Friday, May 30, 2014

Forum on the Book of Revelation: Things Not Understood

Nathan JonesWatch MP3 PDFBy

What don't you understand about the book of Revelation?

To answer that question, Dr. David Reagan and I on our television program Christ in Prophecy put together a panel of Bible prophecy experts. We invited Gary Fisher of the Bible prophecy ministry Lion of Judah Ministries from Franklin, Tennessee and Dennis Pollock of Spirit of Grace Ministries which focuses on evangelizing the continent of Africa.

Prophecy Forum


Things Not Understood

Dr. Reagan: Is there anything in the book of Revelation that you don't understand?

Dennis Pollock: Actually, I'm the ultimate expert on Revelation, so send all your questions to me. No, of course there are lots of topics I don't understand. For me, one of the simplest things that I would love to know about is what it really means to reign with Christ. A lot of times when people talk about eternity, their idea is you go to Heaven and you sing 24-7 non-stop forever. I have to be honest, that sounds a little boring to me. Sure, I love worship and praising the Lord, but 24-7? Really? In truth, the Bible doesn't say we'll sing forever, but Revelation makes it clear we will reign forever. Just what does that mean? Who will we reign over?

Dr. Reagan: Yes, if you're going to reign, you've got to reign over somebody.

Dennis Pollock: You've got to reign over someone, true. Will there be other worlds that will involved? There are so many questions related to reigning with Christ.

Dr. Reagan: Gary, do you understand it all?

Gary Fisher: No, absolutely not. I take great comfort in that, because the Bible says that at this time we are looking through a glass darkly. I have license from the Lord then not to have to understand it all. I don't have to understand everything in the Bible to believe it.

One of the topics that fascinates me in the book of Revelation is in chapter 22 where it says the Tree of Life is placed in the New Jerusalem at the end of the Millennium beginning with the eternal state. The chapter says that the leaves on the trees are for the healing of the nations. Wait a minute! I thought the healing of the nations had already taken place by then.

Dr. Reagan: Revelation also speaks of nations outside the New Jerusalem on the eternal New Earth.

Gary Fisher: Yes, it talks about "the dogs" outside. I'm just fascinated by that, but I can't explain it.

Dr. Reagan: That too is my number one question. I look through a mirror darkly as well and I have questions, and number one on the list is, "Who are these nations that appear to be outside the New Jerusalem on the New Earth?" I don't know who they are, but if we're going to reign we need to reign over somebody.

Another thing that's interesting is that at the end of the Millennium we are never told what happens to all those who had accepted Jesus Christ during the Millennium and whether they received glorified bodies at the end. What happens to them? We aren't told. Maybe they are put on the earth. I don't know, but that's one of the questions I've got.

Dr. Reagan: Dennis, you've already said you understand it all. What about you, Nathan?

Nathan Jones: Wow, you put me in there with Dennis! No, obviously I don't understand it all. I don't think everything's meant to be understood, because when we don't understand we keep on going into the Word and we keep reading and we keep on studying.

Dr. Reagan: That's right, not know makes us dig in deeper and dig in more.

Nathan Jones: For instance, the Sixth Trumpet Judgment has these demonic locusts that come out into the world and they're described as having heads of lions and mouths of fire blowing smoke and sulfur. When I read about that I'm like, "Say what?" I just don't understand what that imagery looks like. Are those people we are taking about, or are they demons? Why do they look like animals? There are all sorts of imagery that the Bible gives us, but not always a definition.

Dr. Reagan: Revelation 1:3 says, "Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy and heed the things which are written in it for the time is near." That verse jumped off the page at me many years ago. I discovered this is the only book of the Bible that promises you right up front that you are going to get a blessing if you read it and heed it.

What I began to do is every time I would read Revelation I would pray right up front, "Lord, help me to understand it better than I did before." And, I would indeed come to understand it better. But, I'm still reading it. There are still things I don't completely understand, but I get more and more understanding the longer I read, the longer I study, and the more I dig into it. That's all because I pray for that understanding based on Revelation 1:3.

Gary Fisher: I absolutely concur. I was fascinated by that verse years ago when I first started studying Revelation. It occurred to me one day that I heard this so many times — "blessed is he who reads." But, that's not just what the Bible says. It says, "Blessed is he who reads and heeds the prophecy of this book." So, what does it mean to heed the prophecy of this book?


The Number 666

Dr. Reagan: Another mystery that's greatly misunderstood in the book of Revelation is the number 666. This number people during the Tribulation are going to have on their hand or their forehead in order to buy or sell. Why 666? What is the symbolism of that number?

Dennis Pollock: The one clue that is given is where John describes it as the number of man. The fact that you have the number six repeated three times. Three is normally the number of God as Father-Son-Holy Spirit. Paul said that the Antichrist will show himself in the Third Jewish Temple, even claiming that he is God. So, basically what we have here is a man acting as God with Satan inhabiting him.

Satan has always wanted really two things: one is power, and the other is worship. In the Antichrist Satan will have that power for a very brief time over the whole world, and he will have the worship he craves. The False Prophet will force that satanic worship on all, apart from those who put their faith in Christ, that is. They will not give Satan the worship he desires, so the False Prophet will have them killed.

Dr. Reagan: The Antichrist will be a type of the Messiah to the people of the Tribulation. The False Prophet will be a type of the Holy Spirit. Then we've got Satan who is the Devil operating among them.

Dennis Pollock: The result is a counterfeit Trinity.

Dr. Reagan: Six is the number of man since that is the day that man was created. The number 666 then signifies the ultimate number for Man.


In the sixth and last segment of our forum on the book of Revelation, we'll ask our Bible prophecy experts if anything surprised them about the book.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Forum on the Book of Revelation: 144,000 and Two Witnesses

Nathan JonesWatch MP3 PDFBy

Who are the 144,000 and the Two Witnesses in the book of Revelation?

To answer that question, Dr. David Reagan and I on our television program Christ in Prophecy put together a panel of Bible prophecy experts. We invited Gary Fisher of the Bible prophecy ministry Lion of Judah Ministries from Franklin, Tennessee and Dennis Pollock of Spirit of Grace Ministries which focuses on evangelizing the continent of Africa.

Prophecy Forum


The 144,000

Dr. Reagan: One of the chapters in the book of Revelation that has encountered the most speculation has to do with chapter seven where it talks about 144,000 people. Who are these 144,000? Are they Jehovah's Witnesses?

Nathan Jones: Revelation 7:4 says, "And I heard the number of those who were sealed, 144,000 sealed from every tribe of Israel."

Dennis Pollock: Of course, most Jews would not be able to tell you what tribe they are from, but God knows. He has excellent record-keeping in heaven. So, it would be no problem at all for Him to identify Jews from different tribes and raise up these individuals to salvation and service during the Tribulation.

Dr. Reagan: I just don't understand why people would interpret this to mean anything other than what it says. The Scripture is clear — it's just 144,000 Jews that God is going to give a special mission to.

Dennis Pollock: One thing you have to remember is that God is a communicator. He knows how to communicate. It would be foolish for Him to write a book so mystical, so bizarre, and so highly symbolic that nobody could get anything out of it. It would be like you inviting me to come to this forum and I spoke fluent Russian the entire time. I might be doing very well, but it wouldn't do one thing for anyone else. And so, it wouldn't do anything for us if God made Revelation so difficult that we couldn't get anything out of it.

Gary Fisher: There's another dynamic being mentioned here. Those 144,000 from the 12 tribes of Israel bring to mind something about how God has operated in the past. What happens in the enterprise of preaching the Word of God when the Holy Spirit falls entirely on a Jewish person? Where would we be without the Apostle Paul, or some of the other Jewish prophets? When the Holy Spirit gets involved in the Jewish person then the enterprise of reaching people goes into hyper gear. God has used for 2,000 years the ministry of the Apostle Paul, just one Jewish man full of the Holy Spirit. There is going to 144,000 of these dynamic evangelists!

Dr. Reagan: That reminds me of a conversation I had one time with Zola Levitt, who has since gone on to be with the Lord. He was at one time the leading Messianic Jew here in the United States.

I called Zola and asked, "Do you believe the 144,000 are going to be real Jews?" He replied, "Of course they are going to be real Jews." He elaborated, "Why do you think God gave us the personality we have?" Well, I wasn't about to touch that, so I played dumb. I asked, "What do you mean." He said, "Haven't you ever met a Jew?" And I said, "Well, yeah." He said, "Haven't you ever noticed that we are real pushy?" I said hesitantly, "Well, as a matter of fact, yes." He said, "We are the world's greatest salesmen. Can you imagine God unleashing 144,000 spirit-filled Jews on the world? We are going to convert more people in seven years than the Church has in 2,000 years. We're going to push them up in the corner and hold them by the neck until they say, 'Jesus'." I could only say, "I hope you're right, brother."


The Two Witnesses

Dr. Reagan: Revelation 11 speaks of two special witnesses of God who are going to be a sort of conscience for the world for the first 3.5 years of the Tribulation. Revelation doesn't say who they are. Who do you think they are going to be?

Nathan Jones: There are a few candidates. Most people say Elijah because Elijah was to be the forerunner of Christ, although I think Jesus pretty much cleared up that Elijah as the forerunner really was John the Baptist.

Some believe Moses might have been raptured, but we read in Jude that he did die, so he is an iffy candidate.

Enoch was certainly raptured from the earth, leaving two guys in the Old Testament — Elijah and Enoch — who were both raptured. Elijah represents Israel. Enoch represents the Gentile since he lived before there were even Jews.

Another theory is that the Two Witnesses will be just two people who are alive at that Tribulation time period who are gifted like the 144,000 and have a special ministry.

So, honestly, we just don't know for sure who the Two Witnesses will be. But, whoever they are, their power and their abilities will exude just like the Old Testament prophets all over again. They have the ability to shut up the rain. They can call down fire. They can do everything that the False Prophet can do and more so. For the first 3.5 years of the Tribulation they shake the world up, so when they are killed by the Antichrist the whole world rejoices over their death.

Dr. Reagan: Yes, it'll be like Christmas in the middle of the Tribulation as people exchange gifts over their deaths. The people then will be so happy over the killing of these two guys who have been the conscience of the world during this horrible time.

Gary Fisher: I think one of them can be easily argued that it is Elijah. In the book of Malachi 4:5 it reads, "Behold, I am going to send to you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord."

Dr. Reagan: The Jews believe that too, for when they hold the Passover meal they always have an extra chair set aside for Elijah the prophet, because they know he is going to come back in the end times.


In the fifth segment of our forum on the book of Revelation, we'll ask our Bible prophecy experts if there are things about the book they don't understand, such as the number 666.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Forum on the Book of Revelation: Finding the Rapture

Nathan JonesWatch MP3 PDFBy

Where is the Rapture in the book of Revelation?

To answer that question, Dr. David Reagan and I on our television program Christ in Prophecy put together a panel of Bible prophecy experts. We invited Gary Fisher of the Bible prophecy ministry Lion of Judah Ministries from Franklin, Tennessee and Dennis Pollock of Spirit of Grace Ministries which focuses on evangelizing the continent of Africa.

Prophecy Forum


Finding the Rapture

Gary Fisher: Revelation 3:10 I believe is the strongest reference. It reads, "Because thou has kept the word of my perseverance, I will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour that is about to come upon the whole world to try them who dwell on the earth."

Dr. Reagan: That was Jesus speaking to the Church of Philadelphia, wasn't it?

Gary Fisher: Yes, in Revelation 3:10.

Dennis Pollock: In Matthew 24, Jesus talks about coming like a thief. We are to watch and keep our garments on so that we don't walk naked, so to speak. At the end He says, "I'm coming quickly." Clearly that is a charge to the Church to be ready at any time, for He could come at any moment. So, there are hints to the Rapture, but that doesn't mean it's going to happen within the chronological order of the Tribulation.

Dr. Reagan: Sometimes people point to Revelation 4 and claim that when John was taken up to Heaven — raptured up to Heaven — that this was a type of the Rapture of the Church. Others say they don't really believe that. What do you all think about that?

Nathan Jones: I think the biggest example of the Rapture in Revelation comes from an absence or lack of the Church being there. Look at how from chapters 5-19 it's all about earth, it's all about Israel, it's all about Gentiles being destroyed, and it's about the Antichrist, but the Church isn't mentioned one time. Then we get to chapter 19, and all of sudden the Church is found already there in Heaven.

Dr. Reagan: So, the focus of the first three chapters is on the Church, then suddenly no mention of the Church until the end of Revelation. Sure, the chapters mention Saints, but is that the Church?

Dennis Pollock: Clearly there are believers throughout the Tribulation, but that doesn't mean they're the original batch. The original batch — the Church consisting of all believers in Christ from Pentecost to the Rapture — have been snatched from this earth up to Heaven. You've got a new batch of believers in the Tribulation. We'll call them Tribulation Saints.


Ordering the Book

Dr. Reagan: Is the book of Revelation in chronological order?

Gary Fisher: I think it is. Revelation 1:19, "Write therefore the things which you have seen, the things which are, and the things which shall take place after these things." Things which were seen, which are, and things which shall take place after these things.

Dr. Reagan: I would say that in general overall Revelation is in chronological order, but I think that in the book of Revelation there are both flash backs and flash forwards.

Dennis Pollock: My answer would be both yes and no. In general, yes, but there are parenthesis where you have God inserting a whole new concept. You have the parenthesis in Revelation 13 where He talks about the Beast and how he gets his start and who his False Prophet is. The Antichrist shows up a long time before Revelation 13, but God just takes one vision there.

Really, what we seem to be getting in Revelation are a series of visions that John had and where he's writing them down. Most of them are in order, but there are some where God is just saying, "Let's look specifically at the Beast." We have some other examples as well of this parenthesis where God just inserts a particular thought.

Dr. Reagan: There is almost a rhythm. The Lord will talk about these judgments that are coming upon the earth. They build and they build and the terror becomes increasing, and then all of sudden, it just cuts off to where there's a parenthesis where He encourages the reader to look forward to the end. We are going to win in the end. The saints are going to come out victorious! Then Jesus will pick up the narrative again and start talking about another tribulation judgment.

Sometimes there is a look backwards as well. For example, in Revelation 13 John looks back to the birth of Jesus and starts talking about that, along with a woman and her child and the dragon and all of those images.

We are used to flashbacks in modern fiction writing. What we are not used to are flash forwards, because God knows what is going to happen in the future. He can flash forward and talk about future events. That's where people often don't understand what's going on in the book of Revelation.

Nathan Jones: Revelation can be terrifying. Obviously we are talking about the earth's population being decimated, the economy being decimated, and the ecology being decimated. It's terrifying to behold.

It reminds me of when I was a kid and I'd see horror movies. I hated horror movies because I would be up all night for weeks. So, during the movie I would run out to get popcorn periodically to regain my courage. We needed to take a break from all that horror, and Revelation does just that. We need to take a break from the drama. We need to sit down and have Jesus come in and say, "Oh wait, don't worry about how bad it will get, for this is how it's really going to end. I'm going to win, so don't worry. Stick it out, for in the end it's not going to be bad but victorious. We need those reminders of Christ's victory throughout Revelation.


In the fourth segment of our forum on the book of Revelation, we'll ask our Bible prophecy experts to identify the 144,000 and the Two Witnesses.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Forum on the Book of Revelation: Keys to Understanding

Nathan JonesWatch MP3 PDFBy

How does one interpret for understanding the book of Revelation?

To answer that question, Dr. David Reagan and I on our television program Christ in Prophecy put together a panel of Bible prophecy experts. We invited Gary Fisher of the Bible prophecy ministry Lion of Judah Ministries from Franklin, Tennessee and Dennis Pollock of Spirit of Grace Ministries which focuses on evangelizing the continent of Africa.

Prophecy Forum


Keys to Understanding

Dr. Reagan: What do you consider to be some of the keys to interpreting and understanding the book of Revelation?

Gary Fisher: I just simply say, believe it as it is written. Just believe it as it is written. You don't have to understand it to believe it, just believe it as it is written.

Dr. Reagan: A good example of that kind of literal interpretation is in Revelation 7 where it talks about 144,000 Jews being sealed in the end times to do a certain work for God. One time I went through every commentary I could find, and 85% of them said that was talking about the Church. And yet, they are named by tribe. What would God have to do to convince people that He's talking about 144,000 Jews? Would He have to put it up in the sky with neon lights flashing on and off?

Nathan Jones: Okay, Dr. Reagan, you've got to say your favorite statement about biblical interpretation. It's the guiding light by which Lamb & Lion Ministries interprets the Bible.

Dr. Reagan: True, and for all of the Bible, not just Bible prophecy. If the plain sense makes sense, don't look for any other sense, or you'll end up with nonsense.

Dennis Pollock: A couple other keys are, one, respect the book. You've got to respect it. There are a lot of Christians that don't. The Bible is like a second class book to them when it comes to interpreting it. "Give me some Romans. There's some real meat. Let me read the Gospels. You can really get a lot out of them. But, Revelation, that's for those flakes and nuts who don't have much else to do.

But, the reality is it is the same Holy Spirit who inspired Paul to write about justification by faith and the same Holy Spirit who inspired John to sit down and write, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God." He also gave John these revelations, these insights, these visions, that make up the book of Revelation.

Revelation is valuable. It's good for us. It's healthy. You have to respect it.

I know one pastor who told me that he went through a series on Daniel through the first six chapters and then stopped because he didn't want to deal with prophecy. A lot of people are that way about Revelation. They'll read Matthew thru Jude, but when they get done with Jude, Bam!, right back to Matthew. They forget about Revelation because they don't see it as being very valuable.

Dr. Reagan: Any other keys to interpreting and understanding Revelation?

Nathan Jones: Sure. People will get to Revelation and claim that since it's apocalyptical literature therefore it must be just filled with symbols that don't make any sense. But, I find throughout Revelation wherever there is a symbol the Bible then goes ahead and explains what it means. Or, sometimes you have to go into the Old Testament to get a definition. Like, for instance, when Jesus is talking about the seven stars and the seven lampstands, just a few verses later in chapter one He says that the lampstands are the seven churches and the stars are the angels that protect those churches.

We've got to let the Bible speak for itself. We have to let the Bible interpret for itself and then make allowances for when the Bible is say poetic, then accept it is poetic literature. When some text is apocalyptic, then accept it as apocalyptic literature. We can't just say that the Bible is say all narrative or all history. We've got to understand the literary devices that God uses.


In the third segment of our forum on the book of Revelation, we'll ask our Bible prophecy experts to show us where the Rapture can be found in the book and how the chapters are ordered.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Forum on the Book of Revelation: Dating the Book

Nathan JonesWatch MP3 PDFBy

Was the book of Revelation fulfilled in 70 AD and therefore has nothing to do with the end times?

To answer that question, Dr. David Reagan and I on our television program Christ in Prophecy put together a panel of Bible prophecy experts. We invited Gary Fisher of the Bible prophecy ministry Lion of Judah Ministries from Franklin, Tennessee and Dennis Pollock of Spirit of Grace Ministries which focuses on evangelizing the continent of Africa.

Prophecy Forum


Dating Incorrectly With Preterism

Dr. Reagan: Let's talk about one of the popular theories today and that's what's called Preterism. It's kind of a strange name, and certainly one of the strangest interpretations of the book of Revelation that anybody has ever come up with, but it is growing in popularity. This is the idea that the book of Revelation was written before 70 AD and therefore was fulfilled in whole, or in part as some argue, in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Revelation it teaches is a book of prophecies fulfilled in 70 AD and not about the end times. What about it?

Nathan Jones: That would mean that Jesus would have had to come back in 70 AD. No historian has recorded the return of Jesus in 70 AD.

Dr. Reagan: They argue that He came back spiritually.

Nathan Jones: True, but that would then mean that we are living in the Millennial Kingdom. I don't know about you, but when I read the Bible about the Millennial Kingdom it talks about the curse being partially lifted, that Jesus is ruling from Jerusalem, that Jerusalem is the capital city of the world, and Israel is the main country over the world. During the Millennial Kingdom the curse is partially lifted. It is a time of peace and harmony. With 38 wars going on right now, it's pretty obvious to me that we are not living in the Millennial Kingdom.

Dr. Reagan: Also, when you talk about Jesus coming back spiritually, you would then deny what the angels said to His disciples on the Mount of Olives when He ascended into heaven: "He will return as He ascended." That return then is bodily; that is visibly.

Gary Fisher: The whole Preterism argument is based on two issues. One, if you are bent on an allegorical interpretation of the Bible, then you can get away with saying that Jesus has already returned and all the Revelation plagues and all that stuff has already occurred. But, if you insist on the literal interpretation of the Bible, then you cannot get away with making those claims.

Dr. Reagan: In fact, if you don't have a literal interpretation, there's no way really to ever determine whether a prophecy has been fulfilled.

Gary Fisher: Not only that, but the whole Bible becomes almost meaningless due to an allegorical interpretation of the Bible. The Bible can then mean anything you want. How do we know there was even a real Jesus?

Dr. Reagan: Dennis, was the book of Revelation written before 70 AD?

Dennis Pollock: No, it was written afterwards, so that should settle it right there. Beyond that, have you ever been to an event that was really built up as something great and it turned out to just fizzle?

Dr. Reagan: Oh, yes.

Dennis Pollock: I went to one meeting that was supposed to be the latest, greatest revival meetings ever. After it was over, I was really disappointed. I thought, "Lord, is the best you can do?"

When you read about the coming of Christ at the end of Revelation, riding the white horse and coming as this mighty warrior to take control of the earth, then you find out it is this wimpy little spiritual coming that really didn't mean much of anything it's like, "Is that really what's being described in Revelation?" And the answer obviously is no. The Tribulation is leading up to something. It's not all by itself in Revelation. It's leading up to Christ coming back to rule and reign.

Dr. Reagan: What hope is there about the future if you think it was all fulfilled in 70 AD? Come on!

Dennis Pollock: Yes, it makes the whole book meaningless.

Dr. Reagan: Preterism reminds me of that statement by the Apostle Paul where he said, "I want you to avoid two fellas" and he named them because he said, "They teach that the resurrection has already occurred." Well, these Preterists are teaching that the Second Coming has already occurred. What hope is there in such an interpretation? It's really a very sad kind of interpretation.

Gary Fisher: I am with Nathan's point. If we are living now in the Millennium, we are in a big mess, because if this is God's best... We have some of the highest crime rates in the world and all the other horrible stuff that's going with that. This is supposed to be the Millennium?!

Nathan Jones: Satan is supposed to be reined in during the Millennium. He's supposed to be put into a pit during the Millennial Kingdom. Obviously, he is working very hard right now here on earth.

Gary Fisher: Satan's not in a pit in Tennessee. He's roaming about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.


In the second segment of our forum on the book of Revelation, we'll ask our Bible prophecy experts to provide some keys to interpreting and understanding the book.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Register today for the America's Spiritual Crisis Bible Conference!

America's Spiritual Crisis Bible Conference

July 11-12, 2014 (Friday and Saturday) | Free
Join us in Richardson, Texas!
[Brochure]

Streaming Live!


Location

The Eisemann Performing Arts Center
2351 Performance Drive
Richardson, Texas (a suburb of Dallas)
Google Maps

Note: Accommodations are listed on the lamblion.com conference page. Childcare is not available.


No Cost

Conference: Free of charge (registration is required)


Registration

The conference is free of charge, but to attend registration is required by calling (972) 736-3567 (M-F, 8am-5pm CST), or register online. No registration is required to watch the conference streamed online at lamblion.com.

Register


Speaker

Bio

Dave Reagan
[full bio]

A former professor of international law and politics, Dr. Reagan is the founder and director of Lamb & Lion Ministries. He hosts the ministry's television program "Christ in Prophecy" viewable worldwide and is editor of the Lamplighter magazine.

Warren Smith
[website]

A freelance writer and former community social worker who was previously involved in the New Age movement. He has emerged as one of Christendom's foremost experts on the New Age Movement and other aspects of the occult. One of his most acclaimed books is a biographical one titled, The Light That Was Dark.

Eric Barger
[website]

Former record producer, rock musician, drug addict, and New Ager, he is now a leading expert in Christian apologetics and discernment. His "Take A Stand! Ministries" confronts both the culture and the Church, focusing on the Cults, World Religions, the Occult and Spiritual Warfare. He is a very powerful communicator and has been a frequent Lamb & Lion TV guest.

Jan Markell
[website]

A Messianic Jew who heads up Olive Tree Ministries in Minnesota. She is the host of a nationally syndicated radio program called "Understanding the Times." She has authored eight books and has produced many video programs. She publishes a weekly commentary on national and international events, and she annually hosts one of the largest Bible conferences in America.

Mike Gendron
[website]

A devout Catholic for over 30 years before he discovered the truth of God's Word. During that time he was also conducting a very successful career in corporate management. In 1988 he surrendered his career to attend seminary, and has since devoted his life to preaching and teaching God's Word. He is considered an expert on Christian doctrine.

Carl Gallups
[website]

The Pastor of Hickory Hammock Baptist Church in Milton, Florida, and host of a conservative radio talk show with a large national audience. Author of the best-selling books, The Magic Man in the Sky, and The Rabbi Who Found Messiah. He is the founder of the PPSIMMONS YouTube ministry channel and an aggressive and staunch defender of the faith.


Musician

Bio

Janet Paschal
[website]

Janet has produced 16 solo albums and has received multiple Grammy and Dove award nominations. She won the Dove award in 2011 for Female Vocalist of the Year. She has had numerous radio hit singles, and she has performed at places like the Sydney Opera House, Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, and the Grand Old Opry.

Jack Hollingsworth
[website]

Jack wandered the streets homeless for 20 years before his life was transformed by Jesus. For the past 18 years he and his wife, Sally, have traveled the nation speaking, teaching, and singing. He is the featured singer on the Lamb & Lion television program, "Christ in Prophecy."

Register

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Hosea and the Heart of God: Lessons for the Church and You

Nathan JonesBy Nathan Jones

We wrap up with our fifteenth and last installment of our faith study of the biblical Minor Prophets book of Hosea. This time the Church and you and me will learn some life lessons.


Lessons for the Church

While God in the book of Hosea compares Himself to a groom and Israel to a bride, His son Jesus Christ compares Himself to a groom and the Church to a bride. The Church, as Ephesians 5:22-33 explains, is the universal body of believers who have accepted Christ Jesus as Savior, from the day of Pentecost up until the coming day when the Church is raptured up to Heaven. This special group of believers, which if Jesus is your Savior you belong to, are set aside by Him and for Him.

Hosea would warn that we must be very careful that in our affluence that we not grow proud and self-reliant, falling into the same trap as Israel, essentially forgetting Jesus and His sustaining hand. The Church today would be wise to heed this warning:

"...a similar situation prevails today in many 'Christian' circles. It is not that God is denied. On the contrary, He is acknowledged, sometimes with great ceremony and by the most beautiful of services. The problem is that worshipers forget that God must be obeyed and that they must therefore live their lives differently."23

Church brethren, remember your condition when you were saved. Heed the command of Jesus in John 8:11 to the woman caught in adultery: "go and sin no more." Never forget how terribly low we had once fallen, and only through salvation in Christ how we are now lifted up to such incredible heights. Only when the Church is fully connected to Christ—the Head—can the Body work wonders.


Lessons for You

Marriage. When it comes to marriage, maybe you find yourself in the same disastrous marriage as Hosea and Gomer had; battered by unfaithfulness, broken hearts and failed trust. Gomer was faithless, but no matter how badly she betrayed Hosea, he remained faithful and loving. Likewise, Israel and all of humanity have been faithless to God, but He has always remained faithful and loving, ready to forgive.

It's all too easy and common to divorce nowadays. So, Hosea would recommend the advice of Dr. Boice concerning staying married:

"You say, 'Do you mean to tell me that if my wife or my husband runs away from me and commits adultery that I am still to be faithful? Do you mean to tell me that I must continue to love someone like that when I have been wronged and the sanctity of our marriage has been violated?' Yes, that is precisely our standard. 'But that is not fair!' True, it is not fair - who said anything about being fair? - it is just the expression of true love."24

Faith. When it comes to your relationship with Jesus, for those times when your faith in Him seems weakened or strained, emulate the example of football star Tim Tebow:

"If you're married, and you have a wife, and you really love your wife, is it good enough to only say to your wife 'I love her' the day you get married? Or should you tell her every single day when you wake up and every opportunity? And that's how I feel about my relationship with Jesus Christ is that it is the most important thing in my life. So any time I get an opportunity to tell Him that I love Him or given an opportunity to shout Him out on national TV, I'm gonna' take that opportunity. And so I look at it as a relationship that I have with Him that I want to give Him the honor and glory anytime I have the opportunity. And then right after I give Him the honor and glory, I always try to give my teammates the honor and glory. And that's how it works because Christ comes first in my life, and then my family, and then my teammates."25

When others are faithless, you remain faithful and committed, just like your Heavenly Father. For when God restores a shattered heart, faith is restored and the blessings will flow.

We'll end here with the knowledge that, "union with Christ is the secret of all fruitfulness, and this means that the essential element is new life."26


References

23. Ibid. p. 55.

24. Ibid. p. 34-35.

25. Davis, N. (2011, Nov. 22). Tim Tebow responds to Jake Plummer's comments on his faith. USA Today. Retrieved from http://content.usatoday.com/communities/thehuddle/post/2011/11/tim-tebow-responds-to-jake-plummers-comments-on-his- faith/1#.UtmTz8vnbcc

26. Boice, J.M. (1983). The Minor Prophets: An Expositional Commentary, Volume 1, Hosea-Jonah. Grand Rapids, Michigan: The Zondervan Corporation. p. 71.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Hosea and the Heart of God: Lessons for Israel and the Nations

Nathan JonesBy Nathan Jones

We continue on with our fourteenth installment of our faith study of the biblical Minor Prophets book of Hosea. This time Israel and the nations will learn some lessons.

The book of Hosea offers invaluable life lessons concerning having faith when your heart is shattered. These lessons can be applied to four groups: Israel, the Nations, the Church, and You.


Lessons for Israel

Though God's message in Hosea is totally applicable to you and me, the Church and the nations, the primary audience is Israel. Again, Yahweh God sees Israel as a wayward wife who broke their covenant relationship, and He still sees it that way even today. The Jewish people still remain like Gomer before she was bought out of slavery and was reconciled to her husband. The modern day nation of Israel lacks the very faithfulness, devotion, and knowledge of God which condemned her in Hosea's time. Every day Jews are coming out of exile and back into the Promised Land. But the nation remains in that waiting time Hosea in 3:3-5 placed Gomer in, before she could be purified and reunited with her husband once more.

Some would argue that God in a sense divorced Israel and transferred His blessings onto the Church, but that would be to totally forget God's promises to regather the Jews back into a nation once again. Need proof? The world was shocked to witness Israel being reborn as a nation on May 14, 1948. No nation disbanded for nearly 1,900 years has ever returned again to the same land, language and strength.

Hosea taught us that God ALWAYS, ALWAYS remains faithful. And so, God is even now being faithful to His promise to regather Israel a second time back into a nation and gloriously one day give her a heart that loves their Lord (Deuteronomy 28:64-67; Isaiah 11:11,12; 60:21; Jeremiah 16:14-16; Ezekiel 36:24-28; Hosea 6:1; Amos 9:14-15; Romans 11; 2 Peter 3:9).

What a day that will be! Hosea describes that future day—the latter days—when the nation of Israel is once again reconciled to God and faithful to their covenant with Him. We'll see the children of Judah and the children of Israel gathered together under the one ruler, which is Yahweh God. No longer rebellious, they'll know the ways of the Lord are right and that the righteous walk in them. The children of Israel shall return and seek the Lord their God and David their king. They shall love the Lord, pursue the knowledge of the Lord, prosper in His goodness, and finally understand how to keep a covenant.

Redeemed and restored to a right relationship with God, Israel in these not-so-distant days will have God's love lavished upon them. They'll know joy, for she shall sing there in their land as in the days of her youth. True safety will finally exist, for Israel will lie down safely and live in His sight. Spiritual growth will define them, for the people of Israel will grow like the lily, lengthening her roots and their branches shall spread. Israel will be a thing of beauty to the whole world, like a fragrance whose scent shall be like the wine (Hosea 1:11; 2:15,18; 3:5; 6:2; 14:1,5-7,9).


Lessons for the Nations

Hosea reminds the nations that their days are numbered. No matter how powerful or successful, or how many centuries a nation has stayed on top, Daniel 2 and Revelation 20 prophesy that all human nations are in rebellion against God and so will one day be supplanted by the coming Kingdom of Christ.

Like fictional zombies, the nations of the world in truth are also already the living dead. "How do nations die? The answer is that they die in spirit first. Next they die in soul. Eventually the body of the nation also dies and vanishes."22 The spirit first is lost when its recognition of God dissipates or is forcibly removed. Next, the soul of a nation dies when its national character deteriorates. And finally, the body of a nation dies as it is broken down bit by bit to become a third-rate power. Sound familiar?


In the fifteenth and last part of this series on faith in the book of Hosea, the Church and you and me will learn some life lessons.


References

22. Boice, J.M. (1983). The Minor Prophets: An Expositional Commentary, Volume 1, Hosea-Jonah. Grand Rapids, Michigan: The Zondervan Corporation. p. 86-87.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Hosea and the Heart of God: Reconciliation the Cure

Nathan JonesBy Nathan Jones

We continue on with our thirteenth installment of our faith study of the biblical Minor Prophets book of Hosea. This time we'll finally understand the cure for sin and the shattered heart.


Reconciliation—The Cure

What then does the book of Hosea teach us is the cure to healing both our broken heart and our tattered faith? This is the cure—by restoring the relationship back to its former mutually loving and trusting condition, and that is accomplished through repentance and forgiveness. This is called reconciliation.

Repentance is seeking. What does repentance look like? It first begins with seeking. Hosea 5:15 explains, "I [God] will return again to My place till they acknowledge their offense. Then they will seek My face; in their affliction they will earnestly seek Me."

While we wallow in the suffering of our own making, God remains patiently waiting for our return, because repentance starts with us. We are the faithless, covenant-breaking offenders, so it's our responsibility to go to the One we've offended. It is sinful man who by the Holy Spirit's prompting must obey by seeking out the Lord.

Repentance is acknowledging. Once God is sought out, repentance next involves an acknowledging of our offense. Hosea 14:2 explains what this acknowledgment looks like. "Take words with you, and return to the Lord. Say to Him, 'Take away all iniquity; receive us graciously, for we will offer the sacrifices of our lips.'"

Once we have sought the Lord out, with words that pour forth from our broken, penitent heart, we recognize that we have sinned by rebelling against our loving Heavenly Father. We ask for mercy and the grace granted us by God's Son, Jesus Christ, who died to take the punishment in our place. Accepting Jesus Christ as the only ruler of our life, we then commit to loving only Him and obeying His moral law.

The Carrie Underwood song "Jesus Take the Wheel" melodiously explains what giving our lives over to Jesus is like:

"And for the first time in a long time
She bowed her head to pray
She said I'm sorry for the way
I've been living my life
I know I've got to change
So from now on tonight
Jesus, take the wheel
Take it from my hands
Cause I can't do this on my own
I'm letting go
So give me one more chance
Save me from this road I'm on
Jesus, take the wheel"21

Great will be the day of our salvation! Hosea 2:15 compares it to passing through a door of hope. We are promised by God that mercy will be shown. "And I [God] will have mercy on her who had not obtained mercy." Forgiveness will be granted, for through Jesus' sacrifice, He bought us at the cost of His own life.

We are finally restored into a mutually loving and trusting condition. The relationship transforms from enmity to affinity. We become sons of the living God and are called "My people." Just like the depths of personal intimacy found in a covenant-bound marriage relationship, though with no sexuality, we shall know the Lord. In spiritual union with God once more, the Lord reveals to us in Hosea 2:16, "And it shall be in that day you will call Me 'My Husband,' and no longer call Me 'My Master'" (Hosea 1:10-11; 2:1,15-16,20; 3:2).


In the fourteenth part of this series on faith in the book of Hosea, Israel and the nations will learn some life lessons.


References

21. James, B., Lindsey, H. & Sampson, G. (2005, October 3). Sung by Underwood, C. "Jesus, Take The Wheel". Songs Of Southside Independent Music Publishing. BMG Rights Management (Ireland) Ltd., Sony/ATV Cross Keys Publishing, Stage Three Songs.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Hosea and the Heart of God: Sin the Problem

Nathan JonesBy Nathan Jones

We continue on with our twelfth installment of our faith study of the biblical Minor Prophets book of Hosea. This time we'll ascertain just what's caused all these problems for God and the people of Israel—sin—and what it is exactly.


The Problem and the Cure

How exactly then do we remain faithful—our loved ones, our Heavenly Father, our values, our principles, and to your own self be true—when our hearts are shattered and all faith seems lost?

Well, let's look at the broken heart as if it was a physical condition. When your body gets hurt, you go to the doctor. The doctor does two things. The doctor examines you to discern the problem and next prescribes a cure. Let's be doctors and examine what has caused the painful, broken heart and lost faith, then see what the Bible prescribes as the cure.


Sin—The Problem

Remember that in the book of Hosea we are given two characters who also portray two types—Yahweh God whose type is Hosea, and the nation of Israel whose type is Gomer. God and Hosea both suffered because of what was done to them, while Israel and Gomer both suffered because of what they did to themselves. In all cases, though, the underlying cause of everyone's suffering is a disease most today are loath to even whisper—SIN.

Sin as an act. What exactly is this disease called sin? Well, let's first look at sin as an act. God defines sin in part in Hosea 6:7 using the Hebrew word abar, which means for one to "pass over," such as trespassing over a boundary. For example, my inconsiderate punk of a neighbor up the street keeps riding his dirt bike across my front yard to get to an open field. Many times I've asked him to not tear across my property, but to no avail. He just disregards my right of ownership and defiantly continues to pass over the boundaries I've set. He is sinning against me.

When it comes to Man acting in sin against God, Dr. C. I. Scofield adds that sin is a "violation of or want of obedience to the revealed Word of God."14 We willingly act to cross the boundaries and laws God has set for us. That's why 1 John 3:4 defines sin as lawlessness.

Does that mean sin is only an act of doing something illegal, though, such as crossing a prohibited boundary? Not really, for actions are merely the inevitable result of sin put into motion.

Dr. Herbert Lockyer explains that sin as an act falls into three categories: transgression, denial, and failure.15 The first category of transgression, as we've seen in Hosea's use of the Hebrew word abar, covers transgression as willfully "passing over" God's divine command. God says, "This is how it is." And we respond indignantly, "No way! I pass." My biker neighbor willfully decided to ignore the sincerity of my request.

The second category, found in 1 Timothy 1:9's use of the Hebrew word pasha, is to deny God's divine right to command His creations by "breaking away from" and thereby causing spiritual anarchy. As famed missionary to China Hudson Taylor once said, "If He is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all." My neighbor denied my claim of ownership to my own land, and therefore also my authority inherent in that ownership.

The third category, found in Romans 3:23 and 1 John 3:4, is the use of the Hebrew word chata, conveys our failure to attain to God's divine standard. Chata conveys the idea of deliberately missing a mark. Robin Hood, William Tell and Katniss Everdeen are all legends at never missing the bull's-eye with their arrows, unless they choose to purposefully miss. My neighbor deliberately missed the mark by not meeting a lawful standard of mutual respect and compliance. How devastatingly sad that sin results in man's failure to reach his true promise and potential.

Sin as a state. We've looked at sin as an act, now let's look at sin as a state. Is sin something tangible where you can hold it, feel it, taste it, see it and smell it? No, you cannot, though certainly you can do all those with sin's temptations and resulting consequences. That would make my neighbor's dirt bike, helmet and even tongue ring sin, which is rather ridiculous. It's the opposite, the intangible is the sin—his defiant attitude which manifests his unrighteous behavior towards me. When it comes to sin as a state, Scofield states that sin is "the absence of righteousness."16 And, as 1 John 5:17 explains, "all unrighteousness is sin."

Sin as a nature. Finally, let's look at sin as a nature, or "enmity toward God."17 In its fully distilled essence, sin is our natural desire to rebel against God and His moral law. It's like that jerky co-worker assigned to your work team who thwarts every attempt you make at having a successful project. His very nature is to rebel and undermine. Hebrews 3:12 warns, "Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God..." Out of your heart springs the desire to rebel against Yahweh God and break His righteous laws.

To summarize these three characteristics of sin: one, it's mankind's rebellious nature that is sin, which two, causes us to be in an ongoing state of sin, resulting in three, where we act out our sin.

Sin as a disease. Sin's the problem—the disease—which adversely affects our faith. How so? Coney Island, long known for its amusement parks and recreational areas on the sandy beaches of southwestern Brooklyn in New York City, was during the early 1920s in crisis. The land was rapidly losing its beachfronts to the Atlantic Ocean. The raging ocean surf, day-in and day-out, pounded the sandy shores with such power that the whole beach was being eaten away to nothing. A whole way of life was about to be washed away. Like the Atlantic waves wearing away Coney Island's beachfront, so too does sin wear away at our belief in God.

Growing unbelief creates that loss of faith. There's an inevitable decline. As our faith is washed away by sin, in our minds God becomes more distant, then nebulous, then laughable, then repulsive. Our very unfaithfulness condemns us before God's justice and righteousness, for as Romans 14:23 reveals, "whatever is not from faith is sin." Like a swimmer being sucked out by the receding tide, "unforeseen terrors are in store for the one who has carelessly plunged into sin."18

Sin as a decision. Isaiah 59:12-13 points out how deep down, no matter how often we may claim ignorance of God's righteous laws, we in truth do understand that we're rebelling against the living God. The passage reads, "...as for our iniquities, we know them: In transgressing and lying against the Lord, and departing from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood."

Dr. James M. Boice, former senior pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, gets to the heart of why people knowingly reject God:

"This is the true nature of the problem. It is not that men and women have no knowledge of God at all and are condemned for what they 'innocently enough' do not know. It is rather that they do have knowledge of God but have rejected it because they do not like the direction in which such knowledge takes them."19

Sin would still exist regardless of Man's laws, for the origins of knowing right from wrong lie deep within Man's very heart. As Romans 1:19 states, "because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them." But, that knowledge of right and wrong also condemns, for as Romans 1:20 pronounces, "so that they are without excuse." It's like you being the defendant in a courtroom and having no defense to argue before the judge, because the bloody knife remains still clutched in your hand.

Sin as a fatality. Rebellion against God and His moral law only continues to sicken our hearts in a downward spiral that's ultimately fatal. "Sin ages one and destroys his youthful spirit. The decay is gradual, imperceptible, but dangerous and fatal. Working secretly and silently it accomplishes the ruin of the stupid individual."20 As Jesus stated about the rebellious heart in Mark 7:21-23, "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man." Our hearts gush evil because they're rebellious, and so we stand before God as sick, defiled and ready for death just as Gomer did before the crowd.

Sin erodes the beach of your faith until nothing more is left than a few grains of sand. Sin tears, it washes away, it shatters your heart and all the hearts of those your sin collides against.


In the thirteenth part of this series on faith in the book of Hosea, we'll finally understand the cure for sin and the shattered heart.


References

14. Lockyer, H. (1964). All the Doctrines of the Bible: A Study and Analysis of Major Bible Doctrines. Grand Rapids, Michigan: The Zondervan Corporation. p. 154.

15. Ibid.

16. Ibid.

17. Ibid.

18. Yates, K.M. (1942). Preaching From the Prophets. Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman Press. p. 77.

19. Boice, J.M. (1983). The Minor Prophets: An Expositional Commentary, Volume 1, Hosea-Jonah. Grand Rapids, Michigan: The Zondervan Corporation. p. 38.

20. Yates, K.M. (1942). Preaching From the Prophets. Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman Press. p. 67.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Hosea and the Heart of God: A Profile in Generous Forgiveness

Nathan JonesBy Nathan Jones

We continue on with our eleventh installment of our faith study of the biblical Minor Prophets book of Hosea. This time we'll better understand the vastness of God's divine heart by looking at His profile when it comes to how He is both forgiving and generous in offering salvation.


God—A Profile in Generous Forgiveness

Forgiving. The heart of God is forgiving. If only Israel had heeded Hosea's messages and asked for forgiveness by repenting of their rebellion and other evil deeds, God would have been merciful. Loving-kindness and mercy are at the heart of Yahweh God. In His goodness, He desires mercy and not sacrifice. The Righteous Judge declares, "I will have mercy on her who had not obtained mercy." If Israel would have repented, God promised, "I would have healed Israel."

God also offered hope to Israel's brothers to the south—Judah—that if they would repent He would show them mercy as well. God did indeed show Judah greater mercy by allowing them many more decades to repent. But because they, like their northern brothers, refused to ask forgiveness for their evil deeds, Judah later fell to the Babylonian Empire in 582 BC (Hosea 1:7; 2:19,25; 3:5; 6:6; 7:1).

Saving. The heart of God saves. God's mercy towards Israel has not been extinguished even to this day, for God in Hosea 1:11 made His people a promise: "Then the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together, and appoint for themselves one head; and they shall come up out of the land." In that future day, God will turn His anger away, and the people of Israel will be regathered back in the Promised Land to proclaim, "for in You the fatherless find mercy." This very day, you and I are witnessing first-hand the beginnings of that promised time of mercy.

Regardless of what person, ideology, work or faith may claim to offer in the way of salvation, the Lord God reveals with total absoluteness in Hosea 13:4, "for there is no savior besides Me." God alone saves.

A few types of salvation are referred to here. First, when it comes to the salvation of the Jewish people, Israel's temporary banishment from the Promised Land is part of God's ongoing work in saving a remnant of believing Jews from idolatry. As God promises, "I will take from her mouth the names of the Baals, and they shall be remembered by their name no more."

Second, the world needing saving from its own self-destructive inclinations. God promises that one day His Son Jesus Christ will set up an earthly kingdom where "bow and sword of battle I will shatter from the earth."

Third, and ultimately the most important form of salvation, God promised His Son Jesus would perform the ultimate sacrifice for our crimes to bring about our personal salvation. God will "ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death."

And fourth, when those forgiven fall back into their wicked ways, God will "rescue yet again and heal their backsliding." I just love what God promises in Hosea 6:1, "He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up" (Hosea 1:7,11; 2:1,17-18; 13:4,14; 14:3-4; 6:1). Our God saves!

Generous. The heart of God is generous. When one is restored to a right relationship with God, they are continually bathed in God's generosity. When a believing remnant of Israel is restored to God and the Holy Land once more, "the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered... O Judah, a harvest is appointed for you, when I return the captives of My people." No longer will Israel be under constant attack by world powers, for God will make them lie down safely, for God will be "like the dew to Israel."

When Jesus returns to set up His Millennial Kingdom, great will be the day for those who have accepted Him as Savior. "The earth shall answer with grain, with new wine, and with oil." Christ will let them dwell in their houses in peace and safety.

I'm reminded of a west Texas sheep farmer named Yates who could barely keep his ranch afloat. Day after day he barely eked out a living and was always worried the bank would foreclose. He eventually was forced to live off a government subsidy to buy clothes and food for his family. Then one day a seismographic crew from an oil company stopped by and asked if he'd let them drill a wildcat well on his land. Thinking it couldn't hurt, permission was given. The drill crew at 1,115 feet struck an oil reserve so huge that it ended up producing 80,000 barrels of oil per day. Living over so much oil, Yates had always been a millionaire, yet never in his ignorance knew it. The rancher owned the land, but hadn't truly claimed its wealth. Likewise, God wants to share His abundant generosity with us through great spiritual blessings, but like Yates, so few of us claim what is already there.13

The claim is when any person in repentance gives their heart to Jesus Christ as Savior, and the generosity is in God's promise that He will come and rain down righteousness upon us. A believer in Christ will joyously testify that they are filled and their heart exalted (Hosea 1:10,11; 2:18,22; 6:11; 10:12; 11:10-11; 12:6; 14:5; 13:6). Great is the generosity of our loving, heavenly Father!


In the twelfth part of this series on faith in the book of Hosea, we'll ascertain just what's caused all these problems—sin—and what it is exactly.


References

13. Millionaire Unawares. (1984, January). Parables, Etc., 3(11). p 4.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Hosea and the Heart of God: A Profile in Pain and Justice

Nathan JonesBy Nathan Jones

We continue on with our tenth installment of our faith study of the biblical Minor Prophets book of Hosea. This time we'll better understand the vastness of God's divine heart by looking at His profile when it comes to in His sovereignty how He can be pained yet just.


God—A Profile in Pain and Justice

Pained. The heart of God can be pained. Why would so massive a God concern Himself over being betrayed by so small a people? It's because God also has the most massive of hearts. God's giant heart tears and shatters biggest of all. As great is God's capability for love, for God is love, so too is His susceptibleness to pain. Those who love the most feel pain the hardest. And so, in hair-pulling and teeth-clenching fiery, righteous anger, the Broken Hearted hands down the following judgments upon Israel:

  • "Lest I strip her naked and expose her, as in the day she was born, and make her like a wilderness, and set her like a dry land, and slay her with thirst."
  • "I will not have mercy on her children."
  • I will "take away" and "cause all her mirth to cease."
  • I will "destroy her vines and her fig trees, of which she has said, 'These are my wages that my lovers have given me'."
  • "Nor shall their sacrifices be pleasing to Him... it shall not come into the house of the Lord."
  • "I will return again to My place till they acknowledge their offense."
  • "I will drive them from My house; I will love them no more."

And yet, even though Israel provoked Yahweh to anger most bitterly, God through His anguished rage cries out as from the heart of a parent forced into disciplining His wayward child, "How can I give you up, Ephraim?.. My heart churns within Me; My sympathy is stirred." As a long forgotten wise man once shared, "By chastening, the Lord separates the sin that He hates from the sinner whom He loves" (Hosea 2:3,4,9,11-12; 5:6,15; 8:13; 9:4,15; 11:8; 12:14; 1 John 4:8,16).

Sovereign. The heart of God is sovereign. Does God have any right to be angry over Israel's backstabbing betrayals? Well, that by now should go without saying. How about His right then to be angry over your and my own rebellion? Exactly what kind of authority does God hold? The answer first dwells within who God is:

  • "For I am God, and not man, the Holy One in your midst."
  • "I am the Lord your God."
  • "I will be your King."
  • He is the "Lord God of hosts."

So, as king of the universe, God possesses ALL authority.

Second, Hosea reveals God's power is supreme. Yahweh has all knowledge and power. Nothing is hidden from God, for He sees all. Nothing can stand against God's might. Nothing!

Third, because of God's holiness and sovereign position, He invariably holds the only right to judge us. So, for example, God's decisions in Hosea to bring an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel and bring charges against Judah and to punish them for their evil deeds cannot be disputed (Hosea 1:4,5; 4:6; 5:3; 7:2; 11:9; 12:2,5,9; 13:4,10). Our God reigns supreme!

Just. The heart of God is just. Not only is God a loving God, but as King of the Universe, He is a just sovereign.

Hosea reveals God rules with righteousness and justice because the ways of the Lord are right. What a blessing!

For every evil committed, every wrong deed done, every injustice that escapes man's earthly justice, God will deal with each in fairness and righteousness. The murderous despot will fall. The knife-wielding hand of the cold-hearted abortionist will be broken. The brutal rapists will be made impotent. The persecutors of the Church will know true fear. All the raging unrepentants who shake their balled-up fists at God will one day stand before the Righteous Judge at the Great White Throne Judgment of Revelation 20:11-15 and face the eternal fiery consequences for their evil deeds. Justice will finally be met. Hoo-ray!

At least 35 judgments are stated within Hosea, too many to list here, but they pour forth justice for the wrongs Israel committed against God and the universal moral law.

First stands the charge—"The Lord brings a charge against the inhabitants of the land." Second is the court case—"He will remember their iniquity." Third is the judgment—"your judgments are like light that goes forth." And fourth is the sentence as God promises to "avenge the bloodshed."

  • "He will break down their altars; He will ruin their sacred pillars."
  • "I will punish her for the days of the Baals."
  • "For the children of Israel shall abide many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar, without ephod or teraphim."
  • "They shall not dwell in the Lord's land."
  • "My God will cast them away, because they did not obey Him; and they shall be wanderers among the nations."

And, God did just that. According to 2 Kings 17:24, by 721 BC—within Hosea's lifetime—God had allowed the Assyrian King Sargon to conquer and carry off 27,290 of the people of Israel and then settled foreigners in their homes.12 The Northern Kingdom of Israel was destroyed and its people forced to be wanderers among the nations, exactly as God told Hosea would happen if they refused to repent.

Many today believe God is an impotent judge, but He's only being patient, for judgment inevitably comes as swiftly and destructively as a Category 5 tornado (Hosea 1:4; 2:13,19; 3:4; 6:5; 9:3,9,17; 10:2; 14:1,9; 2 Peter 3:9).


In the eleventh part of this series on faith in the book of Hosea, we'll better understand the vastness of God's divine heart by looking at His profile when it comes to how He is both forgiving and generous in offering salvation.


References

12. Lewis, J.P. (1966). Minor Prophets. Austin, Texas: Sweet Publishing Company. p.17.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Hosea and the Heart of God: A Profile in Loving Faithfulness

Nathan JonesBy Nathan Jones

We continue on with our ninth installment of our faith study of the biblical Minor Prophets book of Hosea. This time we'll better understand the vastness of God's divine heart by looking at His profile when it comes to how He is loving and faithful.


God—A Profile in Loving Faithfulness

Loving. The heart of God is loving. It's easy to think that the God of the universe who called existence into being by merely the power of His spoken word would be altogether self-sufficient, and yet the book of Hosea reveals that God is loving and that He seeks those who will love Him in return (Hosea 2:15-15,19,23; 6:2-3; 9:10; 11:1,3-4; 13:5; 14:4).

Drink in the poetry of God's love for His people:

  • "When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son."
  • "I will say to those who were not My people, 'You are My people!' And they shall say, 'You are my God!'"
  • While we walk the barrenness of an empty life, God declares, "I knew you in the wilderness."
  • God will come thundering in and "come to us like the rain" as He seeks to "allure her" and to "speak comfort to her" in order to "love them freely."
  • The pure love of God pours out where "He will revive us" and "raise us up" and "heal them."
  • "I drew them with gentle cords, with bands of love, and I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck. I stooped and fed them."
  • Like a new father helping his baby child take their first steps, God says "I taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by their arms."
  • Like a valiant suitor, God seeks to "betroth you to Me forever."
  • Like a doting husband God proclaims, "you will call Me 'My Husband,' and no longer call Me 'My Master'."
  • In God's loving, outstretched arms those who accept His love "shall sing there."

Faithful. The heart of God is faithful. When God makes a promise, He is faithful and will never, ever, ever, ever break it. When God says, "I will make a covenant," the recipient can be 100% absolutely sure that the promise of God will never be altered, stretched, forgotten or rescinded. So, for God to declare, "I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness," His loving character remains totally faithful to the covenant He has established.

All 66 books of the Bible pour forth testimony of God forever remaining faithful to the promises He has made. That's what makes the unfaithful betrayal by His covenant people all the more tragic. As G. Campbell Morgan explains:

"The most heinous and damnable sin of which man is capable is that of infidelity to love. This is the sin of all such as have been brought into right relationship with God, and then, violating love's covenant, have committed spiritual adultery with His enemies."11

Hosea shares the tender, heart-tearing responses God, in His grief, utters over His people's unfaithful backstabbings:

  • "They have transgressed My covenant and rebelled against My law."
  • "They have played the harlot against their God."
  • "None among them calls upon Me."
  • "They have fled from Me."
  • "Israel has forgotten his Maker."
  • "They rebel against Me."
  • "They have ceased obeying the Lord."
  • "None at all exalt Him."
  • "My people ask counsel from their wooden idols."
  • "They have dealt treacherously with Me."
  • "They devise evil against Me."
  • "Ephraim has encircled Me with lies."

Israel stood defiant, accused by God for "swearing falsely in making a covenant." Do covenants, promises and oaths then matter to God? They do indeed; no doubt whatsoever (Hosea 2:5,18,20; 4:7,10,12,18,12; 5:7; 6:7; 7:7,13-15; 8:1,14; 9:1,15; 10:4; 11:7,12).


In the tenth part of this series on faith in the book of Hosea, we'll better understand the vastness of God's divine heart by looking at His profile when it comes to how He can be pained yet just.


References

11. Morgan, G.C. (1960). The Minor Prophets: The Men and Their Messages. Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company. p. 27.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Hosea and the Heart of God: A Profile in Communicativeness

Nathan JonesBy Nathan Jones

We continue on with our eighth installment of our faith study of the biblical Minor Prophets book of Hosea. This time we'll better understand the vastness of God's divine heart by looking at His profile when it comes to how He communicates.


God—The Faithful King

So what about those vital questions posed earlier about God's character? Is God heartless when it comes to His people, deliciously plotting our eventual fall and subsequent shattered heart? Too clearly Israel, in every conceivable way, was at fault for shattering her own heart, but what about Hosea? Why did God seemingly set up Hosea to suffer the inevitable shattered heart?

To answer that, first we've got to remember that Gomer was the living embodiment of the faithless nation of Israel. Every wicked desire Gomer craved and evil deed committed was a reflection of Israel's heart. The faithless bride Gomer was the living symbol, a type, of the faithless bride Israel.

For Hosea to most effectively share the heartache God was enduring with His wayward people, Hosea needed to have experienced the same betrayal firsthand. As one commentator explains, "Not until a heart is crushed by love's indescribable sorrow is it truly fitted to preach the deeper things of God's matchless love."8 Hosea relating to God's suffering imbued him with the ability to effectively communicate God's heartache. As famed minister G. Campbell Morgan explains, "Out of all this process of pain, there came full confidence in the ultimate victory of love. Thus equipped, he [Hosea] delivers his messages and all through them will sound these deep notes of Sin, Love, and Hope."9

Second, not only was Hosea tied to God by the same heartache, but Hosea's life of faithfulness was also one of the greatest types of symbolic Bible prophecy ever to walk this earth. After all, who so willingly gives their life over to be a symbol of misery? Who because of obedience chooses to have their life become "a succession of sobs" that could only be recorded as if in a "diary of a soldier at the front written between the explosion of shells."10

Hosea became a living symbol just like Gomer, for he modeled the very faithfulness and forgiveness that God demonstrated to Israel. Hosea was, of course, merely a man, but his character and heart are a beautiful reflection of the character and heart of God.


God—A Profile in Communicativeness

To better understand the vastness of that divine heart, let's experience Yahweh God as portrayed in the book of Hosea.

Communicative. The heart of God communicates. One of the most common complaints from skeptics today is that God, if He's real, is distant and never talks to His creation. Even the Deists of the early years of America thought this, believing God had wound up the universe and then stepped away. Not true! We find ample examples throughout the Bible where God has communicated about who He is to Man.

God actually wants to communicate with us, but sin stands in the way. When the eternal state comes, mankind will be reunited with God once again, and we'll walk, talk and fellowship one-on-one with Yahweh God just like Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden before sin separated humanity from Him. God sent His own Son, Jesus Christ, to do the Good Work of restoring that relationship. But, while we wait for that heavenly state, God uses other avenues to communicate to us about who He is and what good He desires for us.

One such avenue God communicates to us by is through the speeches, writings and symbolic lives of Israel's prophets, such as Hosea. Many times the rebuking messages given to Israel were to help keep them from making the wrong choices, but more often it was to reveal the person and character of Yahweh.

Those messages to Israel became a conduit for revealing God to the larger world, so that every person in every land in every age since can know about our Creator. When God commanded Hosea and the other prophets to hear the words of the Lord, He was speaking not just to the prophet or Israel, but to you and me as well. Our Father God communicates to us through these messages, and most excitedly for us when we call out to Him, God responds "I will answer" (Hosea 1:2; 2:21; 3:1; 4:1; 5:1-2,9; 6:5; 9:8; 12:4,10,13).


In the ninth part of this series on faith in the book of Hosea, we'll better understand the vastness of God's divine heart by looking at His profile when it comes to how He is loving and faithful.


References

8. Yates, K.M. (1942). Preaching From the Prophets. Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman Press. p. 60.

9. Morgan, G.C. (1960). The Minor Prophets: The Men and Their Messages. Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company. p. 23.

10. Yates, K.M. (1942). Preaching From the Prophets. Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman Press. p. 64.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Hosea and the Heart of God: A Profile in Unhappiness

Nathan JonesBy Nathan Jones

We continue on with our seventh installment of our faith study of the biblical Minor Prophets book of Hosea. This time we'll marvel at the remarkably uncanny parallels in personality and behavior between Gomer and Israel when it comes to being utterly unhappy.


Israel—A Profile in Unhappiness

Rebellious. God gave His cherished people Israel the Ten Commandments and other precepts in the Mosaic Law so right and wrong, good and evil, could easily be identified. Knowing how to choose what's right would save them from pain. But, for Israel to engage in their sinful desires and seek justification for their evil, they would have to do away with God's Law and the boundaries that it set. Ultimately, so too must the Lawgiver be done away with. And so, for the sake of their sin, Israel treacherously rebelled.

Much of the book of Hosea is filled with tear-stained page after tear-stained page as Yahweh God Himself explains the rebellious nature of His covenant "bride" Israel. In fitful pains of mournful agony, wailing and weeping and raging, and at times even seemingly disjointed ranting, the reader can only be struck by how staggeringly hurt God truly is by the devastating betrayal by His people. Read the very words God uttered to Hosea which describes Israel.

The reason God's people "ceased obeying the Lord" and "transgressed My covenant and rebelled against My law" was because they considered the "great things of My law... a strange thing." God's law did not fulfill the selfish desires, lusts and impulses of their sinful hearts, so in response Israel from peasant all the way up to prince rebelled against her God (Hosea 4:10,18; 7:14; 8:1,12; 9:1,15; 13:16).

Dealing a devastating blow, Israel in their desire to reject God's law also rejected Him personally. Like the chest-thumping Atheists of today, they even went as far as pretending God no longer existed. In response, God cries out, "They forgot Me!" Israel has "forgotten his Maker." When a person purposefully forgets the law of God, they in reality are rejecting true knowledge, and with no knowledge of God the ignorant people didn't know who to turn to during times of trouble (osea 4:1,6; 7:7; 8:14; 11:3; 13:6).

Deeply wounded, God, like a parent who's just heard their tween yell "I hate you!" laments over Israel's betrayal. "They do not return to the Lord their God, nor seek Him." No longer having a healthy respect for the Lord, they did not obey Him and so "did not cry out to Me" in their distress. Craven and ungrateful, "they have fled from Me" and "transgressed against Me, though I redeemed them." The betrayers were only ever "bent on backsliding from Me." God just wouldn't go away, so the people went on the offense and sought to "devise evil against Me." They have "spoken lies against Me," "encircled Me with lies and deceit" so as to tarnish and smear the name of the Lord (Hosea 5:7; 6:7; 7:10,13-15; 9:17; 10:3; 11:7,12).

Rejecting God as their king, Israel installed their own flawed and worthless leaders. Their doing so was an act hauntingly parallel to today's nations which leave us with presidents who make confusing decisions, Congress being stuck in gridlock, and activist judges who just make up the laws as it suits them. Israel had put all their trust in their military and endlessly tried to appease their two-faced enemies by making peace treaties not worth the clay tablets they were written on (Hosea 8:4,14; 10:13; 12:1).

As the rejection of God progressed over the decades, soon a youth culture arose who barely even know the name of the Lord as anything but a curse word. Those who did know God held Him in absolute contempt and tried to provoke Him to anger most bitterly by their language, music and lifestyle choices. They could care less if God was offended, forgetting that God in His all-knowingness always remembers (Hosea 7:2; 11:7; 12:14; 13:1).

Unhappy. Did Israel's rebellious heart bring them all they had ever hoped for? Did it bring them anything more than a fleeting joy? Did they feel a contentment and satisfaction that lasted? No, not at all whatsoever. For, like Gomer, Israel after a life of committing every evil possible under the sun could only heave a dejected, "For then it was better for me than now."

Why this strange response? First, without God's knowledge and the wisdom He provides, we are trampled down by our own lack of discernment until finally destroyed. When selfishness enslaves the heart, senseless people can only blindly stumble about through life making bad decisions. As Hosea so colorfully states, "When one sows the wind, they reap the whirlwind."

They're rather like that exasperating mother monkey in the children's song, "Ten Little Monkeys." She's the perfect example of making bad decisions. Why a mother would put ten kids in the same bed and then expect them to sleep is beyond reason. Jumping about as kids naturally do, one at a time each falls out and bumps their head. Mamma calls the doctor and the doctor says, "No more monkeys jumping on the bed." Does she heed the doctor's advice and stop those crazy monkeys? Not at all! One after another gets a concussion, and reaping the whirlwind, she racks up ten large medical bills. Stupid monkey!

Second, rebelliousness is a sickness that devours one's strength. The very sinful pleasures the people of Israel craved were sapping their youth and vitality, essentially destroying them. Crazy enough, they didn't even realize their emaciated condition until they were too far wasted away (Hosea 2:7; 4:6,11,14; 5:5,13,15; 7:9,11; 8:7; 14:1).


In the eighth part of this series on faith in the book of Hosea, we'll better understand the vastness of God's divine heart by looking at His profile when it comes to how He communicates.