Acts 14b

Acts Chapter 14b (personal postscript confession to the original C14 article from last week)

An opening note that may upset some with how it will contradict our routines and traditional praying in church and at home: (also see my confession at the end of this article)

In Lystra, Paul healed a man crippled (Acts 14:8) from birth; similar to Peter, cf. 3:1-10.

By itself most who read this article will question how such a short statement quoted directly from the bible might somehow violate his or her predispositions or bible understanding. Well…. find where it states or suggests they performed a “faith healing” and but hid behind the qualifier often used in today’s prayers and churches, “If it be thy will oh God.” Look hard; NOT THERE.

Silver and gold have I not but what I do have I give to thee. Stand up and walk (paraphrased). Paul gives a sweeping summary statement in Ephesians 1:11, “In him [Christ] we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.” This verse alone may not clear up this above comment “in thy will”, but think about how shallow is our faith; i.e. the faith of a mustard seed as in Matthew 17:20!!!! We should not pray in hope of but in anticipation of God’s will but pray we MUST. It is “predestined according to the purpose of him who WORKS ALL THINGS according to the counsel of [his] will.”

antucuoation So, why do we add this “if it is thy will” statement in our prayers? Here is where it will upset some who read this article. We hide behind that statement because our faith is so weak. We try to qualify and prepare ourselves and others for a letdown; no healing . We don’t want to believe a negative answer somehow reflects our prayer and closeness to God demonstrating our lack of faith. But it takes more. Keep reading.

More discussion on this at the end of this article but for now, give it consideration. Yes, it is in the “Lord’s Prayer” but there it is talking about God’s will already being done in heaven and in anticipation of WHEN it will be the same on earth. “We have not because we ask not; then when we do ask, we ask with the wrong motives.” [James 4:2-3, 6]

The opening of Acts 14 is a repeat of almost all of Paul’s travels. He heads for the synagogue to speak. Back during this time the synagogues were often used as platforms of speech-making. The offer for someone to speak while in attendance at a synagogue was usually prefaced by, “Do you have something of the Lord to share with us today?” Yes, Paul and Barnabas always had something but not what the leadership and people in attendance expected. We might think Paul to have been a captivating speaker. In his own words he was not.

I may indeed be untrained as a speaker, but I do have knowledge. We have made this perfectly clear to you in every way.” [2 Corinthians 11:6; NIV]

According to Bible Tools website per Acts 14:

  1. At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so …
  2. But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the other Gentiles and poisoned their minds against …
  3. So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed …
  4. The people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews, others with the apostles.

The oddity of this time in Iconium is the gentiles of this city were either siding with the Jews in the synagogue or with Paul and Barnabas. Acts 14:5 tells us once again they are run out of or fled from a planned stoning designed for one purpose…to *silence them. This may not be the first additional thought to come to mind in reading this passage, but it is very reflective of End Time when Satan tries to silence any witness (example: of the two witnesses during the first half of the Tribulation 7 years, Revelation 11) or *cause a great war that will take the lives of millions of unbelievers which means Satan also takes them to hell with him; one war during and at the end of the Tribulation and at the end of the Millennial Reign of “God and the Lamb”; he leaped to his feet.

*Satan keeps every soul from heaven when anyone dies without Christ.

When they fled “Dodge” (Iconium) they ended up in neighboring cities, towns, and villages. In Lystra they come upon a cripple from birth beggar who overhears Paul and Barnabas sharing the faith. All in the city KNEW he had NEVER WALKED. Examine Acts 14:9 & 10 closely. We will better understand the point made in the opening of this article.

He (the cripple from birth) listened to Paul speaking. And Paul, looking intently at him and seeing that he had faith to be made well, (v10) said in a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And he sprang up and began walking.

Several points to be made by perceiving what verses 9 & 10 actually state when read in context. Crippled from birth; heard the Word (testimony); Paul perceived the “faith” of the cripple who was not yet healed; Paul commanded in a loud voice demonstrating no hesitancy, “Stand up on your feet” (ESV).

Two major factors…the cripple believed he WOULD (not could) be healed and Paul was not hiding his command to be healed in a subtle voice hidden behind jumpthe statement, “If it be they will oh God.” The man did not stand or even struggle to stand. The word JUMPED in Greek is hallomai. It means to leap, spring up or gush as in a fountain springing forth from the ground.

The people saw this miracle and were in awe thinking Paul and Barnabas, probably included Luke, were gods’ i.e. Barnabas as Zeus (Jupitar) and Paul as Mercurius (Hermes). CAUTION: This is a subtle but good example of what happens when someone is healed by the command of another man. S/he is perceived as a god in and of him or herself. Paul and Barnabas immediately tried to put a stop to this huge incongruity, but the locals persisted. This is also what James 4 (above quote) is warning of when he states, “…we ask with the wrong motives.” Won’t we be great among men if we could perform miracles? Sometimes it is the heart of the one praying for healing that is the chink in the full armor of God.

Confession Time: This article’s author has taught bible studies for years and sometimes with a strong following. At times it tends to make him feel a bit “swelled of head and heart” to know it is through him so much learning is occurring. Today, while writing this about our relationship in full faith, prayer, then giving credit to the source, not the tool (me), in translating words from the Greek or Hebrew to help us better understand scripture, I literally stumbled upon what Martin Luther wrote in German in 1545…  “Zuletzt, meine Brüder, seid stark in dem HERRN und in der Macht seiner Stärke.” This verse from Ephesians uses my last name twice and was not just a little subtle in reminding me of my source; God; NOT ME. The above German means: “Finally my brothers, be strong in the Lord and in the power of HIS strength.” Interpretation as a message to me…God has blessed me with knowledge but only after giving credit to him to pursue that knowledge seeking understanding with prayer, then sharing it in HIS STRENGTH.

Rev Dr. Jstark
October, 2018

Acts 14a

And it came to pass that they spoke so well in Iconium and in the Spirit that a great number of Jews and Greeks came to Christ that day.” Paul and Barnabas, probably including Luke, were in southern Turkey of today and anointed in the Spirit. They were drawing large crowds of “wanna learn” people in this melting pot territory. Yes, the venue was again the synagogue. These people were hungry for actuality, not someone’s personal reality or perception of actuality.

melting pot

The Melting Pot

 

At our Bible School, Cadillac Community Bible School, a junior college for bible studies, we have a motto take from Romans 10:14…

How can one call upon the Lord if not aware of God? How can they learn unless someone will teach? How can one understand that which s/he does not know?

We Teach – You Decide

This is the purpose of missionary work be it in one’s own backyard or across the great seas. Recall in an earlier Acts study article of Barnabas and Paul were set aside by the Holy Spirit even though at that time they were not bible school graduates; never attended a seminary. This raises a question MOST who say or claim to be Christian do not wish to address. Why do we sometimes invite a person to church to get the message of Christ when that is supposed to be our own nature?

The Acts 14 the synagogue leaders couldn’t stand idly by and watch their financial sources move away from Judaism to Christianity (The Way). It was more than just tithers they were losing, but power over them. So what do they do? These Jewish leaders within the synagogue did what is one of Satan’s more powerful tools of deception…planting doubt in the minds of the new believers who were still ignorant of their new found faith. So many in the past and present have tried to find faith but are left up to their own initiatives to become learned, remaining milk of the word believers.

This takes us back to the Pyramid of Learning once again. Skip a step and the nose of the “iceberg” sinks lower into the water. Let’s explain for those who have not or are not familiar with this learning principle.LEARNKNG

This same principle is the basis of Romans 14:10 which already is mentioned in this article. Let’s put it in today’s terminology. How can one be aware of anything unless someone tells him or her? How can one gain knowledge or begin to take root, unless someone teaches then nurtures and feeds them? How can one gain understanding without knowledge of the subject? How weak must be one’s (faith) without these key steps: awareness, knowledge, and understanding? Removing each step in this learning pyramid simply drops the level above the water line of confidence and evidence.

This is what the synagogue leaders knew well. Strike quickly or plant questions in the minds of those who have little knowledge and even less understanding of their new found faith. Satan planted a question of assurance in the minds of Eve, Adam, Judas, Cain, Peter, the kings of the Kingdom of Israel (northern ten tribes), and so on.

This was quick to happen. In verse 5 of Acts 14 the rogue unbelieving Jews and Gentiles designed to stone Barnabas and Paul but verse 2 tells us it was already in their mind. They had to flee for their lives. They ended up in Lycaonia, a district in the Roman province of Galatia. Lystra was about 18 miles from Lycaonia, and was the home of Lois, Eunice and Timothy (16:1; 2 Tim. 1:5).

JIV NOTE: Keep in mind that but one chapter back (Acts 13:50) Paul and company had been ruthlessly kicked out of Antioch, *Pisidian. *This is in what we today call Turkey. This is not the Antioch just north of Jerusalem.

So what do Paul and Barnabas do after fleeing a place for the second time? They go right back into the den of opposition at the local synagogues in Galatia and Lycaonia.

NOTE: William Ramsay demonstrated that Lystra and Derbe were indeed together in the Roman province of Lycaonia, but only between A.D. 37 and 72, the exact period these events in Acts took place. This kind of accuracy persuaded Ramsay that the Biblical account was true, especially in an age when they were all thought to be fables and made-up stories.

In 1852, age 5, William Ramsey began his education at Mr. Stark’s Preparatory School in Glasgow, Scotland. In about 1863, age 10, William began attending Glasgow Academy. William entered the University of Glasgow in October 1866, age 14. One might say, he had a great mind and became known as a top scientist and researcher in his lifetime.

Please note: Mr. Stark’s Preparatory School is not Dr. Jstark; but a distant family member who lived in Scotland. One of mine and Mr. Stark’s relative was the Admiral in charge of the Pacific Fleet when Japan attacked Hawaii. It was a group of Israeli Tribe of Gad family that went to the British Isles. 

In Acts we find Paul and a man who was known by the entire community as crippled from birth; a beggar of alms. He overheard when Paul and Barnabas shared their testimonies and gospel message. We find this episode in Acts 14:8 – 10. However, the crowd calls out that they must be gods; Zeus (Paul) and Hermes (Barnabas). They had to stop them from offering sacrifices to them.

We can easily overlook what Acts 14:16 is telling us about man’s free will. ”In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways.” “He,” meaning God; “all nations” meaning mankind. Paul and Barnabas tried diligently to persuade them that they were not Zeus and Hermes. What did the trick? The evil doers from Antioch and Iconium who followed them. They did the same thing as was done in Antioch and Iconium. They planted doubt in their ignorant minds of limited knowledge. Recall that earlier these evil doers (most likely Jews) wanted to stone them. They still had this on their minds after catching up with Paul and Barnabas. This time they did stone Paul after dragging him out of the city.

Probably thinking their evil mission accomplished, these bad guys left the city and returned home because in v19 we read they supposed Paul to be dead. Some of the disciples (learners) gathered around Paul’s body probably to bury him. But, he gets up, walks back into the city where he was just stoned and continues his mission.

Rev. Dr. Jstark
October, 2018

PS; “And when they arrived and gathered the church together, they declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles.” This was very likely the very first Missionary Conference in Christendom history.

 

Acts 8

Why???? Why did the Jews persecute just the church? There is no record of them doing the same thing to other religious, in their minds, demagogues? Even more significant, why did the Roman government allow this sect of people to operate a government and court system within the Romans established? Was not the Roman authority there to govern the people?

At this time in history Christianity in the eyes of the Romans came out of Judaism. Jesus was a Jew. The disciples were Jews. Jerusalem was predominantly Jews. Christianity mistakenly was viewed by Rome as a sect of Judaism. The Jews were allowed a certain amount of autonomy in keeping their own people in line making it easier for the Roman authorities, so they believed. We must recall though, the crucifixion of Jesus required the blessing or permission of the Roman authorities. The Romans saw Christianity (first to the Jew) as a sect or subdivision of Judaism. The first Christians were all Jews. The entire Bible is written by someone who was an Israeli (mistakenly called Jews). We do have instances where even in the life of Paul Jews might hold Roman citizenship. It was a crime for Sanhedrin authorities to judge or criminally punish those of Roman citizenry (Acts 25:10).

Saul witnessed the execution of Stephen in Acts 7. He was a Jew, a member of the Sanhedrin, a Pharisee of the most stringent group, well-educated under Gamaliel, adherent to the “Law of Yahweh.” Saul (Paul) was so dedicated to his persecution and arresting of Christians, Acts 8:3 the (ERV) “all believers but the Apostles LEFT JERUSALEM for other parts of Judea and Samaria.” The Jews of Germany tried to flee their country prior to WWII for the same reasons of persecution by another Saul (Hitler); same fervor; same dedication; same goal.

Acts 8:4 states that where ever these Christians fled they took the good news of Christ with them and shared it with fellow Jews. We get a very odd introduction to Phillip, one of the seven chosen to “wait tables.” Luke simply tells us in verse 5 that “Phillip goes to Samaria.” We can probably safely assume it was Paul’s persecution that chased even Phillip out of town. For better understanding and since verse 3 states that all but the Apostles (the 12) fled Jerusalem, we must understand that there are two prominent “Phillips” in the Bible. One is Phillip the Apostle. The other is Phillip the Evangelist; waiter of tables. This Phillip in Acts is the evangelist, not the Phillip the Apostle. No contradiction of scripture!!!! Two different men.

Phillip is an example of a message spread, thanks to Saul who chased Christians like Phillip out of Jerusalem in the first place. People in Samaria witnessed the works of Phillip ((table waiter) and believed in his Messiah. Evil spirits were driven out; cripples were healed; as verse 8 puts it in the ERV…”What a happy day this was for that city.”  The King James says there was great joy in the city. This is the same city Jesus healed the ten lepers. It was the second capital of the Northern Kingdom of Israel and eventually its name became synonymous with the Ten Tribe Kingdom of Israel. Sargon II of Assyrian conquered and renamed it Samerina. Today it is the West Bank but still a former territory of Israel B.C.

Phillip the evangelist encounters a well-known local sorcerer named Simon. According to the ERV he bewitched the people of Samaria with his magic. Verse 11 says he had been a practicing sorcery for a long time in this area. Amazingly or perhaps half-heartedly, Simon heard the message of Phillip and his cohorts and claimed to be a believer.

JIV: this part of scripture gets sticky but facts are facts. We teach – You Decide

Simon was truly impressed with the miracles of Phillip and his associates in Samaria. SO much so he claimed to become a believer. The theological question raised here; did Simon believe in the God of these miracles or did he believe these miracles to be a new kind of magic? Which belief was it? He believed in God and Jesus or the obvious miracle magic of Phillip.

The answer is alluded to when Simon witnesses Phillip’s laying on of hands for baptism of the Holy Spirit in new believers (Acts 8:18-24). He didn’t ask for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. He asked for the skill and power to do this thing he saw as a great magic. He was willing to pay for it. Phillip in verse 23 tells him to REPENT. This is our insight to the heart of Simon. He wanted the power but by not seeking to be baptized in the Holy Spirit he did not want to “live” as a Christian. His motive for asking was for himself. It had nothing to do with living a life in Christ.

JIV NOTE: This is still true today. People claim belief in Christ but often as fire insurance instead of eternal assurance. I want to be, one thinks in his or her heart, but not conform and live as a believer. Our churches, pulpits, and pew dwellers are full of these people. No action or desire beyond hiring a preacher to do it for them.

In verse 24 Simon begs Phillip to “pray for me so that these bad things you just said (verse 22) won’t happen.” Here is a classic example of wondering about someone requesting prayer but no willing to humble him or herself to the point of seeking forgiveness directly instead of through a third person. 1 John 1:9 reads if“if you confess your sin” leaves no room to ask someone else to do it for you. It should shed light on what it actually means to pray for someone but it certainly does not mean to pray as a substitute. Simon KNEW (YADDA) what he was told by Phillip to personally do! Acts 8:22 …PRAY & REPENT!

JIV: This passage in scripture is why at times when someone asks for prayer I assure them that I will but after s/he seeks God him or herself first. I can pray for your understanding of scripture but I cannot pray, as no one else can, in absentee. 1 Timothy 2:3, 4 is specific. Even Jesus can’t do it unless we first seek him. He wants all to be saved but cannot make that free-will decision for anyone. He paid the price but we must seek its rewards.

At this point in Acts 8, Luke immediately changes topics. Phillip does not tell the man to quote the Lord’s Prayer or that they put hands on him to pray for him. It all abruptly stops at verse 24. Verse 25 finds them witnessing on their way back to Jerusalem.

What follows is one of those amazing facts that one is unlikely to hear from any other source. The information is there but seldom seen or put together. 1,000 years earlier in the Old Testament we find King Solomon on the throne of Israel. His wisdom is widely known. Many  many seek counsel with him.

In the Bible we are introduced to an unnamed queen from the land of Sheba who travels to Jerusalem to meet King Solomon (see 1 Kings 10; 2 Chronicles 9). Accompanied by many attendants and camels, the Queen of Sheba brings a large quantity of spices, gold and precious stones with her. She is drawn to Jerusalem because of Solomon’s fame, and she tests the king with hard questions. Solomon is able to answer them all. In return King Solomon gives the Queen of Sheba gifts and “every desire that she expressed” (1 Kings 10:13). After receiving these gifts, the queen returns to the land of Sheba with her retinue.ark.jpg

Is this the final resting place of the Ark of the Covenant? Many Ethiopians believe that the Ark of the Covenant resides within the “Chapel of the Tablet” next to the Church of Maryam Tsion in Aksum, Ethiopia. They believe that the Ark traveled with Solomon’s firstborn son, Menelik, from Jerusalem to the land of Sheba. Where is the land of Sheba? According to the *Kebra Nagast, it is ancient Ethiopia.

* The Kebra Nagast is a 14th-century account written in Ge’ez, an ancient South Semitic language that originated in Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Need more understanding as to the question “is it possible Menelik was the son of Sheba and Solomon? His name means “son of the wise king.” Ethiopians claim the Queen of Sheba as part of their heritage, and through her union with King Solomon, Ethiopians today claim a connection between their kings and the Davidic monarchy of Israel. Judaism was for centuries the dominant religion of the Kingdom of Ethiopia. It spanned the Horn of Africa and across the Red Sea to Yemen territories of today. Haile Selassie (1930 to 1974) claimed to be a descendant of Sheba and Solomon. Emperor Menelik to Haile Selassie is 225 generations of continual rule in Ethiopia.

Now for the 1,000 year connection between Old Testament  King Solomon, Queen Makeda of Sheba, New Testament Phillip and the Ethiopian leaving Jerusalem on the “desert road” with Judaism scrolls he did not understand (Acts 8:30-34). After the Queen Makeda returned to Ethiopia Judaism became their national religion. See the previous page picture of “Chapel of the Tablet” in Ethiopia. Genesis 49:10 states the scepter will not depart from the lineage of Judah.

JIV NOTE: The Bible never states the scepter won’t leave the Land of Judah. It says that it will not leave the lineage of Judah until Christ, himself a descendent of the Tribe of Judah, returns to earth with the New Jerusalem and His Millennial Reign.

The Ethiopian Eunuch, a royal member of the Ethiopian kingdom, was in Jerusalem seeking scrolls of Judaism scripture. Phillip was told of God to take the Desert Road out of Jerusalem but not told why (Acts 8:26). This is the same road the Ethiopian was taking to return to Ethiopia. Here Phillip and the Ethiopian cross paths. Phillip climbs into the royal chariot and explains the scripture to him about how the savior was “lead to the slaughter like a lamb.” Then Phillip introduces the Ethiopian to Christ the promised Messiah. He becomes a believer, is baptized and returns to Ethiopia to bring this good news to his people.epthopia

Fact: Today Ethiopia is one of two African nations where Christianity is still the dominant religion. Ethiopia is surrounded by nations that are over 95% Muslim yet it remains Christian. Judaism played a dominant role in Ethiopia since 950 B.C. In the 1st century A.D. Christianity became their dominant religion. All because of King Solomon, Queen of Sheba and a 1,000 years later, the “table waiter” Phillip and an Ethiopian dignitary. These are the facts. What do they add up to? A direct connection between the Queen of Sheba giving birth to Solomon’s first son (Menelik) who was the first Emperor of Ethiopia and his lineage continuing until 1974; almost 3,000 years.

PS; The name Haile Selassie means: The Trinity. 

This is the Imperial standard of Ethiopia up to the recent past. Note the Lion of the Tribe of Judah as its center piece. 

cropped-minijim1Rev. Dr. Jstark
August, 2018

 

Acts Chapter 7

He knew it would be his death speech! Although this is somewhat speculation, it is what came of it. Stephen, one of the 7 selected to “wait tables” discussed in Acts 6 (first few verses) was doing a lot more than WAITING TABLES to be dragged before the Sanhedrin Council. A problem we sometimes run into in reading scripture is that all languages do not have direct translations of many original manuscript words or wording meaning. Sometimes we don’t even have a word into which to translate a word or two from scripture. In a sense, this is one of those times. To “wait tables” takes most of us to a restaurant scenario where the host or hostess waits on our table. This is NOT what Luke means per “wait tables” (Acts 6:2) (see end of article comment).

Stephen, one of the seven selected to “wait tables” was not brought before the Sanhedrim for being a bad waiter. His role in “waiting tables” included his testimony and street ministry seeking the lost with the message of the cross. He begins his message to the Sanhedrin in Acts 6:8-10. In short the wise guys in the Jewish sect of Judaism could not argue or dispute his rebuttals to all of their charges. This more than disturbed them…it perturbed them. Stephen was “waiting their tables” with ‘servings of’ truth and actuality they could not defend against.

The setting and charges against Stephen is found it Acts 6:13, 14…

“This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law, for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses delivered to us.”

Holy place? Their Hebrew Law of Moses? Destroy this place? Change the customs or traditions of their way? It is obvious that even these religious leaders of Judaism could not find a charge against Stephen and his views of God. The closest they come to anything set in worshiping is when they say “this Holy place.” We experience this too much today. We have tried to make the church building or sanctuary by creating rules for its use; no coffee or beverages allowed, no running in the sanctuary, take you chatter outside, etc. We have heard these claims but where does the purpose of worship fit into the mix? Far too many so-called church denominations are bent on bible compromise leaving the Holy Spirit outside knocking on a window hoping HE might come in during their worship(?) service.

A church sanctuary as we identify it is not a Holy Place; now and it never was. The only place God identified as a Holy Place was the inner workings of the Temple (Tabernacle during the Wilderness experience) called the Holy of holies (Habakkuk 1; Hebrews 9; Matthew 27:50-51). It is the body of believers that is to be holy, not the building. When someone is more concerned about the carpet in the building than the soul next to him/her or the person carrying a bottle of water either into the building or walking the streets, are we like them or unequally yoked with semi-believers or religious nonbelievers in a less than worship attitude?

pointingStephen was up against this when his accusers were defending the building, their traditions, customs, and their man made laws, not the spiritual concerns of individuals and the former nation of Israel’s relationship with their one true God. God’s purpose for creating man never enters Stephen’s appearance before the Sanhedrin. (JIV NOTE: Neither is God mentioned by Jewish leadership when any of the Apostles were dragged before this “holier than thou” bunch of priests, Scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, and other related individuals).

Acts 7 is Stephen’s defense (witness) to the charges against him and in actuality, God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. In Acts 7:1 the High Priest asks Stephen, “Are these things (charges) so?” In verse 2 Stephen immediately takes them back to the historical root of their problem. It begins with God speaking to Abraham some 2000 years earlier. Stephen takes those who were judging him from the beginning of their Israeli identity to their point in time.

Before we give you the short version and sequential history of Israel, as did Stephen before the Sanhedrin in Acts 7:2-53, let’s pause at one line in Acts 7:43. It reads:

You took up the tent of Moloch and the star of your god Rephan, the images that you made to worship; and I will send you into exile beyond Babylon.’

I will send you into exile BEYOND Babylon. At this point in Stephen’s reciting of their history they hadn’t yet entered the Promised Land. Here is a now fulfilled prophecy hidden within Stephen’s review of their history as a people; a house of Israel. The Sanhedrin members, as did all of Israel, knew that by now, 800 years later, they were dispersed amongst other nations; no longer a nation themselves. In essence, Stephen was pointing out that their authority was limited by proximity, not national domain. He pointed out that they were stuck in the past and no longer were in touch or reality with their modern times under Roman authority. This is very similar to many church groups today. They fight to defend their customs and traditions but haven’t a clue how to lead someone to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Acts 7:49… Stephen points out that God is no longer in their Temple as it was made by hands of man. Heaven is HIS throne. Earth itself is but a foot stool of God. What kind of “house” can one build for a God of this nature? Their sanctuary meant nothing to God anymore. The veil had been rent or torn in two.  Their temple then, as are our churches today are man-made.

Acts 7:50… Did your hands create any or even a part of creation? This verse is ripe for the picking and could be a message or article in and of itself…but not here. (sorry)

Acts 7:51… Why do you always (yes, always! ἀεί) resist the Holy Spirit as did your fathers in the past? ἀεί means to resist change or accept anything that suggests change. What in actuality Stephen is pointing out the Sanhedrin’s inability to recognize the Holy Spirit. They had a god, mostly of their making by this time, and refused to be influence by HIM. They are “stiff-necked and uncircumcised.” A stiff-necked person refuses to look left or right staying focused on the trail they have chosen, not one God has chosen for them. Their heart is uncircumcised meaning covered over… a form of remaining in the dark rather than exposed to the light of day.

In Acts 7:53 Stephen hits hard. His judges and (false) accusers want to judge by the Law (of Moses) but only selectively living by it. This does it. They rush upon him dragging him out of the city to be stoned. Enter stage left…Saul, soon to be known as the Apostle Paul.

As said earlier on in this article per chapter 7, who was actually on trial here; Stephen or the Sanhedrin?

Review of Stephen’s history of Israel.

  1. Abraham told by God to leave his country.
  2. Abraham sojourns to the “future” Promised Land of Israel
  3. God did not give any of this land to Abraham (Lot) but promised it to a future generation
  4. Abraham told his future GREAT-grand kids would live and multiply in a “different” land (Egypt)
  5. This future generation will be mistreated in Egypt living there for 400 years.
  6. A deliverer will be sent to retrieve these people from Egypt. In this Promised Land they will worship me. A prophecyof the New Jerusalem as would be their dispersion after Babylon.
  7. Circumcision becomes a symbol of Israeli descendants. (Ishmael at 13; Isaac at 8 days old)
  8. The jealousy of 11 brothers against Joseph and sold to those in a caravan heading to Egypt
  9. Joseph finds great favor in the eyes of Egypt and he is made 2nd in command of this land.
  10. A great famine comes over Egypt, Canaan and surrounding lands in the westerly Middle East
  11. Jacob with his 75 member household hear that there is grain to be purchased in Egypt
  12. The brothers minus Benjamin are sent to Egypt to purchase grain.
  13. A second time they are sent to Egypt for grain and Joseph finally reveals to them who he is.
  14. Pharaoh meets Joseph’s father and ‘some’ of his brothers. Gad is not introduced by Joseph.
  15. 75 of Joseph’s (Jacob’s) clan move to prime land in Egypt as shepherds in Goshen.
  16. Jacob dies in Egypt but is buried in Shechem where Abraham had purchased land years earlier
  17. The descendants of Jacob multiple greatly in Goshen, Egypt to a point of outnumbering locals
  18. A NEW PHARAOH who knew not about Joseph takes the throne of Egypt; a foreign ruler
  19. He subjects the Israelis to hard labor lest they overthrow him due to their population numbers
  20. Moses is born when the new Pharaoh fears this large number of Israelites inside his kingdom
  21. Babies of Israeli DNA are slaughtered but Moses is saved and raised in Pharaoh’s household
  22. 40 years Moses is instructed in the cultural ways of the Egyptians and warfare
  23. At 40 years of age he decides to visit his Israeli brethren unannounced.
  24. Moses sees one of his brethren being abused by an Egyptian slave master and kills the Egyptian
  25. Moses assumed his brethren would accept him as their redeemer/rescuer. NOT!
  26. Moses visits his people finding them quarreling. He steps in to act as a facilitator, ruler, judge
  27. The fight turns against Moses and he is told he is a murderer. If they know, so does Pharaoh
  28. Moses flees Egypt to Media for 40 years for fear of the wrath of the Pharaoh
  29. He has two sons (not mentioned here but they are Gershon and Eliezer – Exodus 18:3,4
  30. Mt Sinai, angel, voice of God, burning bush, ordered to return to Egypt and rescue his people
  31. Moses is to rescue the very same people who rejected him 40 years earlier (He is 80 years old)
  32. Moses redeems his own DNA and the Red Sea incident in history
  33. 40 more years he spends ruling and judging the people of Israel in the Wilderness
  34. Moses receives the oracles (10 commandments) on Mt. Sinai
  35. Israelis’ turn against Moses and God and in their hearts wish to return to the old world Egypt
  36. Aaron make an image of gold for Moses has seemingly vanished; they are now leaderless
  37. God condemns these people for they turned to god’s made by man
  38. God warns them of a far distant future when they will be dispersed as a people first by the Assyrians, 720 B.C. then by the Babylonians in 597, 587, and again in 582 B.C.
  39. Stephen’s Sanhedrin judges and accusers are reminded of the Wilderness Tabernacle designed by God and how Israel took this architecture with them into the Promised Land
  40. The Tent Tabernacle exists until the time of King David. King Solomon builds the first Temple
  41. The Most High God does not live in houses built by human hands” (Acts 7:49)
  42. Stephen accuses the Jewish leaders of being self-righteous refusing to give hearts to the God
  43. “You are always against what the Holy Spirit wants you to do. That’s how your ancestors were, and you are just like them!” (Acts 7:51b)
  44. The prophets they rejected in their past. Now they reject the answer to this promised Messiah
  45. They received God’s Law through Moses but personally reject it in their personal daily living; in a real sense, they use it to their advantage, not as a way of life.steven stoned.jpg

It is at this point the Sanhedrin falls into a great rage dragging Stephen from the court room to stone him. Stephen see heaven open with “the Son of man” seated next to the God creator of all things.

cropped-minijim1Rev. Dr. Jstark
August 2018

PS; Yes, Stephen was appointed to “wait tables.” He knew exactly what the Sanhedrin bunch needed for their lunch and he delivered it to them. A large portion of truth!

The Bridegroom & Bride

relationshipA few years ago a Russian newspaper reported a light-hearted poll of 100 Soviet households. In 90 of the homes, the wife described herself as the head of the family–and the husband agreed. In nine families the husband said he was head of the household, but the wife disagreed. The only husband whose wife named him as head of the family was told by the newspaper that he had won an award. When asked to select his prize, he turned to his wife and asked: “What shall I choose, Maria?”

If Christ is the groom, then who is his bride? The synoptic Gospels don’t really answer that question, but the rest of the New Testament does. And the answer probably doesn’t offer much help to people hoping Jesus’ marital status could shift the debates over women in ministry or the definition of marriage in a contemporary society where political correctness is accepted and God’s commands are debated. In Ephesians 5 (one of the more controversial passages of the Bible), the apostle Paul tells his readers, “For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.” Christ’s wife, at least according to Paul, is the church; all believers—not an individual human woman.

That the church is Jesus’ bride gets confirmed in Revelation, the final book of the Bible, which serves as a prophecy for the end of the world. In this apocalyptic vision, Jerusalem, a proxy for God’s people as a whole, is described as “a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.” Later the narrator says, “One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, ‘Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.'” Here, the wife is again Jerusalem, and the Lamb is Jesus.

The image of Christ as groom and the church as bride infuses Christian theology and writing. Pastor and best-selling author Timothy Keller preaches frequently on the topic, including a sermon called “The True Bridegroom,” where he compares God to a husband whose wife (the church) is constantly challenging on him. A classic hymn includes these lines in its opening verse:

The church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord / She is his new creation by water and the word. / From heaven He came and sought her to be his holy bride.” Countless books have been written meditating on what the Bible means when it calls Christ a groom and the church his bride.

The answer is in a simple Ephesians 5 text but our culture does not want to accept it. So does that make God wrong and political-culture persuasiveness correct?

Political correctness and political party jockeying for votes want all differences between men and women eliminated. Stay at home dad and working mom is more readily accepted then the centuries old norm of mom at home and dad works to pay the bills and maintain the family standard of living.

Why does the Word of God even mention Ephesians 5:21- e.o.c. if it is so hotly debated in so many cultures; the exception being Islam? Why is not that previous of verses 15 – 21 included in this discussion? Are they distinctly different context than 21 forward? A different chapter but mismarked in our translations? Topics too confusing? Instructions that no longer apply?

I am going to make this somewhat simple for all of us and let your own knowledge and understanding take on it be the dominant factor: it is significant that the Bible never says, “Husbands, get your wives to submit to you.” That is not your responsibility, men! It never commands the husband to be the head of his household. Rather, it states it as a fact in the course of discussing the wife’s role. What God’s Word says to the wife is her responsibility.

In other words, it is not God’s responsibility to get individual humans to submit to Jesus as head of the body (church) or the church to submit itself to Jesus as the head of the church. It is up to us as individuals and the church as a God-centered part of the body of Christ to do as it commands. If it was God’s job to force submission, then Israel never would have gone astray. If it was up to Jesus to force submission of his church, then there never would have been the 7 churches discussed in Revelation 1, 2, 3.

“Submission” in English is only a shadow of the Greek and Aramaic definition. One of its synonym’s is “to be open minded.” I close with Isaiah 55:8…The LORD says: “My thoughts and my ways are not like yours…”

Dr. JStarkcropped-minijim1

 

Jeremiah Chapter 51 (Part A)

time-.jpg

The final chapters of both the Book of Jeremiah are the final chapters of the world as we know it. The Hebrew word *Yome [day] can mean a time of day and night; 24 period of time. However, there is an additional translation of the same word. According to Strong and Thayer it can mean:

*“a season, space, time of trouble, an age or period of time[paraphrased for understanding].

The King James puts it in verse 2 (Jeremiah 51) “shall empty her land in her day of trouble…” The Medes and Persians [Achaemenid Empire] occupied the land and conquered the peoples of Babylon. King Cyrus sat on the throne of Babylon. Does this sound like it was EMPTIED? Jeremiah 51:2 in the ASV, YLT, ABP, ISV, ESV and many other translations indicate the same thing. The Medes and Persians did not, per history, devastate Babylon. They snuck in through the river Euphrates after stopping up its flow, captured ad killed the leadership. They did not destroy it. They only occupied it. One may easily suggest it is a reference to the Babylon of the anti-christ of End Time.

V1… “I will send foreigners against her.”

Secular history reports that both the Babylonian Chronicles and the Cyrus Cylinder describe Babylon being taken “without battle”, whereas the Greek historians Herodotus and Xenophon report that the city was besieged. The Book of Daniel implies that Babylon was taken in one night and that Belshazzar was killed. The total destruction prophesied in Jeremiah 51 was not fulfilled at this time. This means Babylon became part of Persia; today it is within the territory of Iraq. More on Babylon can be found in Revelation and Isaiah including the proverbial Whore of Babylon in End Time.

We should go back to verse 1 to explain the term Leb Kamai…”Thus says the LORD: “Behold, I will stir up the spirit of a destroyer against Babylon, against the inhabitants of Leb-kamai…” Leb Kamai basically is a reference to “those who rise up against me.” Who is the ME in this vers? It is God! This is without doubt a reference to End Time when there are those who rise up against Jesus or the End Time following the thousand year reign of Christ and Satan is released for a short time gathering a great army to “rise up against Jesus.”

It may very well be that Jeremiah used a kind of code [Leb Kamai] which neither Babylonian security nor modern Scripture theorists have been able to crack. http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Leb-kamai.html. It may also simply mean those who rise up against God, Christ, Holy Spirit.

Jeremiah 51:5 & 6 continue this thought of End Time judgement. Once again Jeremiah mentions Israel and Judah as God’s chosen. Guilty? YES! Forsaken? No! Verse 6 tells us that Jeremiah says to “flee the land of the Babylonians before her destruction” [ESV] However men like Daniel, Ezra, and Nehemiah remained in Babylon long after the King Darius defeated the Babylonians releasing the Judeans to return to their land, rebuilt the Temple, and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Perhaps the next verse (v7) helps our understanding. It speaks of the Babylon to which End Time evil is identified, even the Whore of Babylon, as [ESV]:

Babylon was a golden cup in the LORD’s hand, *making all the earth drunken; the nations drank of her wine; therefore the nations went mad.

*“making all the earth drunk.”

This is not just the historical territory of Chaldean Babylonians, but the entire world to which Jeremiah is referring. Recall that Abraham originated from the biblical land of the Chaldeans. This is a reference to a much greater population and territory; i.e. all the earth.

Jeremiah 51:8 could easily be understood as sarcastic in tone. “…wail for her and take balm to her for her pain; perhaps she may be healed.” In light of those who will survive the “time of Jacob’s trouble [tribulation]” and after the millennial reign of Christ, people will be measured and judged according to the intent [kavanah] of their heart. Satan will raise a huge army to try and return the world to destroy as many as he can. If he can destroy them before accepting the King of kings as savior, they will join him in the Lake of Fire. Babylon is the symbolic “world” at this time. Then will come this Great White Throne judgement.

51:9 “let us each go to our own country…” This points out that the world recognizes that they as humans are not in charge of the earth. Satan is bound. There is no longer any point to fight a lost battle with the King of kings.

In verse 10 & *11 Jeremiah returns in thought to the biblical time of the Jews in Babylon; the vindication of the Jews (Judeans). If this is in fact relevant to just that time in history, why would men like Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and the future queen Esther along with men like Mordechai remain in Babylon? Simply put… this passage is in reference to two different periods of time; the time of the 70 captivity and End Time meaning the world itelf. Return each one to his own country…[ESV verse 9].

*V11 also says to “sharpen the arrows.” It sounds or reads like it a defensive move of those in Babylon. It certainly isn’t the Jews who are told to sharpen their arrows as God ordained the Medes and Persians to conquer Babylon without even a battle. The snuck in as previously mentioned in this article.

51:11b (NASB) “For it is the vengeance of the Lord, vengeance for his Temple.” This seems to have little to do with the biblical event of the Babylonian captivity. Fact is, it is the anti-Christ’s abomination of the rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem. He sets himself up on the throne within the Temple requiring all to pay homage to him. He has offerings of abominable sacrificed to him in the Temple and on the Alter of God.

It gets more clear and obvious that this prophecy in chapter 51 has dual meanings as we continue to the next verses in Jeremiah 51. Read verses 12 and 13 then look at v14 through 18. Verse 17a says it all (NASB) “All mankind is stupid, devoid of knowledge.” When we are devoid of knowledge, there is not a chance of understanding.

Verses 19-24: Jeremiah once again brings Jacob/Israel into the scripture. He is no longer addressing the Babylonian captivity or Judean release. God is telling us HE has a covenant with Jacob/Israel; a covenant that does not apply to the rest of mankind. Jesus in the New Testament makes provision for the rest of us.

[NASB; Jeremiah 51:19-24]shatter

He says, “You (Israel) are My war-club, My weapon of war;
And with you I shatter nations,
And with you I destroy kingdoms.
“With you I shatter the horse and his rider,
And with you I shatter the chariot and its rider,
And with you I shatter man and woman,
And with you I shatter old man and youth,
And with you I shatter young man and virgin,
And with you I shatter the shepherd and his flock,
And with you I shatter the farmer and his team,
And with you I shatter governors and prefects.
“But I will repay Babylon and all the inhabitants of Chaldea
for all their evil that they have done in Zion before your eyes,” declares the Lord.

If one does not like what is quoted above from the NASB bible, that is precisely what is stated in ‘v17a’ in the previous paragraph…“All mankind is stupid, [because they are] devoid of knowledge.” Without knowledge there cannot be understanding. Without understanding, we make poor choices or none at all.

Jeremiah 51:24b: “before our very eyes”(ESV)… Jeremiah could not be speaking in the first person being his own eyes as God initially punished Babylon the city-state 70 years after this fact. Jeremiah would have been long gone. So, whose eyes is Jeremiah writing about? This too is End Time prophecy. The world will see this punishment brought upon the anti-God forces of its armies. In short, this is the forces of the king of the north (anti-Christ), king of the south, kings of the east…confirmed in the next verse (v25)… (ESV) “I am against you, declares the Lord which destroys the whole earth. There we have it. Jeremiah finally identifies these enemies as the whole world. Babylon is symbolic of this prophetic destiny; imminent and eminent. (Jeremiah 51 part B is next week)

miniJim

Jeremiah Chapter 49 Part one

(The Prophecy against Ammon, Edom; 49:1-18)

Chapter 44: Jeremiah makes his final appeal to his fellow countrymen (a remnant) to abandon their worship of the “queen of heaven” meaning the Ashtoreth dance Pole.

Chapter 45: Baruch, Jeremiah’s scribe, is assured by God that he will have a good life similar to “the plunder of war taken by the victor.” Baruch was faithful and now God rewards him.

Chapter 46: The near and distant future of Egypt. Over 100 years earlier the prophet Isaiah had predicted a similar fate of Egypt…conquered and subjugated by the Assyrians. In C46 it is the Babylonians who attack and defeat the Egyptian “mercenary” army after defeating Assyria.

Chapter 47: The Philistines of Gaza or Philistia are overrun by the Egyptians then the Babylonians overrun them on their way to defeating Egypt.The Sphinx and Pyramid of Khafre, Cairo, Egypt

Chapter 48: Moabites. These offspring of Lot occupied the former lands of the Tribe of Gad. They helped Nebuchadnezzar conquer the Kingdom of Judah then in turn, were conquered by Babylonians, their supposed ally.

Chapter 49: This is where we are with this article. It has to do with several territories that fall to Babylon, God’s instrument of judgement. Ammon is another descendant of Lot. For additional information besides what is follows, go to Ezekiel 25:1-11.

Ezekiel 25:43 “Say to the Ammonites, Hear the word of the Lord GOD: Thus says the Lord GOD, Because you said, ‘Aha!’ over my sanctuary when it was *profaned, and over the land of Israel when it was made desolate, and over the house of Judah when they went into exile,”  [*perhaps a futuristic insight to the antichrist’s profaning of the Temple]

Ezekiel 25:4 … therefore behold, I am handing you over to the people of the East for a possession, and they shall set their encampments among you and make their dwellings in your midst. They shall eat your fruit, and they shall drink your milk.

Israel helped the Ammonites by destroying their old enemies, making the later conduct of Ammon even more reprehensible. They frequently fought against Israel during the days of the Judges and during the reigns of Saul and David (2 Samuel 10). In later years they are absorbed by Arabs and became unidentifiable as a distinct people. Which Arabs? This is a later discussion.

Jeremiah 49:1 begins with a question…”has Israel no sons? Why is their land occupied by the Ammonites?” This paraphrase of verse one tells us that God is not pleased with two distinct people; the Tribe of Gad and the Ammonites. Pay close attention to the prophecy found in verse 2 of Jeremiah 49.

[49:2] “The days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will cause the battle cry to be heard against Rabbah of the Ammonites; it shall become a desolate mound, and its villages shall be burned with fire; then Israel shall dispossess those who dispossessed him, says the LORD.”

Did we catch that? Read the final sentence of verse two once again. “Israel will dispossess those who dispossessed him SAYS THE LORD.” Bear in mind that by this time, Judah was captive in Babylon and the Northern Kingdom of Israel was long dispersed by the Assyrians. So what Israel may Jeremiah be referring to per the voice of God? It can be nothing less than End Time prophecy. This land is not currently under the authority or territorial domain of the Israel of today. It is southern Jordan. There is more to happen in our or near distant future.

Of great interest is the history of Rabbah, a significant city of Ammon. Today it is known by the name Amman, Jordan. It is a war between then King David of Israel and the Ammonites but historically and per scripture of significance to him and Bathsheba. 2 Samuel 11:15 tells us this is where Bathsheba’s husband was killed in war; David’s way of ridding himself of the husband of Bathsheba.

One obvious question is “who is Milcom” in verse 2? This is another Ammonite name of their idol god Molech, Moloch… spelling is dependent on the translation one is reading. In short, the name means “a king” god. They referred to their idol as a king, a slander on king of kings. This is not their king himself but their god. Remember that these people descended from Lot, Abraham’s nephew and one he continually had to rescue. Lot sought possession getting him into trouble over and over. His descendants seem to have the same problem.

God through Jeremiah does give recognition to the lineage of the Ammonites. He calls them his faithless daughters in verse 4; the people who trusted in their wealth over God himself. This gives heed to us today. We don’t see or admit wealth is a god but this verse points out that it is precisely that…a god.

Jeremiah 49:6 is reminiscent of chapter 48 and the Moabites. Both the Moabites and Ammonites are part of God’s chosen via Abraham. Verse 6 tells us that in a future time: “But afterward I will restore the fortunes of the Ammonites, declares the LORD.” This has yet to happen in modern history. It is another prophecy or news item for us to keep an eye on.

Jeremiah 49:7 shifts the subject to another descendant of Abraham/Jacob, the Edomite. They descend from Esau the twin brother of Isaac. He was the eldest but not given the birthright of the first born. He sold it to Jacob for a plate of food. Abraham in his blindness blessed Jacob. We can see the deceitfulness of these people all through history. Not God’s will, but actuality. They were and perhaps still are so deceitful many times in scripture deceived themselves.

A rather interesting verse is 49:8 and the reference to them [Ammonites] as Dedan. The Oxford Bible says it well:

“Russia continues to build alliances with Middle Eastern nations. Sudan (Cush) and Iran (Persia) are strong allies. The Muslim nations of Central Asia also are developing ties with Iran, Russia and Turkey. The hatred for Israel by the Middle Eastern Muslim nations continues to boil. It is not too difficult to imagine the nations mentioned in Ezekiel 38:1-7 coming together under Russian leadership to mount a furious attack against Israel, perhaps from Megiddo’s’ oil fields. And who are the nations that object to and oppose Russia per Ezekiel? Exactly the ones we would expect from the present day political situation: the Western Powers as described by TARSHISH and her young lions (cubs).

But there is also an Eastern Power named that objects to the [End Time] Russian Invasion: SHEBA and DEDAN. These were ancient names for the land we know today as Arabia, especially Saudi Arabia, showing that at least some of the Arab states will not favor Russia’s presence in the Middle East.”

What happened to the Edomite people after being scattered by Nebuchadnezzar? They c49awent south and eventually established what we know today as Saudi-Arabia. Even though Esau was a direct descendant of Abraham through Jacob, he married a daughter of Ishmael; the first born of Abraham through Sarah’s handmaid Hagar. Hagar and Ishmael were not part of the blessing of Abraham or God himself. They knew the truth but went elsewhere. For greater knowledge read Ezekiel 48 as it regards End Time and these same people.

For clarity per Dedan and Sheba, In  Genesis 25 we read that Abraham married Ketur’ah after Sarah died. She has six sons by him. One of them is named Jokshan. Sheba and Dedan are his sons [Genesis 25:3]. This makes Sheba and Dedan grandsons of Abraham. The ancient capital of Saudi-Arabia is Dedan. Does anyone recall “the queen of Sheba?”

It is gruesome reading but God’s judgement on Ammon is specified as to one reason why as described in Amos 1:13. Sit down before going there to read the WHY of God’s judgement upon Ammon.

JIV NOTE: Recall our article on Jeremiah 40. The assassination of Gedaliah, a ruler put in place by Nebuchadnezzar over Judah. His murder was engineered by none other than the King of Ammon. Go back to the article on Jeremiah 40 for greater detail.

The Bozrah identified in Jeremiah 49:13 is the same Bozrah mentioned in Isaiah 63:1. It was the capital city of Edom. Bozrah is also significant to End Time and the retreat of Israelis to a desert haven of security; i.e. the mountain caves of Bozrah; i.e. Petra. Jeremiah 49:11-18 describes the totality of the destruction of Edom.

Another aha moment is the fact that Ammon saw wealth as their god. Basrah is a southern port city of Iraq; spelled Bazra. In April of 2017, the Iraqi Parliament recognized Creek of AsherBasra and its oil fields as their economic capital. Money is their god. Go back to Jeremiah 49:4 to better connect this insight.

Perhaps connected and perhaps not, but in Bazra there is a creek named “Ashar” (Tribe of Asher”?). It is a shopping mall or bazar of shopping places accessible by boats. The picture to the right was taken in 1915. Why might this creek’s name be similar to the name of the Tribe of Asher? The Encyclopedia Britannica states that over 4,000 “Jews” lived in Basra in 1911.

(Jeremiah 49:23 – 39 follows in our next article; Part 2)

miniJimJ.Stark

January 2018

Jeremiah Chapter 39

This chapter is the beginning and fulfillment of what Jeremiah had been prophesying for over 20 years to Israel, its people, rulers, and religious sects. There are several components to this chapter:

  1. The capture of Jerusalem (Last of the cities of Israel to fall)
  2. Jeremiah protected by the Babylonians
  3. Removal of Judean people from Israel to Babylon (the first of three transfers)
  4. The fate of King Zedekiah
  5. Assurance of and to Ebed-melech
    1. He was the Ethiopian who rescued Jeremiah from the cistern back in chapter 38
    2. This may not be his real name as it reads more as a title; Ebed: a servant; Melech: [of the] king.

Zedekiah had originally been put on the throne by Nebuchadnezzar several years earlier when he removed King Jehoiachin after initially conquering Judah/Jerusalem. Zedekiah was a vassal king to Babylon. In short…he owed his allegiance and crown to Nebuchadnezzar. Christians too often seek a truly close relationship with God only in a time of trouble.  When the trouble goes away, the tendency is to think one is not needing God until the next trouble pops up. Zedekiah had decided he could rebel as long as Egypt came alongside with its forces against Neb. Pharaoh Necho brought out his forces as agreed between him and Zedekiah, but then changed his mind and returned to Egypt (Jeremiah 37:5-7).

hands help

We need GOD’s help ALL the time!

This left Zedekiah all alone without help. A very weak kingdom was Judah. When Zedekiah saw Neb’s men sitting at the city gate (39:4) they panicked and fled Jerusalem. If it was only Zedekiah and a few of his court who fled, they may have escaped. But the minimal armed forces of Jerusalem fled with him. A group this size was not easy to stay stealth and the Chaldean army caught them. We read how he (they) escaped by going back to Ezekiel 12:12…they broke a hole in the outer and inner walls of Jerusalem and fled. The double wall design had two purposes; 1) To specifically provide an egress or escape route if the city was invaded and 2) a type of thermo-pane-wall (double) to keep the enemy at bay once they broke through the outer wall.

JIV NOTE: Personally, this incident fascinates. Israel under the auspices of Joshua entered the Promised lands via Jericho. Now over 800 years later, the last of the vestiges of the former Israel as a nation ends “on the plains of Jericho” [verse 5]. Is there poetic justice, irony, or thought knowing this nation of people came full circle beginning at Jericho then ending at the same location?

Just as under Joshua and centuries earlier the Israelites slaughtered the sinful inhabitants of Jericho, (v6) “The king of Babylon slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah at Riblah before his eyes, and the king of Babylon slaughtered all the nobles of Judah.” History repeated itself!

There is another even more fascinating insight to this event at Jericho.  We have often wondered about the Magi and the Star of Bethlehem. Who were they? We know they were astronomers, studied the stars and were of the Zoroastrian religion. Here is what secular history along with the bible tells us:magi-

Rab-mag: chief (Rab) of the magi (mag); was brought along with the Babylonian expedition to Jerusalem in order that its issue might be foreknown through his astrological skill. Mag is a Persian word, meaning “great,” “powerful.” The magi were a sacerdotal caste among the Medes, and supported the Zoroastrian religion. The name Rab-mag is of interest…this chief of the magi was brought along to assure victory. When Israel marched on Jericho centuries earlier, Rahab (very similar name and meaning) was saved and through her came Jesus many years after… in order that its issue might be foreknown. Magi visited Jesus when he was yet a baby. Rahab was the mother of Boaz, the great grandfather of King David. Jesus descended from the line of King David.

Jeremiah 39:9-14 tells us that Jeremiah was released from the prisons of Zedekiah and protected by the Babylonian guards; probably because his many years of prophecy had now come to past, there were a significant number of his fellow Judeans that dispised him. Now that what he had prophesied came true, they had even more reason to hate him as their royal courts, leaders, and religious rulers had been openly slaughtered by Nebuchadnezzar. Verse 39 takes us back to the above indented paragraph concerning the discussion of the RAB-MAGI (saris). They came to the rescue of Jeremiah and honored him just like 600 years later the magi from the east came to the babe Jesus and honored him.

The Babylonian armies initially removed 10,000 of the best people of Judah taking them captive to Babylon. This would include Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego (Book of Daniel). This was only the first of three forced removals of people from Judah/Jerusalem; most likely dates are 605, 597, & 586.

NOTE:

Jeremiah 39:15 takes us a step backward in this historical event recorded in Babylonian records and archaeological discoveries of these records. Jeremiah 39:15-17a… The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah while he was shut up in the court of the guard:  “Go, and say to Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will fulfill my words against this city for harm and not for good, and they shall be accomplished before you on that day, but I (God) will deliver you from danger.

…jumping to verse 18: “I (God) will surely save you (Ebed-Melech), and you shall not fall by the sword, but you shall have your life as a prize of war, because you have put your trust in me, declares the LORD.”

 

miniJimRev Dr. Jstark
October, 2017

Jeremiah – Chapter 31 (Part 1)

Dr. JNOTE: Jeremiah 31 is a rather long chapter and covers much so it will be divided into two parts. This is part 1.end time.jpg

Chapter 30 to 33 is eschatological; i.e. End Time centered.  It is about ISRAEL and God’s promise to forgive them in the end for betraying HIM as a people and as a nation. Remember that the Old Testament is about a nation (Israel) and the New Testament is about individuals. God is the husband of Israel and Jesus is the husband of the church of believers. This distinction is seldom taught but straight out of scripture.

(God) Husband of Israel – Isaiah 54:5; Jeremiah 3:14; Hosea 2:16.

(Jesus) Husband of the New Testament church – II Corinthians 11:2; Revelation 19:7-9.

CAUTION: There are several references to the God-head husband in Revelation but read it with due caution. Most of the references in Revelation is a reminder and promise of God as husband to Israel/Jerusalem; not Jesus and the church of believers.

The very first verse in Jeremiah 31 is specific… (ESV) “At that *time, declares the LORD, I will be the God of all the clans of Israel, and they shall be my people.” A side note: God is not talking about the church. He is specific in that it is God of all the clans of Israel. The dichotomy of the realm of Jesus and the Father God is in the words used. They are distinct yet in most ways, parallel. Parallel does not mean the same path. This is often argued by those who don’t fully understand why the Old Testament Covenants are Israel and the New Testament Covenants do not nullify the O.T. Covenants, rather they are specific to born again individuals.

*That time is a continuation of chapter 30 being a prophetic view for Israel and End Time. This is covered in verses 1-9. God assures his people that in That Time, he alone will protect their existence and they will not be eliminated from populating the earth.

Israel has been an unfaithful wife but Jeremiah 31:3 is specific. “I (God) have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.” God continued his love for Israel even when she abandoned him over and over. An Old Testament and very specific example of this relationship is the life of Hosea (Hosea 1:2-4). Hosea is a God-given example of his relationship with Israel. It is THE THEME of the entire Book of Hosea. If space allowed, which it doesn’t, this would be a good time to give a review of Hosea but the reader/student can do this on his or her own.

Verse 5: Again you shall plant vineyards on the mountains of Samaria; the planters shall plant and shall enjoy the fruit.

Verse 8: I will bring them from the North Country and gather them from the farthest parts of the earth, among them the blind and the lame, the pregnant woman and she who is in labor, together; a great company, they shall return here. (Here being Jerusalem).

Is there any reason to attempt to spiritualize these verses??? NONE, but history and bible revisionists attempt to warp its obvious meaning. These verses are straight forward and must be taken as God intended Jeremiah to present them to the captive Judeans now in or under Babylonian control. However, the problem comes in when we misunderstand that God is not talking about 70 years later when Daniel reminds the King Cyrus (the Mede) of the promised release and return. God is telling Jeremiah about a time even today is yet to come. Watch the news today and study the Apocalyptic End Times. We are extremely near this time if not one foot not already in the doorway. Everything is in place even as you read this article.

We know that this TIME has not yet occurred as the promises found in Jeremiah 31:9, 10 & 11 have not yet happened. Israel and Judah have yet to reunite as a single identity of people even though Gentiles have corrupted their identities by calling all of them Jews. The word Jews is never mentioned in the Bible until the nation of Israel has divided and the King of the Northern Ten Tribes prepares to go to defend itself from the “Jews” of Judah [I Kings 12:24]. This is the first time in scripture the word “JEW” is ever used. However, and depending on which Bible translation is referenced, some scholar’s point to II Kings 2:6 where most of the translations correctly use the name “Jew” as an identity of the Tribe of Judah.

The next several verses in Jeremiah 31 continue to explain (Prophecy) how God will reunite all of Israel (descendants of Jacob) and what will be waiting for them via God’s own hand. Note that the church is never mentioned or even indicated to be a part of any of this eventuality. This is God’s Covenant with his chosen. Jesus’s followers have a similar but different Covenants. In short, this is when God intervenes in world events and returns his blessing upon his chosen sons of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The world (other nations) will recognize this fact and whatever the New Covenant God enacts with ISRAEL, we can only speculate.

Jeremiah 31:17 makes it totally clear; “There is hope for your future, declares the LORD, and your children shall come back to their own country.” We are discussing a covenant with Israelis here, not just Judean Jews. Why hope in the future and not then? Verse 18 explains this if one understands how an unruly or untrained calf is treated by their shepherd; one that continues to violate the “rules of the shepherd” and repeatedly wanders off. The shepherd will break the leg of the animal making it totally dependent upon the shepherd to carry it. This is what Hosea points out with his prostitute wife exemplifying how Israel treats their God-husband. God will need to break the leg of Israel in End Time so that she can do absolutely nothing on her own. They will then realize there are totally dependent upon their God (shepherd).hope

Verse 21 of Jeremiah 31 is of particular insightfulness. It hints of other bible passages and promises being fulfilled. “There is hope for your future, declares the LORD, and your children shall come back to their own country.” There is hope for Israel but it will be many generations later and through their children’s children. For there is a new thing on earth that God has or was about to initiate. Most commentaries avoid discussing it but we will offer suggestions; i.e. V22 “and woman will encompass a man.”

According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, “encompass” means: to completely go around; group a task or tasks; a thick fog; encircle. Encompass: sâbab (H5437)

  1. Some translations state that a woman will protect a man. But, is this a “NEW THING” as stated in verse 22? Doubtful as even back in the time of Jacob when he had issues with his twin brother Esau, the women lead their return and reunion upon the death of their father Isaac. In a sense, they lead the way to protect Jacob from the fury of Esau.
  2. The control phrase is “God is creating a NEW THING on earth.” In a world that had traditionally held women at bay and in a sense, servitude, God is going to bring women to the forefront; beginning a form of dominance over their male counter-part.
  3. Some commentaries see this as a hint of the Virgin Mary bringing Jesus into the world by birth. This could mean that the strategy of God has now officially changed. He is moving from a nation to individual relationships with the God-head. That is shifting from the Old Testament concepts of Judaism to the New Testament relationship between God (Jesus) and mankind.
  4. In the spiritual relationship which the prophet has in view, this male/female relationship will now begin to be inverted. Israel, the erring but repentant wife, shall woo her Divine husband. The history of Gomer in Hosea 2:14-20 again presents a striking parallel. A like inversion of the normal order is indicated, though with a different meaning. Men traditionally woo the woman.
  5. Israel will eventually press herself to her God-husband and seek him out for eternity.
  6. Personally, this author sees it as the beginning of role reversal. This is very evident in today’s society and cultures with exceptions like in Islam. Men have defaulted to women to take leadership roles, head of households, guiding the man instead of the man guiding his family and wife.

This is an oft debated verse. We leave it to your discretion and interpretation as to its meaning. It is there so it is something that God intends us to grasp. It most likely suggests that someday God will make things on earth as different as a woman controlling man; role reversals

miniJimRev. Dr. Jstark

 

Jeremiah – Chapter 19

potters hand.jpgOnce again Jeremiah writes at the beginning of a chapter…”and the Lord told me to________.” Chapter 18 finds Jeremiah visiting a potter’s shop to see how a potter formed his pots; reminiscent of God’s creation of Adam. Now he is going to use a pot to demonstrate to the leaders (Civil and religious) of Judah how God is going to deal with them for their sinful and reluctant hearts.

JIV: There is something more than meets the eye and it is found here in chapter 18. Why would God have Jeremiah VISIT a potter’s shop? I have read up on pot making. It can be formed, shaped and made functional when it is soft clay; pliable to the molding of a potter’s hands. Once it is fire-hardened, it can only be patched or tossed away. When Adam and Eve sinned, their bodies became cracked or destined to die for it is now “been appointed once for a man to die” (Hebrew 9:27). In the meantime, God will patch us up spiritually if we are pliable spiritually.

Yes, Judah still has the Temple at this time in their history but they have forgotten that it is to be a place of monotheistic worship; i.e. one God. It had become “just another place of Judean worship but no longer just one God. They were still making sacrifices but one will shudder to learn they were sacrificing their own children to foreign gods. Some theologians suggest it is excused in their minds as parallel to Abraham taking his own son Isaac up to sacrifice him. It sounds more like it is post-birth abortion.

Deuteronomy 12:31 (see also Leviticus 20:2-5, Jeremiah 32:35, Ezekiel 20:26, Isaiah 57:4-5) tells us: You must not worship the Lord your God in their [foreigner’s] way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the Lord hates. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods.

These people (Tribe of Judah and their Levite priests) already knew this passage from Deuteronomy, Leviticus and Ezekiel. In the time of Jeremiah, it is several hundred years after these passages were written in Israeli histories. Even if they thought it may be similar to the Abraham and Isaac history, it violates these Old Testament and Hebrew books/scrolls.

If you, the reader, read this website’s article about SHIN then this next paragraph will make more sense. It has to do with the Valley of (Ben)Hinnom, sometimes identified as Tophet. This is a location south-east of Jerusalem where their garbage, animal bones, and wasted sacrifices were dumped and burned. This is also where the bible tells us these Judeans required their children to “walk through the fire” in honor of Moloch. Not much different than today’s abortion clinics…a child dies. The word “Tophet” means drums. The drums were beat so loud that the cries of children (babies) being sacrifices could not be heard. As if they didn’t know it was wrong? God did and so did they. Why else beat the drums loudly to cover up cries if it was a right thing in God’s eyes?

Valley of (Ben)Hinnom was renamed by God as the Valley of Slaughter. There is so much more to this but not in this article. We will address it more as we go through Jeremiah and later chapters.

JIV NOTE: Verse 3b of chapter 19 says: (ERV) “…the God of the people of Israel, says: I will soon make a terrible thing happen to this place! Everyone who hears about it will be amazed and full of fear.”  This is a prophecy soon to happen and parallel to End Time. The invasion (Armageddon) of Jerusalem may very well come through that valley and from that direction. To come from the other direction would require troops and machinery to cross two valleys and mountainous land. This also refers to the direction of Nebuchadnezzar’s (Babylonian) invasion of Jerusalem after he finished dealing with the Egyptian army. In a bit of what some so-called historians would call a coincident, this valley is also the placement and ritual of heathen god worship by Judah and their leadership; Valley of Death.

Jeremiah 19:4 amplifies the JIV NOTE.

An interesting but evasive to this author’s understanding or piece of mind is, why this is even mentioned in the bible; i.e. the bottle or pot Jeremiah used in his demonstration of God’s destructive plan for Judah is called a “burbuk” or “bubuk.” That name represents the chugging sound a liquid makes when coming out of a thin-necked bottle or pot. If someone has an idea or opinion as to its application or implication, e-mail me at drjstark1@gmail.com. Please provide evidence as to the conclusion or thoughts. I have plenty of opinions. Archeologists of the 20th century have found an amazing number of burial or crypt sites in this same area of Judah.

For a deeper understanding of this historical area, click here… http://www.kinghussein.gov.jo/his_nabateans.html

petraPetra: Not mentioned in Jeremiah 19 but relevant as we will see in later articles. It is speculated by some theologians that this is to where the people of Israel/Judah will flee in End Time Tribulation. This impressive city was hidden away in a cleft in the rock with access through a narrow crack in a mountain. The crack is over 1200 meters long and 3 to 6 meters wide, flanked by 100-meter high canyon walls. Why hide a city? http://nabataea.net/who.html NOTE: The Nabateans were also known as Edomite’s. But then, Genesis 25:13 gives us another possibility. It is Isaac’s half-brother Ishmael’s eldest and first born son’s name (Nebaioth/Nebayoth).

Jeremiah 19:5 is a very specific declaration. God says that the Judeans “burned their sons” and that “he did not ever tell them to do this; it never even crossed his mind to do such a thing.” However, this sin was but one reason God was holding Judah accountable as even more sinful than their northern cousins in the then nonexistent Kingdom of Israel (10 Tribes).

Jeremiah is told in 19:7-9 to instruct prophetically to the leaders of Judah their horrible consequence for betraying their God and as His chosen people. Verse 10 then says for Jeremiah to break the Burbur (pot) in front of them. We find that the death blow on Judah by the Babylonians will be so extensive that there will remain no one to bury the dead and no place left to bury them. God says “he will make this land (Jerusalem) like Topheth; a place of death.

Verse 13 in chapter 19 needs explaining. It mentions “roof offerings.” It is obvious in this verse that offerings of sacrifice were also done on roof tops. But why? The answer is geographical. Most of this land area is flat and has no “high places” upon which to lift up their offerings/sacrifices. This is also a parallel to the New Testament command to “lift up the name of Jesus.” This includes the eternal sacrifice made by Jesus when “For he was lifted up on the cross to pay the debt of our sin.” Isaiah 6:3 is a great example of lifting up for the correct reason.

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple.

Jer 19:15  “Listen, everyone! Some time ago, the LORD All-Powerful, the God of Israel, warned you that he would bring disaster on Jerusalem and all nearby villages. But you were stubborn and refused to listen. Now the LORD is going to bring the disaster he promised.” [CEV translation]

When we take Jeremiah 18 and 19 together as the content, we get the context of the potter working us, molding us, making us. In chapter 19 the potter breaks us when we become as useless as a cracked pot. This is God’s message to all of Judah. They still didn’t listen.

miniJimDr. J. Stark