They Will be Like the Angels in Heaven

We are continuing our meditation from yesterday on the topic of Jesus’ words in Luke, chapter 20, where Jesus was talking about the eternal state. To the Sadducees who had scoffed at the thought of a resurrection of the dead, He had four thoughts for them. We looked at the first one yesterday, we’ll look at the second and third today. Here’s what He said:

34Jesus replied, “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. 35But those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, 36and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection. 37But in the account of the bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ 38He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.” (Luke 20:34-38).

2) The Lord speaks of the resurrection as a fact (v. 35), and although the Sadducees only use the five books of Moses, Christ used those books to prove the patriarchs are very much alive at the time He spoke these words, they are at the present time with the Lord. Jesus stated to them, “Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ 38He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive” (vv. 37-38). When God spoke those words to Moses, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had been dead for more than 400 years. The Lord reminded the Sadducees that God didn’t say, “I was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but they were very much alive after they had passed from this world, and He used the present tense to speak of them.

The Sadducees could see no evidence of resurrection in the five books of Moses, but they had a moment of revelation at the insight of Jesus. After this debate, no one dared to ask Jesus any more questions. His arguments were causing the religious leaders to question their own beliefs and they were not successful in swaying the crowd away from Jesus.

3) There is no death in the eternal state, for those who are considered worthy will be like the angels (Verse 36). If we are to be like the angels, what does that mean? Angels are trusted with great power. When the Assyrians attacked Jerusalem, King Hezekiah of Israel cried out to the Lord to deliver Jerusalem. God sent one angel. The power of one angel was enough to defeat a whole army!

36Then the angel of the LORD went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies! (Isaiah 37:36).

The word angel literally means messenger. They were described as having a brilliant appearance. Often, the reaction when people encountered them in Scripture was to be afraid and to fall to the ground (Daniel 10:5-9). Meeting an angel is overwhelming to our physical state. We could say much about the holiness, power, and character of the angels, but suffice it to say that the believer in Christ, if he is to be like the angels, will be an awesome personality that will radiate the likeness of the Lord. Paul the Apostle told the Corinthian Church that God’s people would be “sown in weakness” but “raised in power” (I Corinthians 15:43). We are told in the book of Daniel the prophet, that those who are counted worthy, or wise, will radiate light when the end shall come and the dead are raised:

2Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. 3Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever (Daniel 12:2-3).

I don’t know about you, but I want that! Are you helping those around you to come to receive the righteousness of Christ? If you are, then you are wise!

Taken from the series on the Gospel of Luke, found in the middle column near to the top. To view, click here. Click on study 54. Luke 20:20-47. Questions About Eternity. Keith Thomas

Does God Know Everything that will Happen?

The big question that most people have about the Bible 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.” Benjamin of Tudela, the Itinerary of Benjamin of Tudela.

Keith Thomas

Got Faith?

You’ve probably heard of the famous line on many billboards and magazines: “got milk?”  How about being asked the question: “got faith?” Let’s take a quick look at some heroes of the Faith. George Müller lived in the 1800’s and was well known for trusting in the Lord God of Heaven to provide his every need while building orphanages and caring for those who would fill them.

In Bristol, England, George Müller operated one of these orphanages for two thousand children. One evening he became aware that there would be no breakfast for them the next morning. Muller called his workers together and explained the situation. Two or three prayed. “Now that is sufficient,” he said. “Let us rise and praise God for prayer answered!” The next morning, they could not push open the great front door. So they went out the back door and around the building to see what was keeping it shut. Stacked up against the front door were boxes filled with food. One of the workers later remarked, “We know Who sent the baskets, but we do not know who brought them!”

Or perhaps you are well familiar with the great “Hall of Faith” as outlined in Hebrews chapter 11. In verse 38 we read about how many before us have walked in such great faith as to live a not so glamourous life and some even die very badly for their “faith”.

Which leaves us with something that we may ask ourselves – “How in the world can I obtain a faith like that?”  I want more faith, but how do I get it? Do I just not “believe” hard enough? What do I DO to get more Faith? Or do I just simply “ask” for it? Luke chapter 8 sheds some light on these questions. A man named Jairus was in desperate need of Jesus’ healing power to save his dying 12-year-old daughter. Jairus was the ruler of the synagogue and believed that Jesus had the power to save her from the brink of death. A few verses later we meet a woman who had “an issue of blood” for 12 years. She somehow believed that if she just touched the very hem of His garment, she too would be healed, as she was, along with Jairus’ daughter. One thing they both had in common was a great, great need. When one is in dire need of physical healing especially, either for ourselves or a loved one, it certainly does bring us to a place to seek the Healer Himself. Regardless of the outcome, their faith was the “evidence of things not seen” Let’s dig a little deeper though and find the one hidden thing that had given these two such faith in Jesus’ ability to help them.

Jairus was a “Ruler of the Synagogue”.  The Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible states that the Ruler is a “Senior official in the synagogue of NT times. His function was to take care of the physical arrangements for the services of worship, the maintenance of the building and fabric, and to determine who would be called to read from the Law and the prophets or to conduct the prayers. The office was sometimes held for a specified period, sometimes for life. This man was inundated with and Knew The Word of God.   He heard it all the time. He knew what the Law and the Prophets (OT Bible) said. What sets him apart from many people of the same time period who knew the Word, is what he did with the Word. He believed it and acted upon his belief.

Let’s now look at the woman who was healed from her issue of blood. In Matthew 9:20-21 we read that she came from behind and “touched the hem of His garment”. The hem is the key word here that says volumes about her. In Numbers 15:38 the Israelites were commanded to put “fringes in the borders of their garments” with a blue thread in the tassels of the corners. Fringe and Hem are the same word in Greek: Kraspedon, meaning “A common noun for a wing, the skirt or corner of a garment”.   Herein lies the source of this woman’s great faith. She also Knew the Word of God. How do we know that ? In Malachi 4:2 it says “But unto you that fear My Name shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in His wings. She knew where to go, Who to go to, and how to be healed because she knew the Word of God and Believed it also. The common thread here is that they both had such a faith in Christ Jesus stemming first from their Knowledge of the Word of God. Then they believed. Then they acted.

Many, many people say they believe the Word of God, but do they even know the Word of God?  In Romans 10:16 we read in the NIV “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message…” The Greek word for hearing is akoḗ meaning “doctrine taught and received with faith”

Are you lacking in faith? Do you want more faith? Read the Word of God. That’s where faith comes from.

But his delight is in the law of the Lord; And in his law does he meditate day and night (Psalm 1:2).

Mike Engel

Jesus’ Authority over Sickness

Peter’s mother-in-law was healed (Luke 4:38-39).

Continuing from yesterday’s post, Luke gives us another example of Jesus’ authority. The second time it is in the home of Simon Peter:

38Jesus left the synagogue and went to the home of Simon. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus to help her. 39So he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them. 40When the sun was setting, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them. 41Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Christ (Luke 4:38-41).

Some say that Peter the apostle was never married, but here in this passage we are told that Peter did have a wife. His mother-in-law was sick. Paul the Apostle also tells us that Peter had a wife:

3This is my defense to those who sit in judgment on me. 4Don’t we have the right to food and drink? 5Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas? (Cephas is another name for Peter) 6Or is it only I and Barnabas who must work for a living? (1 Corinthians 9:3-6)

Notice how Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law, “he rebuked the fever, and it left her.” The Greek word used here for the English word ‘rebuke’ is “Epitimao,” which means to blame, censure, chide, rebuke, warn or berate. It is an abrupt, curt, and biting charge pointedly expressing disapproval, the taking to task of someone for a fault, and connotes a sharp or harsh tone (Lexical Aids to the Key Word Study Bible). Wouldn’t you wonder about Jesus talking to your mother-in-law like that? This is more than likely the first time Christ has met her. He is in Peter’s house and rebuking his mother-in-law’s sickness. Jesus would not normally speak in this kind of tone; He was speaking directly to the illness. The result? She got up totally healed and began waiting on them.

Jesus did not always address an illness or sickness in this way. I certainly would be quick to say that not every sickness has a spirit behind it. In certain countries where the demonic is openly practiced, the link between illness and spiritual practices, such as voodoo, is more common. Verse 40 states that the people brought to Jesus ALL who had various diseases, and He laid His hands on EACH ONE and healed them. Notice, too, that demons came out of many people. He had power to shut their mouths and would not permit them to speak.

The Church needs to exercise the authority of Christ for our day and age (Matthew 28:18-19).

Keith Thomas

I AM the Light of the World

We are meditating on the times that Jesus spoke of Himself as the Great I AM, the one who revealed Himself to Moses. When Moses had asked God what the Lord’s name was, the LORD answered telling Moses to tell the children of Israel that I AM that I AM was sending him to them. I am all you need me to be, God was saying.

During the Feast of Tabernacles, there were two great ceremonies. The first one was the pouring out of the water on the Altar of Burnt Offering. At that time, just after the crowd had shouted to the High Priest to lift the chalice containing the water higher, before He poured it upon the altar; Jesus had shouted out for all to hear, “If any man is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him” (John 7:37-38). He was speaking of the Holy Spirit.

The second ceremony was called the Illumination of the Temple. In the Court of the Women were four large candelabra’s or candlesticks. The Mishnah (Sukkah 5:2-3) tells us that each candlestick had four great golden bowls with a ladder at each, enabling the younger priests to climb up and fill the bowls with oil and set them alight when it got dark. Because the Temple Mount was the highest point in the city, it is said that the blaze of the candlesticks lit up most of Jerusalem. During the Feast of Tabernacles, they were commanded by God to celebrate for seven days (Numbers 29:12), so all night long there was dancing and rejoicing before the Lord. It could very well be that at twilight, as the young priests were lighting the lamps, Jesus said the words,

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).

 Notice that He didn’t say, I am a light or even one of the lights. The statement is exclusive, “I am the light of the world.” The Pharisee’s and rulers were listening in, which again says a lot about the character of Jesus—He didn’t say these things just to His disciples. He spoke to all people as to who He was and is, whether they were for Him or against Him. These things were not spoken in a corner, but Christ courageously spoke the truth and let the chips fall where they may. He was not fearful of speaking the truth in the slightest. The Pharisee’s immediately challenged Him because they understood that it was a claim to divinity. The Lord had spoken to them a number of times that He was their light, “The Lord is my light” (Psalm 27:1). “The Lord will be your everlasting light” (Isaiah 60:19). “By his light I walked through darkness” (Job 29:3).

Whatever trials that you are going through, Christ is the Light that led the children of Israel out of the darkness of Egypt, and if you will ask Him, He will be your light in the middle of the darkness. Isn’t it time you brought Light into your darkness?

Keith Thomas