Be on your Guard against the False Messiah

images21At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. 22For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 23So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time (Mark 13:21-23).

Scripture is very clear that a person will come onto the world scene in the days, months or years ahead that will set himself up as a messiah or christ-like figure. This man will be a master of deception; our passage in Mark tells us. He will be a charismatic leader who will solve complex problems on the world scene. I personally think he will solve the Arab Israeli conflict, because we are told that he will set himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God and demand to be worshiped (2 Thessalonians 2:4).  Of course, this means that a temple will yet be built in Jerusalem whereas at the moment stands the Moslem Dome of the Rock Mosque on the Temple Mount. It seems inconceivable at the moment that a Temple could be built on a small area in the middle of Jerusalem but Israeli archeologists are sure that the site of the old Temple that was destroyed in 70A.D. by the Romans, was further north than where the Dome of the Rock now stands.  Maybe as part of a peace deal the Jews will be allowed to rebuild the Temple that they have been longing for 2000 years.  Revelation 13:3 tells us, “the whole world was astonished and followed the beast” (another name for the Antichrist, the false Messiah, which our passage talks about). Verse 8 of the same chapter tells us, “all inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names are not written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb.” Doesn’t it make you wonder how so many people will be deceived into following this person? When one thinks of how Adolf Hitler deceived the German people in the Second World War, what will keep us from being deceived?

The best way to be kept from deception is to know the real Messiah, Jesus. Saturate yourself with the words of Jesus in the Gospels; the truth will keep you from error.  When we allow the Word of God and the Spirit of God to direct our lives, we will recognize the counterfeit easily. Those that belong to the Shepherd know His voice (John 10:4). True believers will have discernment when the counterfeit comes along. When you commit your life wholeheartedly to Him, you are one of His chosen, as our passage above tells us.  Chosen to be in Him before the foundation of the world (Colossians 3:12). No one can snatch you out of the Father’s hand, (John 10:29). Let that be your strength and an encouragement to your heart.

 Prayer: Lord, I want to know you and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. Come into my life and fill me with your Spirit, grant me discernment and a love for the Truth.

Keith Thomas

The Prophecy of a Suffering Servant

Unknown-1In the last few days we have been thinking on the fact that the Lord God, the creator of the Universe, knows ahead of time what is going to happen, and to prove that He alone is God, He tells us specific things that He is going to do, before it happens. Let’s look at another one today. The prophet Isaiah ministered for over forty years (740-697 B.C.) and spoke about a time when God would send a suffering servant to the nation of Israel. This servant of God would be humiliated, persecuted, spat upon, mocked, the hair from His beard would be pulled out, and His back would be whipped:

6I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; 
I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting (Isaiah 50:6)

Isaiah went on to prophesy about this suffering servant, that He would be despised and rejected, but in this act of suffering He would carry our transgressions, sorrows and our infirmities (physical or mental weaknesses):

3He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. 4Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, 
yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.
5But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
6We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way;
and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:4-6).

The prophet Isaiah, five hundred or so years before Christ, spoke in detail about the suffering of the Lord Jesus Christ, sharing that One sent from God would make His life an offering for sin. Jesus fulfilled all of these things and much more. He was brutally whipped on His back, beaten by the company of soldiers about His head, humiliated and mocked as they impaled Him with a crown of thorns, before leading Him off to one of the worst tortures that man has devised—crucifixion. He would come as a substitute and take the guilt that we have incurred by our lives of sin and animosity toward God, and pay the penalty that our sins deserve. Because of this one act of love by the suffering servant, Jesus, God can deal with us in grace and mercy. This suffering servant would be God Himself. He Himself would show us how much He loves us and desires us to enjoy relationship with Him. This plan to buy us back from Satan’s slave market of sin, was put into operation thousands of years ago when man decided that he would listen and obey Satan rather than God in the Garden of Eden. The just penalty that God had to place on this rebellion was death and separation from God (Genesis 2:17). But because of God’s love and mercy He did not leave us in this state—He would come and take the just penalty on Himself for sin. This act of love would be a covenant in blood, a solemn agreement by two people—you and God. For all those who agree to the terms of this solemn covenant or agreement, He will take your sin and count it paid for by the act of love of the suffering servant, Christ. What about you, dear reader, will you agree to the terms of this covenant? Your sin has been paid for two thousand years ago by One who came to die in your place. To agree to the terms of the covenant, you must repent (turn from your sin towards God in obedience to Him) and believe (trust in Christ as your Savior from sin) the gospel (the good news that God loves you and has taken the initiative to cancel out your guilt and everything that keeps you from enjoying eternal life with Him). If you will call upon the name of the Lord in this way, the promise is that you will enjoy eternal life:

16For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son (John 3:16-18).

He is only a prayer away. No matter what sin you have done, He will forgive you on the basis of the substitutionary death in your place of His Son Jesus. He hears every heart cry. Let this be your day. Eternity is a long time—there is no time like the present. Turn to the lover of your soul.

Keith Thomas

Are You Guilty Before God?

UnknownSeveral years ago I was driving through France when a red light came on in the dashboard of my car. I had to stop and visit a garage to make sure that the engine was okay to travel further. Just as the red light is to the dashboard of my car, guilt is to the soul of a man. Guilt is like a red warning light that tells you to stop and correct the problem before going on. Where is the conscience? Can’t we just turn off the red light in our souls? Brain scientists have found no area of our physical makeup where the moral conscience lies, that part of our nature that tells us we have done something wrong. That is because it is part of our soul—our invisible nature that goes on beyond physical death. Dear reader, this is critical stuff—you must take care of guilt before this life finishes because this is what God says:

6“Do not deny justice to your poor people in their lawsuits. 7Have nothing to do with a false charge and do not put an innocent or honest person to death, for I will not acquit the guilty (Exodus 23:6-7).

You may say to me that you have never sinned and do not feel guilty. Then let me ask you a question—Have you kept the Ten Commandments all your life? Have you ever lied? Have you ever stolen something that belongs to another? The greatest commandment in the law is, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5). Have you kept that commandment? If not, then even though you might not feel guilty, upon your death the Law of God and your conscience will stand and accuse you before God in the courtroom of heaven. Your conscience is just the early warning light. In the court room of heaven, the God of creation has seen and will see every act and every thought you have ever committed. You must make peace with guilt on this side of eternity. We cannot make a mistake about these things. Each of us only has one life to live. There is no second chance after death. The Bible says, “It is appointed to man once to die and then to face judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). We must make sure that the red warning light of guilt that shines on the inside of us, is satisfied and that the guilt has been washed away. The good news is that the God of heaven loves you with an everlasting love and has initiated a plan to save you from your guilt and eternal destiny without Him. This is what He has said to you:

“For I, the LORD, love justice; I hate robbery and wrongdoing. In my faithfulness I will reward my people and make an everlasting covenant with them (Isaiah 61:8).

“The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. 
27And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins” (Romans 11:26-27).

God has loved you so much that two thousand years ago, He came down in the person of His Son, the Lord Jesus, and gave Himself as the Sin Bearer. The God of justice cannot just weigh your good works beside your bad works—which sin would be the tipping point? All sin is an act of rebellion against a Holy God and His law. His justice demands payment of the life of the individual for even just one sin (James 2:10). His plan right from the beginning was to expiate or atone for (take away) your sin by Himself taking the punishment for your sin. It would be a New Covenant or agreement between each of us that takes up His free offer of taking your guilt away and on to Himself. It was a covenant signed in the blood of a sacrificial lamb—Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). In our fallen human nature we have a tendency to want to accomplish our salvation ourselves by working hard at overcoming our sinful nature—but this just brings pride, which is ugly toward God—and it doesn’t take away the problem of sin and guilt. God has made it so simple that even a child can know the joy of sins forgiven and cleansed. Turn to Him, repent (change the direction of your life before God), and believe the gospel (the good news about sin being paid for). Place your life into the hands of Christ and believe (trust) Him:

28Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” 29Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent” (John 6:28-29).

Keith Thomas

Does God Know Everything That Will Happen?

UnknownWe have been talking about future things over the last eight or nine posts. But the big question that most people have is this, “Can I trust that what I read in the Bible really will happen?” Does the Almighty God, the creator of the Universe, really know the future? Did you know that a quarter of the contents of the Bible are made up of prophecies about the future? In describing His foreknowledge of events that will happen, the Lord Himself states:

9Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.
10I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. 
I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please’ (Isaiah 46:9-10).

3I foretold the former things long ago, my mouth announced them and I made them known; then suddenly I acted, and they came to pass. 4For I knew how stubborn you were; your neck muscles were iron, your forehead was bronze. 5Therefore I told you these things long ago; before they happened I announced them to you so that you could not say, ‘My images brought them about; my wooden image and metal god ordained them.’ 6You have heard these things; look at them all. Will you not admit them? “From now on I will tell you of new things, of hidden things unknown to you. 
7They are created now, and not long ago; you have not heard of them before today.
So you cannot say, ‘Yes, I knew of them’ (Isaiah 48:3-7).

When the people of Israel were wandering far from God and worshipping nature deities in the form of idols, He used a prophet, Isaiah, to speak to them as to who was really God. To set Himself apart from other so-called deities, God said: “I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols. See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you” (Isaiah 42:8-9). To prove and authenticate that He alone is God, the Lord says that He knows the future and tells us ahead of time. He says, “Before they spring into being I announce them to you.” He challenged the false gods and idols to do the same:

21“Present your case,” says the LORD. “Set forth your arguments,” says Jacob’s King. 22Tell us, you idols, what is going to happen. 
Tell us what the former things were, so that we may consider them and know their final outcome. Or declare to us the things to come,  23tell us what the future holds, so we may know that you are gods. 
Do something, whether good or bad, so that we will be dismayed and filled with fear (Isaiah 41:21-23).

The Lord God puts all the false religions to the test—“tell us what the future holds, if you really are God,” He says. No other scriptures from any other holy book states the future ahead of time. Just to prove that He is God, again and again, He spoke of things that were future. Let’s just take one for today, the prophecy about the city of Tyre in Ezekiel 26:1-14.  I don’t have room to reproduce the whole passage. You can read it online elsewhere or in the Bible. God spoke ahead of time about six specific things that would happen to the city:

  • Nebuchadnezzar would attack the city and capture it (v.7, 10).
  • Many nations would come against the city and plunder it (v.3-5).
  • There would be a siege on the city by Nebuchadnezzar (v.8).
  • The stones, timber and rubble of Tyre would be thrown into the sea.
  • The city would be a bare rock and a place for fishermen to spread their nets.
  • The city would never be rebuilt

Seventeen years after this prophecy was given, history records that the Babylonian king came against the mainland city of Tyre. You can check this out on Wikipedia.org.  He was after the great treasure that was there—the city of Tyre had become very prosperous. Nebuchadnezzar was after the treasure to finance his army. When he arrived with his army, their dust covered the city. He used massive force and with battering rams he broke down the walls and captured the city. There was only one problem, though; ships had shifted the majority of the treasure to the two little islands that were half a mile from the land. Nebuchadnezzar and his army were furious but try as they might; they were unsuccessful in capturing the island fortress, partly because they had no ships. Nebuchadnezzar carried on down the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Some would say that this left the prophecy partially unfulfilled, and for several years it was so. 240 years later came Alexander the Great on his conquest of the Persian Empire. He also attacked the city of Tyre, and to get to the island off of the coast, he built a causeway with the rubble that was left of the mainland city of Tyre. Literally all of the rubble of the city of Tyre was thrown into the sea to make the causeway. Alexander finally captured the city and even today there are pictures of the local fishermen spreading their nets on the bare rock of where the ancient city stood. The causeway changed the way the tide ran past the city making the old island city now underwater, just as Ezekiel prophesied.

A Jewish traveller in the 1100s, named Benjamin of Tudela, came to the ancient spot where Tyre once existed and wrote:

“A man can ascend the walls of New Tyre and see ancient Tyre, which the sea has now covered, lying at a stones throw from the new city. And should one care to go forth by boat, one can see the castles, marketplaces, streets and palaces in the bed of the sea. New Tyre is a busy place of commerce, to which merchants flock from all quarters.”

Keith Thomas

Are You In A Test?

Joseph027God left him to test him and to know everything that was in his heart” (2 Chronicles 32:31).

There are times of testing that God sometimes initiates and sometimes allows. Not all that happens to us is God initiated though. Job’s test was satanically initiated but God allowed it for His glory and purposes (Job 1:9-12). Then there was the time when Abraham was tested to see how far he had come in his walk with God:

Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied (Genesis 22:1).

Of course, God knows our hearts; the problem is our side, we often don’t know what’s in our own hearts. The Lord says that the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, (Jeremiah 17:9). The test of God is designed for us to see ourselves, how far short we fall from His standard—Jesus Christ. I see at least two purposes that God has in the test. If you are a Christian, God is at work in you to sanctify you and make you more like Jesus in your character. If you are not yet a Christian, you may be in a trial or a test that is designed or allowed by the Creator of the universe to bring you to a place where you may realize your need of Him. God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble (James 4:6). While a man or woman seeks to be right with God by His own accomplishments or goodness he will find that inner peace will elude him. But if a man recognizes his own spiritual bankruptcy before a holy God, he will find favor with God.

17My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise (Psalm 51:17).

This was written not just for the Jewish people; no, this is for all men and women everywhere. When you come to God with a heart of need—a broken, contrite (affected by guilt and remorse) heart, then the test or trial that you have gone through has done its work. What you have perhaps gone through has been very dark, but God is working on you for an eternal benefit. This life is not just for here. We are eternal creatures, created for much more than this world. There will come a time when you will see the eternal benefit of what you have gone through, as long as you repent, believe the gospel, and put your trust in Him.

Have you ever read of the story of Joseph in the Book of Genesis? (Chapters 37-50). This young man of around seventeen years of age was thrust into a test, which he was unaware of, but through the difficulties that he went through, certain gifts arose in him that was greatly used for the salvation of his family in the midst of famine. Ahead of the famine, God planned to work in the heart of Joseph to train him through building his character that he might endure political office alongside Pharaoh, that, when the time was right, Joseph would bring deliverance to all his family. You may be in a test and are unaware of it. Character is formed in a test. With Joseph, the dark time of testing and trial was training him for his promotion. If we come through the test with our character intact, we can be given and trusted with more. When you pass the character test, God knows that you will not compromise your faith in Him and can be used to a greater degree. Are you going through a trial at the moment? Is it a test of the Lord? If it is, don’t compromise! Hang on to Him in the midst of the darkness—light will come and you will hear Him one day say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” That means everything to the true child of God.

Keith Thomas