Sunday, September 28, 2014

"Entering your inheritance ..."

Day #275:  Daily Bible Reading Plan - September 29th

Scripture Reading:  Numbers 29 - 32 ...

Forty years of wandering because they did not trust God and enter the land ... and now it was almost over.  The people of Israel were about to enter the promised land, Canaan, the land God had promised their forefathers - Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  But first, God gave Moses and the priests instruction concerning their worship of God once they entered the land God had given them.  There were four spring feasts and three fall feasts.  As the four spring feasts were fulfilled in the death and resurrection of Jesus, and the pouring out of His Spirit on Pentecost, so the three fall feasts WILL BE fulfilled when Jesus returns:  the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles.  Each of these points to an event that is part of the return of Jesus to establish His kingdom on the earth.

"On the first day of the seventh month hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.  It is a day for you to sound the trumpets" (29:1).  Jesus says in Matthew 24:30-31:  "At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn.  They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.  And He will send His angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other."  It appears that the Apostle Paul writes of the same event in his first letter to the Thessalonians:  "According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.  For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air" (I Thessalonians 4:15-17).

The Feast of Trumpets that was celebrated by Israel will be finally fulfilled in Christ.  Then there will be the Day of Atonement (29:7).  This day pointed to the crucifixion of Jesus, which fulfilled the Passover and Unleavened Bread and the Feast of Weeks (or First-fruits ... Jesus' resurrection).  That was the beginning of the harvest, but this will be at the end and has special significance for Israel.  There can only be ONE atonement, ONE payment for sin, and Jesus paid the debt for all who believe on the cross.  So what is the meaning of the Day of Atonement in the end times scenario?  The prophet Zechariah clarifies this for us.  Up to this time the Jews, as a people, have not accepted Jesus as the Messiah.  So it will be until the end.  Most in Israel today are not Christians.  Some observe aspects of Judaism and many have no religion.  But in the last days, as Jesus returns to establish His kingdom, it will be different!

God says through Zechariah, "I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication.  They will look on ME, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for Him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for Him as one grieves for a firstborn son" (Zechariah 12:10).  Can the prophet possibly be referring to anyone BUT Jesus??  Then we read in Chapter 13, verse 1:  "On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity."  At that time God will pour out His Spirit on those from Israel that He has protected from the Antichrist and they will believe in Jesus and be saved because of God's promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and because of His grace and mercy toward His people.

And what of the Feast of Tabernacles (29:12)?  Once again we find a reference to this fall feast in Zechariah, chapter 14.  After the enemies of Israel are defeated, "the LORD will be king over the whole earth.  On that day there will be one LORD, and His Name the only Name" (14:9).  "Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles" (14:16).  This will take place during the thousand-year reign of Jesus Christ on the earth - the Millennium.  Some question why there would be a temple and whether there would be sacrifices and if so, why?  The answers to all these questions are not given to us, except that these feasts have significance in pointing to Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of all of God's promises as they point to the wisdom, power and glory of our God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

When you say you believe in God, what do you mean by that?  For many it is simply saying, "Yes" to an idea of some God whom they do not know.  But those who believe the Bible to be the very Word of God understand that ALL that God has revealed to us points to Jesus and gives glory to the God who created all things and who has ordered all things and revealed them in His Word so that those who believe will KNOW when these things take place that they are not mere coincidences, but the fulfillment of God's plan.  Jesus is alive and ruling at the right hand of the Father in heaven at this very moment!  There is no other true God but the One who has revealed Himself as the God of creation and the God of Israel, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  HE is LORD!!!

The rest of our reading points out two things:  those who do not worship the true God will face His judgment and will carry nothing with them into eternal suffering and death in hell.  Those who are God's people will inherit a new heavens and a new earth.  All of our enemies will be destroyed.  As the Israelites took the plunder of their enemies and dedicated it to the LORD, their God, so when Jesus comes there will be a final division between those who have believed in Him and those who have worshiped idols.  Oh, how we need to remember that ALL people deserve the just judgment of God.  If this is not true, then the suffering and death of Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God, was unnecessary.  We all deserve the fate of those killed by the armies of Israel.  Yet, through faith in Jesus, we are SAVED!! Jesus took God's wrath upon Himself and through the work of the Holy Spirit we have been given the gift of repentance and faith, we have been born again and moved to believe in Jesus.  Amazing, wonderful grace!!

We will enter the new Jerusalem in the new heaven and the new earth, where the glory of God is the light!  "Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life" (Revelation 22:27).  As the people of Israel were about to enter the promised land, they had to fight against their enemies.  So, by the power of God at work within us, we fight against our spiritual enemies ... the doubts, the fear, the temptations. We are called to "put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand!" (Ephesians 6:11-13).

Have you believed in Jesus?  The day of evil lies ahead for the final generation prior to Jesus' return.  Jesus asks, "When the Son of Man returns, will He find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8).  May God help us to persevere, to endure, to stand firm in our faith, trusting in Jesus Christ and believing that we will enter into our inheritance ... the promised land ... the place Jesus is preparing for those who know and love Him.  I pray that describes you!

"Father in heaven, as I read of Israel entering the promised land so long ago it seems so far away, yet it is like yesterday to You, and the future is like tomorrow.  All these things will happen just as You have said they will and we who believe WILL enter into the promised land that Jesus is preparing for us - the new heavens and the new earth, the home of righteousness.  Until then, Lord, keep me close to You and move me daily to obey Your commands, giving You thanks for Your mercy and grace, in Jesus' name, Amen"  

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