Four Blood Moons, a Sign from God: Prophetic Fallacy or Fact?

 

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Four Blood Moons, a Sign from God: Prophetic Fallacy or Fact?

© April 22, 2018, by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin April 22, 2018

Originally Shared at BLCF on February 2, 2014

BLCF Bulletin February 2, 2014

 Romans 16:17-19

17 I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. 18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. 19 For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil.

 

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer                                                            

Opening Hymn #358: We Praise Thee, O God                                                

Scripture Readings: Isaiah 47:1-15 and Galatians 2:11-21

Message by Stephen Mickelson:

‘Four Blood Moons, a Sign from God: Prophetic Fallacy or Fact?‘ 

 

First Scripture Reading: Isaiah 47:1-15 (ESV): The Humiliation of Babylon

47 Come down and sit in the dust,
O virgin daughter of Babylon;
sit on the ground without a throne,
O daughter of the Chaldeans!
For you shall no more be called
tender and delicate.
2 Take the millstones and grind flour,
put off your veil,
strip off your robe, uncover your legs,
pass through the rivers.
3 Your nakedness shall be uncovered,
and your disgrace shall be seen.
I will take vengeance,
and I will spare no one.
4 Our Redeemer—the Lord of hosts is his name—
is the Holy One of Israel.

5 Sit in silence, and go into darkness,
O daughter of the Chaldeans;
for you shall no more be called
the mistress of kingdoms.
6 I was angry with my people;
I profaned my heritage;
I gave them into your hand;
you showed them no mercy;
on the aged you made your yoke exceedingly heavy.
7 You said, “I shall be mistress forever,”
so that you did not lay these things to heart
or remember their end.

8 Now therefore hear this, you lover of pleasures,
who sit securely,
who say in your heart,
“I am, and there is no one besides me;
I shall not sit as a widow
or know the loss of children”:
9 These two things shall come to you
in a moment, in one day;
the loss of children and widowhood
shall come upon you in full measure,
in spite of your many sorceries
and the great power of your enchantments.

10 You felt secure in your wickedness,
you said, “No one sees me”;
your wisdom and your knowledge led you astray,
and you said in your heart,
“I am, and there is no one besides me.”
11 But evil shall come upon you,
which you will not know how to charm away;
disaster shall fall upon you,
for which you will not be able to atone;
and ruin shall come upon you suddenly,
of which you know nothing.

12 Stand fast in your enchantments
and your many sorceries,
with which you have labored from your youth;
perhaps you may be able to succeed;
perhaps you may inspire terror.
13 You are wearied with your many counsels;
let them stand forth and save you,
those who divide the heavens,
who gaze at the stars,
who at the new moons make known
what shall come upon you.

14 Behold, they are like stubble;
the fire consumes them;
they cannot deliver themselves
from the power of the flame.
No coal for warming oneself is this,
no fire to sit before!

15 Such to you are those with whom you have labored,
who have done business with you from your youth;
they wander about, each in his own direction;
there is no one to save you.

Second Scripture Reading: Galatians 2:11-21 (ESV) Paul Opposes Peter

11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party.[a] 13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”

Justified by Faith

15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified[b] by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness[c] were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

Footnotes: a. Galatians 2:12 Or fearing those of the circumcision b.Galatians 2:16 Or counted righteous (three times in verse 16); also verse 17 c. Galatians 2:21 Or justification

Let us pray…

We begin today’s lesson by reading an excerpt of a sensational Headline science news article published in the UK Daily Express online newspaper article published bearing the byline of  SEAN MARTIN , PUBLISHED: 15:00, Wed, Jan 31, 2018 | UPDATED: 15:21, Wed, Jan 31, 2018:

A BIBLICAL prophecy came true during the lunar eclipse as an earthquake struck as the blood moon rose – just as a Pastor had predicted. Blood Moon 2018 bible prophecy TRUE: Earthquake hits Papua New Guinea same time as eclipse

In the early hours of January 31, the moon began to turn red as it started coming out of the shadow of Earth.

Many had linked the super blue blood moon phenomenon to a sign from God, and none more so that Pastor John Hagee, whose book Four Blood Moons sparked worldwide interest in the event.

At 9.48 local time over the Pacific, the moon began to turn red.

However, just 60 seconds later, a strong 5.8 magnitude struck Papua New Guinea.

Pastor Hagee pointed to the Book of Joel, claiming that this was a sign from God.

Chapter Two of the Book of Joel says that the “sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood” before the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Pastor Hagee said: “God is sending us a signal. Something huge is about to happen. Something is going to change, forever.

“It’s not just a single story. It’s in Genesis and repeated in Joel and again in Joshua and again in Luke and then, finally, in Revelation.

https://www.express.co.uk/news/science/912596/blood-moon-bible-meaning-eclipse-2018-prophecy-earthquake

One may ask the question “What is wrong with the above article, crediting natural events that link a pastor’s prediction with the Bible?” A better question might be: “Who does the Bible indicate can predict the second coming? Is it any person, or the angels of heaven,  or Jesus, or the Father in heaven?”

One may also ask: What is the relationship between today’s two Scriptures, Isaiah 47:1-15 and Galatians 2:11-21? One describes the ‘Humiliation of Babylon’; the other ‘Paul’s Opposition to Peter’. While the topics seem to differ, both describe conduct that is not in step with the Gospel and therefore in opposition to God.

We see in Isaiah 47, particularly Verses 12 to 14 the dangers of using cosmic events to predict the actions of God:

12 Stand fast in your enchantments
and your many sorceries,
with which you have labored from your youth;
perhaps you may be able to succeed;
perhaps you may inspire terror.
13 You are wearied with your many counsels;
let them stand forth and save you,
those who divide the heavens,
who gaze at the stars,
who at the new moons make known
what shall come upon you.

14 Behold, they are like stubble;
the fire consumes them;
they cannot deliver themselves
from the power of the flame.

The Prophet Isaiah compares using stars to create prophecies attributed to God as an act of sorcery, condemning the stargazer to a judgment of fire and ultimately death.

The practice of using the relative location of the stars and planets to predict God’s actions falls within the realm of astrology. Astrology focuses upon the position and relationship of heavenly bodies as an omen or portent to predict significant future events.

The Galatians 2 Scriptures describe how the Apostle Peter (Cephas) erroneously believed that in order to become a follower of the Way of Christ, the Gentiles must first convert to Judaism. The Apostle Paul, with the aid of the Holy Spirit, is able to convince Peter of the fallacy of the practice that required an individual’s conversion to one religion, as a prerequisite for the other. More significantly, the New Covenant through Christ eliminated many of the old Mosaic observances and practices that were mandated to become justified unto God.

Though the Lord did instruct the disciples to partake the elements of Communion at his ‘Last Supper’, which happened to occur at the Jewish Celebration of a Passover Supper, Jesus’ death on the cross removed many of the dietary rules and observances as a path to being justified before God. By the same token, circumcision was no longer necessary to qualify as a member of God’s chosen people. The New Covenant required confession of sin, faith in Jesus’s sacrifice for the sin of the world, a willingness to be baptized of the Spirit and to follow the Way of Christ. The feasts, sacrificial offerings, and governance of the Mosaic Law had given way to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

 

Understanding the dangers of astrology and misinterpreting the Gospel of Jesus, it is surprising to see the rise in popularity, particularly in Christian circles, an attempt to predict the return of Jesus, through celestial events, such as the event described as the “Four Blood Moons”. According to some self-proclaimed prophets, four blood red moons are supposed to be a sign of the Lord’s return. This prophecy, just as the circumcision prerequisite for Christian conversion by Cephas in Galatians 2, makes the fundamental mistake of attempting to color events of God’s New Covenant in Christ, under the constraints of the old Jewish Feasts and practices. To understand what is meant by the four blood moons, let me refer to an article from the jewishpress.com, authored by Yori Yanover:

Messianic Blood Moon Rising on Passover Seder Night

By: Yori Yanover

Published: October 6th, 2013, Latest update: October 11th, 2013

There will be a string of four “blood moons” in the year 5775, and one of them will shine over the Passover Seder. Whenever this happened in the past, enormous events took place in Jewish history.

It starts with the Book of Joel, Chapter 3:3-4: “And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come.”

The verse about the sun turning dark and the moon turning to blood, is at the center of a new, hot, Christian bestseller titled “Four Blood Moons,” by Pastor John Hagee. It is based on a discovery by Pastor Mark Biltz, who runs a “Hebrew roots” ministry in Tacoma, Washington: Red Moons.

Biltz’s website declares: “We do not want to convert Jews to Christianity or Christians to Judaism,” which works for me. He based his observation on the verse in Genesis 1:14: “And God said, Let there be lights in the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years.”

God originally plans to use the heavenly lights as signs, and the prophet Joel foretells that a blood moon would mark the day of the Lord – then it stands to reason that some dramatic stuff should be taking place when a blood moon is up in the sky.

The science of the “blood moon” phenomenon is fairly simple. It is created by a partial lunar eclipse. When the Earth’s shadow covers the moon completely, we get a total eclipse. A partial lunar eclipse happens when the Earth’s shadow covers the moon only partially. The earth atmosphere bends light around its edge, and scatters out shorter-wavelength light (green through violet), leaving longer-wavelength light (red, orange, and yellow) in the Earth’s shadow. This is also why sunsets and sunrises generally appear red.

As is the case with most miraculous events that can be explained scientifically, the miracle is not in the natural phenomenon, but rather in its timing. So the Book of Joel describes solar eclipse, followed by a partial lunar eclipse, as precursors of the Day of the Lord.

The prophecy in Joel, like most prophecies, is surreal, beautiful, and open to many interpretations. But we can take away from it the notion of a blood moon as a sign, and check out the calendar for the next bunch of partial lunar eclipses.

That’s what Pastor Biltz did, he looked at NASA’s tables for solar and lunar eclipses and found a string of lunar and solar eclipses happening in 2014 and 2015 and then nothing like it for the rest of the 21st century. In 2015 there will be two solar and lunar eclipses two weeks apart (on the new moon and full moon) one in the spring and one in the fall. This could possibly produce four blood moon eclipses in a row, which is definitely something to write home about.

OK, now hold on to your seats, please: we’ve had the Tetrad phenomenon (a string of four moons partially or completely eclipsed,) twice in the last century, both times on the night of the Passover Seder: in 5710 (1949-50) and in 5728 (1967-68).

The year 5710 came right after the establishment of the State of Israel.

The year 5728 came right after the liberation of Jerusalem.

The next string of four blood moons is coming Passover Seder night, 5775 (2014-15) – a year from this Pesach.

Oh, and the last time this event had taken place before the 20th century was in 5654. That’s 1493-94 to you and me, one year after the exile from Spain.

Now the much better connected Pastor Hagee has picked up Biltz’s notions and authored a very popular book about the blood moons and what they mean – of course, the second coming of you know who.

No, Virginia, we don’t believe in this stuff, we really don’t follow anything up in the heavens except our Father in Heaven, but you have to admit, this is pretty curious.

It’s also interesting to note that those moon strings each appeared only after the miraculous events, like a kind of confirmation on the part of God: I did this. Which means the coming year or so should be very eventful.

Like you didn’t know this without the moon…

http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/messianic-blood-moon-rising-on-passover-seder/2013/10/06/

While researching this message, I observed one of the pastors named in this article on a Huntley Street interview posted on YouTube, (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oK4O0um1gwo ), as he pleads with viewers to buy copies of his book from amazon.com for family and friends in order to get his message out. The other pastor promotes his message on a BLOG which solicits donations. I find it difficult to imagine that the Holy Spirit would allow God’s prophecy to be distributed in such a commercial way.

The other obvious flaw in both Tetrad and Blood-Moon theories is the erroneous assumption that these celestial events are God’s way of announcing Christ’s Return to the entire world. Their mistake is in believing that the events will be visible to everyone around the globe. No way. Europe and the Middle East (Jerusalem) will not see the first of these events. So the bad news is no Tetrad for Zion! Here is Space.com’s explanation of what happened at the most recent blood moon and the next lunar eclipse:

From Space.com, Dateline January 31, 2018: Skywatchers around the world were treated to a rare Super Blue Blood Moon today (Jan. 31). While this was the first time in over 150 years that this particular type of eclipse has happened in the U.S., Americans can look forward to another “blood moon” eclipse coming on Jan. 21, 2019.

This next immediate total lunar eclipse — when the moon appears to turn red as it passes through Earth’s dark inner shadow, or the umbra — will occur later this year on July 27. But that eclipse won’t be visible from North America. However, much of the rest of the world — South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia — will have a great view of that eclipse.

https://www.space.com/39557-next-blood-moon-eclipses-2018-2019.html

Contrary to the Scriptures, we must acknowledge that note that none of the blood moons or eclipses predicted by astronomers at NASA are visible everywhere on earth. In other words, the self-appointed prophets’ suffer a common flaw by citing celestial events which are visible only to a fraction of the population of the world. By contrast, the final days described in the Scriptures are events that will be visible to all of humanity. The authors’ common flaw seems to reveal that they more interested in selling books by promoting their own inaccurate prophecies at the expense of the truth found in God’s Word.

If we are truly living in the end times, with the return of Christ imminent, would it not make more sense from a Christian standpoint, to freely distribute the information to the world as a free eBook or file? Imagine Jesus’ disciples offering to the world the path to salvation and redemption from sin offered by God, but for a price. And if you have no money to purchase the information, you are out of luck! Sorry, but is not the way my God works! For my salvation, only one individual had to pay, that was Jesus Christ:

1 Peter 1:17-19 (ESV)

17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

The final debunking of these self-appointed prophets is that they have the arrogance to claim to be able to determine the time our Lord Jesus returns from celestial events. But what does our Saviour say to any man’s ability to use the position and alignment of heavenly bodies to predict the day Christ, Jesus will return:

Matthew 24:29-42 (ESV): The Coming of the Son of Man

29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

The Lesson of the Fig Tree

32 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 34 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

No One Knows That Day and Hour

36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son,[a] but the Father only. 37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. 42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.

Footnotes: a. Matthew 24:36 Some manuscripts omit nor the Son

The important part of the passage from Matthews’s gospel was not his description of how the heavens look, but Verse 36:

36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son,[a] but the Father only.

And Jesus repeats the warning again in Verse 42:

42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.

In my estimation, any person who claims to know that which only the Father in heaven knows is standing on dangerous grounds! No one means no man, woman or child! Even the angels of heaven and Christ, Jesus are not privy to date that Lord returns!

While some manuscripts omit nor the Son, all of the Scripture sources indicate that God the Father alone; which means not the angels or even Jesus the Son, knows the day that Christ will come again. This means that the authors of the “Four Blood Moon” prophecy seem to claim knowledge that is strictly the within the domain of God. Does this claim sound a little familiar? I seem to recall an encounter with a fallen angel, in the guise of a serpent that offered the knowledge of God for the price of defying the Father’s single commandment:

Genesis 3:4-5 (ESV)

4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Temptation in the Garden

Adam, Eve and the Serpent

You may recall a message that we shared concerning the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, all three, playing important parts in God’s plan for his beloved children. Jesus died in our stead, paying the price for everyone’s sins. Christ was resurrected from the dead, which is part of God’s New Covenant to all who trust and obey the message of the Gospel. And the Lord ascended to Heaven to sit beside the Father, intercede as an advocate for all believers, and to send the Holy Spirit of God, in order to bring a rebirth through Christ. But at his ascension, what did the disciples do? Let us review the account from the Book of Acts, Chapter 1, starting with Verse 6:

Acts 1:6-11 (ESV): The Ascension

6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

So Jesus reminds the disciples, in Acts 1, Verse 7, they are not to know the time of his return, we see in the following verse, his Great Commission which is Christ’s command to the disciples to go witness throughout the world, the gospel of Christ: “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

And we see how the disciples responded, Acts 1, verse 9-11: 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

Some translations describe the men in white robes as angels of the Lord, who speaks to the disciples, addressing them as “men of Galilee” asking them why are they staring at heaven, say that the Lord would return from heaven, the same way that he left.

The disciples were having what I like to call a “Ferris Bueller moment”. For those of you unfamiliar with the film, Matthew Broderick appears after the final credits on screen and asks the audience: “You’re still here? It’s over! Go home! Go!” ( See Bueller clip starting at 3:39 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDfbWDLNjjE )

The disciples having just been commanded by the Lord to go forth and minister, are still peering into the heavens as if they have nothing else to do. People who focus on events in the heavens for signs of the Lord’s return, be they blood red moons or any other sign, are not doing what he commanded. Remember his words, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.”

But playing the devil’s advocate, as if he needs more advocates in the world, one might claim that the “Four Blood Moons” only describes signs of God, that is found throughout the Scriptures, including the Book of Revelations:

Revelation 12:1-12 (ESV): The Woman and the Dragon

12 And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. 2 She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. 3 And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. 4 His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. 5 She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, 6 and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.

Satan Thrown Down to Earth

7 Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, 8 but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. 10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. 11 And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. 12 Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”

When reading the Revelation 12 passage, we see that there is no urgency to focus on the time Christ returns. The only urgency to act due to time constraints described in this Scripture passage belongs to Satan:

Revelation 12: 12

12 Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!

But those stubborn proponents of the “Four Blue Moons” prophecies might direct us to Genesis 1: 14-15, saying that God intended for us to use the signs from the heavens for prophecy:

Genesis 1:14-15 (ESV)

14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons,[a] and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so.

Footnotes: a, Genesis 1:14 Or appointed times

While God provided that there be signs in the heavens, did He intend them to enable us to predict the return of Christ? If you read the first paragraph of Luke 21:25-35, you might say “yes indeed”. Let us read this passage all the way through, and we see otherwise:

Luke 21:25-35 (ESV): The Coming of the Son of Man

25 “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26 people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

The Lesson of the Fig Tree

29 And he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. 30 As soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near. 31 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all has taken place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

Watch Yourselves

34 “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. 35 For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth.

On the day that our Saviour returns, he will come suddenly upon those who dwell on the face of the earth, including the prophets of the “Four Blue Moons”, assuming their prophecy correct. In other words, no one knows the day or time, except only God. And those who claim that knowledge are not God!

The final Scripture passage that “Four Blue Moons” advocates use to justify their prophecies, comes from the sermon by the Apostle Peter from the second chapter of the Book of Acts:

Acts 2:14-24 (ESV): Peter’s Sermon at Pentecost

14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.[a] 16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:

17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams;
18 even on my male servants[
b] and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
20 the sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord 
shall be saved.’

22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus,[c] delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.

Footnotes: a. Acts 2:15 That is, 9 a.m. b. Acts 2:18 Greek bondservants; twice in this verse c. Acts 2:23 Greek this one

The key part of this passage from Acts 2 is found in Verses 22 -24, indicating just Who is responsible for mighty works, wonders, and signs; with the events that occur according to Whose plan and foreknowledge; and these events are by way of Whose power: God and God, alone! Let us read Acts 2:22-24 again:

22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus,[c] delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.

So let us not desire, as did Adam and Eve, to have the knowledge of God, especially with respect to events such as Christ’s return. That, alone, is the sole purview belonging to our Father in heaven. Remember, that Jesus said that neither he nor the angels know the time when he returns, only God the Father knows. As long as we follow the Lord, we have nothing to fear. Let us keep the faith in the task to which he gave us when he ascended to heaven; to return on a day and time known to our Father in heaven. So by claiming that the Blood moons are a sign from God of His final judgment, we claim to know something only God knows, we are misleading others and ourselves, and when He does not come, we have turned people away from God. Only Satan would like that, for his time, and that of his followers is short!

Deuteronomy 4:19 (ESV):

19 And beware lest you raise your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away and bow down to them and serve them, things that the Lord your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #313: My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less

Benediction – (Romans 15:13):

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Hosanna and the Palm Sunday Story

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Palm Sunday:

‘Hosanna and the Palm Sunday Story’

© March 25, 2018 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin March 25, 2018 Palm Sunday

Announcements & Call to Worship; Prayer

Opening Hymn:  Hosanna (See Front of Bulletin); Choruses:

Prayers and Tithing; Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings

Responsive Reading #631: The Incarnate Christ (-from John1)

 Message by Stephen Mickelson: ‘Hosanna and the Palm Sunday Story’

Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church’s Palm Sunday Celebration Service. Our lesson today is about: ‘Hosanna and the Palm Sunday Story’.

Palm Sunday is the date that the Christian Church observes the fulfillment of the long-awaited prophecy that God would send His only Son, as a Savior to the people of the world suffering under the death for sins, which hovers over all like an ominous dark cloud of death. That prophecy is found in Zechariah 9:9-10 (ESV):

  The Coming King of Zion

 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
    Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
    righteous and having salvation is he,
humble and mounted on a donkey,
    on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
10 I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim
    and the war horse from Jerusalem;
and the battle bow shall be cut off,
    and he shall speak peace to the nations;
his rule shall be from sea to sea,
    and from the River[a] to the ends of the earth.

Footnotes: a. Zechariah 9:10 That is, the Euphrates

Many of the faithful believed that the deliverer sent by God would be arrive at Jerusalem as a mighty king as described in Zechariah 9  and lead his people in a battle against Rome, not unlike the Battle of Jericho described in Joshua 6:2-20, a lesson topic that we studied in our March 6 Worship Service.

The events of Jesus’ arrival, described as The Triumphal Entry may be found in several of the disciples gospels. For our lesson, we will look at the account from Matthew 21:1-11 (ESV):

The Triumphal Entry

 21 Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,

“Say to the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your king is coming to you,
    humble, and mounted on a donkey,
   on a colt,[a] the foal of a beast of burden.’”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” 10 And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”               

Footnotes: a, Matthew 21:5 Or donkey, and on a colt

You will note that as Jesus arrived at Jerusalem, many of the people shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” 

What do the crowds mean when the people shouted Hosanna?

When used in a liturgical context, Hosanna refers to a cry expressing an appeal for divine help.[5]

Judaism

In Jewish liturgy, the word is applied specifically to the Hoshana Service, a cycle of prayers from which a selection is sung each morning during Sukkot, the Feast of Booths or Tabernacles.[3] The complete cycle is sung on the seventh day of the festival, which is called Hoshana Rabbah (הושענא רבא, “Great Hosanna”).[6]

Christianity

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship - BLCF Church Palm Sunday 2011 Bulletin

“Hosanna” was the shout of praise or adoration made in recognition of the Messiahship of Jesus on his triumphal entry into Jerusalem,[3] “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!”[7] It is used in the same way in Christian praise.

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hosanna

And what about the terms Messiah or Christ, used to describe the Lord?

The Greek translation of Messiah is khristos (χριστός), anglicized as Christ, and Christians commonly refer to Jesus as either the “Christ” or the “Messiah”. Christians believe that Messianic prophecies were fulfilled in the mission, death, and resurrection of Jesus and that he will return to fulfill the rest of Messianic prophecy.

The majority of historical and mainline Christian theologies consider Jesus to be the Son of God and God the Son, a concept of the Messiah fundamentally different from the Jewish and Islamic concepts.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Messiah

Many Christians mistakenly use Christ and Jesus, as if both interchangeably describe the given name of the same man. As instructed by angels who visited both Mary and Joseph, Mary would give birth to her son, who was fathered by the Holy Spirit, and they were instructed to name him Jesus. In time Jesus would grow  to fulfill the prophecies to bring reconciliation and sanctification to all humanity by his death as the Son of God, and he demonstrate his identity of being God the Son by his resurrection. Jesus would later show his love for us, by sending us the Holy Spirit of God to be our companion now and forever.

It is interesting that though the people gathered at the entrance of Jerusalem, awaiting the arrival of Jesus, shouted out to him: “Hosanna,”  which was a plea for mercy that acknowledges the  power and authority of the Messiah or the Christ sent by God the Father. However, we see  in Matthew 21:10-11, some mistakenly identified Jesus as a prophet:

10 And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”

Perhaps it was the fact that Jesus arrived on a colt, the foal of a donkey, or  because the Lord did not arrive clothed in royal raiment, along with an entourage befitting a king, many in the crowd assumed Jesus to be just a humble prophet. Contrary to the expectations of some, Jesus did not arrive on a chariot or horse, dressed as a king, dressed in expensive robes worn by kings, and emperors of the day.  The Triumphal Entry did not include horns and a mighty army as Joshua had brought to battle Jericho. The Messiah’s mission was not to battle the army of the Empire and bring down the walls of the city of Rome. Our Christ was on a more important mission: to bring salvation to humanity and to demonstrate the love of God by allowing himself to be the final sacrifice for sin. The disobedience of Adam and Eve, with the help of the devil, would be forgiven through the obedience of the Son of God,  who defeated both sin and the devil on the Cross at Calvary. Christ did not come as a Messiah for the people of Israel, The Lord’s teachings and actions would enact God’s New Covenant of salvation, resurrection, and the gift of the Spirit to all of humanity, for all time, allowing all of us to join God’s Chosen.

That was the same misperception that the Woman of Samaria had in last Sunday’s lesson, John 4:19-26 (ESV), where the Samaritan said in John 4:19 (ESV), also misidentifies Jesus as a prophet:

19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.

 And later the Samaritan woman acknowledges in John 4:25 (ESV) that a Messiah is coming:

25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.”

It is then, in John 4:26 (ESV), that Jesus corrects the Samaritan woman by identifying himself as the Messiah,

 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”

The frequent misidentification of Jesus as a humble prophet instead of the Messiah sent by the Father was not just a case of erroneous identification, but an integral part of the Ministry of Jesus, as we see in Mark 10:42-45 (ESV):

                                                      

42 And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,[a]44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave[b] of all. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Footnotes: a. Mark 10:43 Greek diakonos b. Mark 10:44 Or bondservant, or servant (for the contextual rendering of the Greek word doulos)

The importance of Ministering the Gospel of Jesus with humility is reinforced when Jesus teaches his way of ministry in the most humble way when he washes the feet of the disciples, described in John 13:1-17 (ESV):

Jesus Washes the Disciples’ Feet

13 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.”Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet,[a] but is completely clean. And you[b] are clean, but not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

12 When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant[c] is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

Footnotes: a. John 13:10 Some manuscripts omit except for his feet b. John 13:10 The Greek words for you in this verse are plural c. John 13:16 Or bondservant, or slave (for the contextual rendering of the Greek word doulos, see Preface)

If Jesus were just playing the role of servant for the Passover Meal, he would have washed the disciples feet before the meal. But to avoid this perception, an assure that the twelve would understood that he was teaching an important lesson by example of humility. He would humble himself even more by allowing himself to be betrayed, denied, tried and convicted as a criminal, crucified for the judgement,  though he were innocent. Though the Lord was the Son of God, he allowed himself to die the death as the humble son of man.

As disciples of the Resurrected Christ,  we are expected to carry out the Great Commission in the same humble manner of Jesus. Instead of teaching the Gospel of Jesus,  we must follow the humble example of  the Lord, by way of truth of in our words and love in our actions, as explained in Philippians 2:3-11 (ESV):

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,[a] who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,[b] but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,[c]being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Footnotes: a.Philippians 2:5 Or which was also in Christ Jesus b. Philippians 2:6 Or a thing to be held on to for advantage c. Philippians 2:7 Or slave (for the contextual rendering of the Greek word doulos, see Preface)

Jesus came in the form a humble servant, preferring to identify himself as the son of man: born in a humble stable, arriving to Jerusalem riding on the foal of a donkey, though innocent, he died the death of a criminal to pay our debt for our sins by surrendering his blood, his body, his life as the perfect love offering. Jesus died a man’s death as the son of man, only to return three days later, as the resurrected Son of God, a Messiah for all of humanity, for all generations, our Lord of lords and King of kings, forever, until the end of time.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #398: I Come to the Garden Alone

Benediction – 2 Corinthians 13:14: May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

 

The Parable of the 10 Talents: Keeping Faith and Trust in the Master

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday: 

‘The Parable of the 10 Talents: Keeping Faith and Trust in the Master’                  

© February 11, 2018 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin February 11, 2018

Based on a Message shared by Steve Mickelson at BLCF on November 28, 2010

BLCF Nov_28_2010 Bulletin

 

Announcements & Call to Worship; Prayer                                                                                                           

Opening  Hymn #398: I Come to the Garden Alone; Choruses                                                                         

Prayers and Tithing Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings              

Responsive Reading #648 ( A Challenge to Faith – from Hebrews 11 and 12) 

Message by Steve Mickelson:                                                                                           

‘The Parable of the 10 Talents: Keeping Faith and Trust in the Master’

Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church’s Sunday Praise and Worship Service, in the heart of Toronto.

Our lesson today is a study of the ‘The Parable of the 10 Talents: Keeping Faith and Trust in the Master’, taken from Matthew 25:14-30 (ESV):

The Parable of the Talents

14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants[a]and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents,[b] to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money.19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.[c] You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Footnotes: a. Matthew 25:14 Or bondservants; also verse 19 b. Matthew 25:15 A talent was a monetary unit worth about twenty years’ wages for a laborer c. Matthew 25:21 Or bondservant; also verses 232630

The ‘Ten Talents’ was number 21 of some 40 Parables that Jesus used during his earthly ministry. Jesus often used parables to help us understand the teachings of His ministry. By definition, a parable is a short allegorical story designed to illustrate or teach some truth, religious principle, or moral lesson. These parables of Jesus, found in the three synoptic gospels, or the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, are a key part of the teachings of Jesus, forming approximately one third of his recorded teachings.

What did Jesus talent as mentioned in title of this passage of scripture? A talent was the largest measurement of money in those days. Since a talent was actually a measurement of weight, it did not have a constant value. A talent of gold, for example, would be worth a whole lot more than a talent of bronze. While commentators differ somewhat over the approximate value of a talent in today’s economy, all would agree that it was a large amount of money. Talents were used as a unit of currency, worth about 6,000 denari. Since a denarius was the usual payment for a day’s labor, a talent would translate roughly the value of twenty years of work by an ordinary person.

Why did Jesus give us a parable about treasure and money? In Matthew 10:17-25 (ESV), the Bible says this about Christ’s encounter with a rich young man:

The Rich Young Man

17 And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

23 And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is[a] to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him,[b] “Then who can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”

Footnotes:a. Mark 10:24 Some manuscripts add for those who trust in riches b. Mark 10:26 Some manuscripts to one another

In Mark 6:7-9 (ESV) Jesus told his disciples: “And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in their belts— but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics.”

Keep in mind that in the ‘10 Talents’, Jesus presents us with a story that that is a parable. And that by definition, a parable is a short allegorical story designed to illustrate or teach some truth, religious principle, or moral lesson. Therefore we should not take the events the in the story literally, but as an allegorical lesson to give us insight and understanding to our Lord’s expectations of us. This will allow us to develop a better, richer relationship with our Lord.

Traditionally, the parable of the talents has been seen as an exhortation to Jesus’ disciples to use their God-given gifts in the service of God, and to take risks for the sake of the God’s Kingdom. These gifts have been seen to include personal abilities (“talents” in the everyday sense), as well as personal wealth. Failure to use one’s gifts, the parable suggests, will result in judgment.

The poet John Milton was fascinated by the parable (interpreted in this traditional sense), referring to it repeatedly, notably in the sonnet “On His Blindness“:

When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent, which is death to hide,
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest He, returning, chide

This interpretation seems to be the origin of the word “talent” used for an aptitude or skill.

There are a number of hymns that mention the parable, notably  John Wesley‘s “Servant of God, Well Done!” which refers to Matthew 25:23 (ESV):

23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’

Wesley authored the hymn after the death of Anglican Minister George Whitfield,  who helped spread the Great Awakening throughout Britain and the colonies in British North America, being one of the founders of Methodism and of the evangelical movement generally. Whitefield became perhaps the best-known preacher in Britain and America in the 18th century, and because Wesley traveled through all of the American colonies, he drew great crowds and media coverage, being one of the most widely recognized public figures in colonial America.

Wesley’s hymn begins:

Servant of God, well done!
Thy glorious warfare’s past;
The battles fought, the race is won,
And thou art crowned at last.

This passage is offered as a comparison allegory to the coming of Christ. Christ came and gave us a great gift, through Grace, and then “went away on a long journey.” Christ will come back. How have we responded to the freedom and power given to us through Jesus Christ? Have we cowered in fear or are actively living out God’s will?

With the help of the Spirit, the Bible is its own interpreter.  We may understand the meaning of this passage from the Scriptures by reading it in context of other scripture on the same or related topics. The key to the passage may be found in Matthew 25:29 (ESV):

29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.

Jesus used these very same words in the “Parable of the Sower”, found in Matthew 13. We know from that parable that the seed sown is the Bible and the message about ‘The Kingdom’ found in verses 18-23. In the two parables are the ‘Seed Sown’ and the ‘Talent Entrusted‘ appear to be one in the same. In both parables, Jesus speaks taking action to bring an increase in your understanding and knowledge of God in your life by acting on it and putting it to work. This is the great commission. We find more scriptures that refer to knowledge being like money or something of value having been given to us?
In 2 Timothy 1:13-14 (ESV) we read:

13 Follow the pattern of the sound[a] words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14 By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.

Footnotes: a. 2 Timothy 1:13 Or healthy

In Colossians 2:1-3 (ESV), we read:

For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

In the ‘10 Talents’, the first two servants undertook to grow what was entrusted to them. They acted with confidence and faith that their endeavors to increase that which was entrusted to them. They had a confidence and assurance of faith that they would be successful in caring for that of value which was entrusted to them.

God expect us to minister to others with the His Spirit providing us with not only confidence and assurance of faith, but also with endurance, as we see in Hebrews 10:35-36 (ESV):

 35 Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.

The third servant acted out of fear and misunderstanding of his master and did nothing. His actions were more rooted in fear of the wrath of his master, and lacked a true understanding as to what his Master’s expectations were. Our take away from this is we are to walk with confidence in the Lord, see Ephesians 5:8 (ESV):

for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.

Our Christian walk should be characterized by: faith, wisdom, and awareness of His and the time we have, Ephesians 5:15-17(ESV):

15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

And contrary to the notion once saved, always saved, we may lose the promise of salvation if our actions are not in line with what the Lord expects of us. We see this in Matthew 7:21-23 (ESV):

I Never Knew You

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Consider the usage of the word “Earth” elsewhere in Jesus’ parables. The word earth is always used in reference to a man’s heart. We sow seeds (the Word) in the earth (men’s hearts). Likewise, earth is used in this parable. He who was only given one talent (given one gift) hid it in his heart, afraid to use it for God’s gain, and he lost it.

Sometimes we who claim Jesus Christ as Saviour can behave like the slothful servant in that we may become too comfortable just sitting in the pews only keeping company with other Christians, just praying for each other, talking only to those we know about the goodness of God. While this may be a good start, as we need to fellowship as a body of believers. However, God wants us to get outside of that cozy comfort zone. Like Peter take a step of faith outside the boat, as it were. He has given us each a measure of faith, His Word, the sacrifice of His only begotten Son and presence of the Holy Spirit to empower us, so that we spread the ‘Good News’ about our faith to those whom we do not know. Many who claim to believe, lack the faith in their own God given talents to make a difference in somebody’s life. They say that they just are not gifted to share the gospel in a significant way. This brings to mind The Starfish Story, an abbreviated version of this story may be found on the front page of today’s bulletin. Here is a longer version of the same story:

The Starfish Story, adapted from The Star Thrower
by Loren Eiseley (1907 – 1977)

There once was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.

He came closer still and called out “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”

“I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” asked the somewhat startled wise man.

To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”

Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”

At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, “It made a difference for that one.”

As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are entrusted and expected now, and until the day He returns, to reach out to share our faith in Him, to boldly take risks of faith. Our talent of responsibility is to make an investment in someone, other than those we know or with whom we are comfortable, and share our testimony in word and deed. For this our Lord will hold each of us accountable. It is on the basis of this we will be judged.

In this regard, Jesus’ ‘The Parable of the 10 Talents’ is offered as a comparison allegory to the coming of Christ. Christ came and gave us a great gift, through Grace, and then “went away on a long journey.” Christ will come back. How have we responded to the freedom and power given to us through Jesus Christ? Have we cowered in fear or are we actively living out God’s will? For the Great Commission entrusted to us, as good and faithful servants described in Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV):

18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Footnotes:a. Matthew 28:19 Or into

The choice is ours, as to whether we faithfully trust our Lord and invest what gifts the Master has entrusted to our care. You can make a difference, even if it be to a single starfish or an unsaved soul.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #37: Great Is Thy Faithfulness    

Benediction – (1 Thessalonians 3:11-13): Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.  – Amen

‘Works of Faith’ and the ‘Royal Law’ as Elements of ‘The Great Commission’

BLCF: living_the_Great_Commission

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Works of Faith’ & the ‘Royal Law’ as Elements of ‘The Great Commission’

© September 18, 2016 by Steve Mickelson

Based on a Message Shared at BLCF on April 28, 2013 

BLCF: September-18-2016

BLCF: this-sunday-after-service-church-picnic

Announcements & Call to Worship: Responsive Reading 622; Prayer                  

Opening Hymn #484: It Only Takes a Spark, Choruses                                         

Tithing and Prayer Requests: Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayers                               

Today’s Scriptures: Matthew 25:31-46; 5:43-48; 16:27; 1 John 4:11-12

BLCF: pass-it-on

                                  

Let us pray…

Good morning and what a glorious demonstration of the awareness God’s love and His presence is expressed in our opening hymn, ‘It Only Takes a Spark’. The author was inspired by verse from 1 John 4:11-12 (ESV):

11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. 

Both the verse and hymn reveal important aspects of the believer’s faith walk. Verse 11 of 1 John 4 implores Christians to love one another in the same manner as God loves us. Remember for God so loved the world that He gave His only Son for our salvation, even though we are unworthy of such an expression of love. Verse 12 reminds us that though God remains unseen, by loving one another, we receive God’s presence by way of the Holy Spirit. And the love of God is perfectly expressed in us when we share that love with others and God. Remember that Jesus taught us that the Ten Commandments that God gave to Moses for the people of Israel, our Lord indicated may be expressed as two simple commandments: one is love to God, the second being love to one another. Together, these two commandments often referred to as the Royal Law as we read in Matthew 22:37-39 (ESV):

 

The Royal Commandment

                                                 The Royal Law

37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Note that we are not instructed to just love our family, to love only friends or to express our love solely to other believers. There is a common expression of someone who is ‘preaching to the choir’, in other words restricting the expression of our love and ministry solely to other believers. That is not what Jesus had in mind when he issued the Great Commission, just before ascending to Heaven, Matthew 28:16-20 (ESV):

 

BLCF: acts-great-commission

16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

You may recall that Jesus taught his disciples not only by his Holy Words but by his example. Jesus washed the feet of the disciples to teach the disciples humility and awareness that we are messengers of God, and we must teach others as servants of God. This falls in line with how our Lord ministered to those who were considered outcasts not even permitted to worship in the temple: a prostitute, a blind man, a cripple and even the criminal crucified beside Jesus. Associating with any of these outcasts was not permitted by Jewish laws. Note that neither the Ten Commandments nor the Royal Law  from Jesus, instruct believers to shun or to avoid associating with non-believers or those judged to be sinful because of an affliction or criminal past. In fact, by avoiding non-believers, how can one make disciples of all nations, not just the nation of Israel and not just to make disciples other believers in Christ? The Christian Way was not intended to be an exclusive club or organization, The Way describes an inclusive faith that is to be made available to everyone throughout our world. We are to preach and teach the Way of Jesus both by action and in word to all whom we encounter.

The Lord’s Commission issued before his Ascension will be subject to a Final Judgement by Jesus on His return, as we read in Matthew 25:31-46 (ESV) entitled: The Final Judgment:

Sheep anf Goats

The Final Judgment

 

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did it to me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

This judgment, also known as the Parable of the Sheep and Goats, expresses the Lord’s warning that it is not enough just to confess sins and say that Jesus is your savior, to be judged righteous by Him. It is our attitude towards those whom we may tend to avoid: the homeless, the sick, the destitute, criminals, and strangers than counts. We are instructed not only to associate with them but to care for them. For by caring for the least of these, we demonstrate our love of God, by following Jesus’ example. If we shun them, even though we may claim our behavior righteous, we will suffer the same judgment as will the devil and the fallen angels: eternal fire as a punishment. This verse indicates that faith is more than solely performing acts of charity. Faith is how we express our love to our Lord, by loving those whom many of society may despise.

This attitude expression of Christian faith is reinforced in James 2, where the Lord views holding a negative bias towards others as a sin as we see in James 2:1-13 (ESV) The Sin of Partiality:

BLCF: looking-up-to-Jesus

 

1My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. 2 For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, 3 and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” 4 have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?

8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. 11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

By judging others to be not worthy of our attention or love, we bring the same judgment down upon ourselves.

So, if I volunteer to help out at BLCF Cafe Community Dinner, so that I may brag about it others or because I believe that I am better than some or all of the guests or other volunteers, I am committing the sin of partiality over others and defying God’s will and purpose for His followers.

It may surprise some that by expressing just a biased or partial attitude against another; we have broken God’s law and are subject suffer the same judgment given if we had murdered another person. We cannot twist God’s rules to suit our desires, Adam and Eve already made that mistake.

But one may argue, isn’t faith just a belief and as such expressed in prayers, blessings, and good words to others?  That is all we need to do to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ, right? We find the answer in the rest of James 2:14-26 (ESV) entitled Faith Without Works Is Dead:

BLCF: faith-without-works

 

14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

While salvation is a gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. This does not mean that a believer’s faith cannot be without an expression of works. The so-called believers who gave God’s blessing, only, to those in need when they can give more, will be judged the same as if they have rejected God, just as Satan had rebelled against His authority.

The third verse  teaches that that Christians should embrace others outside the faith, that is to show the love of Christ to those who are not brothers and sisters in Christ is found in Matthew 5:43-48 (ESV) entitled Love Your Enemies:

BLCF: love-your-enemies

 

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.                                                

What these verses allude to, is the danger of performing actions of faith with a design to promote ourselves or from a motivation of fear of punishment, rather than out of love and respect for God and others. After all, this was the mistake of Adam and Eve, who sinned seeking to elevate themselves to the same level as God, by eating the forbidden fruit. A prideful disregard of God’s instructions had very bad consequences for them. Acts of selfless love to strangers, our enemies and the undeserving, as Christ did for each of us on Cross at Calvary, is the only way to assure our own forgiveness and salvation. This is as much a change in attitude, as it is behavior that is needed in order for us to become righteous in the Lord’s eyes. And we know that judgment will come. Matthew 16:27 (ESV):

BLCF: the_great_commission

 

27For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.

Therefore as followers and believers in the Resurrected Christ, it is good to reflect upon what we do and say, and why?  Are our words and deeds done out of a desire to demonstrate the love of Christ to all we meet? Or are we motivated by a need to promote ourselves above others, perhaps to the same level of God, as did Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden? Our answer to each of these questions will indicate what judgment we may expect from the Lord on that final day and demonstrate how much we have allowed the Holy Spirit to transform ourselves in our faith walk.

Fortunately, if our actions are selfish rather than selfless, it is not too late to change our ways and seek to demonstrate His love to others, especially to those whom we dislike or despise. For if God loved us to sacrifice His son for us. who have offended Him through sin,  surely we can demonstrate Christ-like love and forgiveness to those who offend us. Let us seek a revival in our own personal faith walk, by walking in the footsteps of Christ, and guided by the Holy Spirit.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #358: We Praise Thee, O God

Benediction (Romans 15:5-7): May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

BLCF: Rmans15-5-7

 

You’re Invited: BLCF Church Potluck Picnic, following this Service at St. Helen’s

 

BLCF Church Potluck Picnic Sunday September 18, 2016

BLCF Church Potluck Picnic Sunday – September 18, 2016

img_1242 img_1244

BLCF: picnic-potluck-version

Living within God’s New Paradigm of Faith

BLCF: the-cross

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

Living within God’s New Paradigm of Faith’ 

 © April 27, 2014 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF: Bulletin April 27, 2014

BLCF: paradigm_shift

 

Announcements and Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #668

(The New Life – Colossians 3); r of Prayer)) Prayer 

Opening Hymn: #1 Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty                                                                   

Scripture Verses:Genesis 2:5-7, Acts 2:1-4, Acts 2:22-33

 

Let us pray…

Before the time of Christ, because of sin, and in order to worship God, people practiced a religion filled with good works, sacrifices to God for transgressions and communicating to God through such intermediaries as holy prophets or priests. Worship involved performing visible, tangible actions to honour God.

Through Jesus, God reveals His New Paradigm for His relationship with His people. Let us review the definition and usage of  paradigm, let us consult dictionary.com:

par·a·digm /ˈpærəˌdaɪm, -dɪm/ Show Spelled [par-uh-dahym, -dim] noun 

an example serving as a model; pattern. Synonyms:mold, standard; ideal, paragon, touchstone.

 framework containing the basic assumptions, ways of thinking, and methodology that are commonly accepted by members of a scientific community.

such a cognitive framework shared by members of any discipline or group: the company’s business paradigm.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/paradigm

 

BLCF: paradigm-shift-cartoon

 

To  better understand paradigm, let us use some visual aids found in today’s bulletin. In the middle of the  first page, just below the Order of Service are scrabble letters arranged to make the words “paradigm and shift” formed in the shape of a cross. If you look at the illustration one way, you see a term representing a change in way of thinking, at the same time it is set in the shape of the cross, which reminding us of how Jesus removed humanity’s judgement for sin and restoring our souls before God our father.

To the right of the “Paradigm Shift Cross” in the bulletin is a drawing that from one perspective appears to be a woman whose eyes are closed having what appears to be a bad hair day. When viewed differently, the drawing seems to be that of a person in a white parka at the entrance to a dark tunnel or cave.

 

BLCF: parka or face gif

 

On the bottom of the right inside page are a series of other paradigm graphics which can be interpreted to represent one thing or another, depending upon your point of view.

 

BLCF: paradigms                                   BLCF: paradigm_perspective                                   BLCF: paradigmperspectives

 

The first time I walked into this church some years ago,  I had expected to enter a small sanctuary based upon the perspective of the front of the building. The front hallway seemed to support  the expectation that the church being a small space. As you go from the hallway to the narthex, the interior space opens up. Still, you are impressed and surprised at the relatively large size of the sanctuary of the church. Unless you have been informed in advance in regard to the size and appearance of the church, you have to adopt a new paradigm or mindset to comprehend its actual structure.

 

BLCF Church 1

BLCF Church 5

 

As Christians, we are expected to adopt a new paradigm in regard to the Trinity of our God. On the top of the inside of the bulletin, beside the Order of Service header is a graphic representation of the Godhead or Holy Trinity that helps us to understand, as best we can, that God consists of a Father, His Son – Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

BLCF: Godhead_Holy_Trinity

 

Each is distinct from the other, and each is God. Non-Christians may have difficulty accepting this description of the Holy Trinity, even though it is no more a paradigm shift than the world needed to have when they discarded the flat earth paradigm in favour of the world being a round sphere. A similar paradigm shift was required to accept the fact that the sun, moon and stars did not revolve around the earth. Both of these paradigms run contrary to our perception of how we normally observe the world around us.

 

 

BLCF: paradigm-shift

 

Last Sunday, we discussed how Jesus implemented the new paradigm  for humanity’s relationship with God, by removing the stigma for humanity’s sins, by taking upon himself our judgement and punishment. At Christ’s first appearance in the Upper Room, we see in John 20, that he commissioned the disciples, sending them to go forth, as the Father in heaven had sent him. And knowing that he was soon to ascend to heaven, Jesus breathed upon them the Holy Spirit of God to help the  twelve, implement his Commission, which is why we now refer to them as apostles or messengers of Christ. As believers in the resurrected Christ, we too are expected to serve as his apostles.

BLCF: e_the_holy_spirit

 

As messengers of his gospel of forgiveness, sanctification, and following Pentecost, as apostles of Christ, we are also vessels of the Holy Spirit, sharing God’s New Paradigm is the New Covenant, which not only includes salvation and the gift of the Holy Spirit, but the promise of our own resurrection. In addition to the New Covenant, we have been given the same Commission we are Christ’s apostles  and therefore given the same assignment given to the twelve in that Upper Room some two thousand years ago: sharing Christ’s gospel unto the ends of the earth.

 

BLCF: trinity_yuyu

 

The most important part of this passage, which all Christians who did not live in the time when Christ walked before his crucifixion should note, are the words that were spoken by Jesus to Thomas, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

 

BLCF: Breath returned - Worship

 

Why is there the need for a New Covenant or any Covenant at all? Over the last few weeks, we examined how God created the universe: the sun, the moon, the stars, the earth and all life and had judged it to be good. Then the Creator made the first man from the earth and brought life to him by breathing into his nostrils, “the breath of life”, as we read in Genesis 2:5-7.

 

Genesis 2:5-7 (ESV)

BLCF: breath-of-life

When no bush of the field[a] was yet in the land[b] and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist[c] was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground— then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.

Footnotes: a. Genesis 2:5 Or open country b. Genesis 2:5 Or earth; also verse 6 c. Genesis 2:6 Or spring

According to Book of Genesis, Adam and Eve were made living creatures, created by God, in His image. And we discussed how both Adam and Eve were beguiled by Satan, posing as a serpent, to break God’s rule “not to eat from the forbidden fruit”, as Satan had promised that they would have the knowledge of God. This was the fall from the grace of God.

 

BLCF: Adam_Eve

 

Following the fall of Adam and Eve, we are aware of Adam and Eve’s judgement to be evicted by God from the Garden of Eden, to suffer death and other hardships for all subsequent generations. In a fit of jealousy, Cain killed his brother, Abel. Eventually sin became so widespread upon the earth that God decided to do a reset by make a Great Flood to destroy all life,  as we read in Genesis 7:21-24.

Genesis 7:21-24 (ESV)

BLCF: s-Chapter-8-A-Dove-Is-Sent-Forth-from-the-Ark

21 And all flesh died that moved on the earth, birds, livestock, beasts, all swarming creatures that swarm on the earth, and all mankind. 22 Everything on the dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life died. 23 He blotted out every living thing that was on the face of the ground, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens. They were blotted out from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those who were with him in the ark. 24 And the waters prevailed on the earth 150 days.

God’s judgement was to reset His creation back to Day #4, but instead of recreating life, he had Noah construct the Ark to carry the his animals, as well as Noah’s extended family above the flooded world. And like the third day of creation, God parted the land from the sea so that the dwellers of the Ark could begin life anew.

You may note that in both our Scriptures from Genesis that God breathed life into the nostrils of Adam, to make him a living creature, but in Genesis 7:22-23, that the flood had removed the breath of life from everything on dry land, not only people, but “animals, creeping things and birds of the air. From these verses it is safe to infer that God’s breathed life into humanity, animals, creatures and birds.

 

BLCF:-breath_of_god-aa1

 

But Genesis indicates that man and woman were created in God’s own image. We were given a soul. But the soul of humanity, even the descendants of Noah, carry the tarnish of the sin from the Garden of Eden. Through Moses God had brought humanity His laws, but the laws by themselves do not remove the sin. And even Adam and Eve, who had only one law to follow, were tempted to break that law. If I were to post on a wall a sign “ Don’t Touch! – Wet Paint”, how many people would be tempted to challenge the posting a touch the wall?

 

dont-touch-wet-paint

 

 

This is quite a dilemma, because the separation from God is more a result of the guilt and shame of the sinner than a result of God’s desire to be apart from us. And self-loathing can be as harsh a judgement as any.  How is possible for sinners be reconciled with God? God loves his creation and waits for the prodigals to return. But how can the corruption of the sinner’s soul caused by sin be cleansed, so that we may live with God for eternity? The Pharisee, Nicodemus, asked the Lord the same question, which we find in John 3:1-8.

 

John 3:1-8 (ESV) You Must Be Born Again

Nicodemus and Jesus

Nicodemus and Jesus

3 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus[a] 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.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again[b] he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.[c] Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You[d] must be born again.’ The wind[e] blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Footnotes: a. John 3:2 Greek him b. John 3:3 Or from above; the Greek is purposely ambiguous and can mean both again and from above; also verse 7 c.John 3:6 The same Greek word means both wind and spirit d. John 3:7 The Greek for you is plural here e. John 3:8 The same Greek word means both wind and spirit

 

BLCF: spirit to the people

 

In this passage, Jesus talks about being “born again” in the Spirit. When a baby is born, the first thing it must do is take in a breath of air. The air is unseen, but brings life. And like the air, the Holy Spirit brings new life. This is God’s New Paradigm. Where the Ark built by Noah had preserved the life God created, the Holy Spirit, as a second breath from the Lord, restores the soul. And the only way that we may receive the Holy Spirit is by Way of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which cleansed our souls from the corruption of the soul caused by sin.

That Jesus came and died to remove the death penalty for sin that everyone faces removes the impossible expectation of being perfect and sinless under law, as well as constantly offering sacrifices for sins committed on a regular basis. Architect Richard Buckminster Fuller expressed it very well, when he wrote:

 

BLCF:Richard-Buckminster-Fuller-fighting-change-reality

 

The arrival of the Holy Spirit upon believers as a breath from Christ is first described in John 20:19-23, where the Lord appeared to the disciples on the evening of the day of his resurrection.

 

John 20:19-23 (ESV) Jesus Appears to the Disciples

BLCF: tissot-the-appearance-of-christ-at-the-cenacle

19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews,[a] Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

Footnotes: a. John 20:19 Greek Ioudaioi probably refers here to Jewish religious leaders, and others under their influence, in that time

Before he breathed the Holy Spirit upon the disciples, the Lord gave them the great Commission to share his Gospel. Then Jesus breathed upon the now apostles or messengers, the Holy Spirit of God.

 

BLCF: Great_Commission

 

The next act of Pentecost occurred again in the same Upper Room, after the Lord had ascended to heaven. Again, the Lord reminded the apostles of his Commission to spread his Gospel unto the ends of the world.in Acts 1:6-9.

 

Acts 1:6-9 (ESV) The Ascension

BLCF: TheAscension

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.

The twelve apostles, including Matthias who was chosen to replace Judas, were not the only apostles or messengers of Christ.  For all who receive Christ as Lord and Saviour are also elected as his apostles and are expected to share the good news of his gifts of salvation, resurrection and the Holy Spirit, as we read in Acts 2:1-4.

 

Acts 2:1-4 (ESV) The Coming of the Holy Spirit

BLCF: Pentecost

 

2 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested[a] on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Footnotes: a. Acts 2:3 Or And tongues as of fire appeared to them, distributed among them, and rested

God’s New Paradigm, which is expressed in the gospel of Christ that we as his apostles are instructed to share, is provided in Acts 2:22-33.

 

Acts 2:22-33 (ESV)

BLCFcrucified_with_christ

22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus,[a] delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. 25 For David says concerning him,

“‘I saw the Lord always before me,     

for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;

26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;     

my flesh also will dwell in hope.

27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,    

 or let your Holy One see corruption.

28 You have made known to me the paths of life;    

 you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’

29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.

Footnotes: a. Acts 2:23 Greek this one

As I shared earlier in this message, the greatest barrier keeping people from God is not from Him, but caused more by our own guilt, shame and remorse. How can one carry Jesus Second Commandment, expressed in Galatians 5:13-14, to love one’s neighbor as oneself if that person is unhappy with his or herself?

 

Galatians 5:13-14 (ESV)

blcf_Commandments

 

13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

If we truly trust in the Lord and the Holy Spirit, trust in the unseen, we have confidence that Jesus will be with us in the Spirit and that we will see him when he returns, John 14:15-21.

 

John 14:15-21 (ESV) Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit

BLCF: Spirit sent

 

15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper,[a] to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be[b] in you.

18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”

Footnotes: a. John 14:16 Or Advocate, or Counselor; also 14:26; 15:26; 16:7 b. John 14:17 Some manuscripts and is

Therefore, as believers in the resurrected Christ, let us seek to both understand and to live within God’s New Paradigm of Faith, provided by His Son, Jesus. For where the Creator first breathed life into the nostrils of humanity to give us life, Jesus – by way of his sacrifice on the cross – cleansed the souls of humanity, by removing the tarnish of sin, and breathed the breath of the Holy Spirit, making believers vessels of the Spirit. And as vessels of the Holy Spirit, we have the gifts, power and ability to share Jesus’ Gospel, which Jesus gave to all believers, as apostles as a Great Commission.

BLCF: paradigm-shift

 

Through Jesus, the price and judgment levied upon humanity for sin has been paid in full. God’s New Paradigm, through Jesus, removes humanity’s sin before God and allows humanity to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, in order to share the Lord’s Gospel, and to be cleansed of guilt and shame. This is really God’s vision for out life in Jesus.

 

gods-vision

 

 

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn: #276 In the Stars His Handiwork I See                                                      

Benediction – Romans 15:13:

 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

 

BLCF: All things made new

God’s Easter Miracles: In a Room; On a Road; and In a Tomb

BLCF: Jesus-hand

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:          

‘God’s Easter Miracles: In a Room; On a Road; and In a Tomb’ 

© April 20, 2014, by Steve Mickelson

BLCF: Bulletin April 20, 2014

 

Announcements and Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #623

(The Risen Lord – Matthew 28 and John 20); r of Prayer)) Prayer 

Opening Hymn: #163 Christ the Lord is Risen Today                                                                               

Scripture Verses: John 20:1-18, Luke 24:13-35, John 20:19-29 

BLCF: Easter Sunday

 

Let us pray…

‘He is risen!’

Congregation’s reply: ‘He is risen, indeed!’

Today is the day we celebrate the Lord’s resurrection from his death upon the cross at Golgotha. The world is full of many religions, many false gods, and worship a variety of idols. But only Christ, the Son of the one true God, performed the miraculous and supernatural act of returning from the dead.

After his resurrection, Jesus appeared neither on just a single occasion nor only to the eleven apostles. Here is a map and a list of the times, places and people visited by the Lord, from HARMONY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT, compiled by Gordon Smith, using J B Phillips Translation https://www.ccel.org/bible/phillips/JBPHarmony.htm

 

BLCF: APPEARANCES OF JESUS AFTER HIS RESURRECTION

Map by Gordon Smith can be used without further permission. Please quote: http://www.ccel.org/bible/phillips/JBPhillips.htm

 

EASTER SUNDAY IN AND AROUND JERUSALEM

  • [2] The Garden Tomb – Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene outside the tomb (Mark 16:9; John 20:11)
  • [3] The Garden Tomb – To Mary Magdalene and the other Mary (the mother of James the Younger and Joses – Mark 16:1), and Salome as they hurry from the tomb (Matthew 28:8)
  • [4] The Garden Tomb – To Peter (Luke 24:34; “Cephas” in 1Corinthians 15:5)
  • [5] The Road to Emmaus – To two disciples on the Emmaus road later in the day (Mark 16:12; Luke 24:13)
  • [6] The Upper Room – To the apostles in a house in Jerusalem (Luke 24:36; John 20:19). Possibly the Upper Room where the Last Supper was held; Thomas was absent according to John 20:24.

A WEEK LATER

  • [7] The Upper Room – To the eleven apostles, including Thomas in a house; probably the same house as [6] (John 20:26; possibly Mark 16:14)

OVER THE NEXT WEEKS IN GALILEE

  • [8]The apostles go to Galilee (Matthew 28:16a); there Jesus appears to seven of them fishing on the Sea of Galilee (John 21:1)
  • [9] Jesus appears to the apostles on a mountain and gives his great commission to preach the Gospel to the world (Matthew 28:16b)
  • [10] More than 500 disciples in Galilee (1Corinthians 15:6)
  • [11] To James, his brother (1Corinthians 15:7)

ASCENSION DAY NEAR JERUSALEM

  • [12] To the apostles on the Mount of Olives (Olivet), near Bethany, as he ascends to Heaven (Luke 24:50, Acts 1:12)

AFTER HIS ASCENSION

 

BLCF: Jesus-Christ-empty-tomb-resurrection-salvation

 

For today’s lesson, we will study four events, where the Resurrected Christ came to those who loved and believed their Saviour, which occurred in three places: in a room; on a road; and in a tomb.

Let us look at these meetings with the Lord in their proper chronology and begin with the account in John’s gospel, chapter 20, verses 1-18, which give the account of Mary Magdalene, who arrived at the tomb of Jesus on the first day of the week, only to find the gravestone rolled away and the tomb empty.

 

John 20:1-18 (ESV) The Resurrection

BLCF:Mary-Magdalene-at-tomb

 

20 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’[a] head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went back to their homes.

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

BLCF: JesusAtEmptyTomb

11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic,[b] “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.

Footnotes: a. John 20:7 Greek his b.John 20:16 Or Hebrew

The Scriptures indicate that Mary ran to report her discovery to Peter and to another, referred in this passage as the ‘other disciple.’

You may ask what is the identity of the ‘other disciple’ mentioned in this account?

For the answer to this question, let us check our Wiki bits reference:

The disciple whom Jesus loved is referred to, specifically, six times in John’s gospel:

  • It is this disciple who, while reclining beside Jesus at the Last Supper, asks Jesus, after being requested by Peter to do so, who it is that will betray him.[John 13:23-25]
  • Later at the crucifixion, Jesus tells his mother, “Woman, here is your son”, and to the Beloved Disciple he says, “Here is your mother.”[John 19:26-27]
  • When Mary Magdalene discovers the empty tomb, she runs to tell the Beloved Disciple and Peter. The two men rush to the empty tomb and the Beloved Disciple is the first to reach the empty tomb. However, Peter is the first to enter.[John 20:1-10]
  • Also in the book’s final chapter, after Jesus hints to Peter how Peter will die, Peter sees the Beloved Disciple following them and asks, “What about him?” Jesus answers, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!”[John 21:20-23]
  • Again in the gospel’s last chapter, it states that the very book itself is

None of the other Gospels has anyone in the parallel scenes that could be directly understood as the Beloved Disciple. For example, in Luke 24:12, Peter alone runs to the tomb. Mark, Matthew and Luke do not mention any one of the twelve disciples having witnessed the crucifixion.

There are also two references to an unnamed “other disciple” in John 1:35-40 and John 18:15-16, which may be to the same person based on the wording in John 20:2.

A major difficulty in supposing that the Beloved Disciple was not one of the Twelve Apostles is that the Beloved Disciple was apparently present at the Last Supper which Matthew and Mark state that Jesus ate with the Twelve. Thus the most frequent identification is with John the Apostle, who would then be the same as John the Evangelist.

Most scholars agree that the ‘other disciple’ is John. This also makes sense, in that referring to himself as the ‘other disciple’, in the third person, John not only demonstrate humility, but avoids a narrative that uses the personal pronouns I and me, which could cause the reader to stray from the focus of the passage, the Lord’s victory over death.

And Mary Magdalene, the first to find the tomb empty, became the first to meet Jesus after his resurrection. We see that Mary, while weeping at the tomb, first encounters two angels inside the tomb, where the head and feet of Christ’s body had lain.

You may recall in Exodus 3:2, when Moses first approached God’s Presence within the Burning Bush on Mount Horeb, he encountered an angel of God.

BLCF:moses-with-the-burning-bush

 

 And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush.

We read in Exodus 25:18-21, that two angels adorned the Ark of the Covenant, positioned in much the same manner as the two Mary Magdalene encountered in the tomb of Christ:

BLCF: angels_and_arc_of__the__covenant

 

18 And you shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work shall you make them, on the two ends of the mercy seat. 19 Make one cherub on the one end, and one cherub on the other end. Of one piece with the mercy seat shall you make the cherubim on its two ends. 20 The cherubim shall spread out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings, their faces one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubim be. 21 And you shall put the mercy seat on the top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the testimony that I shall give you.

In contrast to the angels on the Ark of the Covenant, the angels encountered by Mary Magdalene in Christ’s tomb do not face inwards, but outwards. By Christ’s sacrifice, the judgment seat of God has been removed and God’s presence is no longer contained in the Ark of the Covenant, as all believers now contain God’s presence, as we become Arks of God’s New Covenant. And so the angels look outward.

BLCF:Mary_at_Jesus_tomb

 

 

As believers in Christ, who took our judgment upon himself, we are saved from the eternal death judgment for sin, and like the Lord, we will be resurrected from the grave, when Christ returns. This is God’s covenant.

The next encounter with the Resurrected Christ occurs with two Disciples of Christ on the Road to Emmaus, described in Luke 24:13-35.

Luke 24:13-35 (ESV) On the Road to Emmaus

BLCF: Easter Emmaus

 

13 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles[a] from Jerusalem, 14 and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19 And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. 22 Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, 23 and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” 25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

28 So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, 29 but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” 33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.

Footnotes: a. Luke 24:13 Greek sixty stadia; a stadion was about 607 feet or 185 meters

BLCF: Emmaus Road

 

In the Emmaus account, which gives the name of one of the two disciples as Cleopas, we have the pair telling the Lord how they had hoped before his crucifixion; they had hoped that Israel had been delivered. To which the Lord chides them, saying (in verses 25-25) “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”

It is only after breaking of the bread, does Christ reveal himself.

It is important to note that these two disciples did not initially recognize this stranger as Christ, which is similar to Mary Magdalene’s mistaking the Lord as a gardener or groundkeeper at the cemetery.

Our next encounter with the Resurrected Christ comes from John 20:19-29, where our Lord appears before the disciples. This occurs on the evening of the same day after he had met Mary Magdalene in the morning and the two disciples on the Emmaus Road. This time Jesus meets the disciples in the same Upper Room where he shared the Passover Supper before his crucifixion, as described in John 20:19-23.

 

John 20:19-23 (ESV) Jesus Appears to the Disciples

BLCF: JESUS IN THE UPPER ROOM_

 

19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews,[a] Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

Footnotes: a. John 20:19 Greek Ioudaioi probably refers here to Jewish religious leaders, and others under their influence, in that time

In this encounter, Jesus announces his presence by saying “Peace be with you.” And after showing them his hands and side, the Lord gives the eleven the assignment or commission to share his gospel,“Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so, I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

BLCF: New Life Begins

 

 

Having received the Holy Spirit and been instructed that the Lord is sending them, as he was sent by the Father, the disciples no longer are disciples or students of the Lord but become his Apostles. Wikipedia defines an apostle as:

The word “apostle” derives from the Ancient Greek word ἀπόστολος (apóstólos), meaning “messenger” or “envoy” that was formed from the prefix ἀπό- (apó-, “from”) and root στέλλω (stéllō, “I send”, “I depart”).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apostle_(Christian)

However, in spite of the testimonies of Mary Magdalene, the two disciples on Emmaus Road, and to his fellow disciples, now apostles, the disciple Thomas refuses to believe in the resurrection of Jesus without visible proof, as we read in John 20:24-29.

 

John 20:24-29 (ESV) Jesus and Thomas

BLCF: Jesus_and_Thomas

 

24 Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin,[a] was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Footnotes: a. John 20:19 Greek Ioudaioi probably refers here to Jewish religious leaders, and others under their influence, in that time b. John 20:24 Greek Didymus

BLCF: Jesus-Resurrection-Thomas

 

The fourth and final encounter with the Resurrected Lord takes place in the same Upper Room that he appeared before other disciples, some eight days later. This time Thomas is present and the Lord instructs him to touch the wounds on his hands and side, and telling the disciple, “Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”

Though Jesus did not initially reveal himself to the two disciples encountered on the Emmaus Road, he was not recognized by Mary Magdalene at the tomb where he was buried. Mary mistook our Lord at first as a gardener or groundskeeper, until he spoke her name.

After being informed by Mary Magdalene of the empty tomb, the disciples Peter and John ran to the tomb to see for themselves. While John 20 indicates that the disciples believed, it also indicates that they did not understand the Scripture that Jesus must rise from the dead.

When Christ first appeared to the eleven disciples, in the Upper Room, he showed them his hands and side, revealing the wounds from the crucifixion. Jesus returned again to the twelve disciples in the Upper Room, this time to show Thomas the same wounds he had shown to the other disciples some eight days previous.

 

BLCF: Thomas

 

The question arises: Why did the disciples not believe the reports that Christ was alive and risen from the dead? And why was it necessary for Jesus to show them tangible evidence, such as the wounds from the cross, to convince the disciples? After all, the disciples were part of Jesus’ inner circle for over three years. They had seen Christ’s miracles and had heard his gospel, and still, they had to see tangible evidence of the miracle of the Lord’s resurrection! That is why the Lord breathed God’s Holy Spirit into the disciples in order to equip them for their new Commission as Apostle’s of the gospel,

Before Christ died, because of sin, people practiced a religion filled with good works in order to worship God. They had to make sacrifices to God for their transgressions and communicated with God through such intermediaries as holy prophets or high priests. Worship involved performing visible, tangible actions to honor God.

Through Jesus, God reveals His new Paradigm for His relationship with His people. The term “paradigm” was a popular buzzword that was perhaps overused throughout the 1990s. For those unfamiliar with it, let us consult dictionary.com:

par·a·digm /ˈpærəˌdaɪm, -dɪm/ Show Spelled [par-uh-dahym, -dim] Show IPA noun  

an example serving as a model; pattern. Synonyms:mold, standard; ideal, paragon, touchstone.

 framework containing the basic assumptions, ways of thinking, and methodology that are commonly accepted by members of a scientific community.

 such a cognitive framework shared by members of any discipline or group: the company’s business paradigm.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/paradigm

Jesus implemented the new paradigm for humanity’s relationship with God, by removing the stigma for the sin of humanity by taking upon himself both the judgment and punishment for sin. At his first appearance in the Upper Room, we see in John 20, that he commissioned the disciples, sending them to go forth, as the Father in heaven had sent him. And knowing that he was soon to ascend to heaven, Jesus breathed upon them the Holy Spirit of God. which was the first Pentecost. Some forty days after his ascension to heaven, Christ sent God’s Holy Spirit to the rest of the believers gathered in the same Upper Room. After that, the Spirit, which is God’s presence, came upon those believers, who accepted Christ as savior; confessed their sins; and have chosen to follow the Way of the Lord.

At this point, the disciples were no longer students of the Lord, but having received the Spirit, become Apostles or messengers of his gospel of forgiveness, sanctification, and following the Day of Pentecost. As Apostles, believers are vessels of God’s Holy Spirit or Arks of God’s New Covenant. God’s new Paradigm is  His New Covenant, which not only includes salvation and the gift of the Holy Spirit but the promise of our own resurrection. And like the twelve Apostles, we are commissioned as messengers of Christ’s gospel.

 

BLCF: Easter_Holy_Spirit

 

The most important part of this passage, which all Christians who did not live in the time when Christ walked before his crucifixion should note, are the words that were spoken by Jesus to Thomas, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Though after his ascension, Jesus did appear to Stephen, Saul or Paul and John, most Christians have made a faith conversion base upon what they believe, not what they have seen.  This is God’s new Paradigm for humanity. Since the Day of Pentecost, all believers in the unseen receive by faith, the Holy Spirit of God to become Apostles of Christ. As Apostles, we are charged to share his gospel of salvation and God’s New Covenant, which is eternal life.

So let us close today’s message with the same exclamation that awaits the believers reply, “He is risen!”

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn: #165 Low in the Grave He Lay

                                                      

Benediction – (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24):

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

 

BLCF: believe

 

 

Four Blood Moons, a Sign from God: Prophetic Fallacy or Fact?

BLCF: Moon Turns To Blood

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Four Blood Moons, a Sign from God: Prophetic Fallacy or Fact?‘

©February 2, 2014 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin February 2, 2014

#SuperBloodMoon

 Romans 16:17-19

17 I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. 18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. 19 For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil.

BLCF Call to Worship and Prayer:

Announcements and Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #647

(The Return of Christ – 1 Thessalonians 4 and 5);

Prayer

Hymn #358: We Praise Thee, O God

Scripture Verses: Isaiah 47:1-15 and Galatians :11-1

BLCF: HebrewsViewOfTheUniverse

Isaiah 47:1-15 (ESV) The Humiliation of Babylon

47 Come down and sit in the dust,
O virgin daughter of Babylon;
sit on the ground without a throne,
O daughter of the Chaldeans!
For you shall no more be called
tender and delicate.
2 Take the millstones and grind flour,
put off your veil,
strip off your robe, uncover your legs,
pass through the rivers.
3 Your nakedness shall be uncovered,
and your disgrace shall be seen.
I will take vengeance,
and I will spare no one.
4 Our Redeemer—the Lord of hosts is his name—
is the Holy One of Israel.

BLCF: Isaiah47_4

5 Sit in silence, and go into darkness,
O daughter of the Chaldeans;
for you shall no more be called
the mistress of kingdoms.
6 I was angry with my people;
I profaned my heritage;
I gave them into your hand;
you showed them no mercy;
on the aged you made your yoke exceedingly heavy.
7 You said, “I shall be mistress forever,”
so that you did not lay these things to heart
or remember their end.

BLCF: Babylon The Mother

8 Now therefore hear this, you lover of pleasures,
who sit securely,
who say in your heart,
“I am, and there is no one besides me;
I shall not sit as a widow
or know the loss of children”:
9 These two things shall come to you
in a moment, in one day;
the loss of children and widowhood
shall come upon you in full measure,
in spite of your many sorceries
and the great power of your enchantments.

10 You felt secure in your wickedness,
you said, “No one sees me”;
your wisdom and your knowledge led you astray,
and you said in your heart,
“I am, and there is no one besides me.”
11 But evil shall come upon you,
which you will not know how to charm away;
disaster shall fall upon you,
for which you will not be able to atone;
and ruin shall come upon you suddenly,
of which you know nothing.

12 Stand fast in your enchantments
and your many sorceries,
with which you have labored from your youth;
perhaps you may be able to succeed;
perhaps you may inspire terror.
13 You are wearied with your many counsels;
let them stand forth and save you,
those who divide the heavens,
who gaze at the stars,
who at the new moons make known
what shall come upon you.

BLCF: Tower-Babel

14 Behold, they are like stubble;
the fire consumes them;
they cannot deliver themselves
from the power of the flame.
No coal for warming oneself is this,
no fire to sit before!

BLCF: Ptolemy_Astrology_1564


15 Such to you are those with whom you have labored,
who have done business with you from your youth;
they wander about, each in his own direction;
there is no one to save you.

BLCF:_El_Greco_Apostles_Peter_and_Paul

Galatians 2:11-21 (ESV) Paul Opposes Peter

11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party.[a] 13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”

BLCF: False Gospel

Justified by Faith

15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified[b] by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness[c] were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

Footnotes: a. Galatians 2:12 Or fearing those of the circumcision b.Galatians 2:16 Or counted righteous (three times in verse 16); also verse 17 c. Galatians 2:21 Or justification

 

BLCF: Galatians_2_14

Let us pray…

One may ask: What is the relationship between today’s two Scriptures, Isaiah 47:1-15 and Galatians 2:11-21? One describes the ‘Humiliation of Babylon’; the other ‘Paul’s Opposition to Peter’. While the topics seem to differ, both describe conduct that is not in step with the gospel and therefore in opposition to God.

 

BLCF: Astronomy Bible

 

 

 

We see in Isaiah 47, particularly verses 12 to 14, the dangers of using cosmic events to predict the actions of God:

12 Stand fast in your enchantments
and your many sorceries,
with which you have labored from your youth;
perhaps you may be able to succeed;
perhaps you may inspire terror.
13 You are wearied with your many counsels;
let them stand forth and save you,
those who divide the heavens,
who gaze at the stars,
who at the new moons make known
what shall come upon you.

14 Behold, they are like stubble;
the fire consumes them;
they cannot deliver themselves
from the power of the flame.

The Prophet Isaiah compares using stars to create prophecies attributed to God as an act of sorcery, condemning the star gazer to judgement of fire and ultimately death.

 

BLCF: Astrological Horoscope

 

The practice of using the relative location of the stars and planets to predict God’s actions falls within the realm of astrology. Astrology focuses upon the position and relationship of heavenly bodies as an omen or portent to predict significant future events.

The Galatians 2 Scriptures describe how the Apostle Peter (Cephas) erroneously believed that in order to become a follower of the Way of Christ, the Gentiles must first convert to the Judaism. The Apostle Paul, with the aid of the Holy Spirit, is able to convince Peter the fallacy of the practice that required an individual’s conversion to one religion, as a prerequisite for the other. More significantly, the New Covenant through Christ eliminated many of the old Mosaic observances and practices that were mandated to become justified unto God.

 

BLCF: Galatians-1_6-7-on-paper

 

Though the Lord did instruct the disciples to partake the elements of Communion at his ‘Last Supper’, which happened to occur at the Jewish Celebration of a Passover Supper, Jesus’ death on the cross removed many of the dietary rules and observances as a path to being justified before God. By the same token, circumcision was no longer necessary to qualify as a member of God’s chosen people. The New Covenant required confession of sin, faith in Jesus’s sacrifice for the sin of the world, a willingness to be baptised of the Spirit and to follow the Way of Christ. The feasts, sacrificial offerings and governance of the Mosaic Law had given way to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

BLCF:OL_NT

Understanding the dangers of astrology and misinterpreting the gospel of Jesus, it is surprising to see the rise in popularity, particularly in Christian circles, an attempt to predict the return of Jesus, through celestial events, such as the event described as the “Four Blood Moons”. According to some self-proclaimed prophets, four blood red moons are supposed to be a sign of the Lord’s return. This prophecy, just as the circumcision prerequisite for Christian conversion by Cephas in Galatians 2, makes the fundamental mistake of attempting to color events of God’s New Covenant in Christ, under the constraints of the old Jewish Feasts and practices. To understand what is meant by the four blood moons, let me refer to an article from the jewishpress.com, authored by Yori Yanover:

 

BLCF: Four Blood Moons

Messianic Blood Moon Rising on Passover Seder Night

By: Yori Yanover

Published: October 6th, 2013, Latest update: October 11th, 2013

BLCF: 4 Blood Moons

 

There will be a string of four “blood moons” in the year 5775, and one of them will shine over the Passover Seder. Whenever this happened in the past, enormous events took place in Jewish history.

It starts with the Book of Joel, Chapter 3:3-4: “And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come.”

The verse about the sun turning dark and the moon turning to blood, is at the center of a new, hot, Christian bestseller titled “Four Blood Moons,” by Pastor John Hagee. It is based on a discovery by Pastor Mark Biltz, who runs a “Hebrew roots” ministry in Tacoma, Washington: Red Moons.

Biltz’s website declares: “We do not want to convert Jews to Christianity or Christians to Judaism,” which works for me. He based his observation on the verse in Genesis 1:14: “And God said, Let there be lights in the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years.”

God originally plans to use the heavenly lights as signs, and the prophet Joel foretells that a blood moon would mark the day of the Lord – then it stands to reason that some dramatic stuff should be taking place when a blood moon is up in the sky.

 

Chanukiah_Prophetic-fulfillment

 

The science of the “blood moon” phenomenon is fairly simple. It is created by a partial lunar eclipse. When the Earth’s shadow covers the moon completely, we get a total eclipse. A partial lunar eclipse happens when the Earth’s shadow covers the moon only partially. The earth atmosphere bends light around its edge, and scatters out shorter-wavelength light (green through violet), leaving longer-wavelength light (red, orange, and yellow) in the Earth’s shadow. This is also why sunsets and sunrises generally appear red.

As is the case with most miraculous events that can be explained scientifically, the miracle is not in the natural phenomenon, but rather in its timing. So the Book of Joel describes solar eclipse, followed by a partial lunar eclipse, as precursors of the Day of the Lord.

 

BLCF: Crucifixion-And-Blood-Red-Moons

 

The prophecy in Joel, like most prophecies, is surreal, beautiful, and open to many interpretations. But we can take away from it the notion of a blood moon as a sign, and check out the calendar for the next bunch of partial lunar eclipses.

 

BLCF: prophecy in the stars

That’s what Pastor Biltz did, he looked at NASA’s tables for solar and lunar eclipses and found a string of lunar and solar eclipses happening in 2014 and 2015 and then nothing like it for the rest of the 21st century. In 2015 there will be two solar and lunar eclipses two weeks apart (on the new moon and full moon) one in the spring and one in the fall. This could possibly produce four blood moon eclipses in a row, which is definitely something to write home about.

 

BLCF: astronomical prophecy

 

OK, now hold on to your seats, please: we’ve had the Tetrad phenomenon (a string of four moons partially or completely eclipsed,) twice in the last century, both times on the night of the Passover Seder: in 5710 (1949-50) and in 5728 (1967-68).

The year 5710 came right after the establishment of the State of Israel.

The year 5728 came right after the liberation of Jerusalem.

 

BLCF: blood moon

 

The next string of four blood moons is coming Passover Seder night, 5775 (2014-15) – a year from this Pesach.

Oh, and the last time this event had taken place before the 20th century was in 5654. That’s 1493-94 to you and me, one year after the exile from Spain.

 

BLCF: NASA and prophecy

Now the much better connected Pastor Hagee has picked up Biltz’s notions and authored a very popular book about the blood moons and what they mean – of course, the second coming of you know who.

No, Virginia, we don’t believe in this stuff, we really don’t follow anything up in the heavens except our Father in Heaven, but you have to admit, this is pretty curious.

It’s also interesting to note that those moon strings each appeared only after the miraculous events, like a kind of confirmation on the part of God: I did this. Which means the coming year or so should be very eventful.

Like you didn’t know this without the moon…

 

BLCF: Red Moon Chart

http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/messianic-blood-moon-rising-on-passover-seder/2013/10/06/

While researching this message, I observed one of the pastors named in this article on a Huntley Street interview posted on YouTube, (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oK4O0um1gwo ), as he pleads with viewers to buy copies of his book from amazon.com for family and friends in order to get his message out. The other pastor promotes his message on a BLOG which solicits donations. I find it difficult to imagine that the Holy Spirit would allow God’s prophecy to be distributed in such a commercial way.

The other obvious flaw in both Tetrad or Blood-Moon theories is the erroneous assumption that these celestial events are God’s way of announcing Christ’s Return to the entire world. Their mistake is believing that the events will be visible to everyone on the globe. No way. Europe and the Middle East (Jerusalem) will not see the first of these events. So the bad news is no Tetrad for Zion! Here is NASA’s explanation of what will occur at the first Lunar Eclipse:

Visibility of the Total Lunar Eclipse of April 15, 2014

April’s lunar eclipse is perfectly placed for most of North and South America where the entire event will be visible. Observers in northwestern Africa and the eastern half of South America will miss some stages of the eclipse because they occur after moonset. Similarly, observers in Japan and Australia will miss the early stages of the elipse since it begins before moonrise. New Zealand sees the entire eclipse except in the southwest where the eclipse is already in progress at moonrise. No part of the eclipse is visible from Europe, most of Africa, the Middle East or most of Asia.

Preceeding and following the eclipse are hour-long penumbral phases but these are faint and quite difficult to see. The more interesting and photogenic partial and total phases always take center stage to the penumbral phases (see The Pale Penumbral Phase).

BLCF: NASA_TLE2014Apr15-map1b

 

http://www.mreclipse.com/LEdata/TLE2014Apr15/TLE2014Apr15.html

 

Lunar Eclipses: 2014 – 2020
Date Eclipse Type Saros Umbral Magnitude Eclipse Duration Geographic Region of Eclipse Visibility
2014 Apr 15 Total 122 1.291 03h35m
01h18m
Aus., Pacific, Americas
2014 Oct 08 Total 127 1.166 03h20m
00h59m
Asia, Aus., Pacific, Americas
2015 Apr 04 Total 132 1.001 03h29m
00h05m
Asia, Aus., Pacific, Americas
2015 Sep 28 Total 137 1.276 03h20m
01h12m
e Pacific, Americas, Europe, Africa, w Asia
2016 Mar 23 Penumbral 142 -0.312 Asia, Aus., Pacific, w Americas
2016 Sep 16 Penumbral 147 -0.064 Europe, Africa, Asia, Aus., w Pacific
2017 Feb 11 Penumbral 114 -0.035 Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia
2017 Aug 07 Partial 119 0.246 01h55m Europe, Africa, Asia, Aus.
2018 Jan 31 Total 124 1.315 03h23m
01h16m
Asia, Aus., Pacific, w N.America
2018 Jul 27 Total 129 1.609 03h55m
01h43m
S.America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Aus.
2019 Jan 21 Total 134 1.195 03h17m
01h02m
c Pacific, Americas, Europe, Africa
2019 Jul 16 Partial 139 0.653 02h58m S.America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Aus.
2020 Jan 10 Penumbral 144 -0.116 Europe, Africa, Asia, Aus.
2020 Jun 05 Penumbral 111 -0.405 Europe, Africa, Asia, Aus.
2020 Jul 05 Penumbral 149 -0.644 Americas, sw Europe, Africa
2020 Nov 30 Penumbral 116 -0.262 Asia, Aus., Pacific, Americas

Geographic abbreviations (used above): n = north, s = south, e = east, w = west, c = central

 

http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/lunar.html

 

JesusReturns

If we are truly living in the end times, with the return of Christ imminent, would it not make more sense from a Christian standpoint, to freely distribute the information to the world as a free eBook or file? Imagine Jesus’ disciples offering to the world the path to salvation and redemption from sin by God, but for a price. And if you have no money to purchase the information, you are out of luck! Sorry, but is not the way my God works! For my salvation, only one individual had to pay, that was Jesus Christ:

1 Peter 1:17-19 (ESV)

17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

 

BLCF: Jesus Can

 

So what does the Lord say about using the position and alignment of heavenly bodies to predict his return:

Matthew 24:29-42 (ESV) The Coming of the Son of Man

29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

The Lesson of the Fig Tree

32 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 34 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

No One Knows That Day and Hour

36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son,[a] but the Father only. 37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. 42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.

Footnotes: a. Matthew 24:36 Some manuscripts omit nor the Son

 

BLCF: No One Knows

 

The important part of the passage from Matthews’s gospel was not his description of how the heavens look, but verse 36:

36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son,[a] but the Father only.

 

BLCF: Dont Be Obsessed

While some manuscripts omit nor the Son, all indicate that God the Father alone; which means not the angels or even Jesus the Son, knows the day that Christ will come. This means that the authors of the “Four Blood Moon” prophecy are claiming knowledge that is strictly the within the domain of God. Sound a little familiar? I seem to recall an encounter with a fallen angel, in the guise of a serpent, that promised the knowledge of God in return for defying His single commandment:

Temptation in the Garden

Adam, Eve and the Serpent

Genesis 3:4-5

4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

 

BLCF: wasnt God

 

As you may recall a message that we shared concerning the crucifixion, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, all three, playing important parts in God’s plan for his beloved children. Jesus died in our stead, for everyone’s sins. Christ was resurrected from the dead, which is God’s New Covenant to all who trust and obey the message of the gospel. And the Lord ascended to Heaven to sit beside the Father, intercede as an advocate for all believers, and to send the Holy Spirit to bring a rebirth through Christ. But at his ascension, what did the disciples do? Let us review the account from the Book of Acts, Chapter 1, starting with Verse 6:

 

BLCF_Ascension_Angels

Acts 1:6-11 (ESV) The Ascension

6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

So Jesus reminds the disciples, in Acts 1, Verse 7, they are not to know the time of his return, we see in the following verse, his Great Commission which is Christ’s command to the disciples to go witness throughout the world, the gospel of Christ: “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

And we see how the disciples responded, Acts 1, verse 9-11: 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

Some translations describes the men in white robes as angels of the Lord, who speak to the disciples, addressing them as “men of Galilee” asking them why are they staring at heaven, say that the Lord would return from heaven, the same way that he left.

 

BLCF: The Ascension

The disciples were having what I like to call a “Ferris Bueller moment”. For those of you unfamiliar with the film, Matthew Broderick appears after the final credits on screen and asks the audience: “You’re still here? Its over! Go home! Go!” ( See Bueller clip starting at 3:39 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDfbWDLNjjE )

 

BLCF_Get_To_Work

The disciples having just been commanded by the Lord to go forth and minister, are still peering into the heavens, as if they have nothing else to do. People who focus on events in the heavens for signs of the Lord’s return, be they blood red moons or any other sign, are not doing what he commanded. Remember his words, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.”

But playing the devil’s advocate, as if he needs more advocates in the world, one might claim that the “Four Blood Moons” only describes signs of God, that are found throughout the Scriptures, including the Book of Revelations:

 

BLCF: Revelation of Jesus Christ

Revelation 12:1-12 (ESV) The Woman and the Dragon

12 And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. 2 She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. 3 And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. 4 His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. 5 She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, 6 and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.

 

BLCF: The Last Days

Satan Thrown Down to Earth

7 Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, 8 but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. 10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers[a] has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. 11 And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. 12 Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”

Footnotes: a. Revelation 12:10 Or brothers and sisters

 

BLCF: fall of Lucifer

 

When reading the Revelation 12 passage, we see that there is no urgency to focus on the time Christ returns. The only urgency to act due to time constraints described in this Scripture passage, belongs to Satan:

Revelation 12: 12

12 Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!

 

BLCF:Mark24_29

 

But those stubborn proponents of the “Four Blue Moons” prophecies might direct us to Genesis 1: 14-15, saying that God intended for us to use the signs from the heavens for prophecy:

Genesis 1:14-15 (ESV)

14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons,[a] and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so.

Footnotes: a, Genesis 1:14 Or appointed times

 

BLCF: grace from heaven

 

While God provided that there be signs in the heavens, did He intend them to enable us to predict the return of Christ? If you read the first paragraph of Luke 21:25-35, you might say “yes indeed”. Let us read this passage all the way through, and we see otherwise:

 

BLCF: astrolological chart

Luke 21:25-35 (ESV) The Coming of the Son of Man

25 “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26 people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

 

BLCF: lunar eclipse -nasa-keithburns

http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/solar.html

The Lesson of the Fig Tree

29 And he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. 30 As soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near. 31 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all has taken place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

Watch Yourselves

34 “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. 35 For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth.

On the day that our Saviour returns, he will come suddenly upon those who dwell on the face of the earth, including the prophets of the “Four Blue Moons”, assuming their prophecy correct. In other words, no one knows the day or time, except only God. And those who claim that knowledge are not God!

 

BLCF: Four Horsemen Apocalypse

 

The final Scripture passage that “Four Blue Moon” advocates use to justify their prophecies, comes from the sermon by the Apostle Peter from the second chapter of the Book of Acts:

 

BLCF: Schnorr von Carolsfeld Bibel - 1860

Acts 2:14-24 (ESV) Peter’s Sermon at Pentecost

14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.[a] 16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:

17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams;
18 even on my male servants[b] and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
20 the sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus,[c] delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.

Footnotes: a. Acts 2:15 That is, 9 a.m. b. Acts 2:18 Greek bondservants; twice in this verse c. Acts 2:23 Greek this one

The key part of this passage from Acts 2 is found in lines 22 -24, indicating just Who is responsible for mighty works, wonders and signs; with the events that occur according to Whose plan and foreknowledge; and these events are by way of Whose power: God and God, alone! Let us read Acts 2:22-24 again:

22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus,[c] delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.

So let us not desire, as did Adam and Eve, to have the knowledge of God, especially with respect to events such as Christ’s return. That, alone, is the sole purview belonging to our Father in heaven. Remember, that Jesus said that neither he nor the angels know the time when he returns, only God the Father knows. As long as we follow the Lord, we have nothing to fear. Let us keep the faith in the task to which he gave us when he ascended to heaven; to return on a day and time known to our Father in heaven. So by claiming that the Blood moons are a sign from God of His final judgement, we claim to know something only God knows, we are misleading others and ourselves, and when He does not come, we have turned people away from God. Only Satan would like that, for his time, and that of his followers is short!

 

BLCF: DontCountTheDays

Deuteronomy 4:19 (ESV):

19 And beware lest you raise your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away and bow down to them and serve them, things that the Lord your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #313: My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less

Communion – Responsive Reading #663:

(Communion Observance – 1 Corinthians 11)

 

John 6:35

Benediction – (Romans 15:13):

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

 

BLCF Accept Jesus