Give to God What is God’s.

For those of you who are interested, we are going on tour to Israel departing New York on April 26, 2018. Perhaps you’d like to come with us. Click this link if you are interested:

We are continuing from yesterday (Scroll down for yesterday’s thoughts), thinking on the attacks on the Lord Jesus by the religious elite, who were upset that Jesus had put a stop to their money-making schemes in the temple courts. They tried to discredit Him before the people. They asked Him: “Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” (Luke 20:22). Along with the property taxes that were due, the Romans also required an annual tax of one denarius. The coin was about a day’s wages for a common laborer that every adult had to pay. When Jesus was just a child, the heavy tax issue had caused the deaths of many people. Josephus, the Jewish historian, records a serious revolt against heavy taxes.[1] The Jewish leaders sought to bring Jesus on one side of the issue or the other. If Jesus said that it was right, He would alienate the Jewish people listening to Him. If He said that it was not right, then the wrath of Rome would be brought down on Him.

He saw through their duplicity (Verse 23) and responded to them by requesting that they show Him a denarius coin, and He then asked them whose portrait and inscription was on it. The request was a simple one, “Show me a denarius. Whose portrait and inscription are on it?” 25“Caesar’s,” they replied (Luke 20:24).

Why do you think Jesus asked to see a denarius coin?

This coin was detestable to the Jewish people. It had an image of Caesar embossed on it with an inscription around the image declaring him to be divine. Most Jewish people at the time did not even like to have a denarius in their possession due to the image of Caesar and all it represented. The religious leaders, though, came up with a denarius, more than likely obtained from the ill-gotten gains of the money-changing that had gone on in the Temple Courts. They had no qualms about an image of Caesar in their pockets! Perhaps, as He looked at the coin, He was focusing on the fact that there were “two sides to the coin.” The image of Caesar on the coin was understood to be a property symbol: it belonged to Caesar. When they replied that it was Caesar’s image, He said: “Then give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” (Verse 25).

If Caesar’s image was on it, then it surely belonged to Caesar. The other view was that, in the same way, what has God’s image on it, give to God. We are told that, at the beginning in Genesis the first chapter, verse 26, God created man in His own image. The divine image is stamped on every human being on planet Earth, though marred by sin. Within every one of us there is a missing piece, a God shaped void, a divine imprint that can only be filled with God Himself. He is our Creator, and we are His treasured possession. We are made in His image! Just as Caesar had right of possession over the coins, God has the right of possession over our souls, and we do well to give to God what belongs to Him. We are “made in His image!” While we live in this world, we are to be subject to the authorities, but we are not to serve them when their law conflicts with God’s moral law. The Sadducees were astonished with His answer and became silent. Again, the religious elite had been publically out-witted with their attempt to discredit Christ, and it was brought to nothing. Give to God what is God’s and let Him fully stamp you with the character of Jesus.

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

[1] R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word, Luke, Volume 2. Published by Crossway Books, 1998. Page 265.

We Will Not Serve Your gods or Worship the Image

There is coming a huge parting of the ways between the two kingdoms that are at war with one another on a cosmic scale on planet Earth. The Bible makes it plain that you are either in the kingdom of Satan, or you are in the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no other. You may think you are serving a different God, but it is a deception of Satan. Here’s what Jesus said:

“Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters” (Matthew 12:30)

If you are not walking with the Lord Jesus Christ, you are walking with the enemy, Satan, the arch deceiver, the one whom the apostle Paul called:

…The ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient (Ephesians 2:2).

God does not want you to keep walking in disobedience to the good news of Jesus Christ and His forgiveness of sin and rebellion against Him. This world is on a downward curve to immorality, violence, greed, murder, etc. Worse still, many of God’s people are compromising their faith and are being led by the ways of this world system onto a similar path away from true holiness, purity and simplicity of godliness in Christ. There is a weak insipid thing that is presented to us as the church; but this is not the true church. This false church walks the way of the world system. The true church is composed of those whom have received new life from Christ and will not compromise their faith, no matter what the cost. They are like the three young Hebrews, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who would not bow down to the spirit of the age, the false idols that are set up before us.

16Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:16-18).

There is coming a time where an event will happen where there is a parting of the ways between the weak insipid thing that is presented as the church of Christ, and the true Church of the Living God. Paul the Apostle calls this event the “Rebellion,” or some translations render it, the “falling away,” or the “apostasy.” He wrote, “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction” (2 Thessalonians 2:3).  It is hard to say what will cause this. It will be an event in history, not just a gradual falling away from the faith of Christ, because in the Greek language the phrase has the definite article that speaks of an event. What will cause many “so called” Christians to fall away? I think it will be the forcing upon the world’s population of a “mark” on their foreheads or right hand. All those who will not take this “mark” will not be able to buy or sell. The world is heading toward a one-world-currency set up by our slave-owners that will be digital money—no cash will be allowed. All true Christians will not receive this mark, and will go in the opposite direction away from this world kingdom that is being set up at the moment (Revelation 14:9-12). The passage below gives us more detail for this event that will bring a parting of the ways between the “so called” church and the true church of Christ:

16It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, 17so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name (Revelation 13:16-17).

We are living in the times before this event that has been foretold by the Holy Scriptures. My concern is for those of you who have already taken the curve towards the world system. This is a time to be to walking away from the spirit of the age we live in towards Christ. My dear friend, your eternity is at stake, give yourself wholeheartedly to Christ and the Holy Spirit will strengthen you for the days, months or years ahead, however long we have left before the coming of the Lord.

Taken from the series The Second Coming of Christ, found in the middle column. Click on the study: The Antichrist: How Will We Recognize Him? Keith Thomas

Who Killed Jesus?

What a big question! Like an Agatha Christie murder mystery, there are a number of individuals who are to blame. Firstly, there was the Jewish ruling religious elite. They certainly had a hand in conspiring against Jesus because of jealousy. Jesus had upset the ruling religious leaders when He rebuked them for making the holy place a market for their unscrupulous money exchange and the ripping off of the poor by making them pay exorbitant prices for the sacrificial lambs. Certainly, they were the ones that sent the Temple guard to arrest Jesus on trumped up charges of blasphemy:

“Then the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders of the people assembled at the palace of the High Priest, who was called Caiphas, and plotted to take Jesus by trickery and kill Him” (Matthew 26:4).

What about the Roman procurator, Pilate? When the religious leaders had pronounced a guilty verdict on Jesus, even though their witnesses did not agree as to their testimony, they handed Christ over to Pilate, who not only had the power to crucify Jesus, but also gave Him up to the will of the Jewish elite class. He said to Jesus:

“Do you not know that I have power to crucify You and power to release You” (John 19:10). “When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: you see to it” (Matthew 27:24).

Then there was one of the twelve disciples, Judas, the traitor and thief. He also was guilty and deserving blame. As the group of disciples’ treasurer, Judas had been stealing money out of the moneybag. When a woman anointed Jesus with her very expensive ointment, Judas was unhappy at the act of devotion and saw the cost of the ointment as something that had slipped through his hand. When Jesus backed up the beautiful act that the woman had done, Judas didn’t like it and went and sold his master for thirty silver coins, the price paid for a slave (Exodus 21:32).

“What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you? So they counted out for him thirty silver coins. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over (Matthew 26:15-16).

Who else could be blamed for the death of Jesus? What about those that every Christian is at war with—the unseen ruling evil spirits that are manipulating people on the planet for their own evil ends.

“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places” (Ephesian 6:12). Of course, when these unseen evil spirits used Judas, Pilate, and the religious elite, they did not realize the end result of Christ being crucified, and the damage it would bring to Satan and his ruling evil angels and demons.

We declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory (1 Corinthians 2:7-8).

Each of those mentioned above are fully to blame and will be brought to judgment in the age to come, when Jesus returns to set up His kingdom. But also, we sinful human beings are each to blame for our own sin. God had placed a penalty on the rebellion against Him in the Garden of Eden. Death would be a consequence of sin. That is not just physical death but spiritual death, which is separation from God. This is why Jesus deliberately allowed Himself to be crucified. It was His life for your life. God came in the person of Christ to be the Substitute for you and me and all those who would accept the terms of the New Covenant of God (Jeremiah 31:31). He would give new life to all who accept His death in payment for their sin. The evil unseen spirits did not realize that God would use His Son’s death as a means of deliverance for you and me from our sins:

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit (1 Peter 3:18).

What about you? Will you accept the free gift of salvation and eternal life that Christ offers you if you give up your life into His hands? Just simply tell Him, wherever you are right now, Lord Jesus, thank you for dying in my place for me and as me. I receive you into my life to cleanse me from all my sin. Forgive me for my sin, Lord Jesus, I want to live for you. Amen. If you sincerely meant that prayer, there is joy in heaven (Luke 15:10) Keith Thomas

The God Over All Impossibilities

15God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. 16I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.” 17Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” 18And Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!” 19Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him (Genesis 17:15-19).

Imagine what that was like when Abraham and Sarah had to tell their neighbors and friends that their names had now been changed to mother of princes and father of many with Abraham being 100 years old? Do you think they were ridiculed? Sometimes the people of God, in order to follow Him wholeheartedly, must endure ridicule in their walk of faith.

Moses, the person who wrote the Book of Genesis, spells it out plainly to us, the person leading the team of three is YHVH. In the English translation of the Bible, whenever the name LORD is capitalized, as it is in verse one, thirteen and fourteen, the Hebrew word is YHVH. We have added vowels to the name to help us to pronounce the name more clearly, making it JeHoVaH, or YaHVeH. YaHVeH says that He will return to them about the same time next year and that when He does, Sarah will be a mother to a son (v. 10).

Inside the tent, Sarah, when she heard the LORD say that she would be a mother at ninety years old, laughs within herself (Verse 12). She thinks of the impossibility of it all, a woman of ninety that is worn out with age and long past childbearing ability, and Abraham being even ten years older than her, how could this be possible? Inside her mind she laughs at the thought. She utters not a sound, but the Lord knows her thought. He asks Abraham:“Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ 14Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” 15Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I did not laugh.” But he said, “Yes, you did laugh” (Genesis 1813-15).

God is omniscient, which is a word that means that He is all knowing. He knows all things in the universe and in all creatures at all time, whether it is something in the past, present or future. God knows them all perfectly. God’s knowledge is absolute and unacquired. He never has to learn anything. This is omniscience.

29Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. 30And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows (Matthew 10:29-31).

The writer, A.W. Tozer, has spoken of God’s omniscience in this way:

“God knows instantly and effortlessly all matter and all matters, all mind and every mind, all spirit and all spirits, all being and every being, all creature hood and all creatures, every plurality and all pluralities, all law and every law, all relations, all causes, all thoughts, all mysteries, all enigmas, all feelings, all desires, every unuttered secret, all thrones and dominions, all personalities, all things visible and invisible in heaven and in earth, motion, space, time, life, death, good, evil, heaven, and  hell.”[1]

This is an appearance of YaHVeH in human form that is visiting with Abraham along with two of His angels. Most scholars believe that this divine being that is talking with Abraham is the Lord Jesus before His birth by Mary. The Lord Jesus is revealed as the divine YaHVeH (John 1:1-3), who hears every thought, and knows all things:

30Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God” (John 16:30).

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you” (John 21:17).

There was a gentle rebuke about Sarah’s laugh of unbelief. How would you feel about hearing from a total stranger that you were going to have a baby next year, when you have been waiting for a baby all your married life? Oh yes, and now it is physically impossible, and you hear that it is going to happen at the age of ninety! Sarah realizes that this being called YaHVeh has heard her thought while in her tent—her laugh was not audible, and He is speaking about her personal future and the dream that she has waited for all this time! To realize that God knows her every thought is to also know that this same God can do anything. She is told by the messenger, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Verse 14). Whatever you are dealing with, know this; God understands your frustration, unbelief, and your struggles, and is aware of your thoughts. It does not stop Him from being able to provide the answer. Keith Thomas

[1] A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy (New York, Harper and Row, 1961) p.63.

The LORD Comes to Lunch With Abraham

1The LORD appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. 2Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground. 3He said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by. 4Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. 5Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant.” “Very well,” they answered, “do as you say.” 6So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. “Quick,” he said, “get three seahs of the finest flour and knead it and bake some bread.” 7Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it. 8He then brought some curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them. While they ate, he stood near them under a tree (Genesis 18:1-8).

It was a normal day for Abraham. The sun was getting high in the sky and it was hot (Verse 1). Abraham was sitting in the shade of his tent under or near the great trees of Mamre, with the view below him of the Jordan valley also known as the Dead Sea Valley. This was the day of Abraham and Sarah’s annunciation that they were going to finally have the baby that they had dreamt about. The good news would come from the Lord YHWH Himself. When we see the English word LORD used (v. 1), the Hebrew name of God, YHWH, is used in the text. Of course, Abraham did not realize that it was the LORD until later on in the afternoon. As soon as he saw the three men, YHWH and two angels, Abraham sprang into action and hurried from where he was sitting to meet them. He bowed low to these three strangers. Visitors to one’s home are a big deal. When the three men came to Abraham, he did not know why these men had come or who the men were that was visiting him. To Abraham these men were just strangers. The writer to the Hebrews in the New Testament, has something to say about the proper treatment of visitors:

2Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it (Hebrews 13:2).

Surely the writer to the Hebrews was thinking of the visit of the LORD and His angels in this passage that we are looking at.

Abraham insists that they sit down and rest under the shade of the trees, and that he will bring water to wash their dusty sandaled feet and also food, and then they can carry on their way (Verse 5). The visitors are pleased to stay awhile. It is a wonderful thought to think that the LORD of heaven and earth would come and eat and be refreshed by His people. How we all long for Jesus to come and eat with us! Of course, these visitors did not need the provisions Abraham was to bring them, but they stopped and ate for Abraham’s sake. It was Abraham who received what he needed that day. Notice that Abraham’s service to these strangers was all at a hurried pace (Verses 2 and 6). He was careful not to waste their time. But the Lord was pleased to wait for Abraham to be fulfilled in his service to the Lord. Think about the time it took Abraham to get this meal together. He hurried into the tent and got Sarah busy at kneading three seahs (about six gallons) of fine flour together. Then he ran (Verse 7) to the herd and got a choice, tender calf and a servant hurrying along to kill it, before preparing a fire and roasting it. How much time would it take to roast the calf and knead and bake the bread? At least two hours, I would think. Yet the LORD and His angels wait patiently while Abraham and Sarah serve Him wholeheartedly. How it should gladden our hearts that the Creator of the whole universe should come and have lunch with Abraham and Sarah. Keith Thomas