Savior’s Away, My Foes, Savior’s Away (John 8:12-27)

Countdowns are expected in action and adventure films. Most often, it’s a timer on a bomb.

The absolute, hands down, most intense, edge-of-your-seat, I-know-he-won’t-die-but-I’m-still-anxious, defusing was in 1964’s Goldfinger. The bomb was in Fort Knox (where there once was gold).

Bond, James Bond, breaks the lock, opens the lid, exposing a complex device with discs whirling and bundled wires running everywhere.

The digital timer shows 032 seconds. Bond touches this and that, fumbling, making it clear that he has no idea what to do. The never-let-them-see-you-sweat secret agent man is sweating. It’s a great piece of acting by Sean Connery, who seems genuinely shaken…not stirred.

As the seconds count down, he grabs a bundle of wires in both hands. Just as he is going to separate them, hoping for the best, an agent arrives and stops him. The agent then reaches over and flips an On/Off switch. The best part: The timer stops at 007.

Time was running out for the Jews to receive the Lord.

In verse twenty-one we read, “Then Jesus said to them again, ‘I am going away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin. Where I go you cannot come.’ ”

Jesus would have a similar discussion with His disciples, but with a different outcome.

On the night of His crucifixion, Jesus told them that He would shortly be returning to His Father in Heaven. To them, Jesus said, “I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:3).

When Jesus ascended into Heaven, Israel missed her opportunity to crown Jesus King of the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. Not permanently; it was a postponement. We know that Jesus will return in a glorious Second Coming, and when He does, “all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:26).

We live in the postponement. Believers say “Time’s up” because we know that the Lord could return at any moment to resurrect and rapture His church from Earth to Heaven. Every heartbeat He waits is just one away from the rapture.

I’ll organize my comments around two points: #1 Time’s Up For The Church, and #2 The Time Is Now For The ‘UnChurched.’

#1 – Time’s Up For The Church (v12-21)

We are in the Church Age.

It will be followed by the seven-year Great Tribulation.

At the end of the Great Tribulation, Jesus Christ will return to rule the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth for one thousand years.

When that millennial reign ends, the final resurrection of the human race will occur.

An eternity in Heaven awaits believers. An eternity of conscious torment in the Lake of Fire awaits nonbelievers.

The Church Age ends when Jesus returns to resurrect the dead in Christ, and rapture living believers. This coming is presented in the Bible as imminent. That is why we live as though ‘Time’s up.’

Jesus was talking to Jews about the Kingdom promised to them. He was not addressing the church. The church was a mystery revealed later.

Promises specifically made to and about Israel are not for the church, nor are they applicable to other nations.

We can always discern and discover in the text things that apply to believers of every age. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The Gospel message is always the same, with salvation being by grace through faith. But we cannot claim what is not ours. BTW: Our blessings are better anyway!

We last left Jesus in the Temple teaching.

Joh 8:12  Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

I appreciate Boromir’s assessment of Mordor. “One does not simply walk into Mordor. Its Black Gates are guarded by more than just Orcs. There is evil there that does not sleep, and the Great Eye is ever watchful. It is a barren wasteland, riddled with fire and ash and dust, the very air you breathe is a poisonous fume.”

Is that how you see the world? The reality is much worse. We are born spiritually dead into pitch spiritual darkness.

Jesus came into the darkness and is the “light” source. When you believe Jesus, His “life” that was given for you is given to you. You receive spiritual sight to successfully navigate darkness.

Joh 8:13  The Pharisees therefore said to Him, “You bear witness of Yourself; Your witness is not true.”

Jesus’ miracles bore witness He was Messiah. Like lawyers in a legal action, they were excluding His works from evidence.

There is SO much evidence that the Bible is true. Critics want to suppress it. The creation vs. evolution debate, for instance. Evolutionists have done a great job in making people think creationism is based on unscientific leaps of faith. Creationism is the only explanation that fits the scientific findings.

Joh 8:14  Jesus answered and said to them, “Even if I bear witness of Myself, My witness is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from and where I am going.

The testimony of Jesus would hold greater prominence than that of a mere man because He had been for eternity in Heaven. Jesus isn’t another wise man who established a religion. Guys like Joseph Smith “bore witness of themselves.” Jesus was and is God. We have a Savior Who transforms us, not a usurper who wants to reform us.

Joh 8:15  You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one.
Joh 8:16  And yet if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone, but I am with the Father who sent Me.

Jesus does judge, but not as they did, in the flesh by human wisdom.

The Pharisees lived “according to the flesh,” entirely by outward rules, rites, diets, and days. Their evaluation was always firmly grounded in fleshly, i.e., human, wisdom. C.S. Lewis said, “You cannot make men good by law.”

The Pharisees started spiritual. They deteriorated to the sad condition we see in the New Testament.

Christians in the Church Age begin in the Spirit but can deteriorate to attempt walking with Jesus in the flesh, i.e., in their strength. John Wesley writes, “If, after having renounced all, we do not watch incessantly, and beseech God to accompany our vigilance with His, we shall be again entangled and overcome.”

“I am with the Father” should read, “I with the Father,” emphasizing working together. Jesus claimed that He did only what His Father told Him to do, and said only what His Father told Him to say. The two of them constitute a single omniscient and omnipotent testimony.

Joh 8:17  It is also written in your law that the testimony of two men is true.
Joh 8:18  I am One who bears witness of Myself, and the Father who sent Me bears witness of Me.”

It was God’s Law and there was nothing wrong with it. They had made it theirs by adding and subtracting from it.

The Pharisees became ‘law-bound.’ Jesus one day said, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices – mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former (Matthew 23:23).

Joh 8:19  Then they said to Him, “Where is Your Father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither Me nor My Father. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also.”

Jesus meant His Heavenly Father. Their thoughts could not rise above the flesh. They thought of His earthly father. Their question was peppered with derision. Later in the chapter, we will see them more openly accuse Jesus of being the illegitimate son of Joseph.

The smartest, most articulate, naturally talented religious men, the Pharisees, practicing the one, true religious system on Earth, written by the finger of God, given to the most humble man who ever lived…Did not know God.

For all of their study, and self-righteous discipline, they did not realize that their Scriptures were about Jesus.

Don’t forget Jesus while reading your Bible. It is easier to do than you might think. We discover His promises and principles and precedents. So much so that we are always rushing to the next book with its program to be more spiritual. Hopefully, I won’t hurt anyone’s feelings by saying this, but you do not need to pray The Prayer of Jabez to break through to the ‘blessed life.’ Pray your prayers.

Joh 8:20  These words Jesus spoke in the treasury, as He taught in the Temple; and no one laid hands on Him, for His hour had not yet come.

Jesus liked to teach in the treasury. It was there He called attention to the poor widow who put in two mites (Mark 12:43-44). Maybe it had good acoustics. One of the Bible dictionaries notes, “The inner area of the Temple contained three courts. The easternmost court was the Court of the Women, and it contained the Temple treasury where people donated their money.” Jesus taught in a place where women could hear.

The Father protected Jesus from arrest until His hour to be crucified came. This plan of God to redeem and restore creation cannot fail. His future will come to pass.

Joh 8:21  Then Jesus said to them again, “I am going away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin. Where I go you cannot come.”

Jesus would return to Heaven, leaving the Jews awaiting their Kingdom.

Is it cruel that they will “seek” Jesus but not find Him? Jesus wasn’t describing a sincere seeking. Once they eliminated Jesus, they would “seek” a Messiah that better fit their desires.

The Jews were like Javert in Les Misérables, merciless in their application of the Law. Jesus has shown us that grace and mercy are not only consistent with the Law, they are governors of the Law to see that it produces the result God intends – Salvation.

The episode in the previous verses of chapter eight about the woman caught in adultery can be a humbling example for us. Yes, of course, she deserved to be stoned, as the Law commanded. Without violating the Law, Jesus extended grace to her. She was saved and sent to “Go and sin no more.”

Christians tend to default to the Law. It’s safe. But is it grace? Law and grace are not incompatible. We divide them, whereas God unites them.

#2 – The Time Is Now For The ‘UnChurched’ (v22-27)

The unchurched nonbelievers. They are not spiritual members of the body of Jesus.

If you are a believer, you are a member of the body of Jesus on Earth. Tragically, it has become popular for believers to quit the local church. We can call them the Forsakers.

The apostle Paul wrote, “If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,’ is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,’ is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling. But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased (First Corinthians 12:15-18).

It is as absurd to think you don’t need to belong to a local church as it is to think you don’t need certain members of your body.

Joh 8:22  So the Jews said, “Will He kill Himself, because He says, ‘Where I go you cannot come?’ ”

Jews thought that their chosen status meant a free pass into Heaven when they died. When Jesus said He was going where they could not come, they assumed He meant Hades.

He would not take His life by suicide; He would give His life in submission, as a sacrifice, as our substitute.

Suicide is not the unpardonable sin of blaspheming God the Holy Spirit. If your question is, “Can a Christian who commits suicide go to Heaven?”, you’ve answered it by identifying them as Christian.

Joh 8:23  And He said to them, “You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.
Joh 8:24  Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”

No one else has ever, or will ever, be God in human flesh. You understand, don’t you, that you and I will be raised or raptured in a glorified human body? We will never be gods.

You will “die in your sins,” unless you believe Jesus is Who He says He is.

Joh 8:25  Then they said to Him, “Who are You?”

Impossible to hear the inflection in their question. It’s probably safe to say that they were being argumentative. This is a “Who do you think you are.”

Joh 8:25  … And Jesus said to them, “Just what I have been saying to you from the beginning.

Author Steven King spends months and even years writing his opening sentences.

Jesus used the phrase, “from the beginning.” There are two great ”beginning” sentences in the Bible, the greatest opening sentences ever written:

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Jesus wasn’t merely present, at creation, as a spectator. He was not the first thing created. He is the Creator.

Joh 8:26  I have many things to say and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I heard from Him.”

He could have said more, judged more, but He limited Himself to His Father’s will. Don’t get the impression that Jesus wanted to do things that His Father would not allow. They were never in any disagreement.

One of the most asked questions is, “How do I know God’s will for my life?”

God’s will for you is mostly spelled out in His Word.

For instance, the apostle Paul wrote,

1Th 4:3  For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality

The passages regarding husbands, wives, and children reveal God’s will for marriage and family.

There are passages about your job and your work ethic.

The Bible reveals how to handle your finances.

I mentioned the Forsakers. You find God’s will for them in the Book of Hebrews: “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (10:24-25).

Austin Fisher tweeted, “The Bible talks about God’s will a lot. Interestingly, the Bible does not tell us to *seek* God’s will, but to *do* God’s will. Why? Because whereas we often assume we don’t know God’s will & so need to seek it, the Bible mostly assumes we do know God’s will & just need to do it.”

Joh 8:27  They did not understand that He spoke to them of the Father.

William MacDonald pointed out, “Previously when the Lord Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, they had realized He was claiming equality with God the Father. But not so anymore.”

The more they rejected Jesus, the more confused they were becoming. Their flesh was getting harder to keep at bay. They wanted to kill Jesus, and by the time they maneuvered His crucifixion, they were wicked and hellish murderers who led the crowds to say, “His blood be on us, and on our children” (Matthew 27:25).

The time is always “now” for nonbelievers. “Today, if only you would hear his voice, Do not harden your hearts” (Psalm 95:7–8).

Here is one of those quotes, by William Booth, that stabs the heart: “Can we go too fast in saving souls? If anyone still wants a reply, let him ask the lost souls in Hell.”

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists was founded in 1945 by Albert Einstein and scientists who helped develop the first atomic weapon in the Manhattan Project. Two years later they created the Doomsday Clock. It uses the imagery of apocalypse (midnight) and the contemporary idiom of nuclear explosion (countdown to zero) to convey threats to humanity and the planet. The Clock has become a universally recognized indicator of the world’s vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, climate change, and disruptive technologies in other domains. In March 2022, the Science and Security Board released a new statement in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

It is 100 seconds to midnight on the Doomsday Clock.

We have the correct view of the future, and of how to count it down.

There is no “Doomsday” in which humans are annihilated. There is what we listed earlier: Great Tribulation, Millennial Kingdom, and Eternity.

We may not have one hundred seconds:

The time is now: Nonbeliever, repent and receive Jesus.

Time’s up: Church, having begun in the Spirit, let us not individually (or corporately) default to our energy. Let us not forsake assembling together. Let us “press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).

Prophecy Update #699 – One Card To Rule Them All

We reserve a few minutes to discuss current trends that you’d expect from reading Bible prophecy.

We are futurists. We interpret all unfulfilled prophetic passages as future events that will occur in a literal, physical, apocalyptic, and global context.
Biometrics, Artificial Intelligence, cashless commerce, the manipulation of human DNA, global government, the exponential growth of human knowledge, and the rebirth of national Israel are End Times phenomena the Bible predicts. All of these are increasingly trending in the news.

May 17, cnbc.com, Mastercard launches tech that lets you pay with your face or hand in stores.

Excerpts:

Mastercard is piloting new technology that lets shoppers make payments with just their face or hand at the checkout point.
At checkout, users will be able to authenticate their payment by showing their face or the palm of their hand instead of swiping their card.

The program has already gone live in five grocery stores in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Mastercard says it plans to roll it out globally later this year.

Mastercard says it plans to bring the program to the US, Europe, the Middle East and Asia at a later date. In the long run, Mastercard’s vision is to make the tech “globally interoperable,” Bhalla said. “So once you’ve stored your credentials, you could use this anywhere.”[1]https://www.cnbc.com/2022/05/17/mastercard-launches-tech-that-lets-you-pay-with-your-face-or-hand.html

Two-thousand plus years ago, the apostle John wrote about the future. He saw “all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave… receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name (Revelation 13:16-17).

Furthermore, if you refuse to participate, it will be a capital offense carrying the death penalty.

Here is an excerpt from another article:

Klaus Schwab predicts brain microchips are fast becoming a reality. The Great Reset leader and World Economic Forum executive chairman, predicts Big Tech firms will increasingly pursue implanted microchips and other “transhumanist” technologies.

In a recently uncovered 2016 video Schwab openly admits he is a fan of the technology. He even claims brain chips will be extensively used “certainly in the next 10 years” to combine the physical, digital, and biological world.

“At first we will implant them in our clothes. We could imagine that we will implant them in our brain, or in our skin. In the end, maybe there will be a direct communication between our brains and the digital world.”[2]https://thebl.com/us-news/people-of-future-will-have-microchips-implanted-in-their-brains-says-world-economic-forum-boss.html

Then there is this. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla introduced their “ingestible pills” – a pill with a tiny chip that send a wireless signal to relevant authorities when the pharmaceutical has been digested. “Imagine the compliance,” he commented.

We believe the resurrection and rapture of the church are imminent. It could happen any moment; nothing needs to happen before it. It will happen before the Great Tribulation.

Jesus will return in the clouds.
He will raise the dead in Christ.
He will transform the bodies of living believers to glorified, resurrection bodies.

We will all join Him in Heaven while the earth endures one final seven-year campaign of severe evangelism.

Are you ready for the rapture? If not, Get ready; Stay ready; Keep looking up.

Ready or not, Jesus is coming!

Footnotes

Footnotes
1 https://www.cnbc.com/2022/05/17/mastercard-launches-tech-that-lets-you-pay-with-your-face-or-hand.html
2 https://thebl.com/us-news/people-of-future-will-have-microchips-implanted-in-their-brains-says-world-economic-forum-boss.html

Who Are You? I Really Want To Know (Genesis 27:1-45)

Rebecca D’Antonio of Orlando found true love online. ‘Matthew’ told her he was a widower, raising a 5 year old son. Rebecca said, “We just had a lot in common. We liked to try new foods. It was like there was definitely a connection.” During their year-long relationship, Matthew would never agree to video calls or meetings in person. But, when he asked, Rebecca agreed to start sending him money. In the end, she sent him over $100,000, leading her to financial ruin, empty bank accounts, eviction, and a near-suicidal state. When she told Matthew she was considering taking her own life his response was, “Well you have to do what you have to do.”[1]https://www.wesh.com/article/florida-catfishing-scheme/39994633 Rebecca was one of 1,700 people who reported being catfished in Florida in 2021. The average loss was $40,000. By the way, data shows Californians are the most likely to fall victim to catfishing scams.[2]https://www.newsweek.com/californians-are-most-likely-people-us-fall-catfishing-scams-1626719

In our text tonight Rebekah isn’t the victim, she’s one of the perpetrators of a catfish scheme that cons Isaac into giving Jacob the birthright blessing instead of Esau.

Genesis 27:1-4 – When Isaac was old and his eyes were so weak that he could not see, he called his older son Esau and said to him, “My son.” And he answered, “Here I am.” 2 He said, “Look, I am old and do not know the day of my death. 3 So now take your hunting gear, your quiver and bow, and go out in the field to hunt some game for me. 4 Then make me a delicious meal that I love and bring it to me to eat, so that I can bless you before I die.”

There are aspects of this story that I hadn’t considered before. Like, how old are Isaac and Esau? I think of them as being strapping, young men, about to set out on their own. But, when we do the math from the end of Jacob’s life, we figure out that he and his brother are probably in their 70’s![3]https://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/66185/how-old-was-jacob-when-he-first-saw-rachel Jacob was 91 when he had Joseph. Joseph was a baby or a little boy when Jacob leaves Laban. He was with Laban 20 years. So, Jacob is at least 70 years old here, and Isaac is probably around 130.

It looks like Isaac was bedridden at the time. He was getting on in years and he was blind. Your version may say his eyes were “dim,” or “too bleary to see.”[4]Robert Alter The Hebrew Bible: A Translation With Commentary He had no clarity to his vision. No light for sight. That provides a great devotional thought. What did Paul say? Right now we see “dimly.” Another version says, “Now we see a blurred image in a mirror.”[5]1 Corinthians 13:12 (see ESV, GWT) We look forward to eternity where we will see the Lord and all truth clearly, face to face. But, in the here and now, we need to have the eyes of our heart enlightened by the Holy Spirit and the Word. We can’t navigate well without it.

Isaac can’t see, but he’s going to try to do his own navigating anyway. He decided that he was not going to follow God’s directions. God had said, very plainly, “Esau will serve Jacob.” But, Isaac does his best to evade that plan. He’s tries to sneak this blessing ceremony under the wire and in private. But there’s a flaw in Isaac’s plan: It’s his selfishness. “Me first,” he says to Esau. “Go get me a delicious meal so that I can bless you.” That provides an opening for someone else to maneuver. Isaac laying on his bed is a far cry away from the devoted young man who laid himself down voluntarily on the altar of Moriah. But he’s stopped caring about the word and will of God. When we follow our own vision – when our human hearts are steering the ship of our lives – we invariably sail into the shoals of selfishness.[6]A shoal is a sandbank or sand bar in the bed of a body of water, especially one that is exposed above the surface of the water at low tide. And, when selfishness is in charge, we don’t like the plans of God. We may even resent them and try to find an end run around them. It would be much better for us to admit that we do not have adequate vision and instead trust the Lord to guide us.

Genesis 27:5-10 – 5 Now Rebekah was listening to what Isaac said to his son Esau. So while Esau went to the field to hunt some game to bring in, 6 Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “Listen! I heard your father talking with your brother Esau. He said, 7 ‘Bring me game and make a delicious meal for me to eat so that I can bless you in the Lord’s presence before I die.’ 8 Now, my son, listen to me and do what I tell you. 9 Go to the flock and bring me two choice young goats, and I will make them into a delicious meal for your father—the kind he loves. 10 Then take it to your father to eat so that he may bless you before he dies.”

Moses shows the bitter rivalry in this family. Esau is called Isaac’s son, Jacob is called Rebekah’s son.[7]Bruce Waltke Genesis: A Commentary She had a plan not only to get her favorite across the finish line, in accordance with what God had prophesied. But, even though her goal aligned with God’s, her methods absolutely did not. God is not pleased when we use sinful practices to accomplish good goals. But she thinks she has all the answers. In this chapter, she keeps saying to Jacob, “Listen to me!”

A few passages back we were told that Isaac had such a taste for wild game.[8]Genesis 25:28 But his tastes were not as discerning as he thought. He could be tricked with simple goat meat. Rebekah knew what spices to put on the plate to convince Isaac he was eating something exotic – something special.

We are not as sophisticated as we think. Our earthly palates can be easily tricked. This is why we welcome the Lord to transform even the desires of our hearts – so that our lives can be sated with peace and truth and Godliness rather than be a mark for the cons of sin which don’t satisfy.[9]Isaiah 55:1-5

Genesis 27:11-13 – 11 Jacob answered Rebekah his mother, “Look, my brother Esau is a hairy man, but I am a man with smooth skin. 12 Suppose my father touches me. Then I will be revealed to him as a deceiver and bring a curse rather than a blessing on myself.” 13 His mother said to him, “Your curse be on me, my son. Just obey me and go get them for me.”

Jacob isn’t worried about doing what’s wrong, he’s worried about getting caught.[10]See Alter, Bible Knowledge Commentary He acknowledges that there is a Divine element to what they were stealing. This wasn’t just about maybe wrecking a relationship between father and son or brother and brother (those were already ruined). This was about God’s providential work through the life of a specific lineage, leading ultimately to the Savior. Jacob has some grasp of God’s Personal involvement in this saga, yet he is willing to be a part of the heist anyway, risking wrath from his earthly and heavenly Fathers.

Genesis 27:14-17 – 14 So he went and got the goats and brought them to his mother, and his mother made the delicious food his father loved. 15 Then Rebekah took the best clothes of her older son Esau, which were in the house, and had her younger son Jacob wear them. 16 She put the skins of the young goats on his hands and the smooth part of his neck. 17 Then she handed the delicious food and the bread she had made to her son Jacob.

Rebekah raided Esau’s closet. This is, perhaps, the first recorded case of identity theft.

Here’s something else I had never considered before: The skins of these goats had not been dried or cured. Maybe they hadn’t even been fleshed – time was of the essence. No, I think the skins Jacob put on were still warm and oozing with the gore of slaughter.

We’ve seen Bible characters clothed with skins before in this Book. In the Garden, the Lord God tenderly covered the sin of Adam and Eve. Here, the skins become not a covering but a costume. Rather than a propitiation, they are a prop to help Jacob in his theft.

In Isaiah and Zechariah we learn that, from heaven’s perspective, you and I are clothed in filthy rags. Even the best person is wearing garments of death, like Jacob. All your self-righteousness, all your accomplishments, all your promises and intentions are these goat skins – slimy with the gore of sin. We need a Savior who will take away our filthy rags and give us a clean robe of righteousness, and that’s just what Christ has done.[11]Isaiah 61:10

Genesis 27:18-20 – 18 When he came to his father, he said, “My father.” And he answered, “Here I am. Who are you, my son?” 19 Jacob replied to his father, “I am Esau, your firstborn. I have done as you told me. Please sit up and eat some of my game so that you may bless me.” 20 But Isaac said to his son, “How did you ever find it so quickly, my son?” He replied, “Because the Lord your God made it happen for me.”

After perjury and fraud we can add ‘blasphemy’ to Jacob’s charges.[12]See Waltke, CSB Study Bible Notes He says it was an act of God. Is nothing sacred? Jacob stole his brother’s identity, conspired against his dad and lied to him. Now he even invokes God in his ploy. Let’s pause to see again how gracious God is to this family and to all of us. They’re insulting God, provoking Him. But God’s faithfulness and love toward them continues. You and I are no better. We were dead in trespasses but He has given us life. We were hostile toward Him, at war with Him, but He offers peace. We cannot overestimate God’s grace.

Genesis 27:21-27 – 21 Then Isaac said to Jacob, “Please come closer so I can touch you, my son. Are you really my son Esau or not?” 22 So Jacob came closer to his father Isaac. When he touched him, he said, “The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau.” 23 He did not recognize him, because his hands were hairy like those of his brother Esau; so he blessed him. 24 Again he asked, “Are you really my son Esau?” And he replied, “I am.” 25 Then he said, “Bring it closer to me, and let me eat some of my son’s game so that I can bless you.” Jacob brought it closer to him, and he ate; he brought him wine, and he drank. 26 Then his father Isaac said to him, “Please come closer and kiss me, my son.” 27 So he came closer and kissed him. When Isaac smelled his clothes, he blessed him and said: Ah, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field that the Lord has blessed.

Two questions: Just how hairy was Esau and how bad did this guy smell?

Isaac’s radar was blipping like crazy. He suspected a trick, but fell for it anyway. He could’ve easily escaped this con if he would’ve simply called a servant in to verify who was standing before him. But Isaac was trying to accomplish his own will, despite knowing what God had decreed. And so he relies only on himself – his smell, his touch, his cross-examination – and so he is deceived.

Genesis 27:28-29 – 28 May God give to you—from the dew of the sky and from the richness of the land—an abundance of grain and new wine. 29 May peoples serve you and nations bow in worship to you. Be master over your relatives; may your mother’s sons bow in worship to you. Those who curse you will be cursed, and those who bless you will be blessed.

This is amazing, because, on the one hand, Isaac is absolutely defying God. He thinks he’s talking to Esau and he says, ‘Be master over your relatives.’ That is the antithesis of what God commanded. At the same time, we have an incredible demonstration of God’s grace and providence. When God decrees something, it cannot be undone. He uses the astounding power of His providence to accomplish His will. At the same time, look at God’s grace. Though Isaac was trying his hardest to do the opposite of what God wanted, God still used this man to be a blessing.[13]John Calvin Genesis And, in the future, God would continue to identify Himself as “the God of Abraham” and “the God of Isaac.” In this moment, Isaac deserved no such affiliation or friendship with God. But God’s grace is abundant. Now we do not want to receive that grace in vain. We don’t want to fall short of it. We want to walk in grace, participate in providence, and trust that the Lord’s way is the only way that leads to hope and glory and fulfillment of all good things.

Genesis 27:30-32 – 30 As soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob and Jacob had left the presence of his father Isaac, his brother Esau arrived from his hunting. 31 He had also made some delicious food and brought it to his father. He said to his father, “Let my father get up and eat some of his son’s game, so that you may bless me.” 32 But his father Isaac said to him, “Who are you?” He answered, “I am Esau your firstborn son.”

Esau identifies himself as the firstborn, but he is not the firstborn – not legally. He had willingly sold that right to his brother. He signed on the dotted line, preferring soup to sanctification.

Edward VIII abdicated the throne of Britain in 1936. He made his choice. But he could no longer go around saying, “I’m King Edward.” No you’re not! He had walked away from that position.

Esau had no right to the blessing – not spiritually, not prophetically, not legally. But he and his father were trying to bypass all of that behind closed tent-flaps. But what they meant for self, God worked for Sovereignty.

Esau says, “Here’s my delicious food!” He assumed that would be enough to buy a good fortune, along with having been his dad’s favorite. Esau had cut God out of the equation of his life. Instead, he relied on his ability to please his dad with his skills and talents. But, in the end, life is more than skill or charm or ability. Beauty fades. Popularity wanes. Skills dull. Abilities slack. We want to live lives defined by the presence and strength of God who give our lives eternal significance.

Genesis 27:33-36 – 33 Isaac began to tremble uncontrollably. “Who was it then,” he said, “who hunted game and brought it to me? I ate it all before you came in, and I blessed him. Indeed, he will be blessed!” 34 When Esau heard his father’s words, he cried out with a loud and bitter cry and said to his father, “Bless me too, my father!” 35 But he replied, “Your brother came deceitfully and took your blessing.” 36 So he said, “Isn’t he rightly named Jacob?, For he has cheated me twice now. He took my birthright, and look, now he has taken my blessing.” Then he asked, “Haven’t you saved a blessing for me?”

Hebrew scholars tell us that Esau is screaming excessively.[14]See Alter, NET Study Bible Notes He had assumed that he’d just be handed the blessing, despite his refusal to go God’s way, despite his selling it to Jacob years ago. Isaac is also disturbed – he’s shaking in his sandals as he recognizes that he has been found out by God and God has overruled his sinful plan to give to Esau what God appointed for Jacob.

Genesis 27:37-40 – 37 But Isaac answered Esau, “Look, I have made him a master over you, have given him all of his relatives as his servants, and have sustained him with grain and new wine. What then can I do for you, my son?” 38 Esau said to his father, “Do you have only one blessing, my father? Bless me too, my father!” And Esau wept loudly. 39 His father Isaac answered him, Look, your dwelling place will be away from the richness of the land, away from the dew of the sky above. 40 You will live by your sword, and you will serve your brother. But when you rebel, you will break his yoke from your neck.

Esau isn’t looking for any great spiritual future or place in God’s plan. He wants a material blessing. And now that he realizes it’s gone, everything crumbles. What a sad, spoiled, shameful man.

Isaac has been rebuked by God. To his credit, he immediately falls in line with what the Lord has done. He says, “What can I do?” He doesn’t try to go against God any more than he already has. He now takes up the prophetic Word of God and agrees with it and submits to it.

Genesis 27:41-45 – 41 Esau held a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing his father had given him. And Esau determined in his heart, “The days of mourning for my father are approaching; then I will kill my brother Jacob.” 42 When the words of her older son Esau were reported to Rebekah, she summoned her younger son Jacob and said to him, “Listen, your brother Esau is consoling himself by planning to kill you. 43 So now, my son, listen to me. Flee at once to my brother Laban in Haran, 44 and stay with him for a few days until your brother’s anger subsides—45 until your brother’s rage turns away from you and he forgets what you have done to him. Then I will send for you and bring you back from there. Why should I lose you both in one day?”

“Stay with him a few days.” Their little swindle would cost a lot more than that. Jacob would be gone for 20 years. It’s doubtful he ever saw his mom again.

What should the family of faith have done in this strange situation? We get a great redo at the end of Jacob’s life, where he, too, has been told by God to bless Joseph’s younger boy over the older. And it’s no big thing. He crosses his hands and does it. When Joseph protests, Jacob says, “I know what I’m doing. This is God’s will.” And it’s done! Simple faith, simple trust, simple obedience.

There is an important question asked twice in this passage: “Who are you?” Isaac asks it of each of his sons. Who are you? That’s a good question for all of us.

If Isaac answered that question honestly, he would’ve said, “I’m the one who doesn’t like God’s plan and am going to try to avoid it. I can do it all myself.”

Rebekah would’ve said, “I’m the one who believes, but isn’t willing to wait for God or trust Him to accomplish His will. I have all the answers and the end justifies whatever means I may use.”

Jacob would’ve had to say, “I’m the one who is scamming my dad, cheating my brother, blaspheming against God so that I can get ahead in life. I’ll do what I gotta do to get what I want.”

Esau should’ve said, “I’m the one who doesn’t care about anything except my own comfort, my own wealth, my own here and now. I don’t think about God or spiritual things.”

Who are you? One thing this story reveals is just how much we need God’s directions, God’s decisions, God’s designations in our lives. We don’t know what we need to know to make it on our own. Look at how everyone thought Isaac was about to keel over. They all assumed he was at death’s door, including Isaac. But he went on to live another fifty years! We need God to direct us and to speak to us and to show us which way to go. He will, if we’re willing to listen and surrender. All of these people wanted to go their own way toward their own destinations. Not of one them were seeking the Lord in their decision making. And look at the wreckage. Look at the cost.

Be a believer who can answer the “who are you” question this way: I am a child of God, in the service of God, following the word of God, walking the way of God, with full confidence in God.

Footnotes

Footnotes
1 https://www.wesh.com/article/florida-catfishing-scheme/39994633
2 https://www.newsweek.com/californians-are-most-likely-people-us-fall-catfishing-scams-1626719
3 https://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/66185/how-old-was-jacob-when-he-first-saw-rachel
4 Robert Alter The Hebrew Bible: A Translation With Commentary
5 1 Corinthians 13:12 (see ESV, GWT
6 A shoal is a sandbank or sand bar in the bed of a body of water, especially one that is exposed above the surface of the water at low tide.
7 Bruce Waltke Genesis: A Commentary
8 Genesis 25:28
9 Isaiah 55:1-5
10 See Alter, Bible Knowledge Commentary
11 Isaiah 61:10
12 See Waltke, CSB Study Bible Notes
13 John Calvin Genesis
14 See Alter, NET Study Bible Notes

You Don’t Stone Me, I’m Not One of Your Little Ploys (John 8:1-11)

Living on a sail boat docked in a private marina, having a pet alligator named Elvis, driving a Ferrari Daytona Spyder, packing a Bren Ten in a shoulder holster…All while wearing fashionable pastels.

Miami Vice made it seem so cool.

Vice is the arm of the police department concerned with immoral activities, e.g., sex crimes. I’m pretty certain being among that criminal element isn’t as Crockett & Tubbs as it is on film.

The Sex Crimes Task Force of the Scribes & Pharisees brought a woman to Jesus whom they had newly caught in the vice of adultery.

It reads like a sting operation. She was seized at the opportune moment for them to use her against their real target, Jesus.

The woman deserved stoning. Jesus seemed entrapped in a lose-lose situation.

Never go up against the Galilean when salvation is on the line.

I’ll organize my comments around two points: #1 Jesus Stooped To Save You, and #2 Jesus Is Sure To Sanctify You.

#1 – Jesus Stooped To Save You (v1-9)

First things first. In your Bible, you most likely have a footnote that says something like, “The earliest and most reliable manuscripts do not have John 7:53-8:11.” Should we therefore ignore them?

There is a long, but ultimately satisfying, answer for those of you who want to dig into how we got our Bible and the scholarly discipline of textual criticism. For our purposes today, two quotes will suffice.

One of the strongest advocates that these verses were not originally part of the Gospel of John is D.A. Carson. After he convincingly shows why they were not, he says, “On the other hand, there is little reason for doubting that the event here described occurred, even if in its written form it did not in the beginning belong to the canonical books.”

R.C. Sproul likewise said, “The overwhelming consensus of textual critics is that it was not [originally] part of the Gospel of John. At the same time, the overwhelming consensus is that this account is authentic, it’s apostolic, and it should be contained in any edition of the New Testament. I believe it is nothing less than the Word of God.”

These verses were not in the original Gospel of John, but they are authentic and apostolic and belong in the Bible.

(Jacob Kelso will be in the Welcome Center to answer your questions. I’ll be doing pastor pours in the Café).

Joh 8:1  But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.

The annual Feast of Tabernacles ended. Jesus and His disciples were camping on the Mount of Olives.

The Mount of Olives, or Mount Olivet, has been a Jewish graveyard for the past three thousand years. One resource says that the remains of more than 150,000 are there.

A great deal of biblical action takes place on the Mount of Olives:

It was there that He gave His talk on future events we call the Olivet Discourse.
The Garden of Gethsemane is at the base of the Mount of Olives.
Jesus ascended into Heaven from Olivet.
The Mount of Olives is where Jesus will touch down in His Second Coming.

Charles Spurgeon reminds us, “Possibly, in all Judaea, there was only that one houseless man! Certainly there was no other who was so voluntarily houseless as Himself. He had brought Himself down from the glories of His Father’s court, from the majesty of reigning with His Father in Heaven to become dependent upon the bounty of His own disciples for His daily bread.”

Joh 8:2  Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them.

It was the custom for the teacher to sit and the disciples to stand. Jesus sat down, signaling that He was going to teach.

Joh 8:3  Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery…

“Fornication” is consensual sexual intercourse between two people not married to each other.

When one or more of the partners having consensual sexual intercourse is married, it is “adultery.”

There are sexual sins.

We don’t need to list and describe them. In 1986 The Meese Report was published. It’s official title was the Final Report of the Attorney General’s Commission on Pornography. Prominent Christian leaders were on the commission. They watched hundreds of hours of porn in order to give informed opinions.

We need only refer to God’s standard for human sexuality. Here is a report in thirty-four words:

God’s gift of sex is to be enjoyed in a biblical marriage between one biological man and one biological woman who are heterosexual and monogamous. Their marriage is a covenant of life-long companionship.

Anything not this…is sin.

“Caught in adultery” means she was caught in the act, or as one paraphrase has it, “caught in bed with.” With who? The man deserved punishment.

This was a sting. They needed one adulterer in order to try to discredit the Lord. They most likely let the man go.

The exploitation of this woman was itself a heinous sin, compounded by the fact it was perpetrated by the religious authorities.

People are not commodities to be exploited. Churches employ professional fundraising organizations. They guarantee that if you follow their methods, you will raise the funds that you need. Trouble is, you have to begin looking at families as, and this is their description, “giving units,” capable of giving more than they already are. It reduces people to commodities that can be tapped.

Joh 8:3  … And when they had set her in the midst,

No need to over-dramatize this by saying she was naked. Disheveled, for sure.

Joh 8:4  they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act.

She was guilty and deserved the punishment prescribed by the Law. Notwithstanding that under Roman rule the Jews were powerless to execute.

Joh 8:5  Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?”

Stoning is the biblically prescribed punishment for a betrothed virgin who is sexually unfaithful to her fiancé, a punishment to be meted out upon both transgressors (Deuteronomy 22:23-24). Death is prescribed for unfaithful wives and their lovers, but no method is specified (Deuteronomy 22:22).

“What do you say” Jesus? One commentator writes,

“If Jesus disavowed the law of Moses, His credibility would be instantly undermined. If He upheld the law of Moses, He would be supporting a position which would have been hard to square with His well-known compassion.”

Joh 8:6  This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him…

What must it have been like in meetings these religious authorities attended trying to come up with ways to undermine the Lord? Give them props for creativity, but they are a lot like cartoon villains whose plans always go awry, e.g., Wile E. Coyote, or Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz.

Joh 8:6  … but Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.

Every commentator starts by correctly pointing out that we cannot know what Jesus “wrote on the ground with His finger.” They then spend page-after-page presenting theories and guesses.

Consider the setting. This takes place in the Temple – meaning they are standing on stone flooring, not dirt. Whatever Jesus “wrote,” He wrote in dirt or dust on stone.

Some suggest Jesus wrote the names of the accusers and, next to their names, their sins.
Others say He wrote out the Ten Commandments as the “finger of God.”

Have you ever tried to write in dust? “Wash Me” takes up about two feet of space.

It is always best to let the Bible comment upon itself. In the Book of Jeremiah we read:

Jer 17:13  O LORD, the hope of Israel, All who forsake You shall be ashamed. “Those who depart from Me Shall be written in the earth, Because they have forsaken the LORD, The fountain of living waters.”

The day before, Jesus had given a talk about rivers (fountains?) of living water.

The religious leaders were forsaking Him; “No living water for you!”

He was writing.

Jesus didn’t need to write in the dust in any intelligible way. In fact, the word can be translated drawing. His mere doodling would send them to the passage that predicted “writing in the Earth.” They were fulfilling its sad prediction.

Joh 8:7  So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”

Whether she deserved to be stoned or not, Jesus altered the no-win scenario. Go ahead and stone her, but anyone who picked-up a stone was thereby declaring that they were without sin.

Joh 8:8  And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.

Jesus was “seated.” It would seem that He bent down while seated. I am struck by His “stooping.”

This was body language. He was stooped low before His Father, in the humbling bow of a servant, handling this situation as commanded.

His doodling is so weird to us that we try to suggest what Jesus wrote in order to make Jesus’ response less odd. God uses the foolish to confound the wise. We are the foolish, and He calls upon us to do things that are foolish. Almost every character in the Bible was tasked to do something that seemed foolish. Just ask Isaiah, whom for three years God had deliver His message naked (Isaiah 20:1-2).

You should be able to think of a time God asked you to do something like doodling in the dirt.

Joh 8:9  Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

The Forerunner Bible Commentary says, “Conscience acts as a moral governor.” The apostle Paul writes that even people who are not yet called by God are still equipped with conscience as a moral guide (Romans 2:14-15). Over time your conscience can become violated, seared, or defiled by ignoring it. It must be biblically trained.

Murderous though they were, the Scribes and Pharisees still had a conscience.

No one would declare that they were altogether sinless. Righteous, yes, but not sinless. Jesus was the only one who did not need to leave. Only He could have picked up a stone.

In verse nine, “one by one” meant these Scribes & Pharisees left in order of rank.
They couldn’t go so far as declaring themselves sinless, but they were ranking themselves according to their standard of righteousness.

Two things to point out:

Jesus became the woman’s advocate.
Jesus was without sin.

An advocate represents his client before the judge or judges. Jesus argued her case by suggesting all of them deserved some sort of punishment for sin. Four fingers were pointing back at them.

Jesus exclusively represents guilty sinners deserving of punishment. Because He is a man and sinless, He can do more than advocate. He can take the place of sinners. He can die in your place, substituting Himself for you, in order to satisfy the penalty you deserve for sin.

God thereby remains just for judging sin by His prescribed penalty of death, but He is able to forgive sinners because their debt has been paid in full.

God is both just and the justifier of sinners who believe in Jesus.

#2 – Jesus Is Sure To Sanctify You (v10-11)

Do you believe that “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ”?(Philippians 1:6). Hold your answer in mind. We will, as they say, “circle back” to it.

Joh 8:10  When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”

One-on-one. Notwithstanding the value of stadium evangelism and calling sinners forward, one-on-one is how you and I are commissioned to reach the world for the Lord. Polls show that the people who come to stadiums or churches do so because they were personally invited.

Something is wrong on Earth. The apostle Paul put it this way:

“[Humans are] filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful… (Romans1:29-32).

Sin is what is wrong.

We must reintroduce “sin” as a concept people understand. It needs to once again become a powerful descriptor of human behavior.

Dr Karl Menninger, called the Freud of America, wrote a book in 1973 that shocked his secular colleagues. It was titled, Whatever Became of Sin?

The book was in response to dealing with patients whose mental problems were the direct result of sin. He addressed the idea that we rationalize and glaze over what we used to call sin. The book professes to offer new hope for real emotional health through moral values.

One way to talk about sin is to emphasize God’s absolute holiness. Jesus raised the standard of righteousness to absolute perfection in deed and in thought. That is, of course, impossible for us. It is why we need saving.

Joh 8:11  She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”

There are a few translations that say, “No man, Lord.” No mere “man” condemns sinners. We are sinners because we fall short of the glory of our thrice-holy God. It is in that fallen condition, that hellish, hopeless state, that you are drawn to “the Lord.” He is a man, like you, but more than a man. He is God in human flesh. He is the unique God-man. He did not come to condemn you, but to save you.

While we are marveling at how much the Bible can say in so few words, we read, “Go, and sin no more.”

Jesus telling her to stop sinning indicates what she had done was sin. Biblical marriage remains in effect regardless what our surrounding culture collapses into.
Telling her to stop sinning was a call for her to repent.
She could turn to God from sin and find in her relationship with Jesus the freedom from continuing in sin.

Think about that. Jesus told her she could be free from sin. She could overcome sexual sin. He told her this before God the Holy Spirit was given to indwell us. How much more can we experience freedom from sin with God the Holy Spirit in us.

Her ordeal was far from over. Forgiven by God, severe consequences awaited her:

Betrothed or married, she would face the possibility of divorce.

She would be shunned in her community.

On top of that, she would be persecuted for believing Jesus.

Hey there, lonely girl, is how we must take our leave of her. Notwithstanding that there is a typically false Roman Catholic tradition that she was none other than Mary Magdalene, we know nothing about her after she met Jesus and went to sin no more.

I asked the question, “Do you believe that ‘He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ’ ”?

The answer is, “Yes,” and that means we can confidently say the woman caught in adultery was saved.

If that doesn’t convince you, consider this. Would Jesus tell a nonbeliever, “Go and sin no more?” No.

Our friends at gotquestions.org go so far as to say the following: “It goes without saying that the woman caught in adultery did not return to her infidelity.
She had met Jesus. She would not be perfect. No one is. But she was forever changed.”

Go, and sin no more,” is a good summary of what we call sanctification. Salvation is a three-step promise:

When you believe Jesus, you are saved.
Everyday thereafter God is working in you to conform you into the image of Jesus. This is your sanctification.
The process is completed when you are resurrected or raptured, which is called being glorified. You will have a heavenly body incapable of sin.

“Go, and sin no more,” is your daily word from the Lord, along with the enabling to obey it that comes from yielding to the indwelling God the Holy Spirit.

You won’t be sinless until you are glorified. But you can sin less in obedience to the Spirit. Bonhoeffer said, “Being a Christian is less about cautiously avoiding sin than about courageously and actively doing God’s will.”

One final question: Are you caught in some sin?

If not a believer, come to Jesus, then “Go, and sin no more.”
If a believer, “Go, and sin no more.”

Prophecy Update #698 – Take Your Stinking Hands Off Me, You Dumb Human

We reserve a few minutes to discuss current trends that you’d expect from reading Bible prophecy.

We are futurists. We interpret all unfulfilled prophetic passages as future events that will occur in a literal, physical, apocalyptic, and global context.

Biometrics, Artificial Intelligence, cashless commerce, the manipulation of human DNA, global government, the exponential growth of human knowledge, and the rebirth of national Israel are End Times phenomena the Bible predicts. All of these are increasingly trending in the news.

In His prophetic sermon we call the Olivet Discourse, Jesus said the End Times would be like it was in the Days of Noah. Jesus specifically referenced the strange marriages in the days of Noah.

In Genesis chapter six we’re told that fallen angels were marrying and mating with human women.

Their offspring were called Nephilim. They were a race of giants. These pairings were altering human DNA

Noah is described as a just man, and perfect in his generations. “Perfect” does not mean sinless, but complete or whole. It refers to health and physical condition. From this we infer that Noah was chosen to carry on and to restart humanity after the flood, because his genetic blood line and ancestry were 100% human.

We expect a trend towards altering DNA…and we see it as we search the news.

Renowned evolutionary psychologist Gordon Gallup coined the term ‘humanzee’ which refers to a human-chimp crossbreed – a scientifically possible hybridization which was attempted throughout the 20th century.

(Gallup also coined what would be the appropriate terms to refer to human-gorilla hybrids and human-orangutan hybrids which would be a ‘hurilla’ and a ‘hurang’).

A human-chimpanzee hybrid was born in a Florida lab 100 years ago before being killed by panicked doctors. “They inseminated a female chimpanzee with human semen from an undisclosed donor and claimed not only that pregnancy occurred but the pregnancy went full term and resulted in a live birth. But in the matter of days, or a few weeks, they began to consider the moral and ethical considerations and the hybrid was euthanized.”

A part-human, part monkey embryo was created in 2021 by scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California with the hopes of using them to grow stem cells.

Meanwhile, Chinese scientists also claim to have grown human-monkey hybrid embryos, which could be used to harvest transplant organs.

And late last year, German and Japanese scientists also spliced human cells into monkey brains in an experiment similar to the hit movie series, Planet of the Apes.

The latest article I read was titled, The secret laboratory project to breed man-ape ‘humanzee’ super soldiers. It reports there is a team working in a lab in China where there are fewer legal issues.

If it hasn’t happened yet, it will. It is expected by futurists reading prophecy.

We believe the resurrection and rapture of the church are imminent. It could happen any moment; nothing needs to happen before it. It will happen before the Great Tribulation.

Jesus will return in the clouds.
He will raise the dead in Christ.
He will transform the bodies of living believers to glorified, resurrection bodies.

We will all join Him in Heaven while the earth endures one final seven-year campaign of severe evangelism.

Are you ready for the rapture? If not, Get ready; Stay ready; Keep looking up.

Ready or not, Jesus is coming!

Like Father, Like Son (Genesis 26:1-35)

Did you see the footage of Mike Tyson pummeling a fellow passenger on a recent flight? It was decided that no criminal charges will be filed.[1]https://www.sportingnews.com/us/boxing/news/mike-tyson-punch-passenger-airplane/rinx9kursz3jvxmxjtd2oahj Watch the whole video and you see that the man kept tormenting Iron Mike. He even threw a water bottle at him.[2]https://en.as.com/other_sports/mike-tyson-hits-airplane-passenger-provoking-him-v/ In the aftermath many said the guy got was coming to him. After all, he wouldn’t stop provoking the champ.

In our text tonight, Isaac is provoked a lot. His antagonists don’t throw any water bottles at him, but they do ruin his water wells. Isaac is provoked by famine, fear, foes, and even his own family. As we see him react to these situations we can see where he was successful and where he came up short.

This passage is interesting because it is the only chapter where Isaac is the main character. But, everything in it is a repetition of something his father, Abraham, dealt with in his life.

When we watch a movie sequel, we expect them to do some new things. Reviewers get angry when it’s just the same old plot done a second time. Think Home Alone 2 or the Pirates sequels.

But, when we’re talking about our regular lives it’s good to remember that there’s nothing new under the sun. No difficulty you and I face is a new experience that God has never had to deal with. No challenge is uncharted, no provocation is unprecedented. They may be new to us, but they’re not new to the Lord. He’s given us the record of Scripture so that we can receive His navigation for the challenges that we will face. Paul referenced these Old Testament stories and said, “These things happened as examples, and they were written for our instruction.”[3]1 Corinthians 10:11 So, we see the same thing happening to Isaac that happened before, but that’s good because similar things are going to also happen to us! Let’s examine Isaac, who faced a variety of provocations in chapter 26.

Genesis 26:1 – There was another famine in the land in addition to the one that had occurred in Abraham’s time. And Isaac went to Abimelech, king of the Philistines, at Gerar.

We’re not given enough details to be sure when this took place. Some think it was before Isaac had his boys, some think it was after. It was at least 40 years after Abraham had his interactions with Abimelech in Gerar. So, this is likely the next Abimelech, the son of the one we met before.

Isaac finds himself in the midst of a famine. When we are provoked by something out of our control – like a famine – what should we do? Isaac packed up and set off toward the coast. It’s what his father had done before. But there’s a spiritual component, too:

Genesis 26:2-6 – 2 The Lord appeared to him and said, “Do not go down to Egypt. Live in the land that I tell you about; 3 stay in this land as an alien, and I will be with you and bless you. For I will give all these lands to you and your offspring, and I will confirm the oath that I swore to your father Abraham. 4 I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of the sky, I will give your offspring all these lands, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed by your offspring, 5 because Abraham listened to me and kept my mandate, my commands, my statutes, and my instructions.” 6 So Isaac settled in Gerar.

Perhaps Isaac was on his way to Egypt and so had to be told not to go down there. After all, that is what his dad had done. In multiple ways we’ll see Isaac following in his father’s footsteps, but he seems to have a selective memory. He doesn’t seem to remember that some of these ideas his dad had ended up causing big problems.

But here we see Isaac provoked by a famine, a high level crisis. What was he to do? In that situation, the Lord provided leading. He had to go somewhere otherwise his flocks might die. So where should he go? He shouldn’t go to natural place (Egypt), but to the place of the Lord’s choosing.

One scholar points out that the word for “live in the land” is the Hebrew word that conveys the idea of “tent there temporarily.”[4]Bruce Waltke Genesis:A Commentary It reminds us that anywhere we find ourselves in this life is just a temporary lodging place till we make it home. Don’t become so wrapped up in anything here that you forget where your real citizenship is.

When Isaac was provoked by famine, he received the Lord’s leading and obeyed. And in this sweet interchange we see the faithfulness, the graciousness of God, as we always do. Abraham may have been gone, but the covenant was still on. The Lord was still present. He was still going to do everything He said. And, best of all, He said, “I will be with you!” This is always what God has wanted. He wanted to be with Adam and Eve in Eden. He is Emmanuel, God with us. We’re told that in the New Jerusalem we’ll see His face – that He’ll be so close to us, He’ll be our light. We’ll have no need for the sun or the moon or the flashlight on our phones.

Revelation 21:3 – Look, God’s dwelling is with humanity, and he will live with them. They will be his peoples,, and God himself will be with them and will be their God.

Notice: if Isaac wanted to enjoy that with-ness, he would have to listen and trust and obey. Had he gone down to Egypt, the Lord wouldn’t have abandoned him, but Isaac wouldn’t have been able to enjoy the blessing that God wanted to give. The Lord said, “Here’s where you’re going to find Me.”

Genesis 26:7 – 7 When the men of the place asked about his wife, he said, “She is my sister,” for he was afraid to say “my wife,” thinking, “The men of the place will kill me on account of Rebekah, for she is a beautiful woman.”

After the famine, Isaac was provoked by fear. Once again, he follows in the example of his dad. I guess he forgot how those stories ended. A word to those of us who are parents in the room: Your example matters. You’re teaching your kids how to deal with life by the way you deal with life. Show them how to trust God and go His way.

When provoked by fear, Isaac chose to lie. Here’s the thing: Lying does not help you. More importantly, God hates it. In Proverbs, the Holy Spirit says lying is detestable to the Lord.[5]Proverbs 6:16-19, 12:22

When provoked by fear, Isaac should’ve decided to be true. He had just received strong promises from God. That thing he was so worried about needn’t have bothered him at all if he remembered what God had already revealed and accomplished on his behalf.

Jesus has told us, outright, that we do not need to be afraid, even of those who can kill our bodies. He’s given us His peace as a gift. And so, in this kind of situation, we must walk in the truth. The Apostle John was so glad to hear that the Christians he was writing to were walking in the truth. In fact, he said that he had no greater joy than to hear that.[6]3 John 3-4

Genesis 26:8-11 – 8 When Isaac had been there for some time, Abimelech king of the Philistines looked down from the window and was surprised to see Isaac caressing his wife Rebekah. 9 Abimelech sent for Isaac and said, “So she is really your wife! How could you say, ‘She is my sister’?” Isaac answered him, “Because I thought I might die on account of her.” 10 Then Abimelech said, “What have you done to us? One of the people could easily have slept with your wife, and you would have brought guilt on us.” 11 So Abimelech warned all the people, “Whoever harms this man or his wife will certainly be put to death.”

Isaac would’ve had to get the king’s permission to live in Gerar. In those sort of negotiations it wasn’t unheard of for the man in Isaac’s position to have to give up a woman into a harem.[7]CSB Study Bible Notes Still, we have to conclude that Isaac surrendered to fear. He would’ve known about the two times this same thing had happened with his dad and how the lie never worked and how God had miraculously protected the family. But, we see that even though he was being obedient to stay where God had him, he wasn’t really trusting God in faith.

As a result, Isaac crashed on the rocks of hypocrisy. One of the biggest complaints the world has about Christians is that we’re hypocrites. And sometimes we are! That doesn’t mean we have to be perfect – that’s impossible – but we should note how damaging hypocrisy is to our witness.

One way to avoid hypocrisy is to avoid lies. Don’t lie to others and don’t lie to yourself! Remember: God has led us to a specific place to tent and His desire is that we spread righteousness there. Abimelech says, “you’re bringing guilt to all of us!” And that throws into relief what the servant of God is supposed to be doing in the community – that’s bearing fruit, spreading righteousness. In 1 Thessalonians 5 Paul says, “always pursue what is good for one another and for all.” Isaac fell way short of that when he was provoked by fear.

Genesis 26:12-16 – 12 Isaac sowed seed in that land, and in that year he reaped a hundred times what was sown. The Lord blessed him, 13 and the man became rich and kept getting richer until he was very wealthy. 14 He had flocks of sheep, herds of cattle, and many slaves, and the Philistines were envious of him. 15 Philistines stopped up all the wells that his father’s servants had dug in the days of his father Abraham, filling them with dirt. 16 And Abimelech said to Isaac, “Leave us, for you are much too powerful for us.”

Before we look at the provocation here, pause to enjoy God’s grace. His representative had really blown it, but God isn’t vindictive. He stays yoked with Isaac and still works in his life.

Having come through the provocation of famine and fear, now Isaac will enter a period of life where he is provoked by his foes. In this first wave, the people he had been living among for quite some time have grown jealous of his success, and so they not only push him away, they actually come against him – vandalizing and ruining his water wells.

Wealth brings problems. We all would like to have a little more than we have, but the more we have, the more trouble we’re bound to face. And the problems could become very acute very quickly. The more flocks Isaac had, the more water he would need, right at the time where his access to water was being shut off.

As a side note, we saw how lying doesn’t help you. Here God’s Word shows us that envy doesn’t help you, either. By stopping up these wells and driving Isaac away, these Philistines were hurting their own economy! Don’t let jealousy into your heart. It’s only going to hurt you in the end.

Derek Kidner points out that, in this provocation, Isaac is trapped between a hostile city and a waterless countryside. What would he do? What can we do when friends turn to foes?

Genesis 26:17-22 – 17 So Isaac left there, camped in the Gerar Valley, and lived there. 18 Isaac reopened the wells that had been dug in the days of his father Abraham and that the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham died. He gave them the same names his father had given them. 19 Then Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and found a well of spring water there. 20 But the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac’s herdsmen and said, “The water is ours!” So he named the well Esek because they argued with him. 21 Then they dug another well and quarreled over that one also, so he named it Sitnah. 22 He moved from there and dug another, and they did not quarrel over it. He named it Rehoboth and said, “For now the Lord has made space for us, and we will be fruitful in the land.”

Today, Christians are still being driven from their homes in places like Laos[8]https://www.rfa.org/english/news/laos/driven-02232022133231.html and even Israel.[9]https://www.insider.com/israel-systematic-attempt-to-drive-christians-out-of-jerusalem-2021-12 We are not facing that sort of outright persecution. Maybe we will some day. If we do, it won’t be easy, but we can be sure the Lord will be with us. Look at Isaac: He sets up camp in a dried river bed. He’s got hostile enemies actively destroying his access to water. But the Lord’s touch on his life cannot be thwarted. The Lord was with him on the coast, He’s still be with him in the valley.

Isaac did not retaliate, he moved on. Then moved on again. He shows a remarkable level of patience. He had trained fighters. Out in the wild, I’m sure you could make a few herdsman disappear without too much trouble. But Isaac just kept digging. The people around him were unreasonable and unfriendly. He comported himself like a gentleman, giving up some of his rights in order to keep peace.

Generally, we can be at peace with a hostile world. Not always. At some point persecution becomes so serious that God’s people have to take flight. But, in our regular lives, facing foes who are stealing clients from us or cutting in line or making accusations, we’re called to live at peace as far as it is possible for us. We do so by responding to provocation with calm and patience and even generosity toward those who come against us. Bless and do not curse.

Genesis 26:23-25 – 23 From there he went up to Beer-sheba, 24 and the Lord appeared to him that night and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you. I will bless you and multiply your offspring because of my servant Abraham.” 25 So he built an altar there, called on the name of the Lord, and pitched his tent there. Isaac’s servants also dug a well there.

As the Lord had spoken His promises multiple times to Abraham, so now He speaks multiple times to Isaac. Sometimes we look back at the book of Acts or historic times of revival and wish God would do things like that again. That’s ok, but through Isaac’s example we see that God’s heart is to speak to us here and now, just as He’s spoken before. He’s not withdrawn. He’s just as excited about you as He was about the Church in Acts. He’s with us and loves us.

The Lord said: “Don’t be afraid.” I imagine Isaac felt pretty vulnerable there in the wilderness, surrounded by people who hated him. But no matter how weak our physical position is, we are safe in the Lord’s hands. We may have our wells destroyed, but nothing can separate us from His love.

In the midst of this provocation, Isaac not only showed patience and meekness, but we see he responded with worship. He built an altar. He called on the name of the Lord. He focused his attention on his faith rather than his foes.

Genesis 26:26-33 – 26 Now Abimelech came to him from Gerar with Ahuzzath his adviser and Phicol the commander of his army. 27 Isaac said to them, “Why have you come to me? You hated me and sent me away from you.” 28 They replied, “We have clearly seen how the Lord has been with you. We think there should be an oath between two parties—between us and you. Let us make a covenant with you: 29 You will not harm us, just as we have not harmed you but have done only what was good to you, sending you away in peace. You are now blessed by the Lord.” 30 So he prepared a banquet for them, and they ate and drank. 31 They got up early in the morning and swore an oath to each other., Isaac sent them on their way, and they left him in peace. 32 On that same day Isaac’s servants came to tell him about the well they had dug, saying to him, “We have found water!” 33 He called it Sheba. Therefore the name of the city is still Beer-sheba, today.

Abimelech claims they had only done good to Isaac, but he knows that isn’t true. He has to admit there is no reason Isaac should be thriving, given all the trouble the Philistines have caused. And yet, it’s clear that God is with him. God wants to make His with-ness clear in your life. In a sense, God wants to magnetize your life, drawing the hard, metally hearts of unbelievers toward you so that they can hear about Who God is and what He’s capable of and how He saves.

Isaac was gracious enough to be trusted by Abimelech, even after being caught in a lie. Isaac was willing to receive his foes. He was willing to endure an offense. He was generous to overlook some issues for the greater good. He doesn’t bring up the wells to Abimelech. That’s one way he was different from his dad. Isaac doesn’t want to harm his enemies, he wants to be at peace with them and even bless them. So he gives them a feast and a place to stay. The fact that Abimelech stayed the night is a testimony to Isaac’s graciousness. The king wasn’t afraid he’d get his throat cut while he slept.

And we note Isaac’s diligence in the face of provocation. He just kept digging wells. There in verses 32 they put another hole in the ground and the Lord meets him there with provision.

So, Isaac is sort of 1.5 for 3 when it comes to dealing with provocation. He’s seen it from famine, from fear, from his foes. But there’s one more: His family.

Genesis 26:34-35 – 34 When Esau was forty years old, he took as his wives Judith daughter of Beeri the Hethite, and Basemath daughter of Elon the Hethite. 35 They made life bitter for Isaac and Rebekah.

It’s hard to believe that Isaac would’ve been negligent about his sons’ wives, especially when you consider the saga about how his dad dealt with getting him a wife. It says Esau “took” his wives, signaling, perhaps, that he refused to be under his dad’s authority on this issue.

The terms used for “making life bitter” can mean these ladies “defied and provoked” Isaac and Rebekah.[10]Robert Alter The Hebrew Bible: A Translation With Commentary In the end, we cannot force our family to do what is right or what is Godly. But, when provoked by family we should remain faithful. As we saw last time, toward the end of his life it seems the Isaac slacked off in spiritual things. He becomes more like Esau and less like Abraham. And it leads to greater family division. We want to follow through in God’s grace and power, doing our part to live out the faith for the good of our families.

Are you being provoked by famines or by fears or by foes or by family? God has equipment for you. Don’t go all Iron Mike on those around you. Instead, be led, be true, be patient, be gracious, be faithful.

Footnotes

Footnotes
1 https://www.sportingnews.com/us/boxing/news/mike-tyson-punch-passenger-airplane/rinx9kursz3jvxmxjtd2oahj
2 https://en.as.com/other_sports/mike-tyson-hits-airplane-passenger-provoking-him-v/
3 1 Corinthians 10:11
4 Bruce Waltke Genesis:A Commentary
5 Proverbs 6:16-19, 12:22
6 3 John 3-4
7 CSB Study Bible Notes
8 https://www.rfa.org/english/news/laos/driven-02232022133231.html
9 https://www.insider.com/israel-systematic-attempt-to-drive-christians-out-of-jerusalem-2021-12
10 Robert Alter The Hebrew Bible: A Translation With Commentary

A River Runs Through You (John 7:37-53)

‘Misinformation’ is the word on everyone’s lips.

It is defined as, “incorrect or misleading information presented as fact.”

Misinformation is unintentional.
Disinformation is intentional.

In the COVID19 era, social media posts are routinely marked as misinformation, then deleted. Entire profiles disappear in the cloud.

It seems as though any information with which a government or Big Tech disagrees can be labeled misinformation. At some point the Bible is going to be deemed misinformation or disinformation.

Free speech is in jeopardy. Not to worry. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is on the job.

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced during testimony before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security that DHS had created the Disinformation Governance Board.

What could go wrong?

The Jewish authorities constantly waged a misinformation and disinformation campaign against Jesus.

Their tweet might read, “Local Carpenter Continues To Spread Disinformation Deemed Harmful By Religious Experts.”

In our text, they misinformed the nation about where the Lord was from. In verse forty-one they said, “Search and look, for no prophet has arisen out of Galilee” (v41).

Jonah was from the region of Galilee. So were Nahum, Hosea, Elijah, and Elisha.

Jesus did not correct them by pointing out that He was, in fact, born in Bethlehem according to the Scriptures. He used the occasion to discuss spiritual birth. He spoke of “the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive” (v39).

If you are a believer, you have received God the Holy Spirit.

Receiving God the Holy Spirit will be our point of contact with this text. I’ll organize my comments around two points, #1 Believe Who You Have Received, and #2 Beware You Are Not Deceived.

#1 – Believe Who You Have Received (v37-39)

You can’t believe everything you hear…unless you ‘hear’ it from God.

“God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19).

“For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory” (Second Corinthians 1:20 NLT).

The words of Jesus are altogether true. They are not a metaphor, nor are they mystical. They are not for the monastery, but are for mainstream Christian living. He is talking to you.

Believer, believe Him.

Joh 7:37  On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.

Tabernacles is one of the seven feasts celebrated by the nation of Israel. The pilgrims swelling the population of Jerusalem spent seven nights camping in makeshift booths to commemorate the Exodus generation and God tabernacling with them.

The priests would each morning lead a procession to pour water over the altar that had previously been drawn from the Pool of Siloam. Commentators say it represented the Rock that followed the Israelites, providing abundant water for millions.

Either on the seventh day, right after the water was poured, or on the eighth day when no water was poured, Jesus exclaimed that He was the fulfillment of the ritual. It was a shadow for which He was the substance. He alone could satisfy spiritual thirst moment-by-moment and forever. The apostle Paul would reveal to the church in Corinth, “they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ” (First Corinthians 10:4).

Joh 7:38  He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”

Loads of verses compare God the Holy Spirit to water. Scholars agree there is no one particular verse Jesus was quoting. The Lord seems to have been speaking in what we might call ‘the volume of the Book.’

The consistent teaching of the Old Testament is that God the Holy Spirit is like a refreshing, inexhaustible torrent of life-giving water.

Without getting bio-mechanical, the believer’s “heart” (belly KJV) would be a constantly overflowing reservoir of life-giving, thirst quenching, living water.
It is an especially apt illustration to desert living people accustomed to digging wells from which to draw water every few hours.

Where do help and hope come from? The Lord. It is in His life-giving flow into and then through you.

This promise is for anyone and everyone, whoever and whosoever, who “believes in” Jesus.

Joh 7:39  But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

God the Holy Spirit is like “rivers of living water.” He constantly refreshes and satisfies the believer. He engages the believer as a conduit to serve others.

If you are saved, God the Holy Spirit is present in your heart to maintain and direct this constant source and overflow.

Jesus was “glorified” when He arose from the dead in an eternal body. His resurrection proves that we likewise will be raised (or raptured). Everyone will be raised, but many to face judgment.

The ministry of God the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament did not involve His permanent indwelling.
He was with saints, and came upon saints, filling them for a time, but their bodies were never His Temple as we enjoy today. Jesus said it, not me.

Something we often overlook is that before the Day of Pentecost, Jesus was offering national Israel this promised gift. It was part of the Kingdom:

“I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken it and performed it,’ says the LORD’ ” (Ezekiel 37:14).

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them” (Ezekiel 36:26-27).

On the Day of Pentecost, after Jesus had risen from the dead and ascended, the promised gift, the indwelling, came upon the disciples. We call it the birthday of the church. It was, but Jesus was not done offering Israel its Kingdom.

It was a watershed moment for Israel.

For quite a while, maybe a decade, the Gospel was preached predominately to Jews. We interpret this as the Lord continuing to reach out to Israel.
God eventually sent Peter to the household of Cornelius, a Gentile convert to Judaism. A kind of second, ‘Gentile Pentecost’ occurred as God the Holy Spirit came upon them.
Later still the apostle Paul proclaimed that God was postponing His plan for Israel for an unspecified period of time, called ‘the fullness of the Gentiles,’ while the Gospel went out to the Gentile world.

Don’t too quickly criticize Israel. Anyone who hears the Gospel and refuses Jesus Christ is making the same choice the Jews did. They are rejecting citizenship in His Kingdom, and God the Holy Spirit.

God the Holy Spirit is a person. You “receive” Him as a Person, not as a power.

Let’s say there is a knock on your door. You open the door, no one is there, but someone has left a plate of delicious snickerdoodle cookies, because they know those are your favorite. The large, soft, more ‘cake’ kind, not the hard, crispy ones.

You thereby enjoy a gift from the person, but not the person himself.

When God the Holy Spirit comes into your life, it isn’t just to leave snickerdoodle’s on your doorstep. He comes in as a person with the gifts. He lives with you.

Put simply, if you are a believer, Believe you have received God the Holy Spirit in all His fullness; because you have.

#2 – Beware You Are Not Deceived (v40-53)

It was called the Birther Movement.

Its adherents asserted Barack Obama was ineligible to be President of the United States because he was not a natural-born citizen of the United States as required by Article Two of the Constitution.

His birth certificate ought to have solved the problem. It was alleged, however, that it was a forgery.

Jesus had no certified copy of His birth certificate. It wasn’t easy to prove where you were born and where you were from.
It relied largely on word-of-mouth. The rulers would spread misinformation about Jesus’ back story.

Joh 7:40  Therefore many from the crowd, when they heard this saying, said, “Truly this is the Prophet.”

Moses predicted that a (capitol ‘P’) Prophet would come to Israel. Some thought he would be the Messiah.

I want to pause and point out that the people were futurists. They understood that Moses was predicting the coming of a person in the future.
This wasn’t an ideology, or an allegory. A real person, the “Prophet,” would come.

Non-futurists want to argue that, in the New Testament, antichrist is an ideology or an allegory – not a person who is coming. There is a so-called “spirit of antichrist,’ but there is the antichrist.

Joh 7:41  Others said, “This is the Christ…”

“Christ” is not a secondary name for Jesus; He would have been known as “Jesus Bar-Joseph,” meaning “Jesus, son of Joseph.”

“Christ” means Anointed One and is a title for the Messiah.

Joh 7:41  … But some said, “Will the Christ come out of Galilee?
Joh 7:42  Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?”
Joh 7:43  So there was a division among the people because of Him.

“Yes” to the Messiah being a descendent of David and being born in Bethlehem. Jesus can check those boxes. Why emphasize Galilee?

Jesus never lived in Bethlehem. He may have been there for as little as ten days up to a few years after being born. His family fled to Egypt when Herod started killing babies. Upon their return to Israel, His family settled in Nazareth of Galilee.

I was born in 1955 in Stamford, Connecticut. I lived in San Bernardino for 27yrs, from 1958 until 1985. I’ve lived in Hanford the last 37yrs. Where am I from?

Jesus could be considered to be “from” Galilee. That was the narrative spread by the rulers to discredit Him as the Christ.

Joh 7:44  Now some of them wanted to take Him, but no one laid hands on Him.

This is the bad kind of the laying on of hands.

In the earlier part of this chapter we saw that at least two groups in authority wanted to take Jesus into custody. Both were thwarted supernaturally. It was not God’s time for Him to be arrested.

Servants of God can be supernaturally protected so that no one so much as touches a hair on their head. They may be taken hold of. James, the brother of John, is arrested in the Book of Acts. Herod kills him with the sword. Seeing it pleased the Jews, Herod arrested Peter. God freed Peter from prison.

Seriously – Who would you rather be – James or Peter? Be you and face each day with the overflow of God the Holy Spirit.

Joh 7:45  Then the officers came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why have you not brought Him?”
Joh 7:46  The officers answered, “No man ever spoke like this Man!”
Joh 7:47  Then the Pharisees answered them, “Are you also deceived?
Joh 7:48  Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed in Him?

At CinemaCon in Las Vegas, Olivia Wilde was handed an envelope marked “Personal and Confidential” while she was on stage. It was given to her by a woman in the front row. She was served legal papers during her presentation.

“Officers” of the Temple Police made a decision in the field to not interrupt Jesus mid-talk. As they listened, they must have understood that the Lord was a higher authority than their rulers.

I would venture to say that every Christian will one day face a situation in which they must choose to obey God rather than earthly authorities. Don’t go out looking for a fight; it will come to you. Whether or not the authorities lay hands on you, God overrules for your good and His glory.

Did you see the drawing on social media of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace with a fourth Person, Jesus? It was a new take on, “May the Fourth Be With You.”

Joh 7:49  But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.”

“This rabble,” it could read. The rulers held the people in contempt. They contended that the “crowd” was ignorant of “the law.”

Jesus held the people in compassion. Samuel Chadwick writes, “Compassion costs. It is easy enough to argue, criticize, and condemn, but redemption is costly, and comfort draws from the deep. Brains can argue, but it takes heart to comfort.”

Joh 7:50  Nicodemus (he who came to Jesus by night, being one of them) said to them,
Joh 7:51  “Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?”

A lot is made of Nicodemus being cowardly, since he visited the Lord “by night.” Of course he visited by night. Both he and the Lord would have been busy all day.

It took courage to open his mouth to this group. The majority wanted to kill Jesus. Nicodemus could have convinced himself that saying something wouldn’t do any good. He rose above fear to rebuke his peers.

The apostle John’s mention of Nicodemus, whom Jesus told he must be born-again, re-emphasizes the theme of the indwelling of God the Holy Spirit.

Joh 7:52  They answered and said to him, “Are you also from Galilee? Search and look, for no prophet has arisen out of Galilee.”

These guys were masters of biting sarcasm.

They ridiculed Nicodemus’ defense of Jesus by suggesting he was acting like an ignorant Galilean rooting for a local boy to become the Christ.

They portrayed themselves as grounded in the Scriptures. “Scripture Alone,” was their defense. Had they been relying on Scripture Alone, they would have received the Lord.

The book of Second Kings indicates that Jonah was from Gath-Hepher, a small border town in Galilee (14:25).

Were they ignorant? Doubtful. Jonah and the other prophets I earlier mentioned were well-known to even unlearned Israelites. This was disinformation. They were intentionally misleading.

I can see them dropping this line, then walking off. Think of a Press Secretary making a claim that turns out to be false, walking away without answering any follow-up.

Joh 7:53  And everyone went to his own house.

The Feast of Tabernacles ended. Everyone went home. How many realized they had been tabernacling with God? Most had been deceived by their leaders.

We can, and we must, believe Jesus – believe God Who cannot lie. Let’s answer a series of questions:

Has Jesus been glorified?

Has God the Holy Spirit been given by Jesus?

Do you believe in Jesus?

If you answered “Yes” to all three, you have received the promised gift of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus said, “out of [your] heart will flow rivers of living water.” It is your birthright as a born-again believer.

There are many reasons why believers do not experience this refreshing flow:

God the Holy Spirit can be grieved (Acts 7:51).
He can be quenched (First Thessalonians 5:19).
He can be neglected as we attempt to be Christ-like in our own energy (Galatians 3:3).

John Calvin is quoted, “There is no worse screen to block out the Spirit than confidence in our own intelligence.”

An anonymous writer said, “How little chance the Holy Spirit has nowadays. The churches and missionary societies have so bound Him in red tape that they practically ask Him to sit in a corner while they do the work themselves.”

One thing is clear: If you have believed the Lord, you have received God the Holy Spirit as a river of living water.

If you are not experiencing a refreshing, empowering relationship with God the Holy Spirit, “how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:13).

Believer, believe Him.

Prophecy Update #697 – Bodies And Souls

Joel Rosenberg writes, “God has not given us Bible prophecy to scare us but to prepare us.”

We reserve a few minutes to discuss current trends that you’d expect from reading Bible prophecy.

We are futurists. We interpret all unfulfilled prophetic passages as future events that will occur in a literal, physical, apocalyptic, and global context.
Biometrics, Artificial Intelligence, cashless commerce, the manipulation of human DNA, global government, the exponential growth of human knowledge, and the rebirth of national Israel are End Times phenomena the Bible predicts. All of these are increasingly trending in the news.

We haven’t talked about human trafficking. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) defines it, the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act.

Every year, millions of men, women, and children are trafficked worldwide – including right here in the United States. It can happen in any community and victims can be any age, race, gender, or nationality. Traffickers might use violence, manipulation, or false promises of well-paying jobs or romantic relationships to lure victims into trafficking situations.

According to a September 2017 report from the International Labor Organization (ILO) and Walk Free Foundation:

An estimated 24.9 million victims are trapped in modern-day slavery.

Of these, 16 million (64%) were exploited for labor, 4.8 million (19%) were sexually exploited, and 4.1 million (17%) were exploited in state-imposed forced labor.

Forced labor takes place in many different industries:

Of the 16 million trafficking victims exploited for labor.
7.5 million (47%) forced labor victims work in construction, manufacturing, mining, or hospitality.
3.8 million (24%) forced labor victims are domestic workers.
1.7 million (11%) forced labor victims work in agriculture. 

The breakdown of men, women, and children is:

71% of trafficking victims around the world are women and girls.

29% are men and boys.

15.4 million victims (75%) are aged 18 or older, with the number of children under the age of 18 estimated at 5.5 million (25%).

Reading the Bible as a futurist, you expect this “new slavery” (as some call it) to be increasing worldwide.

You expect it because in the Revelation of Jesus Christ there is a list of commodities that characterize the economy of the future Great Tribulation.

It lists the following: “merchandise of gold and silver, precious stones and pearls, fine linen and purple, silk and scarlet, every kind of citron wood, every kind of object of ivory, every kind of object of most precious wood, bronze, iron, and marble; and cinnamon and incense, fragrant oil and frankincense, wine and oil, fine flour and wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and bodies and souls of men” (18:12-13). That’s trafficking.

You’ve heard of ‘preppers,’ right? They are stocking up, getting ready for a catastrophe. There’s nothing wrong with it. Like Scar said in The Lion King, “Be prepared!”

The devil is something of a prepper.

He is preparing Earth for the antichrist’s global government. Trafficking the bodies and souls of human beings is one thing he is establishing going into that awful time.

We believe the resurrection and rapture of the church are imminent. It could happen any moment; nothing needs to happen before it. It will happen before the Great Tribulation.

Jesus will return in the clouds.

He will raise the dead in Christ.

He will transform the bodies of living believers to glorified, resurrection bodies.

We will all join Him in Heaven while the earth endures one final seven-year campaign of severe evangelism.

Are you ready for the rapture? If not, Get ready; Stay ready; Keep looking up.

Ready or not, Jesus is coming!

Turning Red (Genesis 25:19-34)

A legend is told of a man who traveled through southeast China many centuries ago. He kept all his food in a clay jar. When it was time for a meal he would put the jar over a fire and warm what was inside. The jar held a variety of ingredients, but – being near the coast – one night it had shark fins, scallops, abalone and ham, along with a grab bag of other items.


After setting up camp just outside a Buddhist monastery, the man began to warm his meal. The smells wafted up to where the Monks were meditating. Though bound by their religion to live as vegetarians, the delicious smell proved to be too great a temptation for one hungry fellow. He ran from the monastery, jumped over the wall, and asked for a bowl of what has since become a celebrated but controversial delicacy known as Buddha Jumps Over The Wall.[1]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddha_Jumps_Over_the_Wall Back in 2005 you could get a bowl from a restaurant in London, but it would set you back about $200.[2]https://www.campbellsoup.co.uk/blog/world-expensive-soups/

In our text tonight we’ll take a look at the most famous soup in the Bible. There are others: Gideon offers soup to the Lord in Judges 6. In 2 Kings 4 a bunch of prophets get food poisoning from one. But Jacob’s red stew is the signature soup of the Old Testament. It’s why Esau picks up the name ‘Edom,’ which would become the name for an entire nation! Over this soup the course of history changes. Talk about a power lunch!

This soup scandal is the culmination of a family that has drifted into selfishness. Both sons and parents show themselves to be driven by self-centeredness in this text. They’ve drifted away from a spiritual mindset. The result is strife, rivalry, and taking advantage of one another. Meanwhile, God remains faithful. God remains gracious and accessible, showing us His way is the better way: Better for us, better for our families, better for our nation, better for everyone around us and after us.

Genesis 25:19-20 – 19 These are the family records of Isaac son of Abraham. Abraham fathered Isaac. 20 Isaac was forty years old when he took as his wife Rebekah daughter of Bethuel the Aramean from Paddan-aram and sister of Laban the Aramean.

In the passages that follow we’ll get a little more of Isaac’s story, but really the book is pivoting to focus on Jacob now. The truth is, we don’t have a full picture of Isaac. We know the circumstances of his birth. We admire his submission to Abraham in chapter 22. But beyond a few, small pieces, we don’t have a great assessment. Reading between the lines, it seems like his spiritual beginning was better than his end. It’s hard to finish well. Not impossible – not only something a few really special Christians can do. We all can do it, but often we lose pace with the Lord, we drift from our first love, we take up legalism or license or laziness and become slack in our pursuit. It seems that happened to Isaac. We want to be the kind of Christians who guard against that and run hard to the end.

Genesis 25:21 – 21 Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife because she was childless. The Lord was receptive to his prayer, and his wife Rebekah conceived.

Isaac was the only patriarch who was monogamous.[3]Bruce Waltke Genesis: A Commentary To his credit, when Rebekah was unable to conceive, Isaac did not make the Hagar mistake. He didn’t say, “Well, God promised me that I would have kids, so I’ll go find someone else.” No, it was clear that the Lord intended Isaac and Rebekah to be together. One commentator calls them “a marriage made in heaven.”[4]ibid. So, rather than try to solve his problem with human planning, Isaac went to the Lord in prayer.

It took 20 years for Rebekah to have kids. This scene raises some questions about God’s work and our prayers. Did Isaac pray for 20 years or did he wait for 20 years and then finally get to praying? If he prayed for 20 years, and God was ‘receptive’ to his prayer, does that mean that God is sometimes withholding of His good work in our lives? Doesn’t Psalm 84 say:

Psalm 84:11 – the Lord God…does not withhold the good from those who live with integrity.

If we’re not getting what we pray for, does that mean we must be failing in some way to do what God wants? After all, God said He planned on Isaac having kids. That was a good thing. So why the hold up? What about those situations you’ve been praying for month after month, year after year?

The Bible is clear that God hears our prayers. 1 Peter 3:12 says His eyes are on us and His ears are open to our prayers. The theological reasons why we do not always get a “yes” to our prayers are, first, that God works according to a specific timeline which takes into account an innumerable combination of particulars that we cannot possibly know. The second theological reason why it often seems like God is ‘withholding’ a good thing from us, even when we pray again and again about it, is because what seems obviously good to us may actually not be good at all!

Consider King Hezekiah of Judah. He got sick. Very sick. Isaiah came to him and said, “You’re going to die.” Hezekiah prayed like he never prayed before that he would be healed. And the Lord gave him 15 more years. During that time, Hezekiah made some terrible, terrible mistakes, which led to the destruction of the nation of Judah. He could’ve spent those years in Paradise. Instead, that which he thought was obviously good was actually the opposite.

We can trust God to do what is right and good, because He cares for us more than we care for ourselves. We can trust His timing, even if we have to pray about something for 20 years.

But, maybe Isaac waited and then, two decades into this thing, he finally prayed about it. Does that mean God acts on whims? That He was just waiting around until someone prayed about Rebekah’s situation? Well, we can’t know for sure what was going on in the Lord’s mind, but, we are reminded of what James said: In some cases, we have not because we ask not. Prayer really matters. Think of those times in the Bible where someone came to Jesus and He said, “What do you want Me to do for you?” Now, I don’t mean to suggest that God has set Himself up as a Genie or a cosmic butler or Someone who exists to do what we want. James goes on to say, “[Sometimes] you ask and don’t receive because your motives are wrong.” At the same time, the Bible shows that prayer matters. One of the shortest verses in the Bible is 1 Thessalonians 5:17. It simply says, “Pray constantly.” Paul goes on to say that is God’s will for you. Because prayer is a significant part of how the Lord matures us and teaches us to walk in faith. It is something we can do which brings our thoughts and our desires and our choices into their proper place, which is in trusting submission to God.

Isaac’s prayer shows us the tender grace of God. The Lord promised to give children to this family, but He waited until Isaac partnered in prayer. God didn’t need to wait. He didn’t need Isaac’s help or approval or interest. But He wanted to include His servant. So, Isaac gets to enjoy spiritual dividends by prayerfully involving himself in the Lord’s work.

Then something unexpected happens:

Genesis 25:22 – 22 But the children inside her struggled with each other, and she said, “Why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the Lord.

They got what they prayed for, but they didn’t expect it to be hard. Rebekah didn’t expect to suffer. Her prayer is a desperate one. She says, “Why me!?!”[5]Robert Alter The Hebrew Bible: A Translation With Commentary She had wanted a pregnancy, but she wanted it a different way. That’s natural. God doesn’t want us to desire suffering. But this verse shows a weakness of our humanity. Even when we get what we want, we often don’t like the way we have it. “God, give me this job.” Then He does, then it’s, “Well, give me a different boss.”

To Rebekah’s credit, in her frustration, she seeks out the Lord. She is looking for God’s perspective on her suffering. And He is faithful to give it. Now, as Believers in the age of grace who have the completed revelation of Scripture, we should have a transformed mentality when it comes to suffering and difficulty. Rather than thinking, “why me,” we want to train ourselves to think, “What God wants, I want.” That way our focus isn’t on suffering, but on following God’s leading in our lives.

Genesis 25:23 – 23 And the Lord said to her: Two nations are in your womb; two peoples will come from you and be separated. One people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.

When we seek God, we will find Him. The Lord was ready to reveal answers to Rebekah. He loves to explain Himself and to show us how His work is bigger than the circumstance we’re in. This wasn’t just a pregnancy, something much greater was going on.

Now, this message would’ve been a hard one for a family to deal with. God is demanding that human conventions be tossed out. He’s changing what would’ve been the normal, go-with-the-flow dynamic of parents and sons and brothers. But He’s the One in charge. And they should’ve made it a point to rally together around this prophecy. Instead, it seems like everyone started drifting from the Lord into selfishness, and though the passage starts with parents in prayer, by the time we turn the page, there’s a lot of self-centeredness and dysfunction.

Genesis 25:24 – 24 When her time came to give birth, there were indeed twins in her womb.

As usual, this Bible prophecy was fulfilled literally and actually and physically.

Genesis 25:25-26 – 25 The first one came out red-looking, covered with hair like a fur coat, and they named him Esau. 26 After this, his brother came out grasping Esau’s heel with his hand. So he was named Jacob., Isaac was sixty years old when they were born.

They had a sense of humor in naming the boys. Hairy and Heel![6]Waltke Esau looks like a little animal when he comes out. His name speaks of his carnal nature.[7]Bible Knowledge Commentary He had no interest in spiritual things.

Jacob’s name, on the other hand, has different shades of meaning. It can mean “heel grabber,” or, “the one who trips up.” It can also mean, “May God be your rearguard.”[8]See Bible Knowledge Commentary, Kidner And certainly, we’ll see that God had this man’s back, even though Jacob didn’t deserve it.

Genesis 25:27 – 27 When the boys grew up, Esau became an expert hunter, an outdoorsman, but Jacob was a quiet man who stayed at home.

Based on this description, it seems like these guys ended up being trust-fund kids. Who is tending the flocks? Who is planting the crops? Instead of carrying on that calling, we have Esau hunting game day in and day out, while Jacob dabbles as a chef and stay in the tents. Personality-wise, the boys are presented as opposites. One loved the fields, one loved the finer things. Esau would grow to be a bit wild, Jacob a bit wiley.

Genesis 25:28 – 28 Isaac loved Esau because he had a taste for wild game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.

This is a sad verse. There really aren’t a lot of examples of good parents in the Old Testament. A statement like this should remind us that when Christ comes into our hearts, He transforms who we are and intends to reshape everything about us, including our relationships. He enables us to love the way He loves – unconditionally. There’s no place for this kind of favoritism in a Christian home.

We’re told Isaac loved Esau “because he had a taste for wild game.” The Hebrew says, “For the game in his mouth.”[9]Alter And so we have to conclude that Isaac has become somewhat carnal and materialistic. Even in his favoritism – he doesn’t prefer Esau because of who he is, but because of what he does. If Rebekah’s line was, “Why is this happening to me?” Isaac’s is, “What have you done for me lately?” So we’re seeing these flashes of selfishness in each character.

Bruce Waltke points out that Adam failed in eating, Noah failed in drinking, Isaac failed in tasting. Those moments where God’s people chose to give in to sensual temptation, they really fouled up what should’ve been glorious, spiritual experiences. John, in his first epistle, warns us about the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life and, in the end, says, “Little children, guard yourselves from idols.” When we let those sinful seeds into our minds, they will grow and reroute our thinking and will pervert our relationships and cripple us in our walk with the Lord.

Genesis 25:29-30 – 29 Once when Jacob was cooking a stew, Esau came in from the field exhausted. 30 He said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stuff, because I’m exhausted.” That is why he was also named Edom.

Now let’s think for a minute: Esau comes from the field, but where does he come to? He comes into a home with astounding wealth, tons of servants, no lack of provision. He was worn out, but he could’ve walked into the next room where there was a sack of grain or some raisin cakes. Instead, he saw some soup right in front of him, and that became his focus. Esau was about immediate gratification.

Esau and his descendants and the region where they lived with forever be known as Edom. “Red stuff.” It reminds me of when George Costanza orders a T-bone steak, hoping his coworkers will give him the nickname “T-bone.”

Genesis 25:31 – 31 Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.”

Jacob was ready to exploit his brother’s weakness for his own gain. Whenever there’s a natural disaster the news inevitably runs a story about price gougers. Esau just wants what’s in front of him, Jacob has a longer view in mind. He wants that position that he had been fighting for since he was in his mother’s womb. He wanted the birthright, granting him a double portion of the inheritance and the place of honor and leadership in the family. His price tag here is selfish and uncompassionate. After all, his brother is hungry, and he has a full pot of stew.

Had this family submitted to God and trusted in His commands, all this rivalry and posturing and resentment could’ve been avoided. According to God, the birthright already belonged to Jacob. But, clearly, the parents were not moving in that direction. And, though Jacob wanted something that God had said he would ultimately have, he was trying to snatch it up in a fleshly, immoral way.

If we use selfish, worldly methods to try to do God’s work, it’s not God’s work.

Genesis 25:32 – 32 “Look,” said Esau, “I’m about to die, so what good is a birthright to me?”

This is stupid. He’s not about to die. He is simply too selfish to even walk into the next room. Hebrews 12 tells us that it was’t about hunger – but that Esau was a godless, immoral man who cared nothing about the birthright, particularly when it came to the covenant of God that passed through that birthright. Hebrews says, outright, “make sure you don’t live like Esau!” He cared about the single meal in the here and now. What about 10 years from now? What about his family or the generations after him? None of that crossed his mind. Instead, he was all about his belly.

Genesis 25:33-34 – 33 Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore to Jacob and sold his birthright to him. 34 Then Jacob gave bread and lentil stew to Esau; he ate, drank, got up, and went away. So Esau despised his birthright.

Lunch that day was like a meal at Panera. You get a soup, a sandwich and a drink but spend a lot more than you should have.

Interestingly, we note that Esau didn’t consider his promise to be worth very much. Later on when it’s time to receive the blessing, he still expects to get the firstborn share. He’s a selfish man, driven by physical appetites. God doesn’t matter. His family doesn’t matter. His words don’t matter. He just wanted immediate, physical satisfaction. But living that kind of life never leaves you satisfied.

Now, Jacob did a trashy thing and we’ll spend a bunch of weeks seeing him make mistakes and how the Lord brings him back from spiritual ruin. But, as Derek Kidner comments: “The chapter does not [close with] ‘So Jacob supplanted his brother,’ but ‘So Esau despised his birthright.’” This was a significant historical moment. It was a major turning point for this family and for the drama of redemption. Jacob’s price gouging is not so wicked as Esau’s contempt of covenant.

But when we look at these verses, we have to conclude that selfishness has infected this family. Rebekah says, “Why me?” Isaac says, “What have you got for me?” Jacob says, “Why wait for what God has promised?” Esau says, “What good is a birthright?” Everyone is thinking about self and it leads them down these sad roads where parents are preferring one kid over another, where brothers are taking advantage of each other, where individuals aren’t thinking at all about how their choices might impact their families and futures. So, the great “family of faith,” at this point in time, is defined by individualism.

Had this family paused and remembered the Lord, remembered His will and His ways and His revelation, remembered to worship, they would’ve known the satisfaction they each wanted. Their suffering would’ve been put in perspective. Their waiting would’ve had purpose. Their relationships would’ve been healthy and fruitful. And, in the end, they would not be a family torn apart but one thriving in the grace of God.

What happened? Well, they drifted into selfishness. They didn’t think it was necessary to pay attention to what God had said and then orient their lives around it. They started to prize temporal gratification over spiritual growth. The Bible tells us – plainly – don’t go that way. Don’t jump over the borders of God’s leading to get your hands on some soup. It’s not worth the cost.

Footnotes

Footnotes
1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddha_Jumps_Over_the_Wall
2 https://www.campbellsoup.co.uk/blog/world-expensive-soups/
3 Bruce Waltke Genesis: A Commentary
4 ibid.
5 Robert Alter The Hebrew Bible: A Translation With Commentary
6 Waltke
7 Bible Knowledge Commentary
8 See Bible Knowledge Commentary, Kidner
9 Alter

Returned To Sender, Address Unknown (John 7:25-36)

It’s hard to believe that Newsies opened on Broadway as a limited engagement.

The popular musical’s limited engagement became an extended run of more than one thousand performances.

A 2014 revival of Jesus Christ Superstar lasted only 116 performances. One critic thought it clever to title his review, It is Finished.

A musical about the Lord’s first coming might be titled, Thy Kingdom Come.

John the Baptist “came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matthew 3).

Jesus “began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17).

The “Kingdom” offered by John the Baptist and Jesus was the on-Earth, rule-from-Jerusalem, sitting on the historic throne of King David, kingdom.

People will beat swords into plowshares and shields into pruning hooks (Isaiah 2:4).

“And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little boy will lead them” (Isaiah 11:6).

You will send your toddlers outside and say, “Go play near the cobra’s den, honey” and “the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest” (Isaiah 11:8).

Many of the conditions predicted to be characteristic of the Kingdom were implemented by Jesus as He went around performing miracles. They were coming attractions. Surely, this was the time Thy Kingdom (would) Come.

But in this exchange Jesus made a startling announcement: He would soon return to Heaven (v33-34). What about the promised Kingdom of Heaven on Earth?

The Kingdom of Heaven was a ‘limited engagement’ because Jesus was rejected.

Jesus would go to the Cross, offering Himself as a sacrifice and taking our places in death so that we might live. He would rise, conquering sin, death, and Satan. But instead of afterward establishing the Kingdom, Jesus would temporarily return to Heaven.

Don’t worry; He’s coming back to establish the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. God cannot fail to keep His unconditional promises to Israel.

The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth will have a one thousand year ‘extended run’.

We live in a glad-You-were-sent but wish-You-never-went age. After Jesus went, and before His Second Coming, is the Church Age. It is a mystery revealed in the New Testament.

I’ll organize my comments around two points: #1 Knowing Jesus Was Sent Encourages You About Grace, and #2 Knowing Jesus Went Alerts You To Urgency.

#1 – Knowing Jesus Was Sent Encourages You About Grace (v25-31)

Jesus Christ Superstar follows the predictable secular blasphemies:

Jesus is confused and unsure of Himself.
Mary Magdalene is unbiblically portrayed as a prostitute who wants Jesus to be her baby daddy.
Judas is the antihero who betrays Jesus out of love, to motivate Him to do the right thing.

There is plenty of drama in the biblical account. We are picking up the story with Jesus attending the annual Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem.
Joh 7:25  Now some of them from Jerusalem said, “Is this not He whom they seek to kill?

Thousands of pilgrims were there. It was a time to recall God’s faithfulness to the generation of Israelites that wandered in the wilderness forty years.

At this holy feast, with Messianic hopes high, it was openly known that certain groups wanted Jesus dead.

You bump into a friend at the store. You ask them what is going on at the church they attend. “Same-o, same-o,” they answer. “We started a new discipleship study, and we’re making progress trying to murder our pastor.”

Religion is dead, and it spreads death. One of the first things you hear when you get saved is “Christianity is not a religion, it’s a relationship.” True, and since it is true, folks ought to be able to see the difference between a walk with God and doing works for God. We were captives but have been freed. We were dead but made alive. We were debtors whose debts have been paid in full.
The one thing we do, that is not a work, is believe.

Joh 7:26  But look! He speaks boldly, and they say nothing to Him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is truly the Christ?
Joh 7:27  However, we know where this Man is from; but when the Christ comes, no one knows where He is from.”

“Christ” means anointed one. It is a title for the promised Messiah.

The local Jerusalem guys did not think for a minute that Jesus was truly the Christ. They were mocking their rulers.

Undermining God-ordained, godly leadership, is evidence that grace is not at work. Yes, there are abusive pastors and elders who oversee churches by what the Bible calls “lording over” believers (First Peter 5:3). I don’t think it is as common as the multitude of anti-Church bloggers would have you believe. Abusive churches aside, God does establish government in the local church.

Their teaching in Jerusalem was, “When the Christ [the Messiah] comes, no one knows where He is from.” Scholars argue that this comes from emphasizing a few obscure prophesies about the Messiah. It made them feel superior. To quote Captain Kirk quoting Khan, they believed theirs was “the superior intellect.”

They were not just proud, they were wrong. Thirty years earlier King Herod called upon Jews to tell him where the Messiah would be born. They promptly responded, “in Bethlehem of Judea” (Matthew 2:5).

Joh 7:28  Then Jesus cried out, as He taught in the temple, saying, “You both know Me, and you know where I am from; and I have not come of Myself, but He who sent Me is true, whom you do not know.

On the one hand, they “knew him and knew where he was from.” He was Jesus of Nazareth, the carpenter’s son.
On the other hand, He was sent by God the Father from Heaven to Earth.

We immediately understand what Jesus was claiming.
He was, at once, a man from Nazareth AND God from Heaven. He was God in human flesh. We like to call Him the God-man.

Jesus boldly stated that these Jews “[did] not know” God the Father. They weren’t saved Jews sincerely waiting for their Messiah.

There were God-fearing Jews. Simeon was an old man who hung around the Temple because God had told him he would see Israel’s Messiah before his death. When young Jesus was brought to the Temple to be dedicated according to the Law of Moses, Simeon said, “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, According to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel” Luke 2:29-32).

Simeon’s words ought to have been internalized by every Jew. He was speaking as the nation could and should have spoken.

For all their ‘superior’ knowledge of the Messiah, the Jerusalemites did not know Him at all.
They could not recognize God tabernacling with them when He was right in front of them.

Don’t lose Jesus while you are looking for Jesus.

Things that are good when overemphasized can cause you to lose Jesus while you are looking for Him. Here are two common examples:

You can never read or study the Bible too much. But what you can do that might distract you is bind yourself to a particular systematic theology. There can never be one system of biblical interpretation that is always correct, simply because they are man-made. It doesn’t stop Christians from becoming so engrossed in their systematic theology that they think themselves superior. They once shared Christ with nonbelievers, but instead share their theology with believers.
Preferring and promoting certain manifestations of God the Holy Spirit is another potential for losing the Lord. The focus shifts from Jesus and on to the worshipper’s behavior.

Joh 7:29  But I know Him, for I am from Him, and He sent Me.”

God promised our parents that He would come to conquer sin, Satan, and death. Centuries passed. God progressively provided more and more detail about His coming among us, and about His mission.

Joh 7:30  Therefore they sought to take Him; but no one laid a hand on Him, because His hour had not yet come.

Jesus must die on the Cross. God the Father would see to it, by what we term providence, that Jesus be protected until He could say, “Mission accomplished.”

President George W. Bush ignited a controversy when he declared. “Mission accomplished.” The President was criticized because the war in Iraq continued for several years thereafter.

Jesus’ mission was accomplished, but spiritual warfare obviously continues. He is criticized.

Jesus’ words from the Cross were, “It is finished.” It was; it is. Sin, Satan, Death are defeated.

Why the wait? God is not willing anyone perish. He is being longsuffering, giving all men everywhere and anywhere the opportunity to be born-again, to be saved and avoid the wrath that is coming.

Joh 7:31  And many of the people believed in Him, and said, “When the Christ comes, will He do more signs than these which this Man has done?”

They saw the signs and believed. A sign communicates more clearly than words, especially if you are dealing with a language unknown to you. Jesus’ miracles were signs God put up to communicate one thing: That He was their promised Messiah. They were unmistakeable, irrefutable, incontrovertible, incontestable, undeniable, unassailable, unquestionable, indisputable.

Unequivocable, unimpeachable, indubitable.

So much so that when Jesus was asked by disciples of John the Baptist if He were the Messiah, instead of saying “Yes,” the Lord said, “Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them” (Luke 7:22).

Jesus was “sent.” It is a word worthy of our deepest contemplation. It is a word that puts grace into action. J.I. Packer said, “Grace means God sending His only Son to the Cross to descend into [Hades] so that we guilty ones might be reconciled to God and received into Heaven.

Blaise Pascal said, “The Incarnation reveals to man the enormity of his misery through the greatness of the remedy it requires.”

No one asked for God to send. He determined to do it, knowing that adding humanity to His deity, then dying in our place, was the only possible way mankind could be saved.

No one deserved for God to be sent. We don’t merit it, or earn it, or work for it in any way. It is completely independent of us, something God does in spite of us.

It’s one thing to send for help.
It’s another for help to be sent without anyone asking.
It’s yet another when you send help that is unwanted and rejected. “Send Me,” said Jesus, knowing His own would despise and reject Him.

Our God sends. Be ready and able to say to Him, “here I am Lord, send me.”

#2 – Knowing Jesus Went Alerts You To Urgency (v32-36)

gotquestions.org is a site dedicated to answering your Bible questions. According to the counter on their website they have answered nearly 750,000 questions.

Ask them, “Why do most Jews reject Jesus as the Messiah?, and this is part of their answer:

The Jews rejected Jesus because He failed to do what they expected their Messiah to do – establish a kingdom with Israel as the preeminent nation in the world. The Jews believed that the Messiah, the prophet which Moses spoke about, would come and deliver them from Roman bondage and set up a kingdom where they would be the rulers. The people of Jerusalem shouted praises to God for the mighty works they had seen Jesus do and called out, “Hosanna, save us,” when He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. They treated Him like a conquering king. Then, when He allowed Himself to be arrested, tried, and crucified on a cursed cross, the people stopped believing that He was the promised prophet. They rejected their Messiah.

Our text shifts from Jesus being sent to Him went. (That is proper English in Riverdale).

Joh 7:32  The Pharisees heard the crowd murmuring these things concerning Him, and the Pharisees and the chief priests sent officers to take Him.

The authorities listed “heard… murmuring” that some were believing in Jesus. They used their authority to issue an arrest warrant. The Temple had its own limited power police force. Officers were dispatched to hook-up Jesus.

We won’t see what happens until a future study. They don’t arrest the Lord, stating to their superiors, “No man ever spoke like this Man!” (7:46).

Joh 7:33  Then Jesus said to them, “I shall be with you a little while longer, and then I go to Him who sent Me.

DC Talk sang, Time is tickin’ away, Tic Tock tickin’ away. It captures a sense of urgency. In the case of first century Israel, opportunity to accept the Lord was ticking down.

Graciously, their opportunity would continue after Jesus went. It isn’t until some years later that God announced to Israel through the apostle Paul, “Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it!” (Acts 28:28).

Paul would explain in his letter to the churches in Rome that,, “blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in” (11:25). And then he rejoices saying, “ and all Israel will be saved” (11:26).

Joh 7:34  You will seek Me and not find Me, and where I am you cannot come.”

Adam Clarke writes, “When the Roman armies come against you, you will vainly seek for a deliverer. But you shall be cut off in your sins, because you did not believe in Me.”

Albert Barnes writes, “[Their Messiah] would be in Heaven; and though they would earnestly desire His presence and aid to save the city and nation from the Romans, yet they would not be able to obtain it.”

Joh 7:35  Then the Jews said among themselves, “Where does He intend to go that we shall not find Him? Does He intend to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks and teach the Greeks?

Their comments were derogatory. They insinuated that even if He went out to less learned, more liberal Jews, and even idolatrous Gentiles, Jesus would not be received.

They did not realize it, but their comments were prophetic:

The “Dispersion” were Jews living outside the Holy Land.

“Greeks” means Gentiles, all non-Jews.

Jesus would “Go!” to these by commissioning His disciples after Him to Go into the whole world making disciples.

Joh 7:36  What is this thing that He said, ‘You will seek Me and not find Me, and where I am you cannot come?’ ”

Pinky and the Brain. One is a genius; the other’s insane. They’re laboratory mice whose genes have been spliced.

Every episode the Brain asks Pinky some iteration of the question, “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” Pinky always answers along these lines:

“Uh… yeah, Brain, but where are we going to find rubber pants our size?”
“I think so, Brain, but we’ll never get a monkey to use dental floss.”
“I think so, Brain, but if they called them ‘Sad Meals’ kids wouldn’t buy them!”

Answering their question with the same question is a Pinky-like response.

Thy Kingdom Come the musical would feature a rendition of the classic song, Jerusalem, by Gentle Faith.

Jerusalem, Oh Jerusalem
 Why won’t you believe in Him?
Don’t you know can’t you see
 Your King is this Man from Galilee?
Israel, Oh Israel
 Whose Messiah can’t you tell?
Don’t you know, can’t you see
 Your King is this Man from Galilee?

The lyrics are suggested by something Jesus said, recorded by Matthew in his Gospel. We call it His Lament Over Jerusalem:

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, “BLESSED is HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!” (23:37-39).

Jesus went, and He is poised to return ever since. There is always a sense of urgency. It might be today.

One of the last things Jesus promised us in His Word was, “I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work” (Revelation 22:12).

J.C. Ryle writes, “Let us remember, there is One who daily records all we do for Him, and sees more beauty in His servants’ work than His servants do themselves… And then shall His faithful witnesses discover, to their wonder and surprise, that there never was a word spoken on their Master’s behalf, which does not receive a reward.”

The extended run of the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth will give way to the eternal run of new heavens and a new Earth.

Believe Jesus and God and you will be saved.