BIBLE STUDY SERIES #629, 630 and 631

14 December, 2003

LET THERE BE LIGHT - PART III

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

Over the last two weeks, I had begun a series of messages under the heading "Let There Be Light." I felt prompted to do this while looking out through a kitchen window into the darkness of a foliage-filled scene during a recent night on which I had been moved to ponder prospects for the future of our nation in meditation. Turning out my kitchen light, I could only observe one small and distant lamp. On seeing it, I was prompted to draw a parallel, epitomized therein, to the world's condition relative to the Light of Our Lord Jesus Christ. There are various ways in which one may use the term "light."

In Part I, I explained my concern that light ought to be shed abroad in our world; a world that appears to be heading in a somewhat benighted downward course towards potential destruction. Scripture tells us prophetically that the day will come when God's people will come to their senses and ask The LORD to intervene in the affairs of this world, in a prayer which states that they acknowledge their sins and ask Him to forgive them and to heal their land.

In the second part, I dwelt upon the Genesis of light in terms of its part in the Creation of the Universe and our world, and we then moved to examine the parts where it is mentioned in The Book of Job. The LORD used the vast wonders which nature provides for the basis of His questions that he presented as a challenge to provoke that Patriarch, towards a deeper understanding of the purposes which God had in all His Creation.

Light can be a physical phenomenon of great benefit to all who are capable of making use of its benefits. Also, in another sense, it can be a guiding light to the mind to show the way around obstacles, thus to avoid harm. In a still deeper sense, light refers to uplift of people to move them in spirit towards an understanding of God's Will in their own lives and the life of their families, their neighbourhoods, and their nations.

Today, I think it appropriate that we should look at the Plan of the Almighty God, which involves a Patriarchal lineage initiated in the Book of Genesis. This lineage, in accord with God's Covenanted Promises, descends to a particular people forming many nations today, and prophetically, the Scriptures explain the parts that they are to play in the ongoing Plan of The LORD. Indeed, essentially, The Bible is the record of one family's history in association with The God of the Whole Earth. This indeed, is what God's word specifically states in Amos 3:2 "You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities."

By tracing this lineage, as we plan to do, we are setting before the listener a source of light in several ways. One is that the genealogy of Our Lord Jesus Christ is involved in what we have just been reading, and moreover, in Revelation 13:8, we find that in God's total Plan there was a Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. This is that One Sacrifice which God himself provided as no-one else could provide it, to cover the legal requirement. It is needed because The Almighty God is an all-wise Lawgiver in the position of ultimate authority. He must require punishment at every point wherein His Law is transgressed by a subject, in order to retain that authority untarnished.

A law-giver who states Laws designed to prevent, through any ramifications whatsoever, death or injury to the innocent, must in His holy perfection, set a punishment of death to any person guilty of breaking any one of those laws. This is because breaking any one of them with impunity will set in motion a chain of events which eventuate in spreading corruption among the subject people. James 2:10 states: "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all." Moreover, to break such a Law is to demonstrate, in some measure, rebellion and disrespect against the Law-giver Himself. Punishment for sin must be carried out in the circumstances. Otherwise, by stating a Law, and setting a punishment for the breaking of that Law, and then not delivering on that punishment when events demand it, will forever corrupt the character of the authority imposing that Law and bring His authority into a state of corruption. As the subjects all eventually trip-up at some point due to human frailty, fallibility, impatience, lack of ultimate wisdom, lack of sufficient love, or lack of the perfect measure of God Himself, all will be brought eventually into a state of culpability and the resulting punishment of death. The only mercy which God could cause to intervene was to thrust His Own Right Arm, so to speak, in the form of "The Word" clothed in human flesh, yet sinless in His divinity, between the sinner and the execution, and take that death upon Himself. Sinless, that Word or expression of the fullness of The Godhead bodily would arise from that death after three days. He demonstrated that He was capable of doing this at the tomb of Lazarus. John 11:25-26 tells us: "Jesus said unto her (Martha), I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?" Moving to verses 43-44, we read: "And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go."

The need was for one who could present Himself without Sin for that punishment, thus closing the book of judgment while opening the Kinsman Redeemer relationship to His kinsfolk, by his Mercy. That is the whole concept embodied in the symbolism of The Ark of The Covenant in the Tabernacle, wherein the Stone Tablets bearing God's Ten Commandments, the summary embodiment of all the Law, was covered by the gold Mercy seat whereon blood was to be sprinkled. Those who think that they can perfectly obey every one of God's Commandments to perfectly comply with the requirements on their own initiative are only fooling themselves, no matter how hard they try to do so. This does not mean that we should shrug our shoulders and walk away from any attempt to observe that Law. Rather, in Love for God and the Mercy which His Grace has planned as a substitute, it is required that we observe and teach those Laws to the best of our ability. Matthew 5:19 quotes Christ's words: "Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

We cannot earn our total justification by so doing, but we need, in love towards Him, to try at all points to follow God's directives because, as David stated, in Psalm 1:1-2: "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. As Jesus Christ stated in John 14:15: "If ye love me, keep my Commandments."

It is a Christian message, and it must therefore be found and studied throughout the entire Bible, as both the Old and the New Testaments are vital to the Christian Message. Back in the early chapters of Genesis, God is instituting His generative programme within the Garden of Eden, and the man "Adam" being created; he is set in charge of that garden with all that it contains. There are two notable trees, however, from one of which he is not to eat. One is the Tree of Life, and the other one is The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. We may hold varied views concerning the Garden of Eden, but I believe certainly that the latter tree was a necessary part of the plan. Adam was to hold dominion over the garden, but that dominion must be in accord with everything which The Almighty God would designate. From such choices Adam therefore must not turn. Adam must not experiment by making up his own rules, because he did not have God's knowledge, God's wisdom, God's omniscience and omnipotence. God would provide what directions he needed, and these are summed up in the words found in Genesis 2:16-17: And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." The story continues with the creation of Eve from Adam's side, and the approach of Satan, described as a serpent. Paul, making reference to this incident wherein the "serpent" approaches Eve, in 2 Corinthians 11:3 uses the Greek word ophis, and the stated meaning of that word is augmented with a note explaining that "With the ancients, the serpent was a symbol of cunning and wisdom." The Devil asked the question "Yea hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?" He then states a lie in the words "Ye shall not surely die" followed by a truth "For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil." Satan thus turned the royal couple into transgressors of God's law. Certainly, they made themselves into "gods" by taking the decision to decide for themselves what would be considered good, and what would be considered evil. The day would last a thousand years, yet within that time, they would certainly die. But God informed the Serpent that "I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise his heel." Verse 21 then explains: "Unto Adam also and to his wife did The LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them", before they were put out of the Garden. Such skins must have meant the deaths of animals sacrificed to provide those coats, which symbolically looked down the millennia to the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

We shall pursue the lineage involved on a forthcoming Bible Study.

21 December, 2003

LET THERE BE LIGHT - PART IV

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

As we are, once again, at that spot chosen on the calendar to remember the First Advent of Our Lord, otherwise called Christmas; a time when the thoughts of most of Western Society are enjoying a holiday break, it seemed appropriate to step aside, so to speak, for a short interval in order to consider the occasion which is thus marked. In John 8:12 we read: "Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."

I thought on this matter as I prepared this week's talk, and I decided to review some of those things that I have said on former similar occasions. If I say some things which long-time listeners to these broadcasts think sound familiar, please bear with me, for I believe they bear repeating. Most of the following message is from a slightly re-edited Christmas Broadcast of 1994 entitled "Two Advents." While Jesus Christ was probably born in The Fall, about the time of The Feast of Trumpets, the gestation period would point to the generally-accepted time of Christmas on our calendars for The Annunciation.

The commercial interests all across the land would, I feel sure, panic at the mere suggestion, or even the thought, of giving up the lucrative Christmas market and so those aspects of the encrusted social rituals which appear innocuous to the establishment are cultivated with lavish intensity. It has, in fact, become a bit like Hallowe'en in this respect.

No doubt the whole commercial community desires to sustain the pagan aspects of the hour, in order to stimulate the sale of gifts which are nice, but not really essential to one's existence. This pagan distortion of the true intent of the holiday becomes obvious when the God-given Law, requiring the observance of a weekly Sabbath for rest and a time for the whole national community to worship, is totally dismissed and set aside in the interests of intensified avaricious commercial activities which nominally are supposed to be supportive of, and to reflect, a Christian occasion.

But just as the glorious and mighty hand of God intervened at the Exodus, God has promised the second time to bring His people out from the present forms of bondage. This Second Exodus would appear, however, to be of another order. This emergence will be out of the present un-Godly economic, spiritual, cultural and governmental bondage which presently acts to fetter the fullest expression of a truly Christian, God-serving Israelitish community. As regular listeners know, we in British-Israel hold that the present day descendants of the vast majority of ancient Israelites are to be found among the main traditional racial groups of the British Commonwealth, the Americans, and kindred folk of North-West Europe.

Such a community, with the Throne of David at its centre, must come, for in Luke 1:32 the angel Gabriel speaks to Mary of her son, saying that "the Lord God shall give unto him the Throne of his father David." But if Jesus was to be given the throne of His father, David, and to rule over the house of Jacob, as stated by the Angel Gabriel to Mary, let me put a question to you. Where is that throne which God shall give to Jesus Christ? Although it was a Throne on this Earth, He didn't receive it at His First Advent for in John 19:15, John tells us that the chief priests answered Pilate "We have no king but Caesar." The story concerns that fateful stone called Jacob's Pillow, which is also called Lia Fail, and The Stone of Destiny, and today, the Coronation Stone.

As Jesus did not receive that throne at His First Advent, it awaits the Second. However, we should apply the name "Emmanuel" at both the First and the Second Advents. Matthew 1:23 simply says "They shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us." Incomparably, the Christian world has historically fulfilled this prophecy by applying the name exclusively to Jesus Christ.

Young's Concordance, under the word "Immanuel", informs us that the word means "God is with us". The Concordance notes that this was "A symbolic name given to the child who was announced to Ahaz and the people of Judah as the sign that God would give them deliverance from their enemies... ."

Although the name used in Matthew's Gospel is spelled using an initial letter "E" where the Old Testament uses an "I", the passage in Matthew is almost a direct quotation of Isaiah 7:14, a passage which states "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel."

In the time remaining, I want to see if we can determine an answer to the question "What purpose was served by Jesus' coming into the world of human experience?" Why did Christ come and why must He come again?

Christ is described in the symbolic language of Revelation 13:8 as "...the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." This statement reveals that, from the very first concept in the mind of The Creator, it was His intention to create men and women possessing the ability to think rationally and so to make decisions involving expressions of love and of commitment to Himself. That over-riding requirement necessitated granting permission to test immature selfish decisions, some of which have resulted in savage calamities during the present age. We call these decisions "Sin".

Incidentally, the ability to make any such decisions is not possible without the ability to project the results one should expect from those decisions. Such rational thoughts must enjoy a totally rational environment in order to develop. Thus, Natural Law had to be built into the Creation and apply in all aspects of the physical universe. It is this natural law which forms the subject-matter of the Sciences.

Do not be fooled by concentration on this aspect alone. As the Psalmist said in Psalm 14:1, "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God." Fulfilled prophecy demonstrates that God exists. As Peter wrote in II Peter 1:19, "We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts."

But that ability to sin required, in love, the availability of some means of healing the breach, and re-constituting the whole environment to one enjoying fellowship with God Himself. For guidance, man needed a statement of Law, The Commandments, and penalty for the defiance of sinful experiments. Survival of the created, however, requires the payment of that penalty through some means available to mankind. The Cross is that means of payment. Do not despise it.

We read in Genesis of the fall from Grace of Adam and Eve. Their experimental rebellion was foreseen by God, and this necessitated on God's part, right from the very beginning, the advent of a "Second Adam" who would serve, much as Noah's ark, to take the waves and storm and shield the occupants. (Incidentally, the "nave" where the congregation sits in a church takes its name, like the "navy", and "navigation" from the Latin "navis", a ship, as it is intended, symbolically, to serve that very function!)

Thus only those sinners who, so to speak, "come into the ark" of Christ's "body", are safe from the ultimate consequences of their inadequacy because He alone could fully satisfy the penalty of Law-breaking on The Cross. That act had to occur on a separate occasion from His Advent as King, when He would finally establish God's rules as a Law written in our hearts and thus in Israel, His Nation.

Christ told us to pray to Our Father that His Kingdom would come or be developing on earth as it is at all times effective in heaven.

From this we see that two Advents were required right from the first planning stage of the Creation. The First Advent must be as the perfect suffering penalty-bearer, the silent Lamb of God, to Whom the ordinance of Old Testament sacrifices pointed. Only thus would Christ earn the right to lay claim upon the hearts and loyalty of His people at the Second Advent.

The Second Advent, then, must follow the First. Christ, as the Lion of Judah, the all-powerful King of kings, must establish society under the congenial and gracious rule of The Almighty God, free of the attacks of those who refuse to abide by that Law.

Revelation 5:5 speaks in symbolism thus: "...behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. And I beheld, and lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth."

It is the selfless act of Jesus, condescending to be humbly yet royally born of the Virgin Mary to initiate this sequence of Advents, which the herald angels gloriously announced to the shepherds of Bethlehem.

There is a further aspect which we ought to explain. The Northern House of Old Testament Israel, the people whom God formed for Himself, as His "wife" (Isaiah 54:5, and Jeremiah 3:14), the "example nation", had sinned to the point of national divorce from Him (Hosea 2). They were deported by Assyria. Judah was not at that point divorced from God (Hosea 1:7).

By Deuteronomy 24:4 and Matthew 5:32, God could not, prior to His Own death, re-marry His divorced wife, Israel. There was only one way that a marriage could take place along the lines of Hosea 2:19-20 and Revelation 21:2. Paul explained it in Romans 7:1-3. The aspect of God, the husband, incarnate in Christ, had to pass through death first.

Thus, in Matthew 10:3, we read Christ's words "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the House of Israel...". It is the so called "Ten Lost Tribes" to whom Jesus stated that He was specifically sent at His First Advent, and to those same "lost sheep" the Apostles were sent in Matthew 10:6, to preach the Gospel explaining this central aspect of His two Advents.

May these thoughts add meaning to your Christmas.

28 December, 2003

Let There Be Light - PART V

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

As this is the date in the calendar when days have less light in the Northern Hemisphere, and we are approaching the New Year, our thoughts generally turn, once more, to review how time has treated us, and our families, over the past years. It seems appropriate, then, to ponder anew some of the considerations which come into view as we scan the Biblical record to see what God's Word can tell us about the passage of our years, and indeed, of time in general. I shall take my theme on this and the next Study from edited portions of two 1995 Broadcasts entitled "Evidence of Divinity In Time."

In Psalm 31:15 David craves the help of God, saying "My times are in thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me." To this plea, we might possibly relate some experience in our own life. Similarly, we may appreciate the words of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8:

1. To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3. A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4. A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5. A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6. A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7. A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8. A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

To this point, the Ecclesiastes passage is perhaps familiar ground to many, for it relates to our own personal, relatively short-term experiences of life, but there are some further verses to consider. Verse 11 says "He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end." So as seen from man's limited timespan, we cannot comprehend all history as God understands it. Verse 14 says: "I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him." Here there is a deep clue to one purpose of The Almighty in the establishment of time measures throughout the tapestry of time. While we can, ourselves, relate to the former passages of Scripture, because they are common to our own experience of life these last parts may be obscure. Perhaps in them The Almighty desires to convey to His creatures the understanding that, while each of them is transient, He is eternal, and the All Powerful Creator of every particle of Creation. All, therefore, must have been planned from the beginning.

A question often raised by people whose thoughts are formed from our limited perspective is "How can God see all of time together at one and the same time." As a High School Geography teacher, I had a favourite approach when leading into the astronomical setting of the earth. I used to explain that light takes a certain time to travel over vast distances, so that we do not see the Moon, the Sun, the planets or the stars or distant galaxies as they are at the instant of viewing, but rather, as they were so many seconds, minutes, hours, days or years ago. When we look up at the night sky, therefore, we are looking back through all of the history of Creation simultaneously. Can The Almighty Creator not do the same from all aspects of His work? Also, the future is implicit in the present which derives from the past, so He can view it too. With that point in mind, consider Ecclesiastes 3:15: "That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past." This shows us the fact that all of the processes of time are as one in the view of The LORD.

If we are now beginning to see that there is method and planning within that portion of history which forms our own life experience, and further, that this comes about because it was all planned from the beginning of time, then we are on the way towards an appreciation of even deeper veins of truth.

Let us search out in the Scriptures some specific examples wherein reference is made or indicated to certain assigned spans of time; certain allotted time measures of which the number of units are meaningful and significant. In Genesis 6:3, God warned the evil generation of Noah's day saying of mankind, yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. The record states that the Flood arrived on schedule. Here we may note that the number of 120 is thus marked as a significant period of time for such assessment and judgment. We may think of this number as a multiple of forty years, incidentally, and forty is a number which appears elsewhere in Scripture in a number of contexts as a number signifying a time of trial or testing.

In Genesis 15:13-16, The LORD made a covenant with Abram, which included the statement that "thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years;" ... "in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full." So a portion of history of four centuries was specified to the culmination of a promised event. Here again, the number four hundred is a multiple of forty, so we may begin to see connecting themes in such numbers.

In Genesis 18:14, Sarah, Abraham's wife was past bearing children, and God made a promise to Abraham saying "Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son." God appointed a time, which was probably that of the normal period for gestation of a child, but it was in this instance for a miraculous event, the birth of Isaac, to occur. We find the conclusion in Genesis 21:1-3 where Isaac is indeed born according to that promise.

Again, in Psalm 105:19, the Psalmist records of Joseph that "Until the time that his word came: the word of the LORD tried him." Joseph's years in the Egyptian prison were for a pre-set time of testing, about 12 in number, if we have done our calculations correctly.

Speaking of a yet future time when The LORD will have mercy upon Zion, the Psalmist says in Psalm 102:13 "Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favour her, yea, the set time, is come." So God appoints a set time for a certain activity on His part to commence.

Prophesying against Babylon, the Prophet Jeremiah records a prophecy in Jeremiah 51:6, 18 and 33 of a certain point in time, called "the time of the LORD's vengeance", "the time of their visitation" and "the time of her harvest". Here we find that a specific time is appointed for that destruction to take place. These examples show that the times which The Almighty sets are of various durations, some almost immediate, others ranging through centuries and thousands of years.

We find that Christ appeared at the set, appointed time, as Paul, in Galatians 4:4 says, "But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law" and the same Apostle in Ephesians 1:10 writes "that in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ..."

Christ Himself had shown the beginning of His ministry was to be at a set point in history, as we read in Mark 1:14-15: "...Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel."

In Matthew 8:28 we read that even the devils which possessed two men in the country of the Gergesenes cried out at the approach of Jesus saying "What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?" So even the devils knew that a certain time is appointed for them to receive judgment!

In John 7:6 and 8, Jesus replied to his brethren that He would not yet go to Judaea for the feast of tabernacles, "for", as He stated, "my time... (that is, the time for Him to be offered up) "...is not yet full come." He did go, but in secret on that occasion. Jesus was constantly aware of the importance of fulfilling every time element of a great pattern of time measures in His activities.

In Acts 17:26, the Apostle Paul explained to the Athenians how that God had "determined the times before appointed..."

In Acts 1:7 the risen Christ was asked "Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel, and in answer He gave the significant reply "It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power." Later generations would understand more, and Paul, in I Thessalonians 5:1-2 was to write "But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night" and the Prophet Daniel had centuries before been informed, as stated in Daniel 12:10, that at the time of the end "the wise shall understand."

The Apostle Peter, in Acts 3:21, explained to the men of Israel who had observed the healing of the lame man at the temple that this had been done through the power of Jesus Christ, "Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began." So Peter knew of certain times before appointed for such to take place.

The examples which we have thus far examined may set the stage for a further examination of the significance of certain specific time periods on our next programme. In the interim, let me leave with you the thought that every part of our own existence is set within the vast time sequences which God has planned to take place in history from the foundation of the world. He will not move them until the set measures be fulfilled.

However, our prayers are also set to occur as a part of the same system of unfolding of events, and so the matter is not to be viewed as a fatalistic certainty which ignores our input. As an Olympian may be destined to excellence, the same must first also pass through the rigors of practice. We must, as indicated in Hebrews 12:1-2, run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.

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