|Posted on 9 December, 2011 at 17:55||comments (5)|
by Chuck Missler
Each year, around the time we prepare to celebrate Christmas, our Jewish friends celebrate Hanukkah. This year it falls on December 25th and continues for eight days through January 2nd.
It may come as a surprise to many of our readers that this holiday is alluded to in the New Testament. (Whereas Christmas is not: the observation of Christmas began in 354 A.D. from an adaptation of established pagan holidays. While there are several defendable estimates regarding the birthday of Christ, we know it was not in winter: the flocks were in open field, indicating sometime prior to October.)
In fact, Hanukkah highlights an historical event that Jesus Himself pointed to as the key to understanding the prophecies concerning His return!
The Mystery in John 10
John Chapter 10 is, of course, the famous Good Shepherd discourse. It clearly speaks for itself and won't be dealt with here. Verse 22, however, seems to be a strange inclusion: right in the middle of this chapter the Holy Spirit notes the following:
And it was at Jerusalem the feast of dedication, and it was winter.
Why is this reference here?
The Importance of our Approach
The most important discovery of my life was the insight that the Bible is an integrated message system. Although these 66 books were written by over 40 authors over thousands of years, we discover that they are a unified whole. Every word, every number, every place name, even the implied punctuation, appear to be the result of supernatural engineering. The rabbis in Israel have a quaint way of expressing this. They say that we won't really understand the Scriptures until the Messiah comes. But when He comes, He will not only interpret the passages for us; He will interpret the very words; He will interpret the very letters; He will even interpret the spaces between the letters!
I used to think this was just a colorful exaggeration. Until I re-read Jesus' own comments on the Scripture:
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one yot or one tittle shall in no way pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
A "yot" or a "tittle" are Hebraisms: a "yot" is one of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet that we might mistake for an apostrophe, or a blemish on the paper. A "tittle" is a tiny notation that distinguishes some of the letters. The phrase that Jesus used is equivalent to our "dotting of an 'i' or the crossing of a 't.'" These words, from our Lord Himself, seem to verify the rather extreme view of the rabbis.
Thus we discover that every detail of the Bible is there by design. This insight opens an entirely new dimension of Bible study. Every time you find a "mistake" or "contradiction" in the Bible, rejoice: there is a discovery behind that ostensible discrepancy.
The Feast of Dedication
Since we have concluded that nothing in Scripture is accidental or trivial, why does this detail in John 10:22 exist? What is the "feast of dedication"? The dedication is of the Temple, of course. But let's explore this further.
There have been only two Temples: the original one built by Solomon, which was ultimately destroyed by the Babylonians; and Nehemiah's, which was built when the captives returned after the Babylonian Captivity. (This "Second Temple" was subsequently expanded by Herod and was the Temple in place during the New Testament period.) Solomon's Temple was dedicated in the month of Ethanim, or Tishri.1 This can't be the reference we're looking for since this was in the autumn. John 10:22 alludes specifically to a feast of dedication in winter. Nehemiah's Temple was dedicated in the month of Adar.2 So this can't be it either since Adar is in the spring. Now we're really puzzled! The key to this riddle requires some important historical background.
An Historical Reference
A century earlier, in 168 B.C., the Seleucid ruler Antiochus IV ("Epiphanes")3 son of Antiochus the Great, became the successor of his brother, Seleucus IV, who had been murdered by his minister, Heliodorus, as king of Syria (175-164 B.C.). Antiochus was an eccentric, cruel and tyrannical despot. He undertook the total eradication of the Jewish religion and the establishment of Greek polytheism in its stead.
The observance of all Jewish laws, especially those relating to the Sabbath and to circumcision, were forbidden under penalty of death. Representatives of the crown everywhere enforced the edict. Once a month a search was instituted, and whoever had secreted a copy of the Law or had observed the rite of circumcision was condemned to death. He pillaged the city of Jerusalem, took 10,000 captives, stripped the Temple of its treasures, and built a pagan altar on the Great Altar of Burnt Sacrifices.4
On the 25th of Chislev (Antiochus' birthday), sacrifice was brought on this altar for the first time.5 He required a swine to be offered in every village.6 (If you know how the Jews feel about pork, you can imagine how that went over! But that's not all)
He also erected an idol to Zeus in the Holy of Holies.7 This desecrating sacrilege has a technical name: "the abomination of desolation."
In the village of Modein, an aged priest named Mattathias lived with his five sons. When officers arrived to carry out Antiochus' decrees, Mattathias killed both the first Jew who approached the pagan altar to offer sacrifice and the royal official who presided, and Mattathias and his sons fled to the hills. This spontaneous revolt grew into a full-scale uprising: Mattathias and his five sons became the nucleus of a growing band of rebels against Antiochus.
Mattathias died soon after, leaving leadership in the hands of his son Judas, whose nickname "Maccabeus" ("the hammer") became the source of the popular name given to the family and its followers. Under Judas' brilliant leadership, what had begun as a guerrilla war turned into full-scale military engagements in which the smaller Jewish forces managed to defeat the much more powerful Syrian armies, and they succeeded in throwing off the yoke of the Seleucid Empire.
On the third anniversary of the desecration of the Temple, on the 25th of Kislev, 164 B.C., the Temple worship was reestablished. The altar and all of the vessels used in the earlier sacrilege were destroyed and replaced with new ones, and the Temple was rededicated. It is this rededication that is still celebrated among the Jews to this very day as Hanukkah.
A Key Technical Term
The desecration of the Temple in 167 B.C. included the definitive event known as the "abomination of desolation." The term "abomination" in the Bible is a common term for idol worship. The "abomination of desolation" refers to the ultimate extreme form of idol worship: placing an idol on the most sacred spot on Planet Earth: in Jerusalem, in the Temple precincts, in the Holy of Holies itself!
So why did the Holy Spirit highlight Hanukkah by alluding to it in the New Testament? Because Jesus Himself pointed to this specific historical detail as the key to understanding prophecy concerning the Last Days.
A Private Briefing
Four disciples came to Jesus privately, asking Him about His "Second Coming." His response is so significant that it is recorded in two of the Gospels: Matthew and Mark.8 (A similar account in Luke actually focuses on some different elements.)
He opened this briefing with a series of "non-signs": certain things that will occur "but the end is not yet." Then He highlighted a critical event as the key to the prophecy:
When you, therefore, shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place (whosoever readeth, let him understand), then let them who are in Judea flee into the mountains; Let him who is on the housetop not come down to take anything out of his house; Neither let him who is in the field return back to take his clothes. Matthew 24:15-18
In other words, when this event happens, it will be essential for them to get out Judea immediately! (You are also "on the spot": if you read that verse you are under His orders to "understand"!)
An Essential Insight
Jesus did us all an enormous favor in verse 15. He saved each of us many hours of tedious library research! He attributed the Book of Daniel to Daniel the prophet. (It happens that Daniel is one of the best-documented books of the Old Testament, but Jesus gave us a great short cut. Anyone who believes in Jesus Christ has no problem with authorship of Daniel...anyone who doesn't believe in Jesus Christ has much bigger problems than the authorship of the Book of Daniel!)
Jesus' reference to the "abomination of desolation" was, of course, made two centuries after the historical event now commemorated at Hanukkah. He was speaking of a similar event yet future.
Other Attempts Frustrated
In about 40 A.D. Caligula ordered his image to be installed in the Holy of Holies. Petronius, his general in Judea, realizing how vehement the Jews' reaction would be, declined to execute the order. When Caligula found out, he ordered the death of Petronius. But Caligula died a few weeks later, and due to a mix-up at sea, the message that Caligula had died preceded the order for Petronius' execution, so he got off the hook.
It is interesting how God intervened to prevent another desecration of the Temple from happening. Has it happened yet?
The Destruction of the Second Temple
Just as Jesus had predicted, in 69 A.D. the 5th, 10th, 12th, and 15th Roman Legions, under Titus Vespasian, laid siege to Jerusalem. Over a million men, women and children were slaughtered in that terrible war. Finally, on the 9th of Av, 70 A.D., the Temple was destroyed.9 It was this event that Luke's account focuses on. Both Luke and Matthew highlight a group of signs, which Matthew dubs as "the beginning of sorrows":
And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.
Matthew's account focuses on what follows this group of signs.10 Luke focuses on the what precedes these signs.11 He warned his audience that when Jerusalem was surrounded by armies, they were to get out of town and don't let any in the hills go back to town. Luke tells his audience that "this generation will not pass until all be fulfilled,"12 and 38 years later - the same length of the generation that died in the wilderness - Jerusalem fell in 70 A.D.
A Critical Hiatus
The Emperor Nero had ordered his general, Vespasian, and his son Titus, to use force to get things in Judea under control. They had conquered the towns in the Galilee and were preparing to take Jerusalem next. But then Nero died. In Rome, Galba, Otho, and Vitelius vied for the throne; in the subsequent confusion and ambiguity, Vespasian went to Rome and succeeded to take the throne as Emperor. His son Titus was left to complete the siege of Jerusalem.
During the hiatus, Christians, following the warnings in the Luke account, escaped to the mountains in Pella in Perea, and not one perished.13
A Misleading View
There are those who view the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. as the "abomination of desolation." There are several problems with this view.
First, there was a war going on. There was no opportunity for the Romans to install false worship of any kind inside the Temple. The Temple was inadvertently set on fire, and the interior, which was wood overlaid with gold, burned thus melting the gold. The soldiers were ordered to take it apart stone by stone to recover the gold, just as Jesus had predicted.14 All of this was well documented by an eyewitness, Flavius Josephus, whose classic works are readily available. 15
The view that the abomination of desolation has already occurred, in addition to being historically inaccurate, also requires the bizarre allegorization of the rest of Jesus' presentation. (Matthew 24:29-31 hasn't happened yet; at least, not so you'd notice!)
The abomination of desolation didn't happen in 70 A.D., and it couldn't have happened over the subsequent 1900 years because there has been no Temple in Jerusalem to be thus defiled. It remains the key milestone to trigger the exodus of those believers remaining in Jerusalem at that time. Every year at the celebration of Hanukkah we need to recall this background and reflect on its prophetic significance!
A Third Temple Needed
When will it happen? When there is, once again, a Temple in Jerusalem. Three times in the New Testament there is reference to the rebuilding of the Temple prior to the Second Coming of Christ.16
Despite an untenable political climate on the Temple Mount, there are preparations underway in anticipation of a rebuilt Temple. In Yeshivas in Jerusalem, over 200 priests are presently in training. Almost all of the required implements have been fabricated by the Temple Institute.
There is a search going on for the right marine snails to yield the Levitical blue and the royal purple. Ground-penetrating radar and infrared recordings are being used to find the precise foundations of the original Temples. The preparations continue despite the political uncertainties.
The scientists and archaeologists will be giving us an update at the Jerusalem Temple Conference being held this coming March. (Pray about joining us. See here.)
The Holiday Message
The Holy Spirit put John 10:22 in the New Testament to highlight Daniel's famous prophecy and to focus our attention on this key milestone in the end-time scenario. So as your Jewish friends celebrate Hanukkah this year, let this commemoration also remind you that preparations are presently underway to set the stage for the final countdown. What an exciting time to be alive!
Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvelously: for I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told you.
|Posted on 9 December, 2011 at 17:50||comments (0)|
The Scepter of Judah
by Chuck Missler
One of the most familiar "Christmas Card" verses is found in Isaiah:
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the Throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever.
As we mentioned earlier, David's throne didn't exist in Jesus' day. Jeconaiah was the last of David's line to sit on the throne. (Remember the blood curse on his line.1 This curse was "side-stepped" by the virgin birth. Mary was of the line of David, but through Nathan, not Solomon.2 The legal line descended through Solomon to Joseph, but not the blood curse.)
There is another remarkable prophecy-in Genesis-concerning the rulership of the tribe of Judah.
The Scepter of Judah
In Genesis 49, Jacob prophesied over each of the twelve tribes. Among these seemingly cryptic riddles, the best known one concerns the royal tribe of Judah:
The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.
The term "scepter" refers to their tribal identity and the right to apply and enforce Mosaic Laws and adjudicate capital offenses: jus gladii. It is significant that even during their 70-year Babylonian captivity (606-537 B.C.) the tribes retained their tribal identity.3 They retained their own logistics, judges, etc.4
The term "Shiloh" was understood by the early rabbis and Talmudic authorities as referring to the Messiah.5
The Scepter Departs
In 6-7 A.D., King Herod's son and successor, Herod Archelaus, was dethroned and banished to Vienna, a city in Gaul. Archelaus was the second son of Herod the Great.6 The older son, Herod Antipater, was murdered by Herod the Great, along with other family members. (It was quipped at the time that it was safer to be a dog in that household than a member of the family!) Archelaus' mother was a Samaritan (1/4 or less of Jewish blood) and was never accepted. After the death of Herod (4 B.C.?), Archelaus had been placed over Judea as "Entharch" by Caesar Augustus. Broadly rejected, he was removed in 6-7 A.D.
He was replaced by a Roman procurator named Caponius. The legal power of the Sanhedrin was immediately restricted and the adjudication of capital cases was lost. This was normal Roman policy.7 This transfer of power is mentioned in the Talmud8 and by Josephus:
After the death of the procurator Festus, when Albinus was about to succeed him, the high priest Ananius considered it a favorable opportunity to assemble the Sanhedrin. He therefore caused James, the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, and several others, to appear before this hastily assembled council, and pronounced upon them the sentence of death by stoning. All the wise men and strict observers of the law who were at Jerusalem expressed their disapprobation of this act... Some even went to Albinus himself, who had departed to Alexandria, to bring this breach of the law under his observation, and to inform him that Aranius had acted illegally in assembling the Sanhedrin without the Roman authority.9
This remarkable passage not only mentions Jesus and His brother James as historical figures, it also underscores that the authority of the Sanhedrin had already been passed to the Romans.
When the members of the Sanhedrin found themselves deprived of their right over life and death, they covered their heads with ashes and their bodies with sackcloth, and bemoaned, "Woe unto us for the scepter has departed from Judah and the Messiah has not come!"10 They actually thought that the Torah, the Word of God, had failed! They should have known better.
The scepter had, indeed, been removed from Judah, but Shiloh had come. While the Jews wept in the streets of Jerusalem, a young son of a carpenter was growing up in Nazareth. He would present Himself as the Meshiach Nagid, Messiah the King, on the very day which had been predicted by the Angel Gabriel to Daniel five centuries earlier.11
(In fact, every detail of His life had been foretold centuries earlier.)
The Babe of Bethlehem
There is another passage that will catch our attention this Christmas season. As we recall the prophecy in Micah that prescribes that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem:
But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.
This verse not only identifies the significance of Bethlehem, it also points to His eventual ruler-ship, and it also mentions His preexistence.
It is the remarkable Book of Ruth which connects the line of David with Bethlehem. As we recall this love story between Boaz (in the role of the kinsman-redeemer) and Ruth, who becomes his Gentile bride, it is interesting to consider the possibility that their fields may have been the very ones in which the shepherds were visited by angels that famous evening.12
His Political Destiny
At this moment, Jesus is sitting on His Father's Throne. The question is, will He ever sit on David's throne? Will the promise that Gabriel announced to Mary also be fulfilled? Of course. And much of what He is about to do is also predicted with the same accuracy.
As we enter the new year, we each will struggle to remember to write 2000 when we date our checks. The entire world measures its calendar from that singular, incomparable event.
The world will soon be in for a series of surprises! The world wishes it could go on without the reactionary Christians; God will soon give them what they want.
And it may come sooner than any of us realize. So as we reflect on the prospects of the coming year, let us all remember that, fundamentally, we are neither Republicans nor Democrats: we are monarchists! We look for our Coming King !
Merry Christmas and Happy New Millennium!
* * *
Missler, Chuck, Expositional Commentary on the Book of Genesis and Romance of Redemption briefing package. See also our special on The Christmas Story briefing package.
This article was originally published in the
December 1999 Personal Update NewsJournal.
For a FREE 1-Year Subscription, click here.
Jeremiah 22:30; See also Footprints of the Messiah briefing package, Koinonia House, 1994.
Lk 3:31; 2 Sam 5:14; 1 Chr 14:4.
Josh MacDowell, Evidence that Demands a Verdict, pp. 108-168.
Targum Onkelos, Targum Pseudo-Jonathan, and Targum Yerusahlmi, The Messiah: An Aramaic Interpretation; The Messianic Exegesis of the Targum, Samson H. Levy, Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion, Cincinnati, 1974.
Josephus, Antiquities, 17:13.
This transfer of power was recorded by Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Bk 2, Ch. 8 Also, The Jerusalem Talmud, Sanhedrin, folio 24.
The Jerusalem Talmud, Sanhedrin, folio 24.
Josephus, Antiquities, 20:9.
Babylonian Talmud, Chapter 4, folio 37; also, Augustin Lemann, Jesus before the Sanhedrin, 1886, translated by Julius Magath, NL#0239683, Library of Congress #15-24973.
Daniel 9:24-27. See also Daniel's Seventy Weeks, Koinonia House, 1993.
|Posted on 9 December, 2011 at 17:50||comments (0)|
Who Were the Magi?
by Chuck Missler
Each year as we approach the holiday season, our preparations for Christmas include revisiting the events surrounding the birth of Our Lord. Bethlehem,1 the shepherds, and the angels are all familiar to us. But not much is generally known about the mysterious "Magi" who came to worship the infant Jesus. The following background may be helpful to stimulate conversations around the fireplace, as our thoughts turn to this incredible event from which we measure our very calendar.
Most of what we associate with the "Magi" is from early church traditions. Most have assumed that there were three of them since they brought three specific gifts. (But the Biblical text doesn't number them.) They are called "Magi" from the Latinized form of the Greek word magoi , transliterated from the Persian for a select sect of priests. (Our word "magic" comes from the same root.)
As the years passed, traditions became increasingly embellished. By the third century, they were viewed as kings. By the sixth century they had names: Bithisarea, Melichior, and Gathaspa. Some even associated them with Shem, Ham and Japheth, the three sons of Noah, and thus with Asia, Africa, and Europe. A fourteenth century Armenian tradition identifies them as Balthasar, King of Arabia; Melchior, King of Persia; and Gasper, King of India.
(Relics attributed to them emerged in the fourth century and were transferred from Constantinople to Milan in the fifth century, and then to Cologne in 1162, where they remain enshrined today.)
These are all very interesting traditions, but what do we really know about the Magi?
The Priesthood of the Medes
The ancient Magi were a hereditary priesthood of the Medes credited with profound and extraordinary religious knowledge. After some Magi, who had been attached to the Median court, proved to be expert in the interpretation of dreams, Darius the Great established them over the state religion of Persia.2 (Contrary to popular belief, the Magi were not originally followers of Zoroaster.3 That all came later.)
It was in this dual capacity whereby civil and political counsel was invested with religious authority, that the Magi became the supreme priestly caste of the Persian Empire, and continued to be prominent during the subsequent Seleucid, Parthian, and Sasanian periods.4
The Role of Daniel
One of the titles given to Daniel was Rab-mag, the Chief of the Magi.5 His unusual career included being a principal administrator in two world empires: the Babylonian and the subsequent Persian Empire. When Darius appointed him, a Jew, over the previously hereditary Median priesthood, the resulting repercussions resulted in the plots leading to the lion's den.6 Daniel apparently entrusted a messianic vision (to be announced in due time by a "star") to a secret sect of the Magi for its eventual fulfillment. But first, let's cover some historical background.
Since the days of Daniel, the fortunes of both the Persian and the Jewish nations had been closely intertwined. Both nations had, in their turn, fallen under Seleucid domination in the wake of Alexander's conquests. Subsequently both had regained their independence: the Jews under Maccabean leadership, and the Persians as the dominating ruling group within the Parthian Empire.
It was at this time that the Magi, in their dual priestly and governmental office, composed the upper house of the Council of the Megistanes ("magistrates") whose duties included the absolute choice and election of the king of the realm. It was therefore a group of Persian-Parthian "king makers" who entered Jerusalem in the latter days of the reign of Herod. Herod's reaction was understandably one of fear when one considers the background of Roman-Parthian rivalry that prevailed during his lifetime.
Rome on the Rise
Pompey, the first Roman conqueror of Jerusalem, attacked the Armenian outpost of Parthia in 63 b.c. In 55 b.c. Carssus led Roman legions in sacking Jerusalem and, in a subsequent attack, Parthia proper. The Romans were decisively defeated at the battle of Carrhae with the loss of 30,000 troops, including their commander. The Parthians counterattacked with a token invasion of Armenia, Syria, and Palestine. Nominal Roman rule was reestablished under Antipater, the father of Herod, who retreated before another Parthian invasion in 40 b.c.
Mark Anthony reestablished Roman sovereignty in 37 b.c., and, like Carssus before him, also embarked on a similarly ill-fated Parthian expedition. His disastrous retreat was followed by another wave of invading Parthians, which swept all Roman opposition completely out of Palestine (including Herod himself, who fled to Alexandria and then to Rome). With Parthian collaboration, Jewish sovereignty was restored and Jerusalem was fortified with a Jewish garrison.
Herod, by this time, secured from Augustus Caesar the title of "King of the Jews." However, it was not for three years (including a five month's siege by Roman troops) that he was able to occupy his own capital city. Herod had thus gained the throne of a rebellious buffer state, which was situated between two mighty contending empires. At any time, his own subjects might conspire in bringing the Parthians to their aid.
At the time of Christ's birth, Herod may have been close to his final illness. Augustus was also aged, and Rome, since the retirement of Tiberius, was without any experienced military commander. Pro-Parthian Armenia was fomenting revolt against Rome (which was successfully accomplished within two years).
The Tensions in Parthia
The time was ripe for another Parthian invasion of the buffer provinces, except for the fact that Parthia itself was racked by internal dissension. Phraates IV, the unpopular and aging king, had once been deposed, and it was not improbable that the Persian Magi were already involved in the political maneuvering requisite to choosing his successor. It was conceivable that the Magi might be taking advantage of the king's lack of popularity to further their own interests with the establishment of a new dynasty, which could have been implemented if a sufficiently strong contender could be found.
At this time it was entirely conceivable that the messianic prophecies of the Old Testament, culminating in Daniel's writings (one of their own Magians), was of profound motivating significance. The promise of a divinely imposed world dominion at the hands of a Jewish monarch was more than acceptable to them. (Their own Persian and Medo-Persian history was studded with Jewish nobles, ministers, and counselors.)
The Entourage to Jerusalem
In Jerusalem the sudden appearance of the Magi, probably traveling in force with every imaginable oriental pomp and accompanied by adequate cavalry escort to insure their safe penetration of Roman territory, certainly alarmed Herod and the populace of Jerusalem.
It would seem as if these Magi were attempting to perpetrate a border incident, which could bring swift reprisal from Parthian armies. Their request of Herod regarding the one "who has been born King of the Jews"7 was a calculated insult to him, a non-Jew 8 who had contrived and bribed his way into that office. Consulting his scribes, Herod discovered from the prophecies in the Tanach (the Old Testament) that the Promised One, the Messiah, would be born in Bethlehem.9 Hiding his concern and expressing sincere interest, Herod requested them to keep him informed.
After finding the babe and presenting their prophetic gifts, the Magi "being warned in a dream" (a form of communication most acceptable to them) departed to their own country, ignoring Herod's request. (Within two years, Phraataces, the parricide son of Phraates IV, was duly installed by the Magi as the new ruler of Parthia.)
Daniel's Messianic Role
Living six centuries before the birth of Christ, Daniel certainly had an incredible number of Messianic prophecies. In addition to several overviews of Gentile world history,10 the Angel Gabriel told him the precise day that Jesus would present Himself as King to Jerusalem.11 It is interesting that Daniel's founding of a secret sect of the Magi also had a role in having these prominent Gentiles present gifts at the birth of the Jewish Messiah.
The Christmas Gifts
The gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh were also prophetic, speaking of our Lord's offices of king, priest, and savior. Gold speaks of His kingship; frankincense was a spice used in the priestly duties; and myrrh was an embalming ointment signifying His death. In the millennium, He will also receive the gifts of gold and frankincense;12 but no myrrh. His death was once and for all. What gifts are YOU going to give Him this year? Discuss it with Him.
* * *
For a review of other background items, see The Christmas Story: What Really Happened.
This article was originally published in the
December 2003 Personal Update NewsJournal.
For a FREE 1-Year Subscription, click here.
For background on why it was Bethlehem, study the Book of Ruth, or our briefing package, The Romance of Redemption.
Oneiromancy, not astrology, is the key skill mentioned by Herodotus, I.107, 120; VII.19.
Encyclopedia Britannica , 7:691.
Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible , 4:31-34.
Daniel 4:9; 5:11.
Herod was Idumean (an Edomite), a traditional enemy of Israel.
Micah 5:2. (Revealed by Holy Scripture, not astrology.)
Daniel 2 and 7. See also, Europa Rising.
Daniel 9:24-26. See also Daniel's 70 Weeks.
|Posted on 9 December, 2011 at 17:50||comments (5)|
by Chuck Missler
Every Christmas season our thoughts turn to the birth of Christ and to his mother, Mary. To some extent, we all take the nativity for granted. But why was Jesus born of a virgin? One answer, of course, is to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14: "Behold the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel."
But that's more descriptive than causal: why was it necessary in the first place? There are, of course, many profound theological issues inherent in the virgin birth. One way to view this issue is to address one of the problems it solves.
God announced very early that His plan for redemption involved the Messiah being brought forth from the tribe of Judah1, and specifically from the line of David2. The succession of subsequent kings proved to be, with only a few exceptions, a dismal chain. As the succeeding kings of Judah went from bad to worse, we eventually encounter Jeconiah (also known as Jehoiachin), upon whom God pronounces a" blood curse" :"Thus saith the Lord, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah."(Jeremiah 22:30)
This curse created a rather grim and perplexing paradox: the Messiah had to come from the royal line, yet now there was a"blood curse" on that very line of descent! (I always visualize a celebration in the councils of Satan on that day. But then I imagine God turning to His angels, saying,"Watch this one!")
The answer emerges in the differing genealogies of Jesus Christ recorded in the gospels. Matthew, as a Levi, focuses his gospel on the Messiahship of Jesus and presents Him as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. Thus, Matthew traces the legal line from Abraham (as any Jew would) through David, then through Solomon (the . royal. line) to Joseph, the legal father of Jesus3.
On the other hand, Luke, as a physician, focuses on the humanity of Jesus and presents Him as the Son of Man. Luke traces the blood line from Adam (the first Man) through to David-- and his genealogy from Abraham through David is identical to Matthew's. But then after David, Luke departs from the path taken by Matthew and traces the family tree through another son of David (the second surviving son of Bathsheba), Nathan, down through Heli, the father of Mary, the mother of Jesus4.
One should also note the exception to the law which permitted inheritance through the daughter if no sons were available and she married within her tribe5.
The daughters of Zelophehad had petitioned Moses for a special exception, which was granted when they entered the land under Joshua.
I believe it was C.I. Scofield who first noted that the claims of Christ rely upon this peculiar exception granted to the family of Zelo-phehad in the Torah. Heli, Mary's father, apparently had no sons, and Mary married within the tribe of Judah. Jesus was born of the virgin Mary, of the house and lineage of David and carrying legal title to the line, but without the blood curse of Jeconiah. [I believe that every detail in the Torah -- and the entire Bible -- has a direct link to Jesus Christ. "The volume of the book is written of me." (Psalm 40:7) [For a more detailed discussion, watch for our new book, Cosmic Codes -- Hidden Messages from the Edge of Eternity, presently in publication.]
This was no afterthought or post facto remedy, of course. It was first announced in the Garden of Eden when God declared war on Satan: " 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."(Genesis 3:15)
The"Seed of the Woman" thus becomes one of the prophetic titles of the Messiah. This biological contradiction is the first hint -- in the early chapters of Genesis -- of the virgin birth.
John also presents a genealogy, of sorts, of the Pre-Existent One in the first three verses of his gospel6. The Prophet Micah also highlights this:" But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting."(Micah 5:2)
Another Christmas question:
Why Bethlehem? It is the Book of Ruth that links the line of David to Bethlehem. (See our audio book Ruth: The Romance of Redemption ) And who were the Magi? Very few really know the background of this famous-- yet misunderstood-- visit. Find out in The Christmas Story:What Really Happened.
This article was originally published in the
December 1998 Personal Update NewsJournal.
For a FREE 1-Year Subscription, click here.
Ruth 4:22; 2 Samuel 7:11-16.
Numbers 26:33; 27:1-11; 36:2-12; Joshua 17:3-6; 1 Chronicles 7:15.
|Posted on 9 December, 2011 at 17:45||comments (0)|
The Origins of our Christmas Traditions
by Chuck Missler
Each year at Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. After the New Year, we struggle to remember to add a year as we date our checks, which should remind us that the entire Western World reckons its calendar from the birth of the One who changed the world more than any other before or since.
Yet, it is disturbing to discover that much of what we have been taught about the Christmas season seems to be more tradition than truth.
When Was Jesus Born?
Most serious Bible students realize that Jesus was probably not born on December 25th. The shepherds had their flocks in open fields,1 which implies a date prior to October. Furthermore, no competent Roman administrator would require registration involving travel during the season when Judea was generally impassable.2
If Jesus wasn't born on December 25, just when was he born? Although the Bible doesn't explicitly identify the birthday of our Lord, many scholars have developed diverse opinions as to the likely birthday of Jesus. (It reminds one of the rabbinical observation: with two Jews, you have three opinions!) See our briefing, The Christmas Story: What Really Happened for more information.
Then Why December 25th?
The early Christian church did not celebrate Jesus' birth, and therefore the exact date was not preserved in festivals. The first recorded mention of December 25th is in the Calendar of Philocalus (A.D. 354), which assumed Jesus' birth to be Friday, December 25th, A.D. 1. This was subsequent to Constantine's Edict of Toleration in A.D. 313, which enabled the persecuted Christians to exchange the rags of hiding for the silks of the court. But the predictable expediency to adopt the inevitable cultural changes caused many of the former pagan rituals to be adapted to their new "Christian" trappings.
The date of December 25th, which was officially proclaimed by the church fathers in A.D. 440, was actually a vestige of the Roman holiday of Saturnalia, observed near the winter solstice, which itself was among the many pagan traditions inherited from the earlier Babylonian priesthood.3
All forms of occultic practices have their origins in the original city of Babylon. Isaiah Chapter 47 clearly brings this out. Most of what we associate with pagan Rome had its origins in ancient Babylon. Babylon is mentioned in over 300 references in the Bible; it is even alluded to three times in Christ's own genealogy.
The Tammuz Legend
Tammuz, the son of Nimrod and his queen, Semiramis, was identified with the Babylonian Sun God and worshipped following the winter solstice. As the days became shorter and shorter through the winter, they become the shortest at the winter solstice, about December 22-23. Tammuz was thought to have died during the winter solstice, and was memorialized by burning a log in the fireplace. (The Chaldean word for infant is yule. This is the origin of the "yule log.") His "rebirth" was celebrated by replacing the log with a trimmed tree the next morning. Sound familiar? (Jeremiah 10 contains an interesting verse which talks about trimming trees, etc.)
There are numerous other examples. The wassail bowl, the mistletoe (a fertility rite), and others are documented in such works as Alexander Hislop's, The Two Babylons. When Babylon was conquered by subsequent empires, this entire religious system was transplanted, first to Pergamos under the Persians, and then to Rome. As the pagan Roman (Babylonian) religious system was integrated with Christian ceremonial observances, many of our current traditions surrounding Christmas emerged. And it appears that an "ecumenical" integration of all the world's religions, including the ancient Babylonian occult forms that presently masquerade as the "New Age," is destined to be the final religious climax.
The Throne of David
There is another aspect to keep in mind this Christmas season. As we recall the prophecy in Micah that prescribes that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem, notice the entire verse:
But thou, Bethlehem ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.
Also, as we recall that other familiar prophecy in Isaiah, note again the whole verse:
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the Throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever.
The "Throne of David" is not just an Old Testament concept. Remember the Angel Gabriel's promise to Mary:
And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
But did Jesus ever actually sit on David's throne? He couldn't have. It didn't exist at that time. Jeconaiah was the last of David's line to sit on the throne. (Remember, the blood curse on his line.4) Herod, appointed by the Romans, was an Edomite ("Idumean"). He wasn't even Jewish.
At the moment, Jesus is sitting on His Father's Throne. The question is, will He ever sit on David's throne? Will the promise that Gabriel announced to Mary also be fulfilled? Of course. (And it may be sooner than we think.)
Keeping Christ in Christmas
Christians today tend to fight the ongoing secularization of their holidays. Some have rejected anything to do with them, saying they are not Biblically ordained. Others have tried to go back to keeping the Jewish feasts instead. It should be pointed out that the New Testament doesn't really ordain anything other than the Lord's Supper. But it does not prohibit it either, and under grace Christians are free to honor different days if they wish.
Those families who want to keep Christ as the center of Christmas may find it easier to do by understanding the various symbols that have been used to celebrate Christ's birth through the ages and using them to retain the uniqueness inherent in the mystery of the incarnation: the birth of the Son of God. For instance, at Christmas we remember the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh presented by the Magi.5 These prophetic gifts celebrated his deity, priesthood, and death. When He returns to establish His kingdom, He will be presented only with gold and frankincense.6 There will be no myrrh: His death is now behind Him.
Let's make this season a real celebration. What are you giving Him this Christmas? Is there something in your life He would like to see you part with?
* * *
This article was originally published in the
December 2004 Personal Update NewsJournal.
For a FREE 1-Year Subscription, click here.
Alexander Hislop, The Two Babylons, Loizeaux Brothers, Neptune NJ, 1916.
**RELATED ARTICLES FROM KOINONIA HOUSE**
A Christmas Issue: Why a Virgin Birth? - Chuck Missler
A Christmas Anticipation Who Were the Magi? - Chuck Missler
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The Christmas Story - The Birth Of The Messiah
What really happened in Bethlehem two thousand years ago?
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What does a Christmas Tree have to do with it?
|Posted on 9 December, 2011 at 17:40||comments (0)|
A Message by Billy Graham
Once again the world celebrates Christmas in the midst of crisis. Millions are not certain they will survive to see another Christmas. In many parts of the world, Christmas carolers will stand outside their neighbors’ doors and sing “Silent Night! Holy Night!” Everyone is busily preparing for the holiday season.
Yet, in the midst of this preparation, millions have missed the real meaning of Christmas.
In the midst of the Christmas rush, Christ is often left out as we forget that it is actually His birthday we are celebrating. The precise meaning of that first Christmas is clear: God came to earth in human form.
Some 2,000 years ago, the angel revealed to the wondering and trembling shepherds the glorious news that there was born that day “in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). The angel had already announced to Joseph the character of Christ’s Saviorhood: “You shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).
Israel had looked for One who would deliver them from the bondage of Rome and restore the nation to an even greater glory and prosperity than was enjoyed in the days of King David. They never dreamed that this little Babe in Bethlehem’s manger was the anointed One, the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Only a few devout people living in close communion with God, such as the aged Simeon, saw the spiritual significance of Christ’s birth. Looking into the face of the holy Babe, Simeon saw One who had come to be “a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of [God’s] people Israel” (Luke 2:32).
There is a story that comes to us out of the World War II years in England. A good mother tried daily to keep the memory of her young son’s father fresh in the boy’s mind. Often this mother would take the lad into the library of their home, and there they would stand and gaze at the beautiful portrait of his father. One day the young boy looked long and wistfully at his father’s picture and said to his mother, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Father could just step down out of the frame?”
For long centuries the children of God had walked in the light of the lawgiver and of the prophets, but all the while they had looked up to Heaven and longed to have God step down “out of the frame.” In Bethlehem 2,000 years ago, that is just what God did. He became bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh and “dwelt among us.” The Christmas message is this: “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself” (2 Corinthians 5:19).
But because people were blind to their sins, they saw no beauty in Christ that they should desire Him. They crucified the Christ who yearned to save them from their sins and from the tragic consequences that inevitably followed their rejection of God’s anointed.
Human nature has not changed. We like the excitement and thrill of Christmas, but we reject the true meaning of Christ’s birthday.
The world’s primary need today is the Savior—salvation from sin. Failure to recognize this fact and receive God’s remedy for sin is the reason mankind has failed to prevent recurring wars and revolutions in the world. The best schemes and endeavors of people come to naught because within their hearts is lust for position, power and possessions.
Jesus Christ said, “Out of the heart … proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness” (Mark 7:21-22). Until these things are rooted out, the world in a moral and a spiritual sense will go backward rather than forward.
Many have preached about the Sermon on the Mount as though that in itself is a sufficient dynamic to bring a new world order of peace and goodwill among men. All the religions of the world say, “Do good; do good,” but they do not give us the power to do good. One of the failures of many church leaders is their refusal to believe that our deepest problem is sin. We have joined hands with the idealists of the world in trying to bring about social reform without first dealing with the root of the problem, which is sin.
Many people have failed to see that the human will is sin-bound, egotistical and in rebellion against the will of God. We think that in some particular “ism” we hold the secret to universal peace and prosperity. All religions and ideologies outside God’s special revelation in the Bible have this in common: They are disguised forms of self-redemption and Christ rejection.
Without God we cannot put the world right because we cannot put ourselves right. It is beyond us to put away the sin in our own hearts. We cannot save ourselves, let alone the whole world. Sin permeates all that we think, feel and do; like a shadow, sin pursues us wherever we go. It is part and parcel of our being; we cannot eradicate it.
The evils that curse the world are the consequences of hearts deceived by the devil and separated from God. Thousands of human schemes for social and political improvement will ultimately fail because they do not deal with a person’s basic disease. They change the circumstances, but they leave the person untouched. They alter the surroundings, but they have no power to transform the character. If mankind is to be saved in this terrible hour of history, if the world is to be transformed, then salvation must come from a source outside ourselves.
Christmas emphasizes the glorious truth that salvation is provided apart from us, that into this sin-cursed world came One whose supreme mission is to save sinners.
We cannot save ourselves because we cannot deliver ourselves from the guilt, the power and the consequences of sin. Those in rebellion against God have no terms of peace to offer that are acceptable to God. Only God Himself can make peace, and this He has done through the atoning sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ. Through the merits of Christ’s life and death, we are offered full and free forgiveness.
Christmas tells us what it cost God to save the world: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16). Christ is God’s great Christmas Gift to the world: “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15). Christ does for us what no other has been able to do: He removes our guilt and reconciles us to God. He raises us from the death of sin to the life of righteousness. He reconciles us to life and to our fellow man. He implants within us new hopes, new aims, new enthusiasms. He regenerates our affections, our desires and our energies, and strengthens our wills.
Beautiful, ethical precepts cannot save us, but Christ can. When Christ comes into a life, He revolutionizes it so that the person becomes a “new creation.” This, and this alone, is our hope.
This hope that was given to those shepherds on that first Christmas morning is available only to those who believe. To know the pardon, joy, peace and power that come through Christ, we must personally receive Christ by faith. Faith must be real if our hearts are to be changed. Mere intellectual assent is not enough. Where faith is genuine, its influence is powerful and revolutionary. This Christmas many people believe that Jesus is the Son of God, without any change happening in their lives. They have never repented and believed. What an astounding change would take place if the millions who profess to be Christians possessed genuine faith.
When we have genuine faith in Christ, a change takes place. We will have a new kind of relationship with our families, our employers, our employees and even our enemies.
Many people ask, “Why doesn’t this revolution happen to more people?” It is because millions of professing Christians are strangers to the genuine, saving faith that means coming to the end of ourselves, to the end of our self-reliance and self-righteousness, and then trusting absolutely in Christ for forgiveness, for moral and spiritual renewal.
The Christmas angels praised God and proclaimed peace on earth. It was by and through Jesus Christ that peace was to come to the earth. Scripture says, “He Himself is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14). All else is confusion, discord and disorder. Jesus Christ is life’s integrator. He is humanity’s harmonizer, the race’s reconciler, the world’s peace-giver: “For there is born to you this day … a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11).
Many of you long for peace in your own hearts this Christmas. You can meet God at the foot of the cross and find the peace that you have sought for so long. You ask, “What do I have to do?” Repent of your sins. By faith receive Christ as your Savior and Lord and Master. Commit your life to Him. He will come into your heart, and this Christmas you can know the Christ of Christmas. ©1991 BGEA
|Posted on 21 August, 2010 at 8:59||comments (2)|
Borrowed from this site -- http://www.billygraham.org/articlepage.asp?articleid=1082
May 1, 2009 - The Holy Spirit can come and indwell you right now. You can start over again. You can become brand-new, with the Holy Spirit pulsating spiritual life through you and in you. The Bible says, “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them” (Ezekiel 36:27). It is impossible to understand the Bible, Christian living, the structure of the church or our own relationship with God without understanding the Person and work of the Holy Spirit.
We should always be conforming more to the image of Jesus Christ, and it is the Holy Spirit who helps us in this growing process.
by Billy Graham
The Holy Spirit is not an “it.” The Holy Spirit is a Person. The Bible says that He is not something, He is Someone. He is God. There are three Persons in the Trinity—God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit is all-powerful. We read in Micah 3:8, “I am full of power by the Spirit of the Lord.” The Bible says that God is present everywhere. No matter where we go, He is there. “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?” (Psalm 139:7). The Holy Spirit can be in both your heart and my heart, even though we may live a thousand miles apart.
The Holy Spirit has all knowledge. The Bible says, “The Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10). It is the Holy Spirit who teaches us and takes us deeper and deeper into God’s truth as we go along in our Christian life. We are to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ, but we can grow only by the help of the Holy Spirit.
The moment that we receive Christ as Savior, the Holy Spirit comes to live in our hearts. Our body becomes the temple of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit helps us live the Christian life. There is not a person anywhere who can be a Christian without the Holy Spirit. There is not a person who can follow Christ without the help of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit sees everything that goes on. He knows what goes on in our hearts. He knows what goes on in our minds. Nothing is hidden from Him. And in Hebrews 9:14 the Bible says that the Holy Spirit is eternal.
The Spirit is called holy. The Bible says, “Be holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). And one of the Holy Spirit’s ministries is to help make us holy. We ought to be more holy today than we were yesterday. We should always be conforming more to the image of Jesus Christ, and it is the Holy Spirit who helps us in this growing process.
Conviction of Sin
First, the work of the Holy Spirit is to convict us of our sin. Jesus said, “And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:8). The Holy Spirit uses a mother’s prayers, a tragic experience, a pastor’s sermon or some other experience to convict us of sin and of our need to turn our lives over to Jesus Christ. He points to us and says, “You are a sinner. You need to repent.” We don’t like to hear that, but that is the work of the Holy Spirit. Without that work we could never have our sins forgiven. We could never be saved. We could never go to Heaven.
Second, the Holy Spirit gives new life. The Bible says that we are dead in sins and trespasses. Our spirit within us, made in the image of God, is dead toward God. Mankind needs life. All have sinned. Therefore, all are dead toward God. The Holy Spirit gives us new life in Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). You must be born again. And the Holy Spirit is the One who does the work of making you a born-again person. It is a supernatural act.
Paul said to Titus, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). Our good works and all the good things that we have done are not going to save us. We are saved by the mercy of God, by the grace of God. It is something I didn’t earn, something I didn’t work for. It is the gift of God, the gift of salvation.
Third, the Holy Spirit indwells us. Many of you are spiritually dead and are completely immersed in our hedonistic culture. God says, “I will put my Spirit in you. I will come to live in you.” Your body becomes the temple where God dwells by His Holy Spirit.
That is the reason we should never take anything unclean into our bodies. That is the reason we should discipline our bodies. God loves your body. He doesn’t want it polluted by fleshly lusts and the things to which you give yourself. The Bible says, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16).
Power to Serve Christ
Fourth, the Holy Spirit gives you power to serve Christ. “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me” (Acts 1:8). I couldn’t do the work I am doing without the power of the Holy Spirit. I am a communicator of God’s message. He called me and gave me that gift. What counts is the message that—according to Scripture—Christ died for our sins, He rose again, He is coming back again and He is ready to come into your heart by the Holy Spirit and make you a new person. That is the Gospel.
The Holy Spirit produces the fruit of the Spirit, which is “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). There are people whom you may not be able to love easily. But the Holy Spirit will give you the power to love them. Love is the greatest evidence that you know Christ. The Holy Spirit can love through you.
There are times I feel that I don’t have joy, and I get on my knees and say, “Lord, where is the fruit of joy in my life?” I find that the joy is there, down deep. It is a deep river. Whatever the circumstances, there is a river of joy.
The peace that passes understanding comes from the Holy Spirit. Whatever the circumstances, I have peace in my heart. I know where I am going, I know where I have been. And I know why I am here—by the Holy Spirit.
Do you know Christ? The Holy Spirit comes to magnify, to glorify and to exalt the Son. Jesus said the Holy Spirit shall not speak of Himself. He comes to magnify the Lord Jesus Christ. He comes to glorify Jesus Christ (John 16:13-14). And the Holy Spirit is pleased when you glorify Christ in your life.
It is the Holy Spirit who draws you to Christ. It is the Holy Spirit who convicts you of your need of Christ. There is only one way of salvation, and that is Christ. It is a dangerous thing to resist the Spirit. “Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?” (Hebrews 10:28–29).
I am asking you to give in to the call of the Holy Spirit. I am asking you to say, “I want Christ in my life, to be my Lord and my Savior.” I know thousands of churchgoers who need to come to Christ, led by the Holy Spirit. You need to say, “I want Christ in my heart.” Say, “I want to know I am going to Heaven. I want my sins forgiven. I want to start a new life.” d: