24 January, 2011

Boundaries of the Promised Land

(from differentspirit.org)
I will plant Israel in their own land,      
never again to be uprooted from
the land I have given them. (Amos 9:15)

Some 3,500 years ago the Canaanites inhabited the land that God promised to give to the offspring of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (see Timeline). God promised that He would give the land of Israel to the Jewish people as an eternal possession. The promise was unconditional. God confirmed it at least 55 times with an oath and stated, at least 12 times, that the covenant was everlasting (see Bible References).

God did bring the Israelites into the Promised Land, 40 years after the Exodus from Egypt. Israel reached the peak of her power some 500 years later, under King Solomon.

The map shows the area that Israel controlled at that time. It almost matched the boundaries of the land that God had promised. Gaza was not taken from the Philistines in Solomon’s day, and the land of the Canaanites promised to Abraham included the coastal strip all the way to Sidon – the city of Canaan’s first-born son (1 Chronicles 1:13, Genesis 10:19)

Canaan was the father of Sidon his firstborn, and of the Hittites ...(1 Chronicles 1:13)

... and the borders of Canaan reached from Sidon toward Gerar as far as Gaza, and then toward Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, as far as Lasha. (Genesis 10:19)

Areas of Moab, Ammon and Edom, east of the Dead Sea, were occupied by King Solomon, but were not part of the Promised Land. This is part of modern-day Jordan.

Israel entered the Promised Land and, hundreds of years later under King Solomon, they occupied a large part, but not all, of the territory which God had promised to them. Israel was required to obey the Law of Moses and, when they failed, God thrust them out of the land. However, God’s promise that they will inherit the land still stands. We see the Jews being brought back to the Promised Land in our day. We expect that God’s word will be fulfilled and that they will enter their full inheritance. The next question is: What are the boundaries of the Promised Land as described in the Bible?

20 January, 2011

Who is able to stand?

(Written by Matt Leasher)
As the Age of Grace that we are currently living in draws nearer and nearer to a close and the lateness of the hour becomes more relevant to those of us who have our eyes on heaven and the coming of the Lord, we can’t help but be concerned about those that do not know their Savior and are living for the world and for themselves. Almost every saved Christian has some unsaved friends and family that do not accept the truth of the gospel and whom they know will be left here on earth to have to endure the soon to come Tribulation period that Jesus has clearly warned us is sure to come before He physically returns to Earth to set up His Kingdom, (see Matthew 24:3-31, Mark 13:3-27 & Luke 21:7-28).

The Book of Revelation lays out much of the horrific details of this forthcoming history-ending period. The actual beginning of the Tribulation itself begins in chapter 6 with Jesus (referred to as the Lamb), opening the seals of the scroll and beginning the seven seal judgments. Since Jesus is Lord, (see Hebrews 1:8), this is therefore the beginning of the wrath of God upon a Christ rejecting world. The first four seals are the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. The fifth seal is the cry of the martyrs and the sixth seal is of cosmic disturbances upon the earth. All of these seal judgments seem to happen very rapidly in succession because at the end of the description of the sixth seal it says:

And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” (Revelation 6:15-17)

We see from the last verse that it isn’t until the sixth seal that the folks hiding themselves in caves have realized that the wrath of God has begun! We know that the Church is gone at this point because “God has not appointed us to wrath”, (1 Thessalonians 5:9), and it clearly states that “the day of His wrath has come”, but it is the very last phrase of that verse that also reveals the absence of the Church where it asks the sobering question ­– “who is able to stand”?

There are some similar Old Testament prophecies about the dreadful Day of the Lord in the last days that are almost identical to Revelation 6:15-17 asking the same question of who will be able to stand? They are Psalm 76:7, Malachi 3:2 and Nahum 1:6. All of these verses imply that it will be impossible to stand at the time of God’s fierce anger. As I mentioned above we are still living in the Age of Grace. God is incredibly merciful and gracious to us even though the world continues to wax more and more in wicked opposition to Him. God has been longsuffering and patient but the inevitable day of His wrath is coming.

So what does it mean to not be able to stand at His coming? Most all of the verses where this is used it is referring as to being able to stand before Him in judgment. God is so holy and righteous that no sinful man can stand in His presence. Ezra 9:15 exemplifies this:

O LORD God of Israel, You are righteous, for we are left as a remnant, as it is this day. Here we are before You, in our guilt, though no one can stand before You because of this!”

11 January, 2011

Satan's Doom

(Written by Todd Strandberg)
How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain? I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit" (Isa. 14:12-15).

The Bible provides a wealth of helpful advice to apply to our spiritual lives. Much of this instruction comes from the trials and failures of others. Paul made reference to the teaching power of the biblical examples, saying, "Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall" (1 Corinthians 10:11-12). The one thing that makes the Bible unique from all other religious texts is that God chose not to whitewash accounts of people who turned their back on Him.

Lucifer’s downfall is the greatest example of failure. Judas is another relevant example. Judas is infamous for betraying Jesus for money. We are told that he was a devil from the beginning (John 6:70), so he never was a true follower of Christ. Lucifer was created perfect, and he served God directly in His holy temple. Despite that perfect environment, he chose rebellion.

The Bible gives no time frame for when Lucifer fell and became Satan. I've never understood why so many Christian leaders seem to assume that the creation and downfall of Lucifer was within a few years of man's creation. God exists forever. To say that at some point He had a falling-out with His lead angel leaves open the possibility that this event could have occurred a very long time ago.

The judgment against Satan is at least 6,000 years ago. With the last days drawing near, Satan must realize that the vast majority of his time of being free to do his devilish work has now run out. The fact that he may only have a few more years left must constantly gnaw at his mind.

Downfall I - Satan Gets Fired

Pride caused Satan's downfall. God created him with such splendor that Lucifer looked in the mirror one day and said, "I should be running things around here." He conspired with a third of the angelic host to launch a coup against the Lord of hosts.

The Bible gives a wonderful illustration of the hopeless nature of Satan's insurrection. When he made his move, God cast him out of heaven so fast, his ejection resembled a bolt of lightning streaking across the sky. Jesus said,

Even though God cast Satan out of heaven, He did not forever ban him from re-entering the heavenly realm. The account of Job tells us that the devil is still able to enter the gates of paradise.

“One day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them. The LORD said to Satan, 'Where have you come from?’ Satan answered the LORD, ‘From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it’" (Job 1:6-7).

What really happened is that Satan got fired. He lost his rank, beauty, power, and--most importantly--his relationship with God. The bitterness from his dismissal is likely what has transformed him into a being of pure evil.

Satan’s removal from office also came with a promise of future punishment. God, at some point, created hell and a lake of fire. The latter had the Devil’s name written on it.

08 January, 2011

Laodicea Revisited

(Written by Ron Graham)
“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.” Revelation 3:7-8.

Seven letters dictated by Jesus Christ Himself, and written and distributed to those seven churches by His most beloved Apostle, John, were to both commend and admonish those churches in those days. The churches, in the order they are addressed, lay out a history of the Christian church throughout the past two thousand years. The last church Jesus addresses is the Last Day’s church of planet earth.

The church of Philadelphia was singled out by Christ as being the most faithful of all seven churches. Ask anyone in any church congregation which of the seven churches in the book of Revelation does their church most closely resemble and without hesitation they’ll tell you their church most resembles the church in Philadelphia. Actually today’s church has very little, if anything at all, in common with the Philadelphian church. But there is a church where the resemblance between it and a huge number of the Protestant churches of today is uncanny.

The church I’m referring to above is of course, the church of Laodicea. No true born again believer in Christ wants to be branded with the title “Laodicean”. It’s sad, but whether they appreciate that designation or not that is precisely where most protestant churches are today – well established and fully at peace in this, the most apostate category of Christian churches imaginable.

Perhaps some of you will need a short refresher course as to just what was so bad about the church at Laodicea. As I said before, Jesus had just confronted six other churches. Some with praise and others He rebuked, and some were both praised and rebuked. But when we read His letter to the Laodiceans we notice a huge change in His demeanor.

"And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth." Revelation 3:14-16.