Monday, August 25, 2014

The Prophecy of the Seed by John Pappas, ThD

There is great confusion today concerning the over-all theme of the Bible. While there are some who overemphasize the salvation aspect, calling the overall theme, “the progress of redemption,” others over-emphasize the kingdom aspect of Christ. The Scriptures themselves testify that the whole of the Old Testament speaks about Christ (Luke 24:27; 1 Pet. 1:10-11; Rev. 19:10). Indeed, Jesus testifies to this fact as He explains who He is to the disciples saying, “And beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures” (Luke 24:27).

 The theme of the Bible is Christ – period. This involves both His first and second comings. In order to clarify the theme of the Bible, it is imperative to look at the first prophecy in Scripture concerning Christ - what is called the proteuangelium (Greek lit. “first gospel”) of Genesis 3:11-15. 

 As a result of Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God in the Garden, the Lord provides this prophecy: 

 11 And He said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?"  12 Then the man said, "The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate." 13 And the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate."  14 So the LORD God said to the serpent: "Because you have done this, You are cursed more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you shall go, And you shall eat dust All the days of your life.  15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel."  (Gen 3:11-15)

 Paul attributes fulfillment of this prophecy to Christ in Romans 16:20. He ascribes this Seed to Christ and His victory over Satan and death (cf. Isa. 25:8; Matt. 12:20;  John 12:31; 1 Cor. 15:54). Who then is the seed of Genesis 3 and what does the Old Testament have to say about the Seed of the woman?  

The Prophecy of the Seed

The Lord Jesus Christ is the prophesied Seed. This Seed has fulfillment in the incarnation of Christ who became flesh. The central verse for the incarnation is John 1:14, which defines the eternal Word became flesh:

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

 Of course a “seed” implies a lineage and this lineage is traced in Luke to Adam and the Seed of the woman of Genesis 3 (Luke 3:38).  However, it is the prophetic Seed of Abraham that we find the Seed of the promise that is satisfied in Christ. There are two important prophetic seed testimonies in Scripture: Abraham and David.  

16 Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, "And to seeds," as of many, but as of one, "And to your Seed," who is Christ. (Gal. 3:16)

 42 "Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?" (John 7:42)

and,
 

Romans 1:3:  Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh.

 Notice in Romans 1:3, the Son existed and was made according to the flesh the prophetic Seed of David. The reference here is to the Davidic covenant of 2 Samuel 7:12-14, where the prophet Nathan proclaims to David:

 “When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom.  13 He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.  14 I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men. “   

  As you can see, the Seed has two aspects: one based on the Abrahamic covenant wherein the blessing portion includes salvation that is extended to all nations; the other aspect is kingly wherein a throne for Israel will be established forever.  

 The Tender Shoot

This Seed also has an important prophetic metaphor called the Tender Shoot of Isaiah 53 – the Suffering Servant of the Lord:    

 Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?  2 For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.  3 He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face, He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. 4 Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted.  5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. (Isa. 53:1-5)

This prophecy is said to be fulfilled in Christ by the apostle John in 12:37-38. The main point of the Suffering Servant is Priestly not Kingly. The Suffering Servant came, as John the Baptist proclaimed, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)  The Suffering Servant that Isaiah proclaimed is fulfilled in Jesus in His first coming:

"I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.  47 And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.  48 He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him - the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.”  (John 12:46-48)

 The Branch

In Scripture, there is also the Branch, which speaks of the kingly aspect of the Son. Isaiah talks about the Rod of Jesse. Who was Jesse? Jesse was the father of David (Ps. 72:20). Notice what Isaiah says:

 1There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots.

 2 The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.  3 His delight is in the fear of the LORD, And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, Nor decide by the hearing of His ears;  4 But with righteousness He shall judge the poor, And decide with equity for the meek of the earth; He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, And with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked.  5 Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins, And faithfulness the belt of His waist.  6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, The leopard shall lie down with the young goat, The calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little child shall lead them.  (Isa 11:1-6)

 Jeremiah also speaks about this Branch as he writes:

 5 "Behold, the days are coming," says the LORD, "That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; A King shall reign and prosper, And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.  6 In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell safely; Now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. (Jer 23:5-6)

 Finally, Zechariah prophesied concerning the Branch:

12 Then speak to him, saying, Thus says the LORD of hosts, saying: “Behold, the Man whose name is the BRANCH! From His place He shall branch out, And He shall build the temple of the LORD;  13 Yes, He shall build the temple of the LORD. He shall bear the glory, And shall sit and rule on His throne; So He shall be a priest on His throne, And the counsel of peace shall be between them both.”  (Zec. 6:12-13)

 As can be seen from the verses of the Tender Shoot and the Branch, this is none other than the Son of God – Jesus Christ, the Anointed Savior. Jesus is the Son of Man, the Son of God, and the Son of David.  All three of these expressions relate to His first and second comings. We cannot have the King without the King coming in the flesh as the Suffering Servant to deal with the sin issue and His completed work on the cross. Likewise, we cannot claim Him King simply by proclaiming the cross; there will be a future day when the King will return to deal with the nation Israel and the nations of the world and sit on the throne of David.  



Monday, August 18, 2014

Setting Up for the “Peace-maker” by Dr. Gary Dromi



How many times have the various nations of the world tried to broker a peace treaty between the nation of Israel and her numerous enemies?  United States presidents have tried repeatedly; Egyptian officials have tried; the United Nations has tried; European leaders have tried.  Still, no peace.  The fighting goes on.   

To be sure, there have been “cease-fires,” some longer than others.  But what everyone appears to want is a “long-lasting peace,” one that doesn’t need to be repeatedly brokered every few days, weeks, month or years. 

Once again, it appears as if God is aligning the nations on the world’s stage to carry out His prophetic Word.  And His Word tells us exactly what will happen and how it will happen.

The Book of Daniel is filled with prophecies about the end-times.  Teaching pastors would do well to spend a considerable amount of time reading it, understanding it and sharing it with their congregations.  We are living in one of the most amazing times in all of human history and the prophet Daniel helps us to catch a glimpse of what’s yet to come.

There is not enough time or space to do an exhaustive study or the entire book of Daniel.  So this will be concise and to the point.  Daniel 9:26-27 reads, “Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary.  And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.  27 And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of  abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”

There is much here to understand and I encourage you to do an in-depth study of the entire book of Daniel.  But for the purpose of this article, let’s focus on “the prince who is to come” and “he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week.” 

The “prince who is to come” is the Antichrist who comes on the scene at the start of the “the great tribulation” (Matt. 24:21; Mark 13:19; Rev.7:14), also known as “Daniel’s 70th week.”  

This prince “will make firm” (confirm; cause to prevail) a “covenant with the many,” that is, with nation of Israel “for one week” (a seven year agreement).  Daniel goes on (later in his prophecy) to tell us that three and one half years into this “covenant” the Antichrist will break his agreement with Israel and cause the “abomination of desolation” against the Jewish religion.  This violation will ruin what Jews regard as sacred, namely their holy temple and the honoring of God’s presence there.  Jesus refers directly to this in His Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24:15).
 
 Some questions to ponder: 
1.       Isn’t it fascinating how God has already told us what’s coming?  
2.       Isn’t it fascinating that the nation of Israel has said repeatedly, “We just want to live in peace.” 
3.       Isn’t it fascinating that the “peace-brokers” are trying to find a “long-lasting” solution?

We should not try to establish times or dates.  We do not know when this “prince” will come on to the scene and make his “firm covenant” with Israel.  But we can observe how very much a “long-lasting” peace is desired.

Last question (for now): 
4. What will be the circumstances that will cause the Jewish people, to agree to this particular covenant, with this particular individual, when they have been so wary of all the others?

 
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:  “May they prosper who love you,” (Psalm 122:6).




Dr. Gary Dromi currently resides in Springdale, AR. He has been in full-time ministry for over thirteen years. He holds a B.A., M.A. and a D.Min. in Biblical Studies. While on sabbatical, he completed his Ph.D. in Biblical Counseling and is now available for pulpit fill, seminars and a full-time pastoral position. He can be reached at: provrbs3_5_6@att.net


Monday, August 11, 2014

THE COMING “BIG BANG” by Dr. Paul Benware



            I firmly believe in the “big bang”.  There is just no doubt about it.  Oh, not the one that allegedly took place in the past, billions of years ago and was the starting event for our universe.  That idea comes from fertile minds trying to account for the existence of the material universe without a Creator God.  I believe in the future “big bang” which is not speculation but will certainly bring about the end of the present heavens and the earth.  Interestingly, it is not the Book of Revelation that gives us most of our information about the end of the present heaven and earth, but it is the Apostle Peter who does.  In this study, we want to investigate Peter’s discussion in 2 Peter 3:8-15.

     (1)   Peter’s Explanation of the Delay for the End Time Events. 3:3-9. 
Peter and the other Apostles spoke often about the return of the Lord Jesus and end time events, and they apparently expected Him to come in their lifetimes or sometime in the First Century.  But, at the writing of 2 Peter, Jesus had not come back.  This not only perplexed believers but also stimulated some cynics to declare in taunting tones, “Where is the promise of His return.”  The Apostle responds to these mockers but also gives additional vital information for his readers.

Peter had spent all of chapter 2 exposing the teaching, behaviors and attitudes of false teachers that were in the church.  He now focuses more specifically on their view of end time events.  In 2 Peter 3:3-4a, he says:

“Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, ‘where is the promise of His coming?’"

            This subject is of great importance in Peter’s view as in seen in the phrase “first of all” (3:3).  The verb “will come” is emphatic by its being placed first in the sentence and communicates the point the church should not be caught off guard by the mockers presence or surprised by their declarations. Unfortunately, too often in the church today, prophetic events are diminished in importance.  But not so with Peter and the Apostles.  These end time events are also referred to as a “promise” simply because that is just what Jesus did; He promised to return and bring to an end this present world order.

            In explaining the delay of end time events, Peter points out (3:8) that while God created time, His relationship to time is very different from ours as humans. God may use a thousand years to do what we think should be done in a day (like getting prepared for the coming of Jesus); and He can accomplish in one day what we might believe it would take a thousand years to get done (like paying for sin in one day on the cross).  We cannot conform Him to our schedule. (Note this verse has been misused to try and teach that the days of Genesis 1 are long periods of time. The idea that days are long periods of time is simply not what Peter is saying). Often we hear sincere believers say, “The world is so bad that Christ must return soon.”  While we wish this were so, we must remember that God does not order His actions according to our times and schedule.

            Peter also speaks to the matter of God’s use of time (3:9) and observes that God does take His promises seriously. Delay is not denial.  What appears to be reluctance or slowness on God’s part to bring about end times events is because of mercy.  God really doesn’t want any to perish and so continually works towards the end of men being saved.  It is not that God is just “hanging out” (the basic idea of “slowness”) or is negligent or unconcerned.  God takes no pleasure in the death of wicked people (Ezekiel 33:11), and so, often delays judgment (1 Peter 3:20) as He did for 120 years in the days of Noah.  So the mockers are wrong when they suggest that these end time events are really not that important; that even God isn’t particularly focused on them!

     (2)   The certainty of the coming “day of the Lord.”  2 Peter 3:10.

This day “will come.”  We can be absolutely sure of this. But what exactly is the “day of the Lord?”  This is a phrase based on the Old Testament and used as well by New Testament writers.  It is that special time of God’s intervention into human history.  God, of course, is always at work in the affairs of men and nations, but this is looking at God’s special activity in the end times.  It includes three major events:  (1) the Tribulation, (2) the Second Coming of Christ, and (3) the Messianic (millennial) kingdom.  So this period of time will last a little over 1000 years and will culminate with the “big bang.” 

The commencement of the “day of the Lord” is likened to the coming of a thief; it is unexpected.  Men apparently will be inclined to listen to the mockers with the result that they are caught off guard by end time events.

In his discussion, Peter skips over the three major events of the “day of the Lord” in order to emphasize how the “day” will end.  He has already (3:6) noted that the world has faced cataclysmic events in the past (contrary to the mockers) with the flood of Noah, and will in the future face an unprecedented destruction of the universe (3:7).  He states in 3:10 and 12,

“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up….the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat.”

     The elements of the universe will disintegrate in this massive explosion (big bang) and with intense heat (like nuclear blasts) will disappear.  Revelation 20:11 adds that the heaven and earth goes out of existence and “no place was found for them.”  The “big bang” is in preparation for the creation of a new heaven and a new earth where righteous reigns (3:13; Rev. 21:1).

So the mockers are wrong.  They don’t see time correctly and they don’t understand God’s great mercy.  The reality is these end time events are definitely, unmistakably, doubtlessly going to take place.  God’s delay is not His denial.

     (3)   Our present responsibilities in light of the end time events. (3:11, 14)

With the certainty of end time events in mind, the question is “how are we to live?” Peter says “what sort of people” are we to be (3:11) which is not really a question as much a statement or exclamation.
We are to live holy lives.  Diligently we are to separate ourselves from sin and separate ourselves to the Lord.  We know that success in any endeavor, whether it be on the job, in sports, in school, requires diligent effort.  It takes discipline and focus in our lives to be holy.  Remembering end time events, especially our accountability to the Lord is designed to assist us mentally and spiritually in disciplining ourselves unto holiness.

We are to serve the Lord.  He speaks of us “hastening the day” of the Lord’s return.  God factors in our service, evangelism, prayer, etc. and that will have an effect on His returning.  

We are to found in “peace” at His return.  We are to be living in a harmonious relation with Christ, removing all things from our lives which would cause discord between us and the Lord.  We have peace with God because of our salvation but we also need that harmonious fellowship with Jesus by “abiding” in Him (John 15).

We are to found “spotless” and “blameless” at His return.  It is possible for us to be this way, not because we achieve sinless perfection, but because of His blood is available to keep on cleansing us as we keep on confessing (1 John 1:9).

     It is very important that we observe the situation in Peter’s day and see that we face a similar attitude today in the church.  In the “last days” (3:3) there will be those who diminish end time events.  They will dismiss these events as too controversial, too complex, too obscure and too irrelevant to “real life.”  Such teachers badly miss the significance of biblical prophecy and actually find themselves opposed to both the Apostles and Jesus Himself on this subject.  In light of the certainty of end time events, we are to believe what has been written and order our lives according to the Word. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Freedom by the Payment of a Price by Dr. Robert Lightner

The title for this article is what is meant by Old Testament and New Testament words for sin. There are three related and progressive ideas in the New Testament words translated “redeem,” “redemption” and “bought.” Let me explain these words from their usage in Scripture.

Purchase or “bought” is even used of those who refuse what Christ has done for them on the cross. The apostle Peter put it this way: “But there are also false prophets among the people even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord Who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction” (2 Peter 2:1).


Security is also a vital part of redemption. Paul, the apostle, made this very clear to the Galatian believers: “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a  curse for us–for it is written, cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree” (Galatians 3:13). The word used here is even stronger than the word Peter used in 2 Peter 2:1. “Redeemed” in Galatians 3:13 means the purchased one, the redeemed one, has been removed from the slave market of sin never to be put on sale again.
 

Freedom is another wonderful benefit and blessing for the redeemed. Again, Peter wrote, “...you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver and gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers” (1 Peter 1:18). In other words, the redeemed is taken from the slave market and is ransomed, released and set free. The child of God no longer needs to be a slave, in bondage to sin and Satan. Redemption has delivered the believer from sin’s fetters and has given him a new Master, Christ Jesus our Lord!

Monday, July 28, 2014

JEREMIAH: WEEPING FOR THE DISOBEDIENT by Steven C. Ger

I strongly believe that one of the Biblical areas most churches tend to neglect is the writings of the great prophets of Israel.  When one contemplates that the prophets comprise over twenty percent of Old and New Testaments combined, it can be seen as a rather large omission on the part of our pastors and teachers.  And yet I am hard-pressed to select a more relevant portion of Scripture for our day; a section of the Bible that speaks to our nation's moment in history and our window of opportunity as the church.  If we are indeed to be the preserving salt to our decaying culture as our Lord intended, we need the timeless, and timely, message of the prophets.

Let us endeavor, then, to continue together to correct this oversight and supplement our Biblical knowledge by undertaking a brief survey of the prophet Jeremiah.  As I've spoken with many people and taught over the years, I have come to the realization that many of us have never even opened the book of Jeremiah.  In fact, in many Bibles, the pages are still stuck together!  Take a moment before continuing and run a maintenance check — make sure all your Bible's pages in Jeremiah are free and clear!

 I have called this study "weeping for the disobedient," and in fact, Jeremiah is often called "the weeping prophet."  This is because the main concern of the book is Jeremiah's continuing prophecy of God's judgment against Judah. He denounced Judah in order to warn them to stop being disobedient to the Mosaic Covenant.  If they would not return to the Lord, the people of Judah would be exiled.  Of course, as we know, the Jewish people did not turn back to the Lord and were exiled to Babylon by the end of Jeremiah's ministry.  This is why he wrote the book of Lamentations; because he grieved over the destruction of his people as they had not heeded his message.

Jeremiah is perhaps the most autobiographical book within Scripture.  Jeremiah reveals more personal details concerning his life and inner feelings than any other of the prophets. Some of his writing resonates with the stark emotional force of several of the more vivid, personal psalms.  The book of Jeremiah is composed of many literary styles, however, ranging from history to prophecy and spans several decades of Jeremiah's life and ministry.  One interesting feature of the book is that, unlike most Biblical books, there is a marked lack of chronological arrangement. The author has arranged the material in a logical, progressive pattern, to advance the overarching theme of God's judgment on the disobedient nation.  Even in the midst of this theme, however, the pattern of Jeremiah's work, like other Old Testament prophets, also encompasses the tempering of final judgment with the promise of their eventual restoration to the land.

 The Hebrew name "Jeremiah" means, "the Lord exalts" or "the Lord throws down".  This seemingly contradictory, dual nature of the name can be seen in the message of the book.  The prophet grew up in a priestly home, and the book records that he was called to be the Lord's messenger while still a child.  He was appointed by God to "pluck up and break down, destroy and overthrow, and also to build and plant".  How's that for a mission statement?!  Jeremiah's message was primarily of judgment to a disobedient and unfaithful nation.  However, it was also one of hope, comfort and promise of restoration with their God, Who had promised never to completely reject His chosen.

 The historical period Jeremiah encompasses is that of the book of Kings of Judah and Israel, approximately 600 BC.  You will remember that at this time, several centuries after David and Solomon ruled a united Israel, the nation had split into northern and southern kingdoms.  The southern kingdom is called Judah, and it is here that our weeping prophet ministered.  Judah's gross disobedience to the Mosaic Covenant, their rampant idolatry, injustice and sinfulness, occurred within a context of religious renewal under the good King Josiah.  In the aftermath of one of the most exciting times of actual religious reformation came a disastrous period of rebellion against the Lord.  This is the backdrop for the prophet's dramatic ministry and message of impending doom on a hypocritical nation.                                

 Now that we have laid our groundwork for our study of Jeremiah's message, I'm afraid I will have to leave you in suspense until next month.  Between now and then, though, be sure and read through the first ten chapters of the book.  I know that the prophets can seem a little intimidating, but just jump in — the water's fine!  Next month we will see what the weeping prophet had to say to a backsliding nation.

Monday, July 21, 2014

What In The World Is Going On? The “Time” Has Come! by Gary Dromi, D. Min., Ph.D.


3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths. 2 Timothy 4:3-4. 

If we pay close attention, we can see (and hear) Paul’s prophetic words being fulfilled right now. One may argue that there have always been cults, false religions and pseudo-churches around. However, what Paul is talking about is not outside of the Church - he’s referring to what would be happening within the Church. 

they will not endure sound doctrine.” The Greek word translated as “sound” means to be correct, to be accurate. Many a godly pastor has been asked to leave a church simply because his desire was to remain true to God’s Word. He taught the whole counsel of God, including the parts about sin, wrong behavior and God’s sovereignty. The congregation (however small or large) thought his message was too serious or perhaps he wasn’t telling enough jokes. So, he was “asked to resign.” 

they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance with their own desires.” The solution is to find someone who “makes us feel good about ourselves.” “We need to find a pastor who won’t make any judgments.” “We need to find a pastor who believes that everyone is going to heaven because a loving God would never send anyone to hell.” “We need to find a pastor who believes in singing more and teaching less.” They get what they want at peril of their souls. 

and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths.” Though this is not a new phenomenon, it as been accelerated at a rate that is nothing less than astounding. The amount of non-biblical doctrine that’s being taught from pulpits across the country is frightening. The biblical illiteracy found in churches today amongst the congregations leaves them wide open to the “myths” being put forth by their leadership. 

Paul’s admonition to Timothy was to “Preach the Word.” Lest we forget, “the Word” Paul was talking about was God’s Word, the Bible - not man’s philosophies, theories, or opinions. 

In his letter to the church at Rome, Paul writes, “13 Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent?
 
To those who are sent, listen to Paul and “preach the Word” from your pulpits. God will honor your faithfulness. To those who are sent, how can we do anything less and still remain faithful to our calling and obedient to our God? 

May the Lord give you strength and courage as you shepherd your flock and preach His Word.


Dr. Gary Dromi currently resides in Springdale, AR. He has been in full-time ministry for over thirteen years. He holds a B.A., M.A. and a D.Min. in Biblical Studies. While on sabbatical, he completed his Ph.D. in Biblical Counseling and is now available for pulpit fill, seminars and a full-time pastoral position. He can be reached at: provrbs3_5_6@att.net 

 

Monday, July 14, 2014

LIVING TODAY IN LIGHT OF THE FUTURE DAY OF THE LORD - A STUDY OF 1 THESSALONIANS 5:1-11 (Part 1) by Dr. Paul Benware



          It is pretty certain that if we knew about a coming significant event, we would take appropriate action to get ready.  So, if we knew that we would lose our job in two months, we might start looking for another job as well as making some financial adjustments.  If we knew that a hailstorm was going to hit in an hour, we would put our car in a garage out of harm’s way.  If we knew that a burglar was going to break into our house in the early morning hours tomorrow, we would make a number of adjustments preparing for his coming.  

Knowing ahead of time what is going to happen is one of the significant reasons why biblical prophecy is important in the believer’s life.  When we become aware of coming events (and believe it) we do life differently.  This was the Apostle Paul’s emphasis with the believers at Thessalonica as he instructed them about future events and our response to those events.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, the Apostle reminded them of the coming of the Day of the Lord (5:1-3), and then of the needed response of the children of the Lord to this reality (5:4-11).  In this study we will look at the matter of the coming “day of the Lord” (5:1-3) and then in the next study we will focus on what our response is supposed to be (5:4-11).

THE COMING OF THE LORD AND THE DAY OF THE LORD (5:1-3). 

The Knowledge of Believers – 5:1-2.  The discussion opens with “now” (peri de) which always introduces a new subject in Paul’s writings.  He had been reminding them about the coming “rapture” (4:13-18) but now shifts to the subject of the coming “day of the Lord”; and specifically the judgment part of the day of the Lord (that is, the Tribulation).  He had taught them about this before so this is a reminder and not brand new information.  They had learned earlier about the “times” and the “seasons.”  “Times” refers to the order or sequence of coming events, while “seasons” (or epochs) refers to significant events that are turning points in history.  (For example, September 11, 2001 would be an “epoch” because the world was dramatically changed by the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon). It is worth noting that Paul believed that eschatology was a vital part of Christian theology, as seen by the fact that in the few weeks he was with the Thessalonian believers, he taught them carefully on prophecy.  He not only talked about major events but also the sequence of future events. 

In the OT the “day of the Lord” is used: (1) in reference to the coming time of unprecedented trouble and judgment, which we commonly refer to the Tribulation; (2) in reference to the judgments and events surrounding the Second Coming of Christ to the earth; and (3) in reference to the coming time of blessing which is looking at the Messianic Kingdom.

          The term “day of the Lord” has a rich Old Testament history as it used some 75 times in the OT prophets.  It refers to a special time of Divine intervention into this world. 
 
 In 1 Thessalonians 5, Paul is just looking at the judgment aspect of the “day of the Lord”.

The Ignorance of Unbelievers – 5:3.  It is important to note the difference between “we” and “they” in this discussion.  The “they” is looking at unbelievers and “we” refers to believers.  In a most fascinating statement, Paul declares that the “day of the Lord” will come when they are saying “peace” and “safety”.  This is an amazing thought.  When it is the consensus of the world that we are now in a time of “peace” and “safety”, then suddenly the “day of the Lord” (like the thief who arrives unexpectedly—5:2) comes in its full fury. The word peace means that there is an absence of alarm because of the harmonious relationships and circumstances on the earth.  Safety means secure from danger and enemies.  These two words point to a time when men will feel inwardly that everything is safe and secure and they see no real outward evidence that contradicts that feeling. How they arrive at these feelings is not spelled out.  But their general sense is that all is well and that sense ill prepares them for the sudden destructions of the Tribulation period.  These judgments are likened to “birth pains” that come suddenly on the expectant mother. The concept of “birth pains” is used by the OT prophets, as well as the Lord Jesus and the Apostle Paul. It looks at judgments which will come and will increase in intensity and rapidity as time draws to the moment of the end (the birth pains which “birth” the messianic age). Now, which birth pain is it that catches the expectant mother off guard?  The first one, of course.  She could be sleeping peacefully or enjoying a nice meal, but things change dramatically when that first pain hits. This first birth pain points to Revelation 6 where the first judgments (the “seal judgments”) begin the Tribulation period.  These are the judgments which catch the world off guard.  

So in these verses, Paul informs us that unbelievers are not only ignorant of the true situation in the world, but they are also ignorant of God’s coming judgments. 

          One might wonder how they could be so surprised by these judgments.  Jesus dealt with that very issue in His teachings (e.g. Matt. 24:37-39; Luke 17:28-29). He used the people of Noah’s day as an example.  Even though the world had 120 years to prepare for the Noahic flood and heard Noah the preacher of righteousness proclaim this coming event, they were caught off guard by the Flood. Why? Because they simply did not believe God’s revelation. Like Noah’s day, mankind in the end times, will be preoccupied with the things of the world and quite dismissive of God’s revealed truth.  Mankind simply will not listen to the warnings given in God’s revelation and will most likely write them off (as well as anyone who might refer to them) as the ravings of unstable religionists.  This attitude which will prevail in the last days combined with their view that the world is now a basically tranquil place, will set them up for the terrible surprise of the judgments of the “day of the Lord”.  They simply do not see things as they actually exist.

          But there is a nagging issue here.  Why would any sane person see the world as a safe and peaceful place? Why would this become the consensus of most everyone in the world? Is the world safe and secure today?  The answer, of course, is “no”.  It is neither of these two things mentioned in the text.  The reality today is that we have constant surveillance with the NSA, TSA, CIA, FBI and others monitoring life 24/7.  We need to go through security checkpoints to get on a flight, go to school or go into a sports arena.  Cameras are everywhere and, if the TV shows are correct, our movements, locations and much more are observable by many.  The world is not a safe place and thus all the precautions.  But apparently something dramatic changes our present situation.  

The primary problem today which causes all these precautions is radical Islam.  Could it be that the groups and nations that produce and fund these radicals are destroyed?  Could it be that prior to the Tribulation period these radical elements are effectively neutralized thus causing a false sense of security in the world?  Could it be that the famous Gog/Magog battle of Ezekiel 38 and 39 takes place destroying these nations which hate Israel and produce the terrorists of the world?  I would suggest (and this is, I admit, speculation) that after the “rapture” event but prior to the start of the Tribulation that God will destroy these nations as describe by the prophet Ezekiel, preparing the world for the great end time events.

          Whether this is the exact chronology of events or not, we are faced with the matter of why the world would be saying “peace” and “safety”.  We may not be able to figure this out this side of the events themselves but the truth is the world will be saying peace and safety and God’s judgments are a total surprise. 

But there is much more in this passage as believers who know about future events must not be spiritually sleepy but alert and living with these events in view.