Archive | May 2013

From the Pastor’s Pen

Final thoughts on Mark 13:28-30

 

“Now learn this parable from the fig tree:  When its branch has already become tender, and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near.  So you also, when you see these things happening, know that it is near—at the doors!  Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.              NKJV

A common error in the interpretation of this passage is that the fig tree represents the nation of Israel.  This error was prominent in Edgar Whisenant’s book, 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988, which for obvious reasons, is no longer on the Best Seller List.  Like Whisenant, many have assumed that the fig tree represents Israel.  Since a Jewish generation is 40 years (Num. 32:13), and since Israel was reestablished as a nation in 1948, then the rapture must occur by 1988.  After 1988 had come and gone, and still the rapture had not occurred, some scholars revised their time tables arguing that Israel was not securely established as a nation until after the Six-Day War and so the 40 years must be added to 1967, instead of 1947, bringing the date of the rapture up to 2007.  But now 2007 has come and gone—and still no rapture.

Scripture is clear; no one can predict the timing of the rapture.  There are no signs given to precede the 1st phase of Jesus’ 2nd coming in which He returns in the air and takes His church up into heaven for the judgment seat of Christ and the marriage of the Lamb (I Thess. 4:16-17, John 14:2-3, Rom. 14:10, II Cor. 5:10, Rev. 19:7-8), and where Christians will cast the crowns they received at the rapture at the feet of the Lord Jesus Christ (Rev. 4:10).  The rapture is imminent.  It could have taken place at any time since the first century, and may happen at any moment (Matt. 24:44, Luke 12:40, Jas. 5:8, I Thess. 1:10, Phil. 3:20, Rev. 22:7, 12, 20).  “Quickly” in the Revelation verses does not mean “soon.”  It has been almost 2000 years since the book of Revelation was written.  Rather, “quickly” means “unexpectedly” or “imminently.”

The signs given in the Olivet discourse (the abomination of desolation, the great tribulation, the global blackout) all precede the 2nd phase of Jesus’ 2nd coming in which He returns visibly to the earth (Rev. 1:7) with His church (I Thess. 4:14, Jude 14-15) in great power and glory (Mark 13:26) to destroy the armies of the antichrist (II Thess. 2:8, Rev. 19:11-21) and establish his throne in Israel (Luke 1:32-33) where He will rule the nations of the earth with a rod of iron (Psa. 2:8-9; Rev. 2:27, 12:5).

Furthermore, in Luke’s account of the Olivet discourse, Luke adds “…the fig tree, and all the trees.” (Luke 21:29).  If the fig tree represents Israel, then what do “all the trees” represent?  The fig tree is simply used in our text as an illustration that the abomination of desolation and the great tribulation that follows are signs that will precede Christ’s revelation (the 2nd phase of His 2nd coming, not the rapture).  As for us, we had better make sure that we have repented of our sins and trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Savior.  The rapture could happen at any time.  Are you ready?

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From the Pastor’s Pen

Final thoughts on Song of Solomon 3:11

 

Go forth, O daughters of Zion, And see King Solomon with the crown With which his mother crowned him On the day of his wedding, The day of the gladness of his heart.              NKJV

Having repented of her adultery with David, Bathsheba became a very godly, influential mother in the life of her son, Solomon.  Even more important than the physical and temporal crown she sought for Solomon, Bathsheba sought a spiritual and eternal crown for her son, and this is the crown that every godly mother seeks for her children.  I Thessalonians 2:19, II Timothy 4:8, James 1:12, and Revelation 2:10 all refer to eternal crowns given to true believers at the Lord’s coming.  The greatest desire of every godly mother is to see her children saved, which begins by consistently teaching them the word of God.

During Israel’s public worship service, the mothers were there with their “little ones” for the reading of the Scriptures (Josh. 8:34-35).  Whether her children are 4 years old or 14 years old, a godly mother will make sure that they are at her side in the church’s worship services.  Scripture exhorts children not to forsake the “law” of their mother (Prov. 1:8, 6:20).  The “law” of every godly mother is based on the “law” of God.  Galatians 3:4 tells us that the “law” was a tutor to bring us to faith in Christ.  It is through the teaching of God’s law that we learn we are sinners—divine lawbreakers (Rom. 3:10, 23; I John 3:4), and that the penalty for breaking God’s laws is spiritual, physical, and, ultimately, eternal death in the lake of fire (Rom. 6:23; Rev. 20:15).  Having realized as sinners that we cannot be saved by our good works (Eph. 2:8-9; Tit. 3:5), we then look in faith to God’s remedy for our sins, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is able to save us by His works (substitutionary death, resurrection, and intercessory work in heaven) on our behalf.

In the Apostle Paul’s final letter, he said to Timothy, “from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (II Tim. 3:15)  How was Timothy able to learn the Scriptures from childhood?  They were taught to him by his mother, Eunice, and his grandmother, Lois (II Tim. 1:5).  Bathsheba’s godly influence in her son’s life is clearly seen in Proverbs 31.  Lemuel, a nickname given to Solomon by his mother, literally means “devoted to God” and is an expression of her desire to see him become a godly man and king.

In Proverbs 31, Bathsheba begins by teaching Solomon what not to do regarding women and alcoholic drinks (vs. 3-7), and then proceeds to teach him the value and characteristics of a virtuous wife (vs. 10-31).  Through his mother’s instruction Solomon learns that a virtuous wife is industrious, not lazy (vs. 13-20).  She values her God-given role as a homemaker and helpmeet to her husband (vs. 21-28) and does not consider being a homemaker beneath her dignity (Tit. 2:5).  The virtuous wife is a woman who fears the Lord and speaks the wisdom of His word (vs. 26, 30).  Likewise, if she has daughters, she will instruct her daughters in what to look for in a godly husband.  The results of the virtuous woman’s life as helpmeet and mother is that her husband and children will call her “blessed” and “praise” her (v. 28).

From the Pastor’s Pen

Final Thoughts on Psalm 34:1-7

I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.  My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; The humble shall hear of it and be glad.  Oh, magnify the Lord with me, And let us exalt His name together.  I sought the Lord, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears.  They looked to Him and were radiant, And their faces were not ashamed.  This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, And saved him out of all his troubles. The angelof the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, And delivers them.                      NKJV

In August, 1875, English bishop Edward Bickersteth was on vacation when he heard a minister speak on “peace” from Isaiah 26:3.  That same afternoon, he shared the comfort of this verse with a dying relative.  God’s peace seemed to flood the room, and Bickersteth was so moved that he took out a pen and paper and wrote the words that we know today as the hymn, “Peace, Perfect Peace.”

Isaiah 26:3 is a wonderful promise, and Psalm 34:1-7 shows us one way to make God’s peace real in our lives—through the expression of praise in our prayers.  The promised peace comes to the person whose mind is steadfast because it is fixed on the Lord. Verses 1-3 of our text reveal a mindset that is focused on the Lord, as David offers up to God his prayer of praise.

We can’t talk about the power of prayer without realizing that one of the primary purposes of prayer is to “exalt the Lord” (v. 1).  And besides bringing God the glory that is due Him, this kind of prayer also serves as a testimony to others.  David called on other believers to join him in glorifying God.

David went on to explain the source of his confidence (vs. 4-6).  God had delivered David from great danger and fear in the episode with the Philistine king Achish (1 Sam. 21:10-15).  David went from fear to peace and radiant confidence because he sought God in prayer, and the Lord answered.

We’re all “poor” in the sense David describes in verse 6.  In ourselves we are bankrupt of the spiritual resources we need to experience God’s peace and deliverance from trials.  But everything we lack, our great God has in abundance.  When we praise Him even in the midst of trials, we find the peace that comes only when “the angel of the Lord” takes up guard duty around us (v.7).

The Apostle Paul knew that same peace and he understood the vital connection between praise and thanksgiving, and the peace of God (Phil. 4:6-7).  When we praise God with joyful, thankful hearts, His peace does “sentry duty” in our lives.  Of course, God’s peace does not mean the absence of problems.  But it does provide the grace and power we need to persevere and praise Him despite any difficulty.  Why not gather the family around this weekend, or get together with a few Christian friends and have a “praise” party for all the good things God has done and is doing for you?