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Monday, February 27, 2012

What is repentance?

I love the illustration of two people playing catch at a picnic.  They are throwing a ball back and forth.  Suddenly, some one calls to one of the two people playing catch.  This distracts the one person just as the other releases the ball.  As you might have guessed it, the distracted person gets hit right in he face with the ball!  The person who threw it is trying to be sympathetic by asking, while chuckling, "Are you OK?"  They immediately follow that question with an audible laughter and say, "I'm so sorry!"  Can a person who is laughing at you really be sorry?  We use the word sorry very loosely today.  Is sorrow repentance?  What is repentance?  What does the above text say about that?

In verse eight we see that Paul's letter caused those who read it sorrow.  He adds, "though only for a while" and that tells us sorrow is temporary.  The word sorrow is the Greek word lupeo and it means to grieve.  If sorrow is temporary it can not be repentance.  Sorrow may hurt bad, but it is not repentance.  Consider Lk 22:39-46.  We read in verse 40 that Jesus tells them to pray.  Easy enough right?  Well, when we read verse 45 we see that Jesus was sweating blood in his prayer, but the others where "sleeping from sorrow."  The sorrow was real and painful.  Remember, they knew Judas left to betray Jesus.  They were very sorrowful.  Time healed that sorrow and it went away.  Sorrow is real.  It hurts and it is temporary, but it is not repentance.  I believe it is a part of repentance because we can be "made sorrowful to the point of repentance", but sorrow alone is not repentance.

In the same verse we see the word regret.  This Greek word means to care to one afterwards.  This, as I see it, is a natural progression from sorrow.  We have grief, or sorrow, because of hitting that person on the face with a ball.  So that grief turns to regret and we tend to that person to ensure that they are OK.  We regret a lot of things in life, but that doesn't mean we repent of them.  Regret is temporary.  An adulterer may regret their actions and treat their spouse special as a result of that regret.  I'm sure they have the grief of being sorrowful, but often times that sorrow and regret fades and they are right back to adultery.  I believe regret is a part of repentance, but regret alone is not repentance.

In verse 9 we see the word repentance.  That Greek word means to change ones mind and deeds.  That my friends is repentance.  We must make a 180 degree change of deeds and thoughts when we repent.  The most important part of our change must be "according to the will of God."  Many people change themselves because of what they do to another person or themselves and that is not repentance.  That adulterer may change and never commit adultery again because they hurt  their spouse or damaged their reputation, and that is not repentance.  That adulterer must change their mind and deeds because what  they did was not according to God's Will.  We first sin against God.  We must change because the things we do are a stench in the Lord's nostrils!   Many drug addicts change because they are worried about how people look at them.  We must turn from sin because of God's view of sin not mans.  That is repentance.  Lk 13:3 doesn't say unless you be sorry you will perish.  It doesn't say unless you regret you will perish.  It says you must repent.  You must change your thoughts and deeds because they are not according to God's Will or you will perish.  

Changing what we do because we are sorrowful and regretful that we hurt others or ourselves is not repentance it is reformation.  Many drug addicts and alcoholics are reformed but that doesn't mean they repented.  We must understand that we have sinned against a Holy God and repent to Him by changing our thoughts and deeds.  WE MUST REPENT AND NOT JUST REFORM.

Consider the prodigal son of Lk 15:11-31.  He gets his inheritance and squanders it in the world with wild living.  He soon realizes life is better under his father's care.  Funny how eating pigs food can that to ya, huh?  When he goes back to his father what does he say?  Does he say, "Daddy, I'm sorry.  I regret leaving this house."  NO!!  In verse 21 he says, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight..."  He understood he sinned against God first.  That is repentance my friends.  

Today, we must realize that when we sin we are sinning against a Holy God, and that must change our thoughts and deeds.  When we say it like the psalmist that says "Against you, you only, I have sinned and done what is evil in your sight..." Ps 51:4  Our Father in heaven will welcome us back into the fold, bless us with the best He has, and the angels will rejoice just like the prodigal son was welcomed home, given the best his father had to offer, and the workers began to celebrate.


Hear The Word-  Rom 10:17; Acts 4:4

We Must Believe or Have Faith-  Heb 11:6; Acts 16:31

We Must Repent-  Lk 13:3; Acts 17:30

We Must Confess Christ Before Others-  Mt 10:32; Acts 8:37

We Must Be Immersed Into Christ (Baptized)-  1Pe 3:21; Mk 16:16; Acts 2:38  

We Must Remain Faithful-    Rev 2:10; Acts 14:22

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Promised Savior

As we close this series I want to reflect on what we have learned.  We have seen that Jesus has prophetically fulfilled all 3 positions of authority pertaining to the Messiah.  He fulfills the prophecies of the coming prophet, priest, and king. 
     Today we will learn from Habakkuk chapter three in our final message in this series.  Chapter 3 is a prayer in the form of a psalm to be sung by Levites in the Temple services.  This is much more than the outpouring of a believing soul; it is the declaration of a prophet.  Let’s see what Habakkuk declares.

Habakkuk foresaw a terrible day for the heathen nations.  That word nations refers to any group of people, this is not the word that claims the people to be the Lord’s possession.  There is a lot said in verses 12,13.

God's promised savior is the leader.  In the battle against evil the Lord’s promised savior will head up this campaign!  Num 24:17-19  This battle was for one main purpose.  It was for "the salvation of your people."  You see God has a plan and it includes the salvation of his people!  God does not want a single person to not receive this salvation!  THE SALVATION OR THE DELIVERANCE OF GOD’S PEOPLE COULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED WITHOUT GOD’S INTERFERING!!   He interfered and provided salvation with his promised savior.  The salvation God has for his people will be provided with or through his promised savior!

The coming savior will lay Satan's kingdom bare.   In figurative language, v13 depicts the great victory which God enabled his people, through the promised savior, to win over evil!  The promised savior "struck" the head of the house of evil.  The word struck literally means to cleave, crush, destroy.  It carries the connotation of annihilation! Ps 68:21 It's plain to see that we are talking about a total annihilation of the evil one.  The head, or the leader of the house of evil, is destroyed by the promised savior.  The words "to lay him open" in verse 13 means to be bare; leave destitute.  The word "thigh" literally means base; bottom; or foundation.  So this verse actually says the promised savior, in battle, will leave the evil one destitute from his foundation to his neck.  Now the word neck carries the connotation of binding.  Therefore, not only will the promised savior leave the evil one bare and destitute, he will bind the evil one as well.  

We even are told how the promised savior will complete this task.  He will do it with the evil ones "own spears."  Satan had tried Jesus’ entire life to catch him somehow, some way! He tried to have Jesus killed as a baby, pushed off a cliff, & tried to drown him in a storm while he was sleeping.  Oh, how excited Satan must have been to see Jesus before Pilate, and the Jews yelling, “Crucify him!”  Satan didn't know he was just piercing himself!   The evil one, Satan, was pierced by his own spear at Calvary!  We must always remember that Jesus was not conquered at Calvary.  Rather he laid down his own life and became the conqueror.  Jesus said several times this was what he came to do, to die! Mk 9:31  I can see Satan dancing around the cross, as Jesus breathed his last, yelling, “I got him, I got him, I finally got him!”  Not realizing he just pierced himself with his own spear.  It goes back to Gen 3:15 Satan only bruised Jesus’ heel, but Satan took a death blow!   Satan hasn’t given up yet!  He still shoots arrows at God’s people, but we must use protection God provides.  Eph 6:16

WOW, what a great prophecy about the promised savior.  Did such events happen?  Did God really send a savior for all mankind?  Were these prophecies fulfilled?  YES!

The Fulfillment of Prophecy

Was Jesus the leader in the fight against evil.       1Jn 3:8
Did Jesus provide salvation?                                      Heb 5:7-9
Did Jesus lay bare Satan’s Kingdom?                        Heb 2:14
Did Jesus actually die on the cross?                         Jn 19:30

It’s easy to see God had a plan to give us a prophet to speak his Word.  He gave us a high priest to go into the Holy of Holies and offer a sacrifice.  He gave us a king to establish a peaceful and eternal kingdom for his people.  He also gave us this savior to battle our enemy and adversary Satan and destroy his works of eternally separating us from God.  God gave us the Messiah, or the Christ.  I always say, "Christ was Jesus' title, not his last name!"  Jesus and Jesus alone can accomplish all these things.  The question is he your prophet, priest, king, and savior?

Today, will you do all you can to bring a person to the feet of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.  You can nothing better for a person than that.  We can not save people, but we can lead them to the one that can.  That is our job, my beloved.  Jesus cane to seek and save that which was lost.  Lk 19:10  As his brothers and sisters, we are to carry on that task.  GO, PREACH, BAPTIZE, PREACH  Mt 28:19,20   Show someone you love them by telling them how much God loves them.  He loved us enough to send us a prophet, priest, king, and savior in the form of Jesus Christ who willingly laid down his life so we can have eternity with God.

     We Must Hear   Rom 10:17; Acts 4:4

We Must Believe or Have Faith-  Heb 11:6; Acts 16:31

We Must Repent-  Lk 13:3; Acts 17:30

We Must Confess Christ Before Others-  Mt 10:32; Acts 8:37

We Must Be Immersed Into Christ (Baptized)-  1Pe 3:21; Mk 16:16; Acts 2:38  

     We Must Remain Faithful-  Rev 2:10; Acts 14:22    

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Promised Priest

The prophecy we will look at today is actually the fourth vision, in a series of eight, related to Zechariah, dating back to about 519 BC.  This is a very significant vision and prophecy.  In the last post we saw, through the Word of God, how Jesus fulfilled the prophecies of a promised prophet and a promised king.  Today we will look at a prophecy of a promised Priest.  In researching this I studied works from a man named David Baron.  He was a Jewish convert to Christianity.  He wrote many books concerning Judaism.  He founded the Hebrew Christian Testimony to Israel missionary organization, in London, with the intent of converting other Jews.  Concerning today’s text he said this, “This is one of the richest and most Messianic Passages.”  Let’s see what he felt was so rich, shall we?  Vv 1-7 basically sets the scene where Zechariah is having a vision and he sees the High Priest, Joshua (in filthy garments, which means he and the people he represents are unworthy, unable to perform God’s work, and out of his kingdom), and Satan side by side.  Satan is rebuked for his attack on Israel, who is God’s chosen people.  Joshua’s filth is removed and he is cleaned.  Then he is told to remain faithful.

The first thing we must note that Joshua, freshly cleansed and reinstated, and the priests under him are a “symbol.”  They symbolize a priest is coming that will be perfect and not need cleansed and reinstated!  The phrase “for behold” in vv8,9 basically means "see this surprise."  Today we may say, “HERE’S WHAT I’M GONNA DO!”  He gives three illustrations to describe this promised Priest.

The coming priest is a SERVANT.  The word translated servant here comes from the root word that means do or use in service; to become a servant; worshiper.  So when God says, "My servant" He is saying that his promised priest, or servant, will be more than a thoughtless slave.  Rather, this promised priest will work for God, or be used in service by God, because He is a worshiper of God.

The coming priest is a BRANCH.  This promised priest will be rooted in the work and the will of the Lord.  Consider the following verses: 
Isa 4:2 branch of the Lord; Isa 11:1 out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots; Jer 23:5 Branch of righteousness.   The word branch here means a branch that grew.  It comes from the root word meaning sprout, with intent to bring forth, bud, or grow.   This promised priest will come and grow.  As He grows we will see He is rooted in the work and the will of the Lord.  

The coming priest is a STONE.    We see the phrase “for behold” again in verse nine.  This stone that the Lord will put in place is a cornerstone.  Isa 28:16  In the Old Testament a “rock” is a sign of power and strength, and a stone is similar except you build on a stone, not a rock.  This “cornerstone” is a foundation of things to come!  This stone has two unique qualities about it.

1. The stone has seven eyes.  Are these eyes on the stone the eyes of the Lord? Zec 4:10  Perhaps, but I am in no way being dogmatic about that possibility.  The number 7 in Scripture is the number of perfection.  The eye is often referred to as intelligence.  If you apply that to the promised priest, He will need to have perfect intelligence, or omniscience.  Isa 11:2
    2. The stone will be engraved.  The engraving of the stone will make it precious and that’s why Peter refers to it in 1Pe 2:7.  The stone and its engraving are valuable to those who believe, remember, belief cannot be separated from obedience!  God will do the engraving on this new stone just as he did on the Old. Ex 31:18; 32:16.  The iniquity is removed on that one day the stone is engraved!!  This promised priest will need to be the cornerstone of a new foundation, be omniscient, and be engraved by God!

    This promised priest brings unity and peace.
      Everyone will join in this party under the vine.  This is a reference to all people being invited into the party.  I read in the Talmud(Rabbinical teachings and discussions) Yoma 7:4 that after the high priest performed his solemn duties on the day of atonement he was escorted home in a festive manner, and that day was treated as a holiday today!  Do we look at the day our sins were atoned as a holiday?  The peace that is offered by the promised priest will be from the forgiveness of sin.   The forgiveness of sin makes possible, first peace with God, and then peace with fellow man.  This promised priest will be over all people whether Jew or gentile.  There will be no more divided kingdoms as in Old Testament times. The coming priest will start peace and unity!  

    Wow, where can a man like that be found. Do you a man that can meet the criteria in this prophecy?  I have one man in mind.

    Prophecy Fulfilled!
     This promised priest must be a servant     Phi 2:8 Jesus was beyond a servant

    This promised priest must be a branch      Jn 15:1 He is no longer a sprout.  He i with fruit.

    This promised priest must be a stone        1Pe 2:4 “Living stone” Jesus is a living foundation!  

    This promised priest must be omniscient    Jn 16:30 Apostles knew it Col 2:3

    This promised priest must be engraved by God    Isa 53:5 The wounds inflicted on Jesus by men was in reality an engraving by God!   

    This promised priest will bring unity and peace    We already know Jesus is the true vine from Jn 15. The thing that must be noted is that in order to be a part of the vine you do not have to be a certain race, gender, or nationality.  You simply must abide in him!  Heb 4:14; 5:8-10

    You must make a decision the information placed before you today.  Is Jesus our promised priest of the Old Testament?  If you believe he is the Messiah, the anointed, do you acknowledge his authority?  Are you obedient to all his commands concerning entrance into his kingdom?    **Notice that this prophecy has nothing to do with how the king is received, but that he is coming! Jesus is King whether we choose to accept him as such or not.

    Today, tell someone about the promised priest, Jesus Christ, that came to make an atonement for our sins.  He humbled himself and willingly became our perfect sacrifice.  Jesus is our Passover Lamb.         

    Hear The Word-  Rom 10:17; Acts 4:4

We Must Believe or Have Faith-  Heb 11:6; Acts 16:31

We Must Repent-  Lk 13:3; Acts 17:30

We Must Confess Christ Before Others-  Mt 10:32; Acts 8:37

We Must Be Immersed Into Christ (Baptized)-  1Pe 3:21; Mk 16:16; Acts 2:38  

     We Must Remain Faithful-  Rev 2:10; Acts 14:22    

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Promised King

The last six chapters of Zechariah are notoriously difficult to interpret.  They were written after the completion of the Temple in 516 BC.  The prophecies seem to be concerning the future of God’s people from time Of Alexander the Great to the Messianic age.  We find five messianic prophecies in these six chapters.  Today we will look at the one in Chapter 9. 
        Chapter 9 opens with a description of an invasion from the north.  It is believed this is prophetically describing Alexander The Great’s campaign in 332BC!  We read along to vv6-8 and they seem a little difficult, but when you read Josephus (Ant XI  viii   v) it is amazing at what God did and does for his people!! 
        Then vv9-11 contrasts the invasion and the military campaign of Alexander The Great with a just, gentle, and humble ruler!  Verse 9a tells God’s people to “rejoice greatly” in time of this invasion because a King is coming!  You see no one had occupied the throne of Israel in over 70yrs.  This Promised King must be the Messiah.  Notice, Zechariah says “your king.”  This Promised King comes for the sake of his people.  He will be their prophet, priest, king, teacher, and ultimately a perfect sacrifice!

This Promised King will have a few characteristics that will be unique to him!
        A. He will be JUST
This word also means righteous.  Ps 145:17a  This word is constantly given to the Messiah. (Isaiah 45:21; 53:11; Jeremiah 23:5, 6)  His being just is written here in association with kingly righteousness.  His decisions will be altogether righteous.  Isaiah also says in 53:9 in reference to the messiah “nor there was any deceit in his mouth.” 
    Endowed with salvation  The coming king was to be nothing like the earthly leaders such as Alexander The Great!  The Promised King will be humble; Alexander the Great considered himself a god; the Promised King will be just; Alexander the Great filled the world with atrocious deeds; the Promised King will bring salvation; Alexander brought death and destruction.  
   The Promised King was to be a savior or literally “to show himself as a savior.”  The word “salvation” in Hebrew is actually where the Greek word “save” comes from. 

          B. He will be HUMBLE  Humble literally means meek and afflicted! Without worldly pomp or splendor!  The prophecy so far is actually rather vague.  It is easy to find a man that doesn't gossip and doesn’t pursue worldly possessions.  This Promised King, however, will be riding:
         A colt, the foal of a donkey-  (foal is a young animal usually still following its mother) Most king’s ride a beautiful horse, but not this one.  Actually, riding a donkey was in ancient times reserved for only men of distinction. Jud 10:4
     It wasn’t until after Solomon that riding a horse was adopted and it was lowly to ride a donkey.  The donkey was used for peaceful purposes and was viewed as a peaceful animal.  NOT HOW WE LOOK AT THEM TODAY!!  Here is how specific this prophecy is…
    Under the law of Moses animals devoted to the service of God were to be animals which HAD NOT previously been used in any service of man.  Num 19:2; Dt 21:3; 1Sa 6:7   When our Lord and Savior rode that foal of a donkey into Jerusalem in the Triumphal entry he was saying (1) I am involved in the service of God (2) I am the Promised King you have been looking for.  I alone fulfill all prophecies of the Coming Messiah!!
How many men can claim to have these characteristics?  

We can see 3 distinct qualities in the coming king’s kingdom.
         A. His kingdom will be established without WAR.
     The chariots are the 1st apparatus of war mentioned to be cut off or eliminated.  The kingdom of the Promised King will not be started with war.  Rather, it will be the exact opposite of war, it will be of love!!  Ps 46:9
     Then we see the horses to be cut off or eliminated.  The horse is what generally pulled the chariots.  Horses are often an emblem of power, because the more horses an Army had the more potential the Army had for swift combat.  *The Promised King has no need for these horses as he will be riding a donkey!!
     Finally, the battle bow is eliminated.  The bow and arrow were effective arms from long-range (300-400 yards).  This weapon was used widely by the nations of the Bible. Israel had expert archers in men from Benjamin.  1Ch 8:40  and the eastern tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh. 1Ch 5:18  Bows were constructed with single pieces of wood, or more effectively with glued layers  of wood,  horn,  and sometimes  even with added bronze. The size varied from approximately three to six feet in length.  The Promised King's kingdom was to be established without physical force. Ps 72:7

          B. His kingdom will be PEACEFUL
The messianic reign of peace is not to be confined to the Jews and to the physical land of Canaan.  It will extend to the nations as well.
        He will speak Peace- Peace here is the word Shalom.  It means more than the absence of strife.  It expresses completeness, harmony, and fulfillment.  When you wish someone shalom you are also blessing them!  Jesus said Jn 14:27 

        C. His kingdom will be universal.
  “from sea to sea, And from the River to the ends of the earth” is an Old Testament way of saying worldwide!  It is this same humble king, whose entry into Jerusalem is on a despised animal, who shall, by His mere will, make war to cease, who shall, by His mere word, give peace to this world.  Jn 18:36  The kingdom Jesus is talking about is a spiritual kingdom and not physical one.  The Promised King will establish a universal spiritual kingdom!!

Where can such a man be found.  Who can fulfill all these prophecies and criteria?  

The fulfillment of prophecy

A king will come              The Magi knew it.  Mt 2:1,2 
He will be just                 Jesus was sinless   Heb 4:15
He will provide Salvation.  Jesus came for that reason.  Mt 1:21
He will be humble            Jesus meets this characteristic.  Mt 11:29 
He will ride a foal            The Triumphal Entry Mt 21:1-17
Est a Kingdom w/out war  Live by sword, die by sword Mt 26:52
Peaceful Kingdom            Jesus wanted us to have peace  Jn 16:33
Universal Kingdom           Jesus wants ALL NATIONS  Mt 28:19; Mk 16:15

You must make a decision the information placed before you today.  Is Jesus our Promised King of the Old Testament?  If you believe he is the Messiah, the anointed, do you acknowledge his authority?  Are you obedient to all his commands concerning entrance into his kingdom?    **Notice that this prophecy has nothing to do with how the king is received, but that he is coming! Jesus is King whether we choose to accept him as such or not.  

Today, for those "in Christ" or a member of Christ's universal spiritual kingdom, the Church, will you share the truth about the Promised King that came and died in order to establish his peaceful kingdom?  Is being a part of His kingdom a priority in your life or are you a weekend visitor?  If you are not a member of his spiritual kingdom why a you waiting?  Today is the time and it is your day of salvation? 2Co 6:2

Hear The Word-  Rom 10:17; Acts 4:4

We Must Believe or Have Faith-  Heb 11:6; Acts 16:31

We Must Repent-  Lk 13:3; Acts 17:30

We Must Confess Christ Before Others-  Mt 10:32; Acts 8:37

We Must Be Immersed Into Christ (Baptized)-  1Pe 3:21; Mk 16:16; Acts 2:38  

We Must Remain Faithful-  Rev 2:10; Acts 14:22