27 February 2009

Sabbath Year – 2.27.09

To be completely honest, I often find the book of Leviticus a dry read. I know it's a great book with all kinds of pictures and types of the Lord Jesus Christ, but I'm not very good at seeing all that. So when the Lord shows me something from this book, it's definitely an exciting thing for me.

In Leviticus 25, God prescribes both the Sabbath year and the year of jubilee to the nation of Israel. Every seventh year, the Israelites were to give their land a rest. They were not to sow or reap their fields. Then following every seventh seventh year (or every 50th year) was a special Sabbath year known as the year of Jubilee. Again during that 50th year the Israelites were not to sow or reap their fields.

If you're like me, when you read that you've got to be wondering, well then how are they going to eat? And just as that question reaches the tip of the tongue, God gives an answer.

Leviticus 25:18-22 Wherefore ye shall do my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them; and ye shall dwell in the land in safety. And the land shall yield her fruit, and ye shall eat your fill, and dwell therein in safety. And if ye shall say, What shall we eat the seventh year? behold, we shall not sow, nor gather in our increase: Then I will command my blessing upon you in the sixth year, and it shall bring forth fruit for three years. And ye shall sow the eighth year, and eat yet of old fruit until the ninth year; until her fruits come in ye shall eat of the old store.

All along God had promised physical blessings to Israel for their obedience to His law. If they were faithful, He would send the rain and increase their crops and give them peace and plenty. Here God gives a specific promise to triple the crops on the year just before the Sabbath year. Thus, they'd have enough left over to get them through that Sabbath year (as well as every 50th year through the year of Jubilee).

If you're familiar with the history of the nation of Israel, you'll remember that the southern kingdom (Judah) was in captivity in Babylon for 70 years. (The northern kingdom was taken captive to Assyria and never made such a return.) The length of that captivity was foretold by Jeremiah the prophet (check it out – Jeremiah 25:9-11; Jeremiah 29:10-11). But do you know why it lasted 70 years?

2 Chronicles 36:20-21 And them that had escaped from the sword carried he away to Babylon; where they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia: To fulfil the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years.

God let the land rest for 70 years while Judah was captive in Babylon because the land had missed that many Sabbaths. That means for 490 years Judah had ignored God's commandment regarding the Sabbath year (or 434 if you calculate in the year of Jubilee). But why?

I can think of 2 reasons. First, maybe they got greedy and didn't want to miss out on the profits they could make every seventh year. 1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

But I believe the second and more plausible explanation is this. Remember how God had promised to make provision to get the Israelites through the years they were to give the land a rest? But that extra blessing was dependent on their obedience. So when the nation lived in rebellion to God's law they were unable to make it through the Sabbath years because they did not harvest any extra crops during the years leading up to the Sabbath year. That should've made them realize their condition and repent, but instead they ignored God's clear commandment and sowed and reaped right through that year of rest.

This is just one more clear example of the fact that one act of disobedience always leads to another act of disobedience. One sin will always lead to another. You might say yourself, "I know it's wrong, but it's just this one thing, and I'll only do it this once. I can handle it. It'll be OK." God says you're deceived. Once you take the first step downward on that slope of sin, you find it more slippery than you could've ever imagined.

Your best bet is to always remain on the higher ground with your feet firmly planted on the Solid Rock.

24 February 2009

New & Everlasting Covenant – 2.24.09

First, let's review:

EDENIC COVENANT: God keeps His word. Man fails to keep God's requirements.

ADAMIC COVENANT: Sin brings a curse, but Jesus bore that curse for us.

NOAHIC COVENANT: God will never again destroy the earth with fire (though He will renovate it by fire).

ABRAHAMIC COVENANT: The great Hebrew nation will forever inherit the land of promise.

MOSAIC COVENANT: Governed by the law of God.

DAVIDIC COVENANT: With David's son upon the throne.

Now, because of Israel's agreement with God at Mount Sinai, in order for the promise God made to Abraham to be fulfilled, somehow the nation must be enabled to keep and be governed by the law of God. And David is going to need some kind of help getting up out of the grave (especially after his adultery and murder) in order to sit on the throne that God promised would be his forever.

From the very first covenant we learned that God always keeps His promises. And when we examine what the Bible says about this new and everlasting covenant, we find that it was all made possible by what Jesus Christ did when He bore mankind's sin upon the cross.


You see, as a result of Jesus Christ's mediatorial (think I made that word up) work on the cross: on the day when the nation repents and turns to Him, God will save the entire nation of Israel in a day; He will indwell them with His Spirit; He will put His law in their hearts; He will plant them in the land from whence they shall never be removed; and He will rule over them as King with David as their prince.

You'll just have to read the following passages that describe the wonders of these new covenant blessings: Jeremiah 31:31-37; Jeremiah 32:37-44; Isaiah 54:7-10; Isaiah 61:7-11; Ezekiel 16:59-63; Romans 11:25-29; Hebrews 8:6-13; Hebrews 10:16-18. And Christ's role in making all this possible: Luke 1:67-75; Hebrews 12:24; Isaiah 42:1-7; Isaiah 43:5-9.

Now, I call your remembrance to Romans 9:4 (the covenants pertain to Israel) and Ephesians 2:12 (Gentiles strangers to the covenants of promise). But I would be amiss to point out the fact that we as Christians do indeed get in on some of these new covenant blessings, like:

  • our sins and iniquities remembered no more
  • indwelt by the Spirit of God
  • His law put in our hearts
  • the hope of the resurrection

The question poses itself: How can this be, if the covenants are strictly for Israel? Well, it goes back to what we discussed just over a month back (Joseph, Jesus, & the New Covenant – 1.16.09). When Jesus Christ shed His blood and died on Calvary's cross, only to rise again 3 days later, it was as if he "killed two birds with one stone." That same payment for sin made possible both our individual salvation (and birth into the family of God and baptism into the body of Christ) AND the fulfillment of all the covenants God had made with His chosen people, the nation of Israel.

Hebrews 13:20-21 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

So while Jesus died on the cross to make a propitiation for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2), the blessed results of His doing so are varied and without number.

20 February 2009

Davidic Covenant – 2.20.09

The nation of Israel was set up as a Theocracy – GOD ruled over the nation. Up through the days of the prophet Samuel, God would raise up judges to lead the people and/or deliver them out of the hand of the nations that oppressed them (in times of their disobedience).

But in 1 Samuel 8, we read that the Hebrews rejected God's rule over them and wanted a king like all the other nations. God gave them Saul, but he ended up just like God said he would. In his impatience and presumption, he offered a burnt offering in the place of Samuel, God's priest (1 Samuel 13). As a result, it was promised that his kingdom would not continue.

And so God raised up a man who was after His own heart. A shepherd boy. The sweet Psalmist of Israel. King David. By the time we get to 2 Samuel 7, the nation is enjoying peace and safety under the leadership of their new king. And it became David's desire to build a house for God – to replace the tabernacle (a tent) with a permanent structure for the worship and service of the Lord.

The prophet Nathan initially gave David his seal of approval but was sent back by God with the following message:

2 Samuel 7:8-17 Now therefore so shalt thou say unto my servant David, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I took thee from the sheepcote, from following the sheep, to be ruler over my people, over Israel: And I was with thee whithersoever thou wentest, and have cut off all thine enemies out of thy sight, and have made thee a great name, like unto the name of the great men that are in the earth. Moreover I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own, and move no more; neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them any more, as beforetime [a reaffirmation of the Abrahamic covenant], And as since the time that I commanded judges to be over my people Israel, and have caused thee to rest from all thine enemies. Also the LORD telleth thee that he will make thee an house. And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee. And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever. According to all these words, and according to all this vision, so did Nathan speak unto David.

The Lord said in 2 Chronicles 6:9 that David did well in that this was in his heart, and even though He tapped David's son Solomon for the job, notice how He rewards David's desire. David desired to build a house for God. God rewarded that desire by building a house for David.

God's unconditional covenant with David was that HIS THRONE WOULD BE ESTABLISHED FOREVER (2 Samuel 23:5; 2 Chronicles 13:5; 2 Chronicles 21:7; Psalm 89:1-4; Psalm 89:23-37). What a promise! There have been some enduring dynasties down throughout history, but God promised the rule of David's family over the nation of Israel is one that will never end.

It is interesting to get a glimpse of the fulfillment of this promise. The prophets foretell a future day when David will rule as prince over Israel from Jerusalem (Jeremiah 33:14-16; Ezekiel 34:23-25; Ezekiel 27:21-28) in the eternal kingdom established by David's son who is also his Lord (Psalm 132:11-12; Luke 1:26-33; Psalm 110:1; Matthew 22:41-45).

17 February 2009

Mosaic Covenant – 2.17.09

God told Abraham way back in Genesis 15 that His descendants would be afflicted in a strange land for 400 years. We know from Exodus 12 that it was after 430 years of Egyptian bondage that God raised up Moses and used Him to deliver the Hebrews and lead them to the land of promise.

Along the way they came to a mountain in the wilderness of Sinai. There God gave Moses THE LAW that was to govern the nation of Israel in the land of promise. The Hebrews agreed to adhere to the commandments set forth by the Lord and that law became a covenant between God and the Israelite nation (Exodus 19:1-8; 24:3-8).

THIS WAS A CONDITIONAL COVENANT. Over and over God said that if the nation would keep this covenant and obey His laws that He would bless them with peace and prosperity and allow them to remain in the land of promise. He also promised to reward their rebellion with drought, oppression, and eventually removal from their homeland (Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 29).

Now let's go back in our study. The Abrahamic covenant was an unconditional and everlasting promise that Abraham's multiplied seed would forever inherit the land of Canaan. But as they are getting ready to enter that land as a nation they make this conditional covenant with God, as described above. How do these two covenants relate to each other?

Galatians 3:16-19 answers, Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made…And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise. Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.

So the Mosaic covenant cannot disannul the Abraham covenant. Rather, we regard it is an amendment to the Abrahamic covenant, given to govern the nation of Israel in the promised land. Reading on in Galatians 3, we find that this law is given to serve man by both defining and restraining his sin and to bring him to Christ – the only One Who could deliver him from those sins and their eternal penalty.

Now I don't want to jump ahead too much, but I must point out that this covenant, though conditional, is everlasting. It will forever govern the nation of Israel in the land of promise. We read in Ezekiel and the other prophets of sacrifices and offerings being made in the temple during the millennial kingdom. We read in Isaiah 2 of Christ sitting upon the throne of His kingdom in Jerusalem, teaching men the law. We'll bring all this together (hopefully) when we look at the new and everlasting covenant.


This covenant was recorded on tables of stone (Exodus 34:27-28; Deuteronomy 4:13-18; Deuteronomy 9:9-11) and housed in the ark of the covenant (Deuteronomy 31:24-26; 1 Kings 8:9; 2 Chronicles 6:11). Israel's idolatry and immorality were referred to as transgressions of their covenant with God (Deuteronomy 17:2; Joshua 7:11, 15; Joshua 23:16; Judges 2:20; 1 Kings 19:10; 2 Kings 18:12; Psalm 78:10; Jeremiah 34:18; Ezekiel 16:59; Hosea 6:7; Hosea 8:1). And the sign of this covenant was the Sabbath (Exodus 31:12-18; Ezekiel 20:20).

13 February 2009

Abrahamic Covenant – 2.13.09

Psalm 105:8-11 He hath remembered his covenant for ever, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations. Which covenant he made with Abraham, and his oath unto Isaac; And confirmed the same unto Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant: Saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance:

Genesis 11. We're 2 chapters removed from God's covenant with Noah, and mankind is at it again. A man named Nimrod is heading up a building project in the plain of Shinar (Babylon). In the spirit of unity, all of mankind has joined together to erect a tower whose top may reach to heaven.

The Lord comes down and intervenes. He wrecks the men's purposes by confounding their language and scattering them abroad upon the face of the earth. History teaches us that, in general:

  • Ham's descendants moved south
  • Japheth's headed west
  • Shem's set up tent in the lands of the east

Our study of this next covenant, then, begins in Genesis 12 with one of Shem's descendants. God calls a man named Abram out from Ur of the Chaldees and promises to make of him a great nation. He says his seed will be multiplied as the stars of the sky and as the sand upon the seashore AND THAT THEY WILL FOREVER INHERIT THE LAND OF CANAAN.

This is the focus of the Abrahamic covenant. It is always associated with the land. This may seem very insignificant. But it is so very important in properly understanding your Bible.

Genesis 12:1-7; Genesis 13:14-17; Genesis 15; Genesis 17:1-8; 1 Chronicles 16:15-18; Nehemiah 9:7-8

So many people get twisted up in their doctrine because they fail to recognize that the Hebrew people, the nation of Israel, has always been and will always be a physical people with physical promises, physical blessings, and a physical inheritance. By way of contrast, God's church has always been and will always be a spiritual people with spiritual promises, spiritual blessings, and a spiritual inheritance.

Genesis 15 (verses 18-21) gives the borders of the land grant God made to the Hebrew people. It stretches all the way from the Nile to the Euphrates River. Take out a map of the Middle East today. The modern nation of Israel occupies a little strip of land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea that's no larger than the state of New Jersey. This is not the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. God keeps His word. Israel will forever inherit all the land God promised to Abraham.

It is important to note that this covenant was passed down through Isaac (not Ishmael) and through Jacob (not Esau). Jacob (whose name was changed by God to Israel) had 12 sons; hence, the 12 tribes of Israel.

Genesis 26:1-5; Genesis 28:10-15; Exodus 2:24; Exodus 33:1; Leviticus 26:42; Numbers 32:11; Deuteronomy 1:8; Deuteronomy 6:10; Deuteronomy 9:5; Deuteronomy 30:20

It is also important to understand that this covenant is everlasting and unconditional. There are no ifs. God promised Abraham that His descendants would forever possess that land, and they will. No matter what (see Genesis 17:7-8). Thus, it has been because of this covenant that God has delivered and protected His people throughout history (Exodus 6:1-8; Exodus 32:9-14; 2 Kings 13:23).

And one final note: the token of this covenant was the sign of circumcision (Genesis 17:10-14; Acts 7:8). It symbolized the fact that God had separated this nation and made them His peculiar treasure. He had many purposes for doing so, not the least of which was preserving a pure seed for the coming of the Redeemer.

John 4:22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.

10 February 2009

Noahic Covenant – 2.10.09

By the time we get to Genesis 6, we find that Adam's descendants had grown so wicked it repented the Lord that He had made man on the earth, and (for the second time, Genesis 1:2) He brought judgment upon the entire creation by way of a world-wide flood.

But there was a man named Noah who found grace in the eyes of the Lord. God called out this man and delivered his family because he was a just man and perfect in his generations (6:9), whereas the whole earth was filled with violence – broadly defined as any type of criminal activity – through the mighty men of renown (6:13; 6:4).

After over a year on the ark with all the animals, Noah and his family stepped out Genesis 9:1 And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said…

In His message, God blesses Noah, his sons, and their wives with a charge to fill the earth (v. 1); reiterates man's dominion over the animal kingdom (v. 2); makes provision for the eating of meat – AMEN! (v. 3); forbids the eating of blood (v. 4; Leviticus 17:10-14; Acts 15:20); and decrees capital punishment for the murderer, thereby ordaining human government (v. 6; Romans 13:1-7).

Then He gets to the crux of the matter of this Noahic covenant. God will never again destroy the earth and its inhabitants with the waters of a flood (Genesis 9:8-17; 8:20-22). The Bible says that God placed His bow in the clouds as a sign, or a token, of this covenant.

Is it not odd that the sodomite community has laid claim to the symbol of the rainbow? Does such a choice not speak to a perverted inward condition that cries out, "I know what I am doing is wrong, but I'm clinging to a false hope that I'll not face the judgment of God." Romans 10:8 The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart…

2 Peter 3:7 says that these scoffers are willingly ignorant of how the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

God keeps His word. His promise is that He'll not destroy the earth with water. But that doesn't mean He'll not judge sin. In fact, as Peter points out, there's coming a day in which He's going to skip the whole flood thing and just torch the place.

Are you ready? What about your family? Your friends? Your job mates? Your class mates? People you come into contact with everyday?

2 Peter 3:9-15 9The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 10But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. 11Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 12Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? 13Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. 14Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. 15And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation…

What are you doing to make sure others – in your community and around the world – enjoy deliverance from coming judgment?

09 February 2009

Verse for the Week – 2.9.09

Just an explanation on a new item you'll see on the right-hand side of this blog – VERSE FOR THE WEEK. Recently, my mind has been drawn to the importance of not only Bible reading, but Bible memory. Consider the benefits of hiding God's word in your heart. When you do so, God's Holy Spirit will be able to bring those scriptures to your mind and bring help in your time of need (John 14:26), for example:

  • Strength in time of temptation (Psalm 119:11)
  • Comfort in time of trouble (Romans 15:4)
  • Power when witnessing (Hebrews 4:12; Isaiah 55:11)
  • A ready answer when questioned (1 Peter 3:15)

So I have challenged the teens in our church to memorize a verse from the book of Proverbs each week, together as a group. The VERSE FOR THE WEEK will be posted here on the blog for any of you who would like to join us.

06 February 2009

Adamic Covenant – 2.6.09

Well, you're aware of how that situation with the man and God in the garden turned out. Placed in a perfect environment and given only one commandment, the man chose to disobey. What God had to say to him – as well as the woman, and the serpent – when the voice of the Lord came walking in the garden in the cool of the day (Genesis 3:8-13) is what we refer to as the Adamic covenant.

The curse that resulted from man's sin is recorded in Genesis 3:14-19. The serpent was cursed. The woman was cursed. The man was cursed. And the ground was cursed. But the blessing of the Adamic covenant is found in verse 15, where God promised that a Redeemer would come and undo all that Adam had just done.

Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

But not only does the chapter provide this first great PROPHECY concerning the Lord Jesus Christ, verse 21 contains this first great PICTURE that traces throughout the rest of the Bible:

Genesis 3:21 Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.

In order to obtain those coats of skin, what had to happen? An animal had to be sacrificed; its blood had to be shed (see Genesis 4; Exodus 12; Leviticus 17:11; Hebrews 9:22; et al).

Both this PROPHECY and this PICTURE point us to one blessed truth we can associate with and carry from this Adamic covenant, and that is JESUS BORE SIN'S CURSE (see Galatians 3:10-13; Romans 8:19-25).

After we stop and let the glory of that truth sink in for just a minute (and thank God for our Savior), let's think back to the Edenic covenant. Wasn't Adam promised that he would die the day he ate the forbidden fruit in disobedience (Genesis 2:17)? Then how did he live to be 930 years old (Genesis 5:5)?

I'm fairly certain we've all heard one explanation or another, but in light of what we've learned, could it be that on that day the eternal Son of God offered Himself to the Father and pledged to take Adam's place in death? Is He not the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8)? Does not the type that begins in Genesis 3:21 and runs throughout the rest of scripture point to One, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29; 1 Peter 1:18-19; Hebrews 10:1-10)?

I'm glad that Jesus Christ took the wages of my sin upon Himself and died so I could have eternal life! Praise the Lord, JESUS BORE SIN'S CURSE!

Click here to download Bro. James' 20 free outline studies on Genesis 3.

03 February 2009

Edenic Covenant – 2.3.09

Genesis 2 takes a more detailed look at what all took place on the sixth day of the re-creation week described in Genesis 1. God's work on that sixth day included: living creatures of the earth (1:24-25); man (1:26-27 & 2:7); a garden in Eden (2:8-14); the animals for Adam to name and refuse as a suitable partner (2:18-20); and Mrs. Adam (1:26-27 & 2:21-22).

Genesis 1:28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them…

Note in this verse how that the word of God is always intended to bless us (see Deuteronomy 10:12-13; Micah 2:7; Acts 3:26). Praise the Lord!

In the garden, God blessed the man with many things. A help meet (2:18) and a charge for them to fill the earth (1:28); dominion over the animal kingdom (1:28); provisions of herbs and fruit (1:29); rewarding labor (2:15); and a command to avoid the evil fruit (2:17).

The covenant God made with the first man in the garden focuses on that last blessing. Genesis 2:15-17 And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

This was a conditional covenant. God prohibited a certain action and promised the man that IF he disobeyed, the result would be sure and certain death.

Here is the main thought we should attach to this, the Edenic ovenant: GOD ALWAYS KEEPS HIS WORD, AND MAN IS UNABLE TO LIVE UP TO GOD'S REQUIREMENT.

On a negative note we find that Adam died just like God said he would (Genesis 5:5) and passed his sinful nature down to you and me (Romans 5:12; Romans 3:23). But on a positive note we are reminded that God has promised us eternal life (1 John 2:25), and He always keeps His word (Titus 1:2). And that's what's great about God's covenants. He cannot lie. He never forgets. His word is sure.

If you have a couple minutes and want a blessing, look these verses up: Numbers 23:19; Deuteronomy 7:9; Joshua 21:45; Joshua 23:14; Judges 2:1; 1 Kings 8:23; 2 Chronicles 6:14; Nehemiah 1:5; Nehemiah 9:32; Psalm 89:34; Psalm 105:8; Psalm 111:5; Titus 1:2; and Hebrews 6:18.