The Lowly King

Jesus riding a donkey

Kings, do not usually ride on donkeys. Neither do dictators, prime ministers, or presidents. But try to imagine it. Truly, such would be a most hilarious site. When was the last time you saw any political leader riding into town on a donkey? Although, since it is the symbol of the Democrat Party, maybe that would be appropriate! (Just kidding!)

Back in ancient days—say, in Bible times—no one would have thought twice about seeing a person of royalty or ruling authority riding a donkey, especially in times of peace. And leaders—whether they be kings, princes, or judges—were no exception. For example, Jair, the eighth judge or ruler of Israel, rode on thirty of them, but not all at once, of course (Judges 10:4). Abdon, Israel’s twelfth judge, “…had forty sons and thirty nephews, going upon threescore and ten (70) ass colts (donkeys)…” (Judges 12:14, King James Version, KJV).

Speaking of these beasts of burden, those who rode on “white donkeys” were usually of the upper, wealthy class (Judges 5:10). These white or nearly white animals were rare and costly, according to sources. The ones who could own them were rich and influential in the community. In fact, even in more modern times, it’s reported that in Persia (Iran) “…the Mollahs, or men of the law, consider it a dignity suited to their character to ride on white asses [donkeys],” (Manners and Customs of the Bible, James M. Freeman).

The people’s dependency on donkeys as a major mode of transportation can be observed in the many examples of scriptures. In his book, The Complete Book of Bible Trivia, J. Stephen Lang asks 10 quiz questions about “The Lowly Donkey,” mentioned in the Scriptures. See how many you can answer correctly (answers at the end of this post):

1. What prophet of Moab had a talking donkey?
2. What future king was looking for lost donkeys when he ran into Samuel?
3. Who gave his irate brother 20 donkeys as a goodwill gesture?
4. What prince was riding a mule (that’s half donkey, half horse) when he got his head caught in an oak tree?
5. Who took his wife and sons and set them on a donkey when he returned to Egypt, his boyhood home?
6. What future wife of David rode out to meet him on a donkey when she was pleading for her husband’s life?
7. Who used a donkey to carry the wood he was using to sacrifice his son on?
8. Who sent her servant on a donkey to inform Elisha that her son had died?
9. What prophet predicted that the Messiah would enter riding on a donkey?
10. What is the only gospel to mention Jesus’ riding on a donkey?

These last two questions are relevant as we approach Palm Sunday and the beginning of Passion Week. It was at the “Triumphal Entry” of Christ into Jerusalem that Jesus entered the city riding on a young donkey. And a large crowd of people began honoring him—waving palm branches, spreading their garments in the road, and hailing him as King, shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD; Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David; Hosanna in the highest!” (Mark 11:9-19, New American Standard Bible, NASB).

The fact that Jesus came into the city riding on a donkey is significant. He didn’t come marching into Jerusalem in pomp and circumstance on a white horse like some super action hero. He wasn’t donning a sword, shield, and armor in conquering fashion. He didn’t come to fight against the powers of Rome. He didn’t even declare war. Rather, it was just the opposite.

Riding on a donkey signified peace. And it indicated humility or meekness. Therefore, Jesus’ royal entry was of a lowly manner, “…humble and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal [Lit., son of a female donkey] of a donkey,” (Zechariah 9:9, NASB).

Just think of it: A lowly king on a lowly donkey. Matthew must have thought this so remarkable in terms of prophetic fulfilment that he was sure to reference it in his gospel:

This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:
“Say to the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold your King is coming to you,
Gentle, and mounted on a donkey,
Even on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’”
(Matt. 21:4-5, NASB)

This prophecy is quoted partly from Isaiah 62:11 (“Say to the daughter of Zion….”) and partly from Zechariah 9:9:

…Behold, your king is coming to you;
He is just and endowed with salvation,
Humble, and mounted on a donkey,
Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (NASB)

Matthew omits “he is just and endowed with salvation” from Zechariah’s account, perhaps to stress more emphasis on his first coming in humility, and because his being “just and endowed with salvation” is more reflective of his future mission as King when he returns in majestic power to bring righteousness and salvation for his people.

This point has added validity in the fact that the very next verses, Zechariah, 9:10ff., jump forward to the return of Christ when he literally reigns as King of kings and Lord of lords on the earth. That’ll be the day he DOES come on a white horse as our conquering hero (Revelation 19:11-16).

In addition to prophecy, Matthew probably had another reason for mentioning a lowly donkey in his account of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. He likely wanted to show how the donkey typified the lowly character of Jesus our Savior. Remember that he quoted Jesus to say, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls,” (Matthew 11:29, NASB).

Jesus is our primary example of humility (Philippians 2:3-11). He rode into Jerusalem as a Servant though he was hailed as King. What a contrast to political leaders today who ride into cities in their special limos, looking for applause, boasting of their accomplishments, and desiring more and more power. All Jesus had was a donkey, yet an important one, at that. For it proved his willingness to lower himself for the sake of our salvation by dying for our sins.

We, too, carry on that lowly attribute as imitators of Christ. Humility is among the list Paul includes concerning “those who have been chosen of God,” (Colossians 3:12). If we, his chosen followers, do not mirror his meek and lowly nature, then we are missing the perfect opportunity to put on love, live in peace, and be thankful for our many blessings in Christ (Colossians 3:13-17).

This is the mark of a true servant of the Lord.

The lowly king gives us the incentive to look for a brighter future, and better tomorrow. When he humbly rode into Jerusalem, we could say that his triumphal entry stands as a triumph for us. For he who rode that beast of burden into the city will carry our burdens on his shoulders along our pathway of life. And with that blessed assurance, we have the expectation that just as he overcame his adversity, we will also overcome on that day he rules as King (Revelation 3:21).

And now, here are the answers to the “Lowly Donkey” quiz (ibid., Lang):

1. Balaam (Numbers 22:21-33)
2. Saul (1 Samuel 9:1-6)
3. Jacob (Genesis 32: 13-18)
4. Absalom (2 Samuel 18:9)
5. Moses (Exodus 4:20)
6. Abigail (1 Samuel 25:20)
7. Abraham (Genesis 22:1-3)
8. The Shunemite woman (2 Kings 4:18-32)
9. Zechariah (9:9)
10. Matthew (21:1-9)

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

P.S. Here’s a neat little number titled, “Jesus Rode a Donkey (Palm Sunday)”: https://youtu.be/slhT2GZSzYA

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News Update…

latest-news

In my last post, I mentioned my 90-year-old dad who tested positive for the COVID-19 Coronavirus.

I am sad to report that his condition worsened and that he fell asleep in death on April 1, this last Wednesday morning. My family and I deeply appreciate the many thoughts and prayers that were offered on his behalf. 

As I said before, when faced with our difficulties, we leave them in God’s hands for he is always in control. Whether in this life, or in the one to come, God will ultimately answer our prayers. For he will bring health, healing, and life to all who are in Christ Jesus (Revelation 21:4). 

We are expecting that Christ will come and raise those in him to eternal life. My dad was a faithful follower of Jesus Christ. He accepted Christ as his personal Savior and was baptized when he was young. And so we know and believe that we will see him again  along with all those in Christ when he comes again.

This is our blessed hope (Titus 2:13). It’s what keeps our faith strong even when times are tough and the enemy, death, knocks on our doors. It’s how we endure even in the midst of temptations, trials and tears.

We could ask many “why this,” “why that,” and “what if,” questions when a loved one is suddenly struck with something like a deadly disease. But we can’t change what’s already passed. We can only trust that when something happens that takes the life of someone you love, he or she is in God’s hands. And the Lord will ultimately, in his own time, make things right for all those who’ve fought the good fight of faith in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 4:7-8). That’s the beauty of God’s salvation plan in Christ.

With that in mind, I close with one of my most favorite passages of Scripture, First Thessalonians 4:13-18:

13But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words. (The Apostle Paul)

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael 

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‘Peace, Be Still!’

Jesus_calms_storm

On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side.” Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”
Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!” Mark 4:35-41 (New King James Version, NKJV)

As I thought about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the reactions many are having as a result, the story of Jesus calming the storm and sea comes to mind. For we can compare the fear and uncertainty of the disciples as they struggled to survive their stormy ordeal to the same kind of fear and uncertainty thousands are facing today because of the deadly virus. The story also illustrates how we can face these times with God and Jesus in control.

Jesus must have been very tired. His ministry kept him constantly busy, travelling here and there from country villages to sea ports and everywhere in between. He was always on the move, teaching and performing miracles, being challenged, threatened, and questioned where ever he went. He wanted to get away from all that for awhile, spend a little time with his disciples, and get some peace and quiet.

I’m sure we can all relate. We all need to take a break now and then, especially when we’ve reached our limit, extending ourselves so much in our pursuits that we can’t take it anymore. As rewarding as his work was, Jesus was no different.

So, standing on the shore looking out over the Sea of Galilee while the crowd of followers pressed around him, Jesus seized the opportunity to get away from it all. As the sun was about to set, Jesus proposed to his disciples that they get a boat and go over to the other side of the sea. So, they all boarded the small vessel and set sail.

But something was soon to happen—something that would rudely interrupt their quiet journey at night and require Jesus to intervene in a most unforgettable way. I suspect Jesus probably knew what was going to occur which makes this story even more dramatic. For it would give him a unique opportunity to teach a life-learning lesson not only to his disciples but to us, as well.

The element of surprise is usually something that gives us a jolt and, at the same time, causes us to feel overwhelmed, helpless, and downright scared. This must have been how the disciples felt as they were beginning to feel a gentle wind suddenly whipping  into a frenzy over that dark lake. A squall was brewing.

The shining moon was soon covered by clouds, the wind picking up all the more. Ripples of water were turning and churning into wave after wave, growing higher and higher until they began swallowing the entire boat. The howling wind was banging against the vessel tossing everyone around from one side and then the other like a wild rollercoaster ride.

At the same time, the downpouring rain only made matters worse. Each wind-driven drop kept smacking them in their faces, stinging their eyes and piercing their ears. Every disciple, from head to toe, was as soaked as a dripping wet sponge.

Between the torrential rain, gale-force wind, and the invading waves, it was all they could do to keep the boat afloat. The water was filling the vessel faster than they could bail out. Even though some were career fishermen even they hadn’t faced such a disaster like this before, especially since they didn’t usually venture out like this in the night. They were getting desperate, feeling helpless, and not sure what they were going to do next.

Things sure had changed from the way it was just hours earlier when their day was going so well. But isn’t that typical? Whenever everything is going good, like it was for the disciples, we’re feeling pretty secure. Our outlook is cheery and positive. We are bold, confident, and even optimistic about the future. Like the song sung by James Baskett in the 1946 Disney movie, “Song of the South,” in our hearts we’re singing,

“Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay,
My, oh, my, what a wonderful day!
Plenty of sunshine headin’ my way,
Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay!”

But as we journey ahead we suddenly come upon the unexpected. We find ourselves in a situation that’s bigger than we can ever remember. And, just like the disciples, we’re confronted with a life-threatening situation that leaves us all feeling totally helpless and desperate. We’re left asking ourselves something like,

“Will we all go down with the ship? Will everyone be engulfed in this dreaded disease, COVID-19? And even if we survive, will life ever be the same again? Will we ever want to be in a crowd, shake someone’s hand, get frightened if someone in the room happens to sneeze, trust that our food and supplies will last, be able to finish school, keep our jobs, or suffer untimely death?”

We ask these questions at such a time as this because, just like the disciples, we don’t know what lies over the next wave. And when the storms of life assail, what are we to do? Who are we to listen to, to trust, and believe in? As we our struggle through our uncertainty and fear, we wonder how much longer we can hold on, keep afloat, and weather this storm until we’re safe and secure once more, sailing merrily on the sea of life.

It seems to have taken fear for their lives that it suddenly dawned on the disciples that Jesus wasn’t on deck to give them a helping hand. They were so scared for themselves that they must have forgotten there was a passenger on board who might be able to rescue them. In their frantic attempt to bail the water out of the boat, they were too occupied to think of the One who could certainly bail them out of their dilemma.

When it all went from bad to worse, it finally dawned on them: “Where could our Teacher be?” The disciples started looking around for their fearless Leader: “Where could Jesus be at a time like this?” And then someone checked the stern or back of the boat. There he was, and of all things, fast asleep on a nice comfy cushion! We can imagine them thinking, “What nerve! What gall! We’re fearing for our lives and he’s catching some Z’s!

At first, it might seem like Jesus was a very heavy sleeper—that he must have been able to sleep through anything, even a real bad storm. For not even the shaking of the boat, roaring wind, drenching rain, and surmounting waves could wake him. Understandingly, Jesus was probably so physically exhausted, nothing could awaken him.

And yet, there’s another side of this scene to consider…

Perhaps Jesus was able to sleep THROUGH the storm because he was the Master OVER the storm. His Father gave him the authority to perform great miracles, proving to his people that he is the Chosen One, the Messiah, who is to bring in God’s Kingdom on the earth. So, to prove to the disciples his supreme authority even over Mother Nature, Jesus remained asleep until his pupils called upon the Teacher to rescue them from the storm.

This ought to be most comforting for us to remember when we’re hit with storms striking our lives, and in particular the one we’re facing now in the form of the Coronavirus. Jesus is waiting for us to come to him, and even plead with him, to help and save us from our sinking lives. However, unlike the disciples, we ought not to feel so down and out, that we doubt as they did and say, “Master, don’t you care if we perish?”

Of course, Jesus cares. He cares enough to sacrifice his own life, to take our place by dying on the cross, so that we can live forever in God’s Kingdom. That’s how much he cares. And that’s why he bids us to come to him so that, in turn, he will take the heavy load we endure—fear, guilt, anger, mistrust, grief, and the like—and put it all on himself so that we do not have to be overburdened and overwhelmed. Indeed, he’s the Master of the sea of life, who wants us to call upon him in time of need (Matthew 11:28-30).

When Jesus saw the fear on the disciples’ faces, he arose. And looking sternly at the storm, he scolded the wind and spoke to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And no sooner had the command left his lips than the wind ceased and everything turned calmer than a soft, summer eve. And you can be sure at that moment the disciples felt just as much at peace, too.

Jesus, the Master and Teacher, then turned to give his students a timely lesson, with a couple of questions: “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” Ouch! Don’t you think their toes might have felt stepped on just a little? But they were still learning— learning about faith and what it really means to follow Christ especially when danger threatens and overcoming fear seems almost impossible. Why be afraid if Christ is in your boat? Where is your faith in troubled times? With those questions, we’re all in that same boat!

This story reminds us that Jesus, our Master and Teacher, is in control in every circumstance of life. He is there to calm our fears whatever they are, even now. No pandemic virus or any other catastrophe will keep us down for ever. Just remember what Jesus said, “Peace be still,” and the storm will subside. Have faith, in him!

With that in mind, I have to tell this to myself as I share some unpleasant news at this time. Just recently, I was notified that my 90-year-old dad who resides at a senior assisted living facility was tested positive with COVID-19. Imagine the shock my family and I felt when we received this news. We never imagined this would happen to us. We pray that his condition doesn’t get worse and that he starts to show signs of improvement. We’re encouraged to know that many are praying for him and we would like to ask for your prayers, as well.

At times like this, we can only put our faith in the Lord. And, however it all turns out, we know the Master is still the One in control. For we know that when it’s all said and done, whether in this life or in the one to come, all things will turn out good (Romans 8:28) just like the time Jesus calmed the storm and the sea. His peace will keep us calm, as well,(John 14:27)!

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

P.S. Here’s the modern version of a song from the seventies recorded by the Brown’s (no relation to me) that’ll lift your spirits like it does mine: http://youtu.be/lGSB8FT1sKo

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The Coming Restoration—Eternal Renovation

Daniel 2-44

Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time.—Acts 3:20-21 (New American Standard Bible, NASB)

In this series of posts on “The Coming Restoration,” I have shared how “the period of restoration of all things,” of which the Apostle Peter spoke, includes the 1,000-year reign of Christ also known as “The Millennium.” It will commence when Jesus returns from heaven to earth and sits upon the throne of his glory (Matthew 25:31) ruling the world as “King of kings and Lord of lords,” (Revelation 19:11-16). According to Revelation 20:1-6, Christ’s reign will be a literal duration of 1,000 years.

We have already examined that during his 1,000-year reign, Jesus will change the world and restore it as God planned even before his creation of Earth: “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world,” (Acts 15:18, King James Version, KJV). Even though sin and death have reigned on the earth from the time man disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden (Romans 5:12-21), Jesus will come to reign in his Kingdom. His ultimate goal? To establish God’s Kingdom on the earth and permanently remove the curse of sin and death.

To meet that goal, Jesus will rule over the nations with all power and authority during his Millennial reign (Psalm 2:8-9; Revelation 2:27; 19:15). And, just as I’ve been pointing out in my recent posts, nothing will be the same as it is now. For the restoration will include “all things,” just as Peter stated.

For example, Christ’s Kingdom will be over the entire earth as the waters cover the surface of sea (Habakkuk 2:14; Isaiah 11:9). It will, therefore, be global since all people, nations, and languages will know the Lord,” (Isaiah 2:1-3; Daniel 7:14).

And, as I’ve also demonstrated, an amazing transformation will physically and literally take place on this planet in the process of his reign:

+The first resurrection and the change from mortality to immortality for all believers (the church) will take place as Jesus’ coming (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18; 1 Corinthians 15:51-58).

+The church will be granted co-ruler positions as kings and priests with Christ (Revelation 1:6; Revelation 5:9-10).

+Israel will finally be converted to accept Jesus as the Messiah and Savior when he returns (Amos 9:14-15; Zechariah 12:10; Matthew 23:39; Romans 11:26-27; Revelation 1:7). And Israel will be exalted and honored among all nations, bringing God’s blessings of justice, truth, and prosperity like a shining light for all to follow (Isaiah 60:1-3; 61:1-3).

+Earth’s environment will be clean and pristine for all things will be made new (Revelation 21:5). And it will be restored to its Edenic beauty and fertility (Isaiah 35:1, 2, 7; 55:13; Ezekiel 36:33-35).

+There will be world peace when Christ rules as Prince of peace (Isaiah 2:4; 9:6-7). It will be a period when the forces of evil and deception (“the dragon,” “Satan,” Rev. 12:3; 17:3, 9-13) will be prohibited and prevented (“bound”) from taking place (Revelation 20:1-3).

+The animal kingdom will also be transformed: Deadly, ferocious animals will become harmless and tame (Isaiah 11:6-9; 65:25).

+People will live in perfect health, many times longer than the average lifespan today with no more diseases. pandemics, and physical defects (Isaiah 33:24; 35:5-6; Isaiah 65:17-19).

In the context of all these renovations that will take place after Christ comes, it’s important to point out that they will never come to an end. Christ will not rule for a thousand years, and then everything goes back to the way it was before he came. Rather, it will go on into eternity.

God’s plan is not that this planet will ever be annihilated and replaced by a new one. God has promised that the earth will remain forever (Psalm 104:5; Ecclesiastes 1:4). Although there will be destruction on the earth, it will undergo cleansing or purging by fire. It will result in newness, restoration like new again (Isaiah 65:17; 2 Peter 3:11-13).

Therefore, it stands to reason that if God intends for the earth to remain forever, and that his plan is to keep it continually clean like new, then the work Jesus accomplishes during the restoration period will continue to go on, too. “Of his Kingdom, there will no end,” (Luke 1:33).

After the 1,000 years are complete, there will be a series of judgments that will transition the restoration period into the final state of God’s Kingdom.

Following the 1,000 years, the Bible says there will be a “little season” or short time in which evil forces and deception (“Satan”; Rev. 20:2; 12:3, 9) will once again be turned loose upon the existing nations, but only temporarily. There will be one last attempt of the nations to revolt against Christ where he reigns in Jerusalem. But before they can even carry out their devious plan, they will be completely destroyed when fire will come down from heaven to devour them. And, therefore, they will be consumed forever and ever in the lake of fire—the same place of judgment the beast and false prophet were sentenced to before the 1,000-year reign (Revelation 19:20-21; 20:7-10).

Next, the Bible says, “the great white throne” judgement will take place (Revelation 20:11-15). This will mark the final end of all wickedness upon the earth. Here is the Apostle John’s account of his vision concerning that time:

“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (English Standard Version, ESV).

The destruction of the wicked is the complete punishment that will await them in the lake of fire. This is described as “everlasting” and “unquenchable” fire because the wicked will never be allowed to exist; their wickedness will cease permanently. Their death will be final. They will perish (Matthew 13:42; John 3:15-16; Romans 1:18; 12:2; Psalm 37:9, 10, 38; Obadiah 16; Malachi 4:1, 3).

It’s important to remember that the eternal God is Holy. He does not and cannot tolerate sin. He must completely cleanse the earth of sin and all those who persist in ungodliness. Revelation 21:8 says,

“But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” (New Inernational Version, NIV) (See also 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Galatians 5:21; Rev. 22:14-15).

The hope of believers is to be spared the second death by receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Jesus died for our sins, that whoever accepts him will receive eternal life (John 3:16), to live forever in the Kingdom (“…on such, the second death will have no power,” Rev. 20:6).

As it says in Revelation 20:14, the very last judgment that will come is the end of death and the grave (“hades”). Death is “the last enemy” that will be destroyed. In First Corinthians 15:25-26, the Apostle Paul wrote,

“For he [Jesus] must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death,” (New American Standard Bible, NASB).

After death is abolished, Christ will present his Kingdom to God. In First Corinthians 15:24, 27-28, Paul wrote,

“…then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power…. For He has put all things in subjection under His feet. But when He says, ‘All things are put in subjection,’ it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all,” (NASB).

Once the last enemy, death, is destroyed, God, himself, will down come to earth. Jesus will hand over his Kingdom to God his Father and be subject to him.

God will then bring in the New Jerusalem with him when he enters the restored Earth. And he will dwell among those who are living eternally in his Kingdom. From that time forward, there will be no more sorrow, suffering, or death. Here is the way John saw it:

“And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away,” (Revelation 21:2-4).

The curse of sin and death will be removed for good. God will literally illuminate the world with his righteousness, purity, and perfection forevermore. In fact, those who are in his Kingdom will actually be able to see God face to face, (Revelation 22:1-5)—something no mortal person could ever do before (Exodus 33:20).

Believers’ expectations of the future is bright because God’s Kingdom will last forever. The coming restoration will not come and go over time like human kingdoms and nations. In that Day, “the throne of God and of the Lamb,” will…

+Never end (Isaiah 9:7);

+Stand forever (Daniel 2:44);

+Be an everlasting dominion (Daniel 7:14);

+Have no end (Luke 1:33);

+Last forever and forever (Revelation 11:15).

As we look ahead to that coming restoration, all believers can say along with the Apostle Paul, “For I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day,” 2 Timothy 1:12, NASB). Those who believe in that Day are committed to seek first his Kingdom and righteousness. It is our highest priority.

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael Brown

P.S. Here’s Robin Todd singing, “Kingdom Long”: https://youtu.be/9CStgV0QHtY

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The Coming Restoration—A Physical Renovation

child_lead_animals

Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time.—Acts 3:20-21 (New American Standard Bible, NASB)

When the Apostle Peter spoke of “the period of restoration of all things,” he was referring to a real, literal, physical period of time that had not yet come but will take place in the future. We can believe this for three reasons:

First, the Greek word for “period” in Acts 3:21 (NASB) is transliterated “chronos” (xrónos) and literally means, “time in duration or sequence”; “a particular time”; or, “season” (Strong’s Concordance, as cited in Bible Hub URL). There’s no reason not to believe the apostle has an actual time period of restoration in mind.

Second, Peter was talking to his own people, the Jews, about “the times of refreshing” that would come if the nation would come together, repent of their sin, and accept Jesus as Messiah, the One about whom the prophets spoke (Isaiah 2:2-4; Jeremiah 31:25, 31-37; Amos 9:14).  If only they would accept Christ, then God would send Jesus to them and exalt them in his kingdom: “that he might send Jesus, the Christ appointed to you,” (v. 20). But, as history shows, Israel has not yet accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior.

Three, “the period of restoration” is yet future for God has not sent Jesus back to earth. Heaven received Jesus when he was taken up in a cloud to sit at the right hand of God on his throne (Acts 1:11; Luke 22:69; Hebrews 8:1; Revelation 3:21). The restoration period (“times of refreshing”) will not convene until Christ literally comes and Israel is converted to him (Zechariah 12:10; Matt. 23:39; Revelation 1:7). We’re still expectantly waiting and preparing for that “Day of the Lord” to come even while others are not (Matthew 24:42-44; 2 Peter 3:10-18).

We look forward to a literal, physical time period which, according to Revelation 20:1-6, will last for a span of 1,000 years. As we’ve stated before, this period is also called the “Millennium,” composed of the Latin mille, meaning, “one thousand” and annus, meaning “year.”

We take the Millennium or 1,000-year period literally in Revelation. It’s marked by the same descriptions we’ve been discussing over the last several weeks relating to the end of this age of which Jesus also spoke (Matthew 24:3; Revelation 1:1-3) : A period when evil forces (i.e., “the dragon,” Revelation 12:3-4; 17:3, 9-18) are “bound” (prohibited; forbidden) at which time there will be peace and prosperity like never before. This will pave the way for many other renovations including the environment, education, government, around the entire world.

This renovation period will begin at the first resurrection when Jesus comes down from heaven. Jesus will come to raise the dead who were faithful in him and give them immortality. And he will also instantly change all believers, still living at that time, from mortal to immortal, (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18; 1 Corinthians 15:50-58;).

Revelation 5:9 says,

“And they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation,’” (NASB).

The Millennium will take place on this planet as believers (the church) co-rule with Christ (Romans 8:17) in the positions of kings and priests: “And Thou hast made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God and they will reign upon the earth,” (Revelation 5:10). As the church reigns with Christ in his Kingdom, the whole earth will undergo a complete physical renovation.

We have taken a look at some of those physical changes in previous posts. In review,

+His Kingdom will literally be global, over the entire earth, “as the waters cover the sea,” (Habakkuk 2:14; Isaiah 11:9; Daniel 7:14).

+His Kingdom will literally replace all governments as he fulfills his right to sit on the throne of his glory in Jerusalem as the world capital (Luke 1:31-33; Matthew 25:31; Psalm 2:6-9; Zechariah 14:9).

+His Kingdom will literally change the world’s educational system from secular humanism to God’s knowledge and wisdom, “for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD…” (Isiah 11:9).

+His Kingdom will literally include the exaltation of the nation of Israel upon their conversion to Christ (Jeremiah 31:31-40; Amos 9:14-15; Zechariah 12:10-14), and the nation will take part in shining forth God’s law to the nations (Isaiah 2:2-4; 60:1-22; Zechariah 8:20-23).

+His Kingdom will literally consist of an environmental renovation in which the whole planet will become purified and transformed into beauty and harmony (Isaiah 55:12-13; Amos 9:13-14) like the Garden of Eden before the curse of sin polluted the earth (Ezekiel 36:35).

+There will be no more famine and starvation; the dry and desolate places will be well-watered and nurtured, “For waters will break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the Arabah, and the scorched land will become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; In the haunt of jackals, its resting place, grass becomes reeds and rushes,” (Isaiah 35:6b, 7, NASB, also, 35:1-2).

+His Kingdom will literally produce worldwide peace as Christ forces all nations to submit to his power and authority (Daniel 2:44-45; Isaiah 9:6-7; Psalm 2: 8-9; 72:3, 7; Isaiah 2:4; Micah 4:3).

And yet, there will be more physical changes Christ will bring when he rules the world.

+Unlike today, with so many suffering from illnesses and pandemic outbreaks (such as the Coronavirus, a.k.a. COVID-19, outbreak now freaking out just about everyone), there will be no more sickness or disease or pandemics or pain in that Age to Come. People will have perfect health, mentally and physically: “And no residents will say, ‘I am sick’; The people who dwell there will be forgiven their iniquity,” (Isaiah 33:24, NASB). By the way, forgiveness and living in peace are integral factors for promoting healing of the mind, body, and spirit (Ephesians 4:25-32; 1 Thessalonians 5:12-28).

+Speaking of mental health, people will have a positive attitude rather then a depressive, negative outlook on life: “And the ransomed of the LORD will return, and come with joyful shouting to Zion, with everlasting joy upon their heads. They will find gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing will flee away,” (Isaiah 35:10).

+The Bible also says that all who mourn will be comforted. Jesus will come, “To grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise, instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified,” (Isaiah 61:1-3, NASB).

+There will be a safe, peaceful atmosphere where people are satisfied and no longer greedy, jealous, and hateful, as evidenced by the fact that there will be“peace and goodwill among all men (women, too),” (Luke 1:14)a Kingdom of God trait (Romans 14:17). And this means there will be no more stress or struggles which move people to fight and quarrel (James 4:1-3): “May he judge Thy people with righteousness, and Thine afflicted with justice. Let the mountains bring peace to the people, and the hills in righteousness….In his days may the righteous flourish, and abundance of peace till the moon is no more,” (Psalm 72:3, 7), NASB).

+ People will no longer have to lock their doors or install alarms and surveillance systems to protect their property: “And each of them will sit under his vine and under his fig treee, with no one to make them afraid, for the more of the LORD of hosts has spoken,” (Micah 4:4, NASB, also Isaiah 65:21-23). No robbers or thieves!

+People will not have physical deformities and deficiencies: “Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. Then the lame will leap like a deer. And the tongue of the dumb will shout for joy….” (Isaiah 35:5-6a, NASB).

+In that period, earth’s inhabitants will enjoy long life way beyond our current lifespan. Today, we think it’s remarkable if a person lives to be over 100. But when Christ reigns, the Bible says, “No longer will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his days; for the youth will die at the age of one hundred, and the one who does not reach the age of one hundred shall be thought accursed,” (Isaiah 65:20, NASB). It compares longevity of life during that time to “the lifetime of a tree” (v. 22), which we know thrives for hundreds of years. We’re talking about returning to the time before the Flood when people lived to be up to 900 years old and more.

+There will be rebuilding projects and repair of ruined cities: “Then they will rebuild the ancient ruins, they will raise up the former devastations, and they will repair the rui9ned cities, the desolations of many generations,” Isaiah 61:4, NASB).

+There will not only be peace and harmony among humans, but animals will be tame and harmless during the Millennial reign of Christ. Just think of it: Cages, tranquilizer guns, vaccines for animal bites, and other such items will no longer be needed. There will not be any dangerous or life-threatening predators injuring and killing human beings. Not only that, animals will not devour or hurt each other:

“And the wolf will dwell with the lamb,
And the leopard will lie down with the young goat,
And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
And a little boy will lead them.
Also the cow and the bear will graze,
Their young will lie down together,
And the lion will eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra,
And the weaned child will put his hand on the viper’s den, ” (Isaiah 11:6-8;
see also Isa. 65:25).

All of these physical renovations of Christ’s coming Kingdom are why believers long for his glorious return. For, in spite of all the things mankind is sincerely doing today—trying to make the world a better place by attempting to improve, protect, and extend life—pale in comparison to what Christ is going to do when he brings in the Kingdom Age. And we want to be ready for it.

For we also know that when Christ comes to establish the Kingdom, it will also feature another important characteristic that will surpass time itself. We’ll discuss this in our next post titled, “The Coming Restoration—Eternal Renovation.”

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

P.S. We long for the day Jesus comes and we see him face to face. And we, as well as all the world, will never be the same again. Here’s Christian artist, Jeremy Camp, singing, “There Will Be a Day”: http://youtu.be/CPKyTY71iRM

 

 

 

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The Coming Restoration—Renovation of Peace

Zechariah 9_10

Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time.—Acts 3:20-21 (New American Standard Bible, NASB)

It was a decade that came to be called, “The Turbulent Sixties.” And, while growing up in those days, I remember it well: The Vietnam War, violent protests, the civil rights movement, political assassinations, rise of the counterculture and “the generation gap.” It was, indeed, a period of unrest and many were tired of it. So called, “peace signs” were everywhere. By the end of the decade, the cry for peace was growing louder.

Then, in 1969, along came a popular singer who wrote and sang a song about peace—a song that seemed to speak for everyone at the time. John Lennon, a member of the famous group, the Beatles, wrote and sang, “Give Peace a Chance.” It was basically an antiwar song with political and social overtones.

The words, “Give Peace a Chance” has become a theme for those discontent on account of division, destruction, and even death due to violence and war. We know that as ideal as it is to want peace, not everyone is willing to give peace a chance. It’s hard for peace lovers to understand, but there are some who thrive on violence and war. Ironically, not even John Lennon himself could escape the hand of a violent man who gunned down the famous musician in the archway of his New York residence that fateful day, December 8, 1980.

ATTEMPTS FOR PEACE

As generations come and go, peace among one another continues to be longed for, even while war rages on throughout regions of the world. In fact, at this writing, it’s being reported that after 18 years, America’s longest war may be approaching the end in Afghanistan.

Just recently, a deal was signed between the United States and the Taliban that could open the door for peace in that war- torn nation. After thousands of lives have been killed and many more wounded, plus devastation of property, and trillions of dollars spent, many are hopeful for an end to the conflict even though talks remain fragile with many potential snags along the way. At present, it’s reported the Afghanistan government is refusing to cooperate in the negotiations. But leaders are still moving forward to come up with solutions of peace.

WARS AND RUMORS OF WAR

To Christians, Afghanistan and other volatile places of the world such as the Middle East, are signs that there will never really be world peace until the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6-7) reigns on earth. In fact, Jesus said there will be, “wars and rumors of war” and conflict among nations until he sets foot on Mount Zion, in Jerusalem:

“You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom…” (Matthew 24:6-7a).

Jesus indicated this is only the beginning of sorrows, growing closer together like birth pangs of a woman about to deliver a baby (Matt. 24:8). More and more people will disregard law and order as their love hardens like wax and grows colder (Matt. 24:12). It appears that rebellion against law officials will get out of hand while their authority is ignored. And, of all things, corrupt leaders will allow it (cp., Matt. 24:37-39; Romans 1:18-32). Sounds a lot like today, doesn’t it?

The Bible indicates it will be in midst of world unrest that many shall cry, “Peace and security.”

“For you know quite well that the day of the Lord’s return will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night. When people are saying, ‘Everything is peaceful and secure,’ then disaster will fall on them as suddenly as a pregnant woman’s labor pains begin. And there will be no escape,” (2 Thessalonians 5:2-3, New Living Translation, NLT).

One of the key areas of the world where a World War III has the greatest potential of breaking out is the Middle East. And while many attempts have been made toward achieving peace, there still remains the threat of a major war that would affect all nations.

If a peace deal is established that would appear to bring peace and security say, between Israel and the Palestinians, then this could truly start the prophetic ball rolling toward a major world war. This “peace deal” will ultimately turn out to be false peace and security for then, when everything appears to be going well, sudden disaster will come when the nations will turn against Israel and all those who worship the true God (Daniel 8:23-26; 9:27; Zechariah 12:1-3; Revelation 17:3-18).

THE FINAL WAR

In the end, the war of all wars known as the Battle of Armageddon will be fought in the Valley of Jehoshaphat in Israel (Joel 3:1-3, 9-13; Revelation 16:13-16). When all the armies of the nations are gathered in war against Israel, that’s when Jesus Christ will come to intervene, putting an end to the conflict once and for all. In Revelation 19, it says Jesus will,

“…smite the nations; and he will rule them with a rod of iron; and he treads the winepress of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on robe and on his thigh he has a name written, ‘KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS,’” (vss. 15-16, NASB; also, Psalm 2).

With “the brightness of his coming,” (2 Thessalonians 2:7-10) Jesus will defeat the antichrist and false prophet (Revelation 13) as well as the nations who go against him. Psalm 2:9 predicts that he will be given the nations as his inheritance (v. 8), that he “shall break them with a rod of iron [sign of authority],” and he shall “shatter them like earthenware,” [victorious power] (v. 9).

WHEN PEACE WILL COME

When Jesus rules the world as King of kings and Lord of Lords during his 1,000-year reign (the Millennium, Rev. 20:1-6) he will forge world peace. He will start out in Jerusalem, the world’s capital, where he will sit on the throne of his father, David (Luke 1:31-33). The name of this city, in itself, is unique because “Jerusalem” literally means “the city of peace.”

Ironically, as history shows, Jerusalem has never become a city of peace. Countless wars have been fought there even before King David conquered it over 3,000 years ago. Today, it continues to be a bone of contention amidst talks of peace and security. In fact, the Bible says the city will be a “burdensome stone,” (Zechariah 12:3, King James Version, KJV).   The New International Version (NIV) calls Jerusalem, “an immovable rock to all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves.” Jerusalem has indeed been a roadblock to peace, especially these days as attempts are being made to resolve issues between Jews and Palestinians. 

This is why devout Jews and Christians pray for the peace and security of Jerusalem, just as the Bible exhorts us to do (Psalm 122:6-7). For we know that when Jesus, the Prince of Peace, comes to establish final peace to the City of Peace then peace will emanate throughout all the world. Jesus also had this scene in mind when he lamented over the future of his beloved city and his people and how they will finally accept him the day he comes back to save them (Matthew 23:37-39). 

We pray for the peace of Jerusalem with anticipation of the peace Jesus will bring when he triumphantly rules from his throne there: No more battles; no more violence; no more unrest. It will be a complete transformation and renovation of peace that the world has never known since man sinned against God in the Garden of Eden and brought violence on the earth.

Just think of it: There will be no more need for the military, law enforcement, and their officials because Christ will see to it that there will be an abundance of peace to the people:

“Let the mountains bring peace to the people, and the hills in righteousness…In his days may the righteous flourish, and abundance of peace till the moon is no more,” (Psalm 72:3, 7).

When Jesus reigns, all weapons of war and violence will be turned into tools for true peace and security. No one will be able to take up arms against another person because there will be no more weapons for causing harm and danger. Isaiah 2:4 says,

“And he will judge between the nations, and will render decisions for many peoples; and they will hammer their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks.”

In fact, people will actually be taught the ways of peace. In our last post, I spoke of education renovation. Well, an important part of that education is training the people to abide in the ways of peace instead of war. At least, this is the idea we can get in Micah 4:3 where it says, “they will learn war no more”:

“And He will judge between many peoples, and render decisions for mighty, distant nations. Then they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; Nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they train for war,” (Micah 4:3).

Instead of being trained for war, it’s reasonable to think they ‘ll be trained for peace, “that he may teach us about his ways,” (Micah 4:2) which logically will include the way of peace (John 14:27). In fact, they will learn how to live according to God’s law and order, which we know consequently brings peace, progress, and prosperity. That’s why peace will need to be spoken to all the people the world living during that period:

“…And the bow of war will be cut off. And he will speak peace to the nations; and his dominion will be from sea to sea, and from the River (Euphrates) to the ends of the earth,” (Zechariah 9:10).

Imagine how wonderful it will be at that time—when justice or righteousness is enforced resulting in peace and productivity. It’s the same peace and good will toward men the heralding angels envisioned and praised God for when Jesus was born, in Luke 2:13-14.

Isaiah describes the scene this way,

“And the work of righteousness will be peace, and the service of righteousness, quietness and confidence forever. Then my people will live in a peaceful habitation, and in secure dwellings and in undisturbed resting places; And it will hail when the forest comes down, and the city will be utterly laid low. How blessed will you be, you who sow beside all waters, who let out freely the ox and the donkey,” (Isa. 32:17-20).

The prophet Micah states that as people no more train for war (Micah 4:3), “Each of them will sit under his vine and under his fig tree, with no one to make them afraid, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken,” (Micah 4:4). Here we get a vivid picture of the way people will live peacefully on their own land without the interference of someone coming in violently and stealing it from them.

You talk about giving peace a chance. When Christ comes in all his glory, this chance will become a lasting reality. No one will be able to take it away. For it says that when the Prince of Peace rules, there will be no end to the increase of peace (Isaiah 9:6-7).

To enter into this peaceful renovation period and be a part of Jesus’ rulership, one must invite Jesus into one’s heart now. Through faith, repentance, baptism and holy living  through his Power (Acts 2:38-39; 3:19), we look forward to that day when world peace will be established for good. With the peace of Christ in our hearts today, we prepare for that peace coming tomorrow.

In our next post we’ll take a look at the Coming Restoration—A Physical Renovation.

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

P.S. Here’s the late Tennessee Ernie Ford singing on old Gospel favorite, “Peace in the Valley”: http://youtu.be/qqzdl775xKc

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The Coming Restoration—Environmental Renovation

The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them

Say the word, “environmentalism,” and you stir up a mix of emotions in people. Some immediately think of global warming or climate change. They shudder with fear that earth has only twelve years left before it’s destroyed (unless, of course, government steps in). Others believe we should be concerned about the environment and do what we can to conserve it but they don’t worry about it. Nature will take care of itself. Then there are others who are like the proverbial ostrich with his head in the sand: They would rather not face up to the situation, hoping that if they ignore it, it will all go away. But, the reality is, that’s not so easy anymore.

ENVIRONMENTAL WORRIES ON THE RISE

It appears that the environment is more and more on the minds of Americans these days. Pew Research Center has found that since the economy is now doing much better, Americans are not worried as much about it as they are the environment. The report titled, “As Economic Concerns Recede Environmental Protection Rises on the Public’s Policy Agenda,” (dated, Feb. 13, 2020), says,

“Reflecting a strong U.S. economy, Americans’ policy priorities have changed in recent years. The public now places less priority on economic and job concerns than it did just a few years ago. At the same time, environmental protection and global climate change are rising on the public’s agenda for the president and Congress.”

In January 8-13, 2020, Pew Research Center conducted a survey on cellphones and landlines among 1,504 U.S. adults. They were asked what they thought should be the top priority for the president and Congress such as the economy and the environment and, in the last 6 years, climate change. The percentage of those who say the economy should be the top priority was 67% while it was 64% concerning the environment. In 2002, it was 71% regarding the economy and only 44% for the environment. And ever since the survey was taken in 2014, the survey shows the priority for climate change went from about 35% to 52%.

In summary, Pew Research Center found that…

+For the first time, environmental protection rivals the economy among the public’s top policy priorities.
+There are wide partisan gaps on climate change, environment, guns and stronger military.
+Environment rises as priority but partisan gap persists.
+Environment is a top priority for younger adults.
https://www.people-press.org/2020/02/13/as-economic-concerns-recede-environmental-protection-rises-on-the-publics-policy-agenda/

THE ENVIRONMENTAL MOVEMENT

I share this information because it illustrates what’s on the minds of many Americans in regard to our environment and the future of our planet. Many, especially the younger generation, are in a frenzy over it. They fear that humanity is heading for a disaster from which they’ll never recover—that global warming (an aspect of climate change) is going to destroy earth’s atmosphere due to a greenhouse effect because of the increase of carbon dioxide, chlorofluorocarbons, and other pollutants, as the Oxford Dictionary defines it.

In recent years, environmentalists have gone far beyond recycling, preventing pollution, and being responsible conservationists. Certain activist groups have taken more extreme measures to draw attention to their fears—non-violent confrontations, lawsuits, lobbying, staging demonstrations, and even committing criminal acts such as destructive of property.

One can see how so many emotions can be stirred when environmentalism has become such a debated topic among educators, scientists, politicians, the media, religious leaders, as well as those involved in the movement. Young people are especially reminded that their future depends upon what happens to their environment, via climate change, global warming, and so forth. “Going green” is now on a lot of minds, both young and old.

Now, we can all agree that it is important that everyone should do their part in keeping the environment clean and safe. Who would want to live on a dirty, diseased, damaged planet, anyway? Indeed, God appointed mankind to take care of it: (Genesis 1:24-31). But there are those who go further to use environmentalism as a movement for their own political, financial, or social interests.

Agitating people into frantic fear that humanity has only a few years left before global warming destroys earth is often a tactic to which some resort. In the last forty years we were told the environment can’t get any worse. Not much time is left—maybe twenty or thirty years. The due date came but nothing happened. Still more due dates have come and gone. We’re still here. This reminds me of a joke told by Comedian Jay Leno:

“According to a new U.N. report, the global warming outlook is much worse than originally predicted. Which is pretty bad when they originally predicted it would destroy the planet.”

SHOULD CHRISTIANS BE WORRIED?

From a Christian viewpoint, I submit if more would believe the Bible then their fears would subside. For they would have a clearer understanding on what the future holds than what any so called “expert” has to say about the environment issue. For example, God’s Word gives us the reassurance that this planet will always be here and thus humanity cannot destroy it nor the environment in which we exist:

+Psalm 78:69 “And He built His sanctuary like the heights, like the earth which He has founded forever.” (New American Standard Bible, NASB)

+Psalm 104:5 “He established the earth upon its foundations, so that it will not totter [move out of place] forever and ever.” (NASB)

+Ecclesiastes 1:4 “A generation goes and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever.” (NASB)

+Isaiah 45:18 “For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens (He is the God who formed the earth and made it, He established it and did not create it a waste place, but formed it to be inhabited), ‘I am the Lord, and there is none else.’” (NASB)

GOD’S PLAN FOR EARTH’S ENVIRONMENT

God’s plan for this planet and its environment is that it will abide forever in spite of the fact that due to human sin, the earth was cursed (Genesis 3:8-24). Sin is actually the original pollutant to our environment. At one time, the earth and its environment was a paradise—pure and perfect beauty, order, and harmony in all of God’s creation. But when Adam and Eve sinned against God by eating of the forbidden tree, they and all of God’s creation were cursed—the soil, the trees, the plants, and every living thing in existence. Death and destruction resulted. And so it is to this day.

But God’s plan for this planet and its existence hasn’t changed. In order for God to restore this planet to its original perfection, sin has to be dwelt with and the curse removed. God sent his one and only Son, Jesus Christ, so that through him, there will be no more curse, and then all of God’s creation will be restored. And it’s God’s plan that with Christ in mind, the earth will be cleansed of sin with fire.

The Scriptures indicate that God will bring destruction by fire on the earth. Within the context that earth will abide forever, this does not mean God will remove the planet by burning it up and then replace it with new one. Rather, it means he will purge and purify it thoroughly with fire to remove sin’s impurities from the earth. For example,

+Isaiah 65:17 “For behold I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind.” (NASB)

+2 Peter 3:10 “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.” (NASB)

+Revelation 21:5 “And He who sits on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ And He said, ‘Write, for these words are faithful and true.’” (NASB) Note that this does not say, “I create all new things,” but “…all things new,” indicating that the earth will be restored not replaced with another earth.

Dr. Alva G. Huffer stated,

“The presence of sin is sin’s evidence in environment. When Christ returns to earth, He will save believers from the presence of sin. All evidence of sin eventually will be removed, and this planet will be transformed into a perfect paradise.”  (Systematic Theology)

When Jesus comes (signified by “the day of the Lord”), he will enter his 1,000-year period of restoration (also known as the Millennium; Revelation 20:1-6). And he will save the world from threat of human destruction due to sin. This includes transforming the environment and restoring earth to its original Edenic condition according to the following Scriptures:

+Ezekiel 36:35 “They will say, ‘This desolate land has become like the garden of Eden; and the waste, desolate and ruined cities are fortified and inhabited.’” (NASB)

+Romans 8:19-21 “For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” (NASB)

During the renovation period when Christ rules as King, Earth’s environment will be restored to its fertility and beauty. For example,

+Isaiah 35:1, 2, 7 “The wilderness and the desert will be glad, and the Arabah [desert] will rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it will blossom profusely and rejoice with rejoicing and shout of joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They will see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God…. The scorched land will become a pool and the thirsty ground springs of water; In the haunt of jackals, its resting place, grass becomes reeds and rushes.” (NASB)

+Isaiah 55:13 “Instead of the thorn bush the cypress will come up, and instead of the nettle the myrtle will come up, and it will be a memorial to the Lord, for an everlasting sign which will not be cut off.” (NASB)

+Amos 9:13-14 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “When the plowman will overtake the reaper and the treader of grapes him who sows seed; When the mountains will drip sweet wine and all the hills will be dissolved. Also I will restore the captivity of My people Israel, and they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them; they will also plant vineyards and drink their wine, and make gardens and eat their fruit.” (NASB)

Finally, when Jesus completes his reign and turns it all over to God (1 Corinthians 15:23-28), the curse of sin shall be removed forever, and paradise on earth will be totally restored:

+Revelation 22:3 “And there shall no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and his bond-servants shall serve him.” (NASB)

Whether you consider yourself an environmentalist or not, it’s only natural that you will not want to miss being in Christ’s Kingdom for anything in this world. Just think of it: perfectly clear streams of water, no pollution in the air, land, or sea, and the environment completely purified and transformed into eternal beauty and splendor. It makes us want to be ready all the more for that wonderful time by giving our lives over to Jesus now, making him our Lord and Savior. Only those who accept Christ and are converted to him have that hope.

In our next post, we will examine, “The Coming Restoration—The Renovation of Peace.”

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

P.S. Enjoy this video vignette from Isaiah 35, “Streams in the Desert”: http://youtu.be/fWiKNmGw5r8

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