You Are My God Psalms 63

Psalms 63:1-11 NLTse O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water. (2) I have seen you in your sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory. (3) Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise you! (4) I will praise you as long as I live, lifting up my hands to you in prayer. (5) You satisfy me more than the richest feast. I will praise you with songs of joy. (6) I lie awake thinking of you, meditating on you through the night. (7) Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings. (8) I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely. (9) But those plotting to destroy me will come to ruin. They will go down into the depths of the earth. (10) They will die by the sword and become the food of jackals. (11) But the king will rejoice in God. All who trust in him will praise him, while liars will be silenced.

What does it mean to search for God? Really, how to we search for a Spirit? Why would we have to search for a God who knows who we are, what we are doing, and where we are at all times? A general rule of Bible Study tells us, when we see something unusual, we have to look deeper for a spiritual answer.

The word seek or search indicates, we are either lost, or lost something. Can it be fair to assume, we lost a close connection with God. In Eden, Adam and Eve had direct contact with God, who met with them everyday. Is that relationship still available to us everyday?

When we look at the belief most Christians share, God is everywhere, knows everything, and is always near. What do we need to do to bridge that gap? David told us, he had to earnestly search for God. Another study method tells us to look up the meaning of a key word to find out what David was actually referring to. In this case, we’ll look at the word search.

Search

H7836שָׁחַר shâchar shaw-khar’

A primitive root; properly to dawn, that is, (figuratively) be (up) early at any task (with the implication of earnestness); by extension to search for (with painstaking): – [do something] betimes, enquirer early, rise (seek) betimes, seek (diligently) early, in the morning).

A little bit of practical digging showed us a concept we should be familiar with, but how many people take early morning prayer seriously? Why pray early in the morning? The world is full of distractions. Satan has legions of angels dedicated to confusing us. Those evil angels are less effective in the early morning before distractions overwhelm us.

Prayer should be 90% listening. We listen much better when there are no distractions. What better time than the morning? All of this should be common sense, but how many of us give it the proper consideration it deserves?

What are ways we can seek God? I only know a few of them, and God uses them in different combinations. Prayer, an almost audible voice from God, is one way God communicates with us in our thoughts. Some people don’t trust what they hear from God, and that is the most difficult method to explain to people, especially people who never heard God’s voice.

The Bible is another method God uses to communicate with us. Not the, I had a question and opened a page at random method. God may answer questions like that, but that is the elementary level of communication at best, which is formulated on selfishness most of the time. On a more advanced level, God can and will provide answers, and like doubling those talents in the parable in Matthew chapter 25, will provide written proof the Bible is inspired, and the Author is alive and well. Which method is better for proving God exists and is involved in our lives, taking the word of a person, a whimsical flip of the pages revealing secrets of the universe, or showing the specific patterns God used to write every book in the Bible? I prefer the later.

Let’s test a Bible Study rule right here. A very important Bible Study rules tells us, God always answers questions in the previous story. It could be the previous parable, story, or in this case, chapter. We will turn the page back to the previous Psalm, and take a look at the last few verses to see what they tell us about searching for God.

My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me. O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge. Common people are as worthless as a puff of wind, and the powerful are not what they appear to be. If you weigh them on the scales, together they are lighter than a breath of air. Don’t make your living by extortion or put your hope in stealing. And if your wealth increases, don’t make it the center of your life. God has spoken plainly, and I have heard it many times: Power, O God, belongs to you; unfailing love, O Lord, is yours. Surely you repay all people according to what they have done. (Psalms 62:7-12 NLTse).

We see the link between the two chapters when we see words and phrases related to communication with God in both chapters. That is a safety feature God installed in scripture. Another safety feature God installed is the use of contrasts. People love to tear apart scripture, making personal messages completely unrelated to the subject at hand. Some times people take what was meant to be a contrast in scripture, and make a doctrine out of it, or use it as a weapon, just what the story warns about. People cannot see them as contrasts because God’s glory is not their motivation. Only people who study scripture with an open mind and open heart, eager to learn can see and understand contrasts.

In this example, we’re shown a set of contrasts all related to seeking God. On the positive side, trust, pouring our hearts out to God, looking to God for protection, and listing to God are ways to seek Him. On the other hand, man made power, wisdom, self reliance, crime, and wealth are all distractions leading people away from God. Most of the advise David recorded is common sense. Having the ability and time to examine those contrasts is another step to seeking God.

God has a habit of verifying messages. God has people all over the world who know how to listen to Him and deliver messages. We need faithful friends of God, so when we need verification, God has someone to send.

Dreams and visions are other forms of communication God uses. Not many pf people have dreams and visions, but they are mentioned in the Bible. How to interpret dreams is explained in the Bible in books such as Daniel. Daniel’s book explained just about every form of communication God uses. Which I look at as another safety feature God placed in scripture. A lot of people claim to have the ability to interpret prophecies in Daniel. I’ve heard some of the strangest interpretations to more than a few verses in Daniel. But how did they get those interpretations? Since they are reading the book, and know how to interpret scripture, they must know all the forms of communication God uses. Which way did God communicate with them? Daniel made it clear, only God interprets dreams. Daniel had to pray and wait for explanations to some of the visions he received. Daniel told us exactly how God provided the answers. If Daniel had to follow those rules, what makes modern day prophets more important than Daniel? Why would God treat modern day prophets differently than Daniel?

Learning about and practicing the ways God communicates with us is searching for God. Are there other ways? There may be. If there are other ways, people should be able to explain the step by step process.

David made it rather clear, we are searching for God in a world that all but rejects God. David used the symbol of a parched and weary land where there is no water. Jesus used water as a symbol of Himself and the knowledge He brought this world. The Old Testament used water to teach lessons in a number of stories. The word water opens doors to engage in studies on deeper levels.

David tells us he saw God inside His Sanctuary, but David didn’t explain how he got there, or what he saw there. This is a common theme throughout the Bible. Many authors explained visions in detail. For the most part, prophets described symbols telling us about events taking place on earth at one time or another. But why no clear explanations about what anyone saw in Heaven? There are some we will cover later in this book. Now we will take a look at some possible symbols David may have used here.

Since prophets normally use symbolism to communicate, maybe we need to hone our understanding of symbols to understand those messages. In this case we are dealing with a search. Symbols may be a part of that search.

We should easily identify parched lands with no water as symbols. Is love a symbol? Since we as humans have little understanding about God’s love, it qualifies as a symbol, something we need to research and have the Bible define. This opened the door to another study.

We have little understanding of God’s power and glory. Are those additional symbols? Once again, we have another set of subjects to study. What about praise and prayer? Are any of us experts on those subjects, or do they also require additional study?

What do those symbols have in common, and how do they relate to a search for God? When we study God’s relationship to those subjects, we learn about God. In fact we learned one thing here, David gave a number of choices and examples for us to studying in our search for God’s Sanctuary.

David also told us another way to search for God, lie awake at night and meditate on God. Eastern religions have given medication a black eye, and many people will immediately condemn any type of meditation on God. Even though David wrote about it.

Once again, we should look at the original Hebrew word David recorded for the two related words, thinking and meditating.

Thinking or Remember

H2142 זָכַר zâkar zaw-kar’

A primitive root; properly to mark (so as to be recognized), that is, to remember; by implication to mention; also (as denominative from H2145) to be male: – X burn [incense], X earnestly, be male, (make) mention (of), be mindful, recount, record (-er), remember, make to be remembered, bring (call, come, keep, put) to (in) remembrance, X still, think on, X well.

Remember may be a better transaction for that Hebrew word. We also learn another Bible Study rule here. Look for key words the author repeated. Key words are words that are the same, similar, and related. In this case, thinking and meditating are similar words. Authors repeated key words to draw our attention to spiritual details as well as the main thought in the story.

Meditate

H1897 הָגָה hâgâh haw-gaw’

A primitive root (compare H1901); to murmur (in pleasure or anger); by implication to ponder: – imagine, meditate, mourn, mutter, roar, X sore, speak, study, talk, utter.

Meditation works two ways, to think, and verbal communication. We see how those words are related, and when combined, bring out a much deeper meaning.

David closes this prayer with a short summary about relying on God, how God will protect us from our enemies, eventually deal with enemies, and how we need to praise God. All of those are ways to search for God. No matter how God decides to speak to us, we should be ready to listen. Being in God’s Sanctuary is beginning to appear as a symbol that refers to knowing how to listen to God, and the many ways God proves His presence, and help in our lives

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Jeremiah 11:15-19 Lamb to Slaughter

PRM Front Cover Book 8 Isa 63 to Zech 3

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Jeremiah 11:15-19 NLTse (15) “What right do my beloved people have to come to my Temple, when they have done so many immoral things? Can their vows and sacrifices prevent their destruction? They actually rejoice in doing evil! (16) I, the LORD, once called them a thriving olive tree, beautiful to see and full of good fruit. But now I have sent the fury of their enemies to burn them with fire, leaving them charred and broken. (17) “I, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, who planted this olive tree, have ordered it destroyed. For the people of Israel and Judah have done evil, arousing my anger by burning incense to Baal.” (18) Then the LORD told me about the plots my enemies were making against me. (19) I was like a lamb being led to the slaughter. I had no idea that they were planning to kill me! “Let’s destroy this man and all his words,” they said. “Let’s cut him down, so his name will be forgotten forever.”

Jeremiah began this series of prophecies much like our last study by asking how and why the Jews relied on the stone temple to save them. Once again this makes me think about what I’ve missed in the last study. But this time my attention is focused on a new trend God’s Spirit introduced. The first prophecy used the symbol of an olive tree. The second prophecy used the symbol of lamb being led to slaughter. You would think those two prophecies would make it easier to locate the New Testament parallel texts for this prophecy, but I have to admit, it wasn’t easy for me. I looked at those key words and searched using words like destruction, broken, and destroyed. Because the prophecy tells us the lamb is led to slaughter to destroy that man and all his words, I of course focused on Jesus’ trial where He remained silent. But none of them seemed to cover the olive tree. It took me two days of praying and searching before I received the familiar knock on the head and heard the voice asking me, “are you listening?” I saw the first hints, and then it hit me like a ton of bricks. The key is the olive tree. I was trying to associate the olive tree with the fig tree Jesus withered. That turned out to be a bad idea but a valuable lesson to discuss.

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Remember how God showed Jeremiah a symbol than asked him what it meant? Jeremiah’s answer was always, “I don’t know, you tell me.” And God explained it. The olive and fig tree are related but on different levels. This shows how God is in control of those symbols He used, and the ONLY way we can understand their proper meaning is to listen to HIM and keep all His symbols within the context of His Word.

John 18:1-9 NLTse After saying these things, Jesus crossed the Kidron Valley with his disciples and entered a grove of olive trees. (2) Judas, the betrayer, knew this place, because Jesus had often gone there with his disciples. (3) The leading priests and Pharisees had given Judas a contingent of Roman soldiers and Temple guards to accompany him. Now with blazing torches, lanterns, and weapons, they arrived at the olive grove. (4) Jesus fully realized all that was going to happen to him, so he stepped forward to meet them. “Who are you looking for?” he asked. (5) “Jesus the Nazarene,” they replied. “I AM he,” Jesus said. (Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them.) (6) As Jesus said “I AM he,” they all drew back and fell to the ground! (7) Once more he asked them, “Who are you looking for?” And again they replied, “Jesus the Nazarene.” (8) “I told you that I AM he,” Jesus said. “And since I am the one you want, let these others go.” (9) He did this to fulfill his own statement: “I did not lose a single one of those you have given me.”

In the prophecy, Jeremiah told us; “I, the LORD, once called them a thriving olive tree, beautiful to see and full of good fruit. But now I have sent the fury of their enemies to burn them with fire, leaving them charred and broken. “I, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, who planted this olive tree, have ordered it destroyed. In simple terms, that olive tree will be destroyed. In contrast look how that symbols appeared in John’s Gospel. After saying these things, Jesus crossed the Kidron Valley with his disciples and entered a grove of olive trees. Standing alone this text does not appear to have much levity on Jeremiah. We clearly see the relationship and message when we compare other gospels. Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” (Matthew 26:36 NLTse). Jesus prayed in that olive groove just before Judas betrayed Him and He was arrested by a group made up of Roman and temple guards. Once we examine the details we begin to see how far the Jews slipped away from God. In Jeremiah’s time his warning went out to the Jews. In Jesus’ time those Jews were joined by the government. In this case Rome. We can see a little more light shed upon the symbols in Daniel representing the forth kingdom, Rome. It was unlike the other kingdoms. We see how the Jews joined with the forth kingdom to oppose Jesus. It was far more than opposing Jesus, they joined forces to kill Him. Daniel was a leader in the first kingdom, Babylon. Daniel was also a leader in the second kingdom, the Persians and Medes. Not much is written about the third kingdom, Greece. But we see Paul preaching in Greece and the New Testament was written in Greek. Those first three kingdoms had a relationship with God and the gospel. Rome was far different than the others based on the fact, the Roman government ordered Jesus’ execution. That wasn’t all Rome joined forces with the Jews to carry out. Together they persecuted early Christians. If that wasn’t enough, Rome finally reestablished a new order loosely based on Christianity but changing all the original forms of worship and the message given to the disciples in the name of unity. They’re form of unity resulted in some of the most violent persecution the world has seen.

Jesus fully realized all that was going to happen to him, so he stepped forward to meet them. “Who are you looking for?” he asked. We can look at this text in a number of different ways. When Jesus asked this question, He knew who they were looking for and why. John told us, Jesus knew what was about to happen. Do you think Jesus prayed only for Himself in the olive grove? If you knew Jesus you’d know He spent every minute available to pray for every person He wanted to save, and that was everyone. The prophecy and fulfillment compliment one another by showing that olive groove God planted was going to be destroyed. Taking Jesus prisoner was only one step in the process. Salvation was still a personal decision for each and everyone of those religious leaders and their followers. Of course Jesus prayed for them. The prophecy in Jeremiah told about a curse. Jesus prayed in an olive grove to show His concern for all of them present and in the future. Jesus’ question, “Who are you looking for?” Is still pertinent today. When people walk through church doors, who are they looking for? Jesus of course. How is Jesus presented to them? Today the most popular way of presenting Jesus is doctrines, traditions, and prophecies about this world. Neither one of those teach anything about Jesus. None of them are Biblical. They are man made methods of reaching out to the world showing once again how this world seems to think they can solve their own problems. This is the message we see in Jeremiah. “What right do my beloved people have to come to my Temple, when they have done so many immoral things?”

The Tabernacle build by Moses and the Israelites had a specific physical pattern which extended to its services. Priests had to follow specific steps to wash and dress. They had to follow a specific path inside the Tabernacle court. Every item in the Tabernacle and all its associated services pointed to Jesus, His life and ministry. That is a pattern lost in today’s religious world. Ask a preacher to explain those details and you may receive an explanation of two or maybe three items. Worse yet, they most likely will mix items in the Tabernacle with items in the stone temple designed and build by a man from Tyre using taxes and slave labor. Can you see the pattern showing how this world mixes religion and government? Satan’s promise to Eve was to be like gods. This world is still reaching out to fulfill that promise. It seems as if this world forgot who made that promise. Only Jesus is both King and Priest. No one has the right to copy or attempt to duplicate that title or system.

We’ve seen how Jeremiah was very dedicated to following orders from God. Look at how He worded this prophecy. “Let’s destroy this man and all his words,” they said. “Let’s cut him down, so his name will be forgotten forever.” Many people will confuse this prophecy with another. He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. (Isaiah 53:7 NLTse). The fulfillment of this prophecy is found in other gospels. Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Well, aren’t you going to answer these charges? What do you have to say for yourself?” But Jesus remained silent. Then the high priest said to him, “I demand in the name of the living God–tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” (Matthew 26:62-63 NLTse). In John’s book Jesus provided a few simple answers. Jeremiah’s prophecy did not say Jesus would remain silent. It says they will silence Him.

Why did they want to silence Jesus? What did He say during His trials those religious leaders didn’t want the world to hear? It’s easy to quickly find the words Jesus spoke by looking at a red letter Bible where Jesus’ words are in red.

Jesus answered him, “I spoke openly to the world; I always taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, where the Jews always met; and in secret have I said nothing. Why do you ask me? Ask them who heard me, what I have said unto them: behold, they know what I said. Say you this thing of yourself, or did others tell it to you of me? My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from here.” Pilate therefore said unto him, “Are you a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth hears my voice.” (John 18:20-21, 34, 36-37 KJ2000).

What words were worth killing Jesus over and why? Jesus began by telling them to talk to the people who were His witnesses. We can see how Jesus was denied witnesses. Do you understand how that relates to Satan’s plans today? How many people are capable of witnessing for Jesus? If you had to tell someone about your relationship with Jesus would it be convincing? How long would your testimony last? Would your witnessing be an individual testimony needed at that particular time? Think about this for a moment. If you had to rely on your testimony about Jesus to save you, would it? Is that what those religious leaders feared? It’s easy to see how those religious leaders were controlled by Satan. It’s not as easy to admit giving into Satan when your personal testimony of Jesus is not real, sincere, and real.

Jesus also told them His Kingdom is not of this world. Neither is His Word. Neither should our testimony be about this world. There are too many complaints and not enough answers. Most of the answers we hear are from this world and not from Heaven. Those religious leaders feared Jesus as much as they feared loosing control. It’s a fear that still runs a lot of the churches and organizations in this world. It’s a fear that can only be overcome by the real message from Heaven, from Jesus’ Kingdom. Jesus said more than the world will ever imagine … those who work so hard to silence Him do not understand. Caiaphas didn’t understand the prophecy he spoke. First they took him to Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest at that time. Caiaphas was the one who had told the other Jewish leaders, “It’s better that one man should die for the people.” (John 18:13-14 NLTse). Jesus had to endure two trails at the hands of the priests and religious leaders. That has a spiritual significance you can pray about and investigate on your own. It’s not by chance there are two prophecies in Jeremiah 11 and the fulfillment of both is found in John 18.

John 18:19-24 NLTse Inside, the high priest began asking Jesus about his followers and what he had been teaching them. (20) Jesus replied, “Everyone knows what I teach. I have preached regularly in the synagogues and the Temple, where the people gather. I have not spoken in secret. (21) Why are you asking me this question? Ask those who heard me. They know what I said.” (22) Then one of the Temple guards standing nearby slapped Jesus across the face. “Is that the way to answer the high priest?” he demanded. (23) Jesus replied, “If I said anything wrong, you must prove it. But if I’m speaking the truth, why are you beating me?” (24) Then Annas bound Jesus and sent him to Caiaphas, the high priest.

Jesus was hauled into the high priest’s home bound in chains and ropes. A pole was inserted below Jesus’ arm with His hands tied behind His back. Guards used that pole to control prisoners. Lifting on the pole exerted a great deal of pain by pulling their shoulders from the sockets. For guards it made turning and directing prisoners much easier. The guards who arrested Jesus used it for sport. Although Jesus freely gave Himself up and followed instructions, those guards lifted up on that pole to see Him suffer. In Jesus’ case a long chain hung from His neck trailing behind Him. In the olive grove and along the road that chain often snagged on bushes and weeds along the path choking the Savior. A guard following behind some times stepped in that chain to see Jesus jerked back and fall to the ground. Jesus had the choice of falling straight back where His head would strike the ground or to one side where the pole between His back and arms would tear His arms from His body. Most of those guards laughed at His suffering. Demons pushed them to inflict the maximum amount of pain on God’s Son as they marched Him to the high priest.

There was no reason to question Jesus in the high priest’s home. Nothing like this was ever done. The high priest neglected to wear the breastplate God designed to consult in matters of life and death. Seeing this, Jesus knew what the verdict would be before the first question was asked. That is why Jesus answered them by telling them to ask the people who listened to Him. It was a nice way of telling them, Jesus knew He would not be allowed witnesses in His trial. It was also a way of telling them, His witness would continue after His trial and execution.

Jesus’ trail was well planned and every step rehearsed down to the last witness the priests gathered against Jesus. But at the trial the thoughts and words from those witnesses was scrambled by an unseen force. Unknown and unseen by the religious leaders because they didn’t know God or His voice. But the voice and instructions from demons was loud and clear to them.

The high priest began asking Jesus about his followers and what he had been teaching them. Jesus looked around the room at each face. He saw many of them when He preached. Jesus knew those people heard what He said. Jesus also knew few words touched their hearts. Jesus knew how their preconceived ideas and doctrines hid truth from their ears and eyes. Jesus knew they witnessed the miracles He performed. Jesus replied, “Everyone knows what I teach. I have preached regularly in the synagogues and the Temple, where the people gather. I have not spoken in secret.” For many of those priests this was a last call to salvation they would hear. Jesus had been praying for them before they arrested Him in that olive grove. Jesus had no choice but to request witnesses on His behalf. “Why are you asking me this question? Ask those who heard me. They know what I said.” Jesus followed court procedures which were not part of the high priest’s plans. Then one of the Temple guards standing nearby slapped Jesus across the face. “Is that the way to answer the high priest?” he demanded. This was nothing new. We see Jeremiah went through the same process when he delivered God’s messages. By now we should know, we have to compare the introduces from both chapters to see more details about this lesson being taught in scripture.

Jeremiah 11:1-8 NLTse The LORD gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, (2) “Remind the people of Judah and Jerusalem about the terms of my covenant with them. (3) Say to them, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Cursed is anyone who does not obey the terms of my covenant! (4) For I said to your ancestors when I brought them out of the iron-smelting furnace of Egypt, “If you obey me and do whatever I command you, then you will be my people, and I will be your God.” (5) I said this so I could keep my promise to your ancestors to give you a land flowing with milk and honey–the land you live in today.'” Then I replied, “Amen, LORD! May it be so.” (6) Then the LORD said, “Broadcast this message in the streets of Jerusalem. Go from town to town throughout the land and say, ‘Remember the ancient covenant, and do everything it requires. (7) For I solemnly warned your ancestors when I brought them out of Egypt, “Obey me!” I have repeated this warning over and over to this day, (8) but your ancestors did not listen or even pay attention. Instead, they stubbornly followed their own evil desires. And because they refused to obey, I brought upon them all the curses described in this covenant.'”

We have to compare the introduction of Jeremiah 11 to the introduction to John 18 which contains the fulfillment of one of the prophecies. What does the covenant have to do with Jesus praying in that olive grove and being arrested? Jesus followed God’s covenant and all His laws to prepare for that moment. On the other hand, Judas followed his own course, ideas, and concepts. Hence we see the result from each course. Jesus received God’s promise and more. What did Judas get? Judas continued to follow his own course by making his own decisions, and believed his way was the only way. “I have sinned,” he declared, “for I have betrayed an innocent man.” “What do we care?” they retorted. “That’s your problem.” Then Judas threw the silver coins down in the Temple and went out and hanged himself. (Matthew 27:4-5 NLTse). Those priests were as guilty as Judas was when it came to doing things their own way. They arrested Jesus and tried Him their own way. They ignored God’s method for trying a man. Then of course one thing led to another when they tried to cover up Jesus’ resurrection. One mistake after another was made. Nothing worked out for them. A lesson we need to look at whenever we feel we are wise enough to plot our own course.

Jeremiah 11:20-23 NLTse (20) O LORD of Heaven’s Armies, you make righteous judgments, and you examine the deepest thoughts and secrets. Let me see your vengeance against them, for I have committed my cause to you. (21) This is what the LORD says about the men of Anathoth who wanted me dead. They had said, “We will kill you if you do not stop prophesying in the LORD’s name.” (22) So this is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says about them: “I will punish them! Their young men will die in battle, and their boys and girls will starve to death. (23) Not one of these plotters from Anathoth will survive, for I will bring disaster upon them when their time of punishment comes.”

You can see how comparing prophecies with their fulfillment brings out more details than ever imagined. Jeremiah lived through this prophecy which also pointed to the future event of Jesus’ trial and how God was going to deal with those religious leaders. Why couldn’t those religions leaders who condemned Jesus look back and see those simple lessons? This was a lesson God’s Spirit was trying to reach those religious leaders with. But they wouldn’t listen. Instead they continued their plans to silence Jesus. John provided a detailed account.

John 18:28-40 NLTse Jesus’ trial before Caiaphas ended in the early hours of the morning. Then he was taken to the headquarters of the Roman governor. His accusers didn’t go inside because it would defile them, and they wouldn’t be allowed to celebrate the Passover. (29) So Pilate, the governor, went out to them and asked, “What is your charge against this man?” (30) “We wouldn’t have handed him over to you if he weren’t a criminal!” they retorted. (31) “Then take him away and judge him by your own law,” Pilate told them. “Only the Romans are permitted to execute someone,” the Jewish leaders replied. (32) (This fulfilled Jesus’ prediction about the way he would die.) (33) Then Pilate went back into his headquarters and called for Jesus to be brought to him. “Are you the king of the Jews?” he asked him. (34) Jesus replied, “Is this your own question, or did others tell you about me?” (35) “Am I a Jew?” Pilate retorted. “Your own people and their leading priests brought you to me for trial. Why? What have you done?” (36) Jesus answered, “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.” (37) Pilate said, “So you are a king?” Jesus responded, “You say I am a king. Actually, I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.” (38) “What is truth?” Pilate asked. Then he went out again to the people and told them, “He is not guilty of any crime. (39) But you have a custom of asking me to release one prisoner each year at Passover. Would you like me to release this ‘King of the Jews’?” (40) But they shouted back, “No! Not this man. We want Barabbas!” (Barabbas was a revolutionary.)

If those religious leaders had reviewed the price Jerusalem had to pay for not listening to God or His prophet Jeremiah, maybe they would have listened to Jesus. John tells us those Jewish leaders knew something about God’s law. His accusers didn’t go inside of Pilates palace because it would defile them, and they wouldn’t be allowed to celebrate the Passover. I’m not sure where they got that from. John is pointing us to the fact priests and Pharisees wrote a kind of commentary on scripture. In their minds that commentary explained everything in scripture in terms people could understand. In essence that commentary turned out to be another idol placed between themselves and God. Don’t be too surprised. Most denominations follow the same course. The biggest mistake those priests made was not referring to scripture which is the same mistake committed today. People refer to books, commentaries, web sites, anything and everything except the Bible. Then they consider themselves experts without consult the universe’s one source of infinite wisdom. All they are doing is denying time with God’s Spirit in His Word.

Preparations for Jesus trial didn’t seem out work well for those priests. They hoped the tide would turn in their favor and they could once gain control of the situation. The next phase was to present Jesus to Pilate. Jesus was presented to Pilate with the visual effect of a condemned prisoner. He was bound in chains and beaten. All of this was planned to give Pilate the visual effect of a guilty criminal. That didn’t work either. Pilate saw trough their scheme and personally questioned Jesus. Pilate knew those priests staged the whole scene and he knew why. For years Pilate received reports about Jesus from his guard who he trusted, and continuous complaints from the priests and Pharisees, he didn’t trust. Pilate saw how those reports did not agree. Scripture explains how Jesus requested witnesses. The priests denied Jesus that right, but God already provided Pilate with a list of his own witnesses. Jesus told Pilate, “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.” This was something the priests did not want to hear. It was a detail they could not accept. It was one of the reasons they wanted to kill Him. Jesus told about this in a parable. “Finally, the owner sent his son, thinking, ‘Surely they will respect my son.’ “But when the tenant farmers saw his son coming, they said to one another, ‘Here comes the heir to this estate. Come on, let’s kill him and get the estate for ourselves!’” (Matthew 21:37-38 NLTse). Pilate said, “So you are a king?” Jesus responded, “You say I am a king. Actually, I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.” There were two reasons those priests could not understand Jesus’ messages and ministry. They did not love Jesus or the truth. They loved their customs and traditions more than God’s Savior.

As we’ve seen in this study, God’s time line is crossed by many events. Jeremiah’s prophecy contains two events, the olive tree and Jesus being silenced. The two are related. Jesus’ rejection and execution led to the final destruction of Jerusalem’s temple, a prophecy Jeremiah and other prophets repeated. Jesus’ arrest was preceded by His prayers in the olive grove. In both prophecies God used symbols. Jeremiah showed us how we rely on God to tell us what symbols represent. I am like an olive tree, thriving in the house of God. I will always trust in God’s unfailing love. I will praise you forever, O God, for what you have done. I will trust in your good name in the presence of your faithful people. (Psalms 52:8-9 NLTse). David told us what an olive tree is supposed to represent. Some one who trusts in God. But there is another side of the story. Paul tells us about a change that olive tree will undergo. And since Abraham and the other patriarchs were holy, their descendants will also be holy–just as the entire batch of dough is holy because the portion given as an offering is holy. For if the roots of the tree are holy, the branches will be, too. But some of these branches from Abraham’s tree–some of the people of Israel–have been broken off. And you Gentiles, who were branches from a wild olive tree, have been grafted in. So now you also receive the blessing God has promised Abraham and his children, sharing in the rich nourishment from the root of God’s special olive tree. But you must not brag about being grafted in to replace the branches that were broken off. You are just a branch, not the root. “Well,” you may say, “those branches were broken off to make room for me.” Yes, but remember–those branches were broken off because they didn’t believe in Christ, and you are there because you do believe. So don’t think highly of yourself, but fear what could happen. For if God did not spare the original branches, he won’t spare you either. (Romans 11:16-21 NLTse).

We can see the olive tree was not completely destroyed. God broke off those branches that wouldn’t produce and replaced them with new branched that will produce. As a whole the Levitical priesthood failed. To remove all doubt, God chose the line of David of Judah to bring His Son into this world. That last Passover when Jesus died marked the death of a spiritual first born son, the end of the Levitical priesthood. “Look, I have chosen the Levites from among the Israelites to serve as substitutes for all the firstborn sons of the people of Israel. The Levites belong to me, for all the firstborn males are mine. On the day I struck down all the firstborn sons of the Egyptians, I set apart for myself all the firstborn in Israel, both of people and of animals. They are mine; I am the LORD.” “Of all the people of Israel, the Levites are reserved for me. I have claimed them for myself in place of all the firstborn sons of the Israelites; I have taken the Levites as their substitutes. For all the firstborn males among the people of Israel are mine, both of people and of animals. I set them apart for myself on the day I struck down all the firstborn sons of the Egyptians. Yes, I have claimed the Levites in place of all the firstborn sons of Israel. And of all the Israelites, I have assigned the Levites to Aaron and his sons. They will serve in the Tabernacle on behalf of the Israelites and make sacrifices to purify the people so no plague will strike them when they approach the sanctuary.” (Numbers 3:12-13, 8:16-19 NLTse). So there won’t be any mistake, Paul used Gentiles as a symbol so we would see those new branches included us. Are you a productive branch or a broken branch on that olive tree?

Isaiah 63:1-5 Blood Stained Clothing

PRM Front Cover Book 8 Isa 63 to Zech 3

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Isaiah 63:1-5 NLTse Who is this who comes from Edom, from the city of Bozrah, with his clothing stained red? Who is this in royal robes, marching in his great strength? “It is I, the LORD, announcing your salvation! It is I, the LORD, who has the power to save!” (2) Why are your clothes so red, as if you have been treading out grapes? (3) “I have been treading the winepress alone; no one was there to help me. In my anger I have trampled my enemies as if they were grapes. In my fury I have trampled my foes. Their blood has stained my clothes. (4) For the time has come for me to avenge my people, to ransom them from their oppressors. (5) I was amazed to see that no one intervened to help the oppressed. So I myself stepped in to save them with my strong arm, and my wrath sustained me.

Isaiah 63:15-19 NLTse LORD, look down from heaven; look from your holy, glorious home, and see us. Where is the passion and the might you used to show on our behalf? Where are your mercy and compassion now? (16) Surely you are still our Father! Even if Abraham and Jacob would disown us, LORD, you would still be our Father. You are our Redeemer from ages past. (17) LORD, why have you allowed us to turn from your path? Why have you given us stubborn hearts so we no longer fear you? Return and help us, for we are your servants, the tribes that are your special possession. (18) How briefly your holy people possessed your holy place, and now our enemies have destroyed it. (19) Sometimes it seems as though we never belonged to you, as though we had never been known as your people.

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I wanted to approach this study a little differently. I’ve done this in the past because there has always been a reason. This time as I was highlighting the texts, going back and forth between chapters, I could see a few details coming out. The first is, studying the prophecy and fulfillment together not only show us how the prophecy is fulfilled, but show us what questions to ask. The first question I saw was, why was Jesus working alone? “I have been treading the winepress alone; no one was there to help me.” Of course this points to us and the lack of cooperation and concern this world has for God’s plan of salvation. This prophecy points to Revelation 19 which of course provided the answer. But first take a minute and think about that question. Why is Jesus working alone? Why aren’t people helping Him? My guess is people reading this book are coming up with 1000 reasons. Are any of them correct? Let’s see how they measure up to the answer in Revelation 19. “The armies of heaven, dressed in the finest of pure white linen, followed him on white horses.” Jesus was not working alone. That lack of concern points to this world who forgot we have God’s army behind us and with us to help at all times, in every need, with every problem. We have powers at our side we can’t imagine. But this doesn’t stop people from making up excuses. For one reason or another people don’t want to get involved in God’s plan of salvation which at this moment is compared to a war.

Notice how Isaiah introduced this chapter. Who is this who comes from Edom, from the city of Bozrah, with his clothing stained red? Who is this in royal robes, marching in his great strength? “It is I, the LORD, announcing your salvation! It is I, the LORD, who has the power to save!” Why would Isaiah write a prophecy about Jesus coming from Edom and a place hardly anyone knows anything about? Well study the city of Bozrah yourself and you’ll find out. Then maybe you’ll begin learning how God recorded prophecy in His book.

When Jesus comes from Bozrah, He announces the plan of salvation He is fulfilling. Oops, I gave away a portion of the question asked in the previous paragraph. Jesus comes from Bozrah to save. The question may be, to save us from what? Part of the answer is in the first few verses of the introduction. Save us from ourselves. Our foolish pride and the concept we either know the answer, or it’s too hard to figure it out, so we’ll let someone do the work for us. Not many people know why Jesus comes through Bozrah to save this world.

Isaiah 63 gives us a list of key words to lead us to a parallel chapter. Using the key words robe, blood, and winepress make Revelation 19 the evident choice. When people look at Revelation 19, they may ask, why is Jesus robe dipped in blood? I don’t care what you’ve been told or taught, Isaiah 63 provided the answer long before Revelation was written and long before any wannabe teacher thought up an answer. Why are your clothes so red, as if you have been treading out grapes? “I have been treading the winepress alone; no one was there to help me. In my anger I have trampled my enemies as if they were grapes. In my fury I have trampled my foes. Their blood has stained my clothes. Maybe that’s why those teachers don’t want to give you the right answer. They would have to explain why Jesus is left alone to do all the work. Look at a parable Jesus taught with a winepress in it. The owner built a vineyard then rented it out to a few farmers. Those farmers got greedy and didn’t want to share a portion of the harvest with the owner. Remember that one? That was the parable where the land owner sends His messengers, who the tenants killed. Then he sent his son, who the tenants killed. They made up their own plan. In their minds when they killed the son, they would inherit the vineyard. Of course that would require changing a few more of God’s laws. But what’s a few more changes, a few more sins if your willing to go as far as murder to get what you want? Then again — give this some more thought. How does the story about those evil tenants relate to us – living in this hour of earth’s history, sitting around thinking of excuses not to get involved with God’s plan of salvation? When we don’t want to get involved, are we any better than those farmers who killed the land owner’s son?

If those wannabe teachers were able to explain why Jesus is working alone, they could see how they’ve been preaching the wrong message. God’s plan of salvation does not involve making up a whole bunch of prophecies about this world. Wannabe prophets make up those prophecies to attract more people to themselves and make more money. They could care less about God’s plan of salvation or how to correctly study God’s Word. Wannabe prophets make up their own rules, messages, plans, and in most cases make a few changes to God’s laws just like those farmers did to get the owner’s land. Those farmers were so stupid, they forgot the owner was still alive and able to even the score. Wannabe prophets forget God is still alive and kicking. He is also listening and has an army at His command recording everything. Every lie they make up. Every dollar they make. Every attempt God’s Spirit makes to correct them. Every opportunity they are given to bless others with the money they stole. Every change they had to accept Jesus’ sacrifice and begin the process of sanctification. God’s army may be busy recording things now, but one day they’ll be called to action. What do you want your guardian angel doing? Recording a list of sins or helping you do what God needs you to do?

To get a good feeling on what Isaiah 63 and Revelation 19 bring out when they are combined, let’s take a look at the fulfillment of the prophecy in addition to the introduction and summation together.

Revelation 19:11-18 NLTse (11) Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war. (12) His eyes were like flames of fire, and on his head were many crowns. A name was written on him that no one understood except himself. (13) He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God. (14) The armies of heaven, dressed in the finest of pure white linen, followed him on white horses. (15) From his mouth came a sharp sword to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod. He will release the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty, like juice flowing from a winepress. (16) On his robe at his thigh was written this title: King of all kings and Lord of all lords. (17) Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, shouting to the vultures flying high in the sky: “Come! Gather together for the great banquet God has prepared. (18) Come and eat the flesh of kings, generals, and strong warriors; of horses and their riders; and of all humanity, both free and slave, small and great.”

Revelation 19:1-9 NLTse (1) After this, I heard what sounded like a vast crowd in heaven shouting, “Praise the LORD! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God. (2) His judgments are true and just. He has punished the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality. He has avenged the murder of his servants.” (3) And again their voices rang out: “Praise the LORD! The smoke from that city ascends forever and ever!” (4) Then the twenty-four elders and the four living beings fell down and worshiped God, who was sitting on the throne. They cried out, “Amen! Praise the LORD!” (5) And from the throne came a voice that said, “Praise our God, all his servants, all who fear him, from the least to the greatest.” (6) Then I heard again what sounded like the shout of a vast crowd or the roar of mighty ocean waves or the crash of loud thunder: “Praise the LORD! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. (7) Let us be glad and rejoice, and let us give honor to him. For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and his bride has prepared herself. (8) She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear.” For the fine linen represents the good deeds of God’s holy people. (9) And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” And he added, “These are true words that come from God.”

Revelation 19:19-21 NLTse (19) Then I saw the beast and the kings of the world and their armies gathered together to fight against the one sitting on the horse and his army. (20) And the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who did mighty miracles on behalf of the beastmiracles that deceived all who had accepted the mark of the beast and who worshiped his statue. Both the beast and his false prophet were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. (21) Their entire army was killed by the sharp sword that came from the mouth of the one riding the white horse. And the vultures all gorged themselves on the dead bodies.

As you may have noticed, the introduction to Revelation begins with victory in Heaven. You may not notice it until you compare the introduction and summation together, but the battle is recorded in the summation. Revelation seems to be written out of sequence. You may be asking yourself why. Although Revelation is thought to be written in Greek, like most of the New Testament, remember, John was a Jew. We can see John was Jewish based on the way Revelation was written. His writing style followed a pattern seen throughout the Old Testament. Writers often recorded events highlighting major details, then go back to fill in finer details. This writing style was introduced in Genesis where the author recorded the sequence of creation and later added more details about it. Revelation is written with the same process. When we study an event like Jesus’ wedding, the final battle, destruction of evil, or any other subject in Revelation, we need to collect all the texts on that subject in the chapter, and book, as well as details in other books of the Bible. This is one of those common sense Bible Study rules we should all follow. When we match up the original prophecy with chapters in other books explaining how it’s fulfilled, it becomes much easier to see the proper sequence. Another thing matching the prophecy to it’s fulfillment does is shows us questions we should ask. We’ve seen that in this study.

Isaiah tells us Jesus came from Edom. Revelation 19, like most chapters in Revelation begins in Heaven. See the contrast? Now we can see why Edom is associated with people neglecting the work they are supposed to do for Jesus. Edom represents Jacob’s twin brother Esau. This is the account of the descendants of Esau (also known as Edom). (Genesis 36:1 NLTse). Esau gave away his birth right as the first born for a lunch. Esau said to Jacob, “I’m starved! Give me some of that red stew!” (This is how Esau got his other name, Edom, which means “red.”) “All right,” Jacob replied, “but trade me your rights as the firstborn son.” “Look, I’m dying of starvation!” said Esau. “What good is my birthright to me now?” (Genesis 25:30-32 NLTse). What are we selling our invitation to Jesus’ wedding for?

Jesus’ rode and white linen are also key lessons between Isaiah 63 and Revelation 19. One of the reasons it is key is the colors. I’m sure people like getting into what those colors may represent, but let’s keep this in context. “ “I have been treading the winepress alone; no one was there to help me.” Red blood on white linen is impossible to hide. Jesus wants to make it clear how hard He is working for us. There’s no doubt about it. This is the main theme of salvation – what Jesus has done and continues to do for us. But many Christians never get past that cross. They put Jesus back on that cross every time they want to witness. Their testimony is the same no matter who they meet and what their needs may be. Those type of Christians are in such a deep rut it is almost impossible to get them out of it. Until they open their eyes, they’ll never understand the name Jesus wants to give them.

After the cross Jesus taught His disciples everything over again. This time it only took forty days instead of three years. At least those disciples remembered some of the details. Then Jesus went up into Heaven. What do you think He has been doing there? Do you think He has been sitting around for 2000 years waiting for us? I’ve heard a hundred sermons on what people think Jesus is doing in Heaven. Most claim He is waiting because there are too many souls waiting to be saved to return now. Is that it? What about the judgment? Jesus has been working on the judgment for more than 150 years. When is He going to finish? We don’t know. The world heard those bells on the bottom of the High Priest’s robe when He walked into the Holy Sanctuary to begin judgment in 1844. But who is listening for the sound of those bells when He leaves the Sanctuary signaling judgment is over? Hardly anyone. Is that part of the message we should be preaching now? It is part of Jesus’ ministry, part of God’s plan of salvation. But hardly anyone can teach a thing about Jesus’ ministry. Sure they take a parable every once in a while and preach about what they think it means. But do they know how to show why Jesus taught parables in a certain sequence which was meant to be studied together? It took me years of study to finally see and understand that detail. Then I asked why no one else saw it.

Come on now. I don’t have any formal training and no six year degree in theology. Why is it I can see those details and so many people who claim to be experts, God’s chose people, miss what is now obvious to me and a few others? Then I was shown books written over 150 years ago discussing those sequences Jesus taught in and how they combine to show much, much deeper truth and understanding. It seems the world today is stuck on the milk of God’s Word and like it there. No growth, no advancement, no real relationship with God, and no idea of what to preach or how to preach it. Jesus said, “I was amazed to see that no one intervened to help the oppressed. So I myself stepped in to save them with my strong arm, and my wrath sustained me.” Why does Jesus tell us His wrath sustained Him? Look up the word wrath. It is bottled up anger. Now you know how Jesus is going to feel when He steps out of Heaven’s Sanctuary and sees nothing done. Jesus left this world with explicate instructions and the world let people change them. There will be no room for excuses. It’ll be too late. When we hear those bells, judgment will be over with.

Revelation gives us a bit more hope along with explaining how everything will be accomplished. From his mouth came a sharp sword to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod. He will release the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty, like juice flowing from a winepress. This follows a detailed description of Jesus for a reason. When people realize what this means and see Jesus for who He really is and what He has been doing for them, it’ll be too late. That’s when your going to see an angel standing in the sun, shouting to the vultures flying high in the sky: “Come! Gather together for the great banquet God has prepared. (18) Come and eat the flesh of kings, generals, and strong warriors; of horses and their riders; and of all humanity, both free and slave, small and great.” Why does God use vultures, birds of prey and scavengers as a symbol? Who wants to get eaten by a crow? That’s what those birds do, they clean up every last scrap. It’s a symbol showing how complete the devastation will be.

Why does Revelation mention the kings and leaders of this world? Revelation 12 and 13 show how Satan, the dragon hides behind images. Kings of the earth hide behind their authority. Look at the kings of this world today. Here in the US we have a leader forcing everyone into his plans to provide health care. His plan does nothing more than making one of the wealthiest people in the world wealthier. One health care company is running the whole show. Laws are changing to increase profits while denying basic health care to millions. The US cannot provide proper health care for its warriors, its military veterans. The plan is not right. Policies are costing people millions and benefit the rich. What is the leader in the US doing? Hiding behind authority. Look at Israel today. Israel is suffering rocket attacks from Gaza. In retaliation Israel is bombing everything from military sites to hospitals. Too many innocent children, women, and men have lost their lives. Neither side is making the right decisions. Neither side is asking God what they should do. Both leaders are making decisions and hiding behind their authority. This is happening all over the world. Fanatic religious leaders wage war on anyone they feel like. Some claim to be led by God. They all claim to serve God. But how? They never explain why. They hide behind their authority. But they can’t hide from God. We see that in Revelation.

Revelation 19 begins with a lot of praise. God is praised for His salvation, glory, power, for punishing the prostitute who corrupted the earth, and for Jesus’ wedding. Get the picture. We just had a quick review of Jesus’ ministry. I’ll bet you missed it because the world thrives on distorted views We have a list of subjects to preach, neither of them included a preacher’s best guess on what is going to happen in the world tomorrow, or a list of doctrines. Just as Revelation 19 begins in Heaven, so should the message we deliver. Not from a board meeting, seminar, or pamphlet written in this world. Revelation 21 tells us about the army God has to back us up, to deliver messages, to help guide us as well as protect us from the attacks we’re going to experience the moment we step up to work along side Jesus. Of course Jesus is not working alone, but uses it as a symbol to emphasize the point He needs more people to stand up.

Let us be glad and rejoice, and let us give honor to him. For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and his bride has prepared herself. She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear.” For the fine linen represents the good deeds of God’s holy people. Once again we see Jesus’ wedding, one of the most important messages we can bring to the world. Revelation 21 gives us the choice of being invited to a wedding or a war. Which one are you waiting for? The choice is yours. That war is described at the end of Revelation 19. The opposing army is led by the beast, Satan, who is supported by a false prophet. We see Satan’s false prophet hard at work these days using all the media and outlets available. Satan’s false prophet is a symbol pointing to that self reliance Satan deceives people with. Many people try to identify all the false prophets. By doing so they either forget general Bible Study rules or want to write their own rules. The fulfillment of a prophecy is always greater than its symbol. Because Revelation 21 uses symbols, we have to follow that rule for every symbol. Not bend it or throw it out the window for one of those symbols. So let’s examine the summations the way we’ve learned. They are the acid test to check for consistency between the chapters.

Isaiah closed with a plea. “LORD, look down from heaven; look from your holy, glorious home, and see us. Where is the passion and the might you used to show on our behalf? Where are your mercy and compassion now?” Isaiah wrote what those people inside Jerusalem felt before it fell to Babylon. They felt alone and abandoned. They finally reached a point where they knew God was not present. In desperation they pleaded for help. “Hey you up there. Remember me? I’m your son, or so you told me long ago.” Isaiah wrote, “Surely you are still our Father! Even if Abraham and Jacob would disown us, LORD, you would still be our Father. You are our Redeemer from ages past.” When desperate times call for desperate measures, where do lost children finally turn? To their parents. Like the parable of the son who takes his share of the inheritance then spends it on parties and whores. That son ran out of money, food, everything. It took him time to remember how good life was like when he lived with his father. Jerusalem was the same in Isaiah’s time. It was much the same in Jesus’ time. It is pretty much the same today. People don’t have a lot of use for God or their parents when times are good. Things have to get bad, real bad before they finally realize what it was like as a child. The happy times. Not a care in the world. Everything they needed was provided for. They may not have had everything they wanted, but they always had more than the needed. That’s where God wants us to be. In a state of knowing everything we need has been provided for. God sees our needs long before we see them. He also sees our trials long before they occur. Many people just can’t believe God is always watching over them and is able to provide for all our needs.

LORD, why have you allowed us to turn from your path? Why have you given us stubborn hearts so we no longer fear you? Return and help us, for we are your servants, the tribes that are your special possession. This shows how shallow their belief in God is and what little faith they have, and how they’ve been deceived by self reliance. They blamed God for the path in life they choose. The blamed God for their hearts of stone. They finally saw how far they drifted away from God, but were not tested enough to realize their choices put them in the situation they were in. Sanctification is a process just like Bible Study is a process. We’ve learned when we follow that process to the letter, God’s Spirit reveals much more than other people ever saw in a few verses or chapters. We’ve seen how one event is linked to another. We’ve seen how choices were made and what the consequences were. Looking back on history is one thing. Looking back on our lives is another matter. It’s hard to admit you were wrong. For some people it’s nearly impossible to admit they made the wrong choice. That is the first step in healing and getting back on the right path. If you look over Jerusalem’s history you’ll see it is filled with instances when Jerusalem found themselves in situations they could never get themselves out of. That’s when they turned to God and of course God came in to save the day in a way only God could do. Jerusalem saw many miracles that could have only come from God. They soon forgot — then went back to doing things their own way. They never really turned to God more than 50%. Each time they drew themselves further and further away from God. Each time it took a bigger and more severe trial to get their attention and finally look at themselves as the cause. What would it take? They saw parents eating children, dead bodies in the streets, the world’s largest army camped outside their walls. All of those physical signs showed how far they drifted from God. If they didn’t understand those physical signs, how are they going to understand the spiritual? “Sometimes it seems as though we never belonged to you, as though we had never been known as your people.”

It’s not by chance John closed the chapter of Revelation 21 with the same scene Jerusalem witnessed. This time, for us, it is still a spiritual symbol, a future event which will one day be physically fulfilled. Is that what we need before we finally see how far we’ve drifted away from God? Do we have to find ourselves outside New Jerusalem’s walls as a member of Satan’s army before we realize our decisions put us in that spot? How does that false prophet put us in that spot? How does that false prophet draw us away from God? For those wannabe prophets, Satan teaches them to be self reliant. He convinces people they have some sort of power to look at a line of scripture, compare it to the world and come up with an interpretation on their own. They rely upon themselves more and more. Of course their prophecies prove to be false. This drives them to a point of relying more and more on themselves and that power Satan promised them. As one prophecy after another proves to be wrong, they try harder and harder to get one right. Those wannabe prophets will do anything to be right once. If a small portion of one of their prophecies appears to be 1% accurate, they shower tons of praise on themselves.

Like those people inside Jerusalem, wannabe prophets don’t want to turn to God. They can’t admit their wrong. Pride will not allow it. Satan convinced them they have to work their way into God’s favor. Or those riches Satan showers upon them convince wannabe prophets they are a success. Once again Satan conquers using pride and riches. Satan uses wannabe prophets to deceive millions. Instead of listening to God, people listen to false prophets. People think salvation comes from prophecy, but just in case they pray to Jesus to forgive their sins. They never stop to listen to God’s Spirit. False prophets send out marching orders from Satan. “Tell the world it is about to end. Share my prophecies with the world. You are doing God’s work.” People following false prophets receive their messages from the world. The world listens because it loves their own. The world listens because those messages ignore the convicting power of God’s Spirit. There is never a need to examine yourself to see what needs change. There is never a message to take to an individual and get involved with their instant needs.

People love those false prophecies. They accept them so readily because it makes them just like the false prophet. People love to walk around thinking they know something other people don’t know. Like the priests Jesus talked about. They love long boarders on their robes and long public prayers. They love to draw attention to themselves. They love the attention. They love putting people down. They love the control, and are willing to pay for it. They send money to false prophets convincing themselves they are supporting God’s cause. But where has God ever said we are supposed to take out messages concerning future prophecies? Can you show me one text?

After Jesus taught in the temple court, He warned His disciples against teaching future prophecies. He told them they are never to join forces with them or adopt their ways. The disciples thought lf they joined forces with the priests and Pharisees, they would be stronger. Of course the disciples thought they would be in charge. But that would never work. The priests and Pharisees would never relinquish their social status. This is why false prophets cause so many divisions. By nature they are controlled by pride and self confidence.

If we looked up the term false prophet in the Bible, we would find dozens of examples explaining what a false prophet is and what he does. Many of them are found in Jeremiah. “A horrible and shocking thing has happened in this land– the prophets give false prophecies, and the priests rule with an iron hand. Worse yet, my people like it that way! But what will you do when the end comes?” (Jeremiah 5:30-31 NLTse). Revelation 19 tells us what will happen in the end. “Both the beast and his false prophet were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur.” It shouldn’t be a difficult decision to make, but many people don’t know there is a decision to make, or what their choices are.

Using simple Bible Study methods we’ve learned from the Bible, we see the beast and false prophet are repeated because they are key words in the chapter. John the author is calling attention to them by repeating them. That’s a signal telling us to study them. Revelation explains the beast’s role and association. I saw a beast rising up out of the sea. It had seven heads and ten horns, with ten crowns on its horns. And written on each head were names that blasphemed God. They worshiped the dragon for giving the beast such power, and they also worshiped the beast. “Who is as great as the beast?” they exclaimed. “Who is able to fight against him?” The devil, who had deceived them, was thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur, joining the beast and the false prophet. There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. (Revelation 13:1, 4, 20:10 NLTse). As we can see, key words are explained by the Bible.

On the other hand, the word mark is not repeated in Revelation 19. It only appears once in Revelation 19. Mark of the beast is not a key word. The author didn’t want to draw attention to it, but men do. They like to focus on that mark. Revelation 13 is the only chapter that mark is repeated. He required everyone–small and great, rich and poor, free and slave–to be given a mark on the right hand or on the forehead. And no one could buy or sell anything without that mark, which was either the name of the beast or the number representing his name. Wisdom is needed here. Let the one with understanding solve the meaning of the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. His number is 666. (Revelation 13:16-18 NLTse). Revelation 13 is the only chapter in Revelation that begins in this world. Every other chapter in Revelation begins in Heaven. But Revelation is the chapter of choice for most wannabe prophets. They love that chapter because it points them to the world. They use Revelation because the world loves hearing the things of the world. Because Revelation 13 begins in this world, they feel the can use events in the world to interpret every line. They take one line then look for something in the world that seems to fit it. This is not proper Bible Study, but God knew it was going to happen. God arranged His Word so we could see what was happening and why.

There are hundreds of interpretations to the mark of the beast. Every single one of them came from the world, just like the chapter showed. God set up a test the world failed. God also showed us how to distinguish Satan’s false prophets from God’s prophets. How does Jesus put an end to that beast and his false prophet? “Their entire army was killed by the sharp sword that came from the mouth of the one riding the white horse.” Jesus destroys them with His Word. Jesus’ word contains more power than to destroy. If you don’t know how Jesus’ Word saves, you have a lot to learn. If you don’t know how Jesus’ Word reveals that false prophet, you have a lot of studying to do. Most people heard Jesus’ Word cuts both ways, but then again they want to interpret that symbol on their own. There are too many people in this world taking God’s Word and try pulling it down to their level. They don’t know how to ask God’s Spirit what it means and know little or nothing about how God’s Word interprets itself.

It’s not difficult to learn how to study, understand, and teach God’s Word. It’s a simple enough process for a child to learn. It only takes a little time, patients, and a connection with God’s Spirit. Which one do you lack? The steps are easy and illustrated in most of these studies in this book.

Collect the texts to study.

  • Highlight words that are the same, similar, or related.

  • Put the study aside and pray.

  • Look at the texts and identify the key thought.

  • Use key words that are highlighted to search for related texts.

  • Compare the main thoughts in the introductions and summations in the two chapters.

  • Highlight words that are the same, similar, or related in the chapters introductions and summations.

  • Compare the key words in the chapters introductions and summations.

  • Put the study aside and pray.

  • Begin writing by paying attention to the key words.

  • Expand writing to include the key thoughts.

  • Put the study aside and pray.

  • Write the conclusions.

  • Pray and review

  • Share

Once you realize this spiritual war we are all facing is fought with words, why would you go to the enemy for ammunition? Do you really want to be shooting off duds like those wannabe prophets? Or do you want to do the right thing? Learn to talk to God and listen. Introduce your friends, family, and everyone your sent to reach to Jesus and let Him handle the situation. Jesus is the only One who knows how to cut straight to the heart and heal.

In the summary to Isaiah 63 we’re shown Jerusalem was destroyed by her enemies. “How briefly your holy people possessed your holy place, and now our enemies have destroyed it.” Revelation 19 shows us how the enemy is destroyed. “Both the beast and his false prophet were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. Their entire army was killed by the sharp sword that came from the mouth of the one riding the white horse.” We don’t have much of a choice but to prepare for battle one way or the other. Our actions and words support either one side or the other.

Isaiah 50:4-8 I Offered My Back

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Isaiah 50:4-8 NLTse The Sovereign LORD has given me his words of wisdom, so that I know how to comfort the weary. Morning by morning he wakens me and opens my understanding to his will. (5) The Sovereign LORD has spoken to me, and I have listened. I have not rebelled or turned away. (6) I offered my back to those who beat me and my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard. I did not hide my face from mockery and spitting. (7) Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore, I have set my face like a stone, determined to do his will. And I know that I will not be put to shame. (8) He who gives me justice is near. Who will dare to bring charges against me now? Where are my accusers? Let them appear!

The most obvious point in time to look for a fulfillment of this prophecy is during Jesus’ first trial in front of the religious leaders after His arrested. To my surprise searching the word beard in three different translations turned up no results. I’ve heard so many sermons on Jesus’ arrest and trial, each one blending Isaiah 50 with accounts recorded in the gospels, I thought people pulling out Jesus’ beard was recorded in at least one of the gospels. I had to think about that for a few days and pray about it. Preachers often make the mistake of blurring prophecies and a random fulfillment without explaining the how they made a connection. By doing so they loose the effect and often times miss the deeper point.

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When we look at a prophecy we have to look at the details. Remember, all prophecies point to a particular point in time and we find it difficult to understand God’s timing. In this case the prophecy reads, “ I offered my back to those who beat me…” This prophecy is written in the past tense. This is not unusual for a prophecy but it’s a point many people miss. Since this prophecy was fulfilled during Jesus’ first trial in front of the religious leaders and pulls in Jesus being whipped by Roman guards, which is a point in time at a later trial. When we look at this prophecy, we see it was written in the past tense. “I offered my back,” indicates the event is already past and thus points us to an intersecting moment of time beyond those trials, crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. The fact the prophecy covers moments before the cross tells us we also have to study that particular time frame to understand how it prepares us for the actual fulfillment after the cross.

While Jesus was bound in chains facing an overwhelming number of jealous and vindictive number of religious leaders by Himself, Peter was wondering around outside in the courtyard. Simon Peter followed Jesus, as did another of the disciples. That other disciple was acquainted with the high priest, so he was allowed to enter the high priest’s courtyard with Jesus. (John 18:15 NLTse). No one knows for sure who the other disciple was but most suspect it was John, one of the most passionate Bible writers. If it was John, you can just imagine the effect it had on him as he watched the mock trial, Jesus’ silence, and those men beating Jesus while He stood in chains?

Peter tried to loose himself in the shadows along the walls of the courtyard. There were a number of fires in the courtyard people lite to warm themselves. Peter looked at the small groups gathered around the fires. One of those groups looked safe to approach. It was mostly women. That fire provided not only warmth but light. As Peter stepped into the light, one of the women recognized him. That was the first time Peter denied Jesus. The process was repeated three times so Peter would not forget the scene. The walls, fire, and faces of the people were burned into Peter’s memory.

Let’s fast forward to Peter’s meeting with Jesus after His resurrection. “Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught,” Jesus said. (John 21:10 NLTse). The first thing Jesus did was feed His disciples. Jesus served them the bread and the fish. This was the third time Jesus had appeared to his disciples since he had been raised from the dead. After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.” “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him. (John 21:13-15 NLTse).

What do we find when we combine the two stories? Here is another important aspect of Bible Study – learn to look at the connecting factors Bible writers recorded. This was the third time Jesus visited His disciples. Then Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him three times. The number three links the story about Peter denying Jesus three times in the courtyard. Jesus fed His disciples before He told Peter to feed His sheep. That physical food actually relates to spiritual food. When did Jesus provide that spiritual food? Throughout His three year ministry with His disciples. Peter and the other disciples had three years to learn how to reach people but during Jesus’ trial, Peter missed three opportunities to witness about Jesus. Peter could have shared everything he should have learned about Jesus. Imagine the impact Peter’s witness would have had if he told those people, “yes I am one of Jesus’ disciples and you will crucify Him and He will rise on the third day.” Jesus told Peter everything he needed to witness to those people. Peter had the ability to save those people by turning them to Jesus. But Peter missed the opportunity God had given him. The moment past and God had to work on another plan to reach them. “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him. Do you understand?

There are a few chapters Isaiah 50 could be pointing to. One of them will be studied here. Another you can use for practice is at the end of this study. You need to practice. Learning easy study methods isn’t enough. You need to put what you’ve learned into practice or you’ll face the same trial Peter faced when He denied Jesus. Peter failed to witness because he didn’t put what he learned into practice. Don’t make the same mistake. Just because the rest of the world wants simple answers, wants other people to find the answers for them, and avoids talking to God. Mass error and majority vote does not make it right? It’s time to put the world away and look at what is coming from Heaven. Let’s take a look at one of those chapters explaining how Isaiah 50 was fulfilled so we can learn a little more about our role as disciples.

2 Corinthians 6:4-10 NLTse (4) In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. (5) We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food. (6) We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love. (7) We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense. (8) We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors. (9) We are ignored, even though we are well known. We live close to death, but we are still alive. We have been beaten, but we have not been killed. (10) Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.

Once we look at a connecting chapter it becomes evident Jesus suffered trials, pain, torment, unfair treatment, and hardships to let His disciples know they are not alone in this fight. Jesus suffered far worse than most of us will face and He wants us to know He is along side of us all the way. As a matter of fact, Jesus us way ahead of us. You talk about a God with experience, Jesus saw how bad this world got before it was destroyed in a flood. Jesus knew what He was getting into before He came to this world. That didn’t stop Him. Jesus also knows what Satan and his angels are planning for us. Jesus will only let Satan go so far. Not to get into a discussion about facing only what you can endure, only Jesus knows those details, we are led to another example. Paul saw a lot of hardships he didn’t expect. He tells us about those hardships to help us understand and prepare. That is only half the story. Praying about this I saw details about Paul’s life I never saw before.

When Paul met Jesus, He blinded him. Before Jesus healed the blind man in John 9, His disciples asked why the man was born blind. “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him. We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work. But while I am here in the world, I am the light of the world.” (John 9:3-5 NLTse). It seems strange for Jesus to give sight to one person and take it away from another. It’s time for us, as Jesus’ disciples to ask why Jesus blinded Paul. The answer is the same. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.”

Those scales on Paul’s eyes didn’t represent what Paul’s life was but what his life had been. Once again, and you better be getting into this habit, we have to look back. Paul was a few steps away from possibly becoming the next high priest. To say the least, Paul was on his way up and had enough ambition to get what he wanted. Where did it begin? Here is a lesson taught in the conception of another son, someone God choose for an important task. An angel told Zechariah he was about to have a son. Some say it was Zechariah’s unbelief that caused him to loose his voice. That was part of the equation, but not the full story. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John. You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He must never touch wine or other alcoholic drinks. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth. And he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God. He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly.” (Luke 1:13-17 NLTse). Zechariah’s doubt extended past the unexpected birth all the way to the unusual roll God needed John to fulfill. Zechariah had his own plans for his son. Zechariah wanted his son to follow in his footsteps as a priest.

Paul was groomed from birth for the same roll Zechariah wanted his son to fill. God allowed Paul’s parents to shape his life with long hard training to fill the Levitical role they felt he was born for. All that training put scales over Paul’s eyes, Jesus only made those scales visible so they could be dwelt with in the proper manner.

That was an example showing how God’s Spirit communicates. One of the ways God’s Spirit communicates is through His Word leading you through a sequence of stories and showing you how they are linked together. Most people call this seeing the spiritual side of the story. Most people experience this type of communication with God not knowing this is one way God’s Spirit talks to you. This is exactly what we’ve seen in this book, God’s Spirit linking one chapter to another and adding other texts when required. The key is linking entire chapters not one text or part of a text.

We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love. Paul wants us to know we’re not known by our trials. Those trails can help encourage others in the same predicament, but there is far more people need to know about us before they see our Christian side. Paul included a list. Study it. Those are the weapons Paul tells about. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense.

Isaiah agreed with the concept of purity, understanding, patience, and kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us long before Paul wrote about it. “The Sovereign LORD has given me his words of wisdom, so that I know how to comfort the weary.” Some times we reach people because we shared in their suffering. Jesus relates to our suffering as well as Paul. As Jesus’ disciples we have to learn to look at our trials as a way of building character as well as skills to reach out and comport people we know or meet. There’s no doubt Isaiah 50 and 2 Corinthians 6 cover the same topic. What about the rest of the chapter? Is God ready to prove His case? Don’t forget, Jesus may be in Heaven conducting judgment at this moment. But before Jesus entered the the Heavenly Most Holy, there was another trial in Heaven. God was on trial. God was judged by all His created beings in Heaven. Another subject for another time line to study. Jesus’ death was supreme evidence of the need for God’s law. Jesus’ treatment in the trial and His crucifixion showed how far Satan will go without the law. Satan was freed from God’s law when he was cast down and restricted to this planet. Freed from the law but not without restrictions. God removed those restrictions from Satan for a moment while the universe witnessed the results which revealed Satan’s true intentions.

One of the lessons shows God does not mind being on trial. God does not mind it when you ask questions. But they have to be asked in the right way. More often than not there is a direct relationship between how people study God’s Word and how they communicate with God. I’m sure you see that in other people. Do you see it in yourself? Examining the entire chapter is a way of testing God and at the same time allows Him to present His evidence. You see, people are used to asking questions but not waiting for answers. They study as as if evidence doesn’t matter. As if they’ve made up their mind before talking to God, before questioning Him, before the trial. How does it make you feel when people prejudge you?

Isaiah 50:1-3 NLTse This is what the LORD says: “Was your mother sent away because I divorced her? Did I sell you as slaves to my creditors? No, you were sold because of your sins. And your mother, too, was taken because of your sins. (2) Why was no one there when I came? Why didn’t anyone answer when I called? Is it because I have no power to rescue? No, that is not the reason! For I can speak to the sea and make it dry up! I can turn rivers into deserts covered with dying fish. (3) I dress the skies in darkness, covering them with clothes of mourning.”

2 Corinthians 6:1-3 NLTse (1) As God’s partners, we beg you not to accept this marvelous gift of God’s kindness and then ignore it. (2) For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation. (3) We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry.

What do you see when you read those two introductions? I know God’s Spirit is speaking to you trying to make a connection, trying to show you details you never saw before. Do you see yourself in those texts? Do you see a portion of Jesus’ life and ministry? What about Peter? Is there a hint of Peter’s life in there? How about Paul? Can you see Paul’s childhood and day of salvation hidden away?

Hidden is not the word to use in Bible Study. When God’s Spirit reveals a detail it becomes as light as day and as impossible to cover up. Why does a chapter containing a prophecy about Jesus begin with a question about divorcing your mother? Obviously this is a symbol which leads to a far greater fulfillment. To understand that fulfillment, we have to search for evidence supporting that spiritual fulfillment. Since the fulfillment of the prophecy about Jesus giving His back and cheeks led us to Paul’s letter, we should stick with the story of Paul’s life to find the answer. Key words help us understand the message when we look at the sequence. We usually don’t look at pronouns as key words, but in this case it’s wise to look at them, because they point to one detail. The message is very personal. Isaiah repeated the words you and your a number of times. Paul used related words partners, we, and our ministry. We see a sign of a movement from working alone for personal gains to a partnership with God. Quite a difference. Paul doesn’t hide the fact He is in a partnership with God while Isaiah shows how most people move away from Him to work on their own. Isaiah also shows how those choice effects people around and closest to us. Isaiah also used the symbolism of being sold to creditors, people with worldly control.

What did Jesus see in Paul? It’s strange the Bible used the symbol of scales which were over Paul’s eyes. Instantly something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized. (Acts 9:18 NLTse). Scales build up on eyes over a matter of time, so those scales show Paul was influenced by people around him to slowly make him blind. Paul’s blindness wasn’t like being born in darkness or something that happened instantly. Isaiah points us to Paul’s mother. I’m sure Paul cared for her, but mothers don’t always do what is right for their child when they are doing what they think is best for them. Women can be misled by ambition as much as men. Ambition was one thing Jesus saw in Paul as well as dedication and the childlike demeanor he approached everything with.

Paul didn’t wait around for someone to give orders, Paul volunteered. When he volunteered he put his reputation on the line. Now we see the connection to the word you Isaiah repeated. Paul put everything he had into every task he did. Now we can understand what Paul felt as he wasted away in prison all those years, A time he would rather be out witnessing to masses of people. Jesus knew everything inside of Paul and knew how to ignite that fire inside his heart. Jesus knew Paul had all the elements inside his heart to get that flame going.

It takes more than a belief or knowledge of Jesus to get that flame and light in your heart. It takes a combination of dedication, a desire to learn, and accomplish things beyond your imagination. It takes an open mind and a desire to learn like a child. Never let go until you see the light and always be prepared to share it. Paul had all that and more than mentioned here. Jesus knew a spark was all Paul needed to get going. Jesus knew the light Paul was able to share with the world.

Everyone has what it takes to create that fire within, but not in all the proper proportions. Some lack enthusiasm. Others lack dedication or attention to detail. And many lack the ability to take orders and carry them out. Pride has the ability to overcome and extinguish that flame and it comes in subtle forms. Some people say, “I can’t witness yet. I have to accomplish this or that or be financially stable.” People think of all kinds of excuses when Jesus calls. They convince themselves because their friends don’t believe like they do, their witness and message will have no effect. They use their family, brothers, sisters, father and mother as an excuse not to advance. Paul didn’t use any of those excuses. Paul didn’t have any of those fire extinguishers inside him. Paul waited quietly, listened to God’s Spirit then examined himself and his own beliefs.

I talked to a few people this week who were brought up from a young age being indoctrinated into a form of religion they could see was not right. None of us read the Bible before we were 6, 8, or 10 years old, but we knew inside many of the things being taught were not in God’s Word. We all felt strange kneeling down in front of a man to confess our sins. We felt strange eating pork on Easter, the day Jesus rose from the grave. We knew stories about how heavenly beings played a part in salvation and their ability to forgive sins was a lie. God’s Spirit was able to reach us with words we never read or heard. We all have that same access to God’s Spirit and all of us have the same ability to listen. But most people feel little or no need to question anything. For them it was easier to kneel down in front of a man and get it over with. Those people lack those basic elements to produce a flame inside their heart from a single spark. God is always working to get those elements in their hearts, to uncover them and get rid of all those doubts that can extinguish that flame. It’s different for all of us but it always requires an extraordinary event to shake things up. For Paul it was a vision of Christ and loosing his sight. The other disciples and many others had to see Jesus die on the cross to shake them up and examine their lives and beliefs the world put in them. What did it take for you to finally open up and look at your life with open eyes? Once Paul got going there was no stopping Him. Not beatings, not prison, not the lack of money or support from his family or the other disciples. Once Paul latched onto God’s Spirit there was no letting go. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow–not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. (Romans 8:38 NLTse). “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation. We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry. God loves teaching with contrasts and Paul’s life was a good example. From the dedicated Pharisee persecuting Christians to the faithful follower of Christ who eventually gave his life to be a witness. Once we find those parallel chapters we begin to understand how the information in them leads us to much more than you’ll ever imagined. The information God gives us is always more than you need because most of it is meant to be shared. Once you find the right person or group to share it with, you’ll understand.

Isaiah 50:9-11 NLTse See, the Sovereign LORD is on my side! Who will declare me guilty? All my enemies will be destroyed like old clothes that have been eaten by moths! (10) Who among you fears the LORD and obeys his servant? If you are walking in darkness, without a ray of light, trust in the LORD and rely on your God. (11) But watch out, you who live in your own light and warm yourselves by your own fires. This is the reward you will receive from me: You will soon fall down in great torment.

2 Corinthians 6:14-18 NLTse (14) Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? (15) What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever? (16) And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God said: “I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people. (17) Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the LORD. Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you. (18) And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty.”

You really don’t understand the influence your parents have on you until you think about it. Your parents influence your ambitions in life. They teach you what they know about right and wrong. They teach you hope, dreams, desires, and fears. Those influences are much deeper than most people consider. Isaiah points us to another influence in our lives. “See, the Sovereign LORD is on my side! Who will declare me guilty?” Is knowing right from wrong, good from evil restricted to the influence of your parents and others around you? Or like most people, were you taught to rely on yourself for answers? Are those people able or willing to defend you when your name comes up in judgment? Would their defense do you any good? Who among you fears the LORD and obeys his servant? If you are walking in darkness, without a ray of light, trust in the LORD and rely on your God. Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever?

Paul faced Jesus alone, examined his own life when scales covered his eyes, then left civilization to be lone with Jesus for three years to learn at His feet. This is such an important fact Paul wrote about it. Dear brothers and sisters, I want you to understand that the gospel message I preach is not based on mere human reasoning. I received my message from no human source, and no one taught me. Instead, I received it by direct revelation from Jesus Christ. You know what I was like when I followed the Jewish religion–how I violently persecuted God’s church. I did my best to destroy it. I was far ahead of my fellow Jews in my zeal for the traditions of my ancestors. But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace. Then it pleased him to reveal his Son to me so that I would proclaim the Good News about Jesus to the Gentiles. When this happened, I did not rush out to consult with any human being. Nor did I go up to Jerusalem to consult with those who were apostles before I was. Instead, I went away into Arabia, and later I returned to the city of Damascus. Then three years later I went to Jerusalem to get to know Peter, and I stayed with him for fifteen days. (Galatians 1:11-18 NLTse). So what’s stopping you from learning at Jesus’ feet? Where are you in your walk with God?

If a dedicated well educated man like Paul, known nation wide as a master of scripture, and on a list as possible high priest of the nation, spent three years learning from Jesus, how long do you think your education process will take? A few days, weeks, years, a life time? How much is there to learn from the Infinite God? How much does self pride extinguish the real flame that should be burning in your heart? How far could you go with half the dedication Paul had? How far could you go if you only learned from Paul’s example? What is holding you back? Are you afraid of what others may think? Are you afraid to face the world like Jesus did without a penny in his pocket? Are you afraid of loosing your prestige in the world like Paul did? Jesus, Paul, and the other disciples, as well as the prophets serve as examples for us. They went through far worse conditions than many of us will experience. All of them served as an example of God’s glory while adding to the faith we need.

Now it’s time for a little homework. A test of sorts. There are also a number of parallels between Isaiah 50 and Galatians 1 you can examine on your own. Finding faith and a form of comfort knowing those before you suffered isn’t enough. Their suffering is for nothing if it doesn’t add fuel to the fire inside you. Your own trials will be for nothing if that spark from that trial doesn’t start that flame. Study Galatians 1 on your own and by all means, share what you learn with others who need your encouragement. God gave you all these things for a reason. No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us. When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths. Go and announce to them that the Kingdom of Heaven is near. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received!

(1 Corinthians 2:11-13, Matthew 10:7-8 NLTse)

Galatians 1:11-16 NLTse (11) Dear brothers and sisters, I want you to understand that the gospel message I preach is not based on mere human reasoning. (12) I received my message from no human source, and no one taught me. Instead, I received it by direct revelation from Jesus Christ. (13) You know what I was like when I followed the Jewish religion–how I violently persecuted God’s church. I did my best to destroy it. (14) I was far ahead of my fellow Jews in my zeal for the traditions of my ancestors. (15) But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace. Then it pleased him (16) to reveal his Son to me so that I would proclaim the Good News about Jesus to the Gentiles. When this happened, I did not rush out to consult with any human being.

Galatians 1:3-10 NLTse May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. (4) Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live. (5) All glory to God forever and ever! Amen. (6) I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ. You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News (7) but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ. (8) Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you. (9) I say again what we have said before: If anyone preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed. (10) Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.

Galatians 1:15-24 NLTse (15) But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace. Then it pleased him (16) to reveal his Son to me so that I would proclaim the Good News about Jesus to the Gentiles. When this happened, I did not rush out to consult with any human being. (17) Nor did I go up to Jerusalem to consult with those who were apostles before I was. Instead, I went away into Arabia, and later I returned to the city of Damascus. (18) Then three years later I went to Jerusalem to get to know Peter, and I stayed with him for fifteen days. (19) The only other apostle I met at that time was James, the Lord’s brother. (20) I declare before God that what I am writing to you is not a lie. (21) After that visit I went north into the provinces of Syria and Cilicia. (22) And still the Christians in the churches in Judea didn’t know me personally. (23) All they knew was that people were saying, “The one who used to persecute us is now preaching the very faith he tried to destroy!” (24) And they praised God because of me.

Isaiah 28:5-22 Precious Cornerstone

Isaiah 28:5-22 NPF Proverbs to MalachiLTse Then at last the LORD of Heaven’s Armies will himself be Israel’s glorious crown. He will be the pride and joy of the remnant of his people. (6) He will give a longing for justice to their judges. He will give great courage to their warriors who stand at the gates. (7) Now, however, Israel is led by drunks who reel with wine and stagger with alcohol. The priests and prophets stagger with alcohol and lose themselves in wine. They reel when they see visions and stagger as they render decisions. (8) Their tables are covered with vomit; filth is everywhere. (9) “Who does the LORD think we are?” they ask. “Why does he speak to us like this? Are we little children, just recently weaned? (10) He tells us everything over and over– one line at a time, one line at a time, a little here, and a little there!” (11) So now God will have to speak to his people through foreign oppressors who speak a strange language! (12) God has told his people, “Here is a place of rest; let the weary rest here. This is a place of quiet rest.” But they would not listen. (13) So the LORD will spell out his message for them again, one line at a time, one line at a time, a little here, and a little there, so that they will stumble and fall. They will be injured, trapped, and captured. (14) Therefore, listen to this message from the LORD, you scoffing rulers in Jerusalem. (15) You boast, “We have struck a bargain to cheat death and have made a deal to dodge the grave. The coming destruction can never touch us, for we have built a strong refuge made of lies and deception.” (16) Therefore, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “Look! I am placing a foundation stone in Jerusalem, a firm and tested stone. It is a precious cornerstone that is safe to build on. Whoever believes need never be shaken. (17) I will test you with the measuring line of justice and the plumb line of righteousness. Since your refuge is made of lies, a hailstorm will knock it down. Since it is made of deception, a flood will sweep it away. (18) I will cancel the bargain you made to cheat death, and I will overturn your deal to dodge the grave. When the terrible enemy sweeps through, you will be trampled into the ground. (19) Again and again that flood will come, morning after morning, day and night, until you are carried away.” This message will bring terror to your people. (20) The bed you have made is too short to lie on. The blankets are too narrow to cover you. (21) The LORD will come as he did against the Philistines at Mount Perazim and against the Amorites at Gibeon. He will come to do a strange thing; he will come to do an unusual deed: (22) For the Lord, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, has plainly said that he is determined to crush the whole land. So scoff no more, or your punishment will be even greater.

When we look at Isaiah 28, we see there is a lot more than a prophecy about a foundation or cornerstone. Isaiah gets right to the point establishing the context as, “the LORD of Heaven’s Armies will himself be Israel’s glorious crown. He will be the pride and joy of the remnant of his people.” everything in this chapter as well as its parallel chapter will fit this context.

Immediately after his introduction, Isaiah added a contrast. “Now, however, Israel is led by drunks who reel with wine and stagger with alcohol. The priests and prophets stagger with alcohol and lose themselves in wine. They reel when they see visions and stagger as they render decisions.” The word however establishes a contrast. We have two sides of a story to look at, Israel’s glorious crown is God while its religious leaders act like drunks. What are aspects of a physical drunk? All their senses are impaired, especially judgment. That’s why Isaiah declared, “God will give a longing for justice to their judges.” Alcohol also gives a false sense of bravery. We see Isaiah explaining that aspect when he describes priests and prophets questioning God, saying they feelPRM Front Cover Book 6 Prov to Isa 32 like they are being treated like children. Alcohol also gives a drunk a false sense of pride. People get drunk to feel good about themselves.

Did you ever see a drunk pulled over for intoxicated driving? The officer administers a field sobriety test. One of those tests is walking a straight line. God was way ahead of them. I will test you with the measuring line of justice and the plumb line of righteousness. Two of the aspects those religious leaders lack is justice and righteousness. Why are they missing those fundamental qualities every religious leader should have?

Isaiah pointed out the answer by repeating it. “Why does he speak to us like this? Are we little children, just recently weaned? He tells us everything over and over– one line at a time, one line at a time, a little here, and a little there! So the LORD will spell out his message for them again, one line at a time, one line at a time, a little here, and a little there, so that they will stumble and fall.” It seems those religious leaders couldn’t understand what God was trying to say. Notice the message is written one line at a time. Notice what their view was on God’s Word. They claim it is too simple to understand. If you think of it, this doesn’t appear to make much sense. In God’s view they don’t understand. In the view of those religious leaders it’s God’s fault because He speaks to them like little children. They reel when they see visions and stagger as they render decisions. In this case the physical characteristics of those religious leaders describes their spiritual condition. But remember, symbols always point to something greater. In this case, something far more off balance, rude, and with more misguided pride than a drunk. The only clue we have is their refuge of lies and deception.

Isaiah repeated another term. “Bargain to cheat death and have made a deal to dodge the grave.” Between the repeated terms is the main prophecy pointing to Jesus. “Look! I am placing a foundation stone in Jerusalem, a firm and tested stone. It is a precious cornerstone that is safe to build on. Whoever believes need never be shaken.” The word cornerstone seems to point to a particular verse in the gospels which is found in three of those books as well as Acts. All of those have one detail in common.

Matthew 21:42-44 NLTse Then Jesus asked them, “Didn’t you ever read this in the Scriptures? ‘The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone. This is the LORD’s doing, and it is wonderful to see.’ (43) I tell you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation that will produce the proper fruit. (44) Anyone who stumbles over that stone will be broken to pieces, and it will crush anyone it falls on.”

Mark 12:10-13 NLTse Didn’t you ever read this in the Scriptures? ‘The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone. (11) This is the LORD’s doing, and it is wonderful to see.'” (12) The religious leaders wanted to arrest Jesus because they realized he was telling the story against them–they were the wicked farmers. But they were afraid of the crowd, so they left him and went away. (13) Later the leaders sent some Pharisees and supporters of Herod to trap Jesus into saying something for which he could be arrested.

Luke 20:17-19 NLTse Jesus looked at them and said, “Then what does this Scripture mean? ‘The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.’ (18) Everyone who stumbles over that stone will be broken to pieces, and it will crush anyone it falls on.” (19) The teachers of religious law and the leading priests wanted to arrest Jesus immediately because they realized he was telling the story against them–they were the wicked farmers. But they were afraid of the people’s reaction.

Acts 4:11-13 NLTse For Jesus is the one referred to in the Scriptures, where it says, ‘The stone that you builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.‘ (12) There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” (13) The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus.

Psalms 118:20-24 NLTse These gates lead to the presence of the LORD, and the godly enter there. (21) I thank you for answering my prayer and giving me victory! (22) The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone. (23) This is the LORD’s doing, and it is wonderful to see. (24) This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.

As we can see, all four of those texts quoted Psalms 118 which is a little different than Isaiah 28. We can compare similar texts using the same key word to see how one author adds a unique piece of information. This helps us to understand what a symbol represents and gives us a broader view of the lesson. But that is far different than letting the Bible explain the fulfillment of prophecies. Many people look at a text or two that explain an aspect of a symbol before jumping to an unsubstantiated conclusion based on nothing more than a guess. That’s what’s known as circumstantial evidence. Most of it of course is not correct. At best it may be a dim view of a prophecy or a small part of the truth.

Over the past weeks I’ve seen a lot of people taking a fresh look at some of the prophecies in Isaiah and Jeremiah. One person claims they point to the United States. Another person says it points to a European country. Some may say Russia, China, or any number of other countries. The introduction of most of the chapters they are looking at begin by showing the prophecy is related to the world, Babylon, or Jerusalem. The world should be easy to figure out. Based on context, Babylon and Jerusalem may be symbols representing a number of things in relationship to time and context. One of the major mistakes some of those authors do is forget one of the basic patterns God used throughout scripture. Symbols always point to a greater fulfillment. When an introduction to a chapter points to the world, a single country less than the world can never be the fulfillment of that symbol. To understand symbols pointing to the world, we have to first understand the context of the chapter. Then we have to understand who claims to have control of the world. Later in this study we will see how the correct parallel chapter containing the fulfillment adds details explaining the proper interpretation of symbols used in the prophecy. But first we’ll take a closer look at the foundations stone in Isaiah 28.

Foundation H3245יסד yâsad yaw-sad’

A primitive root; to set (literally or figuratively); intensively to found; reflexively to sit down together, that is, settle, consult: – appoint, take counsel, establish, (lay the, lay for a) found (-ation), instruct, lay, ordain, set, X sure.

Stone H68 אבן ‘eben eh’-ben

From the root of H1129 through the meaning, to build; a stone: – + carbuncle, + mason, + plummet, [chalk-, hail-, bead-, sling-] stone (-ny), (divers) weight (-s).

The definition of foundation brings a whole new understanding to the entire prophecy. First the definition of foundation agrees with the theme of the chapter. Secondly it shows a deeper spiritual meaning to the entire chapter. God is not condemning drunken religious leaders, He is offering an invitation to sit down. Of course God is not offering an opportunity to negotiate. God wants to explain details to them. Enough details for them to build on.

Prophecy must be studied and accepted as a whole, not only in particular details you may see. Different parts of the world deal with merchants and taxes in different ways. Some parts of the world are effected by war while others see trials caused by weather. Where you live will effect the way you look at freedom. Some countries have no idea how freedom is viewed in other parts of the world. The threat of loosing a part of that freedom is viewed differently in all parts of the world. When we put all those details together we begin to see why God used different interpretations for the same symbols. Not only locations but time is a factor. Prophecies often see a fulfillment or portion of fulfillment in different times. This is why Paul gave specific worship instructions. Let two or three people prophesy, and let the others evaluate what is said. But if someone is prophesying and another person receives a revelation from the Lord, the one who is speaking must stop. In this way, all who prophesy will have a turn to speak, one after the other, so that everyone will learn and be encouraged. Remember that people who prophesy are in control of their spirit and can take turns. (1 Corinthians 14:29-32 NLTse).

This is one point where we see the effects of drunken religious leaders putting trust in someone or something other than God. Paul tells us we’re supposed to cooperate with one another, compare notes so to speak. One person will see one part of a message. Others will see additional details. But that’s not happening today. Too many are preaching as if they have all the truth and no one else knows what their talking about. They talk, talk, like talk, like drunks filled with pride, lies and deceptions, convincing people to put their trust in religious leaders and not directly in God. The invitation (foundation) to sit down and learn is a personal invitation. It was never intended for a chosen few. We see this explained in the parallel chapter containing the fulfillment.

Ephesians 2:17-22 NLTse (17) He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near. (18) Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us. (19) So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. (20) Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. (21) We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. (22) Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit.

This is why finding the right fulfillment is important. See how Paul added details explaining how the prophecy was fulfilled? Jesus is the cornerstone. We are Jesus’ house. Jesus’ apostles and prophets are the foundation. This verse in Ephesians used the word foundation which means a sub base or foundation of a building. Paul is explaining the physical meaning of the symbol used in Isaiah 28. We know the apostles Paul is referring to are the authors of the New Testament and the prophets refer to the Old Testament which tells us to sit down with Jesus and learn from the Bible to fulfill the spiritual meaning of the foundation. Paul also repeats the word Gentiles to stress the fact, messages about God’s Good News is not locked away or given to only one group, which is what some denominations still claim today. Paul also used another spiritual symbol to link his letter to Isaiah 28. “We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord.” Notice the lack of mortar? What is mortar? It is a mixture of cement, sand, and water. From a spiritual aspect it seems harmless, but what can sand represent? “And concerning Israel, Isaiah the prophet cried out, “Though the people of Israel are as numerous as the sand of the seashore, only a remnant will be saved.” (Romans 9:27 NLTse). Paul shows us sand is often used to represent people and as he reminds us in Romans 9, not all of them are God’s faithful followers. Mortar relates to another mixture, wine which is made from a mixture of grapes, water, sugar, and yeast to produce alcohol. Every time God’s Word is mixed with anything it becomes something else. It is no longer pure. When God’s Word is mixed with human thoughts and ideas it looses its flavor. The tainted message may as well be tossed out.

After comparing the prophecy to the fulfillment, we still have to compare introductions and summations in the two chapters. It’s just not a matter of finding the fulfillment of a prophecy. Our goal is to understand how the prophecy was fulfilled. We can only do that after we review and understand the context found in the introductions. This is a pattern God followed in all the prophecies His prophets recorded, in all those books they wrote. It is a pattern God followed from generation to generation. That consistency is evidence of its Author.

Isaiah 28:1-4 NLTse What sorrow awaits the proud city of Samaria– the glorious crown of the drunks of Israel. It sits at the head of a fertile valley, but its glorious beauty will fade like a flower. It is the pride of a people brought down by wine. (2) For the Lord will send a mighty army against it. Like a mighty hailstorm and a torrential rain, they will burst upon it like a surging flood and smash it to the ground. (3) The proud city of Samaria– the glorious crown of the drunks of Israel– will be trampled beneath its enemies’ feet. (4) It sits at the head of a fertile valley, but its glorious beauty will fade like a flower. Whoever sees it will snatch it up, as an early fig is quickly picked and eaten.

Since Samaria fell before Isaiah wrote this prophecy, he is using Samaria as a symbol. Samaria was Israel’s capital. Israel consisted of ten northern tribes when God separated Judah and Israel into two kingdoms. Israel soon turned to paganism brought in by Jeroboam after he returned from Egypt. Israel fell further and further away from God. With no communication with God and no interest in listening to God’s prophets, Israel was lost. Judah formed an alliance with Assyria who finally conquered Samaria. Isaiah is using Samaria as a symbol to point out how far Jerusalem and the two tribes of Judah separated from God. After Israel and Judah separated, most of the priests from the tribe of Levi left Israel to serve in Jerusalem. You would think a collection of priests leaving one country to escape pagan influences would put in an extra effort to ensure the same thing wouldn’t happen again. But history showed it just took a little more time to repeat those mistakes.

Isaiah added the symbol of a drunkard early in this chapter to compare it to the mistakes Samaria and one of its kings, Ahab made. Like a praise to God, Isaiah reminds us of the gifts Israel received and ignored. Many of the stories about Samaria and Israel tells us how God kept calling them back. But they wouldn’t listen. There is something spiritual about the Levite priests leaving Israel, but that may be a long study. Isaiah repeated terms glorious crown and beauty, also pointing out pride lead to their fall.

Ephesians 2:1-7 NLTse Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. (2) You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil–the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. (3) All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. (4) But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, (5) that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) (6) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. (7) So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.

Paul begins at the bottom and builds upward. “Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins.” This looks back at Isaiah’s introduction and offers a solution. “But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)” Isaiah and other prophets in his time only had symbols pointing to Jesus as the promised Messiah. It was their role as a prophet to turn people to God so He could reveal additional details about the Messiah. God never gave any of those prophets a complete picture of Jesus. God never gave any prophet the responsibility of explaining every detail about Jesus to the king, people, or a church in any way, shape, or form. Isaiah’s role as a prophet was to lead people back to God and let Him fill in the details. Paul followed the same order of a prophet. This time he explains more about the Jesus the Messiah, pointing out how His sacrifice freed us from sin’s condemnation as well as providing the ability to change our nature. What do we get when we compare our relationship with God with the example of Samaria Isaiah gave?

The introduction to these two chapters build a higher level of teaching. Using Samaria as a symbol, Isaiah established a foundation. One thing that makes a good foundation is digging down to bedrock or at the very least, undisturbed soil which has been compacted since the flood. That is where the foundation is set. There is a difference between a foundation stone and a cornerstone. Foundation stones are underground. Cornerstones are the first layer above ground level. Think about that on a spiritual level for a few minutes. Better yet, ask God about it next time you sit at the foot of God’s throne.

Isaiah told us how much God blessed Israel then followed up by reminding us how the blessing faded like a flower. What causes a flower to fade? Age with some. Lack of light and water will wither an entire plant. Once a plant dies at cannot reproduce. Think of it. Should God allow a weed as evil as Samaria to flourish and spread? How many more people could God sit and watch go over to Samaria and her from of worship? Sooner or later something had to be done.

Ephesians 2 starts off with the same spiritual subject, “Once you were dead.” Notice the first word in this chapter – ONCE. Paul begins this chapter with hope and a promise of an opportunity to rebuild. The word once denote a coming change both literally and spiritually. This is another writing process God used and repeated. “ You used to live in sin.” Paul build on the promise of once to the next step in the process – used to. This is a clear indication of a change. Also notice how understanding context brings out related words you didn’t notice at first. “Just like the rest of the world.” Paul lets us know we’re not the only people in the game. The whole world is effected by sin. Paul also tells us the cause of all those problems, the devil. This is the detail most self proclaimed prophets forget – to place blame where it belongs. But think of it. Placing blame on the devil, identifying the devil as the cause of problems, telling the world the devil is planning the next reduction in freedom, writing new laws for higher taxes, causing severe weather, influencing world leaders, instilling greed in industry leaders, and all the other problems those prophecies concentrate on does not sell books. Sermons on the devil don’t pack halls. Telling the truth about the devil doesn’t fill donation plates. Telling people the simple truth strikes fear in the hearts of preachers for one reason – they are afraid when people see how complete God teaches and how easy it is to understand, why would people keep going back to preachers, paying them for answers? Experience has taught self proclaimed prophets they can change answers as often as they like, and people will keep coming back. Their answers can stagger around like a drunkard and people keep coming back for more. Why? Look at Paul’s description of the devil. “He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God.” It don’t get any simpler than that.

Did you notice the connection between the glorious crown in Isaiah and rich mercy and love in Ephesians? Another spiritual connection going by unnoticed until the two chapters are compared in context. This is what Paul is building up to. Paul’s main message in Ephesians is as clear as his description of the devil, an quite the contrast. “We are united with Christ Jesus.” This takes us right back to the requirement to share information with one another which testifies to our union with Christ. Isolation, claiming to be a remnant church, bragging your the only one with the right answers, and trying to set yourself above the rest is nothing short of drunken pride which has no place in a union of Christians standing together united with Christ. Pride is not the proper foundation to build upon. Repeating the same message over and over again is not an alternative. We see that message in Isaiah’s summation.

Isaiah 28:23-29 NLTse Listen to me; listen, and pay close attention. (24) Does a farmer always plow and never sow? Is he forever cultivating the soil and never planting? (25) Does he not finally plant his seeds– black cumin, cumin, wheat, barley, and emmer wheat– each in its proper way, and each in its proper place? (26) The farmer knows just what to do, for God has given him understanding. (27) A heavy sledge is never used to thresh black cumin; rather, it is beaten with a light stick. A threshing wheel is never rolled on cumin; instead, it is beaten lightly with a flail. (28) Grain for bread is easily crushed, so he doesn’t keep on pounding it. He threshes it under the wheels of a cart, but he doesn’t pulverize it. (29) The LORD of Heaven’s Armies is a wonderful teacher, and he gives the farmer great wisdom.

I love the way Isaiah begins summing up chapter 28. If we used language like that we would have people complaining we offended them. Listen and pay close attention is not what the world wants to hear. The world wants a message they can pick and choose details they want to believe, accept, alter, and reject. The world wants options. The world wants to believe they serve a God who gave them freedom to choose and all God wants is for them to be happy, no matter how it effects other people. Isaiah wants us to see the message in his summary. In his introduction Isaiah used Samaria to show how far people drift away from God. Isaiah told us how religious leaders messed up on pride. At the end Isaiah offers a solution. Isaiah is giving the same message God has been trying to get His followers to understand since Noah began building that boat. We have to finish the job we were given and we have to do it right.

Look at the series in Isaiah:

pay close attention

never sow

finally plant his seeds

each in its proper way

each in its proper place

knows just what to do

God has given him understanding.

never used

never rolled

easily crushed

doesn’t keep on pounding it

doesn’t pulverize it

The LORD of Heaven’s Armies is a wonderful teacher

We first see a problem with planting. Each seed is in it’s proper place when you know what to do because God gives you understanding. But that’s not always the case. People have their own ideas about how and when to plant spiritual seeds. That’s why God is trying to meet us with an understanding.

A farmer plowing, planting seed, and harvesting all deal with building. Isaiah reminds us God gave the farmer knowledge of how and when to plant, how and when to harvest. Farmers gain knowledge through God’s creation. They gain understanding through prayer. Otherwise they place themselves at the mercy of trial and error. A position where pride creeps in to take control. Isaiah is also using symbolism to draw our attention to the harvest, a subject Paul covered in Ephesians. “He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near.” The Good News Jesus brought is meant to prepare people for the harvest of this world.

The question many people can’t answer is, what is the Good News? The New Testament identified the Good New as the life and ministry of Jesus. The KJV used similar words such as preached, gospel, declared, witnessed, righteousness revealed, and peace. For the most part the KJV used the word gospel where other translations used Good News. This may be why most people will say the Good News is the gospel. But most times they answer without giving it much thought to what the gospel is. The gospel is a collection of records about Jesus’ life and ministry. In essence the gospels are a record of the prophecies Jesus fulfilled. For some reason each of the gospel writers recorded their message with the emotions and insight they had when events were unfolding. None of the gospels writers wrote in a manner to make us think they understood what was happening as prophecies unfolded before their eyes. Each of the gospel writers wanted us to see how little they understood, how slow the learned, so we could see and feel the impact the cross had on them. There is a very important reason this lesson is recorded four times. To show the world how little people will understand before Jesus returns. People don’t understand, “all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.”

Isaiah witnessed wars. In every war innocent families pray for their children. All parents want is to be left alone, invading armies to leave, taxes to end, and to work as hard as they can to make a better life for their children. That’s what God wants for us. The difference is, God can fulfill all His promises. I am seeing some people with a new understanding of the prophecies in Isaiah, Jeremiah, a little bit in Ezra, and one or two of the other books written between Jerusalem’s fall and the temple being rebuilt. That was one of the largest learning times for God’s people. Sad to see they understood less than Jesus’ disciples. Misconceptions, misunderstanding, a belief nothing bad was going to happen, and lack of communication with God were consistent between the two periods, and is alive and well today. On the spiritual side, nothing has changed. People still take God for granted. People still prefer to place common people between themselves and God. People still don’t understand Jesus’ ministry, and appreciate His sacrifice less. I can’t understand how people can be fed scraps of bread then act like their satisfied. I hear people say how enlightened they feel after listing to a preacher go over nothing more than a few basics in the Bible. If people are amazed with the obvious, how would they react if they approached God to listen to the amazing truths He has to share? How fast do you plan on seeing the Good News spread if left up to one preacher addressing a hundred or so people? How far has that been spreading out? How well has that plan been working? Where did that plan come from? It’s not in the Bible. Playing church these days is another example of Sarai talking Abraham into rushing the plan of salvation or Rebekah thinking Isaac’s blessing was more important than God’s Word.

Those wars Isaiah saw were only the tip of the ice berg in Satan’s relentless battle against this world. He’ll do anything to slow down God’s plan of salvation or stop it. Satan knows he can’t stop God’s plan, but there is a lot he can do to mislead people. Many times people thought they were serving God to the best of their ability when in fact they were working for the enemy. That’s not something that’s gong to stop in our time. That’s why it’s so important to study the prophets as a whole. Look at all the books written between Jerusalem’s fall and the rebuilding of the temple. You’ll see much more when you put all the details together and you’ll see much more than you’ll ever hear in a church of on a video when you get your information directly from God’s throne. You’ll be able to see how prophets received their information and how they delivered messages. You’ll see explicit steps God used and appreciate His consistency. You’ll see how one prophet supports another. You’ll begin to understand what messages were given to who and why. Once you spend time with God’s Spirit putting the events in proper sequence, you’ll start seeing similar sequences happening today. Hopefully you’ll understand where we are in earth’s history and begin spreading the Good News the way it’s supposed to be shared. The Good News is a one on one experience. You learn details from Jesus on a level you never imagined through a one on one experience with Him. You’ll share the gifts you’ve been given on a one on one experience. God’s plan has never been for one person standing at a pulpit preaching to hundreds. God’s plan has always been for thousands to reach thousands more, pointing them to God so they will reach thousands more.

Isaiah 9:6-7 A Child is Born

Isaiah 9:6-7 NLTse For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

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Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (7) His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!

Isaiah is proving to contain a number of prophecies difficult to locate parallel chapters for. What was your first thought on New Testament scripture explaining the fulfillment of a child being born with the government resting on His shoulders? I have to admit my first impression was scripture about Jesus being born. Then I thought the key word government would lead to the answer. I was wrong again. This time it was the third word, peace which led to a matching chapter.

John 20:19-23 NLTse That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. (20) As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! (21) Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” (22) Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. (23) If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

After two failed attempts this study reminds us it takes a lot of prayer and patience to wait for the right answer. Isaiah seems to be a difficult book to work with. But how can you hope to understand prophecy if you don’t understand Isaiah? And how can you hope to understand Isaiah if you don’t understand the prophecies a

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bout Jesus?

Isaiah provided a brief description of Jesus. He will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. Peace is obviously one of the most important promises. It’s a promise no other government can give or keep. The government will rest on his shoulders. Jesus can keep His promise because He cares for those entrusted in His care. It’s no wonder the prophecy points to John’s Gospel. “I am leaving you with a gift–peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really loved me, you would be happy that I am going to the Father, who is greater than I am. I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do happen, you will believe.” (John 14:27-29 NLTse).

As I prayed about this study I was reminded of the description Isaiah recorded. Then I wondered. How well do we really know Jesus? Is this why some of these studies seem difficult? Is it because we really know little about Jesus, or is it because we have trouble listening to Him? Jesus told us: “I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative–that is, the Holy Spirit–he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.” (John 14:25-26 NLTse). Jesus said the Advocate will teach us everything and remind of everything Jesus told us. Are we too busy dealing with the cares of the world, our own message, or some strange message someone gave you to preach? Are you too wrapped up in future prophecies trying to figure out something Jesus wasn’t or isn’t ready to tell us yet? When you look at the Bible Study rules taught by the prophecies Jesus fulfilled you can’t help but see how inadequate popular interpretations are today. They lack the time and depth of communication with Jesus and His Advocate required to understand simple prophecies already fulfilled.

The question lingered on my mind. How well do we really know Jesus? Most Christians know Jesus died on the cross to forgive our sins. But that’s not all. Jesus also died to save His Father’s Kingdom because God and His law was accused of being too restrictive by Satan. We still have Christians today who claim the law is too restrictive. Jesus also died to provide indisputable evidence showing the effects of sin. Satan was allowed to carry out his full plan with few restrictions. Satan showed he was ready, willing, and able to kill God’s Son to secure a higher position. Heaven had to know God’s judgment is just and true. Jesus also died to open up a direct path to God’s throne for all of us and to send His Advocate, God’s Holy Spirit. Jesus’ sacrifice also proved the Levites were unfit to represent God and finish the duties of proclaiming His message. Jesus closed the door on the Levites and opened the door for all of Jesus’ followers to take over the role of priest in homes as well as the community.

Most people know Jesus is God’s Son and was born to a virgin. Joseph and Mary were His parents on earth. Then Herod tried to kill Jesus so the family fled to Egypt. Jesus was in Egypt to prove God’s Spirit is able to protect everyone from the worst influences the world can throw at them. Jeroboam fled to Egypt to escape Solomon. After Jeroboam returned, he was given ten Israelite tribes to rule. Jeroboam introduced a list of pagan forms of worship to his new kingdom. Satan found a new way in. Jesus’ parents faced the same influence that ruined Jeroboam, but with God’s guidance none of it was transferred to Jesus.

Many people know some details about Jesus’ ministry. He preached for about three and a half years. During that period, Jesus ministered to Jews as well as Samaritans, Romans, Greeks, Syrians, and of course made an extra effort to reach out the religious leaders. Jesus taught with parables and taught His disciples how to understand all scripture. Most people don’t know how to read scripture close enough or how to listen during prayer to see those details.

Some of the things most often taught about Jesus’ ministry include His baptism, the sermon on the mountain, the leper he healed, the religious leader’s daughter and Lazarus He raised from the dead, the paralyzed man lowered through the roof by four friends and the man at the pool Jesus gave the power to walk, the man He put clay on his eyes to restore his sight, the woman who touched the hem of His garment and what Jesus taught the woman at the well.

When we look at the gospels we can’t help but see there were a lot Jesus’ disciples didn’t know much about Him. We see how the disciples were unprepared for His sacrifice on the cross. They lived, ate, slept, walked, and talked with Jesus for over three years and still didn’t know Jesus. People listen to a few half hour sermons about Jesus and think that’s enough. Some people think reading through the Bible or reading a few prepared studies may be enough to learn about Jesus. A movie or two may be the the majority of contact some people have with Jesus. What do we get when we look deeper into scripture to see Jesus’ personality?

A close examination of scripture will show how Jesus repeated lessons. This shows what a patient teacher Jesus is. Jesus feed a large crowd twice, healed a number of blind, raised a few from death, healed a leper then a group of them, as well as thousands of others we don’t have details about. Jesus also reached out for a real relationship, but his disciples didn’t understand. Neither do a lot of people catch onto Jesus’ quest for a close personal relationship recorded in scripture.

Looking back at the Old Testament we see Jesus the Creator. Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe. The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven. (Hebrews 1:1-3 NLTse). Jesus is shown as the deliverer and giver of life when He took the form of a Rock that followed Israel to the promised land. We see Jesus as a warrior when He spoke with Joshua. We see Jesus in many forms. Some we know well. Some we hardly know, and some may be new to us. Do you know about Jesus’ ministry in the Heavenly Sanctuary He is administering in now? Have you talked with Jesus today? Do you treat your relationship with Him as a real relationship or is it based on basic historical data you’ve heard? Maybe your relationship goes no deeper than to have a savior just in case there is a God and the world does end. The deeper we look the more we learn about Jesus. The Old Testament is full of prophecies about Jesus. The New Testament is loaded with details showing how He fulfilled each prophecy as well as stories about His life and ministry. The Book of Hebrews explains what Jesus is doing in Heaven now. How much do you love to study? How much do you study about the One you say you love? Its time we took a deeper look at these two chapters to see what details they reveal.

Isaiah 9:1-5 NLTse Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulun and Naphtali will be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory. (2) The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine. (3) You will enlarge the nation of Israel, and its people will rejoice. They will rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest and like warriors dividing the plunder. (4) For you will break the yoke of their slavery and lift the heavy burden from their shoulders. You will break the oppressor’s rod, just as you did when you destroyed the army of Midian. (5) The boots of the warrior and the uniforms bloodstained by war will all be burned. They will be fuel for the fire.

John 20:1-10 NLTse Early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. (2) She ran and found Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. She said, “They have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” (3) Peter and the other disciple started out for the tomb. (4) They were both running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. (5) He stooped and looked in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he didn’t go in. (6) Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, (7) while the cloth that had covered Jesus‘ head was folded up and lying apart from the other wrappings. (8) Then the disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in, and he saw and believed— (9) for until then they still hadn’t understood the Scriptures that said Jesus must rise from the dead. (10) Then they went home.

The new light for this world is Jesus rising from the tomb symbolizing His victory over death. After Jesus rose from the grave the disciples began to understand who Jesus is and what He has to offer. They began to understand more about this world than they ever expected to see. Their ministry was to tell the world about the prophecies Jesus fulfilled. That was the evidence the disciples were given. Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God. You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. (2 Corinthians 4:4-7 NLTse). Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. (Romans 6:16 NLTse).

One of the details we see repeated is the disciples saw the linen wrappings lying there. Because it’s repeated it becomes one of the main considerations in the story. This points to the fact Jesus came out of the tomb naked which leads us to other texts. “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” “What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?” Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. (John 3:3-5 NLTse). Jesus’ resurrection was a symbol of a new birth.

Not only did the disciples begin to understand when they saw the empty tomb, it marked the moment the world would begin to understand. Jesus came from the tomb to shed new light on the world and break the yoke of bondage of not only sin but death and the grave. The introductions tie in these two chapters better than any parallel chapters with a prophecy and its fulfillment. Now it’s time to study the summations.

Isaiah 9:14-21 NLTse Therefore, in a single day the LORD will destroy both the head and the tail, the noble palm branch and the lowly reed. (15) The leaders of Israel are the head, and the lying prophets are the tail. (16) For the leaders of the people have misled them. They have led them down the path of destruction. (17) That is why the Lord takes no pleasure in the young men and shows no mercy even to the widows and orphans. For they are all wicked hypocrites, and they all speak foolishness. But even then the LORD’s anger will not be satisfied. His fist is still poised to strike. (18) This wickedness is like a brushfire. It burns not only briers and thorns but also sets the forests ablaze. Its burning sends up clouds of smoke. (19) The land will be blackened by the fury of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. The people will be fuel for the fire, and no one will spare even his own brother. (20) They will attack their neighbor on the right but will still be hungry. They will devour their neighbor on the left but will not be satisfied. In the end they will even eat their own children. (21) Manasseh will feed on Ephraim, Ephraim will feed on Manasseh, and both will devour Judah. But even then the LORD’s anger will not be satisfied. His fist is still poised to strike.

John 20:24-31 NLTse One of the disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with the others when Jesus came. (25) They told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.” (26) Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. (27) Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!” (28) “My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed. (29) Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.” (30) The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. (31) But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name.

We see the key words in the summation for Isaiah 9 are devour, eat, and feed. This seems to have little in common with the key word peace written in the main prophecy as well as the introduction’s key words light and shine. The introduction also has key words break and destroyed as well as burden and slavery which shows a connection between the introduction and summation in Isaiah 9.

Isaiah’s introduction tells about a time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. One day the people who walk in darkness will see a great light. Using basic Bible Study rules we’ve been shown Jesus is that light. Hardly anyone understood that light until after Jesus rose from the tomb. John’s summation shows some details on that light as well as explaining the spiritual meaning the other key words devour, destroy, burden, and slavery lead to.

In John’s summation in chapter 20, the key words disciple, believe, and wounds tell a story all their own. As often as the word believe is repeated, one of the main themes in the summation to John 20 deals with a disciple who refused to believe unless it was done their way. It seems people like Thomas had to make their own set of rules.

We also see another term shared by the introduction and summation in John 20. Why would John open this chapter in his book with the term closed doors and repeat it near the end? One important aspect of good solid Bible Study is to put yourself in place of the characters as well as the author by praying and carefully listening. In this case you have to ask what lesson was John trying to convey? More often than not, the author will quote scripture at a point like this. When you look at the scripture quoted it will provide the explanation. Does John quote scripture here? Not directly. John closed this chapter by writing: The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name.

We have to remember and apply another Bible Study rule here. The end of a chapter is arranged to lead into the next chapter. In other words there is a distinct relationship between the end of one chapter and the beginning of the next. This is a transition from one thought to another. Also remember the introduction and summation of each chapter relate to the same theme which is the context of the chapter. In this case we see a close relationship between the end of chapter 20 and the end of John’s Gospel. The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name. (John 20:30-31 NLTse). This disciple is the one who testifies to these events and has recorded them here. And we know that his account of these things is accurate. Jesus also did many other things. If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written. (John 21:24-25 NLTse).

John did refer to scripture. Once John saw the light which was revealed when Jesus explained all the prophecies that He fulfilled to all the disciples, he couldn’t help but share the good news at the beginning and end of his book. John did what Jesus set out to do, point people back to scripture.

We also see another set of related texts in the summations for Isaiah 9 and John 20. Thomas didn’t believe Jesus was alive. Some people say Thomas doubted. That’s a nice way of saying Thomas challenged Jesus, God, and His Spirit. Thomas also stood apart from the other disciples. Keep in mind the locked door and how it applies to both the disciples and Christianity today. Notice how the word wounds is repeated. Look at where the wounds recorded by John are located. Did you notice wounds that are missing? What happened to Jesus’ wounded feet? Were they healed? Does Jesus now have scares or are His wounds still open? What about the wounds on His back? Is Jesus’ back still ripped open or are they now scares He has to bear for all eternity?

John left off Jesus’ feet because of his personal contact with Jesus. Who is worthy to wash Jesus’ feet and see the wounds where the nail was driven to hold Him to that cross? John loved Jesus so much he wanted to save that privilege for himself. Thomas didn’t really know Jesus, otherwise he would have never doubted. Jesus had to tone down His own wounds to meet Thomas where he was. Jesus didn’t want to loose Thomas. Jesus doesn’t want to loose anyone. But Jesus wants people to find Him by looking deeper into all the stories about Him.

By combining the summation for Isaiah 9 and John 20, we see another spiritual lesson, one that has an important bearing on Christianity today. Thomas’ unbelief has a deeper more personal meaning people want to avoid like looking at the feet that were wounded for us. Have you ever thought about Thomas’ unbelief on a personal level? Why didn’t Thomas want to believe? Jesus’ resurrection should have been the happiest moment in his life. A moment Thomas should have been happy and willing to share. Instead Thomas held a sense of mistrust towards the other disciples. No one could deny the joy and excitement exhibited by the other disciples, but Thomas decided to hang onto feelings that just didn’t fit the situation at all. Why? We see Isaiah provided the answer hundreds of years before the event. Therefore, in a single day the LORD will destroy both the head and the tail, the noble palm branch and the lowly reed. The leaders of Israel are the head, and the lying prophets are the tail. For the leaders of the people have misled them. They have led them down the path of destruction.

In a single day Jesus revealed the truth about all the prophecies the religious leaders misinterpreted. They held their traditions and reputations to a higher degree than the Son of God. Even after Jesus’ resurrection the religious leaders continued to plot and maneuver to save their coveted reputations, traditions, and doctrines which meant more to them than truth. Isaiah’s summation only tells a small part of the prophecy. The lies, mistrust and disbelief did not end with Thomas who was only a symbol. They will attack their neighbor on the right but will still be hungry. They will devour their neighbor on the left but will not be satisfied. In the end they will even eat their own children. Manasseh will feed on Ephraim, Ephraim will feed on Manasseh, and both will devour Judah. But even then the LORD’s anger will not be satisfied. His fist is still poised to strike.

When we follow basic Bible Study rules we focus on the key words the author repeated, so we concentrate on the words devour, eat, and feed. Those are actions words describing what will happen. Asking who it will happen to is another question. In this case Isaiah provided another list of symbols. There is also a spiritual relationship between the words neighbor, children, Ephraim and Manasseh who were brothers. We can see how personal Isaiah is getting by using the symbols of neighbor, children, and brothers. Who do we see fitting those descriptions when we apply them to Thomas?

Isaiah’s summation also tells us how fast disbelief will spread. This wickedness is like a brushfire. It burns not only briers and thorns but also sets the forests ablaze. Its burning sends up clouds of smoke. Disbelief not only spreads but smoke blocks out light. Evilness also works with a double edged sword. How many people can really see the wounds Jesus carries? How many people talk about the wounds John intentionally didn’t mention? How many people look beyond the printed word into the emotions of the characters and authors? If they did, many Christians would not act the way they do or preach some of the messages they think are true.

I get upset every time I hear messages pointed at separating denominations. Thomas didn’t have the same beliefs the other disciples shared, but Jesus still reached out to him. I see a world where Christians spend long hours looking for faults in other denominations and writing long drawn out sermons about their differences because it makes them popular. Is this really what Jesus placed Himself under a Roman whip for? Too much of the world preaches separation. Is that what Jesus walked to the cross for? Too many Christians focus on minor details and differences to try and prove themselves better then brothers and sisters in Christ. Is this what Jesus hung on the cross for? They will devour their neighbor on the left but will not be satisfied. In the end they will even eat their own children. If people really knew Jesus, how would they act? How would they reach out to other Christians? How could they learn to work together to finish the work we’ve been given?

How well do you know Jesus and the wounds He carries? If the world knew, there would be no more killing, no more taking advantage of the poor and needy. If the churches who claimed to follow Jesus knew Him and the scars on His body, they would not be fighting among one another claiming to be the best, the remnant, the only church with the truth. If they really knew Jesus, they would know the truth. They would have answers on how to reach out to others, to everyone, no matter what their denomination or religion. Jesus did.

If people knew Jesus and what held Him on that cross, they would not bicker about little matters inside the church. They would not lie and gossip about members in the church or discourage them from seeking personal ministries.

People write songs about Jesus’ arms, His hands, and the crown of thorns upon His head. But no one seems to write or sing about His feet. The feet covered with dust from the road to Golgotha. The prophecy here says the government will rest on his shoulders. What held up those shoulders on the cross? The nails in His feet. On the cross His feet were the closet part of Jesus to this world. His disciples looked straight at His feet nailed to that cross and wondered why. Those were the feet that were covered by the apron around His waist as He bend down to wash His disciples feet. Now Jesus’ feet were covered in blood and dirt. Who sings about washing the feet of their King?

Psalms 118:14-27 The Stone the Builders Rejected

Psalms 118:14-27 NLTse The LORD is my strength and my song; he has given me victory. (15) Songs of

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joy and victory are sung in the camp of the godly. The strong right arm of the LORD has done glorious things! (16) The strong right arm of the LORD is raised in triumph. The strong right arm of the LORD has done glorious things! (17) I will not die; instead, I will live to tell what the LORD has done. (18) The LORD has punished me severely, but he did not let me die. (19) Open for me the gates where the righteous enter, and I will go in and thank the LORD. (20) These gates lead to the presence of the LORD, and the godly enter there. (21) I thank you for answering my prayer and giving me victory! (22) The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone. (23) This is the LORD’s doing, and it is wonderful to see. (24) This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. (25) Please, LORD, please save us. Please, LORD, please give us success. (26) Bless the one who comes in the name of the LORD. We bless you from the house of the LORD. (27) The LORD is God, shining upon us. Take the sacrifice and bind it with cords on the altar.

The obvious prophecy in Psalm 118 is, The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone. This is the LORD’s doing, and it is wonderful to see. This is a verse Jesus quoted, one we’ve studied before. As we know, when God repeats Himself it’s time to pay attention.

Lookin

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g at the introduction to Psalm 118 it’s easy to see why we need to pay attention. This prophecy is a song of victory. The strong right arm of the LORD has done glorious things! What are those glorious things? Have we been looking close enough to see them?

The LORD has punished me severely, but he did not let me die. This obviously points to Jesus, and in a spiritual sense points to us who read His Word and take it lightly. Once we study the fulfillment we’ll understand how we actually suffer when we don’t dig deep enough, pray long enough, and listen hard enough to everything God’s Spirit wants to reveal.

It’s time we enter into God’s presence and listen, Open for me the gates where the righteous enter, and I will go in and thank the LORD. These gates lead to the presence of the LORD, and the godly enter there. This points us to the fundamental rule of Bible Study where we rely on God’s Spirit to reveal the lessons.

The Lord will reveal everything we need to understand about His prophecies and their fulfillment. I thank you for answering my prayer and giving me victory! Bless the one who comes in the name of the LORD. We bless you from the house of the LORD. Notice how the blessing comes from the House of the LORD! It doesn’t come from human understanding, science, or religion. The blessing comes directly from God, from His House! This prophecy is quoted by Jesus in three gospels, but we’ll concentrate on one of these and look at the symbolism used. The symbolism Jesus wanted them to see. The summation in Mark 12 tells us how simple it is to understand and how little God asks of us.

Mark 12:1-12 NLTse Then Jesus began teaching them with stories: “A man planted a vineyard. He built a wall around it, dug a pit for pressing out the grape juice, and built a lookout tower. Then he leased the vineyard to tenant farmers and moved to another country. (2) At the time of the grape harvest, he sent one of his servants to collect his share of the crop. (3) But the farmers grabbed the servant, beat him up, and sent him back empty-handed. (4) The owner then sent another servant, but they insulted him and beat him over the head. (5) The next servant he sent was killed. Others he sent were either beaten or killed, (6) until there was only one left–his son whom he loved dearly. The owner finally sent him, thinking, ‘Surely they will respect my son.’ (7) “But the tenant farmers said to one another, ‘Here comes the heir to this estate. Let’s kill him and get the estate for ourselves!’ (8) So they grabbed him and murdered him and threw his body out of the vineyard. (9) “What do you suppose the owner of the vineyard will do?” Jesus asked. “I’ll tell you–he will come and kill those farmers and lease the vineyard to others. (10) Didn’t you ever read this in the Scriptures? ‘The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone. (11) This is the LORD’s doing, and it is wonderful to see.‘” (12) The religious leaders wanted to arrest Jesus because they realized he was telling the story against them–they were the wicked farmers. But they were afraid of the crowd, so they left him and went away.

Most people know Jesus used symbols to illustrate important points in His parables. This parable is no exception. There are a few ways we can find the spiritual meaning of those symbols. We can do a simple key word search. We can look up other texts using the key word until we understand the spiritual meaning. Although this is a good method, it often leads to many paths which increase the chances of getting lost by using the wrong spiritual meaning. Most key words have more than one spiritual meaning. That’s why context is important. Here we use context of more than one chapter to understand its spiritual meaning by comparing the entire chapter of the prophecies to their fulfillment. It’s like a combination lock. A combination lock using one digit is not secure at all. A lock using two digits is not as secure as a lock using four or five tumblers. Keep this in mind when you read or listen to people teach scripture. Using one proof text is not safe at all.

The key word vineyard is a simple word to explain in spiritual terms. The nation of Israel is the vineyard of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. The people of Judah are his pleasant garden. He expected a crop of justice, but instead he found oppression. He expected to find righteousness, but instead he heard cries of violence. (Isaiah 5:7 NLTse).

Although it seems Isaiah summed up the meaning of the spiritual vineyard in Jesus’ parable, this doesn’t tell the full story. So far with one verse we see the vineyard represents the nation of Israel and the garden is the people of Judah. This includes the two southern tribes and ten northern tribes. Now we can assume…. but wait — why should WE assume anything? The prophecy tells us to enter into God’s gates where the righteous enter to bless you from the house of the LORD! Why would we come only so far then turn away to our own understanding? We need to look to God’s Word further, enter into His House and listen harder.

“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:1-2, 5 NLTse).

By looking at a few more verses we learn a lot more. We see the Father is the gardener. This also explains the man who built the vineyard is God. We also see another vital point when we compare all the details in the parable. Now that we understand Jesus’ Father is the gardener, we know the son in the parable represents Jesus. Looking at John chapter 15 we also see the vine in the vineyard represents Jesus. This adds a new view to the parable. The farmers thought they could secure the vineyard for themselves by killing the SON. What they didn’t see was the SON was in the center of the vineyard all along.

Look at this from the context in John 15. “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. (John 15:9-14 NLTse).

Jesus didn’t come to this world to introduce God’s love. He came to reveal it! This also points us to the spiritual meaning of another key word, wall. In that day, everyone in the land of Judah will sing this song: Our city is strong! We are surrounded by the walls of God’s salvation. Open the gates to all who are righteous; allow the faithful to enter. I will give them–within the walls of my house– a memorial and a name far greater than sons and daughters could give. For the name I give them is an everlasting one. It will never disappear! “I will also bless the foreigners who commit themselves to the LORD, who serve him and love his name, who worship him and do not desecrate the Sabbath day of rest, and who hold fast to my covenant. (Isaiah 26:1-2, 56:5-6 NLTse).

One verse tells us a wall can represent salvation. Another verse shows us there is a condition to enter into those walls. We have to remain committed to serving and loving God by holding fast to His covenant. This is where the farmers went wrong. Of course the farmers are identified in each of the gospels this parable is found. The religious leaders wanted to arrest Jesus because they realized he was telling the story against them–they were the wicked farmers. That’s one of the mistakes the religious leaders made. They didn’t know God’s law was a covenant.

The religious leaders thought they were specially gifted. They thought they were above the law. They forgot they were supposed to be a light onto the law by keeping parts of the law centered on their duty as priests. Moses told them to help the poor, the neglected people, widows, orphans, strangers, and foreigners. Priests were held to a higher standard. They didn’t receive land. In exchange for land, they were free from everyday toil. People brought them gifts and offerings they were responsible for sharing. God could have blessed them more and more as they taught people how to live together in peace by honoring God’s law. The more the people were blessed, the more the priests would receive, the more they could work to end poverty in Israel and God’s law would be a light upon all nations who would come to them to learn the secret of their success.

They also lost sight of God’s original plan. They claimed to be descendants of Abraham. In Abraham’s day the head of the household was the priest. This was handed down from father to the first born son. The father as priest of the home turned the hearts of the sons onto God. The role of priest of the home was restored to the fathers at the first Passover before leaving Egypt. Later God revealed His plan to make Israel a kingdom of priests. Once they turned down the chance to become a nation to take God’s law and light into the world, God choose Aaron as His high priest and the tribe of Levites as His first born son and servants.

The priests looked at only a small portion of the story. In their eyes the tribe of Levi was chosen because they didn’t take part in the worship of the golden calf when Moses was on the mountain receiving God’s commandment. They thought this placed them above the other tribes. They looked at what the Levites did and assumed that was their role as priests. So he stood at the entrance to the camp and shouted, “All of you who are on the LORD’s side, come here and join me.” And all the Levites gathered around him. Moses told them, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Each of you, take your swords and go back and forth from one end of the camp to the other. Kill everyone–even your brothers, friends, and neighbors.” The Levites obeyed Moses’ command, and about 3,000 people died that day. Then Moses told the Levites, “Today you have ordained yourselves for the service of the LORD, for you obeyed him even though it meant killing your own sons and brothers. Today you have earned a blessing.” (Exodus 32:26-29 NLTse).

This shows how dangerous it is to take one text and assume it tells the full story. Did they forget it was Aaron, the first high priest who made the calf? They forgot a lot of details. This method of picking and choosing particular texts to produce an assumption is dangerous and only leads to destruction.

We see the same mistakes repeated today. Religious leaders want to take up swords against anyone who doesn’t believe exactly what they believe. Over the past few weeks I’ve seen a video drifting all over the Internet. A pastor took it upon himself to attack other churches. He claims to keep one of God’s commandments above all else and that gives him the right to manipulate or side track other commandments. He doesn’t view his actions as breaking commandments, but twisting the truth is a lie. Keeping one commandment never allows anyone the right to break a number of other commandments no matter how justified the assumptions are. Sure this pastor feels he is leading a worthy cause, but at what cost? His first mistake was delivering a message before praying. Where God is opening windows to pour out a blessing, he is slamming doors shut.

The servants in the parable are another easy symbol to define. At the usual time for offering the evening sacrifice, Elijah the prophet walked up to the altar and prayed, “O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, prove today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant. Prove that I have done all this at your command. The LORD said through his servants the prophets: They refuse to listen to me, though I have spoken to them repeatedly through the prophets I sent. And you who are in exile have not listened either,” says the LORD. (1 Kings 18:36, 2 Kings 21:10, Jeremiah 29:19 NLTse).

The servants in the parable represent God’s prophets who they killed. It wasn’t unusual for kings and priests to ignore God’s prophets. Elijah had to stand up to 400 prophets of Baal appointed by king Ahab’s wife Jezebel. No one helped Elijah with the twelve heavy stones he moved to erect the alter. The people stood by and watched Elijah struggle. They didn’t want to make a public stand until after God sent down fire to consume the sacrifice. Doubt and fear clouded their minds.

Jeremiah had to stand up against a host of prophets when he delivered his message. Some were appointed by the king, others by priests. Neither wanted to believe Jeremiah because it wasn’t the news they wanted to hear. Instead of listening they made up their own interpretations without praying to God. All of their interpretations were designed to benefit themselves because they were centered around what the priests, king, and people wanted to hear. That’s what that pastor wanted to accomplish with his video. I’m sure he feels good about himself as he checks the number of views recorded and convinces himself popular belief out weighs God’s advise and commandments.

The fact remains, the religious leaders knew the parable was about them. Once again we see religious leader understanding one little part and making assumptions on the remaining portions of the parable. We see this all the time. I tried reaching out to that pastor and a host of his followers pointing out the video. I’ve also contended with that pastor and his followers on a few other issues. I know that pastor’s ability to study the Bible is limited to proof texts. I’ve read his studies and seen how shallow and one dimensional they are. I pointed out other texts. I also pointed out how his proof texts are taken out of context. But that doesn’t interest him. Instead he tried to lead his church to a unified form of Bible Study – which is simple proof texts and adopt it as a standard. He wanted to go one step further by convincing the church only qualified, educated individuals should be allowed to interpret scripture. This is another example of how far people will go to maintain control. The main weapon they use is to control knowledge by controlling access to God’s Word. They use many means to accomplish their goal.

My goal isn’t to tell anyone what to believe or provide any answers to questions people have. I know that pastor and many others are not ready for some of the details I’ve been shown in God’s Word. They wouldn’t believe them unless they discovered the details themselves. They are like the priests who wondered why a prophet would reveal himself to a leper before coming to them. All their spiritual education is better left up to God’s Spirit. Only He knows what they are prepared to see and understand and at what pace they are able to learn. All I want to do is share a few fundamental study methods they can use and let God’s Spirit lead them. The next one for us to review is the comparison between the introductions of these two chapters. First the prophecy.

Psalms 118:1-4 NLTse Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. (2) Let all Israel repeat: “His faithful love endures forever.” (3) Let Aaron’s descendants, the priests, repeat: “His faithful love endures forever.” (4) Let all who fear the LORD repeat: “His faithful love endures forever.”

The introduction to the prophecy in Psalm 118 repeats the same phrase four times. It must have a significant meaning, It’s something Aaron’s descendants are supposed to repeat so it must be pointing to something they forgot when the plotted to arrest Jesus. When we compare it to the first verse in Mark 12, we see a connection. Then Jesus began teaching them with stories:

Jesus stories were taught through the faithful love that endures forever! Jesus’ stories weren’t designed to make Him look better by making the priests look bad. Jesus was sending the religious leaders back to Isiah chapter 5 as well as other scripture in the Old Testament. If the religious leaders were the experts in scripture they claimed to be, they would have found more than enough scripture to explain the parable Jesus told them. Neither did Jesus explain the symbols in those parables. He left that up to them and their relationship with God’s Spirit. One of the lessons we need to learn.

That is a major fault I’ve seen in the video being spread on the Internet as well as other videos. Preachers like to take a text, especially a prophecy and leave you with the impression they know every detail. They never seem to share any ideas or instructions teaching how you can study on your own or find answers for yourselves. In essence, they are stealing glory away from God and His Spirit. How many commandments are they breaking? They need to rethink their process to lead you to the open gates inside God’s walls where, “His faithful love endures forever.”

Jesus didn’t make it a habit of interpreting all the symbols. He did it for a few of His parables. Just enough to teach His disciples how to find answers on their own. Jesus sent people back to scripture and God’s Spirit. That’s how Jesus taught and that’s the example we’re given to follow. Psalm 118 explained this.

Psalms 118:5-13 NLTse In my distress I prayed to the LORD, and the LORD answered me and set me free. (6) The LORD is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me? (7) Yes, the LORD is for me; he will help me. I will look in triumph at those who hate me. (8) It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in people. (9) It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes. (10) Though hostile nations surrounded me, I destroyed them all with the authority of the LORD. (11) Yes, they surrounded and attacked me, but I destroyed them all with the authority of the LORD. (12) They swarmed around me like bees; they blazed against me like a crackling fire. But I destroyed them all with the authority of the LORD. (13) My enemies did their best to kill me, but the LORD rescued me.

What did Jesus do when He was in distress? He prayed to the LORD! What happened? The LORD answered me and set me free. No one set Jesus free except for God. The LORD is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me? We may ask, what can mere people do for me? It seems mere people do more to draw people away from God than putting them in a position to draw closer to God. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in people. Sure Jesus defended Himself. How did He do it? With words and with the authority of the LORD. You can’t have one without the other. Look at how Jesus tried to reach the religious leaders. They swarmed around me like bees; they blazed against me like a crackling fire. But I destroyed them all with the authority of the LORD. My enemies did their best to kill me, but the LORD rescued me. Sure enemies can be pests. Sure they can look for ways to destroy you. Sure they can do their best to discredit you and try to silence you. Did they succeed in silencing Jesus? No! Because Jesus silenced them. He answered them with God’s authority which was given to Jesus at the right time with the right words and with enough scripture to back up what He said. Not one or two verse, but chapters.

What does it take to receive that kind of power? Is it available to everyone? We’ve already studied the summation to Mark 12 in this book, but Psalm 118 adds a new dimension in a whole new light. A light none of us could have seen without His Spirit.

Psalms 118:28-29 NLTse You are my God, and I will praise you! You are my God, and I will exalt you! (29) Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.

Mark 12:41-44 NLTse Jesus sat down near the collection box in the Temple and watched as the crowds dropped in their money. Many rich people put in large amounts. (42) Then a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins. (43) Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. (44) For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.”

Once again we see the phrase, His faithful love endures forever.” Now we have a little more information to explain how to express the faithful love we receive from God. The key is in the related words in the summation to Psalm 118. We praise, exalt, and give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! This is what the widow did when she dropped in two little coins. Those coins had little value, but the message is priceless. Your instructions are more valuable to me than millions in gold and silver. You made me; you created me. Now give me the sense to follow your commands. Joyful is the person who finds wisdom, the one who gains understanding. For wisdom is more profitable than silver, and her wages are better than gold. Wisdom is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. My advice is wholesome. There is nothing devious or crooked in it. My words are plain to anyone with understanding, clear to those with knowledge. Choose my instruction rather than silver, and knowledge rather than pure gold. For wisdom is far more valuable than rubies. Nothing you desire can compare with it. (Psalms 119:72-73, Proverbs 3:13-15, Proverbs 8:8-11 NLTse).

After listening to Jesus preach in the temple courtyard, a few coins were a small price to pay for the knowledge the poor widow gained. She wanted others to hear the messages Jesus brought. The widow is a symbol of those giving to the church to spread the message they hear with their own ears, read with their own eyes, and feel with their own heart. The widow symbolizes all those people who trust religious leaders have heard Jesus speak and understand His message. The widow had no way of knowing those religious leaders were planning on killing Jesus any more than people today know if their churches are going to preach how, His faithful love endures forever.” All they can do is trust. The poor widow was also a reminder to the priests of their responsibility. Did they offer that widow a meal, or the orphan a home? Did they welcome and care for the poor, depressed, or strangers in the courtyard that day? Did they fulfill their vows and duty? What happened to those coins? If we looked ahead what would we find the priests doing with money from their treasury?