Don’t Blame God

Jesus was talking about the end of the age when He said: “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matt. 24:21). “Great tribulation” speaks of planet earth’s darkest hour. The Bible calls it, “a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness” (Zeph. 1:15). The Bible says people will “go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth” (Isa. 2:19). Yes, Jesus intends to violently shake this earth and, in addition to Jesus, at least two Old Testament prophets said there has never been a time like it (Jer. 30:7; Dan. 12:1).

Some think this awful time will be Satan’s doing, but the Bible says it will be the Lord’s doing (Isa. 24:1; 26:21). The prophet Joel, the apostle Paul and others called it the Day of the Lord (Joel 1:15; I Thess. 5:2). John the Revelator called it the wrath of the Lamb (Rev. 6:15-17). He also called it the wrath of God (Rev. 11:17-18; 14:7, 19; 16:1). So no less than Jesus and His Father are going to send judgment upon this earth that will be worse than WWI, WWII or anything the world has ever seen. And as bad as it will be, the world will deserve every last bit of it.

The usual sins of adultery, fornication, violence, unbelief, heresies, etc. are enough to justify the Tribulation Period, but I want to limit this to just one sin that deserves and will bring down the terrible wrath of God: the world’s satanic hatred of Israel. God does not want to send the Tribulation Period (Ezek. 33:11), but make no mistake He will. This is not to say that Israel hasn’t sinned because Israel has sinned, but it is to say that the vast majority of those on earth, including many church leaders, have listened to the Devil and given their heart to the radical Islamic terrorists.

Hamas is a recognized terrorist organization that extols the actions of Adolph Hitler and his gas chambers. Its charter calls for the obliteration and replacement of Israel. It supports suicide bombings of innocent women and children on busses, in restaurants, in shopping centers and on the streets. It kidnaps and murders Israeli citizens, soldiers, non-soldiers, adults and teenage students. It threatens reporters and collaborates with Iran, the barbaric Islamic State (ISIS), al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood and others; some of which crucify, behead and shoot Christians or bury them alive. It maintains its control in the Gaza Strip by oppression, threats, torture and murder. It arms itself through smuggling, subterfuge and the misappropriation of money that was given to worthy causes. It agrees to ceasefires and breaks them. It indiscriminately fires rockets at civilians in towns where nurseries, kindergartens, schools, synagogues, hospitals and churches are located in a desperate attempt to kill anyone they can.

During this present war with Hamas, Israel captured a pile of terrorist documents, training manuals and computers. The IDF found instructions on the benefits of using human shields and civilian locations when firing rockets and missiles at Israel. They found tunnels with holding rooms to detain Israeli citizens. They found plans to kidnap Israeli women and children and to start a war on Sept. 24, 2014. And this list could go on and on, but the point is that many world leaders, university and seminary professors, church leaders, pastors and Hollywood celebrities can’t see a smidgen of wrong in what these corrupt, lying, kidnapping, murderers do.

On the other hand, Israel went out of its way to protect Palestinians. Before they attacked Hamas positions in Gaza they dropped leaflets that warned the Palestinians to leave. Hamas urged the Palestinians to ignore Israel’s warnings. Then, Israel dropped more leaflets. Israel texted people and she set up an automated phone system to robocall residents of Gaza urging them to leave. Israel dropped bombs that gave the Palestinians several seconds warning before they exploded and more.

So a diabolical terrorist group called Hamas is on one side using innocent women and children as human shields and doing everything it can to boost the death toll of innocent people. And Israel is on the other side trying to defend and protect its own innocent people and, at the same time, trying to avoid killing innocent Palestinians that are caught in the crossfire.

If the world’s leaders, university and seminary professors, church leaders, pastors and Hollywood celebrities had a sense of decency, integrity or shame one would think they would readily condemn Hamas and loudly praise Israel. But no, these self-righteous bigots and hypocrites can’t find even one kind word for Israel; they do everything they can to ignore, excuse and explain away the evil doings of Hamas; and to side against, criticize and condemn Israel for trying to fight a war with one hand tied behind her back.

It is my belief that Matthew 24 is about Israel. In verse 9, Jesus said, Israel “will be hated of all nations.” The world’s hatred of Israel is on display today. In Obad. 1:15, God said, “the day of the LORD is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head.”

I take no joy in saying this, but when the Tribulation Period is near (and that could be now) those who hate Israel are going to reap what they sow. God made an everlasting covenant to give all of the Promised Land to Israel (Gen. 17:7-8). He has the right to do that. He has the power to make it stick. His holy nature requires Him to make it stick.

The bottom line: God is not like men. He is just and it will do no good to blame Him for the Tribulation Period. It will only happen because the obvious wickedness of this world deserves His judgment.

Prophecy Plus Ministries
Daymond & Rachel Duck
daymond.duck@yahoo.com

What Really Is the Question?

A few weeks ago the seed of this article was rolling around in my head as I considered the question: Why is it so many people consider the study of Biblical prophecy to be foolishness? Knowing that approximately one-third of the Scripture is prophetic in nature I personally have dedicated my life in service to Christ, to the study and teaching of Biblical eschatology. Anyone who follows what I write is aware that I am continually calling out cultural, institutional, and mainstream “Christianity” and their so-called “churches” for abandoning sound theological doctrine and embracing a liberal theology of compromise, tolerance, and inclusiveness which is no more than dead religiosity.

Now then, since I began ruminating on the question above, the United States and the World have continued their ever accelerating descent into the Last Days, careening from crisis to crisis. From Russia and the Ukraine; to the IS in Syria, Iraq, and now Lebanon and Turkey; to Libya dissolving into anarchy; to Israel’s war against the Hamas terrorists in Gaza, and the resulting rise of anti-Semitism around the world including the US; to the many domestic crisis within the US resulting from the actions of a lawless President and his administration, not the least of which is our open southern border with Mexico. Every time you look at the news (it really doesn’t matter which venue you choose) it seems we’re faced with a new crisis, and almost predictably you will also hear some babbling leftist liberal or deliberately ignorant Islamist supporter, misquoting or taking Scripture out of context in support of the position of the narrative put forth by the “oppressed” terrorists and their liberal supporters, or for the interests of their “progressive” liberal leftist political party. And, follow me here, what boggles the mind is that one part of this group hates Christians (and Jews) and the other part of them call themselves “Christian” while denying the inerrancy of the very Scriptures they are misquoting, and the deity of Jesus Christ.

So, I believe the answer to the question above as well as the larger question as to why Scripture is so often misquoted or taken out of context, can be found within a passage that the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth. ‘“And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.”‘ 1 Corinthians 2:2-16

In this passage Paul tells the Corinthians that he has come to teach them about Jesus Christ, and not doing so in his own power, but in the power of the Holy Spirit. He tells them that the wisdom of God is available to them, can be revealed to them, if they love God, and this is done through His Holy Spirit. Jesus Himself promised His disciples; “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever – the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” John 14:16 & 17. As He had promised them His Holy Spirit to help them He also told them; “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you” John 16:12-15. Jesus knew that they could not understand these things with a natural mind, but after He sent the Holy Spirit, their minds would be opened to the very things of God and He would bring them understanding in a spiritual way.

The Holy Spirit’s job is to teach us all things, the deep and intimate things of God. So as Paul taught the Corinthians “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” 1 Corinthians 2:14, he was telling them that in their natural state (wherein they did not have a belief in Jesus Christ as Messiah and Savior) and without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit they would not “receive (believe) the things of the Spirit of God.” In their state of unbelief they would simply see them as foolishness even though they could understand the written words. He goes on to say that they could not “know them because they are spiritually discerned” which is to say that it requires the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to have a complete grasp of the Word of God. Anyone can read the Word of God, and anyone can have a rudimentary understanding of what it says, but without a believing faith in Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit cannot teach them spiritual truth.

In his gospel the Apostle John tells us; “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” John 1:1-5. He is speaking here of Jesus Christ, Jesus is the Word! The implication is that every jot and tittle of the written Word is from God. The Apostle Paul writes to Timothy; “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” 2 Timothy 3:16-17. If we truly believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God breathed into the writers by the Holy Spirit, then we must understand that we need Him to help us comprehend it just as much today as when it was first written. An unbeliever cannot know those things which are spiritually discerned. The god of this age (Satan) has blinded the minds of unbelievers so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:4

The truth of the matter is the Bible is simply not open to interpretation or even analysis by the unbeliever. Without knowing Jesus you cannot know the Word. Even the rulers of Israel, during Jesus’ life, did not know Him, even though they had studied the Word of God every day of their lives. The Scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees didn’t recognize their long-awaited Messiah even when He stood before them. Jesus told them; “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life” John 5:39-40. They did not see the “Word” which “became flesh” because they did not want to see Jesus as the Christ. No one can see and embrace the truth of the Word of God unless they first come face-to-face with the Word of God, who is Jesus Christ. They must believe in Him for who He is and His finished work of grace for them when He paid their sin debt at Calvary. Without faith in Jesus Christ no one can accept or like truth. When you cannot accept truth you end up embracing worldly values which may satisfy your base desires, but will ultimately leave you devoid of an eternal future.

Nowhere in the Bible does it say that unbelievers are intellectually incapable of grasping biblical truth. In fact they do have that capability, but because they reject the truth of the Word of God and who Jesus Christ is, they will be judged for their willful unbelief. The unbeliever or “natural man” may have an intellectual grasp of the entire gospel, but without a embracing it and accepting it as truth in his own life, he rejects God, His Son Jesus Christ, and His indwelling Holy Spirit. Jesus told His disciples; “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you who do not believe” John 6:63 & 64. So, herein lies the answer to the question, the things of God are spiritually discerned, but unfortunately it’s not just “some” who do not believe today, it is actually a vast majority. And, because they have not the Holy Spirit, they willfully choose to not only ignore biblical prophecy, but the very Word Himself, Jesus Christ.

In 1921 Dr. C. I. Scofield wrote his “Addresses on Prophecy” and within the pages of this book I found this quote. “There is a great deal of the study of prophetic truth, and a great deal of the hearing of the exposition of prophetic truth which has no effect upon conduct or character, simply because it is heard or studied without faith. We bring to it a sort of vulgar curiosity. We desire to know what all these images, and beasts, and horns signify, believing in a way, that there is in them some unfolding of that which is to come to pass, if one can but hit upon the correct interpretation: We may come to the study of prophetic truth with that in mind and derive no profit whatever. It is therefore a believing understanding of prophetic truth which has an influence on either character or conduct.”

As we continue to study biblical eschatology it is my hope and prayer that all of those who blatantly abuse the Word of God will have a face-to-face encounter with Jesus Christ, which transforms them from their liberal ignorance into an active faith. It is also my prayer that in faith they will begin to study and understand God’s prophetic Word. When anyone receives Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior their life begins to change. The natural man that he was, begins to be replaced through the process of sanctification, by the new man who is in Christ Jesus. As he grows in this relationship, the Holy Spirit becomes more and more a reality in his life as he studies the Word of God. The presence of the Holy Spirit in his life enables his mind to know and believe the truth of the Word.

Do you know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior? Does His Holy Spirit indwell you? Those of us who study the prophetic Word will tell you that the time to make a decision for Jesus Christ is growing very short. We are living in the Last Days, Jesus Christ will Rapture His Church, and a time of Great Tribulation will then enveloped the earth, followed by the physical return of Jesus Christ to the earth to set up His Kingdom.

Jesus is coming soon!

EvenSoCome

Wonderful Promises

God has made some wonderful promises to Israel. He will gather the Jews from all over the world back into the Promised Land (Deut. 30:1-5). They will get all of the Promised Land (Gen. 17:7-8). They will be exalted above all of the nations on earth (Deut. 28:1, 13). Jesus will sit on the throne of David and rule over them (Luke 1:32-33). Jerusalem will become the center of the nations and the Word of God will go forth to all nations from there (Ezek. 5:5; Hos. 4:2).

God said these things will happen and every jot and tittle of them will happen. But let’s be realistic. As things stand today, the Muslims in Gaza, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon are not going to freely turn part of their land over to Israel. China, Russia, Iran and the like are not going to voluntarily accept the fact that tiny Israel is more important than they are. The UN, EU, US and others are not going to willingly submit to the rule of Jesus. All of the nations on earth are not going to agree to let the Word of God go unhindered within their borders. So as things stand today, there is not a chance in the world that God’s wonderful promises to Israel are going to be fulfilled.

This brings me to what triggered this article. Someone recently sent me some interesting information that he said comes from the Gemara, one of the two sections of the Jewish Talmud (Mishna and Gemara). The information concerns what the Gemara says about the significance of solar and lunar eclipses (especially eclipses on Feast Days such as the recent Blood Moon on Passover and the upcoming Blood Moon on Tabernacles). It is important to note that Christians don’t consider the Gemara to be Scripture, but it contains the remarks ancient Jewish rabbis that I don’t want to overlook.

The Hebrew children were slaves in Egypt when God sent the Ten Plagues to make Pharaoh let them go. According to the Gemara, if God had not sent the Ten Plagues, Egypt would not have collapsed, Pharaoh would not have released the Hebrews from slavery and the nation of Israel probably would not have come into being. Without the nation of Israel, we might not have had the Scriptures, the Temple, the Messiah, the prophets, the Church, etc. So the Ten Plagues played a crucial part in the return of the Jews and the conduct of God’s plan during Old Testament times. Also, the fall of Egypt on the first Passover celebration can be seen as the beginning of the nation of Israel and many other great blessings. It can be seen for the good things that happened for all people not the bad things that happened to Egypt.

Now, let’s direct our attention to the future. We are living in a period of time that the Bible calls the Times of the Gentiles, but the Times of the Gentiles must come to an end (Luke 21:24). The Gentile nations must be brought down so Israel can rise up and fulfill the role that God said she will fulfill in the future. The Gentile nations must be subdued so Jesus can reign, Israel can be exalted above the nations of the earth, the Word of God can go all over the world, etc. (Psa. 110:5-6; I Cor. 15:24-28).

The Gentile nations are not going to go easy. This is where the Tribulation Period comes in. It will be a time of judgment upon the nations (Zeph. 3:8). The Antichrist will rise to power and go forth conquering and to conquer (Rev. 6:1-2). Peace will be removed from the earth (Rev. 6:3-4). War will prevail and the nations of the earth will be brought low (Rev. 6:8; 8:11; 9:15). This will pave the way for the rise of Israel; the millennial reign of Jesus; peace, justice and righteousness on earth, etc. Christians should focus on the good that is coming to the earth not the bad.

Now, I don’t know much about blood moons. I haven’t totally avoided the subject, but I have said very little about it. I do know several things: One, God put lights in the heavens “for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years” (Gen. 1:14); Two, NASA’s SOHO satellite videotaped large dark spots on the sun in 2013; Three, the Hebrew calendar and the Tribulation Period are based on the moon (30 days/month; 7 yrs. X 360 days/yr. = 2520 days); Four, the prophet Joel said, “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come” (Joel 2:31); Five, Peter quoted Joel when the Church began by saying, “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come” (Acts 2:20); Six, a tetrad of blood moons started on April 15, 2014 and this is before the day of the LORD; Seven, the convergence of signs seem to indicate that like the day of the LORD is getting close; And eight, I am not predicting it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if war broke out in the Middle East in the coming weeks or months.

The tetrad that started in 1949 followed the establishment of Israel. The tetrad that started in 1967 preceded Israel’s capture of the Temple Mount. And the Tribulation Period is the seventieth week of Israel’s punishment (Dan. 9:24-27). Each person needs to make up their own mind, but God is in control and His wonderful promises to Israel will come to pass.

Prophecy Plus Ministries
Daymond & Rachel Duck
daymondduck@bellsouth.net

 

Editor’s Note:

When the subject of the Blood Moon Tetrads began to be discussed by various teachers in the area of Biblical Prophecy, I decided to undertake a study of them and their possible significance. Utilizing the same NASA website as Mark Biltz, John Hagee, Perry Stone and others; I researched the occurrence of the Tetrads which aligned with the Lord’s “Feast Days.”

The hypothesis of these teachers is that the Tetrads have a significance which affects the nation of Israel, or the Jewish people. However, I must call into question their conclusions. Of the seven Tetrads since the birth of Christ, only three are said to have shown relevance to the Jewish people.

    • In 1492 the Jews were given the order of Expulsion from Spain. The Tetrad happened in 1493 & 1494. Pastor Hagee associates this Tetrad with the discovery of America as a “safe haven” for the Jewish people, though most fled into eastern Europe or back to Palestine (only three are known to have reached the “new world” at this time, and only one of these stayed).  I find this assertion of relevance disingenuous and sensational. If the voyage of Columbus had anything to do with the Jewish people, it was to discover wealth to finance further crusades to Jerusalem.
    • The Tetrad of 1949 – 1950 is said to coincide with the Founding of the modern Nation State of Israel which took place on May 14, 1948. The Israeli “War of Independence” was fought in 1948-1949. A lunar eclipse did not take place on the day of declaration or on any day of significance during the war.
    • The Tetrad of 1967 -1968 is said to be associated with the “Six Day War” during which Israel regained control of all of Jerusalem. Again, a lunar eclipse did not occur on any day during that “War.”

If the Tetrads which occur on Feast Days are considered so important to the Jewish people, why were there no Tetrads associated with these important events?:

    • 70 AD The destruction of the Temple and expulsion of the Jews from Jerusalem.
    • 132-135 AD The expulsion of the Jews from Israel after the Bar Kokhba revolt, after which Roman Emperor Hadrian renamed Israel “Palestine.”
    • 1181 AD French King Philip banished the Jews from France.
    • 1298 AD Persecution of the Jews in Franconia, Bavaria, and Austria when more than 100,000 Jewish people were killed during a six month period.
    • 1903-1906 AD Frequent pogroms (massacres) in Russia and Ukraine were carried out against Jewish shtetls (small villages) during which thousands were slaughtered.
    • 1939-1945 AD The Holocaust during WW2.
    • 1956 AD The “Suez War.”
    • 1973 AD  The Yom Kippur War.
    • Additionally, there is no evidence of a Tetrad having any significance to Israel prior to the birth of Christ.

I would also like to point out that while I agree that Joel 2:31 and Acts 2:20 are referring to a time “before the great and the terrible day of the LORD”; this takes place during the Tribulation just prior to Christ’s Second Coming, and the written word suggests the sun darkening and moon turning to blood happen at the same time. This is NOT a typical astrological event. Remember, the return of Jesus for His Church (the “Rapture”) is imminent, requiring no signs before it occurs. To infer that anything like this might need to happen before the Church is “taken away” is just not biblical.

In conclusion, while I agree with Daymond that each person must decide for themselves if there is any prophetic significance to the “Blood Moon” Tetrads, I simply cannot ascribe any real significance to them. I do however see a convergence of real “Signs of the Times” which make me believe that war will break out in the Middle East in the near future. We will comment on these Prophecies in more detail in the coming weeks.

Respectfully, KD Tucker Whitaker DD, PhD

Service and Sacrifice… The Standard has been set!

Continuing our study of the Church built by Jesus Christ, I would like to reflect just a bit on service and sacrifice. Throughout the New Testament we find examples of service and sacrifice in the name of Jesus for the Church. Historically we know that all of the Apostles, except John, were martyred for the cause of Christ, but it was Steven who set the standard for all followers of Christ. Today I believe the True Church is approaching an unprecedented time of persecution, and I believe much of that persecution will come from within the “church” (Institutional, Denominational, Emergent, etc…) which is apostate. Knowing this persecution is to come, we must continue to serve and be prepared to sacrifice just as True Christians have since the beginning of the church age.

After Pentecost, the Church experienced tremendous growth in Jerusalem. Thousands of new converts were added to the Apostles and disciples who were followers of Christ before and after the crucifixion.  To the Jewish leaders, it seemed that this group known to be followers of “The Way,” was becoming a threat to Judaism, and the control it had over the nation of Israel. The Sanhedrin had made threats against the Apostles, but their commands were not heeded. As we look at Acts chapters 6 & 7 , we find this situation exploding as a result of the Apostles’ solution to a growing concern within the young Church.

By Acts 6 the Church had grown to between 25,000 and 30,000 believers, and as a result of this rapid growth and development there arose some internal strife and discord that had the potential to hinder or arrest the growth of the Church. It seemed to some that there was an inequity in the daily distribution to those needy saints within the church. The Hebrew widows were having their needs met, while the Hellenistic widows were being overlooked (Acts 6:1). Because rumblings were beginning to be heard within the body of believers, immediate attention was required to keep the young Church on track and focused on its mission.

The solution of the Apostles was for the congregation to select from among themselves “seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom,” who would be commissioned to oversee the daily ministry to the needy saints. Through the administration of these men, the benevolent work of the church would proceed with fairness and equity, all those in need would receive assistance. It was a good plan. It would allow the apostles to continue devoting themselves to “the ministry of the Word” (Acts 6:4). After all, “It is not desirable for us to neglect the Word of God in order to serve tables” (Acts 6:2). The people “were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching” (Acts 2:42), and that vital ministry of the Word could not suffer neglect due to distractions over more material concerns. The seven men would be assigned responsibility for these tasks associated with daily ministry so that the Apostles could remain focused on the Word.

This plan “found approval with the whole congregation” (Acts 6:5), and they chose seven leaders for this ministry. The first name listed in the biblical record was Stephen, “a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 6:5). This probably was significant; noting that he was first choice, for Stephen was a remarkable man. It is readily apparent why his fellow disciples chose him. He was vocal, willing to share the good news of God’s grace with those about him. He was also “full of grace and power, performing great wonders and signs among the people” (Acts 6:8).

Stephen was a “Hellenist”(a Greek speaking Jew from outside of Israel) from Cilicia in Asia… modern day Turkey… as was Saul of Tarsus… his understanding and command of the Law suggests (as early Church history holds) that like Saul he was a student of Gamaliel… the foremost Jewish scholar of the Law and a member of the Sanhedrin. Tradition, and evidence of the age of Philip and the other five also suggest that Stephen was younger than Saul by as many as 10 years… and Saul was about 30 at this time… Stephen had a servant’s heart and a desire to share the Gospel.

Yet, by the end of Acts 7 Stephen is being stoned to death. Why?! Considering the scriptural record of his character, why was he murdered by a mob?

The first reason that led to Stephen’s death was that he spoke in the Synagogues and taught about the prophecies that were fulfilled by Jesus. He became well-known as a follower of “The Way” by the people of Jerusalem. Had he chosen to do as most believers do today, go to church but not get involved, he probably would not have drawn so much attention to himself. Stephen however saw his service to God in a much more serious light. He realized there were people all around him who were lost. They had no relationship with Jesus Christ. They needed to hear the gospel, the message of God’s saving grace. As a student of the Law, he knew there were those who had been a part of, or at least were aware of, the events leading to the crucifixion of God’s Son, who needed to hear that it was the Christ that they had hung on a cross. They had murdered their Messiah. So, Stephen decided to speak Truth. He went to the Temple and into the streets and proclaimed the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Stephen could not be like most believers are today, and sit comfortably in church uninvolved. He was sold out for Christ, committed to the cause, and willing to stand before the world in defense of the Gospel.

What a tremendous example, we need to be like Stephen and speak Truth! In these “Last Days” it is important for us to realize that because Jesus is soon to return for His Bride, we must stand up before a lost and dying world and proclaim the Gospel. And, we must be willing to defend the gospel against those who would pervert or alter it for their own gain. When confronted by Truth, false prophets will lash out in hostility against the True Church and True Christians, and we must be grounded well enough in the Word to Stand against their attacks.

The second reason that led to Stephen’s death was that he spoke with such knowledge, conviction, reasoning and passion; that those who opposed him were completely incapable of refuting his words. He was using the Old Testament writings to teach Truth by the power of the Holy Spirit in his life. Those who taught Jewish Law and those of the Sanhedrin Council (including Saul) could not withstand the Truth which he spoke, and so had to resort to lies and deceit to oppose him. One of the reasons for which the number of disciples was “increasing greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:7) was the passionate evangelism of Stephen.

The record in Acts tells us that some of the Jews “rose up and argued with Stephen” (Acts 6:9). And, when they decided to confront him in public believing they could discredit him and turn the people back to their own doctrines and practices, they failed miserably. Acts tells us “they were unable to cope with the wisdom and the spirit with which he was speaking” (Acts 6:10). Stephen was preaching God’s Truth and they were powerless to contradict his teaching. They tried to disgrace Stephen, and only succeeded in degrading themselves. In speaking Truth, Stephen was gaining converts. This was more than the Jewish leaders could stand.

Truth can never be overcome by anything or anyone who stands against it. Truth is always Truth and cannot fail. So the Jews attacked Stephen with lies. “Then they secretly persuaded some men to say, ‘We have heard Stephen speak words of blasphemy against Moses and against God'” (Acts 6:11). And  “they produced false witnesses” who told more lies, probably before the Sanhedrin (Acts 6:13).

Do you recognize this strategy? They are repeating the same tactic they used against Jesus. If you can’t defeat Truth, attack the one who brings the message of Truth. Since they couldn’t counter Truth, they attacked Stephen bodily. The only thing they were interested in was shutting Stephen up. But, after the false charges had been made against him, Stephen was allowed to present his defense before the Sanhedrin.

However, Stephen went on the offensive. He gave them a history lesson out of their own scriptures; he presented them again with Truth. Stephen spoke again with conviction and without fear, he didn’t care about the consequences, he just preached Truth. Steven said they were stiff-necked, uncircumcised in heart and ears, and as always resisting the Holy Spirit, again, no fear. He called them murderers and betrayers of the righteous, just like their fathers were! This eventually led to Stephens stoning. “And they stirred up the people, the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and dragged him away” (Acts 6:12).

Stephen’s boldness before the Sanhedrin did not go over so well with the Jewish leaders, his accusers, and the people who had already been stirred up into a frenzy against him. “Now when they heard this they were cut to the quick, and they gnashed their teeth at him” (Acts 7:54). They were mad that he dared to speak against them and they began grinding their teeth in rage, because he had spoken Truth. “They cried out with a loud voice, covered their ears, and rushed upon him with one impulse” (Acts 7:57). They rushed upon Stephen, drove him outside the city gates, picked up the closest large rocks they could throw, and murdered this young disciple of Jesus.

Interestingly, Steven saw “the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56). At Christ’s ascension, it is said He sits at the right hand of the Father, yet Stephen sees Him Standing! Is it recognition, reception, or respect? Perhaps all three… “well done thou good and faithful servant”. As Stephen was stoned, he called “Lord Jesus receive my spirit” and he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin” (Acts 7:59&60). Stephen’s trial, and actions at his death mirrored those of his Savior. A just man faced an unjust death. And, what about Saul? What did Steven’s death mean in the life of this young Rabbi? I believe Steven’s Life and Death would become the example of Service to the man who would become Paul. I believe it should be an example to us all. Oh that Jesus would be standing to welcome me home to Glory… will He Stand to greet you?

We are all called to be servants… We are all called to speak the truth… We all may be required to sacrifice something for the cause of Christ… don’t be content to sit on the sidelines… live large… get involved in the battle… “for great is your reward in heaven”(Luke 6:23)… serve Jesus and you will hear Him say; “well done, thou good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23). Because we are living in the Last Days and; Jesus is Coming Soon!

EvenSoCome