Sunday, January 26, 2014

A Light Bulb Moment

I was sitting in church this morning, flipping through my bible, when I came across 1 Samuel 8.  The light bulb in my head went off when I read the following:

1 Samuel 8:1-8:  "When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as Israel’s leaders.  The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah, and they served at Beersheba.  But his sons did not follow his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice.

So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah.  They said to him, 'You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.'

But when they said, 'Give us a king to lead us,' this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord.  And the Lord told him: 'Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.  As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you.'"

So what's going on in this passage?  First off, at this point in history, Israel had no king; God himself served as Israel's immediate king, and the prophet Samuel served as God's messenger, like all the other prophets.  Secondly, the people of Israel's request for a human king and their reasons for requesting a king were nothing but smokescreens.  The real reason they wanted a human king was that they had rejected their true king, God; They instead wanted to serve the man-made gods of the Canaanites, and as part of their conforming to the sinful world, they wanted a sinful human being to lead them as king.

We see this kind of thing going on in our world today.  People reject God as their king, and they often give supposed intellectual-reasons that in reality are nothing more than smoke screens.  The truth is that people reject God as their King because they love their sins more than they love God.  This was true in 10th century BC, and it's true today in the 21st century.

That's my thought for the day.  Now go and serve your King.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Kingdom of Heaven...

Jesus Christ said the following to Pontius Pilate during his trial in John 18:36:

Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

In the book of Revelation, after Jesus Christ's second coming has occurred, there's been a thousand years of peace, and Satan and his followers are defeated once and for all, the apostle John wrote the following in Revelation 21:2-4:

"I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them.  They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."'” 

One thing that I've always wondered (and I'm sure that other Christians around the globe do too) is what will life in the Kingdom of Heaven be like?  The passage from Revelation gives us a tiny bit of detail, but does the bible provide more detail than that?

The Prophet Isaiah on The Kingdom of Heaven

When we look at the book of Isaiah, we find 10 passages that give us details on what life in the kingdom of Heaven will be like.  Isaiah says the following in Isaiah 11:6-9:

"The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.
The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox.  The infant will play near the cobra’s den, and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.  They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea."

Isaiah 2:2-4 expands on the above passage:

"In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and all nations will stream to it.  Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lordto the temple of the God of Jacob.  He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.”  The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.  He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples.  They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.  Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore."

Expanding on Isaiah 2:2-4, Isaiah 27:13 says the following:

"And in that day a great trumpet will sound. Those who were perishing in Assyria and those who were exiled in Egypt will come and worship the Lord on the holy mountain in Jerusalem."

In Isaiah 56:7, we read this:  

"These I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer.  Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.

Isaiah 57:13 reads as follows:  

"When you cry out for help, let your collection of idols save you!  The wind will carry all of them off, a mere breath will blow them away.  But whoever takes refuge in me will inherit the land and possess my holy mountain.”

In Isaiah 66:20-24, we read this:

"'And they will bring all your people, from all the nations, to my holy mountain in Jerusalem as an offering to the Lord—on horses, in chariots and wagons, and on mules and camels,' says the Lord. 'They will bring them, as the Israelites bring their grain offerings, to the temple of the Lord in ceremonially clean vessels.  And I will select some of them also to be priests and Levites,' says the Lord.  

'As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me,' declares the Lord, 'so will your name and descendants endure.  From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me,' says the Lord.  'And they will go out and look on the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; the worms that eat them will not die, the fire that burns them will not be quenched,and they will be loathsome to all mankind.'”

In relation to Isaiah 11:6-9, Isaiah 35:9 says the following:

"No lion will be there, nor any ravenous beast; they will not be found there.  But only the redeemed will walk there."

Isaiah 51:11 says this:  

"Those the Lord has rescued will return.  They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads.  Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away."

Isaiah 62:12 says this:  

"They will be called the Holy People, the Redeemed of the Lordand you will be called Sought After, the City No Longer Deserted."

In relation to Revelation 21:2-4, and sort of in summary of the other passages in Isaiah, Isaiah 65:17-25 says this:  

“'See, I will create new heavens and a new earth.  The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.  But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy.  I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more.

Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; the one who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere child; the one who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed.  They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.  No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat.  For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the work of their hands.  They will not labor in vain, nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune; for they will be a people blessed by the Lordthey and their descendants with them.  Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.  The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, and dust will be the serpent’s food.  They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,' says the Lord."

Other Old Testament Prophets on The Kingdom of Heaven:

While the prophet Isaiah had a lot to say about the Kingdom of Heaven, the next question becomes, did anyone else in the old testament talk about the Kingdom of Heaven?  The answer to that question is a resounding Yes.  Ezekiel 34:25-29 says this:

“I will make a covenant of peace with them and rid the land of savage beasts so that they may live in the wilderness and sleep in the forests in safety.  I will make them and the places surrounding my hill a blessing.  I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing.  The trees will yield their fruit and the ground will yield its crops;the people will be secure in their land. They will know that I am the Lord, when I break the bars of their yoke and rescue them from the hands of those who enslaved them.  They will no longer be plundered by the nations, nor will wild animals devour them. They will live in safety, and no one will make them afraid.  I will provide for them a land renowned for its crops, and they will no longer be victims of famine in the land or bear the scorn of the nations."

The prophet Zechariah said the following in Zechariah 14:16:

"Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, and to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles."

The prophet Joel says this in Joel 3:17-18:

“Then you will know that I, the Lord your God, dwell in Zion, my holy hill.  Jerusalem will be holy; never again will foreigners invade her.  In that day the mountains will drip new wine, and the hills will flow with milk; all the ravines of Judah will run with water.  A fountain will flow out of the Lord’s house and will water the valley of acacias."

The prophet Micah said the following in Micah 4:1-7:

"In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and peoples will stream to it.  

Many nations will come and say, 'Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the temple of the God of Jacob.  He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.'  The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.  He will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide.  They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.  Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.  Everyone will sit under their own vine and under their own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the Lord Almighty has spoken.  All the nations may walk in the name of their gods, but we will walk in the name of the Lord our God for ever and ever.  

'In that day,” declares the Lord, 'I will gather the lame; I will assemble the exiles and those I have brought to grief.  I will make the lame my remnant, those driven away a strong nation.  The Lord will rule over them in Mount Zion from that day and forever.'"

The prophet Hosea said this in Hosea 2:16-23:

“'In that day,' declares the Lord, 'you will call me "my husband"; you will no longer call me "my master."  I will remove the names of the Baals from her lips; no longer will their names be invoked.  In that day I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, the birds in the sky and the creatures that move along the ground.  Bow and sword and battle I will abolish from the land, so that all may lie down in safety.  I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion.  I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the Lord.'

'In that day I will respond,' declares the Lord—'I will respond to the skies, and they will respond to the earth; and the earth will respond to the grain, the new wine and the olive oil, and they will respond to Jezreel.  I will plant her for myself in the land; I will show my love to the one I called "Not my loved one."  I will say to those called "Not my people," "You are my people"; and they will say, "You are my God."'"


There is something wrong in this world; it's obvious to everyone.  It doesn't matter whether you be a materialist, a narcissist, a heathen, an agnostic, an atheist, a deist, or a theist; when you look out into the world and you see all the suffering, all the pain, all the chaos, you know for a fact that there is something wrong in our world.  For Christians, our hope is not in this life or world; our hope is a future hope.  Our hope is when Jesus Christ comes back and establishes his kingdom on Earth.  

In this kingdom, there will be no more pain, no more suffering, and no more crying.  There will be no more dead babies, no more teen deaths, no more young people deaths, no more parents or grandparents dying from a terminal disease.  Nature will work for us rather than against us when it comes to farming and other agricultural activities.  Animals that previously tried to kill each other will live in peace with one another like a tame house pet, which will allow children to play with animals that were previously wild without fear of getting hurt.  There will be peace between all nations; nobody will go to war anymore, and there will be no need for weapons.  Any and every thing that is wrong with our world will not exist in Christ's future kingdom on Earth.  

Can you blame anyone for wanting to believe in Jesus?  Aside from the fact that Jesus was a real historical person and all historical evidence points to him really being who he claimed to be (see previous blog post), Jesus promised to restore Creation back to the state it was in before the Fall recorded in Genesis 3.  Who doesn't want that restored world?  Why would someone look at this world, filled with all its death and misery, and say to themselves, "this is so much better than a world without death and misery?"