The Redeemer Of Job: Part One-The Identity Of The Redeemer

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist) 

Quotation For Contemplation 

“The most significant question, however, is the third one: what kind of Savior do we need? Or to put it another way, what kind of man does the universe need? The more I have bashed my head against the text of Job year after year, the more deeply convinced I have become that the book ultimately makes no sense without the obedience of Jesus Christ, his obedience to death on a cross. Job is not everyman; he is not even every believer. There is something desperately extreme about Job. He foreshadows one man whose greatness exceeded even Job’s, whose sufferings took him deeper than Job, and whose perfect obedience to his Father was only anticipated in faint outline by Job. The universe needed one man who would lovingly and perfectly obey his heavenly Father in the entirety of his life and death, by whose obedience the many would be made righteous (Romans 5:19).” (Christopher Ash (Edited by Kent Hughes), Preaching The Word: Job, 21 (Kindle Edition); Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway)

One of the most powerful Messianic passages in the Book of Job is found in chapter nineteen. There, Job exclaims: 

Job 19:25-27-25 For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth;

26 And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God,

27 Whom I shall see for myself, And my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!

Identifying The Redeemer 

What exactly does the word “redeemer” mean?

“It is interesting that the writer uses the word redeemer rather than deliverer or savior….Yet a redeemer is someone who pays a price in your behalf. The word in Hebrew is go’al which is an avenger, one who pays a ransom, to redeem one from slavery. It is used for a kinsman redeemer who was to marry his brother’s widow to bring forth a child for him….It is saying that Job knew he had a redeemer and from the context he was not looking to any normal human being to be his redeemer. He was looking for a redeemer from his sins and that fits only one person in the human form and that would be the Messiah, who I believe is Jesus. He knew it; he was intimate in that knowledge that one day a redeemer would come who would pay the price for his sins and that he was not suffering now because of some sin that his buddies were trying to lay upon him. He could not explain the reason for his suffering, but he knew one thing. It was not because of any sin he committed, for there would be a redeemer who would one day ransom him from that sin.” (Chaim Bentorah, Hebrew Word Study: Ancient Biblical Words Put Into A Modern Context With The Help Of The People Who Ride My Bus, 10-11 (Kindle Edition); Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Hartline Literary Agency)

We see here that the Redeemer is One Who pays a price. In the context of this passage, we see that the Redeemer of Job must be God-for only God can pay the price for Job’s suffering!  

Yet, Job describes God as the One Who still “stand at last on the earth.” However, Job knows (as do his friends) that God is Spirit. We read for example: 

Job 26:13-By His Spirit He adorned the heavens; His hand pierced the fleeing serpent.

Job 33:4-The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

By these statements, it is clear that the patriarchs understood God to be Spirit, not flesh (cf. Luke 24:39).

How then could God stand upon the earth? After all, it is generally understood that a spirit does not have flesh and blood. As Jesus points out:

Luke 24:39-Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.”

It seems that Job is identifying his Redeemer as God, yet as separate from God.

Apart from an understanding of the Bible doctrine of the Trinity, this would make no sense.

Indeed, there are indications from the Old Testament that the saints had some understanding of the Bible teaching of the Godhead.  

The Angel Of The Lord 

One of the most powerful indicators that the people of God understood that there is a plurality within the Godhead is seen from the teachings of the Old Testament Scriptures regarding THE ANGEL OF THE LORD.

Carefully consider the following passages of Scripture: Genesis 16:7-13; 31:11-13; 32:24-30 with Hosea 12:3-4; Genesis 48:15-16; Exodus 3:1-6; 13:2-22 with 14:19; 23:20 with 33:14; Joshua 5:13-15 with Revelation 19:10; Judges 6:11-13; 13:3, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 15, 16, 17-18, 21-23.

Speaking of the identity of The Angel Of The Lord, Edward Myers points out:

“The angel of the Lord is identified with God himself, so he must be a manifestation of God and not just a created angel. There are several reasons why we believe this to be the correct understanding. First, the grammatical construction of the expression “the angel of the Lord” has special significance. From Weingreen’s Grammar of Hebrew Language we learn that a noun in the construct state never takes an article. So, “Malach Elohim,” or “angel of the Lord,” without the article, would mean “an” angel of the Lord. However, the scriptural references to the angel of the Lord read “Malach Ha Elohim,” which means “the” angel of the Lord. Therefore, the reference is to one specific angel. Second, the people to whom the angel of the Lord appears acknowledge him as the Lord….Third, the angel of the Lord accepts sacrifices and worship offered to him….Created angels do not accept worship….The writers of the Old Testament identify the angel of the Lord with God, as we have seen in Judges 6: 12-16; Exodus 14: 19, 13: 21. So our first conclusion is that the angel of the Lord is identified with God Himself….Not only is there identification with God, there is differentiation from God. That would mean that the angel of the Lord is distinguished from the Lord….The angel of the Lord was a manifestation of the eternally preexistent Logos, who was with God from the beginning, who was God, and who was later made flesh….He must have been deity. Since he is identified with the Lord and yet differentiated from the Lord, our conclusion is that he is the pre-incarnate Logos.” (Edward P. Myers, A Study Of Angels, 71-76 (Kindle Edition); New York; Howard Books) 

Michael Heiser has well written of the Old Testament whispers of a Godhead: 

“The fact that the Old Testament at times has Yahweh appearing in visible form should now be on your radar. We’re going to see a lot more of him (pun intended). One of my favorite passages that features Yahweh made visible is 1 Samuel 3 , the story of the young soon-to-be prophet, Samuel….I was amazed the first time I saw this passage for what it was really saying. Yahweh “appeared” to Samuel with regularity in verse 21 . The first verse of the chapter makes a clear association between the Word of the Lord and a visionary experience—not a mere auditory event. The idea of the visible Word—the visible Yahweh—in human form is nailed down by the “standing” language. Some passages go beyond presenting Yahweh in visible, human form. Genesis 18 is perhaps the most startling example where Yahweh is not only visible, but embodied….One final example from the Old Testament of an embodied Yahweh who is the “Word” is far less known, but no less dramatic. In Jeremiah 1 the prophet is called to service. He writes that “The word of Yahweh” came to him and said, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you came out from the womb I consecrated you; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah identifies this Word as Yahweh himself when he replies, “Ah, Lord Yahweh! I do not know how to speak, for I am a youth” (v. 6 ). Yahweh—the Word—tells him to not be afraid, and then something shocking happens. Jeremiah writes in verse 9 that Yahweh, the Word, “stretched out his hand and he touched my mouth.” Sounds don’t reach out and touch people. This is the language of a physical, embodied presence….What we’ve begun to uncover in this chapter are whispers of the idea of a Godhead—in the Old Testament, the Bible of Judaism. Those whispers will get much louder as we continue….The startling reality is that long before Jesus and the New Testament, careful readers of the Old Testament would not have been troubled by the notion of, essentially, two Yahwehs—one invisible and in heaven, the other manifest on earth in a variety of visible forms, including that of a man. In some instances the two Yahweh figures are found together in the same scene . In this and the chapter that follows, we’ll see that the “Word” was just one expression of a visible Yahweh in human form. 1 The concept of a Godhead in the Old Testament has many facets and layers….The first thing to notice is that when the angel of Yahweh speaks to Abraham, Abraham recognizes the voice. He does not ask the identity of the speaker, as though the voice is unfamiliar. He does not fear that he is harkening to the voice of another god. The reader, however, knows that the source is not Yahweh per se, but the angel of Yahweh. The word translated “angel” here is the Hebrew word mal’ak , which simply means “messenger.” The next observation is very important. The Angel speaks to Abraham in verse 11 , and so is distinguished from God. But immediately after doing so, he commends Abraham for not withholding Isaac “from me .” There is a switch to the first person which, given that God himself had told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac ( Gen 22:1–2 ), seems to require seeing Yahweh as the speaker….Genesis 26:1–5 marks Yahweh’s first visible appearance to Isaac (“And Isaac went … to Gerar … and Yahweh appeared to him”)….In verse 15 Yahweh promises protection for Jacob and pledges to bring the man back to this location, the land promised to Abraham. Jacob names the place Bethel, “house of God” (v. 19 ), and erects a pillar to commemorate his conversation with Yahweh (vv. 18–19 ). Jacob saw the visible Yahweh at Bethel. Given what we’ve already seen in Genesis, this isn’t unusual….Genesis 32:28–29 makes it apparent that the “man” with whom Jacob wrestled was a divine being. The mysterious combatant himself says “you have striven with elohim ,” a term we know can be translated either “God” or “a god.” The narrative nowhere says Jacob’s encounter was only a vision. This elohim is tangible and corporeal. Hosea 12:3–4 confirms the divine identity of Jacob’s opponent—but then adds two surprising details. 5 Note the way Hosea uses parallelism to express the thought: 3 In the womb he [Jacob] deceived his brother, and in his manhood he struggled [Hebrew, sarah ] with God [ elohim ]. 4 He struggled [Hebrew, yasar ] with the angel and prevailed: he pleaded for his mercy. He met him at Bethel, and there he spoke with him. 6 Not only does Hosea describe Jacob’s elohim opponent as an angel, but the last line of this quotation identifies this angel with Bethel ….We’ve seen this “confusion” of God with an angel before. It is deliberate. The point is not that Yahweh, the God of Israel, is a mere angel. The reverse is the case. This angel is Yahweh . We have one more passage to consider. The way it fuses Yahweh and the angel is nothing short of amazing. Genesis 48 records Jacob’s deathbed words of blessing to Joseph’s children. The passage references the God who had appeared to him at Bethel, who, readers know from Genesis 31:13 , is called an angel. It’s all set up for the thunderbolt in the section in bold below (vv. 15–16 )…The parallel position of elohim and mal’ak (“angel”) is unmistakable. Since the Bible very clearly teaches that God is eternal and existed before all things, and that angels are created beings, the point of this explicit parallel is not to say that God is an angel. On the other hand, it affirms that this angel is God. 9 But the most striking feature is the verb (“may he bless”). In Hebrew, the verb “bless” in this passage is not grammatically plural , which would indicate two different persons are being asked to bless the boys. Rather, it is singular , thereby telegraphing a tight fusion of the two divine beings on the part of the author. In other words, the writer had a clear opportunity to distinguish the God of Israel from the angel, but instead merges their identities….When the biblical text does this, it pushes us to wonder whether there are two Yahwehs, one invisible in heaven and one visible on earth. We’ll see next that this is precisely the point. The God of Israel is God, but in more than one person.” (Michael Heiser, The Unseen Realm: Recovering The Supernatural Worldview Of The Bible, 2403-2617 (Kindle Edition); Bellingham, WA; Lexham Press) 

Other passages in the Old Testament also provide hints of plurality within the Godhead: 

Psalm 45:6-7-6 Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom. 7 You love righteousness and hate wickedness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of gladness more than Your companions. 

Psalm 110:1-A Psalm of David. The LORD said to my Lord,”Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”

Isaiah 48:16-Come near to Me, hear this: I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; From the time that it was, I was there. And now the Lord GOD and His Spirit Have sent Me.”

The Redeemer Who Lives

Notice that Job describes this Redeemer as the One Who “lives.” One of the characteristics of the God described in Scripture is His everlasting and eternal Nature. He is the “I AM (Exodus 3:14). He is the God Who always has lived, is living, and Who always will live. He is from “everlasting to everlasting” (Psalm 90:2). Death can have no part of God; for He is the very Essence of life (John 1:1-5).  

The Redeemer Who Would Pay The Price 

Job did not understand why he was suffering, as he made clear throughout his Book. However, he had faith that one day, his Redeemer would pay the price for him and help him to understand the answers to the questions that he had. He did not understand the WHY at the time, but he knew (and further learned) that he could trust in God to help him understand and to take care of him.  

In this, we see another powerful lesson from the Book of God for us when we are suffering: we can trust in God to take care of us when we don’t understand the “why” in our struggles. As Paul wrote:

2 Timothy 1:12-For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.

God promised Ezekiel the Prophet that one day, he would understand why God had brought such terrible punishments upon the people of Israel:

Ezekiel 14:23 (ERV)-You will see how they live and all the bad things they do. Then you will know that I had a good reason for punishing them.” This is what the Lord GOD said.

Let us, like Job, trust in our Redeemer. He came and paid the price for our sins to redeem us (2 Timothy 2:24-26). He was buried, and arose from the dead on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). Shouldn’t we respond to His Gospel today?  

To non-Christian believers, God’s Word declares: 

Acts 2:38-Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 

To Christians who have turned from the Lord, we are told:

1 John 1:9-If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.  

Study Questions 

What are two Old Testament passages which clearly reference the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit? _____________________________________________

List some passages which identify The Angel Of The Lord with God. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Regular angels of God do not accept __________________, but The ____________ ____ ______ _______________ does.  

What doesn’t a spirit have? ____________________________________

What is the meaning of the Hebrew word GO’AL? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________
For Prayer Partners: 

In what ways is Boaz an example of a redeemer? Discuss in particular the tragic situation of Ruth, and how Boaz “redeemer.

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Job And The Afterlife: The Descent Of Christ Into Hades #1 Ephesians 4:8-10 (Part One)

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist) 

Quotation For Contemplation 

“The most significant interpretational difficulty in this verse is in deciding what “the lower parts of the earth” refers to. The view of the early church fathers and the consensus view through the centuries has been that it refers to a descent of Christ to the underworld (or, Hades). Although a difficult issue, this view appears to have the greatest amount of evidence to support it.” (Clinton E. Arnold, Exegetical Commentary On The New Testament: Ephesians, 6714 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan)

Introduction 

In our studies of Job, we have learned a great deal about the subject of Hades. A brief summary will be helpful: 

The realm of departed spirits in the Old Testament was referred to as Sheol (Hebrew) or Hades (Greek).  

Sheol was a place of consciousness, memory, and various sensations.  

Sheol was divided into (at least) two sections.  

For The Saved: Sheol was a lush garden in which God’s people were reunited after death, and in which they enjoyed sweet fellowship and looked forward to being ransomed from this realm at the end of time by the Messiah.  

For The Unsaved: Sheol was a terrible place of suffering, of which the unsaved experienced pain and sorrow. This sorrow and pain, however, was borne from God’s desire to bring the wicked to repentance.  

Sheol was the world for (most) deceased humans, (some) fallen angels, and (many) of the nephilim.  

It is also clear that not all of humanity went to this realm (at least, not immediately); and that, for reasons unbeknownst to us, some were allowed to leave that realm.  

With these thoughts in mind, we will now turn to one of the most mysterious teachings of the Bible regarding this world of the dead: the teaching of the Scriptures that Jesus descended into Hades.  

There are five primary texts which set forth this teaching (Psalm 68:18; Romans 10:6-7; Ephesians 4:8-10; 1 Peter 3:18-20; 4:6). As we will notice, however, there are other texts in the Bible which touch upon this theme.  

In the following two lessons, we will carefully examine Paul’s statement to the church of Ephesus (4:8-10). A study of this passage will also lead to a detailed analysis of Psalm 68:18 and Romans 10:6-7. These lessons will take the form of several “Questions And Answers” from the text.  

Let’s begin with a study of several different translations of the passage.  

Ephesians 4:8-10 (NKJV)-8 Therefore He says: “WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH, HE LED CAPTIVITY CAPTIVE, AND GAVE GIFTS TO MEN.”

9 (Now this, “HE ASCENDED”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth?

10 He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)

Ephesians 4:8-10 (CEV)-8 As the Scriptures say, “When he went up to the highest place, he led away many prisoners and gave gifts to people.”

9 When it says, “he went up,” it means that Christ had been deep in the earth.

10 This also means that the one who went deep into the earth is the same one who went into the highest heaven, so that he would fill the whole universe.

Ephesians 4:8-10 (Young’s Literal Translation)-8 wherefore, he saith, ‘Having gone up on high he led captive captivity, and gave gifts to men,’ —

9 and that, he went up, what is it except that he also went down first to the lower parts of the earth?

10 he who went down is the same also who went up far above all the heavens, that He may fill all things—

Ephesians 4:8-10 (Amplified)-8 Therefore it is said, When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive [He led a train of  N1 vanquished foes] and He bestowed gifts on men. [Psa 68:18]

9 [But He ascended?] Now what can this, He ascended, mean but that He had previously descended from [the heights of] heaven into [the depths], the lower parts of the earth?

10 He Who descended is the [very] same as He Who also has ascended high above all the heavens, that He [His presence] might fill all things (the whole universe, from the lowest to the highest).

Let’s turn to a detailed study of this passage in the form of a series of Questions And Answers.  

QUESTION ONE: What Is The Context Of Paul’s Statement Regarding Christ’s Descent? 

ANSWER: Paul is encouraging the Christians to pursue unity and to remember the spiritual gifts which they have been given.  

The Book of Ephesians was written by Paul with a very specific purpose and theme: to expound upon the church of Christ. The prevailing phrase throughout the Book is “in Christ,” which was a designation which had reference to the church. Paul is adamant that the purpose for Creation, and for redemption, is the establishment of the church (Ephesians 1:4-7; 9-11; 3:9-11). Indeed, this central theme of God in creating the church was to bridge all the divisions of the universe, including those of Jew and Gentile (Ephesians 2:14-16). Furthermore, the work of the church somehow involves preaching to the principalities and powers (Ephesians 3:9-11), which was Paul’s phrase to have reference to the angels (both those which are faithful to God and those which are opposed to Him). Evidence of this is found in the fact that the phrases “principalities and powers” were well-known Jewish terms of Paul’s day and age. As Clinton Arnold has pointed out: 

“While all three texts refer to the angelic hierarchy surrounding God’s throne, the Jews believed the same hierarchy existed in the kingdom of evil. Furthermore, many of these terms were commonly used to refer to various ranks of human leaders in governmental positions of authority. The angelic kingdom was widely believed to be structured in an analogous way to earthly political kingdoms….While “principalities” (archai) and “authorities” (exousiai) seem to be uniquely Jewish expressions for the unseen realm, many of the other words he used were also used by Gentiles to refer to the world of spirits and invisible powers. Words like “powers” (dynameis), “dominions” (kyriotetes), “thrones” (thronoi), “angels” (angeloi), “world rulers” (kosmokratores), “demons” (daimonia), “elemental spirits” (stoicheia) and “rulers” (archontes) were known and used by pagans, as evidenced in their magical and astrological texts.”” (Clinton E. Arnold, The Powers Of Darkness: Principalities & Powers In Paul’s Letters, 90-91 (Kindle Edition); Downers’ Grove, Illinois; InterVarsity Press) 

Speaking specifically of the role that God has assigned to the church as described in Ephesians 3:10 (either in the present age or the age to come) in regard to the principalities and powers, another author has written: 

“The church’s task is articulated here as preaching to the Powers. It is engaged in a kind of spiritual warfare, but it also has a mission that carries the truth of the gospel into the very heart of power and expects some result. Are we then to envisage the conversion of the Powers? What is the church to tell them? Where are “the heavenly places,” and how is the church to have access to Powers there? None of these questions is easily answered.” (Walter Wink, Naming The Powers: The Language Of Power In The New Testament, 1017 (Kindle Edition); Philadelphia, PA; Fortress Books) 

What has brought all of God’s plans for the church to fruition is what Jesus Christ accomplished at Calvary. This was the essence of God’s preordained plan to bring all things together, whether in Heaven or on Earth (Ephesians 1:9-11). It is by the Word of the Gospel the Ephesians had been redeemed from sin (Ephesians 1:13-14), and it is by that same Gospel that Christ has ascended far above the highest heaven (Ephesians 4:8-10) and taken His rightful place as the Head of the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him Who fills all in all (Ephesians 1:22-23).  

These mysteries had been hidden from the world at large before Christ came; yet now, through His New Testament revelation (Ephesians 3:1-4), we can have access to that wondrous knowledge and revelation of God. Because of what God has kept hidden, and now revealed, the world (both the physical world and the spiritual world) can come to fathom and understand the unsearchable riches of Christ (Ephesians 3:8). It is for these incredible truths that Paul prays the Christians will continue to grow and abound in the knowledge of Christ (Ephesians 1:14-23; 3:14-21), and which leads him to exhort the disciples to walk worthy of Christ (Ephesians 4:1-6). God has equipped His church with everything it will need to carry out its’ purpose of fellowship and preparation for eternity and the sharing of the Gospel message with the lost (Ephesians 6:10-20).  

Describing the fact that God has provided His church with everything which they need, Paul points out that He has given “gifts” to His church: 

Ephesians 4:11-12-11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,

12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,

It is in this context that Paul is going to explain where these gifts came from, and why they are so important to the theme of Christ’s victory at Calvary.  

QUESTION TWO: Why Does Paul Quote Psalm 68:18 In This Context?  

ANSWER: To draw upon a commonly understood Jewish tradition regarding a victorious king presenting gifts to his subjects from the enemies that he had conquered.  

The Apostle Paul is going to join together three important themes.  

First, he has been elaborating on the incredible things that Jesus has done in creating the church. It was in His atoning death, burial, and Resurrection on the third day, and His continual work in the lives of His people, that Jesus carried out this incredible mission (Ephesians 2:10; 5:22-31).  

Second, Paul is going to quote a passage from the Book of Psalms which prophesied the far-reaching implications of what Jesus accomplished at Calvary. Let’s carefully study the passage, and see how it applies to Paul’s point: 

Psalm 68:18-You have ascended on high, You have led captivity captive; You have received gifts among men, Even from the rebellious, That the LORD God might dwell there.

The passage in Psalms has reference to an ancient custom among the Hebrews (and other nations). When a king went out to fight some horrific battle and was victorious, he would capture the enemy soldiers and parade them behind him. Having his soldiers “loot” the enemy, the king would then lead the train back to his homeland. There, his citizens would be gathered together and would welcome him with shouts of adoration and glory. The king would then take the gifts he had taken from his enemies and shower them upon his faithful subjects.  

“As Paul quotes the passage, there is one noteworthy divergence from the Hebrew and Septuagint texts. Where they read “Thou hast received gifts among men,” he quotes the form “He … gave gifts unto men.” This reading is also attested in Jewish antiquity; it found its way into the Syriac version of the Old Testament (the Peshitta) and into the Targum or Aramaic paraphrase of the Psalter. The original picture is of a victorious king ascending the mountain of the Lord in triumphal procession, attended by a long train of captives, receiving tribute from his new subjects (according to the one reading) and bestowing largesse upon the crowds which line his processional route (according to the other reading). For Paul’s present purpose the reading which speaks of the conqueror as giving gifts is more appropriate than that which speaks of him as receiving them; but if this secondary reading had not been available to him the first would not have been unsuitable; the ascended Christ may well be pictured as receiving from His Father the gifts which he proceeds to bestow among men.” (The New F.F. Bruce, A New Presentation Of His Classic The Epistle To The Ephesians Verse-By-Verse Exposition-An Open Your Bible Project, 1346-1363 (Kindle Edition); Claverton Down, Bath BA2 6DT, UK; Creative Communications Ltd,) 

The differences between the quote in Psalm 68:18 and Paul’s quote of this passage is readily explained by the fact that Paul is quoting from a non-Hebrew translation of Psalms:

“A much more serious attempt to solve the dilemma takes its starting point from a variant form of the Old Testament textual tradition. The Syriac Peshitta rendering of Psalm 68: 18 is ‘you have given gifts’, and although there is difference of scholarly opinion as to its value as evidence, it may reflect a textual tradition different from that represented by the MT and the LXX. 1059 Furthermore, the paraphrase of Psalm 68: 18 in the Aramaic Targum is remarkable, for like the Peshitta it reads ‘you gave’ rather than ‘you received’ (as in the MT). It is unlikely that the New Testament wording of the passage has influenced the Targum, and although the Targum on the Psalms is late, it reflects a tradition and text form that are much earlier. 1060 M. Wilcox has cautiously concluded that the author of Ephesians ‘was here quoting either from, or in the light of, an Old Testament textual tradition resembling that of the Targum, but disagreeing with the tradition preserved in the LXX and MT at this point’.” (Peter T. O’Brien, The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Epistle To The Ephesians, 289-290 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company) 

“First, there were other forms of the text current in Paul’s day that read “you/ he gave gifts” instead of “you received gifts.” One is the Aramaic Targum of Psalm 68: 18, which reads, “You ascended to the firmament, O prophet Moses, you took captives, you taught the words of the law, you gave them as gifts to the sons of man.” 17 Although it is doubtful that Paul is depending on the entire Targum paraphrase of this psalm (see the “In Depth” section for analysis), the Targum does represent an alternative form of the text, namely, “he gave gifts,” that Paul may have been familiar with when he was writing Ephesians. The Aramaic was not the only form of the Psalms text that spoke of the giving of gifts. The Syriac translation of the Psalms also agrees with the text form of Ephesians: “You ascended on high; and you led captivity captive; and you gave gifts to the sons of men.” 18 This is a far less interpretive translation than the Targum and, apart from the Septuagint, is one of the oldest translations of the OT. It is likely that this text form of Psalm 68 existed in the first century before Ephesians was written and was thus not influenced by Eph 4: 8.19 In addition to this, most manuscripts in the Sahidic and Bohairic dialects of Coptic also have “he gave.” Furthermore, one Old Latin manuscript contains the same third person singular reading.” (Clinton E. Arnold, Exegetical Commentary On The New Testament: Ephesians, 6674 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan)

Paul is going to tie this in with what Jesus has accomplished. By virtue of the fact that Jesus descended into Sheol, He was able to take power from the captives there and shower it upon the church which He would build.  

Third, because of what Jesus has accomplished, He has given these gifts to His people. What are they? In the context of Ephesians 4, these gifts are specifically the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers (Ephesians 4:11). 

QUESTION THREE: Who Is “He” Who Ascended?

ANSWER: Jesus Christ 

There is a great deal of discussion about the original intent of Psalm 68. Messianic prophecy often is drawn from types and shadows. Chuck Missler has explained it well:

“In our culture, we tend to think of prophecy as a prediction with a future fulfillment. That’s what we think of as prophecy. That’s the Greek mindset, however. The Hebrew model is a little different. Hebrew prophecies about the future are based on patterns. As we study the Hebrew literature, we continually see patterns of the Messiah profiled in Israel….The Book of Ruth certainly has a historical application. The story describes a series of events that actually took place during the times of the Judges. We need to understand the historical period during which these events took place….We will also discover that Ruth has some prophetic applications. There are mystical revelations that might surprise us if we missed them at first glance. In Hebrew hermeneutics, the rabbis have what they call the remez –the hint of something deeper. We run across what appear to be small rabbit holes, but they open the door to another world of perspective.” (Dr. Chuck Missler, The Romance Of Redemption, 76-89 (Kindle Edition); Coeur d’Alene, ID; Koinonia House)

As such, the original context of Psalm 68 had reference to some battle in which God was victorious over His enemies. Some have suggested it was perhaps in reference to how David defeated some terrible king with the help of the Lord, or to how Moses himself ascended up to the top of Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments. The Jews have quite an interesting amount of traditions regarding this particular Psalm:

“The “therefore” clearly indicates that this parenthesis is related somehow to the giving of gifts. But what is that relationship? The problems begin with the citation of Psalm 68:18 itself, “You ascended the high mount, leading captives in your train and receiving gifts from people.” Psalm 68 is, according to the notes in the Oxford Annotated Bible, “the most difficult of the psalms to interpret.” The cited fragment, however, seems clearly to refer to God’s ascending to his throne in the temple and to a celebration of God’s victory over God’s enemies. The people, “even those who rebel against the LORD God’s abiding there” (as Ps. 68:18 continues), are forced to bring tribute to God. The victory may be a reference to some historical triumph during the time of David or to an anticipated eschatological triumph….Calvin knew of certain Jewish interpretations of this psalm that took it to refer not to God but to David, but he had less sympathy for those interpretations of Psalm 68 than he did for the reading of the psalm in Ephesians….There was evidently a tradition of interpretation that transferred to the son of David (whether to the current king or to the messianic king) attributes ascribed to God in the enthronement psalms. It was a small step from that transfer to understanding David to be the one who “ascended” in this psalm, going up “the high mountain” of Zion, in the aftermath of his triumph over his enemies to establish Jerusalem as a place for the throne of God, bringing the ark of God to Jerusalem. Psalm 68 does seem to invite liturgical celebration at the temple (see vs. 24–27), and worship at the temple would surely connect with the earlier image of the church as “a holy temple,” a “dwelling place for God” (Eph. 2:21, 22). There was, however, another tradition of interpreting this psalm that transferred what was said of God to Moses. In this tradition Moses is the one who ascended the high mount, and the mount is Sinai.23 That was evidently the view of a number of ancient Jewish interpreters, in part because the passage was read at the Jewish festival of Pentecost, celebrating the gift of the law. It found its way into the Targum on Psalm 68 (an Aramaic translation or paraphrase that was read in synagogue worship). The Targum not only identified Moses as the one who “ascended,” it also paraphrased “received gifts” as “you have learned the words of the Tora, you gave them as gifts to the sons of men.”24”. (Allen Verhey & Joseph S. Harvard, Ephesians: Belief-A Theological Commentary On The Bible, 159-160 (Kindle Edition); Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press) 

Whether the Psalm originally referred to Moses or David, there were definitely Messianic overtones to it.  

“Verse 6 is very fascinating when one studies the individual words, though none of the regular translations seem to recognize this. The word for “solitary” is the same word translated “darling” in Psalm 22:20 and Psalm 35:17. In the Greek Septuagint, “darling” is rendered by monogenes , meaning literally “only begotten.” The Hebrew for “families” is translated many different ways, most often “home,” and frequently “temple” or “palace.” The word for “setteth” is really “sets down” or “sits down.” Putting all this together, the first part of verse 6 might read: “God sets down His only begotten in His own home (or heavenly temple).” Following our previous inference that verse 1 refers ultimately to Christ’s resurrection, this ties in beautifully with such Scriptures as Ephesians 1:20: “[God] raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places.” Then the last part of verse 6 anticipates verse 18 (see below). When Christ rose from the dead, His Spirit returning from Sheol (or Hades), “He bringeth out those which are bound (that is, those who had died in faith, but had to remain in Hades until Christ became the sacrifice for their sins) into freedom.” The word for “chains” is actually “freedom” or “prosperity,” as many translations render it. In contrast, the ones who died still in rebellion against God must be left in the prison “a dry land” (literally, “parched land”; compare Luke 16:24).” (Henry M. Morris with Henry M. Morris III, Treasures In The Psalms:1240-1252 (Kindle Edition); Green Forest, AR; Master Books) 

In Ephesians 4, Paul makes specific reference of this passage to Christ.  
“He” Who ascended is “Christ” (Ephesians 4:7, 15).  

QUESTION FOUR: Where Did Christ “Ascend?”
 
ANSWER: Into Heaven

The text is very clear that Paul ascended to the highest Heaven. The Jews conceived of Heaven in at three different ways. There was the heavens in which the birds fly (Genesis 1:20), that is, our atmosphere. Second, there is the starry heavens (Psalm 19:1-5; 108:4). Finally, there is the “third heaven” (2 Corinthians 12:1-4). This is the very dwelling place of God, where Jesus ascended forty days after His resurrection (Acts 1:9-11). In Scripture, this place is also referred to as the “heaven of heavens” (1 Kings 8:27; 2 Chronicles 2:6; 6:18; Nehemiah 9:6; Psalm 68:33).  

QUESTION FIVE: Where Did Christ “Descend?” 

ANSWER: Christ Descended To The Realm Of Hades

Now, Paul is going to make the application that Christ not only ascended to the highest Heaven, but that He also descended to the “lower parts of the earth.” What does this phrase mean? Through the years, there have been three interpretations offered.  

First, some have suggested that the phrase “the lowest parts” of the earth refer simply to Earth itself. So, the idea is proposed that this passage is simply saying that Christ came to the Earth from Heaven and lived among humanity. This is certainly true, of course (Philippians 2:5-8; John 1:1, 14; 2 Corinthians 8:9), but as we shall see, this is not the meaning of the expression.  

Second, it has been suggested that this has reference very simply to His body being put in the grave at the time of His death. Again, this is certainly true (1 Corinthians 15:1-8), yet we will see that this is not the meaning of the phrase.  

The third interpretation which has been offered regarding this passage is that Paul is teaching that Jesus descended into Hades, the realm of the dead.

When we go back and study carefully, we see that this is the most obvious explanation.  

How do we know this?  

The Bible was not written in English. Instead, God gave His Word through the languages of Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic. By going back and studying the original languages of the Bible, we are able to better understand what the God of creation would have us to know.  

What we find is that, among the Jews of the first century (and long before),the phrase “lower parts of the earth” had specific reference to Hades.  

The first example of this evidence is seen in that the specific phrase “lower parts of the Earth” was used throughout the Greek translation of the Old Testament to refer to Sheol.  

“To say Christ descended to the “lower parts of the earth” seems to us different than saying that he descended to the earth. The language (katōtera merē tēs gēs) resembles the language that the Septuagint used to refer to Sheol, to the “underworld,” the realm of the dead.25 The Messiah descended into the realm of the dead by his death. He “was buried” (as the ancient confession in 1 Cor. 15:3–4 put it). He had descended “into the abyss” of death (Rom. 10:7). That is the presupposition for his resurrection from the dead and for his exaltation, his ascent, to his place at God’s right hand, far above the powers, including the power of death. The Messiah was dead. He was in the realm of the dead. And he took even our captivity to death captive. Even the power of death can no longer hold us captive or separate us from God (cf. 1 Cor. 15:24–26; Ps. 68:20). All those held captive by death find their release, their liberation, in this Jewish Messiah (Eph. 2:4–6).” (Allen Verhey & Joseph S. Harvard, Ephesians: Belief-A Theological Commentary On The Bible, 161-162 (Kindle Edition); Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press)

In the footnoted reference mentioned in the aforementioned section (footnote 25), we have the following: 

“See, e.g., Gen. 44:29; Pss. 63:9 (LXX 62:10); 139:15 (LXX 138:15); etc. See Buchsel, TDNT 3:641 n. 10.” (Allen Verhey & Joseph S. Harvard, Ephesians: Belief-A Theological Commentary On The Bible, 177 (Kindle Edition); Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press)

Second, the non-canonical writings of both the Jews and the Christians for centuries before and after the time of Christ used this phrase in the same way, e.g., to refer to Sheol.  

“The superlative adjective (), however, does appear a handful of times in the LXX, and its usage there does provide some helpful perspective for this passage. On three of the seven occasions of its use in the LXX, the genitive expression “of the earth” () modifies it. For instance, Ps 63: 9 [62: 10] reads, “those who seek my life … will go down to the depths of the earth ()” (see also Ps 139: 15 [138: 15]; Odes 12: 13 [= Prayer of Mannaseh 1: 13]). In none of these passages can the genitive be taken in apposition to “the lowest parts” as in views (1) and (3), “the lower parts, that is, the earth”; it can be viewed only as possessive or partitive, “the lower parts of the earth. The only place in Jewish literature where the comparative adjective () does appear is in the Greek Apocalypse of Ezra, a document that may be a Christian composition incorporating earlier Jewish apocalyptic traditions. In this document, Ezra asks God to see “the lower parts of Tartarus” (, 4: 5). 28 A retinue of angels then leads Ezra into lower and lower parts of the Abyss. There is no sign that this document has been influenced by the words of Ephesians. The document suggests that the language of “lower parts” would be readily understood in Jewish circles familiar with an apocalyptic worldview as referring to Hades, Tartarus, or the Abyss….The “lower parts of the earth” makes the most sense in its first-century religious context if it is interpreted as an expression for the underworld or Hades.” (Clinton E. Arnold, Exegetical Commentary On The New Testament: Ephesians, 6714-6739 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan) 

So, Paul is telling us very clearly (in language used by both the Hebrew and Greek Old Testament, as well as the Jewish and Christian terminology of his day and age) that Christ, at some point, personally descended into Sheol.  

QUESTION SIX: When Did Christ “Descend” Into Hades?  

ANSWER: Between His Death And Resurrection 

There are many facts which show us that it was during the time of His death on Calvary and His resurrection from the dead that Jesus descended into Sheol.  

First, Jesus Himself declared that when He died, He would go to Hades. While on the cross, He spoke to one of the thieves who was being crucified with Him and who had shown true faith and repentance. Jesus told him:

Luke 23:43-And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

Second, Hades is the realm of departed spirits, so of course, Christ went to Hades when He died.  

Third, in his Epistle to the Romans, Paul makes the point that Jesus descended into the deepest parts of Hades when He died:

Romans 10:6-7 (CEV)-6 But people whose faith makes them acceptable to God will never ask, “Who will go up to heaven to bring Christ down?”

7 Neither will they ask, “Who will go down into the world of the dead to raise him to life?”

Paul specifically ties together the time of Christ’s descent into the world of the dead with the timeframe of Christ’s death and resurrection (Romans 10:9-10).  

Jesus, at the time of His death and up to the time of His resurrection three days later, descended in the spirit to Sheol, the realm of the dead.  

Conclusion 

From our study, we have learned the following: 

In Ephesians 4, while describing how the eternal purpose of God in the church has been brought to fruition by what Christ accomplished at Calvary, the Apostle Paul clearly teaches that Jesus descended into Hades.  

Paul is clear that this descent of Christ to the lowest depths of Hades took place between the time of His death and resurrection three days later.  

The quotation of Paul from Psalms (68:18) shows that this Messianic prophecy had been fulfilled in what Christ accomplished in His descent into Hades and His ascension to Heaven; and that as a result of this, He had taken “captivity captive” and brought gifts to His church.  

Study Questions 

In Ephesians 4:8-10, Paul quotes Psalm 68:18 as saying that Christ “gave” gifts. Yet Psalm 68:18 actually reads that the Messiah “received” gifts. Why the different renderings? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

What are the three possible interpretations of the phrase “the lower parts of the earth?” ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

What is the meaning of the phrase, “the lower parts of the earth,” and how may we be certain of this? ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

What are the translations of the following Greek words?  

Archai: _______________________________

Exousiai: _____________________________

Dynameis: ____________________________

Kyriotetes: _____________________________

Thronoi: _______________________________

Angeloi: _______________________________

Kosmokratores: _________________________

Daimonia: _____________________________

Stoicheia: _____________________________

Archonetes: ____________________________

5. Which Scripture from the pen of Paul teaches that the church is somehow involved in preaching to angels? __________________________
For Prayer Partners: 
1. Consider the statement of Paul in Ephesians 4:8-10. Who did Christ preach to in Hades? What message did He preach?  

Teetotaler Timothy

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist) 

In our world, many teach that is acceptable for children of God to socially drink.  

One good friend of mine had told me that for years he had a problem with the Bible because he did not see how Jesus could truly be God and teach (by example) that it is alright to use drugs recreationally.  

This was after I had told my friend about a conversation that I had overheard one day at a local restaurant where several priests of a prominent denomination were sitting around talking about which kind of beer to order for their church’s upcoming festival. Shame on these priests!

I would like for you to consider with me the fascinating role that Timothy has in this discussion.  

Paul had left Timothy at Ephesus, in order to preach and teach the Word of God to the people (2 Timothy 4:2-4). It was very important that Timothy not allow others to proclaim false doctrines unchallenged (1 Timothy 1:5). Paul expresses his admiration and confidence in Timothy on several occasions. Timothy was a “true son in the faith” (1 Timothy 1:2, 18; 2 Timothy 1:2; 2:1). Indeed, Paul declared that Timothy was one who would sincerely care for others, and that he had served with Paul as a son with his father (Philippians 2:19-22). He was a brother and minister of God, and a fellow laborer with Paul and others in the Gospel of Christ (1 Thessalonians 3:2). Timothy had known Paul’s teachings, and the Apostle exhorted him to pay careful attention to hold the pattern of sound words that he had heard from him (2 Timothy 1:13), and to commit the Word of God to faithful men who would be able to teach it to others (2 Timothy 2:2).  

With these things in mind, it is fascinating to notice that Timothy was a total abstainer from alcoholic beverages; for Paul tells him: 

1 Timothy 5:23-No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach’s sake and your frequent infirmities.
Several things about this passage are worthy of notice.  

First, please observe that Timothy completely abstained from “wine.”

It is, of course possible that the “wine” here was simply unfermented grapejuice; after all, the recommendation of grapejuice for stomach ailments was well known in the ancient world.  For example: 

“It is generally assumed that the wine Paul recommended to Timothy was alcoholic. But this is by no means certain, for two reasons. First, because the term oinos (“ wine”), as we have shown, was used in a generic way to denote either fermented or unfermented wine. Second, because there are historical testimonies attesting the use of unfermented wine for medical purposes. Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) recommends the use of a sweet grape juice, called glukus in Greek, because, he says, “though called wine [oinos], it has not the effect of wine . . . and does not intoxicate like ordinary wine.” 7 Athenaeus, the Grammarian (A.D. 280), specifically counsels the use of unfermented “sweet wine” (glukon oinon) for stomach disorders. He writes: “Let him take sweet wine, either mixed with water or warmed, especially that kind called protropos, the sweet Lesbian glukus, as being good for the stomach; for sweet wine [oinos] does not make the head heavy.” 8 Here we have advice which sounds strikingly similar to that of Paul, with the difference that Athenaeus qualifies the kind of wine recommended, namely, the sweet wine, called “lesbian” because its alcoholic potency had been removed. A similar advice regarding the medical use of wine is given by Pliny (A. D. 79), a contemporary of Paul and author of the celebrated Natural History. He recommends using a boiled, unfermented wine called adynamon for sick persons “for whom it is feared that wine may be harmful.” 9 He also recommends to avoid the side effects of alcohol by using wines whose alcohol content had been removed through filtration: “Wines are most beneficial when all their potency has been overcome by the strainer.”” (Samuele Bacchiocchi, Wine In The Bible: A Biblical Study On The Use Of Alcoholic Beverages, 920-935 (Kindle Edition))

My personal belief is that Paul here is talking about fermented wine, due to his  encouragement to Timothy to take a “little” wine. Why would he offer that encouragement if this was not alcoholic wine in content? Either way, however, it becomes clear that the Word authorizes the use of alcohol (and by implication other drugs) for legitimate medicinal reasons (see below).  

Second, Paul’s encouragement to Timothy is to take a “little” wine as a medicinal remedy. Speaking of the use of this phrase, one author informs us:

“This verse is a personal word to Timothy about his stomach and his frequent ailments that follows after the previous direct word to him (v. 22). It may have been prompted by Paul’s knowledge that Timothy was drinking only water (the implication of the first part of v. 23), so that he might not become addicted to wine (3:3), as part of his attempt to keep himself pure (cf. Lk. 1:15; he might also have been influenced by the Nazirite vow of Nu. 6:1-4). Paul does not criticize his practice per se, but does encourage Timothy not to forego a little wine for medicinal purposes….Uiyos means “little” in terms of quantity. Paul carefully qualifies his recommendation of wine here by this word so that neither Timothy, nor any one, may misunderstand or misuse this statement (see Calvin); three of the other four Pauline occurrences of olvos (see above) have the same spirit of caution, and the fourth, Rom. 14:21, says that not drinking wine is better than causing one’s fellow Christian to stumble.” (George W. Knight III, The New International Greek Testament Commentary: The Pastoral Epistles-A Commentary On The Greek Text, 4143-4155 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company) 

Third, Paul pointed out that for Timothy to drink a “little” wine for his stomach’s sake was acceptable. The Bible has always authorized the legitimate medicinal use of drugs (cf. Isaiah 38:21-22; Luke 10:34; Colossians 4:14). Evaluating the commentary of the ancient Christians on this passage is beneficial.  

Chrysostom-“If one who had practiced fasting to such an extent and used only water, so long that he had brought on “infirmities” and “frequent infirmities,” is thus commanded to be chaste and does not refuse the admonition, much less ought we to be offended when we receive an admonition from anyone.… Paul does not however allow him to indulge freely in wine, but as much as was for health and not for luxury.”  (Homilies on 1 Timothy 16. [NPNF 1 13:464-65*. See also. ( Chrysostom Homilies on the Statues 1.5 (NPNF 1 9:332)

Amnbose-“And is not temperance in harmony with nature and that divine law which in the beginning of all things gave the springs for drink and the fruits of trees for food? After the flood, the just man found wine a source of temptation to him. [Gen 9:20-21.] Let us, then, use the natural food of temperance, and would that we all could do so! But, because not all are strong, the apostle therefore says, “Use a little wine for your frequent infirmities.” We must drink it not for our pleasure but for our infirmity, sparingly as a remedy, not excessively as a gratification.”  (Letters 59. [FC 26:330-31.])

Fourth, it is when people use drugs for recreational reasons that the Word of God offers strong rebuke. This has always been the case (cf. Proverbs 20:1; 23:29-35; Titus 2:11-14).

An interesting passage in this connection is found in the Book of Ephesians. The Apostle Paul declared:

Ephesians 5:18-And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,

Recently, I have been blessed by a renewed study of this passage. The phrase “do not be drunk,” translates the Greek word methusko. Vine notes that this is an example of what is known as an incentive verb in the Greek New Testament.  

He writes: 

“methusko (3182) signifies “to make drunk, or to grow drunk” (an inceptive verb, marking the process or the state expressed in No. 1), “to become intoxicated,” Luke 12:45; Eph. 5:18; 1 Thess. 5:7a.¶” (W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, William White, Jr., Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 29568-29576 (Kindle Edition); Nashville, TN; Thomas Nelson Publishers)

Now, what is the significance of the use of the incentive verb in this passage? 

“2. Ingressive (Inceptive, Inchoative) Aorist…The aorist tense may be used to stress the beginning of an action or the entrance into a state.” (Daniel B. Wallace, The Basics Of New Testament Syntax: An Intermediate Greek Grammar, 5263 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan)  

“The inceptive imperfect expresses the initiation of an action in the past (‘I began to loose’).” (David Alan Black, Learn To Read New Testament Greek,1145 (Kindle Edition); Nashville, TN; B&H Academic)  

“inceptive…Giving emphasis to the beginning of the verbal action (Lat. inceptivus, ‘starting’). This term often appears in connection with the aorist (see 2 Cor 8:9) or imperfect-tense verbs (see Mt. 3:5). Also called inchoative, incipient or ingressive.” (Mathew S. Demoss, Pocket Dictionary For The Study Of New Testament Greek, 779 (Kindle Edition); Downers Grove, Illinois; InterVarsity Press)  

Thus, by using the incentive verb, Paul is telling the brethren, “Do not even begin the process of becoming intoxicated!” Or (as we might say), “Don’t even take the first drink in beginning the process of getting drunk!” 

One author has explained it this way:

“The phrase, “be not drunk,” is translated from the Greek root methusko. This word means: 1) “to begin to be softened,” Young’s Analytical Concordance; 2) “to moisten, or to be moistened with liquor, and in a figurative sense, to be saturated with drink,” S. T. Bloomfield; 3) “to grow drunk” (marking the beginning of methuo), E. W. Bullinger. Methusko is an inceptive verb. 9 It is a word that marks the process of becoming drunk. What Paul is actually saying in Ephesians 5 is, “Do not begin the process of becoming drunk.” When a person consumes alcohol, he is beginning to be softened and intoxicated. That’s why social drinking is condemned in the words drunk or drunkenness. The implication is that people begin to be drunk when they begin to drink….Science and medical studies also bear out the fact that when a person begins to drink, he is drunk to some degree. How much alcohol does a person have to consume in order to be affected? As early as the 1960s, the Journal of the American Medical Association stated, “There is no minimum (blood-alcohol concentration or BAC) which can be set, at which there will be absolutely no effect.”” (Don Blackwell, The Truth About Moral Issues, 399-405 (Kindle Edition); Maxwell, TX; World Video Bible School) 

Some people may argue that no one in the first century world would have so understood this prohibition.  

Yet then there is Timothy!  

The young preacher (a careful student of the Apostle Paul) was a total abstainer from alcohol-so much so that Paul had to encourage him to take a “little wine” for his stomach sake (notice-this allowance was for medicinal reasons, not recreational). 

Some may ask, “But isn’t it the case that the ancients didn’t know how to keep wine from fermenting?”  

In fact, the ancients had extremely detailed knowledge of how to keep wine from fermenting.  

“”Professor Donovan, in his work on Domestic Economy, mentions three methods by which all fermentation could be prevented: “1. Grape-juice will not ferment when the air is completely excluded. “2. By boiling down the juice, or, in other words, evaporating the water, the substance becomes a syrup, which if very thick will not ferment. “3. If the juice be filtered and deprived of its gluten, or ferment, the production of alcohol will be impossible”—Anti-Bacchus, p. 162. Dr. Ure, the eminent chemist, says that fermentation may be tempered or stopped: “1. By those means which render the yeast inoperative, particularly by the oils that contain sulphur, as oil of mustard, as also by the sulphurous and sulphuric acids. “2. By the separation of the yeast, either by the filter or subsidence. “3. By lowering the temperature to 45°. If the fermenting mass becomes clear at this temperature and be drawn off from the subsided yeast, it will not ferment again, though it should be heated to the proper pitch”—Anti-Bacchus, p. 225. Baron Liebig, in his Letters on Chemistry, says: “If a flask be filled with grape-juice and made air-tight, and then kept for a few hours in boiling water, the wine does not now ferment”—Bible Commentary, xxxvii. Here we have two of the preventives, viz., the exclusion of the air, and the raising of the temperature to the boiling point. The unalterable laws of nature, which are the laws of God, teach these stern facts: 1. That very sweet juices and thick syrups will not undergo the vinous fermentation….2. That the direct and inevitable fermentation of the sweet juices, in hot climates with the temperature above 75°, will be the acetous. 3. That to secure the vinous fermentation the temperature must be between 50° and 75°, and that the exact proportions of sugar and gluten and water must be secured. 4. That all fermentation may be prevented by excluding the air, by boiling, by filtration, by subsidence, and by the use of sulphur….Augustine Calmet, the learned author of the Dictionary of the Bible, born 1672, says: “The ancients possessed the secret of preserving wines sweet throughout the whole year.” If they were alcoholic, they would preserve themselves. The peculiarity was preserving them sweet. Chemistry tells us that the juice loses its sweetness when, by fermentation, the sugar is converted into alcohol. Preserving them sweet throughout the whole year meant preserving them unfermented. Chemical science instructs us that by reason of the great sweetness of the juice and the heat of the climate at the vintage, the vinous fermentation would be precluded, and that, unless by some method prevented, the acetous would certainly and speedily commence. Four modes were known and practised by the ancients which modern chemical science confirms.” (William Patton, D.D., Bible Wines Or The Laws Of Fermentation And The Wines Of The Ancients, 19-21 (IBooks Edition)). 

This is especially interesting when we consider the common argument that social drinking must be authorized by the Word of God since “Jesus Himself made wine in John 2!”

Of course, both Roman and Jewish tradition shows that the general custom was to use unfermented wine at festive occasions:

“The second assumption that the wine Jesus provided was pronounced “the good wine” (John 2: 10) by the master of the banquet because it was high in alcoholic content, is based on the taste of twentieth-century drinkers who define the goodness of wine in proportion to its alcoholic strength. But this was not necessarily true in the Roman world of New Testament times where the best wines were those whose alcoholic potency had been removed by boiling or filtration. Pliny, for example, says that “wines are most beneficial (utilissimum) when all their potency has been removed by the strainer.” 1 Similarly, Plutarch points out that wine is “much more pleasant to drink” when it “neither inflames the brain nor infests the mind or passions” 2 because its strength has been removed through frequent filtering. The Talmud indicates that drinking to the accompaniment of musical instruments on festive occasions such as a wedding was forbidden. 3 The latter is confirmed by later testimonies of rabbis. For example, Rabbi S. M. Isaac, an eminent nineteenth-century rabbi and editor of The Jewish Messen-ger, says: “The Jews do not, in their feasts for sacred purposes, including the marriage feast, ever use any kind of fermented drinks. In their oblations and libations, both private and public, they employ the fruit of the vine—that is, fresh grapes—unfermented grape-juice, and raisins, as the symbol of bene-diction. Fermentation is to them always a symbol of corruption.” 4 Though Rabbi Isaac’s statement is not quite accurate, since Jewish sources are not unanimous on the kind of wine to be used at sacred festivals, it still does indicate that some Jews used unfermented wine at wedding feasts.” (Samuele Bacchiocchi, Wine In The Bible: A Biblical Study On The Use Of Alcoholic Beverages, 632-646 (Kindle Edition))

Friends, the simple truth is, Christians have no business in the recreational use of any drug.

Timothy was a “teetotaler,” and (except in cases of legitimate medical Need like Timothy), we should be also!

In fact, instead of trying to justify recreational drug use as children of God, we should instead “be filled with the Spirit,” as Paul encourages (Ephesians 5:18)! This is much better then the alternatives the world offers!  

Jesus Christ, the Son Of God, died for your sins, was buried and arose again the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). One day, He is coming back (Acts 17:30-31). Those who do not know God and who do not obey the Gospel of Christ will be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10).

Why not today turn to the Lord and be saved?

Acts 2:38-Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

If you are a Christian who has turned from the Lord, He invites you to come back to

Him in repentance and prayer.  

Revelation 2:5-Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

The Parable Of The Unprepared Servant

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist) 

One of the most important teachings of the Word of God is that Christians need to be ready for the Lord’s coming.  

To that end, I would like to consider one of the Lord’s parables regarding this crucial subject.   

Matthew 24:42-51-42  Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. 43  But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 44  Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. 45  “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? 46  Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. 47  Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods. 48  But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’. 49  and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, 50  the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, 51  and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Let’s notice three things about this passage.  

The Context Of The Parable Of The Unprepared Servant 

The context of this passage shows us some very important facts which need to be considered.  

The Lord had begun to tell His Apostles about the destruction of Jerusalem (Matthew 24:1-2), which lead them to ask three questions: 

Matthew 24:3-Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”

The Lord answered each of these questions in order. The first question was answered in Matthew 24:4-29; the second in Matthew 24:30-35; and the third in Matthew 24:36-25:46. Jesus makes it clear also that the first two questions would have a first century fulfillment. He does this by telling us that the signs up to verse 34 would be fulfilled in “this generation,” I.e., the generation of people then living.

Matthew 24:34-Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.

By studying the phrase “this generation,” we see this is clearly its’ meaning. Simply study the way “this generation” is used in the Gospels (Matthew 11:16; 12:41-42; 23:36; 24:34; Mark 8:12; 13:30; Luke 7:31; 11:29-32; 49-51; 17:25; 21:32). In every instance, the phrase “this generation” had specific meaning to the generation of people then living. Gary DeMar has written: 

“We do not have to speculate about the meaning of “this generation.” Those who deny that “this generation” refers to the generation to whom Jesus was speaking in the Matthew 24 context must maintain that “this generation” means something different from the way it is used in every other place in Matthew and the rest of the New Testament. Matthew 23:36 clearly refers to the Pharisees and their associates. Why should we interpret “this generation” in Matthew 24:34 in a way different from 23:36, since Jesus is answering His disciples’ questions regarding His statement in Matthew 23:36 to the Pharisees about their house—the temple— being left to them desolate? The usual rejoinder is, “All of Matthew 24 could not have been fulfilled during the life of the apostles. There must be a future fulfillment even though ‘this generation’ seems to refer to those who lived between A.D. 30 and 70….“Without exception, these verses describe events within the lifetime of the then-present generation. All the evidence points to the generation of Jews who heard Jesus’ words and would suffer the same judgment as the scribes, Pharisees, and the chief priests if they did not heed Jesus’ warning and escape before the Roman armies surrounded the city and destroyed it (Matt. 24:15–22; Luke 21:20–24)…“Third, the adjective this points to the contemporary nature of the generation Jesus was referencing (cf. Matt. 11:23; 27:8; 28:15). If some future generation had been in view, Jesus could have chosen the adjective that (cf. 7:22; 10:19; 24:10, 36; 26:29). The passage would then read this way: “That generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” A study of the way Matthew uses the adjective “this” will show that Jesus had the generation to whom He was speaking in mind when He described its soon destruction:” (Gary DeMar, Last Days Madness: Obsession Of The Modern Church, 169-179 (iBooks Edition); Powder Springs, GA; American Vision) 

Then, after describing the events which would lead to the destruction of Jerusalem in verses 4-35, Jesus begins talking about the Second Coming. He says:

Matthew 24:36-But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.

To see that the Lord clearly makes a distinction between the destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Coming, pay special attention to the phrase peri de (Matthew 24:36). This phrase is used in several passages to show a deliberate change in topic: 

Acts 21:25-But concerning the Gentiles who believe, we have written and decided that they should observe no such thing, except that they should keep themselves from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality.”

1 Corinthians 7:1-Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.

1 Corinthians 8:1-Now concerning things offered to idols: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.

1 Corinthians 12:1-Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant:

By using this phrase in Matthew 24:36, Jesus is showing that He is shifting the focus from the destruction of Jerusalem to the Second Coming.  

Ken Gentry has well written: 

“Let us now look at the evidence that Jesus is shifting his attention from the destruction of the temple in AD 70 to his second coming at the end of history. I will present more than a dozen arguments for the transition in Matthew 24….In Matthew 24: 36 we come upon an subject-matter transition device: “But of that day and hour no one knows.” The introductory phrase here in the Greek is: peri de (“ but of, concerning, regarding”). This grammatical structure suggests a transition in the passage involving a change of subject. We may see this phrase frequently marking off new material, as in Matthew 22: 31; Acts 21: 25; 1 Thessalonians 4: 9; and 5: 1. Allow me to quickly focus on several very clear subject-transition uses of peri de in 1Corinthians. There we see that Paul is turning his attention to one question after another that the Corinthians asked him: “Now concerning the things about which you wrote” (1 Cor 7: 1). “Now concerning virgins” (7: 25). “Now concerning things sacrificed to idols” (8: 1). “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren” (12: 1). In each case he is clearly introducing new subjects that respond to different questions presented to him….Focusing once again on Matthew 24: 36 we read: “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” Here Christ states that in his state of humiliation (the period from the time of his earthly conception within Mary’s womb until his glorification at his resurrection) he himself has no knowledge as to when “that day and hour” will occur. But of what “day and hour” is he speaking? He must be speaking of his future second advent because in the preceding section of his Discourse he tells his disciples that numerous signs will be given, but that “the end [of the temple] is not yet” (Matt 24: 6). This indicates that he definitely knows when that event will occur. He also dogmatically teaches them that these earlier things will certainly happen in “this generation” (24: 34). Thus, as Nolland notes: “there is a deliberate contrast between the confident tone of the predictive materials thus far in the chapter, climaxing in v. 34, and the present insistence that only the Father knows.”…By the very nature of the case, the numerous events leading up to the Roman military destruction of the temple in AD 70 will require a number of days. Hence, in the portion of his Discourse prior to Matthew 24: 36 Jesus mentions “those days [plural]” (v 19, 29) and even comforts his disciples by noting that “those days” will be “cut short” (v 22). This mention of the days of the tribulation period are set in stark contrast to the singular day —indeed, the exact moment —of the second coming: “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone” (Matt 24: 36). After this transition at 24: 36 he repeatedly mentions the singular “day” (24: 42, 50) or “the day” and “the hour” (25: 13). The second advent does not involve a series of historical actions, as is the case with the Roman military operations against the Jews, Jerusalem, and the temple. The second advent is a one-time, catastrophic event conducted by a singular individual, Christ himself…In the first section Christ urges desperate flight from the area, clearly implying there will be time and opportunity to flee: “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains” (Matt 24: 16). In fact, one particular sign —the abomination of desolation —will be the cue to leave the area. Because of this opportunity of flight, many lives of God’s elect will be saved: “unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days shall be cut short” (24: 22). But upon entering the second section of the Discourse we hear of no commands to escape, no opportunities for flight.” (De. Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., The Oliver Discourse Made Easy: You. An Understand Jesus’ Great Prophetic Discourse, 2453-2589 (Kindle Edition); Draper, VA; Apologetics Group Media)

Now friends, please notice the connection that Jesus is making for us: of the destruction of Jerusalem, there were several signs given. The disciples were able to see these signs being fulfilled and fled from the city in time. Yet of the Second Coming, there are no signs given! Instead, the Lord could return at any time.

So, what is the focus we must have as Christians? We need to always be ready!

Unfortunately, the unprepared servant chose to live a wicked lifestyle and so was unprepared.  

The Content Of The Parable Of The Unprepared Servant

By studying this parable of the Lord, we see that the unprepared servant had three characteristics which help us to see why he was unprepared.  

First, the servant did not give his master the proper esteem. The Lord must be first and foremost in our lives as God’s people (Deuteronomy 6:4-5; Matthew 6:33; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Romans 12:1-2). When we call Jesus Lord and do not do what He says, His Word rebukes us (Luke 6:46; Matthew 7:24-27).  

Second, the unprepared servant exalted himself. He decide to put his selfish desires ahead of what was right. The teaching of the Lord had always been that we must be willing to humble ourselves. Earlier, Jesus had declared: 

Matthew 23:8-12-8  But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. 9  Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10  And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. 11  But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12  And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

By His teaching, Jesus forbids religious titles. Yet how many disciples of Christ wear names like “Reverend,” “Potentate,” “Worshipful Master,” and “His Holiness?”

Brethren, these things out not to be so. We must learn to submit ourselves to God (James 4:7), and humble ourselves before Him (James 4:10). When we humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, then we may cast our care upon Him (1 Peter 5:6-7).  

Finally, the way that the servant treated his fellow servants shows us another reason why he was unprepared for the coming of his master. The text tells us that he began to beat and abuse the other servants, just as he began to drink and carry on in wild parties. The Word teaches us that we must have long-suffering and forbearance with each other (Ephesians 4:1-6), loving in deed and in truth and not just in word and tongue (1 John 3:18).  

For all of these reasons, this evil servant was unprepared for his master’s return.

The Consequences Of The Parable Of The Unprepared Servant

Because the servant was unprepared, he suffered punishment. The text tells us that he would be cut in two (an obvious reference to death), as well as weeping and gnashing of teeth. This specific phrase had the usual idea in the Bible of continual rebellion and anger. One author has well explained: 

“The phrase ‘gnashing of teeth’ focuses on another emotion, as we can discover by looking at its use elsewhere in Scripture. At one point in his life, when he felt at the end of his tether, Job cried out, ‘[God] has torn me in his wrath … he has gnashed his teeth at me’ (Job 16:9). When Stephen was about to be stoned to death he accused his opponents of betraying and murdering Jesus, the righteous Son of God. Their response was predictable and passionate: ‘Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him’ (Acts 7:54). From these two examples we can see that ‘gnashing of teeth’ is a way of expressing anger. In hell, that anger will be more intense than any this world has ever seen. The wicked will be angry at the things which gave them pleasure on earth but now give them pain in hell. They will be angry at the sins that wrecked their lives; angry at themselves for being who they are. They will be angry at Satan and his helpers for producing the temptations which led them into sin. Even while compelled to acknowledge his glory and goodness, they will be angry at God for condemning them to their dreadful fate.” (John Blanchard, Whatever Happened To Hell? 2792-2797 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; EP Books)

This will be the fate of all who are unprepared when the Lord returns.  

Conclusion 

Not long ago, I was reminded of this account that I read in a book by Gary Kah. Speaking of the influence of the Masonic Lodge, we find reference to an interesting ritual that takes place: 

“From its earliest degrees, Freemasonry subtly conditions its members to accept the false belief that all religions are pathways to the same God, rendering Christ’s atonement on the cross insignificant and meaningless. A widespread acceptance of this view is a precondition for merging humanity into a system of world government Without the existence of a synthetic global religion capable of uniting the religions of the world under a single umbrella, it would be impossible for the conspirators to succeed. Freemasonry provides this umbrella. It has already succeeded in preparing a significant portion of our world’s population to embrace its universalist worldview. The Masonic religion is therefore not only a threat to the souls of its members, but to the sovereignty of nations and to the current world order as well; and for these reasons, I stand opposed to it. Realizing that the words of a contemporary Mason carry more weight than my own, I have asked Reverend James Shaw, a former thirty-third degree Mason, to close this chapter by sharing his own experience with Freemasonry and his reasons for leaving the Order. The following is his personal account: “Dear Friend, “Membership in the Masonic Lodge has in many cases become a family tradition, with young men often joining because their fathers and grandfathers belonged. Because of their admiration for certain friends or relatives, these men join the Lodge without hesitation, certain that the Order is based on noble aspirations. This was the case with me. From the time I was a little boy, my mother encouraged me to become a Mason some day like my uncle whom she greatly admired. Her impression of Freemasonry was that of a club where good men met to plan on helping those in need. “When I grew up, I married a fine woman who was a member of the Eastern Star and whose father was a Mason. Although her father would never talk to me about the Lodge, I was nevertheless proud of him. Surrounded by people I loved who were Masons, I finally decided to join the Lodge myself. “Upon applying for membership in Indianapolis, I received a letter from the Lodge within two weeks telling me I had been accepted. I was instructed to be present at the Lodge at 6:30 p.m. on a particular day to receive my first degree. When the time came, I went to the Lodge and paid my dues for the first three degrees after which I was told to follow a man who they said was the Senior Steward. He took me to the Preparation  Room where he told me to remove my clothes and to put on a pair of white pants (like pajama pants) and a white jacket Before long, a man referred to as the Junior Deacon came in and told me to follow him. He took me to a door and put a blindfold on me. He also rolled up the left leg of my pants and turned back the collar of my shirt exposing my left breast. After some conversation between the Junior Deacon and the man inside the Lodge room, I was finally told to enter. Being hoodwinked, I could not see, but I could sure feel! Something hit my left breast (it hurt). A man’s voice said, ‘Jim Shaw, you are received into this Lodge on the sharp points of the compass, which (and he jabbed me again) is to teach you never to reveal any of the secrets of an Entered Apprentice Mason to anyone unless he be a Brother Mason.’ “I had come to the Lodge that evening expecting merely to be told what a Mason was supposed to do. However, by the end of the ceremony I had become disgusted. When it was over, my friend told me it was something that all Masons had to endure; so I put it out of my mind. “After one year I was appointed Senior Deacon. This was a big jump for me as I had bypassed three chairs. I had told the Worshipful Master that I did not want to be a ‘chairwarmer’ but wanted to be of service to the Lodge and go through all the chairs. I also joined the Scottish Rite, and had become Prelate in the Lodge of Perfection, studying for Master of the 4th degree. “About this time I received word from an old Army friend encouraging my wife and I to move to Florida where he was living. I didn’t want to leave my job with the Post Office, but my friend told me he could get me a Civil Service job in Florida.  My wife loved the idea of living there. So between the two of them begging me, I finally agreed to make the move. My Lodge membership was transferred from Indianapolis (which was in the Northern Jurisdiction) to my new Lodge in Florida (which belonged to the Southern Jurisdiction). Although the Ritual between the two jurisdictions varies somewhat, I found that the essence of the Lodges was still the same. “The Lodge in Florida was in need of good officers; and I soon progressed to the position of Worshipful Master. I had to be elected to this particular office, but that was no problem. I worked with Lodge members in my Civil Service job, and there were numerous officers of the Scottish Rite who were also City Officials. In fact, I had a part in the initiation of the Mayor of the city. It was in the Skull lecture I gave in the 30th degree. He paid close attention. “Soon I had served in many chairs and was given the Degree of K.C.C.H. (Knight Commander of the Court of Honor).  I had this degree for four years when I, quite literally, entered the darkest period of my life. My sight began to deteriorate rapidly as I was developing a cataract on my left eye. A friend of my wife recommended I visit an ophthalmologist who she said was very good. I took her advice. After examining my eyes the ophthalmologist informed me that I had to have an operation on one eye and possibly on the other eye as well at a later time. “He told me he had to see me every day for a week before he could operate because of an infection in my eyelid which had to be treated. During these visits he began to share with me about Jesus Christ and even read some verses to me out of the Bible. Although I knew of many ministers and preachers who were Masons, particularly those affiliated with the National Council of Churches, I had been trained by my family to stay away from churches. My stepfather said they were full of hypocrites and no one in his house was ever to go to a church. And here I was, with a doctor who was working on my eyes trying to read the Bible to me. On my job I began speaking with a few people who I knew to be Christians, and they also told me about Jesus. One went so far as telling me that no Christian should ever be a Mason. In the meantime, the doctor continued sharing with me while he was working on my eyes. I tried not to listen, but deep inside I knew he was right. “Just one day after I had returned to work following my operation, I received a letter from The House of the Temple in Washington, D.C. I had been chosen to receive the 33rd degree and was to report to Washington in one week to accept the honor. Two men from the Scottish Rite who were 33rd degree Masons decided to go along with me to share in my time of joy. I remember being impressed by the size and the beauty of The House of the Temple. It was at least four times as large as our Scottish Rite Temple. After I had received the 33rd degree along with my white hat and ring, we all had a big feast and drank wine. It was all so much fun. Yet throughout this time I kept thinking of some of the passages the doctor had read to me from the Bible. “Soon after returning home I received a call from the Secretary of the Scottish Rite telling me to prepare for the upcoming Maundy Thursday services prior to Easter. I can tell you that the Lodges always make a mockery of Christian Holy Days. Now I was Master of all degree work and had to conduct the service. “In the meantime my wife and I had begun attending church with the ophthalmologist. He was still helping me understand the Bible and did not like the idea of me being a Mason. He told me he didn’t think I understood just how evil the Lodge really was, and he urged me to read thoughtfully the books of John and Galatians. I studied these books and was on the verge of accepting Christ But to become fully convinced I had yet to go through the Maundy Thursday ritual itself. “We were all in our places for the Maundy Thursday Rose Croix service to begin, each of us dressed in black robes. I stood and clapped my hands three times, and everyone rose to their feet  I began to speak, ‘My brothers, we meet this day to commemorate the death of our most wise and perfect Master-NOT as inspired or divine, but as at least the greatest of all humanity.’ “At this point I had to stop for a moment to think about what I had just said. I was denying the fact that Christ was inspired or divine, saying he was merely a human master no greater than Buddha, Mohammed, Confucious or other religious figures. I felt a tear run down my face, but I had to go on. I walked out to the menorah and lit a candle. “The next speaker said his part and lit a candle on the menorah. All spoke and lit candles. I was feeling sad and bewildered, wondering how I could go on; but I did. We had the Black Mass, drinking wine from a skull and eating a piece of bread—passing it around the table—saying to each man, ‘Take, drink, and give to the thirsty. Take, eat, and give to the hungry.’ Then we all went back to our stations. As I got up, my knees were shaking. I knew what fear was, and I had never felt anything like this since being shot at in the Army. “I stood and began to recite the closing words. ‘We now close this commemoration of the death of our master. MOURN!! LAMENT!! CRY ALOUD!! HE IS GONE!! NEVER TO RETURN!! MOURN!! LAMENT!! The candles were extinguished one at a time. I closed the ceremony by saying, ‘It is over; we must depart’. “I hurried to the disrobing room and got out of the black robe and into my street clothes. Some men came around and asked me if I was sick. I just said, ‘Yes, I’ve got to go!’ “The very next day I wrote letters to the Blue Lodge, the Shrine, and the Scottish Rite saying that I had attended my last meeting. I was a Christian now and would not be back. That was 25 years ago. I have never regretted my decision. “During my 19 years as a Mason, I witnessed and participated in numerous disturbing events, but the single most important reason causing me to leave was the fact that Jesus Christ was not the one being worshipped.  Many gods in the Scottish Rite are revered and many religions taught, but never is the Blessed Name of Jesus Christ allowed. One is not even allowed to close a prayer in the name of Jesus, but instead must use a vague reference to God, which could mean anyone or anything. Teachings of the Kabbalah, Zend Avesta, and the Gnostics are used along with astrology and the doctrines of ancient false gods such as Osiris, Semiramis, Isis and Krishna. The Hindu gods Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva are also given reference as deities. But whenever Christ was mentioned, it was only in the form of a mockery. “For these reasons I left the Masonic Order. If you are currently a Mason, I urge you from the bottom of my heart to do likewise. It is the only right thing to do. “In Christian Love, Jim Shaw” Silver Springs, Florida” (Gary Kah, En Route To Global Occupation: A High Ranking Government Liaison Exposes The Secret Agenda For World Unification, 2571 (Kindle Edition); Noblesville, IN: Hope For The World) 

Friends, the “master” celebrated in this feast is not truly Jesus: for He will return one Day! Are you ready for His return?

The Son Of God came to this world the first time and died for our sins (Hebrews 2:9). He was buried, and three days later He arose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). He commands believers everywhere to repent (Acts 17:20-31) and be baptized in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:37-38). He likewise invites erring Christians to repent and pray, inviting Him back into their lives (Revelation 3:20; 1 John 1:9).

Why not obey Him today?  

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.  

Lessons From Piltdown Man

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)

Does The Fossil Record Show That Humans Evolved From Apes?

The Bible claims that mankind was created specially in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-28). However, the widely accepted theory of evolution claims that mankind has arrived at his present stage as a gradual development from one species to another over long eons of time. It is usually said that the “fossil record” contains evidence of these changes. Continue reading Lessons From Piltdown Man

Four Things All Struggling Christians Need

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)

Sometimes as Christians, we begin to struggle and have periods of spiritual distress.

What do we do when this happens?

I would like for us to consider four things that Paul reminds Christians to remember when they are struggling. Let’s notice the text and then carefully analyze it.

Hebrews 10:19-39-19  Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20  by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21  and having a High Priest over the house of God, 22  let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23  Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24  And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25  not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. 26  For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27  but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. 28  Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29  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? 30  For we know Him who said, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord. And again, “THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE.” 31  It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. 32  But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings: 33  partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became companions of those who were so treated; 34  for you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven. 35  Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. 36  For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: 37  “FOR YET A LITTLE WHILE, AND HE WHO IS COMING WILL COME AND WILL NOT TARRY. 38  NOW THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH; BUT IF ANYONE DRAWS BACK, MY SOUL HAS NO PLEASURE IN HIM.” 39  But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul. Continue reading Four Things All Struggling Christians Need

The Reality Of Moral Absolutes

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)

Years ago, the inspired Apostle Paul wrote these words to the church of Christ in Rome:

Romans 2:12-15-12    For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law 13    (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; 14    for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, 15    who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them)   Continue reading The Reality Of Moral Absolutes