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Thursday, October 15, 2020

The Book of Esther Part 1

         In order to fully understand the messages of the Book of Esther, one must look below the surface and discover the hidden manna within.  All of God’s scriptures point forward, not backward. Esther is about real people and real events but hidden within its pages is the story of King Jesus and His Bride and the battle between good and evil.

In the story of Esther, God will save His people who have been taken captive in Babylon from extinction through two Jews – Esther and Mordecai (male and female). Babylon means place of confusion. God is the God of order, not confusion and chaos. These are the devil’s ways. Throughout scripture, Satan wants to destroy Jesus’ bloodline. God must preserve Israel so the Savior of the world can come through them. God is faithful to His people in spite of their disobedience. In the midst of Israel’s captivity, God will raise up leaders like Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, and Mordecai who walk with God in obedience to His Word to restore and rebuild His holy temple and city. He will do the same with the Bride of Christ.  His people must leave the worldly and the devil’s ways that Babylon represents and return to God’s ways and truth and start rebuilding and restoring.

Comparison of Ruth and Esther – Type and Shadow of the Bride of Christ

Concealed in the story of Ruth and Esther is a prophetic picture of the Bride of Christ. Throughout the Older Testament scriptures God wove a picture of King Jesus and His Bride. God used the godly women in scripture to paint a picture of the Bride of Christ. He used the godly men in scripture to paint a picture of Christ. He uses the “natural” to paint a picture of the “supernatural.” (see 1 Corinthians 15:46)

Ruth was a gentile who married her Jewish kinsman-redeemer from the tribe of Judah--Boaz. The story of Ruth takes place in the harvest field. Ruth the gentile will marry her Jewish kinsman-redeemer and redeem the land in God's Promised Land belonging to her Jewish mother-in-law’s husband. Ruth and Boaz reveal Jesus as the Redeemer of both the Jews and the Gentiles as His Bride. Boaz is a type and shadow of Jesus our Kinsman-Redeemer. Jesus, who came through the tribe of Judah in fulfillment of scripture, will redeem and harvest souls – both Jew and Gentile -- through His Body and will wed us as His Bride for all eternity. He will use His Bride made up of both Jews and Gentiles to open the eyes of others to their spiritual kinsman-redeemer – Jesus. At God’s appointed time, Jesus will gather the harvest of souls from the earth to Himself. (see Revelation 14:15)

Esther was a virgin Jewish woman from the tribe of Benjamin. Benjamin means “son of the right hand.” Jesus is the Son of the right hand because He sits at the right hand of the Father. Esther was an orphan. Her father died when her mother was pregnant with her, and her mother died while birthing her. Her cousin Mordecai raised Esther and taught her about Israel’s God. Basically, Esther had everything in her life taken from her – her parents, her land, her freedom—but God had not left her. He will save His people through her.

Esther had two names – one a Gentile name and the other a Jewish name. Esther was her Persian name. It means “star” – light-bearer. Esther would be a light-bearer to the Gentile king of Persia and his people, but she would also save her people – the Jews. This is a picture of the spiritual work of Jesus’ Bride made up of Jews and Gentiles. Hadassah is Esther’s Jewish name. It means “myrtle” symbolizing righteousness, peace, rest, a sweet aroma, and God’s blessings. In Zechariah 1: 8-11, Jesus is walking among the myrtle trees. He is the One through whom all blessings come. He is our righteousness, rest, and peace and will transform us into a sweet aroma to God as Esther went through a cleansing process in order to be a sweet fragrance to the King.

 The story of Ruth took place in the harvest field of her kinsman-redeemer, but the story of Esther takes place in the palace and the throne. Ruth, who was a Gentile who married her Jewish kinsman-redeemer Boaz, represents the mostly Gentile Bride of Christ who are wedded to Jesus and  will gather a harvest of souls to King Jesus. 

Esther represents the Bride of Christ reigning with Him as the King of all kings who sits on the throne of God in the heavens. Esther will become the Queen of the King. In the story of both Ruth and Esther, God is bringing the Jew and the Gentile together as one through His Son Jesus Christ.

In both Ruth and Esther God is not mentioned nor are any Jewish religious practices. God’s people had moved far away from God, but God has not moved away from them. He will save the Jews from extinction through two Jews -- Esther and Mordecai. The spiritual enemy of God – Satan – will continually work through the enemies of God’s people to abort God’s will.

God’s Voice is Silent in the Book of Esther

God in His love for mankind whom the Godhead originally created in their own image and likeness had the Word of God written through mankind by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to show the difference between the earthly and the spiritual --  those who turn to God and His ways to do His will even though imperfect and those who follow their own fleshly ways and do the work of Satan. These two – the flesh and Spirit of God -- war against each other throughout scripture. Romans 8:3-5: For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh that the righteous requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but whose who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. When we walk in the ways of our sinful flesh, we are walking in the sinful ways of the devil. When we walk and live according to the Spirit of God, we are doing the things of God. The Bride of Christ will allow God’s cleansing and preparation by the power of the Holy Spirit and Word, so she is presented without spot or blemish to her King.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Comparison of Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus the Great

        God used two pagan kings in the Older Testament to accomplish something with His people -- Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus the Great. Both were conquering kings. One brought bondage, the other blessing. So, when you make a choice for a leader be sure that your choice is one who will bring blessing not destruction.

Nebuchadnezzar -- Daniel 3

God used the pride, arrogance and evil in Nebuchadnezzar’s heart to destroy Jerusalem and bring God’s people into captivity and Divine judgment. God’s people were unfaithful to God and turned from Him and His ways. God does not delight in judgment; He delights in blessing His faithful people but He cannot let evil go unchecked or it will destroy everything.

There is a noticeable difference between Cyrus and Nebuchadnezzar. At the time of Nebuchadnezzar, the kings of Judah “did evil in the sight of the Lord.” God said that He would take the Israelites out of His land if they defiled the land as the nations before them did.  God keeps His Word. In His judgment, God will use Nebuchadnezzar to put His people in bondage. God had been long-suffering with His people until He saw that it was not going to change unless He did something drastic to get the attention of His people to bring them back to Him.

God, who is sovereign and knows the hearts and minds of all, will use pagans to accomplish His will regarding His people either for judgment or for restoration, redemption, and rebuilding. In the case of these two kings, God used Nebuchadnezzar to send His judgment and bondage to His people because of their sin and disobedience to Him. Out of the 20 kings of Judah since Solomon, only 8 of them were godly and gave spiritual leadership to God’s people. In 2 Kings, the bible says of the evil kings who ruled over His people that they “did evil in the sight of the Lord.” The result was God’s Divine judgment. Unfortunately, the people of God would suffer the consequences of these evil kings. They will be in captivity in Babylon for 70 years. But God also said through the prophet Jeremiah that at His appointed time, God would restore His people back to His Land.

God chose the Israelites to be a “light” to the world. Instead of being God’s light, they had fallen into the darkness of unfaithfulness and sin against God. God must bring them back to Him and His Light and Truth so they will fulfill their calling.

God is all-knowing and controls everything including the powers of darkness. God knew the hearts of both Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus. He also knew who was guiding them! He knew Nebuchadnezzar was cruel enough to carry out His judgment. God does not delight in judgment but sometimes it is the only method that will bring His people back to Him. He will go to any extent to restore them back to Him and His love, grace, and truth. Often, we see God’s judgment as a negative thing, but God in His love for humanity does it to bring us back to Him and His Truth so we can be blessed once again and fulfill our God-given destiny. If leaving us to our own devices and the consequences thereof will bring us back to God, that is good.

God is love and truth, so He abhors evil and lies – even evil in the hearts of His people. Why? Because He knows that there is nothing good in evil and He wants the best for us. There is only one way to receive His best. It is through Him and His ways – the Truth. You cannot get sugar out of vinegar! You cannot get good out of evil and lies. God is a God of Truth and He blesses those who walk in truth.

Nebuchadnezzar was full of pride and cruelty. He was so proud that he made an image of himself in gold and demanded that people worship it. People who are full of pride and cruel want people to bow down (submit) to them and be loyal to them. If a person will not submit and be loyal, they will punish them in some cruel way. This is what Nebuchadnezzar did. When the Jewish servants in the palace, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow down to Nebuchadnezzar’s golden image of himself, Nebuchadnezzar threw them into the fiery furnace! This is the way of evil leaders. Nebuchadnezzar was full of evil and pride and demanding loyalty and subservience.  But God, saved Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Only the ties that bound these faithful followers of God were burnt so they were set free. These ties were made with the garments of these three faithful servants of God. The message in the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego is that God will burn the sins of our fleshly garment out of those who love and follow Him so we can walk in the freedom of a Godly life instituted by God and not be thrown into the fiery furnace set aside for the devil and his followers.

 Jews were in captivity in Babylon for 70 years. They suffered greatly until God’s anointed one, Cyrus the Great, conquered the Babylonian Empire.  

Cyrus the Great

After years of suffering, captivity and judgment, God “stirred up the spirit of Cyrus” to set His people free who wanted to return to Him, and His land of promise. Ezra will build the temple with the faithful remnant whom Ezra brought back to the Word of God – Truth – and God’s ways. If God’s temple is not built upon His Word, it will not stand.

Why did God use Cyrus, a Gentile conquering king of Persia? God knew his heart. The prophet Isaiah prophesied 200 years before that He would “anoint Cyrus and take him by the right hand…” Isaiah 45:1 The right hand is the place of strength, power and might. Jesus sits at the right hand of the Lord! God’s anointing on Cyrus would:

to subdue nations before him and loose the loins of kings. Cyrus acknowledged that it was the true God who gave him all of the kingdoms.

·         subdue nations before him and to loose the loins of kings; (break their strength)

·         open doors before him so that gates will not be shut;  (open doors not bondage)

·         I will go before you and make the rough places smooth; (prepare the way)

·         I will shatter the doors of bronze and cut through their iron bars. (break the power of evil)

·         I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden wealth of secret places (He will give the devil’s possessions to His people and even more)

·         so that you may know that it is I, the Lord, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name (God wants Cyrus to know Him. These things will show Cyrus that God is the True God of Israel who calls Cyrus by name and chose him even though a gentile to set His people free from bondage)

·         For the sake of Jacob My servant and Israel My chosen one, I have called you by your name (not just for Cyrus to know God but so God’s people would know that God was doing this and return to Him)

·         I have given you a title of honor though you have not known Me. (God put Cyrus in his position even though Cyrus did not yet know the Lord) But God knew him! God knew that Cyrus would do what God wanted him to do--set his people free from bondage and return them to God and His ways.

God would use Cyrus to be the savior of His people who would set those who were willing free from bondage, restore them to God and His Land and provide the materials needed to rebuild God’s temple and Holy City. Because our all-knowing God knew Cyrus’ heart, He knew that Cyrus would do His bidding. It could be that Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who were in the Babylonian palace at the time of Nebuchadnezzar and now with Cyrus told Cyrus about Israel’s God and His Word and Cyrus listened. Daniel was still serving in the palace during the first year of Cyrus’ rule. Josephus wrote that Cyrus was shown the prophecies written about him. It was probably Daniel who did this.

Further evidence that Cyrus came to know God is he acknowledged that it was God who gave him all the kingdoms (see Ezra 1:2) and “charged him to build Him a house in Jerusalem.” 2 Chronicles 36:23

            Not only did Cyrus set God’s people free to return to God’s Land and build the temple, Cyrus returned “the articles of the house of the Lord, which Nebuchadnezzar had taken from Jerusalem and put in the temple of his gods.” Ezra 1:7 In other words, king Cyrus restored what the enemy had stolen from God’s people. The holy vessels of God’s temple were restored. Cyrus went one step further. He decreed that the Israelites be given generous gifts from the treasury of the king. “They also gave money to the masons and the carpenters, and food, drink, and oil to the people of Sidon and Tyre to bring cedar logs from Lebanon to the sea, to Joppa, according to the permission which they had from Cyrus king of Persia.” Ezra 3:7 In other words, they were given more than they could have hoped for or asked as Jesus gives us more than we could ever hope for or ask when we love and obey Him!

            Our all-knowing God is not fooled! People are! God does not bless sin and prideful leaders or the country they are leading. All one has to do is study the various evil leaders and kings in the Bible, and compare them to the blessings of God in those who truly loved and obeyed God and His Word. Israel had many leaders over the centuries. When they were evil, Israel was not blessed. When they were led by God and walked in His truth and the fruit of His Spirit, that country was blessed. Jesus will also restore all that the enemy steals from us when we return to God and His ways.

  I will close in saying, I pray that you will be careful in your choice of a leader to lead this country. I pray that God will bless America once again and return us to the way of blessing and peace – the ways of Jesus – “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things as these there is no law.” Galatians 5:2

Monday, September 21, 2020

As in the Days of Noah

Luke 17:26 - 27: And just as it happened in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man, they  were eating and drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. (see also Matthew 24:37)

What were the days of Noah like?

          During the days of Noah and today, Satan was busy turning humanity away from God and His truth through falsehoods, twisting scripture to fit their understanding, seduction, sin, and hypocrisy. Satan would even work through God’s own professed people to establish his kingdom on earth which is contrary to God’s Kingdom.  Satan perverts the truth to succeed. To pervert means to change the meaning of or be vague about in order to deceive or mislead. While Jesus tries to lift us up out of the degradation of sin, Satan works to bring us down into the belly of the earth – our earthly ways – because that is his end and he wants company.  By worshiping our own conceptions of truth, we lose the knowledge of the truth and God. Lacking the understanding and knowledge of the Truth will put us in danger of being manipulated by the devil.

            When Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness, he quoted scripture but left out words that made its message vastly different from God’s true message. Jesus, however, could not be tricked because He is the Truth of God from beginning to end. Satan had perverted the Word of God with God’s people, but he could not pervert it with Jesus. Satan’s deception of truth blinded the minds and hardened the hearts of God’s people. They were oblivious to this and going about their everyday business. Satan debased the image of God in humanity through His deceptive and evil ways. Only Noah heard the Word of God, believed it, and acted upon it.

The Bible says that Noah was righteous and preached repentance to the people. Because of God’s love for humanity, He will always give warning to His people of what He is about to do.  Repent and turn back to God and His holiness. For hundreds of years, Noah preached repentance, righteousness, and God’s judgment to come to the people on earth at the time, but the people would not listen. In the New Testament, Peter says in 2 Peter 2:5 that Noah was “a preacher of righteousness.” Unfortunately, the people ignored Noah, ridiculed him, and refused the mercy and grace that would have saved them. As grieved as God was over sinful humanity, He called His faithful follower Noah to build an Ark to save whoever would enter it. This is God’s love! He gives mankind every chance to turn to Him through His Son Jesus. He is long-suffering wanting that none should perish but have everlasting life in Jesus. Through Noah, God offered a way of escape from His judgment. God will go to extremes to save mankind because we were originally created in His image and likeness.

There are many prophetic words being spoken now about the storm of God’s judgment coming. God is long-suffering with humanity but at some point, as He did in the days of Noah, He will send judgment to cleanse the earth. He will begin with His Church. Why His church? Because the church is full of untruth and sin. They have been taught that God’s grace is easy and little is required of them. Jesus did it all. As He did in the days of Noah, God sent His Righteous One Jesus to save and cleanse those who love and serve Him of their marred character full of sin so He could use us to reflect Jesus to a world full of sin and bring glory to Jesus. The foundation of His Church must be founded upon Truth – Pure Truth. Jesus is Pure Truth! Christ’s Church has conflicting doctrine. The Baptists believe one thing and the Pentecostals another. The Catholics believe one thing and the Episcopalians another. And on and on. Satan has been successful in deceiving even the Body of Christ. Pure Truth is attainable, but it will require us to lay down our own conception of truth and allow Jesus the Word and the Holy Spirit to teach and train us. This will take an enormous amount of our time because we must feed on His Word and compare scripture with scripture. This will require sacrifice and study.

Jesus counted the cost of saving the world. It cost Him everything. While testing His disciples, Jesus said, “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it.” Luke 14:27-28 There is a cost my Christian brothers and sisters. Grace is not “easy.”  Half-hearted Christianity is not going to build Christ’s Church. False and divided Truth is not going to build Christ’s Church. Hearts who reflect more of the world and its ways instead of Christ’s ways will not build God’s Church. His Church must be built on pure Truth and the ways of Christ. And the first ingredient to attain this is our love for Jesus and His pure Truth. Then we can begin building! It is pure Truth and humble hearts who love Jesus with all their hearts, souls and minds who will build His Body who reflect Him in their actions, words, and deeds. God through the Word of God Jesus is sending a wakeup call to His Body of believers. Those who hear the voice of God calling through His anointed ones and turn back to Him will be saved. Noah by faith began building the Ark of Safety according to God’s instructions. People mocked and laughed at him and ignored his warning, but He kept building according to God’s Word and he and his family were saved. I pray that there will be many Noahs who will keep building according to God’s instructions – Truth.

We will build Christ’s house on the Foundation of Jesus who is Grace and Truth or on sinking sand. The choice is ours.