He is Not Here, He is Risen!

While Mary Magdalene was returning to the tomb after Peter and John had left, the other women had arrived at the tomb with spices. Mark tells us that there were three: Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome (Mark 16:1). They had brought spices with which to anoint the body. While on the way, they began talking among themselves as to whom they would ask to roll the stone away (Mark 16:2). When love is involved, difficulties, such as a one-ton stone to remove, were not considered until they were near. Obviously, the stone was too large for the three of them to move. They proceeded to the tomb, regardless, believing that they would find a way. Their love and dedication to Christ compelled them to give Him a proper burial and put more spices over the body. It was the least they could do in this terrible situation. As they drew near, Matthew tells us what they witnessed:

2There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. 5The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay (Matthew 28:2-6).

Matthew tells us that an angel of the Lord came down, rolled the stone away right in front of the soldiers guarding the tomb, maybe before Mary Magdalene arrived. Matthew says that the guards were terror stricken, trembled, and acted like dead men not wanting to move as the angel rolled away the stone. I presume that this all happened just as the women arrived, because the women themselves were overwhelmed at what happened (Matthew 28:5), and they were the witnesses to the soldiers lying on the ground. The angel showed the women the evidence of the vacant tomb while the soldiers, hardly daring to breath, acted like dead men. Jesus didn’t roll back the stone; He had already risen. Mark indicates that, when the women arrived, the stone was rolled away and Jesus was already gone. The angel rolled the stone away to show the women that He was risen, “He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay” (Matthew 28:6).

The angel told them to go and tell the disciples the good news that Jesus had risen from the grave. It is possible that there were two groups of women that had arranged to meet at the tomb at daybreak, but they arrived separately. After talking with the angel, the women met the Lord on the way:

8So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me” (Matthew 28:8-10).

Luke tells us that several women reported what had happened to the disciples: “It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles” (Luke 24:10 –emphasis mine), but the disciples were incredulous at their words: “But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense” (Luke 23:11).

Matthew tells us of the guards being fearful for their lives on losing a prisoner. They went to the chief priests and told them exactly what had happened. The Jewish leadership devised a plan to keep the guards quiet; they paid them a lot of money to tell people that the disciples came during the night and stole the body. If Pilate didn’t find out about it, they were in the clear. They probably kept the money for a few days so that they could say that they were bought off by the priests if they did not back them up before Pilate (Matthew 28:11-15). This story has been spread among the Jews to this day (Matthew 28:15).

Taken from the series on the Gospel of Luke, found in the middle column near to the top. Click on study 64 at this link, The Resurrection of Christ (Luke 23:50-24:12). Keith Thomas.

When the Resurrection Takes Place, We Shall be Like Christ

We are continuing our meditation from yesterday on the attack on Jesus by the Sadducees (Scroll down for yesterday’s meditation). The fourth thing Jesus said to the Sadducees is that those who are worthy will be called children of the resurrection (Luke 20:36). Because those who belong to Christ are God’s children, we will look like Him. We will carry His nature, power, and authority. We will be children of the resurrection. Scripture has a lot to say about the resurrection body:

42So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.
If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. 48As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven (1 Corinthians 15:42-49).

A few hours before evangelist Dwight L. Moody died, he caught a glimpse of the glory awaiting him. Awakening from a sleep, he said, “Earth recedes, heaven opens before me. If this is death, it is sweet! There is no valley here. God is calling me, and I must go!” His son who was standing by his bedside said, “No, no father, you are dreaming.” “No,” said Mr. Moody, “I am not dreaming; I have been within the gates; I have seen the children’s faces.” A short time elapsed and then, following what seemed to the family to be the death struggle, he spoke again: “This is my triumph; this my coronation day! It is glorious!”

Jesus had gone straight to the heart of the matter when He challenged the Sadducees on their beliefs about the afterlife and eternity as well as eternal reward. He challenged them on the very point that they hoped to use to trick Him, but now, their own beliefs were exposed as being contrary to the very Scriptures they accepted as truth.

His arguments were causing the religious leaders to question their own beliefs, and they were not successful in swaying the crowd away from Jesus. In fact, within a short period of time, after the Temple curtain was torn in two at the death of Jesus, Luke records in the Book of Acts, that “The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:7). What caused many priests to become obedient disciples? Was it witnessing the temple curtain torn from top to bottom (Mark 15:38), or was it Jesus’ answer to the Sadducee questions? Even the teachers of the law said, “Well said, teacher!” (v. 39).

What about you, dear reader, are you convinced yet that this life is not all there is. That beyond this life, if you have received the free gift of salvation, and turned your life over to Christ, and had your sin forgiven, you too will bear the likeness of the Man from Heaven mentioned in verse 49 above. I hope to see you there.

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

Are There Two Second Comings of Christ?

1“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. 6“At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ 7“Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’ 9” ‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ 10“But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. 11“Later the others also came. ‘Sir! Sir!’ they said. ‘Open the door for us!’ 12“But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.’ 13“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour (Matthew 25:1-13 Emphasis mine).

What is the message that Jesus would have us take from this passage of scripture—what stands out to you? There are many things that we can learn, but two things in particular stand out to me:

1) Those who were waiting all began to get tired, but half of them, even though they were tired, had made provision for the night—they had extra oil to see them through the darkness. We are told that the bridegroom was a long time coming, but at the darkest point of the night, midnight, the bridegroom came. The emphasis is on being ready for His coming.

2) Only the five who were ready went to be with the bridegroom and the door was shut immediately afterwards. The five foolish people, did they get to come in later? Of course not! They were shut out. It was too late! We don’t like the implications, but the truth is that the door is never opened again after the Lord comes. There is only one rapture of the saints, not two.

I am going to get stones thrown at me here, but here goes anyway.  There are those who believe that there are two comings of Christ, one before the seven-year period of trouble starts, and one towards the end. They tell us that if we miss the first coming, not to worry, He will come at a later time and those who miss the first coming will still get in. The Left Behind series of books in the USA are all about this fallacy. Of course, they warn us, this is not a good option for there will be lots of trouble and hardship during the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:21-31). In my belief, this is deception of the highest magnitude. This doctrine fosters the belief that if you miss the coming of Christ, you can still become a Christian later on. There are those who put off salvation today, because they have been told that they can get still give their lives to Christ after the Christians have been raptured. They will then believe in Christ when they see the rapture take place. Do not believe it!  There is only one Second Coming of Christ and He will come at some point after the Great Tribulation has started (no man knows the day nor the hour) but before the wrath of God is poured out. We must be watching and preparing ourselves spiritually for the darkness that is coming on America and the rest of the world. We must grow in our knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ and of His Word; this will be oil in our lamps that will keep us in the darkness of the hour that is approaching.

Taken from the study of the Second Coming of Christ, found in the middle column, entitled The Rapture of the Saints. It is also one of the Parables (number 2 of the Parables of Christ) in the middle column too. Keith Thomas

He Will Wipe Every Tear from Their Eyes

We are continuing from yesterday (scroll further down) our meditation on the thousand-year reign of Christ. Let me be clear regarding the difference between heaven and the millennium. Although the Millennium will be a time when we experience God’s kingdom on earth, there is more to come! We are told that, at the end of the Millennium, will come the New Jerusalem and that there will be no more death:

1Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:1-4).

The theme of the whole of Scripture is of a picture of redemption. When Jesus died for sin, He did not just cancel the penalty of sin. He paid for it in full. Since Divine justice was satisfied, He has every right to restore things to their intended purpose, their intended glory. When He comes to reign, He will set things in their place, and we will see the full deliverance of the earth. He has ransomed the earth, and the earth will finally experience the knowledge of the Lord.

Many nations will come to Jerusalem, the capital city of all the earth, to seek the Lord and worship Him.  No more will there be different religions. All men will finally realize that one of the strategies that Satan used to divide and conquer them was religion. All the people will realize that there is only one God, and His knowledge will be universal. Jerusalem, the city itself, will be changed. The Lord Himself will be there:

2In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. 3Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 4He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore (Isaiah 2:2-4).

Imagine living on planet Earth where the Lord Jesus Christ is reigning on His throne in Jerusalem. There will be no economic need for tanks, guns and weapons of war, it will be a time of great economic prosperity, because man will not train for war anymore (Isaiah 2:4). Christ Jesus will set up His government on Earth composed of those who have been redeemed. Every nation will be at peace with one another with King Jesus sitting on His throne. Those that are reigning over nations, territories, states, cities and towns are those who have been counted worthy because of their faithfulness in resisting evil and caring for God’s people.

The King, the Lord Jesus Christ, will teach us of His ways and settle any remaining disputes between nations. The Scriptures tell us that the New Jerusalem does not come down to Earth from above until the 1000 years are over (Revelation 21:1-2). Until that point, the throne of King Jesus is in Jerusalem, where many peoples will come to praise and worship King Jesus (Isaiah 2:2-3). Isaiah the prophet says, “Your eyes will see the king in his beauty and view a land that stretches afar” (Isaiah 33:17). Can you imagine sitting at the feet of Jesus while He teaches us His ways? He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths” (Isaiah 2:3). Heaven on earth at last!

Taken from the series Insights into Eternity found in the middle column. Click on the study The Millennium. Keith Thomas

Eternity is Written on Our Soul

We are continuing to meditate on the topic of eternity, so today we begin our look at the Millennium. Somehow, in our inner soul, it just does not ring true that this life that we experience in our short time on earth is all that there is. First, when one looks at the complexities of life, the closer we get to the structure of atoms, one who really examines the evidence, finds it completely illogical to buy into any theory that denies our Creator. There are questions that science cannot answer. There is something in our hearts that tells us that there is more to life than what we experience in the here and now. King Solomon, known as one of the wisest men who have ever lived, said:

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

Under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Solomon spoke of God’s creative design by saying that our inner nature is divinely imprinted with impressions of eternity. The French Bible translates the original Hebrew by saying that God has “set the thoughts of eternity in our hearts.” Prince Charles once talked about the inner emptiness of the human soul. He said, “For all the advantages of science, there remains deep in the soul a persistent and unconscious anxiety that something is missing.” Princess Diana, speaking at a charity event, spoke of “an overwhelming sense of loss and isolation that undermines many people’s efforts to survive and cope with the complexities of modern life. They know,” she said, “something is missing.” Deep in our heart of hearts, until we come to Christ, there is an awareness of a void, an emptiness of soul. We try to satisfy it with drugs, alcohol, sex, possessions, power, money, and prestige, but nothing satisfies because we are created with that emptiness. As Blaise Pascal, the French philosopher and mathematician, wrote, “Within each human being there is a God-shaped void.”

C.S. Lewis, in his book, Mere Christianity, wrote:

Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing.

The fifth-century philosopher Augustine wrote, “Our hearts are unquieted until they find their rest in Thee.”[1] This missing piece is God Himself.  He is the Living Water, the Bread of Life. He alone is the only One that can satisfy us. Haggai the prophet writes: “I will shake all nations, and what is desired by all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the LORD Almighty” (Haggai 2:7). The One who is desired of all nations, the Holy One of Israel, Jesus the Messiah, will come and stand upon the Earth, and in our resurrection bodies, we shall see God. This is what Job told us:

25“As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth. 26“Even after my skin is destroyed, Yet from my flesh I shall see God; 27Whom I myself shall behold, And whom my eyes will see and not another” (Job 19:25-27).

The Second Coming of Christ and His presence on Earth will precede a glorious time of peace. Over the next few days, we will examine what the Bible says about the thousand years of righteousness, joy, and peace under the reign of the King of Kings, Messiah Jesus.

Taken from the series Insights into Eternity found in the middle column. Click on the study The Millennium. Keith Thomas

[1] http://www.newlife.org/know-god-personally