Friday, August 3, 2012

Bethesda--Its Own Opposite

After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.
John 5:1-3

Bethesda--the house of mercy.  John's gospel tells us of a great miracle that took place at this site during the ministry of the Lord Jesus.  In mercy, Jesus found a helpless man who had been incapacitated for thirty-eight years.  By the time Jesus leaves the pool the man is walking whole and healed of his infirmity.  However, it is interesting to note that the word Bethesda is also its own antonym.  Amazing!

This name is a compound of two Hebrew words.  The first part is attached commonly to several towns in ancient Judah.  "Beth" simply means house.  The second part is the Hebrew word chesed.  What a wonderful word.  It is the Hebrew equivalent to grace or mercy and it is found translated as mercy, kindness, goodness, and other similar words over 240 times in the Old Testament.  Thank God for His mercy as it is everlasting!  Yet, this word was translated with a negative connotation a few times.  In those scriptures it is translated as reproach or wicked thing.  How can the same word be its own opposite?  Bethesda could just as easily be translated as the house of disgrace. 

The scripture even gives us several hints that the people of the day may have had mixed emotions about this pool.  First, it was near the sheep market around the sheep gate on the east side of Jerusalem.  The Roman historian Josephus, who was also Jewish, simply called it the pool of the sheep market.  This may also be the place where the incoming lambs were prepared for sacrifice.  Who would want to bathe in a place where sheep were watered or washed?  Then there is the problem with human nature. Most do not like to be around the broken and infirm.  If they are near someone with some strange affliction or caught in gross sin, they stare, gawk and offer judgmental glances to the place it makes the hurting individual greatly uncomfortable. It is apparent in the text that this place was a site where many hurting people lay daily hoping for the chance to be first into the waters.  "In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water (John 5:3)."  The last note is that this poor soul to whom Jesus ministered had no one to assist him. Was he such a pitiable case that family and friends had forsaken him? Is this why we have this interesting word that is its own opposite?  Many want to only "minister" to the well, the whole, the flourishing, and the capable.  Who wants to be around broken people near a stinking sheep market?  Jesus does!

Let's notice the verbs for a moment in this story from John 5.  Unlike the priest and the Levite who passed by on the other side of the road in the parable of the good Samaritan,  Jesus went specifically where
 those who were hurting could be found.  He made the effort to seek out those who were in need of help.  Did you notice that the man had no clue who Jesus was?  Quit standing around your church waiting for the "infirm" to come to you.  Reach out!  There are many hurting people who have no clue who Jesus is.  They are not able to come to you, so you go to them. Next, Jesus saw the man where he lay in such a terrible condition.  Christ sees your need and seeks to meet it if we will allow Him to.  After meeting your need He wants you to be a conduit of blessing to others.  Look around you and see those who need Jesus.  After He saw the man, Jesus knew the very depth of this soul's need just as He knows your need and the needs of those who are hurting around you.  Now comes the healing, Jesus saith.  Oh! When the Lord speaks!  He may want to speak through you, so find someone to share His word with.

Jesus commanded three things after the miracle
.  First, The man was told to rise.  Christ has the power to make the worst of sinners to rise from their sin.  He has the ability to heal mentally, physically, and spiritually.  Let Him use you to reach those who the world sees as a disgrace so that in Him they can arise above their circumstances.  The Lord's next command was to take up the the mat of affliction the man was stuck to for thirty-eight years.  In other words, He is telling the man to make a break from His past, and to carry away the very thing he was reliant upon. It is the command to start a new life.  Finally, the man is told to walk.  The man had new legs, but now he needed to start exercising them in faith.

So, rise up!  Rise up off of that pew and find those who are laying around waiting for help.  Search out those inhabitants of Bethesda that so many others simply pass by while ignoring their deep needs.  Take up that mat of excuses that keeps you from being the hands and feet of Jesus Christ and go.  Walk like Jesus would!  Since He is Soon2Come, He may take you places where those who need Him the most are.  Remember, He loves the worst of sinners and those who have toughest of circumstances.

And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: 
John 5:9a

*** I am greatly amazed at the number of nations where this blog is being read.  For all of those around this world who are faithfully reading, I pray that you are blessed.  I also ask you to pray for me that I may speak what the LORD, alone, wants and to always stay true to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

You will notice the addition of a language translator on the right side of the page under the pictures.  Hopefully this will help you in your reading.  However, these translators do sometimes miss the original intent of the writing or misinterpret colloquial vernacular.  If you ever have a question, feel free to contact me and I will try to assist.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Jerusalem At The Forefront--Again!

Therefore thus saith the LORD; I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies: my house shall be built in it, saith the LORD of hosts, and a line shall be stretched forth upon Jerusalem. Cry yet, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; My cities through prosperity shall yet be spread abroad; and the LORD shall yet comfort Zion, and shall yet choose Jerusalem.
Zechariah 1:16-17

I wished that this post was on a new topic, but it is not.  It is one that has been discussed in posts such as, Sha'alu Shalom Yerushalayim (Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem), A Cup of Trembling, and many more.  So why write about Jerusalem again?  First, the rhetoric over this city is heating up.  Next, Jerusalem is the focal point of prophecy as it relates to the return of Jesus Christ our King. Finally, the world's rebellion against the God's sovereignty is played out in its treatment of Jerusalem, and it is certain that this is stirred by the enemy, himself.

Over the past week Jerusalem has again been the center of attention. In an old post from 2010, The World's Focal Point--Jerusalem, it was discussed how this rather small city, under 3 million people, is continually in the news while cities numbering in the tens of millions are not mentioned hardly ever.  Jerusalem is mentioned so often because it has an interesting future, it will be the capital of the whole earth.  "And the LORD shall inherit Judah his portion in the holy land, and shall choose Jerusalem again (Zechariah 2:12)."  Jesus, like his earthy forefather King David, will rid the city of those squatters defiling His capital, and He will reestablish Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.  Unlike David and like His Heavenly Father, He will rule the entire world from there.  This is why Jerusalem stays in the news.  Satan wants to try his best to keep this from happening, so he ignites men's passions against the Jewish people and the city itself in a vain attempt to stop God's plan.  His vanity is his own calamity.  Didn't he try to kill Christ for the same reasons and look what that did for him.  Consider the following items from this week's news:

Romney: Jerusalem Capital of Israel

It seems that war in this region is inevitable and prophetic.  The problem revolves around the ancient site of the former Jewish Temple.  Daniel clearly mentions that some sort of temple or tabernacle like structure will be in place during the reign of the Antichrist.  He, the Antichrist, will defile this temple and stop the ensuing sacrifices from taking place while he commits the abomination of desolation (see Daniel 9:27).  This is the marker showing the middle of the Tribulation.  Just 3.5 lunar years from this time, the Lord Jesus will return to the battle beleaguered city and save the remnant of Israel that is left.  The problem is that this temple has to be built on the temple mount that is currently the site of Muslim holy places.  Any attempt to build, and war would be immediate.  As Zechariah prophesied, Jerusalem is surely a cup of trembling for the world who has already suffered through two great world wars.  All eyes are currently fixed on Jerusalem.

Zechariah also saw God's response to this futile demonic attempt to stop Christ's return.  Man and demon will try to destroy the city, but God will put a stop to it all.  Zechariah (and many other prophets) saw the Lord's response, "Be silent, O all flesh, before the LORD: for he is raised up out of his holy habitation (Zechariah 2:13)." Man has tried desperately to solve the Middle East Conflict.  It has been the bane of the last several US Presidents as well as many other world leaders.  Jesus Christ the Prince of Peace will do what no man can do in moments, bring peace to the world and make Jerusalem live up to its name "the teaching (city) of peace".  In short, the world's rebellion will cease as Christ has left the Holy Place to take His rightful throne and fulfill a host of prophecies just too numerous to mention.  What a day that will be!

With all eyes fixed on Jerusalem, are you paying attention to the time in which you live.  The branch is tender and putting forth leaves.  Summer is well nigh.  Will you be like those mentioned from Issachar in 1 Chronicles 12 who knew and attended to the times in which they live?  Again, summer is well nigh and Jesus Christ is Soon2Come.  Get ready!

More Foreboding News
Netanyahu: I Won't Let Israel Face An Iranian Atomic Threat
Obama orders new sanctions on Iran - Israel News, Ynetnews
PM: Time running out to resolve Iran standoff ... JPost - Defense  ****
Barak Tells Panetta Israel Will Decide on Iran - Defense/Security - News - Israel National News
Panetta: U.S. prepared to implement 'other options' to prevent a nuclear Iran - Israel News | Haaretz Daily Newspaper
Panetta says US force is an option against Iran nukes | Fox News

Monday, July 30, 2012

God's Veiled Message--The Secret Place

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.
Psalm 91:1-2

In the post, God's Veiled Message, it was mentioned that a secret message is found in the dimensions and the overall design of the Ark of the Covenant.  That message is that God by grace gives man new beginnings.  Furthermore, the net (a net is a two dimensional representation of the three dimensional shape that can form that shape when folded--sorry! I used to teach math. :) that is formed when the shape of the ark--a rectangular prism--is unfolded is that of a cross.  The cross is the instrument of God's grace and the message is not really a secret.  It is the master theme of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.  It is the Holy Spirit, then, who is continually placing the idea of salvation by the work of Christ at the cross repeatedly in the scripture directly and indirectly so that all might see how important it is.  Eternal destinies are at stake, and God wishes that none should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).  

Salvation is such a consistent theme that it shows clearly the divine inspiration of scripture.  This age is bombarded by many relativistic concepts that place all religions equal and having  none being the absolute truth.  This lie is also accompanied by an anti-supernaturalist viewpoint which removes God from His word and all of human history.  This is why many documentaries on the Bible always have a natural explanation to explain away the miraculous. "Fish were bigger in Jonah's day as were loaves of bread in Jesus' day", are but a few of the plethora of excuses to take away the divine hand.  However, the word alone is so amazing and so consistent on its own merit as to force any serious reader to carefully consider the absolute necessity of God's design and inspiration in its writing.  Simply put, the Word of God, the Bible, is amazing.

If we consider that the Bible claims the Holy Spirit inspired the writers then it means that even the smallest things it says have meaning.  Maybe this is why Jesus, Himself, said, "For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. (Matthew 5:18)."  Jots and tittles are punctuation marks and Jesus ascribed meaning to them.

Consider the shape of the ark again.  It is a rectangular prism:

Prisms have 3 main surface structures.  First, there are the faces.  These are the smooth parts or flat surfaces. Next, there are the edges where two faces meet together. Finally, there are the vertices where three or more edges meet.  Notice how I explained the last two using the prior definitions?  They are most often counted in this manner--faces, edges, and vertices.  

Therefore, the Ark of the Covenant, like any other rectangular prism, would have had 6 faces, 12 edges, and 8 vertices.  (YHWH who wrote the Bible and created all things surely created mathematics as well.) Again, Six is the number signifying man.  Twelve is the number related to perfect government--perfected in Christ.  Eight is a new beginning.  When man accepts the governing presence of Christ the LORD there is a new beginning.  The inspired Word of God is simply amazing!

It is more amazing when you consider what the lid of the ark was.  It was the mercy seat, but it was also a throne.  A throne!  The very symbol of leadership.  Christ wants to reign in our lives wholly and completely.  When we allow it, all things become new.  "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new (2 Corinthians 5:17)." 

Finally, It may have been Doug Small who once shared the meaning of the word "ark" in a Bible study I attended.  The Hebrew word translated into English as "ark" is  'arown.  This is the same word translated as coffin in Genesis 50:26.  This gives a whole new meaning to the New Testament thoughts such as these,  "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it (Matthew 16:25)."  and, "Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6:11)."  

This is the purpose of quoting Psalm 91:1-2 above.  The secret place where Christ reigns is that place where we die to self and live fully for Christ.  He reigns supreme.  When we bury ourselves in the ark (coffin) Christ sits as King in the place of lordship over of our lives.  The ark is the "secret place".  That is why His shadow is above us in Psalm 91.  What about you?  Have you died to self that Christ may have complete control?  Men who die to self allow Christ's reign over them and they add a whole new dimension of spiritual usefulness in His KINGDOM work.  It is literally a new beginning like the one soon coming when the King returns to reign physically from Jerusalem.

So much more could be mentioned here, but this post is long enough already.  Just let Jesus have control.  As always, He is Soon2Come.  Blessings