Welcome to Looking Up

The name of this blog is taken from Luke 21:28 where Jesus says: “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”

2 Kings 3:27 – Human Sacrifice

The demonic realm hungers for blood. We’ve all heard about satanic rituals where blood is shed or even drank, so there’s certainly enough information and proof that adherents of darkness who follow Satan and his minions perform abhorrent practices.  Have you ever wondered why, or to what end?

First, it’s important to understand there are spiritual entities which aspire to power, even to the extent of replacing God Himself.  We’re shown this in the Bible right from the beginning of Genesis with the serpent tempting Eve.  He convinced her that she could be like God and know all that He was withholding from her.  It was a lie, of course, but one that she believed. Adam in his naivety went right along with it, and here we are today, their descendants who have inherited their sinful nature from of old.

The serpent – probably Satan – to have seduced Eve with this fallacy, had to have had the notion in the first place that God could be taken down or replaced in some manner.  It was actually his initial rebellion and sin that began the descent into darkness which we’re experiencing today.  There’s also plenty of Scriptural evidence that many other inhabitants of the heavenly host rebelled as well – likely at the instigation of Satan.  We have only to look at the accounts of Genesis 6 (sons of God producing Nephilim with human women) and Genesis 11 (Tower of Babel with God’s sons placed over resulting nations and becoming their gods) to see that foolish ambition isn’t limited to us humans.  It’s been part of the nature of many spiritual beings since their creation as well.

Secondly, one truth we’re shown Biblically is that only by the shedding of blood is sin forgiven.  In the Old Testament theocracy of Israel this came about through animal sacrifice.  These animals had to be first-born and without blemish, foreshadowing the coming of Jesus.  Through the shedding of these many beasts, the sins of the people were covered, and they became acceptable to come before Yahweh and worship.  When Jesus came, He became the perfect sacrifice for all time, doing away with the necessity of killing animals for their blood covering.

In this we see that there is power in the blood; so much so that because Jesus died and shed His blood for us, we who believe now have right-standing with God and the indwelling of His Holy Spirit.  This miraculous act both empowers us today and gives us the assurance that we will rise from the dead and be with the Lord forever.

Given the efficacy of blood in doing all this from a righteous and Godly perspective, is it any wonder that Satan appropriated this act to use it for his own devious means?  If blood has this much power for good, then it likewise has much potential for evil. In the same manner, we’re shown how much miraculous power that angels have when sent by God to do His bidding. Rebellious angels have this same power. They haven’t lost it; it’s just that they use it for dark deeds rather than good ones.

Satanic rituals use lots of blood.  Followers of the dark arts sacrifice animals and perform black masses.  They drink the blood that is sacrificed.  All this empowers the demonic entities urging these people onward.  There’s also much evidence that when people drink blood, this creates an even greater demonic stronghold on these individuals that is extremely difficult to break, even when they turn from these dark practices, renounce them, and declare Jesus as their Savior.  They may no longer be possessed, but they can certainly continue to be oppressed and harassed until they walk completely in God’s righteousness and shut the door that remains open in their life to their past.

What is some of the power that comes from the unrighteous shedding of blood?  In 2 Kings 3:27 we see an example.  The kings of Israel, Judah, and Edom had joined together to fight against Moab.  God intervened and gave them an initial victory.  However, only Jehoshaphat of Judah was a righteous king; this likely contributed to what happened next.  The other two kings weren’t Godly and didn’t have His favor.  When the king of Moab saw that he was losing the battle, he performed an extreme act:

Then he took his oldest son who was to reign in his place and offered him for a burnt offering on the wall. And there came great wrath against Israel. And they withdrew from him and returned to their own land.

In obeisance to his god, he offered the human sacrifice of his oldest son.  The king shed this young man’s blood in order to gain the demonic power he sought.  Because of the situation, i.e. that only one of the three kings who opposed him was Godly, there was apparently enough unrighteousness in the other two kings that God allowed the Moabite king to prevail through his actions.

This king’s dark deed empowered the demonic minions so that there came great wrath against Israel.

We must understand that this only occurred because God sanctioned it.  In His doing so, this allowed the gods this evil king served to have the necessary power to strengthen their human followers and defeat the Israelite army.

It’s an illustration that we do well to realize gives us insight today as to the spiritual battle in which we’re engaged.  It brings to life Paul’s description in Ephesians 6:12:

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

The three kings coming against Moab weren’t fighting on the natural human level; they were part of this spiritual war.  Because only one of them was righteous, God allowed Israel with its ungodly king , Jehoram, to be defeated.  As usual, Yahweh was trying to teach His people a lesson.  With Him, all things were possible; without Him, they were lost.

If we walk in the power of God through our salvation in Jesus Christ, we have the only means of victory against the dark forces we face everyday.  In Christ we have life, and that more abundantly.  He alone enables us to triumph over all forces arrayed against us.  Hallelujah!

Is This the Start of the Psalm 83 War?

I’ll just put this out there.  If I’m wrong in thinking this, so be it.  Most prophecy teachers hold to the theory that Ezekiel’s War (Ezekiel 38-39) is the next big prophetic timeline event – aside from the pre-Tribulation Rapture, of course.  Ever since reading Bill Salus’ book: Psalm 83 – The Missing Prophecy Revealed (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BBNQZAE/),  I’ve been a believer that the prophetic community is missing the mark, and that Salus has it right.

Since reading this first book of Bill’s, I’ve appreciated his out-of-the-box thinking that shows up in a number of other end-times prophecies that he explores.  He’s got a great ability to dig into Scripture and look at it differently than others before him.

Given the escalation of violence that has just ramped up in the last couple days (today, as I write this is May 10, 2021), I’m wondering if what we’re seeing could be the beginning of the Psalm 83 War.  We won’t know until it’s well along or over, of course, but given the times in which we’re living, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least that this HUGE prophetic marker is about to commence.

Here are a couple items that promoted me to write this:

  • Statement by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:
“We are in a struggle that is spreading across several fronts: in Jerusalem, in Gaza and elsewhere in the country. The terrorist organizations in Gaza crossed a red line in the evening on Jerusalem Day and attacked us with missiles at the entrances to Jerusalem.”
  • Headline and introduction from All Israel News:

JERUSALEM—In a major escalation that could set off a full-blown war, Hamas has just fired rockets at Jerusalem from the Gaza Strip.

A 49-year old Israeli woman was wounded. The IDF currently launching airstrikes against targets in Gaza. Sirens began sounding in the Israeli capital just after 6 p.m. local time.

I have not heard the sirens go off here in a war-time situation since 2014.

Keep an eye out.  Bible prophecy has many unfulfilled events that are on the cusp of occurring.  We’ll see – could this be one of them?

John 3:5 – Water and Spirit

We’re all familiar with the account of the Pharisee Nicodemus coming to Jesus at night. Jesus called him the teacher of Israel (John 3:10); as such he was an important, highly regarded man.  It’s why he came at night.  His intense curiosity about Jesus got the best of him, but he couldn’t risk anyone seeing him with this One who caused such angst among his peers.

Nicodemus, like all Pharisees, thought that the way into the kingdom of heaven was by his own righteousness.  Through the uncompromising laws and rules that the Pharisees followed, they were sure that their lives pleased Yahweh.  They had seen the results of their people turning away from the Lord for centuries into apostasy by following other gods, and they were determined not to repeat that offense.  By strictly obeying the 613 Laws that God had given to Israel, they were sure this was the key to eternal life.

This is what Nicodemus believed, yet he had observed the words and actions of Jesus. He had seen the miracles. Because he was religious and knew of Israel’s history, he realized that God indeed sent His prophets, and that they often performed miraculous deeds. He acknowledged this in John 3:2:

This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”

In the eyes of Nicodemus, Jesus had surely been sent by God.  So, why did Nicodemus come to Jesus?  What did he ask?

We’re not told this specifically in the text, but he must have expressed some confusion.  His fellow Pharisees were condemning Jesus, but this man who drew such large crowds had a way about Him and did things that no man without God could do.  It perplexed Nicodemus, so he had to find out for himself what Jesus was all about.

Jesus must have surprised Nicodemus by his response.  In John 3:3 we see that:

Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

This was an entirely new concept to Nicodemus.  In all his vaunted learning as a Pharisee, he’d never come across this idea.  It wasn’t something that the Torah, i.e. the Old Testament, had revealed.

He questioned Jesus more, and He said something even more perplexing in John 3:5:

Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

This really threw Nicodemus.  He had no idea what Jesus was talking about.  This concept of being born again was puzzling enough, what was this about being born of both water and Spirit to enter God’s Kingdom?

We know that when the true church of Jesus Christ is Raptured, the dead in Christ will rise first, followed immediately by those who are alive.  Jesus will come on the clouds, not touching the earth, and summon those who are His to snatch them from this mortal plane to be with Him forever.

What happens then?  At that moment in time – in the twinkling of an eye – we are transformed.  The Bible tells us we will be like Jesus.  We will be given glorified bodies.  Our bodies of flesh are like a seed that goes into the ground.  When it germinates, it metamorphoses into something entirely different from what it had been.  It produces a living green plant, whereas before it had been a little, hard brown shell. The life that comes forth is so totally different from what it had been that the before and after are seemingly unrelated.

When we are born into the flesh, we develop in our mother’s womb in amniotic fluid, i.e. water.  We come forth with the bursting of that sac and water is released. Our birth into life is predicated on our having developed in this water. That process brings us into this world. As Jesus said, we are born of water.

Life in the flesh is completely different from that of the Spirit. Spiritual beings inhabit a plane of existence that we cannot see nor comprehend. We know this realm is real, but it is so far removed from our comprehension, that we can only imagine being part of it.  Jesus said that when we’re born again by the Holy Spirit of God, this enables us to enter and become part of that realm.

To become part of that new existence, we must believe in Jesus; that He is God; that He came to earth and inhabited a mortal body; that He died for our sins; that He rose from the grave – transformed back into a spiritual being; and that He is coming back to bring us to the place he has prepared for us.  This transformation is a most marvelous concept. Our mortal bodies will become something entirely different. We will become spirit beings, yet have characteristics that are of the flesh; but we won’t be flesh.

Jesus could apparently walk through walls or simply appear in one place or another.  He could eat food, yet He didn’t need it. After His resurrection. He was, and is, an inhabitant of heaven, but He was just as comfortable walking on the earth. This is what it will be like for us, and more.  It is this which Jesus spoke of to Nicodemus which neither he nor we can fully comprehend.

Contemplating this incredible future gives us hope. There is more to life than what we know in the flesh. What we will be is ultimately a mystery, but it will be marvelous. This is why we believe as Jesus so famously said in John 3:16:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

1 King’s 19:10 – Elijah’s Lament

Elijah obeyed the Lord and received His blessings for his faithfulness, but that didn’t stop the prophet from fearing for his life at the hand of man.  Because of the tasks that God had Elijah perform, his life was constantly in danger.  In his human frailty, he grew weary and depressed.  Yet, Yahweh came to Elijah at multiple times to show His love and care for him in his times of greatest need.

In one particular instance, an angel instructed Elijah to travel to Mount Horeb, a journey that took forty days.  During that time he must have seriously questioned what he was doing and its purpose.  It left him depleted and with little hope. In 1 Kings 19:10 we see Elijah’s lament:

He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.”

That forty days gave him too much opportunity to think.  He concluded that despite his faithfulness to God, no one in Israel paid attention to what he said – he believed God’s Word was returning void; more than that, he believed he was the only person left in all the land who still revered the Lord.

At this moment of deepest despair, God showed up.  As He did, Elijah once more voiced his complaint in 1 Kings 19:14, just to make sure Yahweh had heard him the first time.  He did.

God did something quite unusual with Elijah to assure him of His continued presence.  He instructed the prophet to anoint three different individuals for service to Him.  We see that in 1 Kings 19:15-16:

And the Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place.”

God told Elijah to anoint:

  1. The next king over Syria which was a pagan nation and enemy of Israel
  2. The next king over apostate Israel in place of wicked King Ahab
  3. The next prophet who would succeed Elijah

The purpose of these anointings was to specifically address Elijah’s complaint.  Israel had turned from Yahweh, and Elijah hated that.  Just like any ministry leader, he wanted to see fruit from his efforts.  In this case, God largely agreed with Elijah that the unbelieving people of Israel had hardened their hearts to such an extent that few remained who followed Him.  These anointings provided the means for God to rectify the situation.  In the solution, we can read between the lines that God was as fed up with Israel’s apostasy as Elijah was.  The text of 1 Kings 19:17-18 tells us what God declared:

“And the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael shall Jehu put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha put to death. Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”

The new king of Syria would pursue the heretical people of Israel and put them to death.  If anyone escaped the enemy’s sword, the new king of Israel would hunt these unbelievers down and kill them.  If any of these still remained after the first two waves of slaughter, then Elijah’s successor prophet would finish God’s task.

What was at issue?  Why was God ordaining the demise of these people?  It was because they had turned from him to worship Baal.  This was always an abomination to Yahweh, and he inevitably brought wrath and punishment to those who so foolishly turned from Him.

These two new kings and the next prophet didn’t appear instantly.  As in most things in life when God is at work, it took some time for the prophecy to be fulfilled.  We don’t see the next king of Syria until 2 Kings 8; neither does the next king of Israel come into the picture until 2 Kings 9.  As for the next prophet, Elisha, he doesn’t actually succeed Elijah until 2 Kings 2.

These tasks of anointing showed Elijah that God was at work, but Yahweh also wanted to reassure him there were others who still loved the Lord.  He did this by telling Elijah that there was a remnant in Israel of 7,000 others who followed the Lord.  Surely this helped Elijah not feel so alone.  Somewhere in the land were a faithful few.

For those of us who labor for the Lord, our “success” often ranges in our ministry efforts from prominent to seemingly nothing.  We all know of high-profile pastors.  Some of them are true ministers of the Gospel, while others only pretend to be so.  There have been many missionaries over the years who worked hard in difficult places and actually saw no one turn to the Lord.  Yet, they planted seeds, and only when those missionaries died did plants and fruit appear.  It must have been exceedingly discouraging, but these faithful ones carried on in the hope and promise of God that all they did wouldn’t be wasted.  Sometimes there’s a late harvest rather than an early one.

God told Elijah that his ministry had some effect; He also let him know that through his work, greater things would happen later.

The bottom line message that God gave Elijah was to simply trust that He was present and silently at work.  That’s difficult to accept at times, yet isn’t that what faith and trust in God are all about?

God fulfills His promises.  When He calls someone to work for the Kingdom, it is not in vain.

1 Kings 18:21 – Leaping and Limping

If someone is leaping, can he also be limping at the same time?  That’s a strange question, isn’t it? Apparently according to the writer of 1 Kings, that’s a distinct possibility.

In the days of the prophet Elijah, the wicked King Ahab ruled over Israel – the Northern Kingdom.  He was so evil and far from God that the text declares in 1 Kings 16:31 about Ahab:

And as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, he took for his wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went and served Baal and worshiped him.

In other words, the sins of Jeroboam were bad enough.  His idolatry had caused the people of Israel to sin, and God didn’t take kindly to that.  With Ahab, he compounded the sin by marrying Jezebel, who was a pagan princess and high priestess of the gods Baal and Asherah.  Her influence was strong on Ahab to the extent that 1 Kings 16:32-33 tells us:

He erected an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he built in Samaria. And Ahab made an Asherah. Ahab did more to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him.

That was a final straw for God.  The people had crossed a line with Him.  Just like a disobedient child that needs to be punished, Yahweh had to show Israel the error of their ways.  In this instance, He brought a three-year drought that resulted in a severe famine.

Apparently during the time of Elijah’s ministry, he had been a severe thorn in Ahab’s side.  This drought caused the king to seek Elijah to kill him.  God brought the drought and Ahab’s hatred of Elijah to a head when he instructed the prophet to present himself to Ahab.  That provided the opportunity for one of the most – if not the most – dramatic showdowns in the Bible.  This was the spiritual equivalent of Gary Cooper in the movie High Noon facing the bad guys on Main Street in a major gunfight in sight of the whole town while they stood back and watched.

Elijah declared to Ahab that it was because of him that God brought trouble on Israel; Elijah was just the messenger.  At God’s instigation, Ahab gathered all the 850 pagan prophets of Baal and Asherah together on Mount Carmel.  Elijah then asked this question of the people of Israel in 1 Kings 18:21 who were there as bystanders watching this showdown:

“How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word.

The Hebrew word translated as “limping” in the ESV is Strong’s #6452: pacach.  It has the primary definition of “to pass or spring over.”  It’s the same word that is used in Exodus for how the Lord passed over the houses of the Israelites who had applied the blood.  Other translations of this word for this verse use “waver” (NIV) or “falter” (NKJ) or “struggle” (NAS).  It is used in 2 Samuel 4:4 to describe Saul’s grandson, Mephibosheth, who fell and became lame (pacach). We see the same word used again several verses later in 1 Kings 18:26 (ESV) as the false prophets attempt to get Baal to answer and bring down fire:

… And they limped around the altar that they had made.

Again, other translations tell us they “danced” (NIV) or “leaped” (KJV).

It’s obviously a word with a wide range of meaning. It seems to me that the text is implying that the people were engaging in an action that was simultaneously exuberant, perhaps from a natural human perspective, but spiritually it describes their vacillation between two opposing ideals with ultimately a poor end, which is exactly what 1 Kings 18:21 says.  The word conveys the image of someone who goes from one extreme to another, dancing and leaping, and ends up the worse for it, i.e. lame and useless.

In the New Testament James 1:8 describes a double-minded man as one who doubts and is tossed about like on a wave of the sea.  James 3:10 also describes the impossibility of the same mouth simultaneously speaking both blessings and curses.  The extremes caused by doubt and a lack of firm faith cause someone to be worthless in his faith.  It’s the picture of sitting on a fence and not being able to choose which side to get off on.

As blood-bought believers in Jesus Christ, we are called to come boldly to the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16).  Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:13 that having done everything, to stand firm.  We are not to waver in our faith.  Such belief is no belief – no true faith – at all.

Each one of us must make the determination that truly Christ is Lord.  He is not only our Savior, but the One who we must serve in our entirety.  When we walk in any other way, it is a poor substitute for what God desires and requires for us.

1 Kings 14:13 – Something Pleasing

Those who have read any number of my essays may have noticed that I’ll often comment upon unusual or obscure passages of Scripture to tease out what may be the thinking behind what is written.  Of course, I have no unique communication with the authors of old and must sometimes speculate what’s going on behind the scenes.  As in any endeavor any of us undertakes, we have to combine what we know with critical thinking to derive an understanding as best we can.  With that in mind, let’s look at 1 Kings 14:13:

And all Israel shall mourn for him and bury him, for he only of Jeroboam shall come to the grave, because in him there is found something pleasing to the Lord, the God of Israel, in the house of Jeroboam.

In context, what’s going on is that King Jeroboam of Israel – the Northern Kingdom, that has now separated from Judah, the Southern Kingdom – has perpetrated abominations against the Lord.  Rather than commit himself and the people to Yahweh, he made two golden calves for Israel to worship so they wouldn’t go to Jerusalem to honor God there (1 Kings 12:28).  In response, Yahweh sent a man of God to Jeroboam who declared the altars to these idols would be torn down (1 Kings 13:2).  But, the Lord didn’t stop there because of Jeroboam’s great iniquities.

Jeroboam’s young son Abijah became sick.  As so many of these apostate kings did, they turned to Yahweh only when it was convenient for them.  In this case, for the healing of his son, Jeroboam sent his wife to inquire of the Lord to the prophet who first anointed him as king.  Rather than good news for her, the prophet declared the worst possible outcome, i.e. that the child would die.  Moreover, the prophet gave the reason.  We see this in 1 Kings 14:9-10 in which the prophet said:

“… but you have done evil above all who were before you and have gone and made for yourself other gods and metal images, provoking me to anger, and have cast me behind your back, therefore behold, I will bring harm upon the house of Jeroboam and will cut off from Jeroboam every male, both bond and free in Israel, and will burn up the house of Jeroboam, as a man burns up dung until it is all gone.”

God had given Jeroboam the opportunity to rule with His favor and anointing upon him.  Instead, he had greatly angered God through his foolish and willful acts of idolatry that were intended to turn the hearts of the people from Him.  Jeroboam deliberately made people sin through the making of the golden calves.  As always when someone purposely causes others to engage in his sin, the consequences are extreme.  We have only to think of what Jesus later said in Matthew 18:6 about those who cause children to stumble and fall

“But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”

So it was with Jeroboam.  In this case God decreed that none in Jeroboam’s family line would live.  Thus, when his wife approached the prophet about their son, she learned in 1 Kings 14:12 that he wouldn’t recover from his illness: “… the child shall die.”

It’s in the next verse in 1 Kings 14:13 that we find our interesting tidbit for today.  The prophet informed Jeroboam’s wife that their son Abijah was the only one in their family who would have a proper and reverent burial.  The reason?  “… in him there is found something pleasing to the Lord… “

This child, in all of Jeroboam’s family, was the only one that Yahweh, in His omniscience, saw as having any (future?) goodness.  Because of that goodness, God allowed Abijah to die.

Doesn’t that make you pause and think? It certainly does for me.

The implication I see is that this child had the potential to be a Godly person who could have pleased the Lord.  But, God allowed him to die.  This implies to me that the wickedness all around him in Jeroboam’s family would have been so great, that he would have sinned as a result and turned away from God – perhaps because of the way he would have been raised.  Proverbs 22:6 says:

Train up a child in the way he should go;

    even when he is old he will not depart from it.

It’s obvious to me this certainly wasn’t going to happen with Abijah, so God mercifully permitted him to die in his (future?) righteousness, and thus be with the Lord forever.  Apparently, if the child had remained alive, his fate would have been the fires of hell along with Jeroboam and all the rest of his family.

Looking at Abijah’s death in this light gives us another way to consider the deaths of at least some other children.  Losing a child is always hard.  Yet, it may be that God in His mercy preserves that child by allowing him or her to die young.  Because God knows the end from the beginning, the fate of a child who dies at an early age may actually be preferable than the alternative.  Perhaps, the family in which the child is born, or other circumstances in life, would have caused such great apostasy that God wanted to safeguard the innocence of that soul.

This doesn’t mitigate the pain of loss for any parent. However, God sees and knows all things past and future. He is merciful and loving. It may very well be that in the act of the death of a child, God is actually causing that young one to be with Him forever.

1 Kings 13:34 – Fruit of Bad Counsel

Counsel may come from men and be good or bad and have its consequences; when counsel comes from God and is ignored the outcome is disastrous.

When Rehoboam became king in place of his father Solomon, he immediately had a choice to make as to how he would rule.  The people of Israel came to him with the complaint that Solomon had burdened them with a heavy yoke.  This protest appears to me to be without substantiation, but it’s what they believed. In the days of Solomon he had forced labor, but the text earlier tells us in 1 Kings 9:22 that he did not make slaves of the people of Israel; rather:

… They were the soldiers, they were his officials, his commanders, his captains, his chariot commanders and his horsemen.

Apparently, the people of Israel felt this was too much, and they came to Rehoboam asking for relief.  Hearing their complaint, he first turned to the wise old men who had been his father’s advisors.  They gave him good counsel by saying he should be a servant to the people.  (In this they were foreshadowing what Jesus taught.)  However, Rehoboam was a young man, and like many youth had an influential peer group that he grew up with.  They advised him to treat the Israelites exactly the opposite of what the old men had counseled.  Why?  They were ungodly youth with no moral guidance from the Word of God.

Rehoboam listened to his friends and increased the burden on Israel – to whatever extent it was.  That didn’t go over well as 1 Kings 12:15 says:

So the king did not listen to the people, for it was a turn of affairs brought about by the Lord that he might fulfill his word, which the Lord spoke by Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat.

Note that this poor treatment of Israel at the hand of Rehoboam was guided by God.  It was His intent, because of the growing apostasy in Israel, to cause her division.  (It was all part of His divine plan of redemption.)  Rehoboam subsequently listened to the good counsel of a man of God in 1 Kings 12:22 and did not attack the separated peoples of Israel.

Earlier in the narrative in 1 Kings 11, God raised up Jeroboam to be the leader who would be over the divided kingdom and the peoples of Israel who would rebel from Rehoboam.  God had promised Jeroboam a dynasty in 1 Kings 11:38-39 if he would follow His commands.  Straight from the mouth of Yahweh, this was better than man’s good counsel, this was Godly counsel.

Sadly, when Jeroboam was established over the divided kingdom of Israel – what became known as the Northern Kingdom – he ignored the Godly counsel of Yahweh.  We see in 1 Kings 12:28 the following:

So the king took counsel and made two calves of gold. And he said to the people, “You have gone up to Jerusalem long enough. Behold your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.”

Whose counsel did Jeroboam take?  Obviously that of ungodly men.  We’ll come back to this in a moment because it had disastrous consequences.

One other example of good and bad counsel in the reading for today comes from the interactions of a man of God and an old prophet.  The man of God confronted Jeroboam with his sin of duplicating the iniquity of the people during the Exodus and creating not one, but two golden calves.  This man gave Jeroboam the news that he had disobeyed God, and His promise of a dynastic kingdom would not prevail.

When the man of God left, he encountered an old prophet.  The Word Yahweh had given the man of God was that he should not eat anything in the location where he had given his prophecy.  However, the old prophet lied to the man of God so that instead of heeding the Godly counsel, the man of God listened to the bad counsel of this old prophet.  It led to his death.

As for Jeroboam, his sin of apostasy was truly great in God’s eyes.  In fact, the text tells us in 1 Kings 13:34:

And this thing became sin to the house of Jeroboam, so as to cut it off and to destroy it from the face of the earth.

In subsequent Scriptures that describe the kings of Israel and how they turned far from God, Jeroboam is inevitably cited as the poster boy for their sin in how they disobeyed God’s Word.  The description that we see with these other kings refers back to “the sin of Jeroboam.”  This shows us how important it is for anyone, Jew or Gentile, to not turn to gods and idols in place of the One true God.

God loves us immensely.  It’s the reason He created us in the first place.  He wants to lavish His incredible love upon His creation as a Father to a son or daughter.  There is no other reason that God would put up with the continual turning away from Him by men over the ages.  It’s His love and that alone which is the constant, and He has shown that He will do anything to demonstrate His love.  He sacrificed His only son Jesus for that purpose: to redeem mankind that we would love, honor, and obey Him.

If we would only wake up to see this love of God, can you imagine all that He would do for us?  Imagine no more.  God will accomplish His purposes, and we who turn to Him now will experience the fullness of His love in the Millennial Kingdom and beyond.  How amazing that will be!

Awaken Prophecy Update 5-5-21: $100 Million Deli

Awaken Bible Prophecy Update 5-5-21: $100 Million Deli

Some of you may have seen last week’s prophecy update in which I spoke of a coming Long Hot Summer. It got a number of views, then YouTube deleted it. Fortunately, I also uploaded that prophecy update on Rumble. I link to that below this update if you’d like to watch and consider what I said.

Today’s Prophecy Update is almost an exercise in whimsical fantasy. It is The Bizarre Tale of the $100 Million Deli. Why is a single delicatessen valued in the stock market at over $100 Million? What are the implications of this as we consider it from a prophetic perspective?

1 Kings 10:5 – No Breath in Her

Imagine yourself a monarch – a king or queen – in the time of Solomon.  The queen of Sheba was such a ruler.  Because of Solomon’s fame, this queen heard about him from the distant land in which she lived.  Sheba is considered to be the modern day country of Yemen, to the far south of Saudi Arabia on the Gulf of Aden in the Arabian Sea. It’s in the vicinity of Ethiopia, over 1,300 miles from Jerusalem.

All nations of the earth, other than Israel, worshiped pagan gods that had come to rule following the incident of the Tower of Babel (Deuteronomy 32:8 – ESV).  These gods included such notables as Ashtoreth, Milcom, Chemosh, and Molech among others.  No doubt the queen of Sheba idolized one of these or another god of their ilk. Yet, in 1 Kings 10:1 we read:

Now when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she came to test him with hard questions.

The queen had heard about Solomon specifically because of Yahweh.  The Name of the Lord – because of how He raised Solomon’s stature among the nations – had been heard of even as far away as Sheba.  It was that Name and this God who intrigued her enough to make the long and arduous journey to Israel.

Why would she do this?  It may be that as an intelligent woman and queen, she had questions about life that her gods could not answer.  Solomon was known for his wisdom far and wide.  Likely, these questions burned in her heart, and she had to search out the answers.  Sure enough, in 1 Kings 10:3, this is what ensued:

And Solomon answered all her questions; there was nothing hidden from the king that he could not explain to her.

Envision this queen, perhaps from her youth, having so many responsibilities and seeking guidance that never came from the wise men surrounding her and the gods of her land. When she comes to Solomon and learns what he willingly imparts, here is how the last phrase of 1 Kings 10:5 describes her reaction:

… there was no breath in her.

She knew in her heart that everything Solomon said in answering her every question was true.  The understanding she’d sought for so long came to fruition from the lips of Solomon who spoke with the wisdom and knowledge of Yahweh.  Because of this, in 1 Kings 10:6-7 she exclaimed:

“The report was true that I heard in my own land of your words and of your wisdom, 7 but I did not believe the reports until I came and my own eyes had seen it. And behold, the half was not told me. Your wisdom and prosperity surpass the report that I heard.”

Would that not have moved her?  Wouldn’t she also want to have a part of this God who so graciously gave the king of Israel so much?  Of course!.  It’s why she said in 1 Kings 10:9:

“Blessed be the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and set you on the throne of Israel! Because the Lord loved Israel forever, he has made you king, that you may execute justice and righteousness.”

With this statement of blessing, she became a believer in Yahweh.  In doing so, she rejected the gods of her youth and of her nation.  (Remember, God always intended Israel to be a light to the nations so that all would be drawn to Him.)  In fact, Jesus mentioned her in Matthew 12:42 (and Luke 11:31 as a parallel passage) in His judgment about the lack of faith in Israel:

“The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.”

Another probable proof of the queen of Sheba’s faith is the Ethiopian eunuch that Philip encountered in the account in Acts:8:26-40.  As noted earlier, Ethiopia and Yemen are in the same area.  Ethiopia could even have been under this queen’s rule as part of Sheba at the time.  When she returned home, she would likely have brought the knowledge and worship of Yahweh with her, resulting in a body of believers in the One true God.

The eunuch is considered a Jewish proselyte, i.e. one who had converted to Judaism.  There is the real possibility his faith resulted from its being handed down from this queen about 900 years earlier.

In this account of the queen’s faith in Yahweh, we see a foreshadowing of the future Millennial Kingdom in 1 Kings 10:24:

And the whole earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom, which God had put into his mind.

The time is coming when Jesus will rule and reign in person over the entire earth.  Won’t all peoples in all lands desire to see and know Him?  Won’t He make Himself available so as to impart all wisdom and knowledge that we seek?

What an amazing time this coming 1,000 years will be for all the inhabitants of the earth!

1 Kings 9:8 – Heap of Ruins

Solomon spent seven years building the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem (1 Kings 6:38). When he had finished, he dedicated the house to the Lord.  In his prayers of dedication, Solomon acknowledged the natural inclination of the people to sin, and he pleaded with Yahweh to forgive them in their human failures.  We see the many trespasses that he anticipates the people will commit in 1 Kings 8:31-46.  Interestingly, Solomon lists some issues that are conditional, i.e. “if…“, while there are others that are certain to occur: “when…”.

In praying about these iniquities, Solomon distinguishes between offenses committed against God and those enacted against man.  The reality is that every sin someone perpetrates is ultimately against God. When a person harms another in any way, because he is typically acting in his self-interest and not pursuing God’s interests, he adds one more mark to the count of sins against him for which he will be held accountable.

Solomon, knowing this in his wisdom, asks the Lord to mitigate this for His people. The condensed version of his prayer in 1 Kings 8 goes like this:

“If they sin against you – for there is no one who does not sin (v46) … if they repent with all their heart and with all their soul (v48) … then hear in heaven … their prayer and plea (v49) … and grant them compassion (v49).”

What Solomon references also in his prayers is the acknowledgment that Israel was called by God to be special.  He declares this truth in 1 Kings 8:53 (also see Deuteronomy 32:9):

“For you separated them from among all the peoples of the earth to be your heritage, as you declared through Moses your servant, when you brought our fathers out of Egypt, O Lord God.”

Solomon also knows that God chose Israel to be a light to the nations as he indicates in 1 Kings 8:42,60:

“(for they shall hear of your great name and your mighty hand, and of your outstretched arm), when he comes and prays toward this house  …  that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God; there is no other.”

The benediction of Solomon’s great prayer ends with his plea for God to help His people as they walk out their having such responsibility as He has given them.  He concludes in 1 Kings 8:58:

“… that he may incline our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments, his statutes, and his rules, which he commanded our fathers.”

Following Solomon’s prayer and the massive number of sacrifices to the Lord (that we can’t even begin to comprehend), Yahweh appears to him as He had once previously.  As we’ve seen many places in Scripture, God promises all of His wonderful goodness, but there’s a condition.  For Him to bless a person or a nation, they must be faithful to Him.  If they do that, the sky’s the limit as to how many blessings He will bestow upon them.

However, God knows the heart of man.  Even as Solomon articulated some of the sins of Israel that could cause significant problems for the people and the land, God knows the potential for man to fail all too well.  He articulates this in 1 Kings 9:6-9:

“But if you turn aside from following Me (v6) … then I will cut off Israel (v7) … and this house will become a heap of ruins (v8) … then they [other nations] will say ‘Because they abandoned the Lord their God who brought their fathers out of the land of Egypt and laid hold on other gods and worshiped them and served them. Therefore the Lord has brought all this disaster on them.’”

This is the way with God.  He expects those who know Him to be wholly and completely His.  Whether it was Israel turning from Yahweh to serve other gods, or whether it’s the church today that falls away from Him in like manner, He brings judgment to His house.  An unfaithful people find their temple or their church a heap of ruins.  Sadly, what occurred in the past with Israel will happen again in the not too distant future.

The Bible foretells of great apostasy in the latter days.  We are seeing that before our very eyes.  So many churches have embraced the world in place of serving and loving God.  Those churches and their people will pay a stiff price.  There may be some who are truly born again within those sterile houses of worship, but most of the people are likely not saved.  Otherwise, why stay in a place that has become an abomination to the Lord?

These congregations will not be Raptured.  They will go into the 7-year Tribulation and suffer God’s wrath that He rains upon this unbelieving world.  Perhaps some of these apostate church-goers will be saved in these terrible years, but the cost will be high.  Most Tribulation saints will be martyred for turning to the One true God rather than worshiping the vessels of Satan.

It’s still not too late.  Do you know of anyone who attends a church that honors the world above God?  You have a sacred duty to try to show them the error of their ways.  Perhaps by your efforts, some will turn to God and be saved.

In the time that’s left in this darkening world, all of us must be the light that God intended.  Let us be faithful to shine.