Posts Tagged ‘Salvation’

Anyone that has had exposure to the Christian religion is aware of the world’s greatest antagonist, Satan and the prominence as the number one bad guy throughout the bible.

Recently, while studying the bible, I have been examining some of Satan’s attempts to thwart the plan of God and I believe I have stumbled across an example where Satan may have missed one of the links and prophecies pointing to the birth of the Messiah. I am becoming convinced that Satan missed this link because the Holy Spirit excluded it from the official record (the Torah), though I think historical record and a little circumstantial evidence proves my point.

From the standpoint of mankind, Satan is an ultra-powerful supernatural being. The bible tells how Satan is an angel and we know from reading the scriptures that angels can wipe out scores of thousands of humans in one fell swoop (read 2 Kings 19:35 where an angel slew 185,000 Assyrians one night). However, that being said, Satan is a creation and is not a god and has limitations which includes the fact that God has to reveal something before Satan can know about it.

We read from the very beginning of the bible to the very end of this greatest historical novel of all times that Satan has attempted to destroy the lineage and the path of the Judean royal line throughout the scriptures to prevent Christ from being able to reign upon David’s throne and to claim the title of the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. Satan may be supernaturally powerful from our perspective, but he is not all-knowing and uses the holy word of our Lord as a prime source of knowledge to plan his attacks upon the royal line of God. Obviously, God understands this, but adds the information to the scriptures knowing full well Satan will use it in whatever manner he can to thwart the plan of salvation and at times it seems like he has succeeded, but in the end, God always prevails.

I truly believe that Satan missed having the knowledge of watching for the precise signs to point to the location and the time of the birth of The Christ and I feel the information that led the “wise men” to find the Messiah came directly from the prophet Daniel and the book of Daniel is where we first read about the Magi and it is a book that details an historical story line as well as a timeline that I feel is extremely exciting. You will find many links and article and posts about the possible history of the Magi that showed up in Jerusalem, but I know of no one else that has my viewpoint as to why these strangers from a different culture suddenly showed up (the reason for this simply could be that I haven’t looked hard enough).

As a child, knowing the story of Christ’s birth, I always wondered who these guys called the Magi (or wise men) were. I would ask others, but all anyone that I asked could say was they were wise men from the east and they would leave it at that, which meant that I was always left a bit unsatisfied with these answers, so I want to explore a little deeper into just who the Magi were.

Historical research indicates that the Magi were members of the Medeo-Persian Priesthood1 and we find that Daniel was chief of this priesthood according to Daniel chapter 4. Daniel 4:9 “Belteshazzar2, chief of the magicians, because I know that the Spirit of the Holy God [is] in you, and no secret troubles you, explain to me the visions of my dream that I have seen, and its interpretation. (NKJV) This scripture tells us Daniel held the office over these magicians to the court of Darius, the ruler of the known world. At that time in history, Daniel was probably the second or third most powerful man on the globe.

We also read in Daniel 6 the familiar story of the lion’s den. After Daniel leaves the lion’s den and is found unharmed, King Darius created a decree that was sent to all the nations of the earth stating that all nations under his rule must fear and give reverence to the God of Daniel (Daniel 6:25-28). To me, these scriptures seem to set up a series of conditions that gave Daniel the ability to spread the influence of the God of Israel and also importantly (and in my opinion) the specific prophecy he would receive about the birth of Christ in Daniel chapter 9. These conditions cited in the scripture indicate a link to the appearance of the Magi that suddenly appear unannounced in Judea (which creates much consternation and fear in Herod3) bringing gifts for the newborn Messiah. In my opinion, it wasn’t until after the Magi showed up in Jerusalem to request an audience with Herod, that Satan finally received his first clue as to where the baby Messiah was and he wasted no time in reacting, as we read about Herod sending out the command to kill all the male children within a certain age within the area of his rule (of course God already knew about this and had Joseph and Mary skedaddle with the baby Jesus in their arms for Egypt, which places them beyond the influence of Herod’s decree). To me, this is one of those events where the bible implies a Messianic prophecy that didn’t make it out of the Holy Spirit’s editing room for us to read, though Daniel seemingly knew the specifics of it and it seems he taught his dedicated followers to pass on this prophecy down through the centuries to their successors. Remember, Gabriel gave Daniel the specific day Christ would present himself as the Messiah and was told he would be crucified, and it is not a stretch of the imagination to assume he gave him a specific prophecy of the birth of our Savior also…kept out of the official record so Satan would be taken by surprise.

So what happened? The fact that five hundred years later this imposing procession of important foreigners (Magi from Parthia4) suddenly shows up at Herod’s doorstep in Jerusalem while following a special starand looking for the new born king of God’s chosen people, means they had to be there following some precise instructions, and the fact they were descendants of the Median Magi priesthood that was under the leadership of Daniel the prophet several centuries earlier, even though their nation worshiped strange gods, screams direct linkage to me.

Where am I going with this? My personal opinion is that Satan is totally familiar with the Holy Word and knows every word, every nuance, every prophecy, every covenant, every commandment and every screw-up of the Israelites in there. My thought is that this prophecy that guided Daniel to instruct the Magi to pass the prophecy down through their ranks from generation to generation was missed by Satan because it was left out of the record, causing him to ignore these pagan priests that are conveying the message of the expectation of a Jewish Messiah appearing under certain miraculous conditions to their following successions of priests. OK, if that’s true, why was it left out? We could throw out conjectures all day, but I believe this visit by the Magi gives us an indication, on a much smaller scale, of what celebrations should have been taking place in Israel if the Jews had paid attention to prophecy and had known to look for the Messiah, is one possibility. Another possibility is their visit was an end-run around Satan’s deception campaign, which in part, was designed to prevent such an announcement to be heralded, but the Magi succeeded at announcing to the Jewish leadership that the Messiah and King was among them. Or maybe it’s a combination of the two thoughts. Regardless whatever could have happened, the Jewish leadership were, once again, asleep at the wheel and ignored this event, which is only one of the most important events this creation has ever witnessed, and the single event that started the clock for the greatest love story ever lived, and the purpose of the creation.

Because Christ as the Messiah was rejected by the nation of Israel, The Lord turned his back on them as prophesied throughout the Torah, (Hosea’s prophecy is my favorite) which resulted in the catastrophe in 70 AD and the diaspora6 of the Jews.

I have a non-traditional view of the scripture, according to many of my acquaintances, so in my mind’s eye, I see God discussing with the others in the Trinity over steaming cups of nectar, his script for our universe before zapping us into existence. We all know what happened…Lucifer (who had become the Satan) threw a wrench into the works, apparently causing the Lord to rewrite the script of our complicated SIM game7, so to speak, even though I feel our Lord set up Satan so he would cause his own fall because of Satan’s addiction to the real killer, pride. I am always looking for patterns and, I guess conspiracies and one pattern that I see is; after the Jews turned chicken and refused to invade Canaan the first time, The Lord sent them wandering for thirty eight years before they were allowed to occupy the land. Fast-forward several hundred years and we have the Jewish nation reject God again by rejecting His Son. Thirty eight years later, the Romans destroyed the temple and massacred over a million Jews in the process of the siege and occupation of Jerusalem. I can’t help but wonder if this was simply a modified script from the original one I had imagined above, one where possibly the Jews accepted him and thirty eight years later, the chosen people, with Christ as their King, started the rule of the earth from Zion. Just as they had captured and occupied the promised land so many years ago.

In hindsight, we can look back and think, “what dorks, these guys had these prophecies about the Messiah, mainly the one from Daniel chapter nine, right there in front of them and they ignored it and see what it got them.”. Before we get all holier-than-thou, we need to look at ourselves. Heck, forget religion, here in America, our leaders ignore and reject our own constitution, they reject moral judgments and teachings, much less the teaching of the scriptures and we’ve only had a couple hundred years to do it in. At least Israel seemed to hold it together a few hundred years longer than that.

God Bless, Jim

1 http://ldolphin.org/magi.html

2 Belteshazzar was Daniel’s Persian name

3 There had to be many, many more than three Magi to cause the apoplexy that Herod seemed to demonstrate over seeing them

4 http://www.biblestudy.org/maps/parthian-empire-large-map.html

Numbers 24:17 tells of a star in prophecy, but after reading it in context, I don’t see the link to the prophecy of Christ’s birth…

6 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diaspora

7 I personally think we are some sort of giant SIM game where our reality is all smoke and mirrors and the real reality is what we refer to as the ‘spirit world’. The apostle Paul supports that view in Ephesians 6:12

While studying the book of Hebrews, which was primarily written to the Jews, I started thinking about the problem the Jewish believers faced in the first century and I took a look at the dilemma that the Jewish people found themselves in when confronted with the teachings of the author of the book of Hebrews (which I believe to be Paul). Part of the issue covered by the writer of Hebrews in his instructions and lessons to the Jews about Christianity concerned their predicament about the Old Covenant and also about the Temple that was still the centerpiece of Jewish worship that was still prominent in Jerusalem when the book of Hebrews was written about 68 AD.

I believe part of the Jewish quandary with what was being taught to them by the Hebrew writer was that all Jews were raised and taught and instructed from a child that the Temple was the Holy Place of their Lord. They would have known about the Messiah and were anticipating him but most likely most of them had no conception that the Messiah was to totally overturn and upset their whole religious system. Historically the evidence seems to support just the opposite, most Jewish people were expecting a Messiah that would come swooping in and save them from the oppressive hand of the oppressive Roman rulers that had dominion over these proud Jewish people. This attitude reflects and shows just how far the Jewish leadership had veered from the actual meaning and intention of the word of God in the Torah that they had before them about the coming Messiah.

To the Jews that heard the teaching of the Hebrew writer, the concept of taking and turning their backs on a part of life that they had grown up with, a religious system that was the linchpin around which their lives revolved, a religion that had been hammered into them so deeply it was an ingrained part of their life and was a daily, weekly and seasonally practiced and sometimes a legally required ritual would be difficult for any devout Jew to accept. If what these followers of Christ were saying and teaching was correct, the Jews were expected to believe that the covenant that God had handed down through Moses and that was exemplified by the beautiful temple standing in Jerusalem was no longer in effect and was being replaced by a new covenant that had no actual temple as a place to worship. Additionally the fact that their respected teachers and leaders, the Scribes and Pharisees, were disparaging these rabble-rousing Christians and constantly throwing stumbling blocks and sowing doubt and confusion wherever they could about this cult of heretics among the regular populace, while persecuting anyone that started professing belief in the chief heretic called Jesus Christ, had to cause a lot of anxiety among the believing Jews. All of these things would create a situation that would be akin to selling an ice box to an Eskimo and would require some extraordinary salesmen. We find that God had such super salesmen such as Paul, Barnabas, Titus, Philemon, Peter, James and Jude, as well as others…and even then it was a tough sell to the Jews as we read in these epistles.

To accept and believe in the Christ and this new movement called The Way, was possibly a guarantee of being looked upon with derision and possibly ostracized by your community leaders while the threat of persecution or death would be looming above the believers like the sword of Damocles. We need to remember that first century Christians met in homes and private areas, partially to try and escape prosecution because they feared for their lives. To a degree, it may not have mattered that the Torah from beginning to the end was a giant road-map full of prophecies and guide posts pointing toward Christ the Messiah. Or that the Messiah had been among them and had been executed upon that cruel tree by their leaders, because knowledge to all this information relied on access. While most of the population of the world was illiterate, I believe Judea would have had a much smaller percentage of illiteracy. However, even if a large percentage of the populace may have been literate, copies of the Torah were expensive and therefore, few and far between, so the people would rely on the Rabbis and leaders of the local Synagogues for their information and inspiration and interpretation of the scriptures. In today’s world we have a tendency to hold our Pastors and Ministers in high esteem…be they right or be they wrong (why do you think there are so many blasted denominations) why should the first century Jews be any different? On top of all this we need to remember it would have been common knowledge that all of the original disciples of Christ were martyred, tortured and killed except for John the beloved, by the Jewish leadership. No wonder first century Jews had a difficult time keeping the faith. What’s our excuse?

God Bless, Jim

(10-9-19)

The Way https://www.blueletterbible.org/nkjv/act/9/2/s_1027002

The story of the Prodigal Son is one of those Sunday School lessons that I have been familiar with since childhood. However, until recently, I never really comprehended the very personal and powerful message that was waiting for me within.

We find the story of the Prodigal Son within the gospel of Luke. The fifteenth chapter of Luke opens with publicans and sinners gathering together in Galilee to learn from, and eat with Christ. Also attending this gathering of the faithful were the scribes and Pharisees that were essentially the Jewish religious police. These professional religionists were there not to learn from Him, but to try and find another opportunity to find fault with this very popular Rhabbi that people would travel a day or more to hear and to learn from, for we read here that the Pharisees were grumbling about Him eating with all these sinners.

I find it interesting that the gospels demonstrate that whenever Christ encounters sinners He is always kind and compassionate, but whenever we find Him pitted against the official religionists of the day, the Pharisees, the encounters often turn harsh and sometimes violent. It gives us an interesting insight to what Our Lord thought of the religious establishment and those that spent their lives attempting to follow the letter of the law and keeping a watchful eye on anyone that strayed from the legalism that keeping the letter of the law entraps us in.

Considering Christ’s attitude toward the legalists of the day, we find that Jesus reserves the entire chapter of Luke 15 to, once again, take advantage of the stiff necked and holier-than-thou attitude of the Pharisees to demonstrate to them and the crowd of followers that had gathered to hear Him speak, just how much the Pharisees had bastardized and debased the purpose of the Torah. Jesus did this by first giving common sense examples of acts of finding lost things, that anyone listening would agree with, and then using those thoughts as a basis of The Lord’s attitude of love and forgiveness toward all of us by telling a story of a son that was lost and had returned expecting anger and revulsion from his father, but unexpectedly receiving instead, his father’s happiness and joy to see his wayward son son return to him and his rightful place back within the family. He used this story to turn the Pharisees legalistic attitude toward the sinners back on them by using this story as a mirror. Of course, the story of the Prodigal Son is much more than that, it is also a practical demonstration that the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob, our God and Lord, is a God of second chances and a very forgiving and benevolent Lord.

OK, how does the story of the Prodigal Son apply to me? As an answer to this question, I feel compelled to give a quick testimony.

I was raised in a Christian household with loving parents. At the age of twelve I suffered non-familial sex abuse by an authority figure which I subsequently hid from everyone, as I was told I would be blamed for this heinous act. I felt, even at an early age, from being compelled to read the bible nightly, that the religion of my youth was very flawed in their doctrines and traditions much as the Church of Ephesus in Revelation chapter two (legalism over love and compassion) and therefore I didn’t feel I could turn to the church and I didn’t trust my parents either…I trusted no one. Not sharing the problem with those that cared was extremely stupid on my part, for as a result, I ended up plunging headlong into roller coaster existence of drugs and alcohol, depression and guilt. For the next three decades I sought answers in all the wrong places, blaming God for a period while dabbling in occult rituals, exploring Buddhism, multiculturalism and new age as well as spiritualism until being frightened to my core by the powers I was playing with and backing off from it all. Along the way, a cousin gave me some technical (read nerd and geek books) that used science and physics to prove the veracity of the scriptures. These really piqued my interest and caused me to start becoming interested in the bible.

I was still a drunk and a wreck and after countless attempts to stop drinking over a decade had failed, I didn’t know what to do or where to turn. At some point I noticed one of these books about the bible and creation, so after years of attempting to become sober on my own and of trying to throw off the chains of addiction, I decided to pray to this God that I hadn’t prayed to in a few decades. I threw it all at His feet and in desperation I prayed to my Lord and Savior on January 15, 2010 and He rescued and healed me then and there.

Even after that miracle, I couldn’t understand why He would do that…this was the first time I had a seriously positive interaction from any god I had prayed to in my life. I still couldn’t believe I qualified for HIS grace and mercy (it took me a bit longer to understand I don’t qualify for His grace…no one does…that is why it is called grace). I suffered through several weeks of doubt and confusion as to why He would actually accept me after all the debasing, harassing, laughter toward and hatred I had shown toward Him and His followers over the decades until one night while praying, the Holy Spirit reminded me of the childhood story of the Prodigal Son. I found this Sunday School parable in the book of Luke, and after reading this poignant and powerful story the realization came to me that I was the terribly unappreciative son that was given a second chance and I could actually believe the story was written for even a clown like me. The story of the Prodigal Son was one of my saving graces and I still remind myself of this marvelous story and the wonderfully gracious and forgiving God that we have.

God Bless, Jim

8-18-11 (10-9-19)

We can draw some fairly decent basic conclusions of Christ’s resurrection body from the scriptures in both the Old and New Testaments. There several detailed examples of recorded visits where Christ appeared before, walked with, and visited and dined with his followers during the interval after His resurrection and before His ascension. I’m only going to cover a couple of examples to highlight the conclusions we can draw.

Right off the bat when I started researching from the first appearance to Mary Magdalene, I realized it isn’t as clear cut and straight forward as I assumed it would be a few sentences ago. Why? Let’s look at this first appearance we find in Mark’s account in Mark 16:9 Now when [Jesus] was risen early the first [day] of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils. (KJV) This seems simple enough, but we need to develop the context so when we read on a couple of more verses, we find this in Mark 16:12 After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country. (KJV) What? What in the world does the word form in this sentence mean? In the Greek it means what we expect it to mean, the external appearance of something. So we can conclude that he appeared looking one way to Mary Magdalene and looking quite different to the others. John sheds some light on this in his gospel account in chapter 20:16-17 Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and [to] my God, and your God. (KJV) So it seems that when she first saw him he had just arisen and was still in the same human form as he was when he was laid in the sepulcher. Apparently between this visage and subsequent ones, he ascended and then returned in the form that he was seen afterward. Also on this first encounter by Mary Magdalene, a couple of verses earlier, in John 20:15 we are told she didn’t recognize him and thought he was the gardener. Why?

Let us look at beards. In I Chronicles chapter 19, as in many other places in the Old Testament, we find it was shameful for a Jewish male to be shaved. In Isaiah 50:6 we get a glimpse of one of the ways that Our Lord was tortured, because apparently they ripped out his beard. So, perhaps when she saw this beardless man her automatic and natural assumption would have been that this guy wasn’t a Jewish male, but rather a gentile, and likely a slave, instead of Our Savior.

Later on we find that He challenged Thomas to touch Him in John chapter 20 and also we read in Luke 24 that Christ walked and talked for seven miles and afterward dined with a couple of the disciple before he pulled a disappearing trick and vanished. I believe if he had been some floating, spectral being that we refer to as ghost, gliding along with them on on the road, they would have figured out something was very strangely wrong about this man (“Hey, why can we see through this guy, why isn’t his feet touching the ground as he moves?”). This one instance by itself is fairly definitive of the fact that He was flesh and blood…only he was flesh and blood that could vanish and move through walls which is a super indication that Christ had definitely changed form as we read in Mark 16:12.

God Bless, Jim

8-7-11

for Koinonia Institute