JerusalemJim Courson, December 10, 2017
“For behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “that I will bring back from captivity
My people Israel and Judah,” says the LORD. “And I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it.” Jeremiah 30:2
Prussian cavalry general Hans von Zieten, known as an uncompromising Christian, was asked by his king, Frederick the II, “Give proof for the truth of the Bible in two words!” With no hesitation Zieten replied, “Your majesty, the Jews!” For him, the present existence of a Jewish people was proof alone that God’s Word was true. His response of faith, is even more remarkable when one considers in this era of the 1700’s there was no nation of Israel, the land was barren and desolate of any population. The Jews were still a scattered people.
Author Mark Twain, an agnostic and skeptic, was intellectually stumped with the very real existence of the Jews. In 1899, he writes: “The Egyptian, Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away. The Greek and Roman followed, made a vast noise and they are gone. Other peoples have sprung up, and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out and they sit in twilight now or have vanished. The Jew saw them and beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal, but the Jew. All other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immorality?”
Unlike Zieten, the great American author sadly refused to acknowledge the undeniable confirmation to the truthfulness of the Bible and its prophecy contained.
Dr. Randall Price on the subject of the Jews: “The modern return of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel has been called the ‘Miracle on the Mediterranean.’ Such a return by a people group that had been scattered among the nations is unprecedented in history. Indeed, the Jewish people are the only exiled people to remain a distinct people despite being dispersed to more than 70 different countries for more than 20 centuries. The mighty empires of Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome all ravaged their land, took their people captive, and scattered them throughout the earth. Even after this, they suffered persecution, pogrom, and Holocaust in the lands to which they were exiled. Yet, all of these ancient kingdoms have turned to dust and their former glories remain only as museum relics and many of the nations that opposed the Jews have suffered economic, political, or religious decline. But the Jewish people whom they enslaved and tried to eradicate live free and have again become a strong nation.”
You and I have a front-row-seat to witnessing what previous generations only dreamed. This week, our own nation, the first to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is a seismic “birth-pang.” Those signs which Jesus talked about, and His coming has never been so soon!
“Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us
a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
“Unsettling” …certainly an understatement regarding Job. One minute he was safe, comfortable, a wealthy and wise patriarch enjoying the good life. God had blessed him and he was highly regarded, even by God. But his trust in, and favor from God, did not exempt him from suffering… terribly so. In Job, we get to go behind-the-scenes, behind the curtain of our earthly perceptions. The book is a rare view behind this curtain and into the reality of the spiritual world.
On earth Job’s life flourished with ten kids, thousands of sheep, oxen, camels and donkeys, with plenty of servants to ten all. Job honored God and God delighted in Job— and it is that which made Job a target of Satan himself. And Satan wasted not a moment. In short-time his livestock was gone, servants killed, a lethal lightning storm strikes his shepherds and sheep, his house flattened by a tornado, and all ten children dead. Absolute devastation. Only his wife and four servants left—they to report each catastrophic blow. We haven’t even yet explored chapter two. The response of Job is mind-boggling— “he fell to the ground and worshiped.” He then goes on and shares one of the most familiar, insightful and wise statements of all time:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The LORD gave,
and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD.”
Yet Satan is not through with Job. The second chapter reveals an onslaught upon his own physical body. Chapter seven reveals nights of terror because of his dreams. The entire picture of Job is one of a man afflicted by the unleashed powers of hell.
Though not without question, Job navigates well. Closing in chapter one we read: “In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.” How did he do this? It is in our darkest hour of suffering that reveals how we truly feel about God. Job was able to wholeheartedly bless God in spite of his overwhelming agony. It was obvious to him “what” happened, but he had no idea of the “why?” He had no idea of the conversation in heaven between God and Satan. Nor had he any idea of how highly God had thought of him. Job trusted God and he loved God more than all that God had given him. The spiritual perspective of Job is a critical reminder we would do well to give great consideration towards. There is something bigger … “weightier” than him and for him happening. Paul might have called it: eternal weight of glory stuff!
It is our nature to focus on what is directly in front of us and miss that bigger picture of the spiritual and eternal realm. Pastor Peter Marshall, of the preceding generation said this:
“God will never permit any troubles to come upon us unless He has a specific plan by which great blessing can come out of the difficulty.”
P.S. this devotional was born from the Wednesday Morning “Men in the Word at Wendy’s.” These early morning times of fellowship in the Bible together is one of the best fellowship times I’ve been a part of. Can’t encourage you men to come and join in whenever you might be able to make it.
For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness.
Thinness, hollow-eyed gauntness, sandals, long robes, stone cells, no jokes, frequent cold baths, fasting, getting up at 4 a.m., clean fingernails, stained glass, self-humiliation and religious sounding chants… these are the images of many when they think of holiness. Things reserved for the realm of austere monks and mystics. But nothing could be further from the truth.
I appreciate the more accurate thoughts of the following concerning the Biblical significance of holiness for all of us who know our Lord—
“Holiness does not consist in mystic speculations, enthusiastic fervors, or uncommanded austerities; it consists in thinking as God thinks and willing as God wills.”
“Holiness is the everyday business of every Christian. It evidences itself in the decisions we make and things we do, hour by hour, day by day.”
“Resolved, never to do anything which I would be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.”
“Holiness is not inability to sin, but ability not to sin.”
-G. Campbell Morgan
“Holiness is the visible side of salvation.”
-C. H. Spurgeon
“Jesus Christ’s holiness has to do with human life as it is. It is not a mystical, aesthetic thing that cannot work in the ordinary things of life; it is a holiness which ‘can be achieved with an ordinary diet and a wife and five children.’”
Romans 5:17-18 reveals we are either “in Adam” or “in Christ.” If in Adam we are controlled by the Fall— obeying the instincts of our ruined nature of sin. If in Christ, we are to be controlled by the Call— obeying a redeemed, new nature. A life governed and guided toward holiness empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Uncleanness is what we inherit by reason of our natural birth, but when we are born again we operate by holiness if we choose to submit to our Lord and Savior Jesus. We are no longer the natural man who loves darkness and delights in vileness, but rather a new man who delights in virtue and light.
“Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.”
You are good, and do good.
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—
…the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
II Corinthians 4:7-8, 16-18
Our dear brother Noah, Rosie and their family received challenging news this week. It was a delight, though not understanding, that Noah has solid confidence in the ever-goodness of God… even though we may not understand until Heaven. He requested that this poem (When God wants to drill a man… author unknown), significant in his own life, be shared with the church family—
When God wants to drill a man, and thrill a man, and skill a man
When God want to mold a man… to play the noblest part;
When He yearns with all His heart, to create so great and bold a man
That all the world should be amazed… watch His methods… watch His ways!
How He ruthlessly perfects, whom He royally elects!
How He hammers him and hurts him… and with mighty blows converts him.
Into trial shapes of clay which only God understands;
While his tortured heart is crying, and he lifts beseeching hands!
How He bends but never breaks, when his good He undertakes;
How He uses whom He chooses,
And which every purpose fuses him… by every act induces him
To try His splendor out—God knows what He’s about.