17.5 Revelation – Not just Counterfeit, Not just Tricked

Not just Counterfeit – Not just Tricked

I used to think that the warnings Jesus gave about false prophets and false messiahs referred to the end times and the role that the dragon and beasts would play.  But in our reading this week it became clear to me that this isn’t the case.

I know there have been false prophets and false messiahs.  I know it is important to know scripture so as not to be confused and to test their prophecies and signs against what actually happens, what is true, what is the word of God.

But the beast, while deceiving people, is not masquerading as Jesus.  He/It does not desire to be like God or like Jesus, he doesn’t want people to think he is those things.  He wants to replace God and Jesus.  He doesn’t want confusion.  He blasphemes God and wants to be worshiped in His place.  The people who bow down to the beast know he is the beast – they don’t think he is Jesus.

I understand where BSF is coming from with their discussion of the false trinity and false messiah and false lamb, but I don’t see that to be the desire of Satan.  I don’t think he wants to be a conterfeit God, where people think they are actually worshiping God, but in fact are worshiping him instead.  I think he wants to replace God.

We see this even in our times.  God is ridiculed and denegrated, while evil is positioned as fun and hip and attractive.  To quote an old Billy Joel song, there is still a belief that ‘I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints, the sinners are much more fun.’

But that is a lie, perpetrated by the father of lies.  Hell is not more fun – it is hell.  An eternal life apart from God is not a party, it is agony and hatred.  Evil does not ever love – it only lies and hates and decieves.

I do not think believers will be tricked by the beast to believe it is the messiah returned.  I think those who read, hear and heed the word of scripture will know the beast is the beast.  The biggest challenge is not head knowledge, it is an adequate faith and hope and confidence to endure 42 months of persecution and agony.  But what Satan and the world can dish out, the elect can transform into honor for God:

Acts 5:40-41 – They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.  The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.

Rev 3:10 – Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.

In the end, Jesus Wins and Satan is left with nothing.

 

My Answers:

12.
a.
Dragon, Beast, Second Beast

b.
To take on the appearance of Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world – this one brings the world to sin

c.
the trinity of God is one of unity (between the elements of God and mankind), for peace, teaching, wisdom, gratitude.  The trinity of evil is to deceive, conquer, contrive war and cause mankind to fall and be denied peace and love

13.
a.
Test by the truth, by prophecy occurring, by consistency with the scriptures and prophets, will never draw you from God, good bears good fruit, evil does not – look at the fruit of the words.  Stay on guard – Revelation tells what will happen, don’t be amazed

b.
By studying the word, wonderful signs are seen only as fulfillment of what God has promised and confirmation of the truth of God and wickedness of those who bring about the signs.  The signs, instead of demonstrating their authority and power, confirm their identity.

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29.4 Moses 29, Day 4

Avoiding Battles?

Deuteronomy 33:26-29 reads like a battle cry to rev up the troops to take up arms.  Look at the language:

  • He will drive out your enemies before you
  • “Destroy them!”
  • Ride across the heavens to help you
  • On the clouds in His majesty
  • You will live in safety, grain, new wine, heavens dew
  • He is your shield
  • Your glorious sword
  • Your enemies will cower before you
  • You will tread on their heights

All of this language convicted me of how much I hide from battles in my faith walk.  How often I don’t say something because it might come across the wrong way.  My fear and doubt of possibly offending someone that prompts me to not speak when I should.

I’m not talking about taking up arms to slay the enemy and I’m not talking about going out and picking fights.  But when you read this language of God, I think there is a message that we aren’t supposed to “just go along with the crowd so we don’t make waves” either.

It just made me think about the times I don’t speak up, the times I don’t speak Jesus’ name, the times I sit quietly in the midst of what I know to be sin, the times I fail to witness or to comfort or to just speak the truth.  Paul said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel.”  Am I so afraid of battles that I come across as ashamed of my faith and my Savior.

One of the central themes of the book of Acts, when the new Church was being formed, is the call to speak boldly. (see below).  Paul’s letter to the Ephesians calls us to be strong in the Lord and put on the full armor of God.

Are you like me?  Do you need to speak up?  Do you need to reach out?  Do you need to face the fight with the truth of the gospel instead of hiding it under a basket?

The greatest news of all in this, and throughout the bible, is that when we choose to stand for God, He always stands in front of us.  God never takes the position of having our back.  He always takes the front.  He may require us to take the first step into the water, but then He lifts us up to walk across it or parts it as we move forward.

Here are some of the bold references from Acts – Take Strength Mighty Prayer Warriors!:

Acts 4:29
Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.
Acts 4:31
After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
Acts 9:28
So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord.
Acts 13:46
Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.
Acts 14:3
So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to perform signs and wonders.
Acts 18:26
He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.
Acts 19:8
Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God.
Acts 28:31
He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!

 

My Answers:

8.
Because they were the Lord’s possession, His portion.  He was their king.  He is holy.  There is no one like God.

9.
There is no one like the God of Jeshurun. He rides across the heavens to help you. On the clouds in His Majesty. The eternal God is your refuge. Underneath are the everlasting arms. He will drive out your enemy before you. “A people saved by the Lord.” He is your shield and your helper. He is your glorious sword.

08.2 Moses 8, Day 2

That would change everything

One of the things I appreciate about BSF is the thought and prayer that goes into not only the daily lessons themselves, but the grouping of information or topics together.  Looking ahead to this week is a prime example.  Many of us would have placed the focus on the 10 commandments.  We tend to dive right into the details of the shalts and shalt nots in those verses.  But the commandments are not the main point.  They are daily application points to help us learn and keep us on the right path while also showing us that our own efforts, no matter how diligent, are always insufficient when compared to the standard of perfection.  But even that isn’t the main point – the aim.

The main point of our lesson this week is the covenant.  You are a treasured possession of God.  You are a priest in a kingdom of priests.  You are holy in a holy nation.  Even though we did not and do not obey God fully and keep His covenant, Jesus did and yet sacrificed His own life to pay the ransom to buy back ours.

Each week in our BSF lesson, some of the questions are personal or application directed questions.  Today we were asked “how have you responded.”  My adult son attends BSF and he has been bringing a young man with him who is here from another country which has been closed to the open teaching of the gospel.  As they sat by each other or rode together he noticed that this young man answered all the fact based questions and the other questions but left the application questions blank.  Finally, after a few weeks my son had the opportunity to ask him about this.  His reply was that he was learning and thinking about God and Jesus and trying to decide what to do.  But, he said, “if this is really true, well, then that would change everything.”

The covenant of God, both the old covenant to Abraham reconfirmed in Exodus and the new covenant through Jesus as we read in 1 Peter 2:9-10 does change everything.  Does our response reflect that fact?

My Answers:

3.
Deliverance doesn’t just mean set free, it means delivered, as a gift.  God delivered His people, with the care of a loving parent, to Himself

4.
a.
If you obey me fully and keep my covenant

b.
1. out of all nations you will be my treasured possession, 2. you will be for me a kingdom of priests, 3. a holy nation

c.
By declaring the praises of Him who called me out to darkness.  By teaching and spreading the message of the mercy He has shown me.

5.
By appearing in His mightiness (something He had been doing) and speaking to Moses in a voice the people could hear

6.
a.
God is holy, He is the King of kings.  he is to be approached with reverence and preparation and at the proper time and place.

b.
We have been delivered out of sin into His presence, justified through faith, brought back into peace through the grace that Jesus personified when He died and then defeated death to sit with God the Father in heaven

07.5 Moses 7, Day 5

God, Family, Ministry

If you are a Christian you are called to be in Ministry Work.  But where does that calling and obligation fit with the other callings and obligations God may have given you in your life?  Obviously, ministry work is important, very important.  But what if you also have a family and children?  Are these things in conflict?

I think that is one of the very interesting topics in our scripture and our discussions today.  We don’t know when Moses’ wife and children were sent back to Midian.  The bible doesn’t say exactly.  In specific terms, the only time reference it gives to this event is in Exodus 18:2: After she was sent, she was received by Jethro.

We know that Moses wasn’t an advocate of leaving women and children behind.  In Ex 10:11 Pharaoh told Moses that he and the men could leave to worship God, but they had to leave the wives and children behind.  This was not acceptable.

We also see that Moses’ sister, Miriam, was a prophetess and had a leadership role in the worship service, leading all the women of the community in praise of God.  There is clearly a role for both men and women (and children) in ministry work.

The Apostle Paul advocates for those who devote their lives fully to ministry work to stay single as a way to avoid the conflict that both obligations present.  But that does not mean and he does not indicate that those who are married cannot participate in ministry work or that they must leave their families behind to do so.

In fact, this conflict can often lead to bigger problems.  A passion and dedication to ministry can bring some to ignore or fail to fulfill their role in their own household.  This, in turn, can weaken that relationship and cause other problems, marital issues and separation and a weakening of the family structure.  That approach is not supported in the scriptures.  The opposite is true.  We see the strength of the joint ministry work of Priscilla and Aquila.  We see the dedication to family members, even ones that are not blood relatives, such as Ruth and Naomi.  We know that God could have brought Jesus into this world in any number of miraculous ways, but He chose for Jesus to be born to Mary and Joseph.

Moses’ wife and children could have been sent away for safety reasons, if they were in mortal danger either during plagues or even when the Hebrews were rising up to stone Moses over food and drink.  But I believe a more supported reason would have been to spread the good news of God’s glory to people who could not be otherwise reached, and then, only for a short time.

Who else could have brought the news of God’s miraculous redemption of the Hebrews to Jethro than his own daughter and grandsons (who would likely have been full grown adults)?  Would he have believed or accompanied a stranger?  I think this is supported in the fact that Jethro returns with his daughter and grandsons to Moses.  There is no indication of disapproval or the action or that Moses was not fulfilling his role from any words of Jethro.  In fact, he celebrates God with Moses and the elders of the community.  Furthermore, he goes on to coach Moses and give him wisdom in how to raise up leaders.  This structure and hierarchy of the people was a part of God’s design and training to turn this group of former slaves into His nation.

In the same way it is wise for us, in our churches, to look for capable servants of the Lord to raise up as leaders, prayerfully and each according to their current talents.  I was visiting with a co-worker who was searching for a new church for her family.  The church they attended was fine, bible-based and God centered, but the long-term members of the church had each carved out their roles and areas of service which they had lead for years.  After 3 years, neither she nor her husband had been able to find a way to serve inside the church in any meaningful way that wasn’t received as trespassing on someone else’s turf.

Are we getting into a situation like Moses where others can’t grow because we have refused to let go of our own turf?  Not only is that detrimental to the church and community, but it is unhealthy for us and others.  Have we fallen in love with serving the Lord or is our love in the Lord?  We cannot even imagine what God has in store for us next if we don’t trust Him enough to cling to Him instead of to a position of service or authority.  That does not mean to abandon the role you are in – it simply means that we shouldn’t be doing it alone, but instead looking to bring others alongside.  Run your leg of the race, but understand clearly who you are handing the baton to for the next leg.

 

 

 

My Answers:

10.
a.
Scripture doesn’t say.  When they had passed through the red sea and Egypt’s army was destroyed to  send word to family., Ex 10:11

b.
When God calls them (spouse and children) for His ministry – when they are going into safety and they have provision

11.
a.
He was delighted, praised God and brought a burnt offering and other sacrifices to God, ate with the elder in God’s presence

b.
How God has rescued us and blessed us with His grace

12.
a.
He was not raising up other leaders by delegating work.  He was trying to do it all Himself.

b.
Can’t be all things – Moses role was to be the people’s representative before God, select capable men to also serve

c.
capable men from among the people – men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain

d.
the people of the tribes of Israel

e.
To be a capable man from among His followers and for Him to continue to show me how He would have me serve

 

04.2 Moses 4, Day 2

Reasonable Request Reflects Reality

One of our questions today asked if the request of Pharaoh made by Moses and Aaron was reasonable?  That is a very interesting question on a lot of levels.  If the goal was to free the Israelite people from bondage, is it deception to ask for a 3-day pass?

But I believe, like everything else in the bible, this is here for a purpose.  Let’s look deeper.

1. There was no law against worship.  Egypt didn’t have a state religion, in fact the Egyptians worshiped many different gods and had feasts and feast days for many of them.  Everything from the sun god to the god of the Nile, the frog god and the god of flies.  They lacked not for gods and temples to worship them.  So it was not unprecedented for people to worship.

2. Pharaoh had the authority to grant the request.  As is evident later in Exodus 5, the slave drivers took their orders from Pharaoh.  He gave the quotas and provided the raw materials for their work.  He was the one in charge and the only one in Egypt with authority to grant this request.

3. It was not an ongoing or outlandish request.  They were not asking for a stop to labor or a 50% reduction in work.  They weren’t asking to go to work for Egypt’s competitors. They weren’t asking for major, ongoing concessions, just a respite for worship.

I think this is here so we can truly see Pharaoh’s heart and his view of the Israelite workers.  If this request and response weren’t here, then we wouldn’t know.  We may have thought that, while slavery is never good, but maybe things weren’t so bad.  Maybe if they had just worked with Pharaoh he would have been supportive.  Maybe if presented with the option, Pharaoh would have chosen God.

But, here we see the truth.  Pharaoh didn’t know the Lord nor did he want to.  Pharaoh did not care about the Hebrews. To Pharaoh, they were a resource.  They were machines in the production or buildings.  They were slaves.  They weren’t people.

But to God, they were people.  They would be His people and He would be their God.

 

My Answers:

3.
a.
The sacrifices they would offer to the Lord would be detestable to the Egyptians and they would stone the Israelites

b.
Yes, they did not ask for Pharaoh to free the Egyptians, just to give them the opportunity to worship God by holding a festival in the wilderness a 3 day journey

c.
I do not know the Lord – why are you taking them from their labor, get back to work, they are numerous (i.e., it would be a major impact to productivity to shut down for 3 days)

4.
a.
Slave drivers were Egyptians, Forement (overseers) were Hebrews

b.
They were taking the brunt of the punishment and blame, they were being beaten, they were in a position of authority and honor (better to be foreman than making the bricks).  They are “part of management”

 

03.4 Moses 3, Day 4

Insecurity, Inadequacy and Fear

Insecurity, Inadequacy and Fear are three of the top 10 barriers that those of us called to serve the Lord allow to stand in the way of serving Him fully and whole heartedly.  Some will read the verses in our study today and see an impertinent or obstinate Moses.  But I think this is far deeper and more meaningful.

When we stand in the presence of God we will speak the truth.  Scripture tells us that every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

I think what we see is Moses revealing his heart and soul layer by layer in the presence of a loving and patient God.  Yesterday we discussed the first 2 barriers.  I don’t know who I am and I don’t know who you are, God.  God addressed those.  Now we move deeper past the surface.

1. I am insecure.  What if they don’t believe me?  What if I lay myself out in front of them and they reject me?  God answers this by making Moses more secure and teaching him about God’s plan.  God shows him how to perform miraculous signs.  He doesn’t just tell him these signs, He allows Moses to practice the signs and to experience there impact first hand.  He teaches Moses what he is to do and enlightens him that they may not believe the first sign or the second sign and they may not listen to Moses, but they will believe the third.

2. I am inadequate.  I am not eloquent.  I am slow of speech.  What if I don’t have the words to convince them?  What if I don’t know what to say or how to say it?  God patiently reminds him not of Moses power but of Gods.  Who made it so men can speak?  This is not a barrier, because it is not a barrier to God.  God tells him again, “now, go” and reminds him that God will not only help him speak but actually teach him the very words to say.

3. I am afraid.  No one likes to admit we are afraid, but we all experience fear and it can paralyze us.  I believe Moses’ final request, that God send someone else, is an expression of his fear.  And how does God address this?  In two ways.  First, if you are going to have fear in your life, let it be a reasonable fear of the Lord.  God’s anger burned against Moses.  The shift from petty fears to righteous fear that Moses must have experienced at that moment must have been palpable.  But God did not use fear to be the motivation for Moses to obey.  This is very important.  God revealed Moses’ fear for what it was in comparison to the fear of God, but He didn’t leave Moses with something to move away from, He gave Moses something to look forward to.  The conversation between God and Moses reveals that Moses and Aaron knew each other as brothers.  Moses knew that Aaron could speak well.  Moses had been away for 40 years, away from home and family, and God overcomes his fear with a promise of hope and love and reuniting.  He tells Moses that Aaron is already on his way to meet him.  (Don’t miss that.  God didn’t yield to Moses’ fear, he had sent Aaron on his way before this conversation happened.)

God helps and is patient of us in exactly the same way.  He overcomes our feelings of insecurity and inadequacy.  He overcomes our fear with hope and love and reuniting.  He has given us the promise of a promised land that makes the land of Canaan look like a wasteland.  He has given us a promise of his presence that makes the pillar of fire look like a flashlight with weak batteries.

Like Moses, He has given us a sign and a promise: when our mission here on earth is done we shall return to a holy place to worship Him.

 

My Answers:

7.
a.
1. What if they don’t believe me or listen to me?
2. Pardon, I have never been eloquent… I am slow of speech and tongue.
3. Pardon, Please send someone else

b.
v2-9 foresight into miraculous signs
v11-12. who gave human beings their mouths?… Now, go; I will help you speak and teach you what to say
14-17. The Lord’s anger burned against Moses – gave him helper, Aaron

c.
I don’t know what to say.  I don’t want to offend.  I’m not the right person.  I’m too sinful to be believed.  I’m not holy enough.  God has been patient with me, taught me, and has taken up residence in my heart.

22 BSF Matthew Week 22, Day 3

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

People often misunderstand the term “Fear of God.”  I don’t think this means a fear of punishment, viewing God as someone to cower from or to avoid so as not to anger him.  Instead, I think it means fear of disappointing.

I grew up in my father’s home town.  When I went someone, anywhere, the odds were very high that someone there knew my dad and knew I was his son.  My actions, and my mis-deeds, reflected not only on me but on him.  I did not fear so much his anger or punishment, but that I would dishonor or disappoint him by my callous behavior.

I think having that same type of fear of God is important and that it reflect love and honor and respect for our Heavenly Father.  But that is not whom the spiritual leaders in the temple feared.  When Jesus challenged them about John the Baptist, there was nothing in their thought process about God or truth.  It was all about fear of men.

Whom you fear reflects whom you honor and respect.

 

 

My Answers:

5.
a.
show us your qualifications, license, certification, authority – Union card, who died and made you the messiah?

b.
Every day Jesus taught in the temple – teachers of the law and the leaders were trying to kill him

6.
a.
They decided to not believe John the Baptist, the prophets, the prophecies of scriptures

b.
seeing don’t see, hearing don’t hear, hear don’t understand, see, not perceive, calloused heart, blind

7.
a.
Gentiles, tax collectors, prostitutes – others that were considered blatant sinners

b.
The jews, particularly the teachers of the law and pharisees

8.
a.
Said no, but did: Same, drugs, prostitution, open sin.  Said yes, but no: Church going hypocrites

b.
I was the later, but now am the says yes and does