Can we afford to neglect the Bible?

Many people are called ‘Christians,’ 1 ‘followers of the Way’ 2 or ‘saints.’ 3   They are all united by one book, the Bible, or the Holy Scriptures.

Some of those people might have had the same experience that I had when I was called by the Lord.  I joined a local church and they told me to read the Bible, have faith and pray.  Somehow no one seemed to realize that I knew absolutely nothing about the Bible.  They assumed that I would understand what I read.  It took me years of private study to build up my faith and get to know God through His Word.

That is why we want to follow Jude’s lead and say, ‘Dear friends, although we are very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, we felt we had to write and urge you to contend for the Holy Scriptures that was entrusted to the saints.’ 4

#  Is the Bible just another book?

We are very used to books.  Millions have been written in human history.  It still happens, though the electronic media has changed it a bit.  Yet, out of all the countless millions of books, one book stands apart.  It is that special book, the Bible.  Let’s look at some of its outstanding characteristics:

#  It is a once off edition.

It will never be updated.  It cannot be updated, because its 66 books/booklets were written over a period of about 1,400 years (from the first book, Genesis to the last book, Revelation).  If you use the same method and time frame to update it, who knows if the world will still exist, seeing the rate of biological decay that is the result of God’s curse on creation.

#  The Bible covers an immense time space.

It describes the origin of the universe, of life on earth, how humans came to be, et cetera.  Then it describes how this present order will end.  It explains that there will be a future new heaven and earth.  This present natural heaven and earth is just a prototype of the coming one.  The Bible urges us to prepare for the coming one.

#  It is a book that has divided humanity into two groups.

  • People are either for it, or against it.  They either embrace it or ignore and hate it.  There is no neutrality, no feigning of ignorance about the God it introduces.
  • Many volumes of books are commentaries on it.  Many other volumes denounce and persecute it.
  • We know that there are numerous tribes and nations who still do not have Scripture, but even they are divided.  Some have the laws of God written on their consciences, some not. 5

#  One person described in the Bible has divided history into two slots.

  • It is the Son of God, Jesus Christ.  Time was always indicated by, Before Christ (B.C.) and After Christ (A.D.).  It has now been changed to Before Common Era, and Common Era.  Why?  Because the ruler of this age, the devil, does not like the name of his conqueror, Jesus Christ, the Messiah.
  • The Cross sharply divided the light of God and the darkness of the evil one.  There are no any illusions about the Cross: either one’s sins are forgiven, or they are not.  Either one pays the punishment for sin oneself, or one lets Jesus do it.
  • The tragedy of the post cross era is that the devil has firmly established his anti-Jesus propaganda.  That propaganda never stops to tell people how bad Jesus is. Despite it, the Kingdom of God grows.  Jesus’ dominion will never end.

#  The Bible reveals what science and clever thinking cannot discern. 

  • It reveals the Trinity, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.  Who could imagine that there exists three Persons with one essence?  Definitely not science!
  • The Bible introduces the enemy of the Trinity who rules over the world.  It is the devil and he forms his own trinity with the Beast and the False Prophet.
  • He is hostile to the Bible, and everything connected to it.   There are very few people, especially in the Western World, who are not aware of the war against the Bible.
  • The Bible teaches about angels, God’s good, loyal ones and the devil’s rebellious, evil ones.

Conclusion

Scripture is one of a kind.  Psalm 138:2 says, ‘…You have exalted above all things your Name and your Word.’  The Bible, the 66 books that is the Word of God, is incomparable, and a book no one can afford to neglect.

References

  1. Acts 11:26
  2. Acts 22:4
  3. Ephesians 1:1
  4. Jude 3
  5. Romans 1:20; 2:15

Jesus finally wins

In Genesis 3:15 God promised the devil, when he deceived Eve in the garden of Eden, that some day, Someone born of a woman, will crush his head.  We have traced some of the devil’s futile attempts to thwart this promise.  His next attempt was on Jesus Himself.

The promised One

The devil had kept a watchful eye on events in history for the One who would crush his head.  He realized that the promised One had come when:

  • The angel Gabriel announced to Joseph, ‘She [Mary] will give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.’ 1
  • The Magi confirmed the birth of the King of the Jews, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?  We have seen His star in the east and have come to worship Him.’ 2
  • Mary announced the glorious news in a song to Elizabeth, ‘My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.…  From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me – holy is His name.’ 3
  • The devil and his followers knew Gabriel’s message to Mary, was true, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.  So the Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God.’ 4

Gabriel, Mary, Joseph and the Magi confirmed to Satan that a decisive moment in history had arrived.  This child, Jesus, was the promised Messiah, the Son of God, ‘For to us a child has been born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders.  And He will be called Wonderful Councillor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’ 5  The devil realized that Genesis 3:15 was about to be fulfilled and he would have to get rid of Jesus.

  • He first worked through Herod.  Herod, a jealous and heartless leader who did not want anybody to usurp his kingly throne decided to kill Jesus.
  • He asked the Magi to reveal the whereabouts of the newly born King, “Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared.  He sent them to Bethlehem and said, ‘Go and make a careful search for the child.  As soon as you find Him, report to me, so I too may go and worship Him.'” 6
  • But God warned Joseph, “When they [the Magi] had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. ‘Get up,’ he said, ‘take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt.  Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill Him.'” 7
  • In his frustration, Herod later ordered that all the young boys two years and under in Bethlehem and vicinity, be killed. 8  Jesus was safely hidden in Egypt.

The devil’s next opportunity – to repeat the successful strategy of Eden

The Holy Spirit lead Jesus into the desert right after His baptism by John the Baptist.  There He fasted for 40 days and the devil tried his best to convince Jesus to pay allegiance to him rather than to God.  He reckoned that Jesus was so weakened by the fasting that He would succumb to his suggestions.  In both Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13 he tried his clever plan that worked so well with Eve.

  • Eat the delicious fruit.  Eve obeyed, but Jesus said, “It is written, ‘Man does not live on bread alone.’” 9
  • Believe me [Satan].  Eve forgot God’s command, but not Jesus who replied, “It is written, ‘Worship the Lord Your God and serve him only.’” 10
  • You can be like God!  Eve fell for the proposition, but Jesus said, “It says: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 11  Jesus knew that He was God incarnate.  He would inherit the eternal Kingdom, not the kingdoms of the world the devil offered Him, because they will one day be destroyed by a massive fire.

God (Jesus) was victorious over Satan.  The devil failed, and he retreated in the face of Scripture truth spoken by Jesus.  However, Scripture is very accurate when it says, ‘When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left Him until an opportune time.’ 12

The devil’s last opportunity – Jesus’ death on the Cross

The opportune time came.  Satan is one of the most brilliant students of the Bible.  He studies it intently and looks for clues to oppose God and to deceive mankind.  The Cross would be the final time for the devil to try to thwart his eventual death sentence prophesied in Genesis 3:15.  He had all his plans ready to get rid of Jesus.  He would make sure that Jesus would be deader than dead, never to rise from the grave.  He, Satan, would be the world ruler, the king of this planet – for eternity.  He would rule over humanity and harass them with evil, wars, addictions, danger, et cetera.  He knew Jesus had to die:

  • Jesus Himself told His disciples that He would fulfill Isaiah 53 when He said, ‘From that time on Jesus began to explain to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and teachers of the law, and that He must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.’ 13  He repeated it often in the Gospels. 14
  • Isaiah 53:4-5 summarizes Jesus’ mission on earth, ‘Surely He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered Him stricken by God, smitten by Him, and afflicted.  But He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.’
  • Jesus is ‘the Author and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.’ 15
  • So Jesus died, and was buried.  The grave was sealed and Roman soldiers were posted around the grave. 16   The devil thought nobody could get out of that grave.

What happened next is very interesting.  On the third day disturbing news reached the headquarters of the devil.  There were rumors of sightings of angels, an earthquake, an opened grave, et cetera. 17

  • A vicious battle ensued for the body of Jesus (to understand this type of battle, let’s recall the war in heaven in Revelation 12:7-8: ‘And there was war in heaven.  Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back.  But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven’ – the devil lost that war and subsequently all his major campaigns to thwart God’s plans).
  • The war to keep Jesus in the grave was tremendous, because Ephesians 1:19-21 tells us, ‘That power is like the working of His mighty strength which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion….’ 
  • We know that God is all powerful, because He created the heavens and the earth in six days according to Genesis 1 and Exodus 20:11.  Yet Ephesians 1 says that ‘He exerted His mighty strength when He raised Jesus from the dead.’  The devil and his demons must have fought valiantly and desperately till the end.  But it was to no avail: Jesus rose from the dead, ascended and after His ascension sits at the right hand of His Father in heaven.
  • What a final, devastating fulfillment of Genesis 3:15.  The devil failed big time.
  • However, there is still another episode in the Bible to finally and systematically crush his head.  It is a future event that will bring a fitting end to the deceiver, murderer and liar.  It will happen at the end of this age.  No wonder the devil has no love for the book of Revelation which describes it.

The serpent’s head is finally crushed

The devil still reigns as ruler over the world because God uses him to sift people and gather the citizens for His eternal Kingdom.  Scripture tells us that there is still a struggle between man and the forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 18  At the end of time Jesus will finally exercise His kingly authority over Satan.

  • It begins with the opening scene in Revelation 5.  The apostle John cries his heart out because there is nobody who can open the seals of the scroll in God’s hands.  He realizes that the scroll is a type of testament or will.  If no one can open its seals, the saints cannot receive their inheritance from God.  So he just knows that it will be the end of all hope for the saints.
  • Then one of the elders say, ‘Do not weep!  See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed.  He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.’ 19   The scene is magnificent, ‘Then I [John] saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain [Jesus], standing in the centre of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders.’ 20  He takes the scroll and opens it, and the rest is history (because not one of God’s words have ever failed21).
  • After that Jesus systematically destroys the might of the devil and Revelation 11:15 tells us the magnificent news, ‘The kingdom of the world [the devil’s kingdom] has become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He will reign for ever and ever.’
  • From Revelation 6-20 one defeat after another hits the devil.  He spends a thousand years in the Abyss, but not even that cures him of his evil ways.  When he is released, he immediately sets out to deceive the nations.  Jesus handles it effectively and, ‘…the devil, who deceived them [the nations] was thrown into the lake of burning sulphur, where the beast and the false prophet [his unholy trinity] had been thrown.  They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.’ 22

Finally, God’s plan is fulfilled

  • Then, ’…the dwelling of God [will be] with men, and He will live with them.  They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God.’ 23 
  • ‘…the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and His servants [we the followers of Jesus] will serve Him.  They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads.’ 24

Conclusion

What else can we say, than to do like the apostle John did, fall down and worship.  We do not fall down before the angel, but before our glorious God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit (who will be with the Bride). 25

References

  1. Matthew 1:21
  2. Matthew 2:2
  3. Luke 1:46-49
  4. Luke 1:35
  5. Isaiah 9:6
  6. Matthew 2:7-8
  7. Matthew 2:13
  8. Matthew 2:16
  9. Genesis 3:1-5; Luke 4:4
  10. Luke 4:8
  11. Luke 4:12
  12. Luke 4:13
  13. Matthew 16:21
  14. Mark 8:31-32; 10:33-34; Luke 9:22,44; 18:38, 24:25-27,44
  15. Hebrews 12:2
  16. Matthew 27:62-66
  17. Matthew 28:2-7; Mark 16:4-7; Luke 24:3-8; John 20:1-9
  18. Ephesians 6:12
  19. Revelation 5:1-5
  20. Revelation 5:6
  21. Numbers 23:19
  22. Revelation 20:10
  23. Revelation 21:3
  24. Revelation 22:3-4
  25. Revelation 22:8-9

Women, God’s blessing

The devil’s successful strategy in the garden of Eden was to use the woman to accomplish his evil goals.  But God promised Satan that he will use a woman’s seed for good, to overcome evil.  God said, ‘I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He [Seed of the woman] will crush your head, and you will strike His heel.’ 1

This ‘seed or offspring of the woman’ refers to Jesus the Messiah, who would free us from the bondage of the devil.  He was born of a woman.  God’s intention is to bless mankind through women, while the devil wants to abuse women.  Women were loyal supporters of Jesus and the first to arrive on the resurrection scene.

We want to trace some Bible history to demonstrate how Satan’s efforts to use women to derail God’s program always failed.  With the Noah generation the devil tried to defile their human bloodline (Was God the first feminist?).  God thwarted that plan and with the wives of the Noah family the promise of Genesis 3:15 moved forward.  The next steps were the promises to Abraham (Abram) and later to David.

Abraham

God called Abram to leave his country and go to Canaan.  The Almighty gave him a promise, ‘… all nations on earth will be blessed through you.’ 2  The only way that all nations on earth can be blessed was through the Messiah.  Thus the promise to Abraham was that from his and Sarah’s offspring, the Savior would come.  This was reiterated by Jacob when he blessed his son Judah: ‘…the scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until it comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is His.’ 3

The devil attempted to prevent that.  He influenced Abram to twice ask Sarai to save his skin and go into the harems of two Gentile rulers.  God saved Sarai in both cases.  Then Satan gave Sarai the plan to give her Egyptian slave, Hagar, to ‘help’ God along with His promise of offspring to her and Abram.  The devil failed again, because Abraham and Sarah eventually miraculously had their promised son, Isaac (it means laughter), after 25 years.  Sarah was so blessed to experience for herself that God’s promises never fail.  God gave Isaac’s son, Jacob, the name ‘Israel’ and from his 12 sons came the Israelite nation.

David

The next ‘link’ to the Messiah born of a woman, was David.  God promised him, ‘When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body [Solomon], and I will establish his kingdom.  He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of His Kingdom for ever [Jesus]. …  Your house and your kingdom shall endure for ever before me; your throne will be established for ever’ 4  (it is very obvious that no man can have descendants on his throne for ever.  The promise refers to the Messiah.  See the Addendum for the verses about David and his ‘Son,’ the Messiah).

So the devil knew he had to concentrate on David and his offspring.  How did the devil try to outsmart God?  Obviously he had to watch out for a specific woman.  David had quite a few wives, and according to the rules of succession, his eldest son should succeed him on the throne.  In the case of David, that rule was overruled by God.  Let us look at it in more detail:

David’s first wife, Michal  

Michal was in love with David, they got married, and she even rescued him when her father, Saul, wanted to kill him.  Still, she did not have that special love for the Lord in her heart.  We see it in the idol she had, which could not have come from David.  She used the idol to give the impression that David was in his bed when her father wanted to kill David. 5  Saul himself never became an ardent follower of Jesus like David.

When David brought the ark to Jerusalem, she despised him for his exuberant joy before the Lord, “When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, ‘How the king of Israel had distinguished himself today, disrobing in the sight of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!’ 6  David said to Michal, ‘It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when He appointed me ruler of the Lord’s people Israel – I will celebrate before the Lord.  I will become even more undignified than this and I will be humiliated in my own eyes.  But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.’” 7

2 Samuel 6:23 says, ‘And Michal, daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death.’  If ever there was a man insulted about his devotion to God, it was David.  It might have floored the faith of an ordinary man, but not David’s.  He never deviated from his faith and loyalty to God.  He is an example of a man with strength of character.  This effort of the devil to derail David, failed.

David’s other wives

  • In time David got more wives: Ahinoam, Abigail, Maacah, Haggith and Eglah. 8  Later he took even more wives. 9
  • His sons were:
    • Amnon, son of David and Ahinoam of Jezreel.  He was the eldest. 10
    • Kileab by Abigail. 11
    • Absalom was the third son. 12
    • Adonijah was the fourth son by Haggith. 13

There were more sons, Shephatiah, Ithream, Shammua, Shobab, et cetera. 14

Bathsheba

After God’s promise to David, Satan realized that God was serious that someone born of a woman would come to crush his head.  So it made sense to him to use a woman again to try to floor God’s plan.  He thought if he could destroy David’s testimony, even wrest the kingdom from him, he could prevent a son of David carrying on the bloodline.  That explains the detail about Absalom’s conspiracy, and how David fled.  Since God made the promise to David,  Absalom lost his life and David regained the throne.  These are the events that preceded Absalom’s rebellion:

  • King David didn’t go to war with his soldiers as he should have.  So he was probably bored.  One evening he noticed a beautiful woman bathing herself on the roof of her house.  He sent someone to find out who she was.
  • Her name was Bathsheba.  Her husband was Uriah, a valiant soldier, one of David’s mighty men. 15
  • It was not a case that David was starved for female company.  Regardless of David’s many wives, and the possibility of more if he wanted them, he had Bathsheba brought to the palace.  He seduced her.  In 2 Samuel 11-20 we read the sad story that she became pregnant, David had her husband killed in battle, the child died and it resulted in serious family troubles for David.
  • David did not lose his faith in God despite the humbling experience.  He spent his last years on the preparations to build the temple. 16   Which is why we think God said about him, ‘I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’ 17  God said this of a man who had his own loyal soldier deliberately killed in battle when he made his wife pregnant.  What a God who can forgive such a grievous sin after David repented. 18
  • For Bathsheba the affair must have been a humbling experience.  Just think of the gossip behind her back.  They probably insinuated that she bathed on the roof of her house on purpose to get the king’s attention.  Yet, compared to David’s first wife, Michal, one never reads in the Bible that she led her husband astray, or tried to.

What did God do for Bathsheba?

  • Before the affair David already had six sons who should get preference.  He took more concubines and wives and had at least three more sons. 19  Solomon was the tenth son, so for him to become king was contrary to tradition.  Yet in His mercy, God named Solomon as David’s successor. 20   Solomon said, ‘…as surely as the Lord lives – He who established me securely on the throne of my father David and has founded a dynasty for me as He promised….’ 21
  • Bathsheba must have been special in king David’s life.  God loved their second son, Solomon.  ‘The Lord loved him [Solomon]; and because the Lord loved him, He sent word through Nathan the prophet to name him Jedidiah, ‘loved by the Lord.’ 22  God did not say that of any of David’s other children.  David promised Bathsheba that Solomon would be king when he is dead. 23
  • Later, after David died, Solomon treated his mother with the utmost respect, ‘When Bathsheba went to king Solomon to speak to him for Adonijah, the king stood up to meet her, bowed down to her and sat down on his throne.  He had a throne brought for the king’s mother, and she sat down at his right hand’ (right hand always denotes honor, respect, like Jesus at the right hand of the Father). 24

Conclusion

Scripture is true, ‘There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord.’ 25  The devil’s final attempt to kill off the promised seed of the woman, was with the Messiah Himself.  What would that outcome be?

References

  1. Genesis 3:15
  2. Genesis 12:3
  3. Genesis 49:10 2
  4. Samuel 7:12-16
  5. 1 Samuel 19:11-16
  6. 2 Samuel 6:1-23
  7. 2 Samuel 6:20-22
  8. 2 Samuel 3:2-5
  9. 2 Samuel 5:13
  10. 2 Samuel 3:2
  11. 2 Samuel 3:3,4b, 5
  12. 2 Samuel 3:3
  13. 2 Samuel 3:4
  14. 2 Samuel 3:4,5; 5:14-16
  15. 1 Chronicles 11:26,41
  16. 1 Chronicles 22-29
  17. Acts 13:22
  18. Psalms 32 and 51
  19. 2 Samuel 5:13-16
  20. 2 Chronicles 6:10
  21. 1 Kings 2:24
  22. 2 Samuel 12:25
  23. 1 Kings 1:13,17, 20-30
  24. 1 Kings 2:19
  25. Proverbs 21:30

Addendum

  • The New Testament explains, ‘Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day.  But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that He would place one of his descendants on his throne.  Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that He was not abandoned to the grave, nor did His body see decay….’  Acts 2:29-32
  • Jesus is repeatedly called the Son of David in Scripture, ‘A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, son of David, the son of Abraham.’  Matthew 1:1
  • Jesus also verified it when He asked the Pharisees, “What do you think about the Christ?  Whose son is He?  ‘The Son of David,’ they replied.  He said to them, ‘How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls Him, Lord?’  For he says, ‘The Lord said to my Lord: Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.’  If then David calls Him ‘Lord,’ how can He be his son?'”  Matthew 22:41-45
  • There are many more verses to prove that David is the ancestor of Jesus and that God’s promise to David became true.  For example, ‘A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ son of David, the son of Abraham….’  Matthew 1:1  Luke 3:31 also mentions it. ‘…regarding His Son, who as to His human nature was a descendant of David….’  Romans 1:3 ‘Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David.’  2 Timothy 2:8