The Old Man And The Sheep (Genesis 29:1-13)

At first glance, our passage tonight reads like a classic “boy meets girl” story. Against steep odds and with the help of chivalry and the serendipitous crossing of paths, our characters find each other and live happily ever after. Except, we know they don’t exactly live happily ever after. There are many long years of resentment and manipulation and disappointment ahead.

The story also reads like a classic Biblical archetype: The life-changing meeting at a well. Abraham’s servant and Rebekah. Moses and Zipporah. Jesus and the Samaritan woman. And here, Jacob and Rachel. But again, we notice that this story lacks something. There’s no personal interaction with the Lord. No prayer. No praise. No acknowledgment of God’s grace, no thanks given to Him.

Upon examination and comparison, we can’t help but be disappointed with Jacob in this scene, as we are in so many others during this portion of his life. That’s because these are not stories of a man walking by faith. We’re still reading the saga of a man contending with God and those around him. He’s not driven by a desire to glorify God. He isn’t concerned about his own responsibilities. He’s a very self-oriented man, blown about by his circumstances and whatever he needs to do to avoid the consequences of his selfishness.

We have no idea how the story might have gone if Jacob had responded to God in faith and humility and surrender. What we do know is that he is making decisions that lead to a lot of hardship. At the same time, we see that man’s failure cannot overthrow the faithfulness of God. What a great hope that is.

Genesis 29:1 – Jacob resumed his journey and went to the eastern country.

The Hebrew indicates that he had a “spring in his step.”[1](John Goldingay Genesis (Baker Commentary On The Old Testament Pentateuch), Robert Alter The Hebrew Bible: A Translation With Commentary) He’s feeling great. But why is he heading east? It’s because he’s on the run. He’s fleeing a scandal. He’s left behind the land of promise even though the Lord has made it very clear that He wants this family in the land of Canaan.

Some commentators say he’s joyful because he knows God is with him and that knowledge has lifted away all his cares. But we haven’t seen him transformed. He hasn’t worshiped. He set up a marker, not an altar. When God professed His lovingkindness to Jacob, Jacob responded by saying, “We’ll see. If You do this, that, and the other thing, then You’ll be my God.”

But there he is, heading east, with a spring in his step. In Genesis, movements to the east are generally not a good thing. Adam and Eve were exiled east out of Eden. Cain went out from the Lord’s presence, living to the east. Those God-rejecting peoples who built the tower of Babel settled in the east. Lot separated from Abram and went to the east.

Jacob may have been cheery, but he’s fooling himself if he thinks he’s making good progress in life. He’s going to a pagan land, to a pagan people, to become one of them for 20 years.

God had checked in with Jacob, but it made little difference in his direction. We see those tender moments in the Old Testament where the Lord would come to someone on the run and say, “Hagar, where have you come from and where are you going?” He came to Elijah and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Those are moments when people are invited to surrender to God.

What if the Lord asked you those questions in your life right now? Can we answer, “Lord, I’m going where You’ve led. I’m doing Your business.” Or are we making decisions in a way more like Jacob?

Genesis 29:2-3 – 2 He looked and saw a well in a field. Three flocks of sheep were lying there beside it because the sheep were watered from this well. But a large stone covered the opening of the well. 3 The shepherds would roll the stone from the opening of the well and water the sheep when all the flocks were gathered there. Then they would return the stone to its place over the well’s opening.

This stone covering the mouth of a well becomes a major plot point. Rocks are a big part of Jacob’s life story. He used a stone as a pillow. This stone features prominently. Later there will be a significant use of stones in his feud with Laban.

The association of stones with Jacob is interesting when we think about the other patriarchs. Abraham was known for building altars and for planting a terebinth tree. Isaac was known for wells. Altars and trees and wells are useful things that bless and benefit. But rocks? We see Jacob sort of moving stones around, monuments to his misunderstandings and contentions. He reminds me of Charlie Brown in The Great Pumpkin, opening up his pillow case to see what sort of candy he’s got from trick-or-treating only to find rocks.

Genesis 29:4 – 4 Jacob asked the men at the well, “My brothers! Where are you from?” “We’re from Haran,” they answered.

Jacob greets them with a warm friendliness…that is until we remember how he treats his brothers.

The locals are very curt in their replies.[2](NET Study Bible Notes, R. Kent Hughes Genesis: Beginning & Blessing) But try to imagine the scene. They all know each other. Then, out of the desert, walks a lone guy. No camel, no wagon. He asks, “Where am I?” It’s also likely that the shepherds were youths.[3](Henry Morris The Genesis Record) So I get why they were curt.

Genesis 29:5-6 – 5 “Do you know Laban, Nahor’s grandson?” Jacob asked them. They answered, “We know him.” 6 “Is he well?” Jacob asked. “Yes,” they said, “and here is his daughter Rachel, coming with his sheep.”

Again the shepherds say very little. Maybe they were suspicious of this strange wanderer. Or maybe they didn’t say much about Laban because they knew him too well. What did Thumper’s mom say? “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.”

When people are generous and kind, we like to tell the story, right? Shaquille O’Neal was in the news recently because he went to a restaurant for dinner and paid $25,000 to cover every meal at every table.[4]( People like to spread that story. It refreshes us to hear about generosity.

“Do you know Laban?” “Yeah, we know him.”

It’s a reminder to us that our lives are a fragrance. It’s not that we live to please people, but we want to be like our Lord. Gracious like our Lord. Generous like our Lord. Forgiving like Him. Welcoming like Him. The fragrance of Christ in a needy world. Not everyone will appreciate the smell, but we don’t want to stink like Laban must have to the community around him.

Back to our scene: Here’s Rachel! Boy meets girl. Although, it’s not exactly boy meets girl. It’s old man meets girl. Jacob is at least 70 years old[5]( and Rachel is maybe in her twenties.[6](Though we have no Biblical record, the Midrash tradition is that Rachel was 22 years old. She was young enough to not be married, to tend sheep, and to still be of child-bearing age for quite a few … Continue reading) I’m sorry if that ruins anything for you.

This is probably not how Rachel would want to meet a potential suitor. It’s hard for either of them to make a good first impression while sweaty, grimy, and smelling like livestock.

But before Jacob introduces himself to Rachel, he takes the time to wrestle with these strangers he’s just met.

Genesis 25:7-8 – 7 Then Jacob said, “Look, it is still broad daylight. It’s not time for the animals to be gathered. Water the flock, then go out and let them graze.” 8 But they replied, “We can’t until all the flocks have been gathered and the stone is rolled from the well’s opening. Then we will water the sheep.”

Many commentators brand these shepherds as lazy.[7](See CSB Study Bible Notes, Morris, Bible Knowledge Commentary, Waltke) They say they were “shiftless,”[8](Hughes) “unreasonable shirkers.”[9](Bruce Waltke Genesis: A Commentary) Maybe. Or maybe this was the custom of that locale. Yes, Jacob made the case that it would be better for the sheep to water and graze differently. But the shepherds say here, “We can’t.” To suggest it was only laziness seems unfair. Sheep were their livelihood. I doubt any of them wanted to starve or be beaten by unhappy masters.

I’ve done a little bit of traveling to South America. They do some things very differently there than we do in the United States. There have been times when we thought, “The way we do things is better and that’s how it should be done.” But we hold our tongues because it’s rude to act that way!

Think of it this way: If you were out doing yard work or gardening and some stranger walks up to you and said, “You’re doing it wrong. You should do it the opposite of how you’re doing it.” Are you encouraged by that? Do you say, “Wow, thanks desert hobo who I’ve never seen before and who doesn’t even know where he is! What else should I do differently?” That’s what Jacob is doing because that’s who Jacob is! He’s a heel-catcher – someone who trips up in his dealings.[10](See Bible Knowledge Commentary, Kidner) A wrestler, convinced his way is the only way. But how is that working out for him?

Bruce Waltke points out that this is a beautiful demonstration of God’s perfect providence. Jacob didn’t even know where he was, but he has met the right people at the right place at the wrong time. According to his wisdom, they shouldn’t even be at the well during this hour, yet here they are, as the Lord goes before him to provide him with help and shelter, being faithful to the faithless.

Genesis 29:9 – 9 While he was still speaking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep, for she was a shepherdess.

Rachel is the first shepherdess mentioned in the Bible. She would’ve been young but tough and experienced. She would’ve been a very hard worker and a great problem solver. She would’ve had to know how to find pasture and lead her lambs to it.[11](Funlola Olojede Rachel: The Shepherdess Among Shepherds) But looking ahead we learn that she was not paid for these long days of dangerous work. She will tell Jacob she had no portion or inheritance from her father. In fact, she’ll say that Laban considers her as an outsider to be sold away.[12](Genesis 31:14-15)

We’ll find that, in many ways, she is very like Jacob. They both deal deceptively. They both manipulate. They both have strained family relationships. They’ll both cheat to get a victory over others. But they were both loved by God, redeemed by Him, and ultimately transformed into vessels of honor. God can do incredible things with inadequate people. That’s very good news!

Genesis 29:10 – 10 As soon as Jacob saw his uncle Laban’s daughter Rachel with his sheep, he went up and rolled the stone from the opening and watered his uncle Laban’s sheep.

Some say this was a Herculean feat – that it would’ve taken immense strength to move the stone. Maybe, though no one in the text marvels at it. Certainly, Jacob had a lot of vigor and strength, even at 70 years old.

We immediately remember how Rebekah worked so tirelessly to water the 10 camels back in chapter 24, but there’s a significant difference. Jacob ignored the other flocks. Rather than being an act of servant-hearted grace, this was presumptuous, maybe even unlawful. The shepherds had just said, “Here’s how we have to do things.” Jacob just takes what he wants. Rebekah had made sure all the animals had their fill. Jacob cuts in line with no regard for the other thirsty sheep.

The watering of Abraham’s camels had been the sign that God had brought the servant to the woman the Lord intended for Isaac. Jacob’s watering here seems to be done as a way to ingratiate himself to Laban, not Rachel. Look at verse 10 again and notice the perspective: “Laban’s daughter….Laban’s sheep.” Jacob’s mind is not on marriage, he needs a place to stay and food to eat. And, remember, he has nothing to offer. No gift. No camels. No money. He’s there to mooch off of his mom’s family and so he elbows his way to the front of the water line. He could’ve waited – Rachel wasn’t going anywhere – but he is always looking out for number 1. When Shaq bought all those dinners, he was there on a date. That probably made a pretty good impression. Now imagine if, instead, he had gone to the cook and said, “I’m important. Stop cooking anyone else’s food and serve me first.” Not quite as romantic.

Genesis 29:11 – 11 Then Jacob kissed Rachel and wept loudly.

Commentators want to say it was love at first sight, but then are quick to say, “But this wasn’t a kiss of love, just a familial kiss of greeting.” Either way, it would’ve been a shock for Rachel. It is, by the way, the very first kiss between a man and a woman mentioned in the Bible.[13](CSB Study Bible Notes)

Again we contrast this moment with Rebekah and the servant of Abraham. Waltke writes, “Unlike Abraham’s servant, [Jacob] offers no praise, for he has made no petition. On the surface all seems well, but underneath lurks dark trouble.”[14](Waltke) Jacob’s emotional outburst signals, perhaps, this is a man who is not peacefully established in his personal life.

Genesis 29:12-13 – 12 He told Rachel that he was her father’s relative, Rebekah’s son. She ran and told her father. 13 When Laban heard the news about his sister’s son Jacob, he ran to meet him, hugged him, and kissed him. Then he took him to his house, and Jacob told him all that had happened.

It had been almost 100 years since Abraham’s servant had come and fetched Rebekah.[15](Rebekah was unable to have children for 20 years after marrying Isaac and now Jacob is somewhere in his 70’s.) Last time someone from the house of Abraham showed up there were many camels, laden with wealthy gifts.

Now? One guy with nothing. “Oh I have a big inheritance back home…but I can’t go there because my brother will kill me. You’ve got food and shelter and clothing for me, right?”

Compared to the original find-a-lady-at-the-well story, this feels like when Disney makes a direct-to-video sequel to a beloved classic. We expect better given how much potential the characters have.

As we watch Jacob we see that he has great strength and vigor, he has boldness and knowhow and determination and decisiveness and endurance and depth of emotion. He had so many wonderful components that could’ve been used for great spiritual benefit. But he wasn’t living for the Lord. He’s still trying to go his own way.

And, you know, after 70 years of life, what does he have to show for it? A family he can’t see. An inheritance he can’t enjoy. A promise he’s left behind. A God he’s ignoring. A few rocks in his pillowcase.

All those great aspects of who he was were being spoiled because he was living an un-faith-filled life. His strength was going to be spent for 20 years in service to a man who constantly cheated him. His boldness kept getting him into trouble, causing him to have to run for his life – twice! His brash decisiveness leads to strain and misunderstandings. His depth of emotion is unchecked and unbridled, making him act somewhat strange and erratic. He was knowledgeable, but in his selfishness he just became a know-it-all, as we see him speaking to these shepherds here.

Jacob didn’t need a change of scene. He needed a change of heart. He needed to believe God and stop trying to helm his own life. He needed to pause and listen and recognize that God had spoken to him and then say, “Let’s go along with God instead of doing our own thing.” Sadly, Jacob spends 20 years somewhere the Lord didn’t really want him to be. Jacob had a lot of ideas about how sheep should be shepherded, but he wasn’t willing to listen to his Shepherd. The result was not exactly green pastures and still waters.

But God wasn’t going to abandon His little lamb. He wouldn’t cut His losses. No, as He promised, He stayed with Jacob and ultimately brought him back to that good pasture, the one Jacob had wandered away from.

Let’s be sheep who trust our Shepherd and go where He leads us.


1 (John Goldingay Genesis (Baker Commentary On The Old Testament Pentateuch), Robert Alter The Hebrew Bible: A Translation With Commentary
2 (NET Study Bible Notes, R. Kent Hughes Genesis: Beginning & Blessing
3 (Henry Morris The Genesis Record
4 (
5 (
6 (Though we have no Biblical record, the Midrash tradition is that Rachel was 22 years old. She was young enough to not be married, to tend sheep, and to still be of child-bearing age for quite a few years.
7 (See CSB Study Bible Notes, Morris, Bible Knowledge Commentary, Waltke
8 (Hughes
9 (Bruce Waltke Genesis: A Commentary
10 (See Bible Knowledge Commentary, Kidner
11 (Funlola Olojede Rachel: The Shepherdess Among Shepherds
12 (Genesis 31:14-15
13 (CSB Study Bible Notes
14 (Waltke
15 (Rebekah was unable to have children for 20 years after marrying Isaac and now Jacob is somewhere in his 70’s.

Glad Hair Day (John 11:45-12:11)

Aggressive Inline Skating… All-Terrain Boarding… Banzai Skydiving… BMX… Bungee Jumping… Canyoning… Cliff Diving… Cluster Ballooning… Deep Water Soloing…

They are a partial list of Extreme Sports. We admire athletes who give it their all.

There are two ‘extremes’ in our text.

Mary was extreme in her worship. She “took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard [worth a year’s wages] anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair” (12:3).

The Jewish ruling council was dominated by extremists who “plotted to put [Jesus] to death” (11:53).

Mary’s belief in Jesus led her to wash Jesus’ feet with ointment and her hair.
Unbelief drove the Jewish rulers to murder.

I’ll organize my comments around two points, #1 You Are Oppressed By Unbelief, and #2 You Press On By Believing.

#1 – You Are Surrounded By Unbelief (11:45-57)

Seattle police arrested street preacher Matthew Meinecke on charges of being a risk to public safety. He was reading his Bible aloud at a public park near a pride event. “SPD has enough resources to send ten police officers to arrest a preacher reading his Bible in a public park,” Meinecke wrote on twitter, posting a video showing his arrest.

That is our culture. According to Gallup, “A record-low 20% of Americans now say the Bible is the literal word of God… a new high of 29% say the Bible is a collection of ‘fables, legends, history and moral precepts recorded by man.’ ”

Our study in the literal Word of God finds us in John 11:45.

Joh 11:45  Then many of the Jews who had come to Mary, and had seen the things Jesus did, believed in Him.

“Many… Jews” gathered to mourn the death of Lazarus. Jesus ruined the funeral when He commanded Lazarus to come out of the tomb.

Have you ‘ruined’ a family celebration or two by representing Jesus?

“Many” of them “believed.” John wrote this Gospel “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (20:31).

Nonbelievers are commanded to believe and be born-again.
Believers are encouraged to continue in the Spirit, believing God’s Word is His enabling to obey.

Joh 11:46  But some of them went away to the Pharisees and told them the things Jesus did.

Why do some believe and others remain in their unbelief? As The Beach Boys sang, God only knows.

There are Christians who claim that they know. They propose that, before Creation, God chose certain human beings to save by irresistible grace. He simultaneously passed over the majority of humans, consigning them to eternal punishment simply because He did not choose to chose them.

Thankfully, there are other ways, biblical ways, scholarly ways, of approaching the issue, that preserve both God’s Sovereignty and our free-will. In the end, why some and not others are saved is a matter of grace and faith between the Savior and each individual.

What we know for certain is that Jesus draws all men to Himself, and that He is Savior of all men – especially those who believe; and whosoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.

Joh 11:47  Then the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council and said, “What shall we do? For this Man works many signs.
Joh 11:48  If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation.”

The “council” is the 70 man Supreme Court of Israel known as the Sanhedrin. They were Israel’s authority, subject to Rome’s final authority.

The Sanhedrin could not deny the “many signs” Jesus did. The blind received sight, the lame walked, those who had leprosy were cured, the deaf heard, the dead were raised, and the good news was preached to the poor.

Some of you should know where to find the world’s oldest, still in use, street sign. It is a yield sign dating to 1686 along Salvador Street in the Alfama district of Lisbon, Portugal.

Old signs remain accurate. The signs ‘posted’ by Jesus during His three and one-half years on Earth still point to Him. They are no less real, no less demanding of a response. The ensuing centuries have added credibility, seeing the effect of Jesus on the world.

The Sanhedrin was concerned that the people would try to make Jesus king. They were right. Should Rome get wind of it, history might repeat itself:

Other empires had defiled and destroyed their “place,” i.e., the Temple.

Other empires had crushed and dispersed Israel.

Joh 11:49  And one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all,
Joh 11:50  nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.”

He told the Sanhedrin they didn’t know what they were talking about. He saw this as an opportunity to enlist Rome’s help eliminating Jesus.

Joh 11:51  Now this he did not say on his own authority; but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation,
Joh 11:52  and not for that nation only, but also that He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad.

The Bible Knowledge Commentary says, “Caiaphas pointed to the last sacrificial Lamb in a prophecy he did not even know he made. Caiaphas meant Jesus had to be killed [to save the nation from Rome], but God intended the priest’s words as a reference to Jesus’ substitutionary atonement.”

Jesus would die for the nation. Not to preserve the status quo, as Caiaphas reckoned, but as the last sacrifice Israel would ever need, the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the nation, and the world.

“Those scattered abroad” refers to Jews living outside the Holy Land. Jesus is the Savior of the whole world, including us Gentiles. We are not yet in view. God first had business with Israel.

Joh 11:53  Then, from that day on, they plotted to put Him to death.

Your top religious guys, starting with the long-time high priest, were Murder, Inc. It’s Godfather III.

These were religious men who thought they pleased God by being self-righteous. Dr. J. Vernon McGee said, “There are only two kinds of religion in the world… One says, “Do, do, do.” Only Christianity says, “Done.” Christ has done it all.”

When you trust in good works to earn your salvation, you become capable of the worst works imaginable.

Religion kills and destroys. So does philosophy, psychology, and every other man-made substitute for salvation in Jesus Christ. You can only be transformed, become a new creation, and receive a new heart, when you believe Jesus.

Religion, et al., can lead to reformation. It is better to be a reformed drunk than remain a drunk, but you’re still an unsaved sinner. You’re not transformed.
Religion, et al., can lead to deformation. Certain beliefs distort, twist, and warp their adherents into doing truly heinous things.

Nicodemus was a member of the council. So was Joseph of Arimethea, who will come forth to claim Jesus’ body after the Crucifixion. Two godly men among the seventy. Maybe a few more. What must that have been like?

During WW2, German Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer was known for his resistance to the Nazi dictatorship, including vocal opposition to Hitler’s euthanasia program and genocidal persecution of the Jews. He was arrested in April 1943 by the Gestapo, accused of being associated with the plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler. He was hanged April 9, 1945.

If it hasn’t happened already, or isn’t happening right now, one day you are going to find yourself before, or on, some council or board or other organization that is in opposition to what you believe about Jesus Christ. God the Holy Spirit will give you the humility and boldness to act accordingly. Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time?

Joh 11:54  Therefore Jesus no longer walked openly among the Jews, but went from there into the country near the wilderness, to a city called Ephraim, and there remained with His disciples.

Not out of fear did Jesus “no longer” walk “openly.” He was the one person who did not fear. His public ministry was ending. His attention was upon His passion. We might have a lot of Gospel left, but it mostly covers the last week of Jesus on Earth.

Joh 11:55  And the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went from the country up to Jerusalem before the Passover, to purify themselves.

This is the third Passover in the Gospel of John, and the last one for Jesus. He will be sacrificed as the once-for-all Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world. The apostle Paul would rightly say, “For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us” (First Corinthians 5:7).

Joh 11:56  Then they sought Jesus, and spoke among themselves as they stood in the temple, “What do you think – that He will not come to the feast?”
Joh 11:57  Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a command, that if anyone knew where He was, he should report it, that they might seize Him.

They should have called it, the Feast of Fear.
The populace knew that the rulers had excommunicated the man born blind on account of Jesus. Now that they issued their BOLO, everyone was in similar danger.

Many infirm individuals undoubtedly were hoping to encounter Jesus at the Passover in order to receive a much yearned for healing. The spiritual leaders of Israel had zero compassion for them. They ought to have been working with Jesus, providing Him with whatever He needed, so that He could minister to as many people as possible. They were murdering the hopes of their people. Baahd, baahd shepherds.

The apostle Paul announced the eventual consequences of unbelief. He wrote, “even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting” (Romans 1:28). He then listed the “things which are not fitting.” Read Romans chapter one; it reads like today’s news.

Debased is translated depraved or reprobate. We should recognize that a great many of the influencers in our nation, and in the world, are debased, depraved reprobates. Christians are oppressed by a culture of unbelief.

Karl Barth said, “Belief cannot argue with unbelief, it can only preach to it.”

Just before he described the depraved mind, Paul said, “For [the Gospel] is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (1:18). It is our greatest weapon.

#2 – You Press On By Believing (12:1-11)

One thousand years from now archaeologists discover the ruins of our building. What conclusions might they come to about all churches in the 21st century? They’d probably assume no one dressed in their Sunday best, and that every worship center put a priority on serving good coffee.

The first century customs regarding the head covering of women is like that. The experts disagree. We cannot say with certainty that Mary acted inappropriately by letting down her hair. It is instructive that no one at the table suggested letting her hair down was wrong.

Joh 12:1  Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead.

The countdown to the Lamb of God’s last Passover had started. “The fullness of the time had come, and God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5).

Joh 12:2  There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him.

Jesus was guest of honor at Lazarus’ ‘coming out’ party. They undoubtedly had a ton of food left over from the funeral. Why have it go to waste?

It was Saturday, the Sabbath, the eve of Palm Sunday. The fact Martha served lets us know it was at their home.

Joh 12:3  Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.

The diners would be reclining on pillows around a low table. Their bare feet extended away from the table, making them accessible.

D.A. Carson writes, “Its purity, quantity and origin account for its appalling cost: when John labels it an expensive perfume, he is thinking on a scale far larger than what we might mean by the words.”

Kings were anointed, usually by pouring oil over their heads. Historians cite that it was not unheard of to anoint the feet, although it was rare.

Mary treated Jesus as her King. The appropriate posture was kneeling face down at His feet, anointing Him with luxurious and sweet-smelling perfume.
I am guessing that there were towels available to her. Thus her behavior has a symbolic meaning.

You didn’t see Mary using a towel; she was the towel.

Believers are compared to, among other things, vessels in a great house. It should be no surprise we are towels.

If using her hair suggests intimacy, it is the pure, godly intimacy of love for Jesus. I am my Beloved’s, and He is mine.

Joh 12:4  But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, who would betray Him, said,
Joh 12:5  “Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?”
Joh 12:6  This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it.

Judas had no accountability. Apparently the disciples had never read Larry Burkett or Dave Ramsey.

John was drawing an obvious contrast between the material worth of the ointment versus the spiritual worth of the anointing. Charles Spurgeon said, “It is our duty and our privilege to exhaust our lives for Jesus. We are not to be living specimens of men in fine preservation, but living sacrifices, whose lot is to be consumed.”

Joh 12:7  But Jesus said, “Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial.

Mary had kept the ointment for a special occasion. She did not know that in a week’s time, Jesus would be dead. Nevertheless, it is accurate to say that this was the occasion.

Joh 12:8  For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always.”

There would be plenty of time to minister to the poor. The Lord would provide funding; no use hoarding.

The use of money ought to follow biblical principles, but with the understanding there are times when God overrules for His glory and your growth.

Joh 12:9  Now a great many of the Jews knew that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead.

Step right up and see the man who rose from the dead!

It’s not often that you see a deadman come to life. If you are a believer, you are a deadman who has come to eternal life. Put yourself on display.

Joh 12:10  But the chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also,
Joh 12:11  because on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus.

Lazarus was evidence that a formidable sign had been performed. Eliminate him, and they could sell the lie that it was a hoax.

John will tell us nine times in his Gospel, “many believed.” “He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:26-27).

You’ve heard the expression, Let your hair down. Linguists trace it back to ladies in the 1600s with big, stacked hair, letting it down to be more natural.
It has come to mean relax… chill.

We should reintroduce it in its biblical sense by jumping at opportunities to serve the Lord

Extreme Worship ought to be the norm for all believers. What does that look like? Mary’s anointing of Jesus reveals one important aspect of extreme worship. It is in John’s use of the word, “costly.”

It doesn’t necessarily mean financially costly, although it can. The Rich Young Ruler, for example, was hindered from worshipping the Lord by his much wealth.

There are other things that are costly. We only have time for one example. A Christian who falls in love with, and desires to marry, a nonbeliever, must not, because they love the Lord, and obey Him. It’s costly, but your body is the Lord’s Temple.

In the Old Testament, King David once described costly by saying, “I can’t offer the Lord my God a sacrifice that cost me nothing” (Second Samuel 24:24).

Think on this quote from Adrian Rogers: “Discipline says, ‘I need to.’ Duty says, ‘I ought to.’ Devotion says, ‘I want to.’ ”

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of Earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace

Prophecy Update #706 – Red And Ready

We reserve a few minutes Sunday morning to suggest news, or trends, that seem to be predicted by a literal, futurist reading of the Bible.

A futurist expects the remaining, unfulfilled End Times prophecies to be fulfilled in the future. They are not allegories, or merely ‘apocalyptic’ literature meant to inspire. The Book of the Revelation is mostly unfulfilled prophecy. There will be a seven-year Great Tribulation, featuring a global leader commonly called the antichrist.

We are careful to use recognized, reliable sources for news. There is a lot of sensationalism surrounding Bible prophecy, and we don’t want to add to it.

We’re not saying the things we report are the fulfillment of prophecy – only that they are the things you’d expect in light of the Bible’s unfulfilled prophecies.

We expect that the Jews will erect their Temple during the Great Tribulation:

In the Old Testament Book of Daniel, we are told about the Temple being defiled in the Last Days. The defilement is most commonly called, “the abomination of desolation.”
In the New Testament, Jesus warned the Jews that the abomination of desolation had not yet occurred. It will occur mid-way through the Great Tribulation.

News about the future Temple is a reminder of theses unfulfilled prophecies.

A dye made from a particular worm is necessary for certain rituals in the Temple. On July 9 several outlets posted the story titled, Crimson worm-dye, a key element for red heifer sacrifice developed in preparation for 3rd Temple.

The term is usually translated as crimson wool, but the actual term refers to the insect, which is the source of the dye. The dye produces a unique shade of red used for the Temple curtain, as well as the High Priest’s garments. 

Part of the article discussed the connection of this dye with what is called The Red Heifer. In the Book of Numbers we reads, “The cow shall be burned in his sight – its hide, flesh, and blood shall be burned, its dung included – and the Kohen shall take cedar wood, hyssop, and crimson stuff and throw them into the fire consuming the cow” (19:5-6).

Quote: The study was concluded at an auspicious time as Jews worldwide are currently reading this section of the Torah concerning the Red Heifer. The ceremony of the Red Heifer is one of the most mysterious and inexplicable of all the ceremonies. A perfectly red heifer is slaughtered and burned entirely outside of the Temple. The ashes are necessary to purify Jews who have been rendered ritually impure by contact or proximity to a dead body. Though the Temple service can be reinstated without the ashes of the red heifer, personal sacrifices will only be possible after the ceremony is reinstated.

One source explained, “There are five elements necessary to perform the ritual of the red heifer. We need the crimson wool, which the Temple Institute now knows how to make. We need the cedar, which we can get. And we need the specific location on the Mount of Olives, which we can purchase. And finally, we need the heifer. And we are working on that.”

They are working on that, it turns out, in Texas. Boneh Israel, an organization that connects Christian lovers of Israel to the Holy Land, is based in Texas. Boneh Israel understands ranchers. They take out full-page ads in ranching magazines, explaining the situation to ranchers. They requested that any red calves be set aside. They recently had five candidates. Two of the five heifers were extremely close to passing. One heifer had a very small white spot. Otherwise, it was perfect. The other had some hairs that could be red or black.

Chanan Kupietzky, an Orthodox Jewish resident of Efrat, is the liaison between Boneh Israel and the rabbis of The Temple Institute.  Chanan pointed out that last year was 5781 in the Hebrew calendar. He said, “In Hebrew numerology, this is תשפא. That is an acronym for תהיה שנה פרה אדומה (it will be the year of the red heifer). The cows we were are looking at now were conceived last year,” Kupietzy said.

It is becoming more popular among Christians to approach unfulfilled prophecies as either already fulfilled, or as allegories that never will be literal.

Meanwhile, futurists expect a Temple in Israel to be a key structure in the Great Tribulation. Almost everything is ready to erect it & establish its rituals.

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

Jesus will come, in the clouds, and raise the dead believers of the Church Age. He will transform the bodies of living believers to glorified, resurrection bodies. We will 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!

John 11:1-44 – While My Savior Gently Weeps

The waiting room.

“I hate when they make you wait in the room. ‘Cause it says ‘Waiting Room.’ There’s no chance of not waiting. ‘Cause they call it the waiting room, they’re gonna use it. They’ve got it. It’s all set up for you to wait.”

You might recognize that snippet from comic Jerry Seinfeld. It resonates because we hate the wait.

We are going to talk about waiting… but not ours.

Jesus waited. He waited two days after He received news that His friend, Lazarus, was seriously sick. While Jesus waited, Lazarus died. It caused both the sisters of Lazarus, Martha and Mary, to say to Him upon His arrival, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”

Not to worry, sisters. Jesus will call Lazarus forth from the tomb and encourage us about our permanent resurrection from the dead.

I’ll organize my comments around two points: #1 When Jesus Waits, You Experience What You Believe, and #2 When Jesus Waits, You Experience How He Loves.

#1 – When Jesus Waits You Experience What You Believe (v1-16)

Police officer candidates attend the academy for six months. When they are picked-up by a department, they undergo months of Field Training.

Their Field Training Officer (FTO) evaluates them on how they translate what they learned in the academy to life on the mean streets of Riverdale.

We need to experience how what we learn about God translates on the mean streets of the world.

Jesus was about to lead His guys into the world of death, life, and the afterlife to experience the difference it makes knowing God.

Joh 11:1 Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.

He is not the Lazarus from the famous duo of the Rich Man & Lazarus. He lived with his two sisters, Martha & Mary. Jesus often enjoyed their hospitality.

Joh 11:2  It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.

Mary was known for one remarkable act of love for Jesus. It is reported out of order; it occurs after her brother was raised from the dead, in chapter twelve.

We’ve asked you before, “What do you want on your Tombstone?”

Joh 11:3  Therefore the sisters sent to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.”

The Gospels emphasize Jesus’ humanity. He set aside the independent use of His deity in order to be our example of a man walking with God.

Jesus was omniscient, but as a man, He was hearing this news for the first time. It’s no different from you hearing similar news about a friend.

Joh 11:4  When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

We would call this a word of knowledge, a prophecy, and a gift of healing. A gift trifecta.

Did God the Father cause Lazarus to be sick and die? That would be an assumption based entirely on theology.

We know nothing about Lazarus except what we read here. He may have been an old man, a widower, infirm, living out his days with his two seemingly spinster sisters.

Loved ones die. They die old, they die young; they die of natural causes, they die from illnesses, they die peacefully, and tragically.

Joh 11:5  Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.
Joh 11:6  So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was.

Jesus had a close relationship with them. All the same, He is not capable of loving anyone less. John tells us He loved them so we would understand His deliberate delay was an expression of love.

Joh 11:7  Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.”
Joh 11:8  The disciples said to Him, “Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone You, and are You going there again?”
Joh 11:9  Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world.
Joh 11:10  But if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.”

There is a time to wait, and a time to stop waiting. The physical danger to Himself and to His disciples did not factor into His decision. Jesus was all about obeying the Father.

Obedience is like walking in the daytime, in the light. Disobedience is a futile attempt to walk in darkness. You’ll stumble and fall.

There may be times you and everyone else assumes they know what to do, but are not listening to God.

This episode is not an excuse to hesitate. It is a reminder to press on in the will of God.

Joh 11:11  These things He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.”
Joh 11:12  Then His disciples said, “Lord, if he sleeps he will get well.”
Joh 11:13  However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep.
Joh 11:14  Then Jesus said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead.”

Jesus received a second word of knowledge – Lazarus was “dead.” From Abel to Jesus, the souls of everyone who died went to Hades. Separated from their physical body, they were conscious and alive and could feel.

Since everyone will be resurrected in their own order, the Bible describes your physical death as “sleep.”

Joh 11:15  And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him.”

We know that Jesus’ deliberate delay was going to result in a notable miracle. We have a “Just wait – this is gonna be great” excitement reading it.

For the most part, our loved ones don’t rise from the dead. We have to wait until our reunion in Heaven.

Besides John the Baptist, Lazarus may have been the closest person to Jesus who had died during His ministry. This was a good ‘field’ to translate what Jesus had taught the disciples.

Joh 11:16  Then Thomas, who is called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.”

Was Thomas a downer? Gimli the dwarf helps us see Thomas in a different than usual light. Aragorn announced he was marching to the Black Gate of Mordor. Gimli responded, “Certainty of death? Small chance of success? What are we waiting for?”

Thomas said. “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.” Jesus told us to “Go” into all the world, making disciples (Matthew 28).

Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it” (Luke 9:23-24).

Our next church T-shirt: Let us also “Go,” that we may die with Him.

#2 – When Jesus Waits You Experience How He Loves (v17-44)

It is called, Impassibility.

It is the branch of theology that asks, “Is God capable of suffering or feeling pain?” If so, to what extent does our behavior affect Him?

Jesus certainly wasn’t impassible. He felt strongly.

Joh 11:17  So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days.
Joh 11:18  Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles away.
Joh 11:19  And many of the Jews had joined the women around Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.

The Jews were a same-day burial culture. You had to be constantly ready for a funeral. A reversible tunic could come in handy. Always wearing black might be a good idea.

Joh 11:20  Now Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary was sitting in the house.
Joh 11:21  Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.
Joh 11:22  But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.”

Martha did the math. She knew Jesus had deliberately delayed. This is a “Where were you, you need to make this right,” comment.

Joh 11:23  Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
Joh 11:24  Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

Martha misunderstood. Her brother was going to rise right now. D.L. Moody commented, “Jesus never preached any funeral sermons.”

Joh 11:25  Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.
Joh 11:26  And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

Billy Graham said, “You’re born. You suffer. You die. Fortunately, there’s a loophole.”

All the dead will be resurrected, the righteous over a period of time, then the wicked, all at once.

You might join the believers who die before the coming of the Lord. You’ll live! Again quoting Moody, “As I go into a cemetery I like to think of the time when the dead shall rise from their graves. Thank God, our friends are not buried; they are only sown.”

Who are the believers who “shall never die?” We are; or at least, some of us might be. It’s the rapture! “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye…” (First Corinthians 15:51-52).

Joh 11:27  She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

Martha did not yet have the Book of Romans, but she was trusting that all things would work together for the good because she, her sister, and Lazarus, most certainly loved the Lord, and vice-versa.

Joh 11:28  And when she had said these things, she went her way and secretly called Mary her sister, saying, “The Teacher has come and is calling for you.”
Joh 11:29  As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly and came to Him.
Joh 11:30  Now Jesus had not yet come into the town, but was in the place where Martha met Him.

Martha rushed to Jesus; Mary came when called. Two very different personalities.

Don’t think there is only one way that every Christian must react to suffering or death. We all should react as a believer should and can, in the power of the resurrection, grieving but with hope, looking to eternal life. However, everyone processes pain differently. Some may be in the academy, so to speak. Others, in their field training. Still others, already spiritual FTO’s.

Joh 11:31  Then the Jews who were with her in the house, and comforting her, when they saw that Mary rose up quickly and went out, followed her, saying, “She is going to the tomb to weep there.”

People mean well. But these people had an idea of what Mary ought to be doing. Often times it is the person who is hurting that ends up ministering to those who came to comfort them.

Joh 11:32  Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”

To hear this a second time, that’s rough. Especially since Jesus was following His Father’s timeline.

You can be 100% in God’s will and be totally misunderstood. In the Book of Acts, God was leading the apostle Paul to Jerusalem. He was warned along the way that chains awaited him. He went anyway. Lots of commentators suggest he was not in the will of God. Of course he was.

Martha and Mary did not think Jesus would let their brother die. When He did, it threw them. They were struggling with an old problem.

Why do the righteous suffer? How do we account for the proliferation of evil and its consequences?

We talk about this quite a lot. We suggest that our free will is responsible for evil and its consequences. Christian novelist Dee Henderson summarizes it nicely, saying, “God decided to create a world where free will was more important than no one ever getting hurt. There must be something stunningly beautiful and remarkable about free will that only God can truly grasp, because God hates, literally abhors, evil, yet He created a world where evil could happen if people chose it.”

Joh 11:33  Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled.
Joh 11:34  And He said, “Where have you laid him?”They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.”
Joh 11:35  Jesus wept.

Bible Trivia: In Greek, “Jesus wept” has sixteen letters. A shorter verse in Greek is First Thessalonians 5:13, “Rejoice always,” having only fourteen letters.

Jesus would weep again, looking over Jerusalem and seeing its destruction for having rejected Him.

It’s a safe bet to say He cried more. He was described by Isaiah as a “man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (53:5). He wasn’t a bummer to be around; He was full of unspeakable joy. He had the full spectrum of emotions, perfectly.

Joh 11:36  Then the Jews said, “See how He loved him!”
Joh 11:37  And some of them said, “Could not this Man, who opened the eyes of the blind, also have kept this man from dying?”

When asked, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”, you could answer, “That only happened once, and He volunteered.” Think about it.

Joh 11:38  Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it.

God is affected by His creatures. Jesus wept, then there was “groaning within Himself.”

God the Holy Spirit is said to “groan” within believers (Romans 9:26). He does not interpret our groans. He groans. He also can be grieved. Groanin’ & Grievin’ is a Christian country song waiting to be written.

Joh 11:39  Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.”
Joh 11:40  Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?”

Christians are sometimes troubled about cremation, or about bodies that are otherwise destroyed. Lazarus was decayed, yet it posed no problem. God knows the location of each molecule. Besides, your resurrection body will be different from your current body. It will have a connection to it, but it is like a plant having a connection with its seed.

Joh 11:41  Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me.
Joh 11:42  And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.”

Jesus’ public prayer was sincere, but it was more than Him talking to the Father. He prayed to convey a truth to the hearers. If you are ever asked to pray out loud, publicly, sneak in the Gospel. Read a verse. And use the ‘J’ word – Jesus.

Notice, too, that Jesus prayed with His eyes open.

Joh 11:43  Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!”
Joh 11:44  And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.”

After twenty-one previous films, we finally get to hear Captain America say, “Avengers, assemble.” I think most people were expecting a shout, but he spoke barely over a whisper.

Jesus went loud so that there would be no doubting He was being used by the Father to recall Lazarus.

The part of Hades where Lazarus resided after death was called Abraham’s Bosom, and Paradise. If I was an old man, living with my sisters in the first century, I’d prefer Hades to home. Besides that, the Jews would want to kill him in order to ‘bury’ the evidence that he had been raised.

His hands and feet bound, it must have been hard for him to move. Neither could he see. Exiting the tomb was not without a lot of humor. He was doing the Mummy Hop.

Lazarus exited the tomb. The mourners grief turned to joy.

Jesus knew this; why weep? He understood the problem of evil and its consequences more than any merely mortal man.

He was the Creator. He had been in the Garden of Eden when our parents chose to disobey Him for a fig. He knew every sin, hurt, pain, and death that followed in the wake, century after century. He knew He would preside over the judgment of all the unrighteous to be sentenced to the Second Death.

I appreciate that He cries. “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

Raising Lazarus brought glory to Jesus. It also revealed God’s love for His creation. Not just love as an attribute of God, or by dryly stating that “God is love.”

Charles Spurgeon said, “A Jesus who never wept could never wipe away my tears.”

Jesus waited two days. Lazarus died. His sisters mourned. His community mourned.

Jesus has been waiting about two thousand years since He ascended into Heaven. Incredible suffering has taken place during His wait. The apostle Peter informs us God is “longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance… the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation” (Second Peter 3:9&15).

We “wait for His Son from Heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come” (First Thessalonians 1:10).

Prophecy Update #705 – Back To The Futurist

We reserve a few minutes Sunday morning to suggest news, or trends, that seem to be predicted by a literal, futurist reading of the Bible.

A futurist expects the remaining, unfulfilled End Times prophecies to be fulfilled in the future. They are not allegories, or merely ‘apocalyptic’ literature meant to inspire. The Book of the Revelation is mostly unfulfilled prophecy. There will be a seven-year Great Tribulation, featuring a global leader commonly called the antichrist.

We are careful to use recognized, reliable sources for news. There is a lot of sensationalism surrounding Bible prophecy, and we don’t want to add to it.

We’re not saying the things we report are the fulfillment of prophecy – only that they are the things you’d expect in light of the Bible’s unfulfilled prophecies.

It is pretty clear in chapters six through nineteen of the Revelation that the government of the Great Tribulation will be global and authoritarian. The antichrist will have technology to identify everyone on the planet, track and dictate their movements, restrict or allow what they can purchase, and otherwise control their lives.

Anyone who does not swear a personal allegiance to the antichrist will be killed.

You would expect that there would be trends towards global, authoritarian government and mass surveillance. There are such trends… And they are frightening.

Canada is about to create a Ministry of Truth to regulate online content.

Canada’s controversial Bill C-11, which will give the Government’s media watchdog the authority to regulate online content, passed the House. The bill would give the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) the power to regulate online content, both commercial and user-generated.

The government’s idea is to force streaming platforms to prioritize mainstream Canadian content. Anyone who says anything about anything must be ready to provide whatever viewpoint the government deems is required to offer “balance” or “inclusion” or “diversity.”

The World Economic Forum (WEF) is advocating global, digital ID with real-time tracking of everyone and everything.

The topic of RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags emerged during this years WEF, and this time it was more concrete in the way the technology applied to humans. Short of wearing tracking devices under one’s skin, the next best thing – from the point of view of monitoring and tracking enthusiasts – is to place them “onto” people’s skin, by way of the clothes they wear.

There are also those who specialize in putting together RFIDs and biometrics, like facial recognition data.
While RFID technology automatically identifies tags that are placed on objects, biometrics come in to identify the actual person.

Digital currency is growing in popularity.

More than 100 countries are considering introducing digital currencies.

China has already adopted a government-issued digital currency, which not only allows it to surveil and seize people’s financial transactions, but can also work in tandem with its social credit score system to punish individuals for moral lapses and social transgressions (and reward them for adhering to government-sanctioned behavior). 

As China expert Akram Keram wrote for The Washington Post, ‘With digital yuan, the Chinese Communist Party will have direct control over and access to the financial lives of individuals, without the need to strong-arm intermediary financial entities. In a digital yuan society, the government easily could suspend the digital wallets of dissidents and human rights activists.”

The world is trending towards the conditions prophesied over 2000 years ago in the Bible.

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

Jesus will come, in the clouds, and raise the dead believers of the Church Age. He will transform the bodies of living believers to glorified, resurrection bodies. We will 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!

Are You Gonna Go My Way? (Genesis 28)

I was not interested in my gen-ed, Intro To Sociology class. So, when I had to report on a classic essay titled Body Ritual Among the Nacirema,[1]( I paid very little attention to what I was reading. The essay was about a strange tribe’s disturbing customs concerning things like medicine men, holy waters, and oral health. I was annoyed by the essay and, as I recall, I made it a point to scoff at the absurdity and unbelievability of the article.

Imagine my surprise when my professor returned my graded report – quite low if memory serves – with a curt note at the top: “Nacirema is ‘American’ spelled backwards.”

Body Ritual Among the Nacirema was written to give a different perspective on our own (American) behaviors and rituals. In my haste and indifference I had missed the point completely.

In our text tonight we see some people missing the point. The family of faith continues to crumble, after the birthright meltdown of chapter 27. We watch these characters grope around to find solutions, but none of them stops to seek the Lord. None of them pause to consider God’s ways. The results are predictably disappointing. In the midst of human failure we again see Divine faithfulness. The Lord will never cut and run – not with the patriarchs, not with us. No, He stays just as present, just as tender, just as gracious, showing us the way forward. The question is whether we’ll listen and follow or whether we’re hoping He will just sign off on the plans we make ourselves.

Genesis 27:46 – 46 So Rebekah said to Isaac, “I’m sick of my life because of these Hethite girls. If Jacob marries someone from around here, like these Hethite girls, what good is my life?”

Esau’s wives were trouble, but that’s not really the problem. Just above, you see that Rebekah is trying to find a way to get Jacob out of town until his brother’s murderous rage cools off. She uses the family tension in order to manipulate Isaac into sending Jacob somewhere far away.

Christians are not to manipulate, even if we think the goal is good. Not in ministry, not in family, not not in friendship, not in business. God has commanded us to be defined by truthfulness and to think of others as more important than ourselves.[2](Philippians 2:3) The selfish deceptiveness of manipulation is not consistent with new life in Christ.

There is an irony here: Rebekah uses the wife-strife as a pretext to get Jacob away. Where does he end up? In a situation where there are not two but four wives who become rivals, making family life very hard for a very long time. Meanwhile, Rebekah is worried about losing her son, but her plan to save him will cost her dearly: She wouldn’t live long enough to see Jacob ever again.

Genesis 28:1-2 – So Isaac summoned Jacob, blessed him, and commanded him, “Do not marry a Canaanite girl. 2 Go at once to Paddan-aram, to the house of Bethuel, your mother’s father. Marry one of the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother.

We sense a coldness in Isaac’s demeanor. He “summons” Jacob. When he sends him away, he sends him alone. No servants or attendants to help him on his journey.

Why hadn’t Isaac provided a wife for Jacob yet? Back when Abraham was nearing the end of his life he had an urgent concern that his son find the wife the Lord intended for him. But Isaac demonstrates a physical and spiritual apathy toward this issue. He doesn’t say, “Find the wife the Lord has consecrated for you.” He says “Go marry one of Laban’s daughters.” Were they monotheists? Were they women of Godly character? That didn’t seem to matter to Isaac. They were boiler-plate acceptable – just not Hethites. Not Canaanites. Good enough.

Isaac of all people knew that God has a providential concern for who we marry. That had been very clearly revealed by the way Isaac ended up with Rebekah. But Issac has slipped into a manly mindset, rather than a Godly one. Good enough, rather than God abundant.

Genesis 28:3-5- 3 May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and multiply you so that you become an assembly of peoples. 4 May God give you and your offspring the blessing of Abraham so that you may possess the land where you live as a foreigner, the land God gave to Abraham.” 5 So Isaac sent Jacob to Paddan-aram, to Laban son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah, the mother of Jacob and Esau.

It’s significant that the promise of blessing is repeated, this time in full view, no one wearing any costume.[3](John Calvin Genesis) No one could suggest that the covenant didn’t really, truly belong to Jacob.

We notice that Isaac did not seek the Lord in this scene. No offering or worship. Instead, he falls back on what had already been said. We should remind ourselves of what God has already spoken, but, even in his spiritual lethargy, a problem is revealed. “God wants you in this land. So go ahead and leave this land.” These are bad solutions. Often, Christians make decisions and say God is leading them, but when you stop and evaluate what they’re doing, it isn’t consistent with what God has said. Rather than leading, it’s that we want something or we’re trying to solve some problem and we assume that as long as we think it’s a good idea then God must think it’s a good idea. God had told Abraham, “Stay in the land.” Abraham had told his servant, “Don’t let Isaac leave the land.” God had told Isaac, “Stay in the land, don’t go to Egypt.” So, now what does Isaac say? “Leave the land.” Not only did Isaac send Jacob with no retinue, he sent him with no warning about what sort of trouble he might encounter in Laban’s house. We may have some sort of Esau problem right in front of us, causing us stress, but remember: There are dangers other than Esau out there.

Genesis 28:6-9 – 6 Esau noticed that Isaac blessed Jacob and sent him to Paddan-aram to get a wife there. When he blessed him, Isaac commanded Jacob, “Do not marry a Canaanite girl.” 7 And Jacob listened to his father and mother and went to Paddan-aram. 8 Esau realized that his father Isaac disapproved of the Canaanite women, 9 so Esau went to Ishmael and married, in addition to his other wives, Mahalath daughter of Ishmael, Abraham’s son. She was the sister of Nebaioth.

Oh, Esau. He wants approval. He wants to enjoy the benefits of God’s blessing in his life. And yet, he consistently refuses to do what God actually requires. He doesn’t humble himself or repent. He just thinks, “Oh, you want us to marry a cousin? That earns a blessing? Ok, I’ll marry a cousin.”

Derek Kidner points out that Esau’s attempt to gain favor through marriage to an uncle’s daughter is exactly like every religious effort.[4](Derek Kidner Genesis) “I will go and do something that I think will earn me a blessing. I will perform an action to purchase my place. I won’t actually listen to what God says and I won’t put away my sin and my selfishness, but I jumped through this hoop, so now God owes me.”

But religion, like Esau’s marriage here, is counterfeit currency. It is worthless. Jacob goes to Laban, so Esau goes to Ishmael – the AntiUncle. Ishmael had already been driven out, disqualified in God’s eyes. But Esau thought it was the act of marrying within the “family” that mattered. It wasn’t.

Genesis 28:10-11 – 10 Jacob left Beer-sheba and went toward Haran. 11 He reached a certain place and spent the night there because the sun had set. He took one of the stones from the place, put it there at his head, and lay down in that place.

Jacob would travel 500 miles alone.[5](CSB Study Bible Notes) He’s pretty oblivious as he goes. He knows the danger behind him but doesn’t know what sort of trouble waits ahead. Bruce Waltke notes that he’s between a “death camp and a labor camp.”[6](Bruce Waltke Genesis: A Commentary) He doesn’t know that the Lord is going with him – he’ll make that very clear in a moment. And he doesn’t even seem to realize that he’s camping in a place that was very significant to his grandfather, Abraham.[7](Genesis 12:8, 13:3-4) He stops near Bethel, not because of its history but because he was out of daylight. And there he sets up a makeshift camp.

We’re fond of saying that Jacob used this stone as a pillow, but that might not be it. After all, he was a “civilized” man who stayed in the comfort of the tents.[8](NET Study Bible Notes) Are we to think he set out on a 500 mile trip and didn’t pack a pillow? In fact, it’s possible that Jacob wasn’t using this stone as a pillow, but as some sort of pagan rabbit’s foot to keep him safe.[9](ibid)

Genesis 28:12 – 12 And he dreamed: A stairway was set on the ground with its top reaching the sky, and God’s angels were going up and down on it.

Translators struggle with the word translated as “stairway” (or your version may say “ladder”). It’s a unique Hebrew word, only used here.[10](See Alter, Waltke) Some call it a ramp, others believe it’s meant to be a ziggurat. What it looked like isn’t the point. The point is the function. It was sent from Heaven to earth as a way that God might accomplish a great deal of work through the efforts of angels and, we’ll see, through God Himself.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus would specifically say that He is the stairway.[11](John 1:51) So, put together, this vision reveals important truths to us about how humans can relate to God. We cannot build a ladder or a ziggurat of our own (like the Babylonians tried to do in Genesis 11). No, God has established a way and He has sent it down from heaven. That Way is Christ Himself – the Way, the Truth, and the Life and no one comes to the Father but by Him. By Christ heaven is opened. There is no other avenue, no back alley, no secret port through which a person can access eternal life.

God is exclusive, but He is always willing to add you to the guest list. At Babel we watched as men tried to bypass God. At Bethel, we watch as God works to join men.

Genesis 28:13-15 – 13 The Lord was standing there beside him, saying, “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your offspring the land on which you are lying. 14 Your offspring will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out toward the west, the east, the north, and the south. All the peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. 15 Look, I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go. I will bring you back to this land, for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

God’s grace is incredible. As far as the record of Genesis goes, Jacob had never pledged himself to God, never built Him an altar or brought Him a sacrifice. But God loved Jacob and kept reaching out to him. God included him and revealed Himself to Jacob.

In His speech, the Lord shows how different He is than the pagan gods men loved to worship. It was believed they were limited by geography.[12](Waltke) Think of Poseidon, the god of the sea. In 1 Kings 20 there’s a funny moment where the enemies of Israel say, “Their God is a God of the hills, so let’s fight them in the valley and we’ll win.” When the battle was over, 100,000 Aramean foot soldiers had been cut down in a single day.[13](1 Kings 20:23-29)

Our God is with us wherever we go. That doesn’t mean every place is equally good for us. Jonah can testify to that fact. But there is nowhere we can go where the Lord cannot reach us with His presence.

Genesis 28:16-17 – 16 When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” 17 He was afraid and said, “What an awesome place this is! This is none other than the house of God. This is the gate of heaven.”

Some commentators feel this is a great prayer of praise. I have a hard time getting there. God’s revelation was about Himself – His presence and withness – Jacob just keeps talking about the place. Bethel wasn’t the house of God. It wasn’t the gate of heaven. The point was that God was with Jacob, not that God was in Bethel. J. Vernon McGee reminds us that Jacob is not a man on pilgrimage here, he’s on the run: On the run from his brother and, frankly, on the run from God.

When we think about what God was trying to communicate to Jacob, we have to conclude that Jacob missed the point. Perhaps that’s why he was afraid, rather than comforted.

Genesis 28:18-19 – 18 Early in the morning Jacob took the stone that was near his head and set it up as a marker. He poured oil on top of it 19 and named the place Bethel, though previously the city was named Luz.

Now here we start to see embers of belief. Had the stone been a good luck charm the night before, now he’s setting it up as a reminder that the God of his fathers was real and alive and present. By pouring oil, he was consecrating that place.[14](Kidner) But notice: Jacob says: “God revealed Himself to me. This is God’s house. This is the very gate of heaven.” But then he packs his bags and hits the road. But not before he makes a little speech.

Genesis 28:20-22 – 20 Then Jacob made a vow: “If God will be with me and watch over me during this journey I’m making, if he provides me with food to eat and clothing to wear, 21 and if I return safely to my father’s family, then the Lord will be my God. 22 This stone that I have set up as a marker will be God’s house, and I will give to you a tenth of all that you give me.”

God, in His grace, had said, “I will, I will, I will,” to Jacob. Jacob responds back, “If You, if You, if You.” If You keep me safe and bring me back AND give me food and clothing, then You can be my God. And I’ll offer something back to You, as long as You first give more to me. Wow.

God spoke in a profound way to this man and it seems like his response was, “We’ll see. Now I’ll be on my way.” Compare his reaction to those of Abraham when God spoke. Abraham wasn’t perfect, but he had faith and he believed God and he submitted himself to God’s revelation. When God spoke to him in Genesis 17, Abraham fell facedown in worship. When God made promises Abraham didn’t understand, he sometimes would ask a question like, “How can I know?” But then would move in obedience. When God spoke, Abraham listened and oriented his life around those words.

But Jacob? He’s not following the Lord yet. He’s going his own way. And it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

When we miss the point of what God has said to us it leads, invariably, to mistakes, disappointment, even disaster. God speaks with purpose and He also has specific purposes for your life. A major theme of Genesis so far has been that when we go our own way, making decisions that we think are good but do not include God, the results are terrible. Going God’s way is the way that leads to life. Adam and Eve went another way, the result was ruin. Noah went God’s way, the result was life. Whether it’s Cain or Abel, Shem or Ham, Abraham or Lot.

God is not just along for the ride we want to go on. He is Master and Maker and King and Friend and Helper and the source of all wisdom. Wouldn’t you rather be Abraham in Genesis 22 than Jacob in Genesis 28? What’s the difference? Not God. Not His grace. The difference is between the people. One who trusts God enough to follow, the other who thinks he’s got a handle on how to navigate life. Let’s walk with God instead of wrestle with him.


1 (
2 (Philippians 2:3
3 (John Calvin Genesis
4 (Derek Kidner Genesis
5 (CSB Study Bible Notes
6 (Bruce Waltke Genesis: A Commentary
7 (Genesis 12:8, 13:3-4
8 (NET Study Bible Notes
9 (ibid
10 (See Alter, Waltke
11 (John 1:51
12 (Waltke
13 (1 Kings 20:23-29
14 (Kidner

Father Lucifer Has Many Sons And Many Sons Has Father Lucifer (John 8:28-47)

Bumpers and rear windows in all 50 states proudly hosted that sticker in the late 1990s. Charlton Heston was a five term president of the National Rifle Association from 1998-2003.

To support his Second Amendment activism, Heston moonlighted as an actor. He was in a few feature films – almost 100 over 60 years, to be exact.

Charlton Heston was the man. The Ten Commandments, Planet of the Apes, Soylent Green, Midway, The Omega Man, Tombstone. Who else could such utter iconic lines as,

“Those who will not live by the law shall die by the law!”
“Take your stinking paws off me, you dirty ape!”
“Soylent Green…is people!”

He headlined the greatest movie of all time.

Released in 1959, Ben Hur has everything you could ask for in a film. It has something more: Jesus.

The full title of the book from which the film was made is, Ben Hur – A Tale of the Christ. Published in 1880, it is considered “the most influential book of the 19th century.”

The story recounts the persecution of Judah Ben-Hur, a wealthy Jew from Jerusalem.

He is wrongfully convicted by the Romans and sentenced to row in the Roman galleys for life. Judah survives his ordeal as a galley slave by saving the life of Arrius, the commander of his ship. Arrius adopts Judah.

When he was adopted, Judah Ben-Hur went from slave to having the status of a son.

The Jewish authorities thought they were sons but Jesus said they were slaves.

When the Lord promised that those who believe in Him will be made “free” (v32), the Pharisees understood Jesus considered them “slaves.”
The Jews claimed that being descended from Abraham gave them status as sons. Jesus would tell them that their dad was the devil.

In contrast, Jesus tells those who believe in Him they have been “set free.” They are no longer slaves, but sons. Jesus said, “a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever.”

Jesus used adoption as a metaphor of what it means to believe in Him.

The adoption metaphor carries on into the New Testament. The apostle Paul is the New Testament’s adoption specialist:

He said Jesus came, “that we might receive adoption to sonship” (Galatians 4:5).
He said, “having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself” (Ephesians 1:5).
He said, “You received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children” (Romans 8:15 NLT).

The adoption was first offered to Israel. Romans 9:4, “Theirs is the adoption to sonship.” When Israel rejected Jesus Christ, their adoption was put on hold.

I’ll organize my comments around two points: #1 Believer, Believe You Are Adopted, and #2 Nonbeliever, Believe You Are A Slave.

#1 – Believer, Believe You Are Adopted (v28-32)

Only 210 shopping days until Christmas.

You might think twice about gifting someone with a DNA test.

“I have seen a substantial increase in paternity cases over the past few years,” said Adam B. Wolf, a lawyer specializing in fertility lawsuits. “Our clients typically call in February after receiving the results of the at-home DNA tests they receive for the holidays.”

The Creator of DNA was about to announce to the Jews who their father was.

Metaphors are one way our gracious Heavenly Father communicates aspects of His love and grace. Christians are compared to a household, the servants in the household, the steward over the household, and sons in the household. They are not meant to compete. Each teaches different truths about God.

The Doctrine of Adoption doesn’t get much press among Christians. It should. It encourages us that, as sons, all the privileges and blessings of the Christian life, both present and future, belong to us.

J.I. Packer writes, “Our understanding of Christianity cannot be better than our grasp of adoption. Of all the gifts of grace, adoption is the highest.”

Joh 8:28  Then Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things.

Jesus had been teaching in the Temple. Some Scribes and Pharisees confronted Him.

“Son of Man” was the primary title by which Jesus identified Himself. It pointed the Jews to a specific prophecy in the Book of Daniel in which the promised Messiah is called the Son of Man. Jesus was claiming to be that guy.

“Lifted up” is how Jesus described His death on the Cross. It, too, pointed back – to the twenty-first chapter of the Old Testament Book of Numbers. Israel was suffering judgment for sin. Serpents were in the camp, and their bite was fatal. Moses was commanded to make a bronze serpent on a pole. Any Israelite who merely looked at the pole was spared from death.

It was a type of the futures Cross. Jesus lifted up on the Cross draws all men to Himself. Any who believe are saved. “He is the Savior of all men, especially those who believe” (First Timothy 4:10).

His death on the Cross was accompanied with things by which they would know He was their Messiah:

The veil in the Temple was torn from top to bottom.
“The Earth quaked, and the rocks were split.”
Many deceased saints were simultaneously raised from the dead and seen in Jerusalem.
The stone of His tomb was rolled away revealing it empty.
There was a “great earthquake” when an angel rolled away the stone.

Joh 8:29  And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.”

“Always” is quite a claim. Can you imagine anyone, other than Jesus, saying this?

Jesus claimed to be the Son of Man. The higher you aspire to some position, the deeper the dive that is taken into your background. Think of the worst of the hearings to approve a justice to the Supreme Court. The religious authorities would go all the way back to Jesus’ conception and suggest He was illegitimate, immediately disqualifying Him.

His conception was miraculous. The virgin birth was necessary to qualify, not disqualify. No one with a sinful human nature could die for the sins of the world. Conceived as He was by God the Holy Spirit in the womb of Mary, Jesus was born without a sinful human nature. He was a second Adam, sent to redeem and restore what Adam had ruined.

Joh 8:30  As He spoke these words, many believed in Him.

We are not among those who believe that the Bible teaches there is a second chance for salvation after death.
Nor do we see any kind of universalism in the Bible, that everyone will somehow be saved.
Nor do we see annihilationism, by which non-believers will simply cease to exist.

There is the Lake of Fire into which all nonbelievers, and all the wicked angels, will be confined for an eternity of conscious torment.

Nevertheless, “Many believed.”

I think we will be wonderfully surprised by some of the faces we see in Heaven.

Imagine Old Testament saints arriving in Paradise and seeing Abraham’s carnal, compromising nephew, Lot. “You made it?! No way!!”

Joh 8:31  Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.
Joh 8:32  And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

The freedom promised in the Bible is freedom from sin and it’s penalty, death, revealed in God’s Law. Our friends at define our freedom in Christ, saying,

Before Jesus died on the Cross, God’s people lived under a detailed system of laws. The Law was powerless to grant salvation or produce true freedom. It pointed the way to Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:19-24). Through His sacrificial death, Jesus Christ fulfilled the Law, setting believers free from sin and death. God’s laws are now written in our hearts through the Spirit of God, and we are free to follow and serve Christ in ways that please and glorify Him.

A born-again, baptized-into-the-body, Spirit-filled, transformed, new creation in Jesus, can abide and not attempt life in their own strength. Adopted as a son, you have everything you need to live godly.

Jesus did not use the word “adoption.” He didn’t need to. It was understood. Adoption was the way you were elevated from slave to son.

Paul loved the metaphor:

“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ” (Galatians 4:4-7).

“No longer slaves but sons” is the promise Jesus made to those who believe. There is no need to over explain this. We immediately understand it.

When a couple is going through an adoption, they are anxious until they hear four words: “The adoption is final.” The child is legally theirs, a son or a daughter.

If you are a believer, your adoption is final. It was finalized the instant you were saved.

Let’s make one application of this before moving on. Whereas a slave might beg for resources, a son has full access to them. Apply that to the presence and power of God the Holy Spirit. Do we beg for Him, or simply believe?

#2 – Nonbeliever, Believe You Are A Slave (v33-47)

Your father’s not your father: when DNA tests reveal more than you bargained for.

There are many articles like that. It could be the headline for our remaining verses.

Joh 8:33  They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?”

The Jews understood by His use of the word “free” that Jesus was suggesting they were slaves. They objected, claiming they had never been slaves.

Israel was subjected by Egypt, Babylon, Persia, and Rome. The Northern Kingdom was destroyed by Assyria. The Jews were not thinking in mere political terms. They were giving what might be described as an internal definition of freedom. In spite of political oppression they thought of themselves as free sons of Abraham, who had never inwardly bowed to foreign rule.

Joh 8:34  Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.
Joh 8:35  And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever.
Joh 8:36  Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

“Sin” here refers to a habit of sinning. A person habitually sinning is a slave, not a son. Were they sinning? Big time!

Joh 8:37  “I know that you are Abraham’s descendants, but you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you.

Their desire to murder Him was a pretty good indicator that they were sinning and, therefore, slaves, not sons. The “word” of God was not penetrating their hardened hearts.

Joh 8:38  I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have seen with your father.’

“Like father, like son.” Jesus is about to give them their spiritual DNA results.

Joh 8:39  They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham.
Joh 8:40  But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this.

They in no way resembled Abraham. The “works of Abraham” are declared in Genesis 15:6, “Abram believed the LORD, and He credited it to him as righteousness.” The apostle Paul quotes this, saying, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” (Romans 4:3).

It can be hard to believe that all a person must do to be saved is believe. It’s all you can do that isn’t a work.

Joh 8:41  You do the deeds of your father.” Then they said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father – God.”

They believed their physical descent guaranteed their sonship. They not subtly pointed to the suspicious birth of Jesus.

Joh 8:42  Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me.
Joh 8:43  Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word.

The Lord was no illegitimate son. Jesus was sent by His Father. If the Jews did not love Him, they did not love the Father, no matter their protests. Their values, biases, and prejudices overruled the Word of God.

We most definitely bring values, biases, and prejudices as we read or hear God’s Word. Ask the Lord to help you identify yours, so that you might go deeper into the Word.

Joh 8:44  You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.

The Jews were like the devil:

The devil is a “murderer from the beginning.” By the success of his temptation, he robbed Adam of spiritual life, and through him brought death to the entire race.
The devil is a liar. He told the first lie, that Adam and Eve would be like God if they disobeyed Him.
Joh 8:45  But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me.

D.A. Carson writes, “The children of God will so love the truth that they will believe in Jesus; the children of the devil will be so characterized by lies that they will not be able to accept the truth, precisely because it is the truth.”

Joh 8:46  Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me?

The Jews had accused Jesus of breaking the laws of the Sabbath, and of blaspheming, because He made Himself equal with God. Later in this chapter they will say He was demon possessed. They could not, however, prove any of their charges, because their accusations were all false.

Joh 8:47  He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God.”

Edward Klink writes, “Since they belong to the devil, they do not belong to God. They are, quite simply, illegitimate children. The spiritual heritage they claim for themselves is a lie from the devil.”

For all its unfathomable depth, the Bible can be simple. You are either a slave or a son:

Everyone starts life as a slave to sin, the devil, and death. We are born spiritually dead, into a world system that is described as darkness.
We can only be saved from slavery, and the final destination of the Lake of Fire, by adoption.

Adoption is included in the salvation ‘package.’

When you see Jesus lifted up for your sins, and believe Him, you are born-again, baptized into the body of Jesus, God the Holy Spirit comes to reside in you, and you’re adoption is final.

Tim Keller writes, “The image of “adoption” tells us that our relationship with God is based completely on a legal act by the Father. You don’t “win” a father, and you don’t “negotiate” for a parent. Adoption is a legal act on the part of the father – it is very expensive and costly only for him. There is nothing the son does to win or earn the status. It is simply received.”


Not the Dancing Queen Swedish pop band. It is an Aramaic word used for the relationship between a father and son. It is like calling your father, “Papa.”

The word is found three times in the New Testament:

Jesus addresses His Father as “Abba, Father” in His prayer in Gethsemane.
In Romans 8:15, “Abba, Father” is mentioned in relation to the Spirit’s work of adoption that makes us God’s children and heirs with Christ.
In Galatians 4:6, again in the context of adoption, the Spirit in our hearts cries out, “Abba, Father.”

Some think it’s irreverent to approach God as Papa. Let me ask you fathers. Do you want your kids to keep their distance and always call you “mister” and “sir?”

If you are a Christian, you are adopted. You know who your Father is. He is your Almighty Papa.

Prophecy Update #700 – WHO’s On First, WEF Is On Second

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.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) was founded in 1971 by German engineer and economist Klaus Schwab. The foundation views its own mission as “improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic, and other leaders of society to shape global, regional, and industry agendas.”

The WEF has an annual meeting in Davos, a mountain resort in the eastern Alps region of Switzerland. The meeting brings together some 3,000 paying members and selected participants – among which are investors, business leaders, political leaders, economists, celebrities and journalists – for up to five days to discuss global issues.

Make no mistake: These guys are looking to upend capitalism and create a global government. posted an article titled, Klaus Schwab Pledges the World Can Find Salvation at Davos 2022.


Famine, floods, pestilence, drought, plague, war, and rumors of war. These are the key issues facing the world today and the invitation-only World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, is just the place to find the answers provided by the select globalist elites, founder Klaus Schwab declared.
“The return of war, epidemics and the climate crisis, all those disruptive forces have derailed the global recovery,” Schwab told journalists in an almost biblical prognostication ahead of the convention’s start.


The other ‘W,’ the World Health Organization (WHO), is pushing hard for a “Global Pandemic Treaty” that experts say includes plans for mandatory, universal Digital Passport and ID Systems. According to Garret Mehl, the head of WHO’s Department of Digital Health and Innovation, the plan for the new universal system is to issue a QR code digital ID to every single person on the planet.


One analyst wrote, “attendees from all 194 WHO member countries are set to vote on major amendments to the International Health Regulations that would effectively strip all power away from sovereign countries and turn it over to the WHO’s global health board in the event of a pandemic.”

The same analyst writes, “the WHO would also be granted sole authority over what constitutes a pandemic. And, as we have seen over the past two years, just about anything qualifies as an ‘existential threat to public health’ including, but not limited to: misinformation, parents protesting at school boards, and free speech.”

We know that the seven-year Great Tribulation will be characterized by global government, invasive surveillance, loss of free speech and human rights, and technology to control the world economy.

Are we trending that way, as never before?

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!


1 (
2 (

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


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](

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](

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!


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