Month: June 2017

A Jewish Reading Lesson

By Steven J. Hogan

~ A Saturday Morning Post #22 ~

It was about seven years ago, that by God’s grace, I finally figured out how to read the Old Testament. I was so excited! For the first time in my life, I could see the whole big scheme of things, how everything in the Bible fits in with God’s future plans. My prayer and desire is to help you know how to read the Old Testament, so you too can more clearly understand God’s plans for the Jews, the church, and the ages to come.

First, here are some basic, Biblical ground rules that you need to know:
1. The Old Testament is true, and it needs to be taken literally. For example, Israel means Israel; Jerusalem means Jerusalem; and forever means forever.
2. God’s promises to the Jews regarding their land, salvation and King have not been changed or nullified. They are still true, and God will most definitely carry them out.
3. Israel has not been replaced by the church with regard to God’s plans. Promises made to Israel are not figuratively being fulfilled by the church, but will literally be fulfilled by the Jews.
4. You can’t understand the future of the church if you don’t understand the future of the Jews, for God’s work with the Jews in the end times is in conjunction with His work for the church. Daniel’s 70th week is a key time frame for both Jews and Christians.
5. Old Testament prophecies can usually be placed in one of four time periods: (1) The prophecy relates to the writer’s time period, and shortly thereafter. (2) The prophecy relates to Christ’s 1st coming. (3) The prophecy relates to Christ’s 2nd coming. (4) The prophecy relates to Christ’s kingdom age. (A prophecy may have both a near and far fulfillment.)

Here are some examples of how Old Testament prophecies fit in one of these four time periods – (1), (2), (3) or (4). Psalm 22:1-21 speaks about Christ’s suffering on the cross, and this refers to Christ’s 1st coming (2). Then Psalm 22:28 says, “The kingdom is the Lord’s and He rules over the nations” and this refers to Christ’s coming kingdom age (4).

Psalm 37:29 says, “The righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it forever.” This Psalm tells us about the fulfillment of God’s promise to the Jews that they will inherit some land, and this too is speaking about the coming kingdom age (4).

Psalm 98:2-3 tells us, “The Lord has made known His salvation… He has remembered His lovingkindness and His faithfulness to the house of Israel.” This verse is talking about the house of Israel, and so this is not referring to the salvation of people during the church age, but to the salvation of the Jews at the 2nd coming of Christ (3).

Isaiah 9:6 is a classic, for the first part of the verse, “A child will be born to us, a son will be given us” is referring to Christ’s 1st coming (2), and the very next part of the verse, “and the government will rest on His shoulders” talks about the kingdom age (4).

Ezekiel 37:21-23 is one of my favorite prophetic passages, for right here in these three verses we read about the fulfillment of God’s promises to the Jews with regard to their land (verse 21), their King (verse 22), and their salvation (verse 23). These prophecies are clearly referring to Christ’s 2nd coming (3), and His kingdom age (4).

Micah 5:2-5 tells us two different things, that the coming Messiah will be born in Bethlehem which takes place at Christ’s 1st coming (2), and that “He will be great to the ends of the earth”, and this no doubt is speaking about the kingdom age (4).

Christians living in the end times of this church age have a distinct advantage. We can look at a particular prophecy, and then look back in history, and see if it has taken place or not, if it is a past or future event. We can see where everything fits, in time periods (1), (2), (3) or (4). It’s essential to learn how to rightly read the Old Testament, to properly interpret God’s prophetic word, and then you can understand His future plans for both the Jews and the church. I believe you’ll be thrilled as God gives you understanding, and then enables you to Biblically visualize the future God has for you, and for all His people on this earth.

There are 100’s and 100’s of verses in the Old Testament that predict God’s plans for the Jews. Here are some others I’d encourage you to check out in your spare time: Psalm 47, Psalm 67, Psalm 102:12-28, Psalm 105:5-8, Psalm 130, Isaiah 2:1-5, Isaiah 60, Isaiah 61:1-2, Jeremiah 32:6-44, Ezekiel 37:24-28, Daniel 12:1-13, Hosea 1:10-11 (the triple play), Joel 2:27-32 (Jews and church), Haggai 2:4-9, Zechariah 2:10-12, and Zechariah 14:9.

P.S. I encourage you to look at the charts (links) which we have in the above post, for they will help you to understand this lesson.

P.P.S. We have also just published a new article that I believe will help you understand our heavenly Father’s great love for us: The Father’s Love for His Children.

Unfinished Business

By Steven J. Hogan

~ A Saturday Morning Post #21 ~

God has a lot of unfinished business left to do with regard to the Jews. But many Christians don’t understand His plans, or are uninformed, confused, or in error. In fact, there are some who actually believe God’s work with the Jews is done, is over, is finished. Yes, they say the Jews were the ancestors of the Messiah and the writers of God’s Word, but they say they blew it when they killed the Messiah – they had their chance, and they took themselves out of the picture. Now they readily admit that the Jews have reoccupied Israel,  but they still adamantly say there’s no Biblically prophesied future for ethnic Jews, for those who are Jews physically speaking. They say that we’re now in the church age, and that all God’s future plans relate directly and only to the church. Let me explain why their thinking is wrong:

God’s Word is true – it was true when it was written, it is true today, and it is true forever. God is not a man that He should lie or that He should change His mind, and therefore, every single word of God will be fulfilled, which includes His promises to the Jews. “The word of the Lord is right and true; He is faithful in all He does… The Lord’s counsel stands forever, the plans of His heart from generation to generation. Blessed is the nation (Israel) whose God is the Lord, the people whom He has chosen for His own possession.” Psalm 33:4, 11-12

God’s character is at stake. Do you think God would give all these promises to the Jews, and then not keep His Word? If God has changed His mind, then He has deceived many people, even Jesus’ own mother (Luke 1:28-35). If God doesn’t keep His promises, then He is a liar. But God is not a liar – He will always be faithful to His Word. “Do you think I came to abolish the Law or the prophets? I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.” Matthew 5:17-19

God’s promises are not based on law but on grace, and therefore are unconditional. They depend on God’s Word, and on God’s power, mercy and faithfulness, and therefore can’t be annulled because of Israel’s sin and unfaithfulness. God’s promises to the Jews that they’d inherit some land (Genesis 13:14-17), that Messiah would be King over the entire world (2 Samuel 7:12-13), and that a Jewish remnant would be saved (Jeremiah 31:31-34), will, without question, be fulfilled! “God has remembered His covenant forever.” Psalm 105:8

God’s promises are literal. They are not to be spiritualized. You can’t take some of God’s promises literally, and others figuratively. The promises of Christ’s 1st coming were fulfilled in every detail, and the promises of His 2nd coming will be fulfilled in every detail. How can a person say Jesus was literally born as a baby but won’t literally come back as a King? How can a person say that Old Testament promises for the Jews are not to be taken literally, but are now true for the church? You can’t say these things. Listen to what God says: “Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it and I will do it.” Isaiah 46:9-11

God’s promises to the Jews are eternal promises. “All the land which you see, I will give it to you and your descendants forever.” Genesis 13:15. How can anyone say God’s promises are not eternal when God says they are eternal? God is not going back on His Word, is He? His promises cannot in any way, shape or form be taken back, be rescinded – they will come true, and they will be true forever. “Thus says the Lord…” Jeremiah 31:35

God never said His promises were changed. Neither God, Christ or any New Testament writer ever actually denied these promises to the Jews, or said they were altered or reneged, and then given to the church. In fact, they were affirmed to be true. Luke 1:54-55, 1:68-79; Romans 15:4

Most of God’s Word is about the Jews. Nearly 70% of the Bible is about the Jews, and close to 23% is about the church. And then you have way over 1000 Old Testament verses that restate and amplify God’s promises to the Jews. How can anyone say that the Jews are irrelevant, and that God’s promises to them are null and void? Anyone who thinks God’s future plans for the Jews have been nullified and invalidated are terribly mistaken. Don’t believe those who say there’s no future for the Jews. Believe what God says: “Judah will be inhabited forever and Jerusalem for all generations.” Joel 3:20. “I will make a covenant of peace… an everlasting covenant with them. I will multiply them and set my sanctuary in their midst forever.” Ezekiel 37:26

This is a very important post. I write this for there are many who question God’s promises to the Jews – but we should never question God and His Word. With regards to His future working with the Jews, read the Old Testament, particularly the Law, the Psalms and the Prophets. Take them literally, and believe them, and see how God’s plans for His people, for both the Jews and the church, are now coming true at this time in history. And stay tuned, for there’s much more to be said on this subject in future posts and articles.

P.S.  Here is another important article about what the Old Testament teaches us about the Kingdom Age on this earth: Hidden Treasure in the Old Testament.

Old Testament + New Testament = The Word of God

By Steven J. Hogan

~ A Saturday Morning Post #20 ~

Image result for isaiah 53

The Old Testament is the truth of God. It is a set of 39 books, that together with 27 books in the New Testament, make up the Bible, the word of God. And just like you need to read all the chapters in a book to get the whole story, so too you need to read the whole Bible, both Old and New Testaments, to get the whole story, to understand God’s past, present and future working with His people, and with this entire earth.

What is the Old Testament about? It is about Jesus Christ, who He is, what He’s like, and what He’s doing – His office, character and purpose. There are many verses, types and illustrations of Christ in the Old Testament, giving us a very good picture of our Lord, Savior and King. Jesus Himself used the Law, the Prophets and the Psalms from the Old Testament to help His disciples understand who He was (Luke 24:25-27, 44-45).

The Old Testament is about the Jews. Their purpose was to write God’s word, to be recipients of God’s Laws and covenants, to carry out the temple service, and to be the “Woman” who’d give birth to the Messiah, to Jesus Christ. We also read stories about the Jews, their lives and service for God, which give us many good examples of faith, hope, love and perseverance. There’s Adam, Abraham, Moses, Deborah, Ruth, David, Isaiah, Esther, Nehemiah and many others. But these are not just saints with godly character that make for nice Sunday School lessons. The Old Testament is more than just a lot of stories with no larger context, but it’s part of the entire Bible, and therefore a necessary part of the whole story. Consider the following:

First, there were the promises, the covenants from God. Abraham knew that from his lineage would come a great multitude of descendants (Genesis 12:1-3). David knew that the Messiah would be one of his descendants, the future King of the entire world (2 Samuel 7:12-16). Jeremiah knew that a great number of Jews would be saved in the future. (Jeremiah 31:31-34). These three promises are extremely important, for they not only speak of God’s plans for the Jews, but they also relate to the church and to our future.

Second, there were the predictions of the prophets. They “predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow.” 1 Peter 1:11. For example, Isaiah, Micah, Zechariah and Daniel all spoke of the coming Christ (Isaiah 9:6-7, 53; Micah 5:2-4; Zechariah 14:9; and Daniel 7:13-14). As we now know, some of their predictions literally came true at Christ’s 1st coming, but others will literally be fulfilled at Christ’s 2nd coming, and in the kingdom age to follow. For example, Jesus was literally born as a Baby on this earth, and  in the near future He will literally appear and be the King over this earth.

Third, there were the parts played by godly Israelites. There was Moses, and if it weren’t for him, the Jews would never have made it to the promised land. There was Ruth, a key player in the big scheme of things, for she was the great grandmother of David. There was Esther, whom God used to preserve the Jewish race, and without her, Jesus would not have been born. And then there was Ezra, and he helped bring the Jews back to Israel, and so Jesus could be born in Bethlehem. These stories, seen on earth, were all part of God’s plans. But behind all this has been the invisible spiritual war between God and Satan. Revelation 12 tells us that Satan has been fighting like the devil to stop the work of God as it relates to both Jews and Christians, but God has defeated him again and again.

You can’t disregard the Old Testament. When you read it, you need to realize that it’s not just isolated events that took place in the past with no connection to the future. You have to see the Old Testament promises and predictions of God, all pointing to and leading to New Testament events, Christ’s 1st coming, His 2nd coming, and His kingdom age. You have to see that God’s people played key roles in the past, but were also necessary for God’s future plans. You need to see God sovereignly directing people and events in accordance with His eternal purposes and plans. “The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart from generation to generation.” Psalm 33:11

At this time in history, we are in the last part of the church age, for the Jews are back in their land. God’s working with both Jews and Christians is now in high gear, and it won’t be long before His end time plans for them will be fulfilled. Then in the next age, we will all be worshiping and serving the Lord together. Hebrews 11:13, 39 is instructive – “All these (Old Testament saints), having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had something better for us (New Testament saints), so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.” 

P.S. I have an important new article for you to read – “Why Do Believers Die?” ~ A Memorial Service Message.   Also, just as a reminder, we have been continuing to post new Español posts every week!

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