According to Pattern

“According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all the furnishings, just so you shall make it,” Exodus 25:9 (NKJV).

The tabernacle wasn’t a ramshackle affair.  It wasn’t something made up as they went along, but every part of it, down to the clasps which held the sides to the frame, was set forth and described.  There were no revisions, no “TabernaclePlan.02”  It was complete as it came from the mind of God to the hand of Moses.

That’s equally true of everything in creation.  Many may believe that this world came into being as the result of a chance event, but someone has calculated the odds of such a thing happening as 1 in 40 to the tenth power, or as 1 followed by 40 zeroes.  That is a lot of zeroes: 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.  We probably don’t even have a name for such a number.  It seems to me that it’s a lot easier to believe Genesis 1-3 than it is to believe in such a throwing of the dice, as it were.  Of course, that does get rid of God and any obligation mankind might have to obey Him.  We think we’re so smart, but all things considered in perspective, an amoeba may be smarter than us.

The truth is, God is not a God of confusion, but of peace, or order, cf. 1 Corinthians 14:33.  While Paul wrote primarily to correct some serious problems in the Corinthian church, what he wrote is applicable in a lot of places.  No matter where one looks, whether through a microscope or a telescope, he sees order and design.  Even in the so-called random movement of atoms, there is a discernible pattern.

This is true also of life.  He has not left us on our own, as it were, but has given us instructions about pretty much every area of life.  Whether individually, in our church, in our family, our neighborhood, our city, our country or our nation, there are principles and practices either commanded or forbidden, the doing of which in either case will have discernible results.  We do reap what we sow.

55 years ago, a woman decided we should ignore what God says, so she went to court.  We see the results around us today.  True, she wasn’t the first publicly to oppose God, but she was the most outspoken and successful.  I’m old enough to remember “back then,” what it was like before Madalyn Murray O’Hair and her atheism permeated society.  People left their front doors unlocked.  Cars were left unlocked – we can see this in the old TV programs.  Women could walk down the street at night without worrying about it.  I’ve mentioned this several times before, but the high school I attended was in a “tough” neighborhood.  I hate to think what it’s like today, 59 years after I graduated.  This “tough” school had a rifle range in the basement, with rifles and live ammunition.  I qualified as a marksman on that range.  People today get all upset at the very ideas of “guns” at all, let alone around or in schools, but there was never any problem at that school.  Young men carried rifles in a rack in the back window of their pickup trucks.  No one thought anything about it.  Was there crime?  To be sure.  But nothing at all compared to today.

But now….

To paraphrase Hosea 8:7, “We have sowed the wind and have reaped the whirlwind.”  Or, in the immortal words of Pogo, for you “old-timers:”  “We have found the enemy and they is us.”  I don’t mean to minimize the problem or make fun of it, or to imply that Walt Kelly, the author of Pogo, would agree with my views.  He probably wouldn’t.  But he was right in this case, whether he meant it as I take it or not.

“We” are the enemy.  Having decided that we’re too sophisticated for those old-fashioned “Puritan” ideas, we’ve thrown them all out in the name of “freedom.”

Having rejected “order,” we have opened the door to “confusion”.

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Exodus 25:1, 2, 8: A Dwelling Place For God

Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering.  …And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.”
(NKJV)

When we refer to a “dwelling place for God,” we don’t mean that He was confined there, as we are in living in our houses.  In his dedication for the Temple many years later, Solomon put it like this in 2 Chronicles 6:18, “But will God indeed dwell on the earth?  Behold, heaven and the heavens of heaven cannot contain You.  How much less this temple which I have built!”

Yet God said He would “dwell among them.”  The tabernacle was where He manifested His presence in a very limited manner.  Only a very few men ever experienced it.  But that’s where God was to be found.

Israel never fully understood the blessing she had been given in this building and access.  She never really fully understood her relationship to the God who dwelt in this building.  Toward the end of his life, Moses put it like this, “You have seen all that the LORD did before your eyes in the land of Egypt… – the great trials which your eyes have seen, the signs, and those great wonders.  Yet the LORD has not given you a heart to perceive and eyes to see and ears to hear, to this very day,” Deuteronomy 29:4.

In Deuteronomy 5:29, in response to the people’s assertion, “All that the LORD has said, we will do,” cf. v. 27, God said, “O that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and keep all My commandments, that it might be will with them and their children forever!”

Indeed, before Moses was down from the mountain, Israel was carousing in a drunken orgy.  There is never a single indication in the OT that Israel would ever truly obey the LORD.  There would be some, yes, who knew and followed the LORD, but the majority – not so much.  It won’t be until the return of our Lord, whom Israel crucified when He was here the first time, that things will change and Israel will finally understand.  In Zechariah 12:10, God foretold of a time when, He said, “I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced.  Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.”

In the Old Testament, Israel had a national relationship with God.  This was symbolized by the tabernacle, then later by the Temple.  This did not mean, however, that any particular Israelite had a personal relationship with God.  Some did, of course, but as a nation, for the most part, they went their own way and did their own thing.  There were times of great national revival, but there were more times of national apostasy.

As I was considering how to develop this post further, it occurred to me what season is coming upon us.  Christmas is just around the corner.  Ads have already been on TV for several weeks already, as well as Christmas “specials” and programs.  Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph have made their annual appearances.  Yet, there is no more understanding about what this season is supposed to be about than there was with Israel and the tabernacle:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God….And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, John 1:1, 14, emphasis added.

I’ve seen a lot about Christmas already, but not a single thing about Christ.  Yet it’s supposed to celebrate His birth.

Perhaps not one in a 1000 really stops to consider who this little baby was.

That little Babe, “asleep in the manger,” was eternal God, who created the heavens and the earth, created, counted, numbered and named all the stars and keeps them going in their appointed rounds, keeps the earth and all that is on it in orbit, and under whose control is the very breath of each and every one of us, Daniel 5:22.  That little Babe, who was the Creator of this planet, breathed its air, drank its water, walked on its dusty pathways.

Like Belshazzar, we have not glorified that One.

This babe, God wrapped in human flesh.

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but have you ever stopped to think that Jesus is the only historical figure who never grows up?  And, yes, I know there are those who deny He ever existed.  But even if He were only a fable – and He IS NOT! – even if He were, He would be thought of as an adult.

This babe did grow up!  But He didn’t grow up to popularity and prestige.  He grew up to be condemned and killed because He didn’t fit the popular concept of who He was supposed to be and what He was supposed to do.

He came to die.

God wrapped in human flesh – on a Cross!

I don’t think I’ve ever seen it, but scenes of the manger ought to have the shadow of a Cross superimposed on them.

He came to do for Israel what she could never do for herself – pay for sin.  He came to do what the tabernacle only pictured.

And He came to do that for you and me, as well.

We’ll have more to say about this in other posts, but for now, consider this babe.  Is He your Savior?  Have you believed on Him for eternal life?  If not, even now, may you receive the gift of God – eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ, John 3:15.

“Taking The Offering”

Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying:  “Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering.  From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering.  And this is the offering which you shall take from them:  gold, silver, and bronze; blue, purple, and scarlet thread, fine linen and goats’ hair; ram skins dyed red, badger skins, and acacia wood; oil for the light, and spices for the anointing oil and for the sweet incense; onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod and in the breastplate.  And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.”  Exodus 25:1-8 NKJV

This is the second post in the series on the Tabernacle, a building which was central to Israel’s covenant relationship with God from shortly after she was redeemed from Egypt until the reign of Solomon.  The Tabernacle was the second most important building in Israel’s history, surpassed and replaced only by the Temple built by Solomon centuries later and was the focal point of Israel’s relationship with and worship of God.  It was the meeting place between God and man.

Instructions for the Tabernacle and the details of its construction are found in Exodus.

Its importance may be seen in a couple of things.

1. The amount of space devoted to it.

About 50 chapters are given to it, either wholly or in part.

2. Four chapters in Hebrews teach us something of its meaning, especially of the priesthood and sacrifices.  The writer of Hebrews told us that he could have written more about the building itself, Hebrews 9:5, but he was concerned mainly with pointing us to the Lord Jesus and His once and only sacrifice for sins.

In the verses before us, we note –

1. the origin of the plans for the tabernacle, v. 1.
2. the offering of materials for the tabernacle, vs. 2-9.

1. the origin of the plans for the tabernacle, v. 1,
And the LORD spoke to Moses.

Moses didn’t dream this up on his own.  Nor did the LORD ask him for his opinion, his input or any thoughts he might have on the matter.  No, no.  God told him that this was what He wanted him to do.

I think we could learn something from this.  I was privileged to go to Bible College.  I’m thankful for that experience.  Because of it, I’m sitting here, married, writing this post.  Granted, the water has flowed under a lot of bridges since then, but it was a starting place.  The thing is, we studied a lot of books about the Bible, but little from the Bible itself.  Now, I understand the importance of “books” and that men write down their knowledge and wisdom from the Scripture.  After all, that’s what this blog is.  But I pray that it isn’t just about my knowledge or wisdom.  My goal is always to be guided by the question, “What does the Scripture say?” Romans 4:3, emphasis added.

It’s a sad fact that only a small portion of professing Christians faithfully read the Bible.  Granted, there’s a lot there.  And much of it is about times and customs which might be strange, perhaps even repugnant, to us.  Nevertheless.  Let me encourage you.  Read the Bible through, then read it again.  And again.  Even if you only read one chapter a day, that’s one chapter more than many.  And as you read faithfully, it will begin to come together for you.  This doesn’t deny the necessity of the Spirit’s enabling us to understand; He won’t work if there is no effort on our part.  You feed your body every day.  Please, feed your soul.

This brings us to

2. the offering of materials for the tabernacle, vs. 2-9.

First, it was to be a willing offering.

This was not to be compulsory, like the tithe.

Second, it was a designated offering.

Though voluntary, there was only certain things to be offered.

Third, it was a reminder, “My offering.”

That is, not only was it an offering to the Lord; it was a reminder to the Israelite of where he had gotten the items from in the first place.  Cf. David’s prayer as he commissioned his son Solomon to build the Temple.  In 1 Chronicles, and speaking to God, he said,

“Who am I, and who are my people,
That we should be able to offer so willingly as this?

For all things come from You,
And of Your own we have given You.”

That last phrase could be translated, “Of Your own hand we have given You.”  Concerning this idea, Moses commanded Israel, “And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth…,” Deuteronomy 8:18, emphasis added.

Since the tabernacle speaks so eloquently of the person and work of the Lord Jesus, we want to think about how each of these materials might foreshadow Him.

a. gold, silver, bronze, v. 3.

These were very expensive and precious.

I Peter 2:6, 7, Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, “Behold, I lay in Zion A chief cornerstone, elect, precious, And he who believes in him shall not ashamed.  Therefore, to you who believe, he is precious,” emphases added.  To me, the glory of heaven won’t be the streets of gold or the pearly gates; it will be that the Lord Jesus is there.  His presence will make a hovel glorious.  His absence makes a mansion insignificant.

b. blue, purple and scarlet thread, fine linen and goats’ hair, v. 4.

“Blue” speaks of His heavenly origin.
“Purple” speaks of His royalty.
“Scarlet” speaks of His sacrifice for sins.
“Fine linen” speaks of His righteousness.
“Goats’ hair” speaks of His “ordinariness”.  He wasn’t born in a palace, but in a stable.  He didn’t live among the privileged of His day, but among ordinary folk.  The common people heard Him gladly, Mark 12:37.  Rulers rejected Him.

c. rams’ skin dyed red, badger skins, and acacia wood, v. 5.

“Rams’ skins dyed red” speaks of the shedding of His blood.  Rams were one of the few animals accepted for the Israelite to sacrifice.  For the believer, the Lord Jesus is the only acceptable sacrifice.
“Badger skins” speaks of His permanence.  There’s some discussion about how this word in the original should be translated.  Some might translate it as “dolphin”.  Dolphin skin would be waterproof and would last.  The word might also refer to protection.  Dolphin skin would protect the tabernacle from the rain.  The LORD protects His people so that even death cannot ultimately harm them.
“Acacia Wood” speaks of His indestructibility.  Acacia wood was extremely durable.  After 2000 years of unbelievers and skeptics doing their worst, the Lord Jesus still has those who believe in and follow Him.  If He tarries another 2000 years, He will have those who believe in and follow Him.

d. oil for the light, and spices for the anointing oil and for the sweet incense, v. 6.

Olive oil was used to provide light in the tabernacle.  This speaks to us of the ministry of the Spirit as He shed the light of the Gospel into our hearts and minds, “For it is the God who commanded the light to shine out of the darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the fact of Jesus Christ, 1 Corinthians 4:6.  Without that ministry of the Spirit, for all our religion and learning, we remain in darkness.

Spices were used both in the anointing oil and in sweet incense.  This wasn’t just for the sake of pretty smells, but to cover the odor of death that permeated the area around the bronze altar and that came from the continual application of blood to it.  In fact, it was forbidden to make incense simply to smell it.  Exodus 30:37, 38 says, “But as for the incense you shall make, you shall not make any for yourselves, according to its composition.  It shall be to you holy to the LORD.  Whoever makes any like it, to smell it, he shall be cut off from his people.”

The altar of incense was inside the tabernacle, next to the veil which separated the holy place from the most holy place.  The most holy place contained the Ark of the covenant and the mercy seat, where God spoke to His people.  The placement of the altar tells us that, apart from the Lord Jesus, there is no access into the presence of God.  It is significant that Scripture tells us that when Christ died, the veil of the Temple, which succeeded the tabernacle and which, we are told, was several inches thick, was torn in two from top to bottom, Matthew 27:51; Mark 15:38; Luke 23:45.  The fact that three Gospels record this incident emphasizes its importance.  Only Matthew and Mark record that it was torn from the top down.  Only God could tear that curtain.  Only the Lord Jesus can atone for sin and open the way to God.  Did He not say, “I am the way, the truth and the life.  No man comes to the Father except through Me” John 14:6?

There are innumerable religions and churches, many roads to religion.  There is only one road to heaven.

Which road are you on?

Right On Time

Now the sojourning of the children of Israel who lived in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years.  And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years – on that very same day – it came to pass that all the armies of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt.  Exodus 12:40, 41.  (NKJV)

With this post, we want to start a series on the Tabernacle, that building which accompanied Israel on its sojourn from Egypt to the Promised Land and then served as the center of worship for many decades until the building of the Temple during Solomon’s reign.  However, the children of Israel had to get out of Egypt before any of that could happen.  This post is about the beginning of those events which led to the construction of the Tabernacle.

After some instructions from the LORD about the Passover, which was to serve as a reminder of slavery in Egypt and their deliverance from it, verse 51 repeats what vs. 40, 41 said:  And it came to pass, on that very same day, that the LORD brought the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt.

“On that very same day….”

Four hundred and thirty years had passed.  Several generations of Israelites had come and gone in Egypt.  Things had gotten much worse, Exodus chapter 1 – I think Satan knew that the time of God’s promise was drawing near and, while there was nothing he could do to prevent that from happening, he determined he’d make it as rough as possible on the people of God.

But finally, that last day dawned, and “on that very same day,” Israel was delivered from Egyptian bondage.

“That very same day.”

In the Old Testament, God had promised that the Messiah, the Deliverer, would come to His people after a certain period of time had elapsed, Daniel 9.  Indeed, another “time promise” of God’s had led Daniel to intercede for his people.  In v. 2, Daniel wrote, in the first years of Darius’ reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of years specified by the word of the LORD through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.

“Seventy years….”

That seventy years served as a springboard for another “time promise” – Daniel’s “seventy sevens” in the rest of Daniel 9.  It’s not our purpose here to get into all that is meant here, but there is one more Scripture germane to the fulfilment of what God promised.

In Galatians 4:4 we read,

when the fulness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son….

“the fulness of the time

At the exact moment of time – “the time” – ordained in the purpose of God, cf. 1 Peter 1:20, a virgin girl in Israel was impregnated by the Holy Spirit, and God’s deliverance of His people – from both Testaments – was set into motion.

What does all this mean to us on this rather gloomy fall day in this year of our Lord 2018?

It means that we can trust God.

We don’t know for sure what each day will bring.  We might have a general idea, get up and go to school or work, or any number of other things, but we don’t know for certain what will happen.

God does.

David rejoiced in this fact.  In Psalm 139:15, he wrote,

Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,

The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them (emphasis added).

Some people are bothered by the idea of God’s sovereignty in our affairs, perhaps preferring to believe that God can be caught by surprise, but there are no such “oops” moments with God.  He never has to call “an emergency meeting of the Divine Council,” as one writer put it years ago.  He has no “Plan B”.

Our text, and the other verses we used, all remind us that God is never late.  He is always on time, and He is always there.  He is always here.

Oh, that we might lift our eyes upward!  We get so caught up in the affairs of life – and, yes, we are supposed to pay attention to our lives.  Still, we too easily forget God.  I’m thankful He never forgets us.

Wilt Thou be Saved or Not?

Would that we had preaching like this today!

He Hath Said

“…that if you confess withyour mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in yourheart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” – Romans 10:9

Yes or no. Wilt thou be damned or not? Wilt thou be saved or not? I will not have thee say, “When I have a more convenient season I will send for thee.” Sinner, it cannot be a more convenient one than this… Now, sinner, wilt thou be reconciled, restored, forgiven? “Wilt thou be made whole?” said Jesus, and I say the same to thee, “Wilt thou be made whole?” Do you say, “No”? Must I take that for an answer? Mark you, sinner, I have to tell my Master. I must tell Him when I seek the closet of the King to-night; I must tell Him your reply that you would not. What then remains for an ambassador to…

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“Do Not Sin Against the Child!”

“Do not sin against the child,” Genesis 42:22, KJV.

This comment is by Reuben as he and his brothers were in the presence of the brother, Joseph, whom they thought they had gotten rid of several years earlier.  Joseph had been a pain in the side especially of some of his brothers who were sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, Jacob’s concubines, as he “tattled” on them, Genesis 37:2.  Unbeknownst to Reuben, his brothers had sold Joseph to a passing caravan.  But now, years later, here he was, and the past was very much now the present!

I’ve been thinking about this post for quite a while, even on vacation when I didn’t hardly go near a computer, hence the long time since the last post.

My grandmother used to tell a story about her own family when she was a child.  She had 10 or 11 brothers and sisters and whenever company came to visit, they were all required to sit on the sofa and be quiet.  People today laugh such an idea to scorn.

From my own youth I remember the dictum that “children should be seen and not heard.”  Again, such an idea is laughed out of court.

Why?

Consider a newborn child.  He has no idea about anything except his own immediate surroundings and needs.  If he is wet, hungry, tired, or any number of other things, he lets it be known in no uncertain terms that he is not happy.  He doesn’t care how it happens – he wants to be happy.

Now, there is nothing wrong with this.  He is a baby.  He doesn’t know anything else.   He doesn’t know any better.

However…

He grows up.

Then what??

That fact that he grows up is why God created parents and the family – to prepare little ones to be adults.  After all, baby animals are often able to cope on their own after just a few weeks.  Not so, human babies.  It may be they will learn most of what they will learn in their first few years, but no five-year old is ready for his own apartment.  He has a long way to go.

A baby is absolutely self-centered.  That’s to be expected; he’s just been born.

Parents are expected – nay, required – to teach their little ones that there are other “selfs” in this world and there are things their little ones need to know as they’re going to live among and interact with these others.

Parents are also there to teach their little one that there is something called “authority,” and that he isn’t it!

Because … there is an ultimate authority – God.

God has a lot to say about this in His Word – the only “parenting manual” we need!  Sigmund Freud and the atheist (or “Christian”) psychologists and psychiatrists who follow his or similar philosophies have more to answer for than we can possibly begin to imagine.

In Deuteronomy 11:18, God commanded Israel, “Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets [a decorative band or ornament worn] between your eyes.  “These words of mine” refer to what God said in v. 1, “Therefore you shall love the Lord your God, and keep His charge, His statutes, His judgments, and His commandments always.”  Continuing in v. 19, He said, You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” emphasis added.  You, the parent, shall teach them, not the Sunday School, not the school, not “children’s church,” not some “children’s ministry.”  YOU.  (And, yes, I know they didn’t have those things in the Old Testament.  There’s no mention of them in the New Testament, either.)  It is the parents’ responsibility, not someone else’s.  The other things I mentioned may be useful, but they are to be strictly secondary.  Cf. also Joshua 4:4-7.

In Deuteronomy 6:20, 21, God commanded, When your son asks you in time to come, saying, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies, the statutes, and the judgments which the LORD our God commanded us?’ then you shall say, ‘We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, and the LORD brought us out with a mighty hand.’

Children are inherently curious.  God says that we parents are to use that trait to teach them about the things of God.  And when it comes right down to it, when push comes to shove and the kid wants to know why he should do something, “because I said so, that’s why!”  (Howls and groans from “modern” thinkers.)  Parents are not perfect, by any means (ask my own children), but they are parents.

So important is the role of parents that it was a death-penalty sin for an older child to disrespect his parents.  Babies and toddlers don’t know any better, but an older child was responsible for his rebellion:  “He who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death.  He has cursed his father or his mother.  His blood shall be upon him,” Leviticus 20:9, Exodus 21:17.  Same thing if he hit either of them, Exodus 21:15.  In fact, God required that the Israelite to “honor your father and your mother,” Exodus 20:12.  The word translated “honor” could be translated, “give weight to.”

Years later, when Israel was being judged for its sin, God said one of those sins was, “they have made light of father and mother,” Ezekiel 22:7.

Isaiah 3:12, As for My people, children are their oppressors,…”

While this is spoken about Israel, we see it all around us today.  Little ones in the supermarket or the restaurant screaming and having fits because they’re not getting their way, and their parents having no idea what to do….  Teenagers interrupting government functions or “protesting” on some street corner….  Schools requiring “security officers” because children have been turned into monsters.

Much of the problem has come because psychologists and psychiatrists believe children to be a “blank slate,” on which the proper education, etc., can write and turn out outstanding and useful adults.

Is that true?

Psalm 58:3 says, They go astray from the womb, speaking lies.”  While that verse refers specifically to “the wicked,” experience tells us that it’s universally true.

Tell me, any of you who read this blog and have children, did you have to teach them to lie?  To be dishonest?  To take that which isn’t their’s?  To be selfish and not “share”?

Or did they come by it “naturally”?

So, you see, parents have a great responsibility to teach their children to mind, to obey – and yes, I recognize that’s “old-fashioned.”  There’s another old saying:  “As the twig is bent, so the tree is formed.”  After a tree is grown, it’s too late to try to make it straight if it’s crooked.  That has to be done when the tree is still a “twig”; it’s still young and supple and malleable.  The same with that young life.  That’s the time to teach and train it, not when it’s course has pretty well been set and it’s been confirmed in rebellion.

Remember, what’s “cute” at three or four will likely not be cute at 8 or 12 or 32.

And remember, you’re preparing your child not only for time, but for eternity.

Do not sin against the child – or the adult he or she will become.

“King of kings and Lord of lords”

King of kings, and Lord of lords,
|:King of kings, and Lord of lords,:|
And Lord of lords,
And He shall reign,
And He shall reign forever and ever,
Kings of kings, forever and ever,
And Lord of lords,
Hallelujah!  Hallelujah!

This is an excerpt from Handel’s “Messiah”, arguably one of the most well-known works in the world, at least the western world.  Handel was familiar with the Scripture and put to music what it says in verses like the ones below.

1. 1 Timothy 6:15, where this title is connected with His appearing, which He will manifest in His own time, He Who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords (emphasis added).  Cf. His own time with His statement in Luke 17:22 about the days of the Son of Man.  We believe the appearing of our Lord will end the attempt by the antiChrist to subvert this world and will usher in a time of peace and righteousness this world has never known.

2. Revelation 17:12, 14, where the title is connected with the appearance of ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast….  These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings….
In the words of Daniel 2, the stone will smite the image on its ten toes and destroy them and it.

3. Revelation 19:11-16, where the title is connected with heaven opened, followed by a description of Him and His activities, Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations.  And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron….  And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:  KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

So, you see, this title is associated with His return to this earth to rule them (“the nations”) with a rod of iron (emphasis added).  As it too often happens now, “the nations” strike Him, through His people,”with a rod of iron.”  When He returns, this will not happen!

The word translated “rule” is very interesting.  It isn’t the usual word associated with the reigning, the “rule”, of a king.  The word John used means “to shepherd,” and is a form of the word translated “shepherd” in John 10, the “Good Shepherd” chapter.  What John actually wrote is, He will shepherd the nations with a rod of iron (emphasis added).  How this fits in with the Reformed idea that Jesus will return to this earth, there will be the final judgment, and then the eternal state begins, and all this on the very same day He returns, is unclear.  Perhaps that’s because the idea is unScriptural.  Why would “a rod of iron” be necessary is all that’s left for Christ to “rule” is saved people – in eternity?  And what does Scripture mean which says that Christ will rule in the midst of His enemies, Psalm 110:2?  What kind of a king would he be who “rules” in the midst of his enemies, and they don’t know it or ignore or reject him?   How is that to rule?  Especially if those enemies have been made his footstool?  And how does a “rod of iron” fit into the idea that Christ’s kingdom is only His spiritual rule in the hearts of His people?  Revelation 20:11 isn’t the only verse which talks about Christ’s reign on this earth.  Both Revelation 19 and 20 talk about it, to say nothing of the many Old Testament verses which foretell a worldwide time of peace and righteousness, something which can’t honestly be said to be fulfilled in “the church,” though many try, or to be simply pushed ahead into “the eternal state.”  There is a great deal more to Christ’s kingdom than many are willing to admit.

Where is there, right now, on this earth, a single kingdom or government which bows to the Lord Jesus as “King of kings and Lord of lords” and seeks to govern by His Word?