Friday, 9/20/19 – Tough Question – Who was Melchizedek?

Who was Melchizedek?

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After a falling out with the Egyptian Pharaoh, Abraham* along with all his family, livestock and possessions, roamed about the Negev and beyond eventually settling in a spot between Bethel and Ai. Abraham’s nephew Lot also had livestock and before long the needs of their herds outgrew the capabilities of the land. The two separated.

Some time later a coalition of kings attacked and defeated the land in which Lot had settled. They carried off many captives and Abraham’s nephew Lot was among them.

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When Abraham heard of this he set off with an army of men and was successful in routing the invaders and rescuing the captives. As he returned and began to settle up with the rightful rulers, out comes this character Melchizedek.

Melchizedek was both a king and a priest. (Huh? A priest of what?) At this point in Biblical history no Levitical priesthood had yet been established. No Levitical line existed. But Melchizedek was indeed a priest, a “priest of God Most High” (Gen. 14:18), a priest of a different priesthood (see Heb. 7)… a priest for all.

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In this and in many other ways Melchizedek is a “type,” a representation, of Christ. In fact, the very name ‘Melchizedek’ means ‘king of righteousness,’ or ‘king of peace.’ Both are terms descriptive of Christ. And of Melchizedek there is no record of ancestry, no record of his death, again suggestive of an eternal priesthood… just like Christ!

So this Melchizedek comes out to Abraham and blesses him. Abraham was certainly aware of God, submissive and obedient to God, but he knew nothing yet of God’s plan to establish a Levitical priesthood through his – what? — great grandson?** Generations later anyway! But he receives this blessing and then gives a “tithe” (tenth) of the spoils to Melchizedek… long before the Mosaic Law proscribed it.

The fact that Melchizedek remains largely a mystery to us is very probably in the purposes of God exactly the point. As a type of Christ Melchizedek stands out a flash in time of something far greater yet to come. God has a plan, a plan formed from the foundation of the earth. He is in control and His purposes will be fulfilled.

How privileged we are to be a part of it!

Press on…

For a longer yet very readable discussion on this question I’d recommend: this item by Chara Donahue.

*At this time ‘Abraham’ was actually still named ‘Abram’ — but that’s another story 😉
** Abraham had been given a great promise from God (Gen. 12:2-4) but just how this would all come about was yet to him a mystery.

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Friday, 9/13/19 – Tough Question – Christians, Alcohol…?

Christians, Alcohol… and all other things…

two corona extra and san mig light beers on top of brown wooden plank near beach

It’s interesting to me that queries from Christians about the consumption of alcohol are generally framed as questions of permission. It’s common to hear the enquiry prefaced “Is it OK for a Christian to…” or “Is a Christian allowed to / permitted to / free to…” I don’t think I’ve ever heard a believer ask, “Does a Christian have to drink alcohol… Must a Christian drink alcohol?”

It seems what believers really want to know is, “Can I get away with a drink now and then once I have committed my life to Christ?”

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This is to me a most interesting observation. It suggests quite strongly that the asker is more interested in how near they can get to a disputable matter rather that in how far away they can get from it.

An apparent contradiction in logic also puzzles me. If we accept that what is really being asked is “Can I get away with a drink now and then once I have committed my life to Christ?” then it seems to me we are asking “Can I still be lord of my own life once I have committed its Lordship to Christ?” This thinking is illogical. I may as well be asking “Can I go West while I am still going East?”

Mind you, I am not saying that consuming alcohol is a sin. I cannot boldly argue that from scripture. The clear Biblical teaching in both Old and New Testaments is that drunkenness is the sin. Drinking in moderation may be allowed but the true and tempered heart of a believer will curtail his or her privileges when it in the best interest of a fellow believer to do so.

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At times I enjoy a good slather of peanut butter on a tortilla rolled up round a banana, but in the presence of one at risk of anaphylactic shock I will defer myself of this pleasure.

Make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister,” writes Paul. “It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall….whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God.” (Rom. 14:13, 21-22). And “Be careful… that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak.” (1 Cor. 8:9)*

You see, the real question is not whether or not the occasional drink is permissible, but whether or not the believer has fully surrendered to Christ. When one has, no other questions matter.

Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.” (Phil. 4:5 – KJV).

Press on…

*Read the full passages: 1 Cor. 8:1-13; Rom. 14:13-23.

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Friday, 9/6/19 – Tough Question – How can I cope?

How can I cope in a world filled with so much suffering?

I have encountered this question from many people over many years and in many forms. The burden intensifies under the relentless onslaught of information through today’s ever expanding media. Our personal power and resources are so limited and the problems are so vast. We can easily feel crushed under the avalanche of human pain and need.
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This question was brought to the forefront of my thinking once again as I recently read a Psychology Today item by Keith Payne, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, UNC. The item, posted March 14, 2010, was entitled “Why is the death of one million a statistic?” i.e. Why do we feel the least when we are needed most. In simple terms, Payne’s research demonstrated that “when people see multiple victims, they turn the volume down on their emotions for fear of being overwhelmed.” It’s not that we become heartless, but rather that a single human is only capable of digesting so much human suffering — any more and it switches into a self-protection mode.

Astonishingly, despite their completely polarized world views, on this point both Joseph Stalin and Mother Teresa agree! To Stalin is attributed the quote, “The death of one person is a tragedy; the death of one million is a statistic.” And Mother Teresa once said, “If I look at the mass I will never act.” In other words, when the need extends beyond our capabilities to meaningfully respond we freeze like a deer in the headlights.

20190903_223421In Matthew 9:36 we read, “When He [Jesus] saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” In our case however, sadly, we are too often simply overwhelmed.

But there is a response to human need that we can manage. Centuries ago Solomon wrote, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might” (Eccl. 9:10). The Old Testament law urged responsibility toward one’s “neighbour.” Jesus spoke of the good Samaritan who helped the one individual upon whom his path crossed. Paul wrote of the care we must show to a “one another,” not to everyone at once.

20190903_223446This everyone one-on-one approach is the way God ordains. In it everyone is important… everyone is essential, but no one is the “hero,” no one is the superstar, no one but Christ.

For Christ’s love compels us…” (2 Cor. 5:14).

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Friday, 8/30/19 – Tough Question – What is it to ‘Claim’ God’s promises?

What does it mean to ‘claim’ the promises of God?

A quick study of the definition and origin of the word is surprisingly enriching. Turns out the root word of ‘claim’ come from Latin and Old French words meaning to DECLARE, to CALL OUT or CRY OUT. Often when we ‘claim’ a promise of God we ‘cry out’ to Him, reminding Him and ourselves of something He has said and asking that it be actualized in our present situation or need.

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In law The term means “a request or demand for payment” in accordance with some prior “contract” or “agreement.” The Bible speaks of God’s “covenant” with His people.

In 2 Cor. 6:16-18 Paul cites several O.T promises of God.

“I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”
“Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.”
“I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” (See Lev. 26:12; Jer. 32:38; Ezek. 37:27; Isa. 52:11; Ezek. 20:34,41; 2 Sam. 7:14; 7:8).

20190829_111056Paul had been speaking to them about the sin of being joined in some way to an unbeliever–reminding them of their obligation to live purely as a people separated to God. Then he writes, “Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.” (2 Cor. 7:1)

20190829_111159Knowing the promises of God is one thing; ‘claiming’ them changes your behavior.

At least once in scripture we see a man holding the Almighty to His Word or Character. Abraham declared, “Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?” (Gen. 18:25). And years later Moses cried out

Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.’” Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.” (Exod. 32:13-14)

20190829_111129When I think of the word ‘claim’ the first thing to come to my mind is a prospector. In the late 1800s an estimated 100,000 seekers of fortune flooded the Klondike in search of gold. Finding it, they registered a ‘claim’ on the pristine property indicating the land and it’s resources were theirs.

In Christ God has given us “very great and precious promises” (2 Pet. 1:4). God loves it when we call out to claim His promises, for it demonstrates to Him our faith in what He has said.

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The promises of God are yours as a sinner made saint in Christ. Get out your Bible… start digging… stake some ‘claims.’

Press on…

Friday, 8/23/19 – Tough Question – Why those plagues?

Why were the plagues upon Egypt chosen?

I must admit this is a question which I had never before considered. But, God being God, it is unlikely that the plagues He chose to send upon Egypt in efforts to break Pharaoh and cause him to allow the Hebrews to leave were chosen at random. Indeed, a deeper look at the ten plagues reveals much more…

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First, the very fact that there were ten of them is significant. Ten, in scripture, represents fullness and completeness. As we will see, the ten plagues demonstrated to the Egyptians God’s complete authority over the false ‘gods’ of Egypt. And just as God judged Pharaoh, his people and their gods with ten plagues, so He soon after gives His own people the Ten Commandments which if broken incur His judgement upon them as well.

The Egyptians had many false gods. The ten plagues as we will see were a direct demonstration of God’s power over their imagined ‘gods’ of the land.

1. The Nile becomes blood (Ex. 7:14-25). ‘Isis’ was the Egyptian god of the Nile, ‘Khnum’ was the guardian of the Nile, and ‘Hapi’ was a water bearing God of the Nile. (Water is the most essential element needed for life.)

20190822_0904502. The plague of frogs (Ex. 8:1-5). ‘Heket,’ or ‘Heget’ was the Egyptian god of fertility and renewal and had the head of a frog.

3. The plague of gnats (Ex. 8:16-19). The Egyptian god ‘Geb,’ was the god the dust of the earth; ‘Set’ was god of the desert.

20190822_0905164. The plague of flies (Ex. 8:20-32). ‘Re’ was the sun god. ‘Khepri’ was a god with the head of a fly. ‘Uatchit’ may also have been a god represented by the fly.

5. The death of livestock (Ex. 9:1-7). ‘Hathor,’ goddess of love and protection, had the head of a cow. ‘Apis’ was the bull god.

20190822_0905446. The plague of boils (Ex. 9:8-12). ‘Isis’ was considered a goddess of medicine and peace. ‘Sekmet’ was believed by the Egyptians to be a goddess with power over disease. ‘Sunu’ a god of pestilence.

7. The plague of hail (Ex. 9:13-35). ‘Nut’ was the goddess of the sky. ‘Set’ was the god of storms.

8. The plague of locusts (Ex. 10:1-20). ‘Osiris’ was god of the crops. ‘Seth’ was an Egyptian god of storms and disorder. (The locusts came like a dark cloud in the skies and created a havoc worse than any Hitchcock film!)

20190822_0906099. The plague of darkness (Ex. 10:21-29). ‘Ra’ and ‘Horus’ were Egyptian sun gods and ‘Hathor’ was a goddess of the sky.

10. The death of the firstborn (Ex. 11:1-12:30). ‘Min’ was believed a god of reproduction and ‘Isis’ also a protector of children. Through this final plague the Passover was also instituted foreshadowing the sacrificial Lamb of God Who would deliver His children from eternal destruction.

Through all these plagues Jehovah God demonstrated His ultimate authority over all man-made idols and so-called ‘gods,’ over Pharaoh (also considered a god), over nature, and over sin. Ultimately we must all bow to Him. – Have you?

“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Heb. 10:31)

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send it to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Friday, 8/16/19 – Tough Question – Why Sunday?

Why do Christians worship on Sunday?

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Well, not all do. The Seventh-day Adventists, as their name suggests, gather together on the Biblical “seventh day,” which is indeed the Sabbath – the Old Testament “day of rest.”

It’s beginnings date back to creation itself. In Genesis 1 we read how God first speaks into being light, then substance and land, sun, moon, stars, sea creatures, flying beings, and land animals. Finally, on the sixth day, God makes man… in His own image… and all things He calls “good.”

Then, in chapter 2 we read,

“By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” (Gen. 2:2-3).

This becomes a template for human behavior, a tenet of the foundational Ten Commandments:

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Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. (Exod. 20:8-11).

Sabbath day observance continued amongst the Jews right up to the time of Christ. In fact, Jesus Himself regularly attended the synagogue on the Sabbath. “He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom.” (Luke 4:16). He even chose the Sabbath day to announce the start of His earthly ministry (see Luke 4:16-30).

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But the Jews accused Jesus of ‘transgressing’ the Sabbath by ‘working’ on the holy day: plucking corn, teaching, healing the sick… In response Jesus announced “I tell you that something greater than the temple is here… For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” (Matt. 12:6, 8)

Jesus did His greatest work of all, rising from the grave, on the day following the Sabbath, on the first day of the week, Sunday. In doing so He defeated death, and ensured the triumphant resurrection of all believers. He fulfilled all the Law and brought the dawn of the Age of Grace. New wineskins, if you will (see Matt. 9:17).

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At first the early church met daily in homes. As the church grew some sort of structure became necessary, that everything be done “decently and in order” Through the epistles we see the emergence of leadership structure, care for widows, basic creeds to distinguish truth from heresy, ordinances of baptism and the Lords Supper, plus the collection of tithes and offerings, etc. We soon see the early church beginning to meet together on “the first day of the week”…

Luke records, “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread…” (Acts 20:7), and Paul writes to the Corinthians, “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I directed the churches of Galatia, so do you also. On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come.” (1 Cor. 16:1-2).

Interestingly the exiled Apostle John also received the great revelation of God on the first day of the week, now known as “the Lord’s day.” He records, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day…” (Rev. 1:10).

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Moving from the Sabbath (Saturday) to the Lord’s day (Sunday) also helped to further distinguish the followers of Jesus from the followers of Judaism, i.e. those who now lived by faith in Christ from those who rejected Him as Messiah and continued in the way of legalism. Perhaps too this allowed some believers to still attend the synagogue on the Sabbath and possibly reach out to the legalists.

Finally, it is important that believers in Christ do not become contentious over this topic. Scripture clearly directs us,

One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord… Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another.” (Rom. 14:5-6,13)

Press on!

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Friday, 8/9/19 – Tough Question

Can fallen angels be redeemed?

20190806_055646The story is told of famous comedian of yesteryear W.C. Fields (1880-1946) who though never a religious man was found more than once in his letter years thumbing through his Bible. This being quite uncharacteristic of him a friend once asked Fields what he was doing. Fields witty yet poignant reply, “Looking for loopholes, my friend. Looking for loopholes.”

But of course there are no loopholes. Scripture is clear: “Each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment” (Heb. 9:27 – NLT) Very dire news indeed! But the gospel message is also clear: “For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16-17 – NLT).

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And as Paul writes, “This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…’” (1 Tim. 1:15). Christ is mankind’s only Saviour: “There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12). Apart from Christ, “there is no longer any sacrifice…There is only the terrible expectation of God’s judgment and the raging fire that will consume his enemies.” (Hen. 10:26-27 – NLT).

Fallen angels cannot be redeemed simply because they have no Redeemer. “God so loved the world that he sent His Son”…. i.e. God acted to extend grace to mankind, not angelkind. Fallen angels have no Saviour, thus no means of atonement, no conviction of the Holy Spirit, no age of Grace in which to repent and no hope of an eternal kingdom for their rebellion took place within that realm.

20190806_060816In Hebrews we read “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God” (Heb 10:26-27).

The heavenly host had always full knowledge of the truth, for they had their existence in the presence of it. For them there is no sacrifice for their rebellion. They bear the full guilt of it. Now this “fearful expectation” is theirs and it drives their ever more frantic activity as we near the end of this age.

Against this fact how precious indeed it is that in our case “The Lord … is patient… not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9).

In Revelation 2 we read of God’s message to the church in Thyatira. God noted their several good qualities but also pointed out to them one glaring error: they were allowing a woman among their numbers to lead other members into deep sin. “You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols.” (Rev. 2:20).

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“I have given her time to repent of her immorality,” the message continues, “but she is unwilling. So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. I will strike her children dead…” (v.21-23a)

At present God has given us a time to repent. “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever” (Gen. 6:3). “Now is the day of salvation,” warns scripture (2 Cor. 6:2). “…do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” (Rom. 2:4). “…We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God,” pleads Paul (2 Cor. 5:20).

Soon that time to repent will be over for mankind, and there are no “loopholes.”

Surrender to Christ today… and then,

Press on…

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