not the first time the Jewish leaders – the Pharisees, Sadducees, and scribes – had approached Jesus in this manner. They never came to Him to learn. They came only because they thought He was a fraud and they wanted to discredit Him.

As usual, Jesus won the argument (being God, He wins every argument). But then He does something sobering: He left them and departed.

Matthew has shown throughout His gospel (as the other gospel writers also show) that the Jewish leaders were self-righteous. They thought they had all the answers. And since Jesus’ words and behavior were contrary to what they thought, they considered Him to be wrong.

But that wasn’t all. Not only did they think Jesus was wrong, they repeatedly confronted Him about it. They constantly shoved their self-righteousness in Jesus’ face. They were never humbled when Jesus debunked their theories, as He always did. They never considered that they might be wrong. Their arrogance knew no bounds.

The result is as tragic as it gets. Jesus walks away from them. The Greek word here is καταλειπο (pronounced: kat-al-i’-po). This is a very strong word in Greek. It means “to abandon; to forsake”.

Those who reject Jesus are living in darkness [John 3:19]. If they don’t open their eyes to the light that is presented to them they plunge themselves deeper into darkness as God abandons them.

This is exactly how God has worked since time began. God sent message after message to Israel and Judah through His prophets, yet those two nations refused to acknowledge their sin and repent [2 Kings 17:13, 23; Nehemiah 9:29-30; Jeremiah 18:11 et. al ]. So God removed His protection from them and they were conquered by Assyria and Babylon, respectively.

The most tragic thing that can happen to a person or nation is for God to abandon them. God does not want to do this [1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9]. He does everything He possibly can – shy of controlling us as robots – to get us to believe in Him so we can escape an eternity separated from Him. But if a person, or nation, repeatedly and incessantly rejects God as the Jewish leaders did, and as Israel and Judah did, God will turn His back on them.

But I believe that doing so is an act of love from God as He leaves them to their own depravity hoping that when they hit rock bottom they will finally come to realize the truth. If they don’t, their condition becomes permanently hopeless.

I have no doubt that the United States is on the verge of experiencing this first hand. For years we have rejected God’s truth and refused to repent. Like the Jewish leaders we’ve dug in our heels when it comes to sinful behaviors such as abortion, homosexuality, and same-sex marriage. We promulgate these sinful behaviors (and others) throughout our nation and even force them onto other nations (i.e. for them to receive financial aid).

During this time God has been trying to get our attention through His messengers such as Billy Graham, Joel Rosenberg and others. But because we are arrogant and in love with our sin we have refused to budge.

Our fate will be no better than that of Israel and Judah.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.


Don’t Ignore The Signs That Point To Jesus

And the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” So he left them and departed.
(Matthew 16:1-4 ESV)

We know from today’s passage that Jesus is now back in Jewish territory after a brief excursion into Phoenicia, which is modern-day Lebanon. We know this because people from the two leading Jewish religious groups, the Pharisees and Sadducees came to talk to Him. These men would never have set foot on Gentile land.

These two groups were the spiritual leaders in Israel at the time, and were normally enemies. The Pharisees were very conservative and hailed from the working class. The Sadducees were very liberal and aristocratic. But one thing they apparently had in common was hate for Jesus, as they conspire to test Him by asking Him to show them a sign from heaven. They did not come seeking truth from Jesus. They were planning to expose Him as a fraud.

It was a common belief in Israel that demons could perform miracles on earth but only God could perform heavenly signs. The Pharisees had already accused Jesus of being satanic as an explanation for His miracles [Matthew 12:24]. But Jesus debunked that logic [Matthew 12:25-32] so now they want Him to prove He came from heaven, as He had been claiming.

It is evil and spiritually adulterous to seek a sign. People who do aren’t interested in evidence. They are ignoring existing evidence under the guise of seeking truth. Therefore, Jesus refused to provide a sign. Instead He points them to the story of Jonah, which is the only sign they need and one which Jesus had already given them [Matthew 12:38:42]. Of course Jesus is referring to the fact that He would be in the earth (dead and buried) for three days before coming out much like Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days.

These people had already seen many signs from Jesus to validate who He claimed to be. But they refused to believe. Right before their eyes Jesus had been fulfilling Old Testament prophecy to validate that He was the long-awaited Messiah God had promised Israel. These men, who were the so-called religious experts, failed to interpret the signs of the times.

Ironically they knew how to interpret the weather but they could not interpret the Scriptures they claimed to know so well. This is because, as we’ve previously learned, human knowledge had been given a greater place in their hearts than that of God.

Today many predict whether the stock market is going to rise or fall or what technology will be like in the future. But very few people see the spiritual signs of the times. Signs of God are everywhere. History is moving forward exactly as God said it would. Bible prophecy is coming true.

Like the Pharisees and Sadducees, most people today are missing the signs that point to God because they haven’t taken the time to understand the information God provided.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.


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