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.


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!



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!



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


4 Robert Alter The Hebrew Bible: A Translation With Commentary
5 1 Corinthians 13:12 (see ESV, GWT
6 A shoal is a sandbank or sand bar in the bed of a body of water, especially one that is exposed above the surface of the water at low tide.
7 Bruce Waltke Genesis: A Commentary
8 Genesis 25:28
9 Isaiah 55:1-5
10 See Alter, Bible Knowledge Commentary
11 Isaiah 61:10
12 See Waltke, CSB Study Bible Notes
13 John Calvin Genesis
14 See Alter, NET Study Bible Notes

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

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

Miami Vice made it seem so cool.

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

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

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

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

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

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

#1 – Jesus Stooped To Save You (v1-9)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There are sexual sins.

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

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

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

Anything not this…is sin.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He was writing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two things to point out:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sin is what is wrong.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She would be shunned in her community.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One final question: Are you caught in some sin?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ready or not, Jesus is coming!