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Bible Study With Jairus

Jairus

Jairus means "God gives light" or "Receiving light". In Mark Chapter 5, Jesus heals his daughter. Jesus told him "Do not be afraid -- only believe." What an encouragement! Jairus Bible World Ministry is birthed in the heart of God to heal the sick and share the pain of the world and preach Gospel of Jesus to the lost and share the light in the Word of God to help Christians to grow in life as well.

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Bible Study With Jairus - Exodus 1
02-06-2022
Bible Study With Jairus - Exodus 1
Bible Study with Jairus - Exodus 1   The Faith of the Midwives   The book of Exodus contains many powerful examples of faith. The story of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt demonstrates God’s power and Moses’ faith.   Hebrews 11 says that Moses lived by faith throughout his life. He refused to obey the king's edict and was willing to suffer affliction with his people. Moses left the royal family because he glimpsed the glory of Christ and was willing to suffer for the glory to come. God counted his obedience as his faith.   In the same chapter, we see that Moses' parents also demonstrated faith. They hid Moses for three months, valuing his life above their own safety and well-being. Their action was motivated by trust in God.   Although they were not listed in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11, the midwives who saved the Hebrew babies are examples of faith. In Exodus 1, these midwives paved the way for Moses' appearance and his faith. Their faith provided a powerful example for Moses’ parents, and then Moses, to follow.   In the same way, we need to have faith in God. In today’s article, we will learn who these midwives were and how their faith paved the way for the salvation of all of Israel. We will also learn how to apply these lessons of faith and courage to the political challenges faced by today’s Chinese Christians.   Who were the midwives?   Who were the midwives mentioned in Exodus 1:15? Were they Egyptian or Hebrew?   Although we don’t know for sure, I believe they were Hebrews. The ruling strategy of the Egyptian Pharaohs was to use the insiders in the political system to control the outsiders who were not in the political system. As such, these midwives may have held a powerful position. They may have received their wages from Egyptian Pharaohs or from people who had status and authority in Egypt. As insiders, they may have faced intense pressures.   The midwives must have asked themselves, “Should we protect our own interests within the system? Or should we obey and fear God?” These were difficult questions, but the midwives had the right answer. They chose to fear God over Pharaoh. As a result, God gave them families and greatly blessed them.   Satan will use ethnic conflict in any way he can. He only wants to achieve domination. Pharoah first commanded the Hebrew midwives to kill the Israelite boys. When this didn’t work, he asked the Egyptians to throw the male babies in the river. However, we must stay true to our faith in God. I encourage Chinese insiders, especially Christians within the system, to trust and fear in God more than in the government. Like the Hebrew midwives, take a stand for truth. One way Chinese Christians can do this is by joining the Whistleblower Movement.     Fellow Fighters of the Whistleblower Movement   The "Whistleblower Movement” is a democracy movement led by Miles Guo, a wealthy Chinese exiled to the United States. Their goal is to overthrow the Communist Party and establish a democratic China. Under his leadership, "The New Federal State of China" was established on June 4, 2020.   Originally, I had absolutely nothing to do with this movement, but my wife began following it in 2020. I was very confused about this movement, so I prayed diligently for God’s wisdom. God began to guide me through various dreams, letting me know that the movement came from Him. He told me through a dream that China's democratization and evangelization are closely related. At first, I only knew that God had called me to preach the gospel to Chinese people. I never planned to participate in a democracy movement. But in a dream, God revealed to me that China's democratization will establish a platform (including media platforms) that will help us spread the gospel. At the same time, the Chinese evangelization movement will advance the process of China's democratization and achieve final victory.   In another dream, I was taken into the future. After the success of the Chinese democracy movement, these democrats came to thank me, saying that my gospel message and the books I wrote helped the democracy movement achieve final victory. In March 2020, I had a prophetic vision in which a great revival came to China. In the vision, angels bound the evil spirit behind the Chinese Communist Party. The evil spirit was the same size as a dolphin and was wrapped in a green military uniform. These prophetic dreams and visions showed me that God's intention is to democratize and evangelize China. And God's will for me personally is to participate in this movement and to spread the gospel to Chinese people through this movement.   I won't go into detail about this experience. I'll tell you more about it in a separate article. After a series of events, we finally joined the movement's branch office in Washington, DC, in early 2021. At this time, I found out that a lot of Christians were already involved in this movement. A Christian Bible meeting was already being held in its Washington branch. These Chinese Christians got together to study the Bible together and pray for the participants of this movement. After gathering with them for some time, we felt that we should Livestream the content of our Bible studies to help more Chinese Whistleblower members understand the Bible and Christian beliefs. So, we chose Exodus, a book that tells the story of how the Israelites came out of Egypt under the leadership of Moses.   No picture can better describe the current situation in China. The prophetic appearances of the Lord Jesus, as well as the prophetic words that some prophets gave me, have helped me clearly understand that "the 21st century is the century where China is evangelized." We have the opportunity to be involved in one of the greatest exoduses we’ve ever had in our thousands of years of Chinese history. Not only Pharaoh (the dictatorship of the Communist Party) will be overthrown, but many Chinese people will be freed from Satan's slavery and walk in the light instead of darkness.     In today’s Bible study, I am sharing the inspiration that I received during the Whistleblower Bible studies. At each meeting, many brothers and sisters shared their insights, and the meeting lasts about an hour and a half. In this article, I am recording the inspiration I have received from the Holy Spirit during the meetings. At each meeting, I hope to record the inspirations that the Holy Spirit gives me, so I can disseminate the message through both text and video. I want to help as many people as I can.   The Midwives' Faith was a Prelude to Moses' Faith   Hebrews 11:23-27 records the story of Moses’ faith and his parents' faith. These verses say: "By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king's edict. By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible."[1]   This passage describes the faith of Moses and his parents. It is included in the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11. As mentioned above, the midwives are not mentioned in this chapter. However. I believe that the midwives’ faith paved the way for the entire book of Exodus.   Exodus is the story of how the Israelites came out of Egypt under the leadership of Moses. This is a story of faith. The very first people who exercised faith in the book of Exodus were the midwives. They were not afraid of Pharaoh. They saved the life of the Israelite boys, in direct opposition to the king’s command. They provided an example of faith for Moses. In a spiritual sense, midwives' faith actually paved the way for the faith of Moses.   The story of the midwives in Exodus 1 points to the theme of the entire book of Exodus - faith. It was God who led the people out of Egypt, but the Israelites’ faith was also very important. Some theologians speculate that not all the Israelites came out of Egypt, but only those who believed in Moses and God. This is of course speculation. But in the New Testament, it is clear that if we do not have faith, we will not receive God’s salvation. To be delivered from our own slavery and oppression, we need to exercise faith in God. God's salvation has been freely given to us in Christ through the finished work of Jesus on the cross. But we must receive this salvation by our faith. Our faith is very important.   In addition to faith, it’s important to recognize the behavior or works that result from faith. If the midwives had claimed to have faith but failed to protect the Israelite boys, it would be hard to tell they really trusted God. James 2:24 says, "You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone." James also says that Abraham's faith was shown through his sacrifice of Isaac, and Rahab’s trust was manifested when she welcomed the spies. If we say we have faith, but do not act on it, it is very difficult for us to please God.   Satan's Tool of Enslavement: Insiders   In Egypt, the Israelites were a minority. Authoritarians gain control over minorities by winning over a few people into the system, giving them some benefits, and using them as tools to enslave other minority people. “Insider” is a term used in China to describe those who work in the government or in government-sponsored organizations. I am guessing that the midwives were insiders.   The Bible only mentions two midwives, and the Israelites probably had a population of 2-3 million when they came out of Egypt. It would have been impossible for two midwives to deliver all the Israelites. So, it is more likely that these two midwives were the officials that were responsible for all the Israelite midwives. They were the ones who made the policies regarding Israelite births. They may have received salaries from the Egyptian pharaohs and gained considerable status. This is why I call them "insiders.” One of the ways Satan tries to enslave us is by using “insiders” to gain access.   But instead of accepting such temptation or fearing Pharaoh, the midwives feared God. The midwives didn't obey Pharoah. They didn’t kill the Hebrew boys. This must have made Pharoah unhappy. The Bible says that God greatly blessed the midwives, but it does not tell us whether Pharaoh persecuted them. It is easy to imagine that they may have been persecuted by Pharaoh. Perhaps Pharoah cut off their money, removed the benefits of the system, or no longer allowed them to hold their positions of importance. None of these are recorded in the Bible, but my speculation makes sense. God gave these midwives families because they feared Him. They may have lost the external rewards from Pharaoh, but God blessed them greatly.     Many Christians in China work within the system. If they face the same situation as the midwives, will they be able to make the same choice? If I am involved in a similar system, will I choose faith? Honestly, such a choice is not easy. But the midwives set a good example for us. They trusted God without fearing Pharaoh. They weren’t afraid of losing their benefits within the system.   In the same way, we must remember that not even a sparrow will fall on the ground without God's permission. We must trust in God. In the process of resisting authoritarianism and achieving China's democratization, Chinese Christians working within the system as insiders must learn from the example of these two Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah and Puah.   Satan’s Second Tool of Enslavement: Ethnic Conflict   When Pharaoh found out that his first attempt to murder the Israelite boys had failed, he ordered the Egyptians, who did not know God, to persecute God's chosen people. The last verse of this chapter says, “Pharaoh commanded all his people, ‘Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live.’” (Exodus 1:22). In effect, Pharaoh said to the Egyptians, “Look, all the problems of our country come from the Israelites. They’ve occupied our best land, the land of Goshen, which is rich in water and vegetation. They also raise cattle and sheep, which is an abomination to us Egyptians (Genesis 46:34). They even offer sacrifices to their God, Jehovah. Jehovah is not our God. They do not worship Egyptian gods.”   Ethnic conflict is very easy to stir up. It is a tool often used by tyrannical rulers or interest groups. We are created in the image of God. Jesus taught us to love one another. Therefore, all political groups that use ethnic conflicts to achieve their own political goals are servants of Satan. They do it for their own benefit. Their willingness to serve Satan is used to enslave others. Satan uses this method, which is using some people to enslave other people.   Not only is ethnic or racial conflict used by the enemy to enslave people, but Satan also uses greed to enslave others. In Exodus, Pharoah’s greed forced him to try to exterminate the Israelites. He first instigated slave labor, making the Israelites build two store cities for Pharaoh (Exodus 1:11). They had to make mortar and brick and do all kinds of work (Exodus 1:14). But they were still growing in number. Pharoah felt that his power and finances were being threatened, so he decided to kill all the boys.   Through many different tactics, Satan persecutes believers and drives them into a corner. When Chinese people are cornered, they often say, "Do you want me to die?" Under such persecution, many people feel they have nowhere to turn. They are driven to the point of despair. Isn't this the situation in today's society?   Moses’ Arrival   In difficult situations of persecution, it is inevitable that people start to feel discouraged. When they encountered difficulties, they appeal to God. But just like the Israelites, they feel that God is silent. They think that God is not listening to their prayers. But just like God was working behind the scenes to bring a deliverer for Israel, God is working behind the scenes to help and encourage every persecuted believer today.   Although the Lord clearly told Abraham in Genesis 15 that his descendants would be in slavery in Egypt for 400 years, many Israelites were unaware of God's promise to Abraham. After 400 years of not hearing from Him, they thought they had been abandoned. Yet all this time, God was quietly preparing a deliverer, Moses.   When the Lord appeared to Moses in Exodus 3:7, He said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings." It’s not that God did not know the pain of the Israelites. It just wasn’t time yet. When the time came, Moses realized that it was God's plan for him to become a shepherd in the wilderness. There, God trained him for the job of leading the Israelites out of Egypt.   Similarly, in this world full of suffering, many Chinese people have lost hope. They think that God has abandoned them. But on the contrary, God is working behind the scenes. In God’s time, salvation will come to China. The Holy Spirit clearly told me that a great revival will come to China and that at least 100 million people will be saved. In another dream, I was taken to heaven and saw many saints in heaven having a meeting to discuss the great revival in China. My hostess told me that this great revival would be unlike anything she ever saw while still on earth.   I believe that a great revival will come to China, and countless Chinese people will be freed from Egyptian slavery, be delivered from darkness, and begin to walk in the light. Every one of us Christians can participate in the call to be like Moses. God wants us to collectively participate in bringing deliverance to China. How glorious it is to have the opportunity to cooperate with God to lead countless Chinese people "out of Egypt.” Stay tuned for more Bible studies from Exodus. I will continue to share the contents of our Bible studies through writing and videos.       [1] All Scripture quotations are taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.
Bible Study With Jairus - Exodus 1
02-06-2022
Bible Study With Jairus - Exodus 1
Bible Study with Jairus - Exodus 1   The Faith of the Midwives   The book of Exodus contains many powerful examples of faith. The story of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt demonstrates God’s power and Moses’ faith.   Hebrews 11 says that Moses lived by faith throughout his life. He refused to obey the king's edict and was willing to suffer affliction with his people. Moses left the royal family because he glimpsed the glory of Christ and was willing to suffer for the glory to come. God counted his obedience as his faith.   In the same chapter, we see that Moses' parents also demonstrated faith. They hid Moses for three months, valuing his life above their own safety and well-being. Their action was motivated by trust in God.   Although they were not listed in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11, the midwives who saved the Hebrew babies are examples of faith. In Exodus 1, these midwives paved the way for Moses' appearance and his faith. Their faith provided a powerful example for Moses’ parents, and then Moses, to follow.   In the same way, we need to have faith in God. In today’s article, we will learn who these midwives were and how their faith paved the way for the salvation of all of Israel. We will also learn how to apply these lessons of faith and courage to the political challenges faced by today’s Chinese Christians.   Who were the midwives?   Who were the midwives mentioned in Exodus 1:15? Were they Egyptian or Hebrew?   Although we don’t know for sure, I believe they were Hebrews. The ruling strategy of the Egyptian Pharaohs was to use the insiders in the political system to control the outsiders who were not in the political system. As such, these midwives may have held a powerful position. They may have received their wages from Egyptian Pharaohs or from people who had status and authority in Egypt. As insiders, they may have faced intense pressures.   The midwives must have asked themselves, “Should we protect our own interests within the system? Or should we obey and fear God?” These were difficult questions, but the midwives had the right answer. They chose to fear God over Pharaoh. As a result, God gave them families and greatly blessed them.   Satan will use ethnic conflict in any way he can. He only wants to achieve domination. Pharoah first commanded the Hebrew midwives to kill the Israelite boys. When this didn’t work, he asked the Egyptians to throw the male babies in the river. However, we must stay true to our faith in God. I encourage Chinese insiders, especially Christians within the system, to trust and fear in God more than in the government. Like the Hebrew midwives, take a stand for truth. One way Chinese Christians can do this is by joining the Whistleblower Movement.     Fellow Fighters of the Whistleblower Movement   The "Whistleblower Movement” is a democracy movement led by Miles Guo, a wealthy Chinese exiled to the United States. Their goal is to overthrow the Communist Party and establish a democratic China. Under his leadership, "The New Federal State of China" was established on June 4, 2020.   Originally, I had absolutely nothing to do with this movement, but my wife began following it in 2020. I was very confused about this movement, so I prayed diligently for God’s wisdom. God began to guide me through various dreams, letting me know that the movement came from Him. He told me through a dream that China's democratization and evangelization are closely related. At first, I only knew that God had called me to preach the gospel to Chinese people. I never planned to participate in a democracy movement. But in a dream, God revealed to me that China's democratization will establish a platform (including media platforms) that will help us spread the gospel. At the same time, the Chinese evangelization movement will advance the process of China's democratization and achieve final victory.   In another dream, I was taken into the future. After the success of the Chinese democracy movement, these democrats came to thank me, saying that my gospel message and the books I wrote helped the democracy movement achieve final victory. In March 2020, I had a prophetic vision in which a great revival came to China. In the vision, angels bound the evil spirit behind the Chinese Communist Party. The evil spirit was the same size as a dolphin and was wrapped in a green military uniform. These prophetic dreams and visions showed me that God's intention is to democratize and evangelize China. And God's will for me personally is to participate in this movement and to spread the gospel to Chinese people through this movement.   I won't go into detail about this experience. I'll tell you more about it in a separate article. After a series of events, we finally joined the movement's branch office in Washington, DC, in early 2021. At this time, I found out that a lot of Christians were already involved in this movement. A Christian Bible meeting was already being held in its Washington branch. These Chinese Christians got together to study the Bible together and pray for the participants of this movement. After gathering with them for some time, we felt that we should Livestream the content of our Bible studies to help more Chinese Whistleblower members understand the Bible and Christian beliefs. So, we chose Exodus, a book that tells the story of how the Israelites came out of Egypt under the leadership of Moses.   No picture can better describe the current situation in China. The prophetic appearances of the Lord Jesus, as well as the prophetic words that some prophets gave me, have helped me clearly understand that "the 21st century is the century where China is evangelized." We have the opportunity to be involved in one of the greatest exoduses we’ve ever had in our thousands of years of Chinese history. Not only Pharaoh (the dictatorship of the Communist Party) will be overthrown, but many Chinese people will be freed from Satan's slavery and walk in the light instead of darkness.     In today’s Bible study, I am sharing the inspiration that I received during the Whistleblower Bible studies. At each meeting, many brothers and sisters shared their insights, and the meeting lasts about an hour and a half. In this article, I am recording the inspiration I have received from the Holy Spirit during the meetings. At each meeting, I hope to record the inspirations that the Holy Spirit gives me, so I can disseminate the message through both text and video. I want to help as many people as I can.   The Midwives' Faith was a Prelude to Moses' Faith   Hebrews 11:23-27 records the story of Moses’ faith and his parents' faith. These verses say: "By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king's edict. By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible."[1]   This passage describes the faith of Moses and his parents. It is included in the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11. As mentioned above, the midwives are not mentioned in this chapter. However. I believe that the midwives’ faith paved the way for the entire book of Exodus.   Exodus is the story of how the Israelites came out of Egypt under the leadership of Moses. This is a story of faith. The very first people who exercised faith in the book of Exodus were the midwives. They were not afraid of Pharaoh. They saved the life of the Israelite boys, in direct opposition to the king’s command. They provided an example of faith for Moses. In a spiritual sense, midwives' faith actually paved the way for the faith of Moses.   The story of the midwives in Exodus 1 points to the theme of the entire book of Exodus - faith. It was God who led the people out of Egypt, but the Israelites’ faith was also very important. Some theologians speculate that not all the Israelites came out of Egypt, but only those who believed in Moses and God. This is of course speculation. But in the New Testament, it is clear that if we do not have faith, we will not receive God’s salvation. To be delivered from our own slavery and oppression, we need to exercise faith in God. God's salvation has been freely given to us in Christ through the finished work of Jesus on the cross. But we must receive this salvation by our faith. Our faith is very important.   In addition to faith, it’s important to recognize the behavior or works that result from faith. If the midwives had claimed to have faith but failed to protect the Israelite boys, it would be hard to tell they really trusted God. James 2:24 says, "You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone." James also says that Abraham's faith was shown through his sacrifice of Isaac, and Rahab’s trust was manifested when she welcomed the spies. If we say we have faith, but do not act on it, it is very difficult for us to please God.   Satan's Tool of Enslavement: Insiders   In Egypt, the Israelites were a minority. Authoritarians gain control over minorities by winning over a few people into the system, giving them some benefits, and using them as tools to enslave other minority people. “Insider” is a term used in China to describe those who work in the government or in government-sponsored organizations. I am guessing that the midwives were insiders.   The Bible only mentions two midwives, and the Israelites probably had a population of 2-3 million when they came out of Egypt. It would have been impossible for two midwives to deliver all the Israelites. So, it is more likely that these two midwives were the officials that were responsible for all the Israelite midwives. They were the ones who made the policies regarding Israelite births. They may have received salaries from the Egyptian pharaohs and gained considerable status. This is why I call them "insiders.” One of the ways Satan tries to enslave us is by using “insiders” to gain access.   But instead of accepting such temptation or fearing Pharaoh, the midwives feared God. The midwives didn't obey Pharoah. They didn’t kill the Hebrew boys. This must have made Pharoah unhappy. The Bible says that God greatly blessed the midwives, but it does not tell us whether Pharaoh persecuted them. It is easy to imagine that they may have been persecuted by Pharaoh. Perhaps Pharoah cut off their money, removed the benefits of the system, or no longer allowed them to hold their positions of importance. None of these are recorded in the Bible, but my speculation makes sense. God gave these midwives families because they feared Him. They may have lost the external rewards from Pharaoh, but God blessed them greatly.     Many Christians in China work within the system. If they face the same situation as the midwives, will they be able to make the same choice? If I am involved in a similar system, will I choose faith? Honestly, such a choice is not easy. But the midwives set a good example for us. They trusted God without fearing Pharaoh. They weren’t afraid of losing their benefits within the system.   In the same way, we must remember that not even a sparrow will fall on the ground without God's permission. We must trust in God. In the process of resisting authoritarianism and achieving China's democratization, Chinese Christians working within the system as insiders must learn from the example of these two Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah and Puah.   Satan’s Second Tool of Enslavement: Ethnic Conflict   When Pharaoh found out that his first attempt to murder the Israelite boys had failed, he ordered the Egyptians, who did not know God, to persecute God's chosen people. The last verse of this chapter says, “Pharaoh commanded all his people, ‘Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live.’” (Exodus 1:22). In effect, Pharaoh said to the Egyptians, “Look, all the problems of our country come from the Israelites. They’ve occupied our best land, the land of Goshen, which is rich in water and vegetation. They also raise cattle and sheep, which is an abomination to us Egyptians (Genesis 46:34). They even offer sacrifices to their God, Jehovah. Jehovah is not our God. They do not worship Egyptian gods.”   Ethnic conflict is very easy to stir up. It is a tool often used by tyrannical rulers or interest groups. We are created in the image of God. Jesus taught us to love one another. Therefore, all political groups that use ethnic conflicts to achieve their own political goals are servants of Satan. They do it for their own benefit. Their willingness to serve Satan is used to enslave others. Satan uses this method, which is using some people to enslave other people.   Not only is ethnic or racial conflict used by the enemy to enslave people, but Satan also uses greed to enslave others. In Exodus, Pharoah’s greed forced him to try to exterminate the Israelites. He first instigated slave labor, making the Israelites build two store cities for Pharaoh (Exodus 1:11). They had to make mortar and brick and do all kinds of work (Exodus 1:14). But they were still growing in number. Pharoah felt that his power and finances were being threatened, so he decided to kill all the boys.   Through many different tactics, Satan persecutes believers and drives them into a corner. When Chinese people are cornered, they often say, "Do you want me to die?" Under such persecution, many people feel they have nowhere to turn. They are driven to the point of despair. Isn't this the situation in today's society?   Moses’ Arrival   In difficult situations of persecution, it is inevitable that people start to feel discouraged. When they encountered difficulties, they appeal to God. But just like the Israelites, they feel that God is silent. They think that God is not listening to their prayers. But just like God was working behind the scenes to bring a deliverer for Israel, God is working behind the scenes to help and encourage every persecuted believer today.   Although the Lord clearly told Abraham in Genesis 15 that his descendants would be in slavery in Egypt for 400 years, many Israelites were unaware of God's promise to Abraham. After 400 years of not hearing from Him, they thought they had been abandoned. Yet all this time, God was quietly preparing a deliverer, Moses.   When the Lord appeared to Moses in Exodus 3:7, He said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings." It’s not that God did not know the pain of the Israelites. It just wasn’t time yet. When the time came, Moses realized that it was God's plan for him to become a shepherd in the wilderness. There, God trained him for the job of leading the Israelites out of Egypt.   Similarly, in this world full of suffering, many Chinese people have lost hope. They think that God has abandoned them. But on the contrary, God is working behind the scenes. In God’s time, salvation will come to China. The Holy Spirit clearly told me that a great revival will come to China and that at least 100 million people will be saved. In another dream, I was taken to heaven and saw many saints in heaven having a meeting to discuss the great revival in China. My hostess told me that this great revival would be unlike anything she ever saw while still on earth.   I believe that a great revival will come to China, and countless Chinese people will be freed from Egyptian slavery, be delivered from darkness, and begin to walk in the light. Every one of us Christians can participate in the call to be like Moses. God wants us to collectively participate in bringing deliverance to China. How glorious it is to have the opportunity to cooperate with God to lead countless Chinese people "out of Egypt.” Stay tuned for more Bible studies from Exodus. I will continue to share the contents of our Bible studies through writing and videos.       [1] All Scripture quotations are taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.
Bible Study with Jairus - Revelation 18
02-06-2022
Bible Study with Jairus - Revelation 18
Bible Study with Jairus - Revelation 18   Babylon the Great     Revelation 18 talks about Babylon the Great, an evil system established by various evil spirits and sinners under the hands of Satan, the beast, and the false prophets.   What is the fall of Babylon the Great? Over the ages, this question has led to many arguments and much confusion. I believe that Babylon the Great is a system jointly established by the evil spirits and sinful people under the influence of Satan, beasts, and false prophets.   Why did I say so? I believe that when reading the book of Revelation, we should read the ending before the beginning. Revelation 21-22 mentions the New Jerusalem (new heaven and earth). In Revelation 20, Satan was finally cast into the lake of fire (20:10), after he incited Gog and Magog to rebel (20:8). Satan was locked in the bottomless pit for a thousand years, unable to escape (20:2-7). Before the end of Revelation 19, the beast and the false prophet were thrown into the lake of fire (19:20), along with the kings and armies who they deceived into waging war at Armageddon (19:11-18).   Rebellious spirits always work together with rebellious people. The beast and the false prophet work together with kings and their armies. Their opponents are the riders on white horses, who are Jesus’ soldiers, the victorious bride of Christ. Continuing to work backward from the end of Revelation, we read about the marriage between Jesus Christ and His bride (19:7-9). Before this, we read about the heavenly celebration of the judgment of the great prostitute (19:1-3).   Who is this great prostitute, Babylon the Great? We need to approach this question from two aspects. Two forces work against the Bride of Christ (the church): evil people who do not belong to God, and evil spirits. At the end of Revelation, God deals with Satan, the beast, and the false prophet. Earlier, he deals with the various evil spirits who are the servants under these leaders. (The leaders are Satan, the beast, and the false prophet, a counterfeit Trinity).   Reading Revelation in chronological order reminds us of cutting down a big tree. You must first cut off the luxuriant leaves and branches, and then cut down the trunk and roots, one step at a time. Therefore, whether we start our reasoning from the beginning or the end of the book of Revelation, Babylon the Great must be a web or system of evil spirits and evil people working together with these evil spirits. This evil system is like the branches and leaves of a big tree. The branches must be cut down first, before cutting down the trunk (the beast and the false prophet), and finally the root (Satan). Thus, Babylon the Great is an evil system and web built by various evil spirits and sinful people under Satan, the beast, and the false prophet. It’s like a spider web of evil that has killed prophets, saints, and martyrs throughout the ages. It’s a prostitute who constantly lures people into committing sin and idolatry.   Is Roman Catholicism Babylon the Great?   From this illumination, it seems that Christian scholars’ belief that Roman Catholicism is Babylon the Great is inadequate. John used pictorial language when he wrote the Book of Revelation. We must spiritually understand these images. Many of John's statements in Revelation 17 seem to suggest that the prostitute is Roman Catholicism. For instance, the seven mountains mentioned in 17:9 seem to indicate Rome, which was built on seven hills. Protestant exegetical writings are full of these allusions.   Perhaps the Catholic Church is a part of this metaphorical prostitute, but I believe that the prostitute itself is much bigger than Roman Catholicism. Not only will the Catholic Church fall, but other churches will also fall. In addition to the fall of the church, our political and economic systems will also crumble. These fallen systems are a united system established by evil spirits. Evil spirits take advantage of our sinfulness to establish these systems. They also take advantage of fallen systems such as politics, economics, and religion. They organize these factors into a big net, killing God’s prophets and chosen people, and trapping the world, like a spider in a web. (A prostitute also similarly entraps passersby.) This web entraps people in sin.   I call this system the “Evil Spirit-Man.” I coined this term to express the collaboration between evil spirits and people. This union exists not only in the field of religion but in all areas of life. The kings of the earth committed adultery with the prostitute in order to gain power. For example, the leaders of many countries are superstitious, consulting mediums and false gods in hopes of gaining power. Even people in Hollywood have resorted to worshiping Satan in order to gain power and become famous. There are numerous reports of this on the Internet.   Babylon the Great is the lair of the evil spirits   Revelation 18:2 says, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place for demons, a haunt for every unclean spirit, a haunt for every unclean bird."[1] Babylon the Great is the lair of demons, of every unclean spirit, and of every unclean and detestable bird. The detestable birds must refer to the evil spirits in the air.   Let’s look at another passage that mentions birds in a metaphorical sense. Daniel 4 records the second dream of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Daniel warned King Nebuchadnezzar about this dream, "Break off your sins by practicing righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the oppressed, that there may perhaps be a lengthening of your prosperity." (Daniel 4:27). But Nebuchadnezzar did not heed Daniel's advice. His heart became arrogant, so he was driven away from civilization to eat grass like an ox for 7 periods of time. Later, King Nebuchadnezzar came to his senses and praised God.   His dream was a warning dream from God. This dream mentioned one detail, "Its leaves were beautiful and its fruit abundant, and in it was food for all. The beasts of the field found shade under it, and the birds of the heavens lived in its branches, and all flesh was fed from it." (Daniel 4:12). In verse 22, Daniel explained that this tree was King Nebuchadnezzar. And because of his power, he was like a big tree, with birds living in its branches. The birds here provide clarity about the birds in Revelation 18:2. Both are referring to the evil spirits. In other words, because King Nebuchadnezzar was arrogant, he worshipped idols and evil spirits and became their tool. Instead of giving glory to God, he lived in pride. Therefore, God commanded, "Chop down the tree and lop off its branches, strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the beasts flee from under it and the birds from its branches." (Daniel 4:14) The beasts and birds mentioned here must be referring to evil spirits.   The Lord Jesus told the parable of the mustard seed. He said, "This is the smallest of the hundred seeds, but when it grew up, it became larger than the others, and became a tree, so that the birds of the sky came to perch on its branches." (Matthew 13:32). People have different interpretations of this passage. Some believe that the mustard seed represents our faith. Others believe that this parable represents the changing nature of the church. Even the birds (evil spirits) come to live among its branches.   Here is an illustration of this concept. After the Roman Empire adopted Christianity as the state religion, many false believers joined the church and Catholicism mushroomed into a huge, spreading tree. Even the birds (evil spirits) came to live among its branches. But the true church continued to be persecuted. Keeping in mind Revelation 18 and Daniel 4, I think it is more acceptable to interpret the birds in the parable as evil spirits. The Lord Jesus' parable of the mustard seed may have signaled a change in the church’s nature as it morphed into a combination of evil spirits and a sinful religious system. This evil religious system is of course only part of Babylon the Great.   The evil spirits are weaving webs at all places and in all realms   We know that one-third of the angels followed Satan and rebelled against God. These evil spirits are not idle. They are busy. They each have different hierarchies. They govern different regions or areas. For example, Daniel 10 tells us that the prince of the kingdom of Persia hindered the angel from delivering a message to Daniel for 21 days. Only after the angel Michael came to help him was he able to reach Daniel. From this verse, we can see that there may be powerful evil spirits that rule a certain area. They may also manage other subordinate spirits. Even if we do not know about them, there are evil spirits in various regions: the United States, China, Africa, Japan, etc. There may be higher-ranking spirits that govern other evil spirits in a certain area.   In addition to evil spirits in different regions, there may be different kinds of evil spirits in different areas of life. For example, the false god Baal may be animated by a spirit of immorality. Hosea specifically compares faithless Israel to a prostitute and God compares Himself to a husband. Hosea 2:16 says, "And in that day, declares the Lord, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal’." This passage seems to indicate that Baal may be a spirit of immorality who deceives Israel, God's wife. Other evil spirits may be especially involved in child sacrifice. For example, the Bible says that the Israelites must not follow the sin of the Canaanites, who burn their sons and daughters in the fire and give them to Molech. (Deuteronomy 12:31, Leviticus 20:2). Similarly, there may be evil spirits who encourage families to resort to abortion. Within Satanism and many other cults, child sacrifice is rampant. There may also be a Jezebel spirit, a false prophet-like spirit who specifically kills and persecutes true prophets.   These evil spirits use people's sins to weave a huge web. Evil spirits use evil people to infiltrate politics (for example, Jesus called Herod a fox), religion (Judaism, Catholicism, Protestantism), and other areas of life. In this way, they kill prophets. In addition to using Islam, Buddhism, and other religions to stop people from knowing the true Savior, they also use the economy, culture, and educational systems to enslave people. Even our Savior Jesus Christ was crucified by an alliance between the evil Roman Empire and fallen Judaism. It may seem like Paul and other religious figures in Judaism were the ones who killed Stephen, but their actions were motivated by evil spirits working in and through them. No wonder Stephen prayed for the Israelites who killed him, saying they didn't know what they were doing.   These evil spirits obey Satan. The Lord Jesus said that Satan has been a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44). Satan, the dragon, gave his authority to the beast (Revelation 13:4), and the beast gave authority to the false prophet (another beast, Revelation 13:11). Babylon the Great, which is a union between evil spirits and evil people, is a prostitute that seeks to seduce people away from marriage with Christ. The Prostitute is a counterfeit Bride of Christ.     The church will judge angels   Paul said that the mission of the church and our mission as Christians is "to judge angels" (1 Corinthians 6:3). As we’ve mentioned, Babylon the Great is a prostitute, the counterfeit Bride of Christ. She unites with evil spirits like pimps unite with prostitutes. This union creates an "Evil Spirit-Man", which corresponds to the God-Man. The evil angels and sinners will be judged in one fell swoop by the Lord Jesus Christ (the bridegroom) and His bride (the body of Christ).   God wants us to repent and break our association with evil spirits so that we are not judged along with them. We must repent of being used by evil spirits. For example, the Apostle Paul left his slavery to evil spirits. People who do not repent will be thrown into the lake of fire prepared for Satan and the evil spirits (Revelation 20:11-15).   We are not sure if we are now in the last days - the time when God will get rid of all evil spirits from Babylon the Great. But we may be very close to that moment. God may be starting to remove the power of evil spirits from all areas of life. Darkness seems to prevail, but this is simply evidence of the madness and fear of the evil spirits who know they are about to be destroyed. They are launching a great attack on God and His chosen people.   Before God finally judges Babylon the Great, His children must be called out of the various segments and systems which comprise Babylon the Great. Revelation 18:4 says, "Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues.” The word “her” refers to the system that controls us. We cannot comprehend it entirely from the material realm. It doesn’t mean that Christians living in Rome should move out. Or that those who work on Wall Street in New York should not go to work. Rather, it means that we must clear out the sins that make us a part of Babylon the Great. We must reflect on whether there is idolatry or love for the world within us. If there is, we are in the Babylonian system. We must cleanse ourselves, deal with our sins, and return to our first love of God. In this way, we free ourselves from Babylon the Great. If you work on Wall Street, but your heart is loyal to the Lord, you are not part of Babylon the Great. But if not, you may be part of it.   Chapter 18, verses 5-10 describe God's judgment on Babylon the Great. Verses 11-19 describe people wailing over the judgment of Babylon the Great. The apostle John said, "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." (1 John 2:15). Many of us love the world and the things in it. We know how hard it is to overcome the world. It is very painful to give up the world. That is why people wail (verses 11-19). Verse 11 says, "The merchants of the earth weep and mourn for her, since no one buys their cargo anymore". The word "cargo" includes all kinds of items and even human souls (verse 13). Even human souls can be sold. Imagine how many Hollywood stars have not only sold their bodies, but have even signed contracts with Satan in order to become famous?   Verse 20 describes saints, apostles, and prophets rejoicing because God has avenged them. This verse indicates that religious Babylon may have been a very important part of the Babylonian system, since it killed many saints, apostles, and prophets throughout the ages.   Verse 21 says that the angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying that Babylon the Great would also be thrown down the same way. Verse 23 says, "And the light of a lamp will shine in you no more, and the voice of bridegroom and bride will be heard in you no more, for your merchants were the great ones of the earth, and all nations were deceived by your sorcery." Babylon the Great had deceived many people. But God would no longer allow them to deceive anyone.   Today, God is judging Babylon the Great and calling His children out   May you have ears to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying today through Revelation 18. As children of God, we should free ourselves from Babylon the Great, from idolatry, and from the things of the world. We should completely free ourselves from these systems and their influence on us. God is calling us to be a part of His bride. We are destined to reign with Christ, as well judge angels and evil men. If you become part of Babylon the Great, you will face nothing but destruction. Don't love the world or money. If you spend your whole life working only for money and the world, you are building a part of Babylon the Great.   [1] All Scripture quotations are taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.
Bible Study With Jairus - 1 Corinthians 13
02-06-2022
Bible Study With Jairus - 1 Corinthians 13
Bible Study with Jairus - 1 Corinthians 13   Do sign gifts still exist? Has the gift of prophecy come to an end? The chapter says that gifts of prophecy and knowledge are partial. Love reigns supreme. But does this mean that prophecy and knowledge can be completely discarded? These are questions that come to mind when we read 1 Corinthians 13. Although the chapter is a popular wedding chapter focusing on love, it is also frequently cited to defend the cessation of the sign gifts. Paul introduces his definition of love by talking about the miraculous gifts of tongues prophecy, knowledge, and faith (vs 1-2). Many Christians wonder if these less-important gifts still exist, or if they have been superseded by love. That is what we will explore today.   Will the gift of prophecy come to an end?   The “love chapter” begins by demonstrating the emptiness of prophecy, knowledge, and sacrifice. “And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:2) Many Christians believe that these verses downplay miraculous gifts. Some go so far as to say that these gifts have ceased completely. A friend argued with me that signs and wonders no longer exist. He said that the miraculous gifts in the Bible are just like road signs. A road sign is helpful while we are traveling. But once we reach our destination, the sign is no longer needed. In the same way, he said, miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit point to the fact that Jesus Christ is God and the Bible is God's word. However, after the Bible was completed, the miraculous sign gifts were no longer needed. Once we reach the destination, the road signs are no longer necessary. He reasoned that signs and wonders no longer exist in the church today. The logic of this argument seems to make sense, but it is a misinterpretation of 1 Corinthians 13:10. My friend believes that the word “perfect” refers to Jesus’ finished work on the cross, as well as the completion of the Bible. However, this interpretation does not fit with the message of the chapter. Instead, the word "perfect" refers to full spiritual maturity. The following verse says, "When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways." Clearly, the word "perfect" refers to full-grown adulthood. And what is one of the biggest signs of our maturity? From my understanding, it’s "love". This is why Paul said that whether we speak in tongues, prophesy, or have knowledge and faith, we are useless without love. Paul is saying that we should not pursue spiritual gifts at the expense of achieving spiritual maturity and love.   Spiritual gifts such as prophecy are tools. Its goal is love.   I believe that prophecy and other miraculous gifts are like tools. By itself, a hammer is useless. But used correctly, it will help us pursue our goal: creating something new. In the same way, miraculous gifts are empty on their own. Without love, our gifts of tongues, prophecy, knowledge, or faith are useless. But in skilled hands, these tools can be used to pursue our goal: love. We should not exalt the tool and neglect our goal of love. But neither should we discard the tools just because someone is overusing them. Instead, we should focus on the correct use of the tools which will help us achieve the goal of love. Love is critically important. It is wrong to neglect love and pursue only the gifts of tongues, prophecy, and knowledge. But it is also wrong to be against spiritual gifts. True, Paul criticized the Corinthian believers for seeking gifts at the expense of love. But this does not mean that the spiritual gifts are useless. After wrapping up his discussion of love in 1 Corinthians 13, Paul goes on in 1 Corinthians 14:1, "Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy."[1] Clearly, Paul did not think that the gift of prophecy would come to an end because of one’s pursuit of love.   After encouraging believers to pursue love, the most important of all virtues (chapter 13), Paul also exhorts the Corinthian believers to pursue spiritual gifts, especially prophecy. Why? Because both are important. Paul doesn’t want believers to neglect love just to pursue spiritual gifts. But he also does not want people to oppose these gifts just for the sake of opposing. He actively encourages believers to pursue and develop their gifts, while also pursuing the goal of love. If believers do not make good use of their gifts, it is difficult to achieve love.   Throughout the ages, many Christians and Jews have fallen into two opposite but equally harmful errors. On the one hand, some people exalt the tools and neglect the goal of love. The Lord Jesus spoke frequently about this problem. For example, the Pharisees were unwilling to provide for their parents since they were paying their tithes faithfully. Mark 7:11-13, Jesus reprimanded the Pharisees: "But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God) then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do." (Mark 7:13).   The Lord Jesus rebuked the Pharisees another time as well: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.” (Matthew 23:23). Tithing and giving gifts to God are certainly required by God. But it is only a tool. God wants us to use the tool to bring about the goal, which is love. If we omit love, we have completely missed the point of God’s command.   Keeping the law is just a tool. The purpose is love. God wanted the Israelites to keep the law so they could be better equipped to love God and others—not just for the sake of following rules. For this reason, when the lawyer asked Jesus which commandment was the greatest commandment in the law, Jesus said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 22:37-40). Keeping the law is not the goal. It’s just a means to help us love God and others better. But if we don’t love God and others, and just keep the law for the sake of keeping it, we’ve got our priorities wrong.   Now, let’s look at the opposite mistake. Because legalists misuse these tools, Christians may start to oppose them completely. They may swing to the opposite extreme and completely abandon rules. Since tithing was abused by the Pharisees and some people in the modern church, other believers began to oppose tithing and the church's call for people to give money. But when the Lord Jesus criticized the Pharisees, He told them the solution was to tithe and love, not to abandon tithing altogether. He said, "These (tithing and giving) you ought to have done, without neglecting the others." (Matthew 23:23).   When someone abuses a tool or a gift, we shouldn't deny these tools or gifts altogether, simply because they’ve been misused. Even the Lord Jesus said, "So do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice." (Matthew 23:3). Clearly, Jesus did not disagree with the teachings of the Pharisees. Although the Pharisees strayed from the goal and exalted the means over the end, the Lord Jesus did not deny the means or tools altogether.   Using Strategic Tools in Furthering our Goal—Love   The misuse of tools (the means to an end) often leads to a lack of love. This is a tactic the enemy has used throughout the ages to interfere with God's plans. Satan uses distractions to keep God’s chosen people from pursuing the goal of love.   Love is our strategic goal. And the use of spiritual gifts is a tactic we use to reach the goal. We must be strategically situated. The act of carrying out our strategy must never interfere with the goal itself. If we realize our plan of action is working against our overarching goal, it’s time to change strategies!   Just like in times of war, the use of tactics must be subject to the overall strategic arrangement. If the use of a particular tactic interferes with the overall strategic goal, the commander-in-chief will interfere or stop the use of this tactic. But that doesn't mean that the tactic itself is wrong. Perhaps it was just applied at the wrong time and place. Therefore, it interfered with the strategic goal.   When we use our spiritual gifts, we must understand that they are part of our overarching strategy. They are one tactic we can use to reach the goal—loving God and others. Matthew 22:37-40 says, ““You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”   When some believers in the Corinthian church exalted spiritual gifts over the goal of love, they neglected the strategic goal. Paul said that we know in part, and we prophesy in part (1 Corinthians 13:9). Then he says in verse 10, “When the perfect comes, the partial will pass away." Paul is discussing the difference between a strategic goal and a tactic. When the goal has been accomplished, we no longer need the specific tactic. Paul is not against the use of specific tactics. Rather, he is calling on the Corinthian believers to use these tactics in conjunction with their unified strategic goal.   Paul says in verse 11, "When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways." Paul is saying that if the Corinthian believers exalted spiritual gifts above love, which was the goal of the whole strategic operation, they were acting childish and fleshly. Why? Because they only acknowledged one part of the big picture.   In the same way, church traditions are means to an end. We need to learn from our predecessors and pass on the excellent traditions they started. But we should not rigidly adhere to stereotypes until we become controlled by their traditions rather than by love. Our goal is to serve God better. Learning and inheriting traditions are just a means. We cannot allow means and tools to overshadow our overarching goal.   This is where many churches are deceived by the enemy. They fail to see the overall goal of God because they are bound by past traditions, teachings, and habits. This same problem causes division in churches. We must become spiritually mature. We must get rid of our fleshy and childish ways, so that we can see the overall picture. We need to learn to love God and others more effectively, especially our brothers and sisters in Christ.   Use Spiritual Gifts to Promote Love   If we understand that love is the overarching goal and the big picture, then we must learn to make good use of the strategic tools God has given us. These tools include our spiritual gifts. We can use them to achieve our strategic goal.   In a war, even if you have a good strategic goal, you won’t get very far without a detailed tactical strategy. If you don’t have a detailed plan of how to use each tactic to slowly accumulate military strength through each and every tactical victory, you will not be able to achieve strategic victory. Many small changes are necessary to make the end goal a reality. In the same way, we must use our spiritual gifts in small ways every day to accomplish God’s overarching plan.   When the Corinthian believers exalted the spiritual gifts to the exclusion of the strategic goal of love, they showed they were immature and childish. On the other hand, when they opposed and eliminated spiritual gifts just for the sake of opposing them, they were also showing their spiritual immaturity. There cannot be an end result without a practical methodology. You cannot reach your destination without the road. Without the use of a good tactical strategy, the final strategic result cannot be achieved. We must not eliminate the use of spiritual gifts just because some have misunderstood them.   Many churches and pastors today are against spiritual gifts. This shows they are spiritually immature and deceived by evil spirits. The Spirit of Empty Religion deceives them. Satan uses this evil spirit to trick them. If he can get us to stop using our spiritual gifts, he can stop us from achieving our goal of love.   Tongues are a very important gift. Paul said the person who speaks in tongues "utters mysteries in the Spirit" (1 Corinthians 14:2) and builds himself up (1 Corinthians 14:4). Many people avoid using tongues to build themselves up because other believers have used the gift of tongues to promote their fleshly desires. But done correctly, praying in tongues builds up our spirits and our most holy faith (Jude 1:20), and also strengthens us in our spirits. In addition, it can activate many other spiritual gifts in us. If the gift of tongues is a channel of secret communication between God and man, and God's key to activating other spiritual gifts in us, then no wonder Satan hates this gift so much! Satan tries to stigmatize this gift. He convinces people to oppose tongues and deny this important gift.   The gift of prophecy is also extremely important. Through prophecy, we disclose the secrets of people’s hearts (1 Corinthians 14:25). When we practice the gift of prophecy, we can understand and disclose the secrets in people’s hearts through prayer and God’s revelation. As a result, people will be able to encounter God and feel His love and His existence. They will fall on their faces and say, "God is really among you" (1 Corinthians 14:25). Many traditional churches do not properly use the gift of prophecy. As a result, people in their congregations do not experience such powerful personal encounters with God.   God showed his great love by giving up his beloved Son so that the world may be saved. The gift of prophecy is one of the best means to share this message through evangelism. Using the gift of prophecy helps us achieve God's greatest goal of loving the world. Nick Gough, a Ph.D. graduate at United Theological Seminary, wrote a thesis titled, “Postmodern Apologetics: A Charismatic Discipleship Program for Postmodern Missionaries.” In this paper, Gough points out the importance of unlearning old thought patterns and relearning new methods in order to embrace the power of evangelizing according to a charismatic, New Testament model of evangelism. He says, To use traditional apologetics limits one in bringing a person to Christ. There is a culture shift. The use of traditional methods of evangelism is ineffective today. To give an example, a young adult of this author’s acquaintance traveled overseas with a well-known campus group. They used a traditional form of evangelism, a type of survey questionnaire that they administered to over five thousand college students in Australia. The intent of this survey was to lead students to Christ. Out of the five thousand surveys, there was no conversion. By way of contrast, this author trained a group of YWAM students who went to Germany to evangelize immigrant Muslims. In four weeks, that group led over five hundred people to the Lord. What is the difference? The group in Germany had divine encounters while praying for the sick and operating in the prophetic. This is an example of a modernist model versus Jesus’ charismata model.[2]   We live in a post-modern era. While modernity put too much emphasis on rationality, post-modernism highlights subjective experience. Many post-modern listeners hate dry, theological religious preaching. They feel empty because they are unable to experience God through the preaching. They want to encounter God in their lives.   Therefore, in this current age, God has brought back the gift of prophecy to enable preachers to connect with post-modern people. As prophesied in Joel 2, “God will pour out His Spirit on all flesh; your sons and daughters shall dream dreams and your old men shall prophesy.” We must understand that God has revived this important gift in this age. He wants to enable us to use the gift of prophecy to achieve our goal of spreading the message of God’s love to the world.   "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16).     [1] All Scripture quotations are taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted. [2]Dr. Nick Gough, “Postmodern Apologetics: A Charismatic Discipleship Program for Postmodern Missionaries,”(DMin. Thesis, United Theological Seminary, 2013), 10–11.
Bible Study With Jairus - Deuteronomy 4
02-06-2022
Bible Study With Jairus - Deuteronomy 4
Bible Study with Jairus - Deuteronomy 4   Have you ever wondered why Deuteronomy 4 brings up cities of refuge, seemingly out of the blue? After Moses' long warning to the Israelites (verses 1-40), he suddenly switches to talking about cities of refuge (verses 41-43). And then he jumps to talking about the Ten Commandments (verses 44-49). Why is it all so sudden?   Through Moses, God was reminding the Israelites that as they became comfortable in the Promised Land, they would soon forget Him. Then God would send trials to discipline them. However, if they returned to Him, they would find Him and not be abandoned. When we disobey God’s rules because we are ignorant of his commands, we still need discipline. But we also receive God’s mercy, refuge, and help in our times of weakness and sins.   Parents set rules for their children, but children often fail and break the laws. Parents have to punish their children, but they also have mercy and help them. They understand that their children have not yet learned all the rules. God is truly our Heavenly Father. He loves us. He treats us the same way good parents treat their children. The cities of refuge demonstrate God’s Fatherly mercy and salvation.   But why discuss the Ten Commandments and the law after mentioning the cities of refuge? When the law becomes real to us, it shows us our sins so we can grow spiritually. Christians can easily become apathetic, like the Israelites. We stay in the same Christian environment for too long. Like the Israelites, we "grow old in the land and act corruptly and make idols" (Deuteronomy 4:25) When we worship idols and turn away from God, he will discipline us and help us. We need a city of refuge (Christ); we also need to continuously study His word (represented by the Ten Commandments) so that his words can become real to us and we can continue to grow and mature in our spiritual lives.   The Purpose of the Law   As we have seen in our previous study of Deuteronomy 1-3, the Israelites learned two important lessons concerning faith and idolatry. The second generation of Israelites inherited a positive heritage of faith from their forefathers, who had wandered for forty years in the wilderness. However, they also inherited a negative predisposition to idolatry, a lesson that neither the first nor second generation had successfully learned.   God is our heavenly Father. He is omniscient. So, He foreknew that we would fail and fall. In Deuteronomy 4, God predicted that the second generation of Israel would worship idols after they entered the land of Canaan. He said through the mouth of Moses, "When you father children and children's children, and have grown old in the land, if you act corruptly by making a carved image in the form of anything, and by doing what is evil in the sight of the Lord your God, so as to provoke him to anger" (Deuteronomy 4:25)[1]. This sentence is the heart and soul of Deuteronomy 4:1-40.   At the beginning of this chapter, Moses reminded the Israelites, "Listen to the statutes and the rules that I am teaching you, and do them, that you may live" (verse 1). He went on, "You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it" (verse 2). He also reminded the Israelites that all idolaters at Baal-Peor were destroyed by the Lord (verse 3). He wanted to remind the Israelites that if they did not obey the law, the rules established by God, they would be disciplined. Moses then went on to remind the Israelites, “See, I have taught you statutes and rules, as the LORD my God commanded me.” (vs. 5). When the Israelites obeyed God’s commandments, the nations would see that they were a “great nation” and a “wise and understanding people.” (verse 6).   Since the law itself was given by God, it is full of His wisdom. If the Israelites could keep the law, the Gentiles would stand back in awe. They would say, "Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people" (verse 6). God’s purpose in giving the law was not only to keep the Israelites away from idols, but also to encourage the Gentiles to seek God. As the Gentiles saw the Israelites’ wisdom, it would help the nations learn to know God. Since God's love and wisdom are manifested through the law, God Himself was manifested through the keeping of the law.   In verses 6-25, Moses looked back at the process by which the Lord appeared to the Israelites and gave them the law. He reminded the Israelites not to turn away from the law or to turn to idols. Twice, he asked the Israelites to "keep their souls diligently" (verses 9 and 15) and not forget the Lord, who appeared to them and gave them the law.   In verse 26, Moses changed his tone. He called heaven and earth to testify that the Israelites would turn away from God. Because of their choices, his discipline would be unavoidable. God would scatter them among the peoples, where they would become few in number (verse 27). But the purpose of this discipline was to call the Israelites to repent and call on God for help. Moses said in verse 29, "But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul." It was in the Israelites’ nature to worship idols and turn away from God, but it is in God’s nature to be merciful. After he disciplined them, he would allow the Israelites to return to him.   God is merciful by nature. Although He disciplined the Israelites, He would not abandon them. During captivity, Jeremiah meditated on God’s mercy: "But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end." (Lamentations 3:21-22). Although God is merciful, He is also strict. Those who worshiped idols and turned away from God were disciplined severely. But those who held fast to God and his law remained alive (vs. 4). The purpose of the law was to guide, correct, and help people hold fast to God.   City of Refuge: God’s Provision and Redemption   In our Bible meetings, we watch and wait for the guidance and illumination of the Holy Spirit, and we always receive words of wisdom from Him. Sometimes the process of sharing and discussing helps us understand things we’ve never thought of before, just like Jesus explained in Matthew 10:19: "When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour." (Matthew 10:19). Although this verse is in the context of persecution, I believe it applies more broadly to any situation in which we are called upon to bear witness to Christ before others. Whenever we share his word, we are witnessing for him. Every time we testify in this way, the Holy Spirit gives us words and inspiration, even as we are speaking. That is what he did for me when I was discussing cities of refuge.   Why is there a sudden mention of cities of refuge in this chapter? It actually has a clear, logical connection to Moses’ topic of conversation. In verses 1-40, Moses encourages the people to keep the law and warns them that they will be disciplined for breaking it. But Moses also mentions that if the Israelites return to God during or after the discipline, they will find God. So, the city of refuge continues with the theme of refuge and redemption.   Moses already knew that he would not be allowed to enter the land of Canaan. So it was his duty to set up cities of refuge east of the Jordan. The cities of refuge west of the Jordan would be set up by Joshua after he entered the land of Canaan. This process is recorded in Joshua 20.   The Holy Spirit organized the Bible very logically, but we don’t always see the connection immediately. Here, Moses is saying that if the Israelites don’t obey the law, they will be disciplined. But when they are disciplined, they will have the opportunity to repent. In this context, the concept of cities of refuge fits perfectly.   My daughter is five years old and is in kindergarten. American kindergartens attach great importance to the development of individual personality, but the disadvantage is that they are too individualistic. She recently learned a catchphrase in kindergarten, "This is my personal choice." The teacher said that every child has a personal choice and others need to respect it. When she comes home, she doesn’t follow the rules we set. She watches TV or does other things while eating. As soon as I criticize her, she immediately answers back, "This is my personal choice." When we discipline her and turn off the TV, she cries. We tell her that although she has a personal choice, she must abide by the rules of "not watching TV while eating" and "eating well". Otherwise, she will be disciplined; she won’t be allowed to watch TV or eat. When she heard this, she sat in a corner and cried for a while. We asked her if she knew she was wrong and if she would apologize. She said she was wrong and apologized. We hugged her and let her continue eating. While we were disciplining her, we had already prepared a way of salvation or mercy. As long as she was willing to repent, we would accept her immediately.   God is our heavenly Father. He treats the Israelites and born-again Christians the same way a parent treats his/her child. He has to set rules for us, and we have to obey them in order for us to know His nature and become partakers of His divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). If we don't follow the rules, God will discipline us. But discipline is only a means to an end. The goal is that we would return to Him.   Learning God’s Law     Moses mentioned the Ten Commandments in the first part of this chapter, and then discusses the cities of refuge. Why does he then go back to discussing the Ten Commandments again? And why does Deuteronomy 5 continue to go into detail about the content of the Ten Commandments? I believe God wanted his people to study the Ten Commandments, that is, the law of God. When God’s law became real to the Israelites, they could manifest God among the peoples. The reason why they worshiped idols and wandered away from God is that they did not deeply know or understand God’s law.   At the end of the chapter, the text says, "This is the law that Moses set before the people of Israel. These are the testimonies, the statutes, and the rules, which Moses spoke to the people of Israel when they came out of Egypt." The author then goes on to describe the place and setting where Moses was reinstating the law: "in the land of Sihon the king of the Amorites, who lived at Heshbon" (verses 46-49). The next chapter goes into detail about the law that Moses reiterated at the end of his life.   When God’s people did not study God’s law and when God’s rules were not real to them, they needed God’s discipline. But God’s discipline also made a way for them to return to him and continue to learn his law. God’s purpose is that they would be transformed by His Word so that His divine nature could be manifested to the nations. That was why Moses reviewed the Ten Commandments at the end of his life.   Discipline, Mercy, and the Word of God   In the church today, there are two extremes. One is legalism. The church is full of rules. Women can’t wear pants or use musical instruments. If they do, they are not included as Christians in the church of God. The other extreme is having no laws or discipline of any kind. Believers say, “I don't want you to dictate that I should read the Bible every day. Don't ask me to pray or give. I don't want anyone to control me.” This is a kind of spiritual rebellion and spiritual infancy.   Although we live in the age of the New Covenant and there is no external law, it definitely does not mean that we do not need some form of the law. Even the Lord Jesus said that He did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. He said, “Until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished” (Matthew 5:17-18). Clearly, the law is still needed today. But the purpose of the law is not to force us to live in legalism. Similarly, the law should not be treated as dogma. Rather, the purpose of the law is to help us learn to know God’s nature and become partakers of His divine nature.   Therefore, Christians still need law and discipline, especially spiritually immature Christians. We all need to accept a certain degree of discipline. God’s discipline is rarely discussed in American Christian circles. But it is a doctrine in the Bible. The Holy Spirit will discipline us, especially through circumstances. As he disciplines, he intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words (Romans 8:26). All things work together for good to those who love God—even discipline (Romans 8:28). God has good intentions. He wants us to return to Him and to spiritually grow and mature.   We must constantly study God’s word, including His words in the Old Testament (represented by the Ten Commandments) and in the New Testament. These words will eventually change our lives. His law can dwell in us and become the law of the Spirit of life (Romans 8:2). Today, we are not bound by external rules alone. We have the indwelling law of the Spirit of life that controls and guides us from the inside.   It is a pity that many Christians today do not know much about the discipline of the Holy Spirit. As a result, they do not learn to surrender. If we return to God, His mercy will come to us. We must study God’s word consistently so that we can gradually become spiritually mature. When we are spiritually mature, there will be no need for God’s external discipline.   In a Christian country like the United States, many people have become apathetic after many generations. The descendants of true, dedicated Christians have “grown old in the land, acted corruptly, and begun to worship idols.” Like the Israelites, Americans need to respond to God’s discipline and find their way back to him. May God enlighten your hearts to understand the words of Deuteronomy 4.     [1] All Scripture quotations are taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.
Bible Study With Jairus - Deuteronomy 3
02-06-2022
Bible Study With Jairus - Deuteronomy 3
Bible Study with Jairus - Deuteronomy 3   In Deuteronomy 3, we encounter two stories that are closely connected in theme. First, we read about the defeat of Og, King of Bashan, a story that shows that the second-generation Israelites were learning important lessons of faith. Forty years of wandering in the wilderness had been a growing experience for the second-generation Israelites. After defeating Sihon, king of Heshbon, in the previous chapter, they go on to defeat Og in Deuteronomy 3.   The second story in this chapter is about Moses being forbidden to enter the Promised Land. He was very worried that the second generation of Israel would continue to “worship idols,” the mistake of the first generation. So from chapter 4 onwards, he did his best to exhort the Israelites not to engage in idolatry.   Neither the first generation nor the second-generation Israelites learned their lesson about idolatry. In Deuteronomy, Moses reiterated the law and the history of the Israelites in an attempt to exhort the second generation not to worship idols. The first two chapters of the book contain Moses’ review of the faith-filled victories of the Israelites. The third chapter of Deuteronomy transitions to his words of exhortation.   Deuteronomy's "sandwich" structure   Perhaps you have heard of the “sandwich” structure of giving productive criticism. Using this method, you start with praise first, then move to critique, and end with encouragement. It’s like a sandwich consisting of a slice of bread and a piece of sausage and another slice of bread.   Jesus used this structure in his letters to the churches in Revelation (Revelation 2-3). His message to the church in Ephesus began with praise: “I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name's sake, and you have not grown weary." (Revelation 2:2-3).[1] The Lord is a God of encouragement, so He praised their achievements from the very beginning. This is natural. If we met the Lord and heard His rebuke right at the beginning, it would make us feel very scared. So the Lord begins his letters to the churches with encouragement.   But this does not mean that the Lord did not rebuke them as well. He told the church in Ephesus, "But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.” (Revelation 2:4-5). After this strong rebuke, Jesus didn’t want the church to feel discouraged and disappointed. So He ended his message on a positive note. We find these words of encouragement in Revelation 2:6-7: "Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” God not only used the “sandwich” structure when writing to the church in Ephesus, but he also used it when writing to the other six churches.   If we analyze the structure of Deuteronomy with this structure in mind, we will find that Deuteronomy also utilizes a "sandwich" structure. In Deuteronomy 1-3, Moses praises and encourages the second generation of Israel. Although Moses briefly recounted the story of the ten evil spies and the first generation's unbelief and failure in Chapter 1 (Deuteronomy 1:19-46), most of these chapters’ content is positive. Chapter 2 records the Israelites’ victory over Sihon King of Heshbon, and Chapter 3 records the story of the Israelites’ defeat of Og King of Bashan. Sihon King of Heshbon and Og King of Bashan were two Amorite kings east of the Jordan River. The first generation of Israel was afraid of the giants in the land of Canaan, but the second generation of Israel had begun to defeat them. These compliments from Moses formed first slice of bread in the sandwich.   Deuteronomy 4 to 31 forms the middle of the sandwich. This portion is Moses' exhortation or criticism of the second generation of Israel. Why does he critique them? Although the second generation of Israel learned many lessons of faith, they had failed to learn one important lesson. Like their ancestors, they still worshiped idols. God had clearly told Moses that he would not be able to enter the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 3:26). So Moses delivered a parting message, full of sincere admonitions to the second generation of Israel. This message is recorded in the book of Deuteronomy.   What Moses was most worried about was the second generation’s idol worship. Moses feared that Israel would be punished by God for worshipping idols. I will list two verses to demonstrate Moses’ clear train of thought, a unifying thread that runs from Deuteronomy 4 to 31.   Deuteronomy 4:16 says, "Beware lest you act corruptly by making a carved image for yourselves, in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female." Deuteronomy 31:16 says, "And the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, you are about to lie down with your fathers. Then this people will rise and whore after the foreign gods among them in the land that they are entering, and they will forsake me and break my covenant that I have made with them."”   There are many other similar passages that prove Moses’ concern about idolatry, but these two are sufficient to make my point. The entire middle section, the “meat” of the "sandwich" structure, is full of Moses’ concern and criticism regarding Israel's idolatry. Moses was concerned about their distance from God. Why did Moses go to such lengths to reiterate the law and the history of Israel? Because he wanted to exhort the second generation of Israel not to worship idols.   The third portion of Deuteronomy, the last slice of bread in the "sandwich" structure, is Deuteronomy 32-34. This segment contains Moses' words of blessing and encouragement. Deuteronomy 32 records the song of Moses, his warning and blessing to the second generation of Israel. Chapter 33 contains Moses’ prophetic words and blessing to the twelve tribes. In Chapter 34, Moses blessed Joshua, laid his hands on him, transmitted his spiritual gifts, and died.   This concludes the book of Deuteronomy. If you look closely at the book of Deuteronomy, it is a "sandwich" structure. Most of the "meat" in the middle is an exhortation against idolatry.   The Israelites learned lessons of faith   Numbers, which immediately precedes Deuteronomy, is a record of Israel’s wandering in the wilderness. The Israelites died in the wilderness for two reasons: "unbelief" (Hebrews 3:18 and 1 Corinthians 10:5) and "rebellion" (Psalm 78:40). Rebellion is idolatry; disobedience is as bad as the worship of false gods (1 Samuel 15:23). This is why the people were punished.   However, during those forty years of wandering, the people learned lessons of faith. The book of Numbers contains many examples of faith. For instance, the book of Numbers ends with the story of the daughters of Zelophehad. Zelophehad died in the wilderness for his own sin, just like every other Israelite. But because his daughters believed God's promises, not only did they win their father's inheritance, but they also eventually entered the land of Canaan, west of the Jordan (Joshua 17). Although they faced many external difficulties and obstacles, the daughters of Zelophehad continued to believe in God’s promise. They entered the land of Canaan, as God had promised. This is arguably the best example of the faith of the second generation of Israel.   Deuteronomy 1-3 continues the train of thought that the book of Numbers began. It affirms the lessons of faith that the Israelites had learned. The first generation of Israel was afraid of the giants in the land of Canaan and did not dare enter the Promised Land. But the second generation of Israel no longer feared the giants. With the help of God, they were able to defeat Sihon King of Heshbon and Og King of Bashan.   This chapter records the story of the Israelites’ victory over Og King of Bashan. Og King of Bashan ruled the land east of the Jordan River, in the north. Bashan is not along the travel route that the Israelites would normally have taken on their way to Canaan. Instead, the Israelites took a detour in order to conquer the land of Og King of Bashan and destroy all their people.   Deuteronomy 3:11 records that Og was a giant (a Rephaim). The verse states, "For only Og the king of Bashan was left of the remnant of the Rephaim." God led the Israelites on a detour so they could see for themselves that God can conquer giants.   Since the second generation cooperated with God in faith, they achieved victory. Moses wanted to negotiate with Sihon King of Heshbon and pass through his land peacefully (Deuteronomy 2:30). But God hardened Sihon King of Heshbon’s heart so he could give him into the hands of the Israelites. Moses did not try to negotiate with Og, since Bashan was not on the way to Canaan. But the Lord made it clear to Moses that, just as he had given Sihon king of Heshbon into their hands, he would also give Og king of Bashan into the hands of the Israelites (Deuteronomy 3:2). Both battles were won with the Lord's help, in stark contrast to the story of Israel defeating the Amorites in Deuteronomy 1:37-45.   In each battle that we face, we know that the battle is the Lord's (1 Samuel 17:47). But our faith determines whether the Lord’s presence is with us in any given battle. In Deuteronomy 1, the Lord was not with the Israelites because of their unbelief. Because the Lord was not with them, the Israelites were defeated.   But in Israel's battle against Sihon King of Heshbon and Og King of Bashan, the Israelites cooperated with God in faith, so God's presence brought them victory. The Israelites’ growth in faith is also reflected in their attitude towards the Canaanite king of Arad in Numbers 21. In this chapter, they asked God if he would give the king of Arad into their hands. If so, they promised to destroy him. So, God gave the Canaanite king of Arad into the Israelites’ hands. This is the definition of faith. We believe that God can do the things we can't do ourselves. Then we ask for his help, trusting he will come to our aid. The second generation of Israel learned to trust in God, and God gave them the victory.   The Israelites did not learn their lesson about idolatry.   But the second generation of Israel never learned not to worship idols. They inherited positive lessons of faith from the first generation, but they also inherited some negative baggage: the baggage of idolatry.   Deuteronomy 31:29 says, "For I know that after my death you will surely act corruptly and turn aside from the way that I have commanded you. And in the days to come evil will befall you, because you will do what is evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger through the work of your hands.”   This verse clearly shows Moses' concern, which he continues to express throughout Deuteronomy. For example, Deuteronomy 4:3 says, "Your eyes have seen what the Lord did at Baal-peor, for the Lord your God destroyed from among you all the men who followed the Baal of Peor." The story of Baal-peor is recorded in Numbers 25. When King Balak of Moab hired the false prophet Balaam to curse the Israelites, Balaam tricked the Moabite women into committing adultery with the Israelites. The Israelites began to worship Canaanite idols and joined Baal of Peor. This made the Lord very angry. He caused a plague to break out among the Israelites, killing twenty-four thousand people. The plague stopped only when Aaron's grandson Phinehas killed an Israelite man and a Midianite woman.   In Deuteronomy, Moses reminds the second generation of Israel not to make the mistakes that the first generation made. But Deuteronomy 31:29 shows that the second generation of Israel did not heed Moses' warning. They went headlong into the same mistakes as their ancestors. Later, God disciplined them severely for their idolatry by sending them as captives to Babylon. We will further discuss the important topic of idolatry when we study Deuteronomy 4.   Faith and Idolatry in Today’s Church   As Christians today, we must imitate the Israelites’ faith and learn from their bad example. Paul clearly says that what happened to the Israelites serves as a lesson for us today. He said, "Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come." (1 Corinthians 10:11). We must learn from the Israelites’ experiences.   Let me share some personal experiences that demonstrate how God taught me important lessons about faith and idolatry. I hope these stories will be an inspiration to you.   First, God taught me lessons of faith. I went through a decade of infertility problems. As I continued to pray for a child, I felt like I was in a wilderness. During this time of testing, I did not get a clear answer from God. It seemed like He was hidden. I went through this trial in the wilderness and persisted in my faith in God.     Finally, I received a promise from God: I would be given a miracle baby. After that, God continued to appear to me, revealing his calling for my life. But these miracles only happened after ten years of wilderness experience. My faith had gone through fiery trials. When God answered my prayers and revealed Himself and His plan for me, my faith grew by leaps and bounds.   I learned that no matter what came my way, God has a beautiful plan for my life. I just needed to trust Him. As the Bible says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” (Romans 10:11). During the difficult trials, I persisted in my faith. He certainly did not put me to shame.   Second, God taught me lessons about idolatry. When I came to the United States, my goal was to get a Master's degree in the United States, then return to China to find a better job. My major was in journalism. My dream was to become a prominent TV host.   But after I arrived in the United States, I came to know the Lord and was saved. Instead of going back to China, I stayed in the United States. As time went by, I found that I wouldn’t be able to achieve my dreams at all. I slowly gave up. I realized that my career had been an idol in my heart, but God gradually taught me that He was all I needed.   My biggest idol is myself. Through various experiences, God has dealt with my flesh and my strong will. Through many life struggles, I have gradually surrendered more and more of myself to Him. We all have idols: false gods, money, career, fleshy needs, etc. But our biggest idol is ourselves. We must put ourselves on the altar and allow it to be crucified with Christ. Only then will we be able to get rid of the idols in our hearts and experience a closer union with God. Although God is still working on me in this area, I can testify that God has done a great work in my heart to cleanse me from idolatry.   If we want our lives to be used by God, we must learn these two lessons. We must know that God is good, mighty and loving. We must have faith in Him. At the same time, we must know ourselves. We must know that our biggest idol is ourselves. We must deny ourselves, unite ourselves with Christ, and seek to please him. As we learn these two lessons, we will become channels of God's power and blessing in our lives.                         [1] All Scripture quotations are taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.
Bible Study With Jairus - Deuteronomy 2
02-06-2022
Bible Study With Jairus - Deuteronomy 2
Bible Study with Jairus -Deuteronomy 2     Deuteronomy 2 reminds us that a nation’s destiny is in the hands of God. A country’s boundaries are set by God for one purpose: so that people would seek him. Acts 17:26-28 says, “And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are indeed his offspring.’”[1] God determines the boundaries of each nation so that people would seek him and find him. But if they refuse to seek God and instead worship idols, they will be judged and even destroyed.   Deuteronomy 2 records the process by which God determined the boundaries of the nations. He not only gave land to Israel (verses 1-3), but also to Esau, Moab, and Ammon (verses 4-22). He records that the Caphtorites, a Philistine people group, destroyed the Avvim of Gaza and settled in their place (verse 23, see also Amos 9:7).   In Jeremiah, God said that He would destroy the Philistines who came from Caphtor (Jeremiah 47:4). Later, God did severely deal with them. Samson, David, and others brought vengeance on the Philistines, leading to their eventual extinction. It was God’s plan for the Philistines to come out of Caphtor.   On the one hand, God used the Philistines to discipline the Israelites when they turned away from Him. On the other hand, He used the Israelites to punish and discipline them. This principle also applies to Edom, Moab, and the Ammonites. Just like God sovereignly ruled these five ethnic groups, He controls the boundaries and futures of all nations. We must obey God. We must not do evil or worship idols so that we can receive His blessing. Otherwise, we will be judged by Him.   The Amorites are the evil spirits’ strongholds   In Genesis 15, God told Abraham that his descendants would be enslaved in Egypt for 400 years because the sin of the Amorites had not yet reached its full measure. The Amorites were an idolatrous nation that lived in Canaan. God gave them 400 years to repent, but they did not do so. So, after 400 years, God’s wrath and judgment fell on the Canaanites, represented by the Amorites. God told Moses that he must destroy the Canaanites (Deuteronomy 9:3-4). And later, when Saul became king, God told him to completely destroy the Amalekites (1 Samuel 15:18). When he refused to do so, God handed his kingdom over to David. By this time, God was totally committed to destroying the Canaanites. But earlier, God gave them multiple chances to repent.   Years earlier, God was angry with the Israelites because they refused to go into the promised land. The Israelites were afraid of giants and refused to conquer the Canaanites. God, in His wrath, forced the Israelites to wander in the wilderness for forty years. If you look at the situation from a different angle, you can see that God was giving the Canaanites another 40 years to repent.   The Canaanites heard about the miracles that God performed for the Israelites during their journey to the Promised Land. For example, in Joshua 6, Rahab said that she had heard how God dried up the Red Sea and killed the two kings of the Amorites, Sihon and Og, east of the Jordan River. These stories of God’s power made the Canaanites tremble, so she asked the spies to save her and her family. Unfortunately, only Rahab's family repented and was saved. Many other Canaanites still did not repent, so they were eventually destroyed.   The Canaanites had become strongholds of evil, so God had to destroy them. Ironically, Edom, Moab, and the Ammonites were all relatives of Abraham. Edom was the descendant of Abraham's grandson Esau. The Moabites and the Ammonites were the descendants of Abraham's nephew Lot.   These people groups remind us of our sinful flesh. Just like the strongholds of evil spirits must be broken down, our flesh must be cut off. As the Israelites grew stronger as a nation, they conquered the other nations little by little. In the same way, as we grow spiritually, we will gradually experience God’s victory over our flesh.   Who are the Avvim?   The Avvim are mentioned in the Bible only twice. Deuteronomy 2:23 says, "As for the Avvim, who lived in villages as far as Gaza, the Caphtorim, who came from Caphtor, destroyed them and settled in their place." And Joshua 13:3-4 says, "From the Shihor, which is east of Egypt, northward to the boundary of Ekron, it is counted as Canaanite; there are five rulers of the Philistines, those of Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gath, and Ekron, and those of the Avvim, in the south, all the land of the Canaanites, and Mearah that belongs to the Sidonians, to Aphek, to the boundary of the Amorites.” The verses show that although this place is called the land of the Avvim, the Philistines already lived here.   Although we don’t know specific reasons that the Avvim were destroyed, we know that God cares about every person. Not a sparrow falls to the ground apart from his will. (Matthew 10:29). In addition, Amos 9:7 says, “ ‘Are you not like the Cushites to me, O people of Israel?’ declares the Lord. ‘Did I not bring up Israel from the land of Egypt, and the Philistines from Caphtor and the Syrians from Kir?’” The Lord brought the Philistines out of Caphtor, and then the Philistines destroyed the Avvim. This event must have been permitted in God's sovereignty. We can conclude that the Avvim were also a race that God wanted to destroy. According to Joshua 13:3, the land of the Avvim was counted as the land of the Canaanites, so it can be inferred that the Avvim were also Canaanites. Their sins may have been the same as the sins of the other Canaanites.   Why did God lead the Philistines out of Caphtor to destroy the Avvim? Perhaps it was to help the Israelites carry out His plan of destroying the Canaanites. In addition, God may have orchestrated these events so that the Philistines could become a tool in God’s hands to discipline the Israelites in the future. After the death of Joshua, as the Israelites continued in idolatry, the Lord no longer drove the remaining Canaanites out of the land. He allowed them to stay so that he could test the Israelites to see whether they would follow His ways as their ancestors did (Judges 2:21-22). The Canaanites and Philistines became tools in God’s hands to test Israel.   Why did God destroy the Philistines?   The Bible gives us additional information about the history of the Philistines. Jeremiah 47:4 says, "For the Lord is destroying the Philistines, the remnant of the coastland of Caphtor.” Genesis 10:14 says, "Pathrusim, Casluhim (from whom the Philistines came), and Caphtorim." These people groups were all descendants of Ham. The Philistines came from the Casluhim people. In addition, Amos 9:7 says that God led the Philistines out of Caphtor. We can infer that Caphtor is the place where the Philistines lived, though no one knows where Caphtor was located. Some people think it was on the island of Kittim in the Old Testament (Genesis 10:4, Isaiah 23:1), called Cyprus in the New Testament (Acts 4:36, 27:4). But we have no way of verifying this information.   Since God wanted to destroy the Philistines, why did He lead them out of Caphtor and help them destroy the Avvim? In this chapter, the Israelites acquired the land of Canaan, Esau acquired Seir and destroyed the Horites (verse 12), the Moabites destroyed the Emim (verse 11), and the Ammonites destroyed the Zamzummim (verse 20). Each of these people groups received God’s help in their conquests. But the Bible never specifically says that the Lord helped the Philistines exterminate the Avvim. Maybe this event was permitted by God but was not God’s direct will. Perhaps God was displeased with the Philistines because of their sins. This is why God says in Jeremiah 47:4 that he will destroy the Philistines. The Philistines would not escape punishment; it just wasn’t time yet. The sin of the Philistines has not yet reached its full measure. On the one hand, God used the Philistines to discipline and test the Israelites. On the other hand, when the time came, God would use Israel to punish the Philistines.   How do we view the conflict of nations today?   Perhaps you are wondering, “How should Christians view the conflicts between nations today? How do we discern God’s will in the current conflicts between nations? Is it God’s will for Russia and Ukraine to fight each other?”   I believe that we often cannot see the forest for the trees. Right now, we are too close to the situation to see it clearly. Instead, let’s look back in history to help us understand God’s will. During the American Revolutionary War, Americans disagreed about separating from Great Britain. One-third of Americans supported staying with Great Britain, while one-third advocated for independence. The rest of the Americans were undecided.   When John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg, a pastor in an Anglican church in Virginia, saw that many people in society were opposed to the Revolution, he joined the army. Wearing a pastor's robe, he entered the meeting and began to preach. He quoted Ecclesiastes 3:1-8: "For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.”   “There is a time for all things,” Muhlenberg said. “There is a time to preach and a time to fight. And now is the time to fight.” Then he took off his pastor’s robe, revealing a military uniform underneath. Later, he recruited hundreds of people to form the 8th Virginia Regiment, which made great contributions to the American Revolutionary War. This story became a legend in the American Revolutionary War. The story of him joining the army was painted on canvas and preserved in museums in the United States.   Later, many Americans agreed that their independence was God's will and would bring many blessings to the world. Since the founding of the United States, the United States has given the most foreign aid to other countries and has become the “biggest exporter” of the gospel in the world. America has indeed become a city on a hill, preaching Jesus Christ as the gospel to the world. But at the time when the United States and Great Britain were in conflict, many people felt confused about the war. But the conflict and America’s eventual independence from Great Britain have brought great blessings to the world. Later, it became easier to see what God was doing to bring blessing through this war.   In the battle between Russia and Ukraine, we don’t yet know what God is doing. Of course, war is cruel and invasion is wrong, but what is the big picture? The big picture is that God will bring a great revival. War makes us feel vulnerable. It encourages people to seek God. Throughout the ages, there have often been great revivals after wars.   Perhaps God has a bigger purpose that he hopes to accomplish through this tragic war. As I prayed about this, I was reminded of Abraham fighting the kings and saving Lot. The king of Sodom and the other five kings betrayed Chedorlaomer. Then Chedorlaomer and his allies (the 4 kings) fought against them (the 5 kings), leading to their defeat. Lot and his family, who lived in Sodom, were taken captive. When Abraham heard the news, he took his servants to defeat Chedorlaomer and his allies, thus rescuing Lot. Later, the king of Sodom came to meet Abraham and offered to give him gifts. But Abraham refused. Then Melchizedek brought bread and wine. He blessed Abraham and said, "Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!" Melchizedek was a priest of God Most High. Abraham gave him a tenth of everything (Genesis 14:19-20).   From this passage, we can learn an important lesson. Wars can be used by the enemy to take God's chosen people captive, just like Lot was kidnapped in this passage. But as the saying goes, “The mantis stalks the cicada, unaware of the oriole behind him.” God prepared Abraham to save Lot. He also prepared Melchizedek to supply and bless Abraham with bread and wine.   The same can be true of national conflicts today. The enemy hopes to take God’s chosen people captive through war. But God will raise up His servants to fight and release His chosen people. Today, I saw Kim Clement’s prophetic words released on July 26, 2014. He said that Putin was used by the enemy to attack, take captive or even destroy God's chosen people. However, the prophecy mentioned that God would prevail to release His chosen people. Although Kim Clement has since passed away, perhaps there is something we can learn from this prophecy. The enemy may plan to take God’s chosen people captive. But God has a greater purpose. He will save His chosen people—who, like Lot, have been taken captive by the world.   God hardens the hearts of King Sihon and King Og   Deuteronomy 2:24-36 records that God hardened the hearts of King Sihon and King Og so that they could be destroyed by the Israelites. The prophecy by Kim Clement also mentioned that God hardened Putin's heart like he hardened Pharoah’s heart. This is not good news. But why did God harden Pharaoh's heart? It was because Pharaoh repeatedly refused to repent. When we repeatedly refuse to repent, God's judgment will come upon us.   If God hardened Putin's heart like he hardened Pharaoh's heart and the hearts of Og and Sihon, then we should expect to see salvation for God’s chosen people. When God hardened Pharoah’s heart, the Israelites crossed the Red Sea and were saved. When he hardened Og’s heart and Sihon’s heart, he brought his people into the promised land. On the one hand, judgment will come upon Putin. On the other hand, salvation will come to many oppressed people. May the oppressed people and God’s chosen people be freed from captivity.   We must love and seek God   As we've mentioned, God sets boundaries so that we would seek him and find him. God allows wars so that people feel helpless enough to seek him. When people are satisfied with the status quo, they tend not to seek God so urgently. But in times of war, it becomes easier for them to seek God. Many great revivals throughout the ages have begun after wars, so we hope that a great revival will come soon.   We must learn from the experiences of the Israelites, Edomites, Moabites, Ammonites, Avvim, and Philistines. When we worship idols and love the world, we are bound to be disciplined by God. Instead, as God’s creation, we must seek Him. If we seek God, we will surely find Him. When we find him, we must love the God who orchestrates all events in history to draw us closer to his heart.   [1] All Scripture quotations are taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.
Bible Study With Jairus - Deuteronomy 1
02-06-2022
Bible Study With Jairus - Deuteronomy 1
Bible Study with Jairus - Deuteronomy 1   Removing the Dross from our Spiritual Inheritance   In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses shares a lifetime of spiritual experience with the second generation of Israelites. He speaks not only for himself, but for the entire first generation. He shares his own failures and failures of the first generation as a whole. He wants the second generation to learn these lessons so they can be vigilant and avoid repeating the same mistakes of their ancestors.   As a prophet of God, Moses represents God. As he speaks to the people, he wants to pass on a positive spiritual inheritance of faith. He wants to remind the second generation of the faithfulness of God. When the new generation learns from the mistakes of their predecessors, they will be able to enter a higher and richer spiritual destiny.   The second generation of Israelites was partially successful in following God. But they were not immune to failure and idolatry. Today's Christians are in the same situation. On the one hand, we have received a rich inheritance in Christ. On the other hand, we also have inherited a sinful nature from Adam. Church tradition contains a rich inheritance mixed with a lot of dross. How we deal with these two determines whether we can reach greater spiritual heights. We need to polish our positive spiritual inheritance and remove negative dross so we can bring in the great revival of God.   "All of You" or "Your Fathers"?   When speaking to the second-generation Israelites, Moses recalls the incident of sending the twelve spies into the land of Canaan. He says, "Then all of you came near me and said, ‘Let us send men before us, that they may explore the land for us and bring us word again of the way by which we must go up and the cities into which we shall come.’” Deuteronomy 1:22[1] From this verse, it sounds like the twelve spies had been sent out in the recent past. In reality, the twelve spies had been sent out 40 years ago, by the first-generation Israelites (Numbers 12). So why does Moses say that “all of you” asked for spies, when it was really their ancestors who asked to send out spies?   Why is Moses holding the second generation of Israelites accountable for the actions of the first generation? This seems confusing. But it's actually very simple. Moses is including the second generation in the spiritual experience of the first generation. The spiritual experience of the second generation of Israelites is inseparable from the spiritual experience of the first generation.   On the one hand, the second generation of Israelites inherited a rich inheritance from the first generation. This inheritance included the Ark of the Covenant and the Tabernacle that traveled with the first generation of Israelites. It also included the Torah (with the Book of Deuteronomy in it) left by Moses, and leaders such as Joshua and Caleb, representatives of faith who led them into the Promised Land. On the other hand, the second generation of Israelites also inherited some negative dross. The first generation left behind failures, complaints, as well as lessons they learned in the wilderness.   In Deuteronomy, Moses seeks to remind the second generation of Israelites that their spiritual inheritance is twofold. They must learn to fully possess the rich inheritance of the first generation of Israelites. On the other hand, they must learn from the failures of their ancestors.   When Moses sent twelve spies to explore the Promised Land, many second-generation Israelites had not even been born. Yet Moses blamed them for the mistakes and failures of the first generation of Israelites and counted these events as experiences of the second generation. Is this unfair to the second generation? They were not even born yet. How can we understand what Moses did?   In Christ or in Adam?   To help us understand why Moses spoke collectively to the first and second generations, let’s look at a few examples from the Bible. Often, descendants are included in their parents’ experiences.   Hebrews 7 talks about the Levites giving Melchizedek a tithe. Levi, the tribal head of the Levites, had not even been born at the time Abraham gave Melchizedek a tribe. However, the Bible says that the Levites offered sacrifices to Melchizedek through their ancestor Abraham. If we treat Abraham's offering to Melchizedek as a spiritual experience, then the Levites already had a part in this spiritual experience through their ancestor Abraham, even though they were not born yet. In the same way, the second generation of Israelites participated in the experiences of the first generation.   We see that the experience of future generations can be included in the experience of the first generation. Romans 5:12 says, "Sin came into the world through one man." That one man is Adam. When Adam (our ancestor) sinned, we were not yet born. But because one man sinned, sin came into the world. Those of us who were not yet born nonetheless became sinners. Just like the Israelites, we received a negative inheritance of sin.   But 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation." We also won a positive inheritance in Christ. When the Lord Jesus was crucified and resurrected, the Bible tells us that we were crucified with Him (Galatians 2:20). We were also resurrected (Colossians 2:12) and sat down with Him in heaven. Not only did we inherit sin from Adam, but we also inherited the victory in Christ. Like the second generation of Israelites had to choose between the positive and negative heritages that were left to them, we must choose to be "in Adam" or "in Christ." Our choices can lead to very different outcomes.   Israel’s Positive Heritage of Faith   It’s very important to note the time and place that this farewell address took place. Moses delivered this speech on the other side of the Jordan River as the second generation of Israelites prepared to enter the Promised Land. Because Moses was not allowed to enter the Promised Land, these sincere words were his farewell to the second generation of Israelites.   Moses spoke to a weary group of Israelites who had been wandering in the wilderness for 40 years (verse 3). The 11-day journey to the Promised Land had taken the Israelites 40 years because of their disobedience (verse 2).   Moses delivered his speech at a very important moment in Israel’s history. The unbelief and disobedience of the first generation led to God's wrath and judgment. But the time of judgment had ended. The second generation of the Israelites was entering an era of change.   During a major change, it’s often easy to lose sight of the big picture. Small, practical details blind us to the overarching plan of God. For example, the tribes of Gad, Reuben, and the half-tribe of Manasseh were distracted with the land of Gilead on the east side of the Jordan River. They wanted to live there instead of crossing the Jordan River.   During this new era, God accomplished some environmental changes, removing some of the obstacles that formerly prevented the Israelites from entering the Promised Land. He began to drive out the kings who lived nearby. Deuteronomy 1:4 says, “This was after he had defeated Sihon the king of the Amorites, who lived in Heshbon, and Og the king of Bashan, who lived in Ashtaroth and in Edrei."   These times of change were marked by shifts within the community. The Israelite community grew in faith as they entered this new era. After the spies were sent by the first generation of Israel, they were full of fear. They were frightened by the height of the Amorites. Their reports made the hearts of the Israelites melt (Deuteronomy 1:28). Although Moses reminded them that the LORD was with them (Deuteronomy 1:29), they did not believe these reports, leading to God's wrath and judgment (Deuteronomy 1:30-40).   But now, their attitude had changed. In Numbers 21, when they faced the Canaanite king of Arad, they prayed to God. Numbers 21:2 records, "Israel vowed a vow to the Lord and said, ‘If you will indeed give this people into my hand, then I will devote their cities to destruction.’" Their attitude changed from fear to faith. They demonstrated their faith by praying and making a vow. After 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, the Israelites had learned the lesson of faith. God listened to their appeal and handed over the Canaanite king of Arad to the Israelites.   When New Testament believers face terrifying experiences of powerlessness, we must remember that God is on our side. We know that with man this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). We must believe in God’s power and ask Him to help us, so we do not fall into unbelief. As we trust in him, faith will be credited to our account, just like faith was credited to Abraham’s account when he believed that God could give him a son in his old age. Abraham could not give birth to Isaac himself, but he believed that God could. God honored his faith. After the Israelites defeated the king of Arad, they continued to win. They had successfully learned the lessons of faith. In Numbers 21, the Israelites defeated Sihon (king of the Amorites) and Og (king of Bashan).   Faith was the greatest inheritance that the second generation of Israel received. They learned lessons of faith the hard way, after watching their ancestors struggle in the desert for forty years. Only through faith could the Israelites enter the Promised Land. The book of Numbers ends with the faith of Zelophehad’s daughters. Zelophehad died in the wilderness for his own sin. However, his daughters not only acquired their father's land, but also entered the Promised Land (Joshua 17). This was all accomplished through faith.   The Negative Inheritance.   So what is the dross that the Israelites inherited? Despite the lessons of faith the Israelites learned in the wilderness, there was another lesson they had yet to learn: not to worship idols. Idolatry had haunted the Israelites like a ghost. When Moses was with God on Mount Sinai, Aaron created a golden calf for the people to worship. Later, because of Balaam's trickery, the Israelites were seduced by Midianite women and committed adultery and idolatry.   While Numbers records the journey of the Israelites through the wilderness and describes how the Israelites learned lessons of faith, the book of Deuteronomy reminds the Israelites not to worship idols. The long listing of blessings and curses in Deuteronomy 27-30 shows Moses’ deep concern about idolatry. In the last chapter of Deuteronomy, Moses says, "For I know how rebellious and stubborn you are. Behold, even today while I am yet alive with you, you have been rebellious against the Lord. How much more after my death! Assemble to me all the elders of your tribes and your officers, that I may speak these words in their ears and call heaven and earth to witness against them. For I know that after my death you will surely act corruptly and turn aside from the way that I have commanded you. And in the days to come evil will befall you, because you will do what is evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger through the work of your hands.” (31:27-29) Although this passage refers to the Israelites’ rebellion, the Bible clearly states that, "Rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry." (1 Samuel 15:23). Following this passage, the last three chapters of Deuteronomy record the song of Moses (Deuteronomy 32), his blessing (Deuteronomy 33), and his death (Deuteronomy 34). The book of Deuteronomy records Moses' worry about Israel’s idolatry.   The Church's Inheritance and Dross   There is a common saying in some church circles: “The first generation’s ceiling is the second generation’s floor.” The second generation starts out at a comparatively higher level than the first generation because they can build upon the experiences of the first generation. We must appropriate the excellent spiritual inheritance of past generations and draw lessons from history in order to reach greater heights.   The spiritual lessons learned by the first generation can be passed on to the next generation. For example, the lessons of faith that the first generation of Israelites learned in the wilderness were passed down to the second generation. Stories of victory and faith were passed down, leaving a rich inheritance. Moses passed on lessons of faith and insights gained through suffering. But the second generation also inherited the spiritual dross, the idolatry their parents had never overcome through their lifetime.   I am a first-generation Christian, so my parents were unable to pass down a spiritual inheritance to me. In a way, I envy second and third generation Christians who have received a spiritual inheritance from their biological ancestors. However, I have discovered that a spiritual inheritance can also be acquired through learning, not only through inheritance. Even though I do not have a Christian inheritance from my family, I can acquire a similar heritage by studying the Israelites and the early church fathers. This kind of spiritual inheritance is not automatic. Throughout the ages, many people have been persecuted or even lost their lives because of their dedication to receiving the church’s rich inheritance. This journey requires great wisdom and courage.   As we appropriate this rich heritage and remove the spiritual dross from our lives, God will lead us into a higher spiritual destiny. At the same time, Satan will attempt to hinder us, bogging us down with spiritual baggage passed down from our ancestors. The positive spiritual inheritance and the negative dross are the respective manifestations of God and Satan in the church. We need to bravely appropriate the spiritual richness of the church and eliminate the dross passed down to us by tradition. Then we will be able to do greater works for God in these historical and changing times. Through reading the book of Deuteronomy, I hope you will acquire a rich inheritance from the Israelites and learn from their successes and failures. As Paul said, “Their experience is not only for them, but it also serves as an example for us.” (1 Corinthians 10:11).     [1] All Scripture quotations are taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.
Bible Study With Jairus - 1 Corinthians 12
22-03-2022
Bible Study With Jairus - 1 Corinthians 12
Bible Study with Jairus - 1 Corinthians 12   Spiritual Gifts: the loving gift of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit   Spiritual gifts express the unified, loving work of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. First Corinthians 12 is the only chapter in the Bible that gives this many details about the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Paul's mention of the gift supports and expounds on the theme of 1 Corinthians: love and unity.   In the book of 1 Corinthians, Paul has been addressing many reasons for division, dealing with each of these problems one by one. Paul wants to address the lack of unity and bring love and oneness back to the church. Neither factions, differences in belief, or differences in gifts should keep believers from unity and love. Paul tries to make it clear that love and unity are the only solutions to strife.   As he does so, Paul demonstrates that spiritual gifts are the joint work of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Trinity works together in love and unity, setting an example for the believers. We should balance our pursuit of gifts with our desire for unity.[1]   The theme of 1 Corinthians is love and unity   How does the theme of spiritual gifts fit into the context? Why is it positioned directly between the passage on head coverings and the Lord's Supper and the passage about Christ’s body in Chapter 12? The discussion of spiritual gifts and the metaphor of Christ’s body all relate to the theme of unity.   Let’s remember that the theme of 1 Corinthians is love and unity. Paul knows that many topics threaten the unity of the church: whether or not to eat meat, how to understand sexual morality, how to avoid classism at the Lord’s supper, factions, and attitudes towards spiritual gifts. Each of these issues has caused disagreement among the believers. Paul tackles these problems one at a time.   Paul wants believers to bear with one another and be united in love—whether they eat meat or not, whether married or not, whether they eat the Lord's Supper together or not. His top priority was to keep others from stumbling. In the same way, this chapter continues Paul's train of thought. No matter how different our gifts are, it shouldn't be an excuse for a disagreement. Although our gifts are different, we are still members of the same body, and we need to live in unity.   The book of Romans contains Paul's systematic thinking on theology, demonstrating his theologian side. Meanwhile, 1 Corinthians is Paul's pastoral letter to the church, showing his pastoral heart.[2] Although Paul talks about different issues in 1 Corinthians, they are not random. Paul appeals to the believers, asking them not to be puffed up in favor of one against another (1 Corinthians 4:6). He wants them to remember that every gift we have is from God, so we have nothing to boast about (1 Corinthians 4:7).Chapter 5 deals with sexual immorality. Even sexual immorality can lead to division. Some believe in sexual license and others want to completely abstain (Chapter 7). The Corinthian believers were having disagreements about this issue. Chapter 6 deals with lawsuits among brothers, the day-to-day disagreements that fester among Christians. Paul calls the believers to settle their disputes (1 Corinthians 6:5).Food sacrificed to idols. In chapter 8, Paul talks about eating foods sacrificed to idols. He says, "We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do." (1 Corinthians 8:8).[3] If food makes others stumble, Paul said he would never again eat meat (1 Corinthians 8:13). Food should not be a cause of division. Instead, we should consider the feelings of others and try to live in love and unity.Head coverings. In 1 Corinthians 11, the discussion of head coverings and the Lord's Supper shows that we should consider the feelings of others and not humiliate them if they are poor. Instead of honoring the Lord at Communion, "one goes hungry, another gets drunk." (1 Corinthians 11:21). This not only dishonors the Lord, but also destroys the spirit of unity and love.   Chapter 12’s discussion of spiritual gifts follows logically in the same pattern. It continues the discussion of love and unity. Since different attitudes towards spiritual gifts have led to divisions within the church, Paul needed to expound the truth about spiritual gifts to bring believers into oneness.   This theme continues in the following chapters. Chapter 13’s beautiful description of love forms a centerpiece between many topics of disunity. In Chapter 14, Paul continues to deal with the disunity caused by the practice of speaking in tongues and prophecy. He shows the believers how to embody love and unity in these situations. Paul was not against eating meat, but in order to keep others from stumbling, he did not eat meat. Paul was also not against speaking in tongues, but in order not to keep others from stumbling, he would rather not speak in tongues in church meetings (1 Corinthians 14:19).   As a side note, many people have misunderstood Paul’s intention in this passage. They think he is against speaking in tongues. Actually, he is not. He is temporarily giving up speaking in tongues in meetings for the sake of unity. But in private, he speaks in tongues more than everyone else (1 Corinthians 14:18).   In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul talks about the resurrected Christ, and in 1 Corinthians 16, he gives some final exhortations to the Corinthian church. From beginning to end, Paul was helping the Corinthian believers break free from division and embrace a spirit of love and unity.   When we fail to notice Paul's themes of love and unity in 1 Corinthians, this discussion of spiritual gifts may seem unexpected. However, it’s not at all unexpected for him to talk about spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12. The entire book follows a consistent theme: he is dealing with each specific problem that leads to disunity among believers.   In order for the Corinthian believers to bear with each other and maintain unity in love, Paul needs to deal with every problem that is causing disunity. After talking about spiritual gifts, Paul appeals to the metaphor of the body. He uses the example of the human body to show that although we have different gifts, we are still important members of the body of Christ. Just as the body has many parts but is one body, the church has many gifts but must live in unity.   No spiritual gift has caused as much division in the church as the gift of tongues and the word of knowledge. Let’s look at these two topics as we learn about divisions, love, and unity. Then let’s examine the ways that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit work together in love and in unity in the area of spiritual gifts. As believers, let’s imitate the example of the Triune God, living in love and unity as we exercise our unique spiritual gifts.   The Gift of Tongues Some Charismatic teachers teach that the gift of speaking and interpreting in tongues is different than praying in tongues (1 Corinthians 12:10). What's the difference between the two? One is the prayer language received from God which allows you to utter mysteries to God after being baptized by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 14:2). But 1 Corinthians 12:10 says that to one person is given “various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues." In addition, 1 Corinthians 12:30 says, "Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?" The gift of tongues and interpretation of tongues is considered a miraculous gift or a special office in the church.   For example, I was baptized by the Holy Spirit in 2015 and started speaking in tongues. Since praying in tongues can build up believers (1 Corinthians 14:4) in their faith (Jude 1:20), I continue to pray in tongues every day. But I have never had the gift or office of speaking in tongues and interpreting tongues in church. A few years ago, when I attended a prophetic meeting, an American lady prophesied to me that one day, I would be able to see angels and understand people who are speaking in tongues. If God led me to minister in churches where people were speaking in tongues, I would be able to understand the messages that were spoken in tongues and use this knowledge to understand what the Holy Spirit had to say about these churches. As expected, not long after, I began to see angels in prophetic dreams. But so far, I have never understood what others were saying when they were speaking in tongues. If I can actually understand them one day, it will be a miraculous gift. I am still waiting for God to activate this spiritual gift in me.   Brother Witness Lee of the Local Church Movement once learned to speak in tongues for two years. But later, Watchman Nee sent him a telegram quoting the verse that says, "Do all speak in tongues?" The purpose of the message was to oppose Brother Witness Lee's continued pursuit of spiritual gifts. Later, Brother Witness Lee gave up spiritual gifts and became opposed to them.   Based on my explanation above, Watchman Nee may have confused "the prayer language of believers praying in tongues" with "the gift and office of speaking in tongues and interpretation of tongues." Not everyone has the "gift and office of speaking in tongues and interpretation of tongues." But every believer can have "the prayer language of speaking in tongues." Many Christians, misunderstanding Paul's words, are opposed to the practice of building oneself up through praying in tongues. This is wrong. Brother Witness Lee may not have been able to enter into the real experience of praying in tongues when he was learning about spiritual gifts and speaking in tongues. Thus, he later became opposed to both. This is a real pity.   A Different Understanding of the Word of Knowledge   In the Pentecostal Movement, the miraculous information a believer receives is called the "word of knowledge.” For example, the Lord Jesus knew that the Samaritan woman had five husbands (John 4:18) and that Nathanael was under the fig tree (John 1:50). He also knew Zacchaeus' name without anyone telling Him (Luke 19:5). Some say this is because He is the Lord, so He knows everything. This explanation is untenable. Many people in the Pentecostal Movement also have this gift. They call it the "word of knowledge."   The "word of knowledge" is often used in conjunction with prophecy and healing. For example, I was prophesying in a meeting while I was studying prophecy. A man came to me to receive prayer. Suddenly, I saw a picture in my head. In the vision, he was beating a drum. I asked him if he had a career in music. He said yes, and I asked him again if he was a drummer. He said yes. I boldly prophesied to him that God would bless his music ministry.   A woman who was traveling with him immediately fell to the ground and cried. The man said, "You really can hear the voice of the Holy Spirit." Later, I found out that their worship team had encountered some difficulties while serving in their church. This was why they came to receive prayer. My words encouraged them.   Such knowledge is often referred to as the "word of knowledge" in the Pentecostal Movement. Brother Witness Lee also described a similar experience in his writings. He unknowingly said in a meeting, "Someone stole a chalk and use it to draw circles on the ground."[4] The brother who had done this immediately repented and received salvation. These examples are often referred to as the "word of knowledge" in the Pentecostal Movement.   What is the "word of wisdom"? Usually it refers to the word of wisdom received from God under very difficult circumstances to resolve specific problems. For example, when two prostitutes were fighting over a child, King Solomon received the word of wisdom to divide the child in two, so that each woman would receive half. As a result, the real mother was distinguished from the fake (1 Kings 3).   Many similar examples happened to the Lord Jesus. For example, a woman who was caught in adultery by the scribes and Pharisees was brought to Jesus. They wanted to test Jesus and look for a reason to accuse Him. If Jesus said not to stone her, he would violate the Law of Moses; if Jesus said to stone her, it would mean He would kill and show no mercy. Jesus received a word of wisdom. He said, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7). At this point, the accusers left. This word of wisdom resolved the crisis.   Brother Witness Lee had a similar experience. When he was caught by the Japanese military police, they knew that he often mentioned the word "revival" in meetings. For this reason, they thought he was related to the revolutionary party and hoped to get some information from him. Brother Witness Lee prayed that God would give him wisdom. During the interrogation, he told the Japanese that the "revival" he was talking about was the spiritual revival of the church and had nothing to do with politics. The Japanese military police picked up a Bible that Witness Lee had given him and said, "Show me the word ‘revival’ in the Bible.” Witness Lee opened the Bible to a random page. And the page he opened happened to be Habakkuk 3:2, which says, "O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years." The Japanese military police were surprised and released him. According to the beliefs of the Pentecostal Movement, God gave him a word of wisdom at that moment.[i][5]   Let's look again at the footnotes of the Recovery Version. "The word of wisdom is the word concerning Christ as the deeper things of God, predestined by God to be our portion. The word of knowledge is the word that imparts a general knowledge of things concerning God and the Lord. The word of wisdom is mainly out of our spirit through revelation; the word of knowledge is mainly out of our understanding through teachings."   I personally think this footnote’s interpretation of the "word of wisdom" and the "word of knowledge" is wrong, or at least biased. The reason for this comes from a lack of knowledge and experience of the gift of the Holy Spirit. This footnote attempts to explain these concepts within the scope of preaching and mental understanding, neglecting the fact that these words of wisdom and knowledge are miraculous gifts. When we lack knowledge and experience of a miraculous gift, we limit our understanding of this biblical knowledge or gift, leading us to wrong conclusions and interpretations.   Many people, including Pastor Stephen Tang, are against treating the "word of knowledge" as a miraculous message, especially when it involves healing from a certain disease. He also believes that "when a person preaches the word of God with great power, the knowledge and wisdom they are filled with are the words of wisdom and knowledge.”[6] But I personally think that Pastor Stephen Tang also lacks the experiential knowledge of spiritual gifts, so he explains these concepts mentally and rationally. I have personally observed many times that God has used the word of knowledge to heal the sick, make prophecies, etc. For this reason, I lean more towards accepting the explanation that this is a miraculous gift that releases a miraculous message from God.   The two examples I gave, speaking in tongues and the word of knowledge, illustrate a common source of division. There are different understandings of spiritual gifts in the modern church which lead to divisions in the church. The Corinthian believers must have also struggled with different understandings or even disagreements over spiritual gifts. Each of them had different gifts, and they were struggling with unity. This is why Paul clarifies the topic of spiritual gifts. He wants the believers to transcend their differences. Even though they each had different spiritual gifts and different understandings of the concept of spiritual gifts, they should work to achieve oneness in love.   Spiritual gifts are a picture of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit working in unity   Verse 1 of this chapter mentions that Paul does not want the believers in Corinth to be uninformed about spiritual gifts. In verse four, he mentions spiritual gifts. Between these verses, he inserts two verses about the Holy Spirit and idolatry. What do these verses mean? Let’s read them: "When you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. Therefore, I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says ‘Jesus is accursed!’ and no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except in the Holy Spirit.” (vs. 2-3)   Why are these two verses inserted here? My guess is that some magical powers come from evil spirits. For example, the Bible records that people were amazed by Simon, who practiced magic (Acts 8:9). Perhaps some Corinthian believers were against spiritual gifts because they reminded them of magic. For example, many traditional American churches today are against meditation prayers and the gift of prophecy because the New Age movement contains meditation, fortune-telling, and divination. Similarly, this may have been one of the arguments Paul was dealing with among the believers. Paul made it clear that the gifts he was talking about were from the Holy Spirit and of the Lord Jesus Christ.   He further clarifies in verse 4 that although gifts come from the Holy Spirit, the Lord Jesus and the Heavenly Father also share in the process of bestowing gifts. Verses 4-6 say, "Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone." The Holy Spirit has given us different gifts; the Lord has given us different kinds of service; the Father has given us different activities. The three operate in unity to finish God’s work. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit work together in love.   How can we understand this? I’ll give an example. My ministry, "Jairus Bible World Ministries," is a call from God. The Lord appeared to me and called me to take part in this ministry. My calling was mainly to preach God’s word and make His words come alive. When the Lord appeared to me, He Himself told me that He would use me greatly.   The Holy Spirit also gave me gifts in the form of dreams. One day, I dreamed that I got a Bible from heaven that was as sweet as bread. While I am teaching His word, I have found that the Holy Spirit often gives me the gift of understanding God’s words and being an eloquent speaker. When I use this gift and release the illumination of God's word, I am empowered by God the Father. The result of using these gifts is to glorify God the Father, because all things are of Him.     This gift is not just bestowed on me by the Holy Spirit. Jesus and the Father are also taking part in it at the same time. The Holy Spirit bestows a gift on me, and the Lord Jesus perfects it. The gift of the Holy Spirit helps me accomplish the ministry Jesus called me to. And the good work in my heart and in the ministry, all come from the Father. As Philippians 2:13 says, “For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Father, Son, and Holy Spirit work in unity.   The modern church has differing views of gifts. These differences of opinion can lead to church divisions. Some people think that spiritual gifts are not from God, or that they are small things that He does not care about. Paul corrects this wrong view in verses 2-3. He says that spiritual gifts come from the Holy Spirit. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are involved in giving us gifts and ministries, as well as empowering our activities.   In addition, the Corinthian believers may have thought that their gifts were superior or inferior to those of others, resulting in competition. Paul explains that we have different gifts, but they are all given to us by the same Spirit. We have different types of service, but we all serve the same Lord. Our activities are different but it is the same God who empowers them all.   The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are working together in unity to empower these activities, services, and gifts. In the same way, we must respect each other's gifts which are given by the Holy Spirit, ministries given by the Lord Jesus, and activities given by the Father. We must learn from the example of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who are working together in love and in unity. Paul takes this opportunity to make it clear that although our gifts are different, they should not bring division. Rather, they should bring unity.   Inspirations for achieving oneness in today’s church   Today's church not only has differing opinions about spiritual gifts, but it also disagrees about politics and Covid-19 vaccines. The division in the church today is even more serious than that of the Corinthian church. Is there a way out of these divisions?   Paul points the way in 1 Corinthians: unity and love. There are different kinds of disagreements in the church, and unity and love are the only way out. Paul’s words of wisdom are as applicable today as when they were first written. No matter how many disagreements the church faces, there is only one answer. And that is to bear with each other in unity and love. This approach worked in the Corinthian church, and it should work in the church today. Are our spiritual eyes open to see the way Paul has laid out? Will we choose to live according to the flesh, or will we imitate Paul as he followed Christ’s example of unity and love?   [1] Margaret Mitchell, Paul and the Rhetoric of Reconciliation: An Exegetical Investigation of the Language and Composition of 1 Corinthians (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1993), 1–2. [2] Mark Allan Powell, Introducing the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2009), 291. [3] All Scripture quotations are taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted. [4] Witness Lee, The Fullness of God, chap.6, sec.4 (1985) in Living Stream Ministry, Witness Lee, The History and Revelation of the Lord's Recovery, in Living Stream Ministry, Chinese version page 129, from Chinese,   [i]
Bible Study With Jairus - 1 Corinthians 11
22-03-2022
Bible Study With Jairus - 1 Corinthians 11
Bible Study with Jairus - 1 Corinthians 11   1 Corinthians 11 introduces a perplexing question. If the chapter seems to instruct women to cover their heads, why do so few Christians practice this today? Furthermore, the passage says that women should keep silent in church (1 Corinthians 14:34). How should this be applied to today’s world? These questions can be confusing to today’s generation of Christians. Are Paul's words intended for a specific time and situation, or are they general principles of God for the entire Church? In other words, are Paul's words meant to be God’s unchanging principles, or are they flexible guidance for specific contexts? Different churches have different understandings of this. Some people regard Paul’s words as a universal principle given by the Holy Spirit. They require women to cover their heads and to avoid preaching. But other churches believe Paul’s commands addressed specific social circumstances of the time, and there’s no need to enforce it rigidly today. The church's position on this issue has split into two camps, conservative and liberal. Conservative churches often do not allow women to serve as pastors. But there are many female pastors in liberal churches. Some liberal churches even allow homosexuals to serve as pastors. How should Christians understand Paul's controversial words? When we study the Bible, we must understand the difference between God’s unchanging principles and his specific guidance for individual circumstances. God’s principles apply to all times and places, whereas his leading does not. We must always keep this difference in mind.   How to distinguish between God's principles and his guidance.   Christians have commonly made the error of confusing God’s unchanging principles with his leading. God’s principles reflect his unchanging nature, and they always involve his glory. His leading does not.   Brother Witness Lee gave a helpful example to illustrate the difference between God's principles and His leading. What if a young bridesmaid is trying to decide whether or not to wear a miniskirt at a wedding held at the church. This is a matter of God's unchanging principles. Wearing a miniskirt is not proper because the church is a holy place. Indecency is not acceptable. Miniskirts are not allowed in the church, regardless of time or location. [1]   What about other wedding decisions, such as details about specific time, place, colors, food,? etc. These decisions are matters of God’s leading. No matter what you decide, you will not violate God’s glory and principles. You may want to seek his specific leading, but you realize that your decision does not involve issues of right or wrong.   The Bible tells us that God’s principles are unchanging. For example, many of the stipulations in the law given by Moses are related to God’s principles. Some commands—“Do not kill, do not take the name of the Lord in vain, do not worship idols, honor your parents, do not covet, do not commit adultery”—are for all people at all times. Disobeying these commands is sin and all who sin will fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). These commands should be respected universally. The law often reveals God’s principles. Disobedience to these principles offends the glory of God.   On the other hand, prophets often gave specific messages that were unique to a particular time and place. Each Old Testament prophet spoke different messages to different groups of people in different circumstances. Prophets communicated God’s specific leading to individuals. The law and the prophets, two main segments of the Old Testament, demonstrate these two aspects of God’s revelation - God's principles and His leading.   At times, God’s principles and His leading can overlap. For example, the command to respect the Sabbath was an important law included in the Ten Commandments. However, this law was abolished after the Lord Jesus came. Many Christians make a distinction between ceremonial law and moral law. A moral law will never change, while a ceremonial law can be abolished. Many believe that the Sabbath was a ceremonial law.   The Sabbath regulations reflect both God’s principles and His leading. God’s principles are revealed through his mercy. Because of his mercy, God chose the Jews and commanded that they should observe the Sabbath. The purpose of the Sabbath was to give God’s people spiritual and physical rest, helping them stay pure until the birth of Christ as Savior of mankind. Now that Christ has come, that purpose is fulfilled.   As Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8), Jesus could heal a man on the Sabbath (Mark 3:1-5) and eat grain with his disciples on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:1). In the story recorded in Mark 3, Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath. The passage specifically mentions that these Jews were hoping to find something to accuse Jesus of. Jesus asked them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. The Lord Jesus was angry and grieved at their hardness of heart (Mark 3:4-5). After Jesus healed the man, the Pharisees went out and consulted with the Herodians about how to kill Him (Mark 3:6).   When Jesus healed this man on the Sabbath, he was reflecting God’s unchanging principles and nature. Jesus showed God’s tender mercy and demonstrated that He is the Savior. The Sabbath pointed toward the birth of our Savior, who would bring healing on the Sabbath. The Sabbath demonstrates God’s nature and his mercy. On the subject of the Sabbath, God’s leading in the New Testament differs from His leading in the Old Testament. Although God’s leading has changed, His principles have remained the same.   The Pharisees failed to recognize the difference between God’s principles and His leading. They mistakenly confused God’s past leading with his unchanging nature and principles. They turned God’s word into unchanging dogma, killed the Lord Jesus, and persecuted many Christians.   The Pharisees are not the only ones who have made this mistake. How many people in the church throughout the ages have committed the same mistake? Many denominations have tried to turn God’s past leading into unchanging principles and unyielding dogma. They have equated God’s specific leading for specific denominational leaders with universal truth. As a result, they were unable to move forward and seek God’s leading for a new era. They became stumbling blocks to God's fresh guidance.   Let’s look at some examples that will help you learn to tell the difference between God's principles and His leading.   A Story about Head Coverings   I was saved in the Local Church Movement. Watchman Nee, the founder of the Local Church Movement, had a spiritual friendship with Brother Theodore Austin-Sparks. Theodore is an important figure in the British Inner life movement. He once studied under Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis, an important figure in the Inner Life movement. Both had an important impact on Watchman Nee and later the Local Church Movement.   Watchman Nee taught that women should cover their heads, so many women in the Local Church Movement did so. Initially, I observed that women covered their heads automatically after they realized that they should obey men’s spiritual truth. Later, many students who came to the United States from China were saved. No one forced these new immigrants to cover their heads. There are still some older women in the church who cover their heads, but this is never the main truth taught by the church.   After Brother Watchman Nee was imprisoned, Brother Witness Lee went to Taiwan to continue building the Local Church. He also continued to have fellowship with Brother Theodore and invited him to serve in Taiwan. But later, the two of them got into a disagreement. One main reason for their conflict was the “one church, one city” doctrine, a controversial topic that Theodore criticized. Another reason for their conflict was the issue of head coverings and culture.   Brother Witness Lee told the following story in his book. When Brother Theodore saw the Taiwanese soldiers wearing hats in the meeting hall, he criticized them. He told them that covering their heads was not in line with the Bible. However, Brother Theodore was using the culture of the West to judge the culture of the East. He was not basing his assessment on the truth of the Bible.   In Chinese culture, soldiers are not allowed to remove their hats. Therefore, all the military brothers who attended the meeting kept their hats on before and after the meeting. During the meeting, they took off their hats to show respect for the Lord, but they put them back on as soon as the meeting was over. [2]   Brother Theodore hastily condemned these military brothers because he did not know that wearing hats was required by the military. These military brothers were doing their best to glorify the Lord. By the rules of their Eastern culture, they were pleasing to the Lord. Because he was looking at them with Western eyes, Theodore thought the men were sinfully covering their heads.   I believe God’s specific leading is unique for these military brothers in the context of Chinese culture. As soldiers, they must obey military orders. As Christians, they should take off their hats during the meeting. But after it is over, they may put their hats back on to remain in compliance. This not only glorifies the Lord but also abides by the military regulations of the secular society.   Applying these principles is a subtle balance. Theodore, who didn’t understand Eastern culture, hastily condemned these military brothers for covering their heads. He mistakenly confused God's leading with God’s unchanging principles.   A story of Kaifeng Jews   The story of the Kaifeng Jews also illustrates the principle of God’s principles and God’s leading. Matteo Ricci came to China as a missionary in 1583 and established a good relationship with the Chinese emperor and the scholar-official class. He was in a good position to spread the Gospel among the Chinese.   Ai Tian, ​​a Jew from Kaifeng, went to Beijing to take the official exam. Hearing about a Westerner who believed in one true God as he did, he went to see Matteo Ricci. Ai Tian believed that Matteo Ricci was a Jew. When he saw a picture of Mary, Jesus, and John the Baptist in Ricci’s house, he thought they were images of Rebecca and her sons Isaac and Jacob.   Matteo Ricci, on the other hand, thought that Ai Tian was a Nestorian believer. Only later did he discover that Ai Tian was a Jew. Matteo Ricci wanted the Jewish community to come to know the Messiah, so he sent messengers to the Jewish community in Kaifeng to investigate. After investigating, they found that the Jews had integrated with the local Chinese culture to a considerable degree. They had combined the Chinese tradition of ancestor worship and emperor worship with their own belief that they should not worship idols. Chinese Jews placed God’s name above the emperor’s name on the plaque they were worshiping. When they worshiped, they worshiped God and ignored the emperor's name.   This story of synchronism sparked debate in the Holy See. Matteo Ricci and his fellow Jesuits explained that the Chinese people were only honoring their ancestors and not worshipping them as idols, just like the Jews honored their ancestors. They asked that the Chinese be given some space so that the gospel could continue to spread in China.   But the other faction had a different view. They were jealous of Matteo Ricci's success in China, and they opposed his point of view. They insisted that Chinese ancestor worship was idolatry and should not be tolerated. In the end, this faction won. The Holy See ruled that Chinese ancestor worship was idolatry. As a result, the Chinese emperor banned the spread of Christianity in China.   I think this example demonstrates the importance of differentiating between God’s principles (don’t worship idols) and His leading (evangelism in China). I feel it’s a great pity that the Holy See at that time did not find a way to balance the two. Their choice led to the ban of Christianity in China and delayed the propagation of the Gospel among the Chinese for hundreds of years. If they had taken a more balanced approach, perhaps China's story would have been very different.   Avoid dogmatism   Some believe that when Paul commanded the Corinthian men not to cover their heads, he was referring to the fact that men in Roman times often covered their heads when they went to worship idols. They say that Paul commanded the believers not to cover their heads to avoid an association with idol worship. This command lies within the scope of God’s principles. Paul also said that men are the glory of God, so they should not cover their heads (1 Corinthians 11:7). This statement may have been directed towards the customs of Roman men at that time – covering their heads when they worshiped idols.   Some believe that the same concept applies to women as well. Perhaps Paul was instructing that women should cover their heads because the city of Corinth was very promiscuous, and covering their heads would protect them.   These statements are worth considering, but let's look at the biblical records. When talking about men not covering their heads (1 Corinthians 11:4) and women covering their heads (1 Corinthians 11:5), Paul mentioned two contexts: "praying" and "prophesying." How do we explain this? How should we respond to what Paul said? Was Paul expressing God's firm and unchanging principles? Or was Paul giving specific guidance for a particular situation?   I don't have a specific answer with regards to the head covering here. But my main point is this: we must not use God's words as mechanical, lifeless dogma but as living principles that apply in fresh ways in every era. If God’s guidance on the Sabbath could change between the Old Testament and the New Testament, then we should not be dogmatic about this command.   Rick Joyner told a story about a vision he had. He said that Paul appeared to him in a vision and said, “The modern church has highly exalted my writings. Churches should not allow my words to evaluate the words of the Lord in the four Gospels. Instead, they should use the words of the Lord to evaluate my works.”[3]   According to Rick Joyner, most exegetical writings since the Reformation have revolved around Paul's letters. Of course, much of this is good. These writings help us better understand Paul's letters.   At the same time, we must be careful not to exalt Paul's teachings too much. We should not equate Paul’s specific guidance in this passage with the eternal and unchanging principles of God.   Wisely discern God's principles and His leading   Everyone has different interpretations of this passage on head coverings. We must learn to differentiate between God’s principles and His leading. This mindset can help us learn to accurately apply the Bible’s teachings to our lives.   To make this distinction, we must ask ourselves, “Does this command relate to God’s unchanging nature and glory?” If so, the command should not be compromised. On the other hand, if the command is related to God’s specific leading for a specific situation, we are free to make bold changes. We can apply this principle to every area of life and Christian ministry.   Are there any traditions in your church that are hindering Christ and the Holy Spirit? Perhaps God led your denomination’s leaders to make specific decisions in the past. However, God’s leading may be different for you in your current context. Ask yourself, “If I make changes, will it tarnish God’s glory?” If so, it’s a question of principles; you must not make changes. However, if the change only affects your tradition rather than God’s glory, this decision falls within the scope of God’s leading. You can make bold changes.   For example, some churches do not allow the use of any musical instruments in worship. Others restrict themselves to specific musical instruments. Applying the above principles, we can realize that God’s glory will not be tarnished if we use musical instruments in worship.  The use of instruments does not cause us to fall short of God’s glory. Rather, we can glorify God as we worship him with musical instruments. Such a change falls into the category of God’s leading. We are free to be flexible and adapt to today’s culture. Churches that firmly oppose the use of musical instruments are living in legalism and dogmatism. They need to be set free from this. They are following the traditions of men, not the word of God.   Let’s look at another example. Some churches teach that women cannot be pastors and that only men can baptize. However, in the early days of church planting in rural China, churches were composed entirely of women, older people, and children. There were no men at all. The only ones who were familiar with the Bible were women. Naturally, they took on the role of spiritual leaders and baptizers. In addition, the government monitored men stringently, and men were often busy with work. The government’s monitoring of women was relatively lax. Therefore, in the early days of rural churches in China, many women served as leaders. I think that this demonstrates God’s leading at that place and at that time. Under such circumstances, it was logical for women to serve as spiritual leaders. They did not fall short of God’s glory; instead, they demonstrated His glory.   However, Paul was speaking to another cultural context in 1 Corinthians 11. Perhaps there were women in the church who were challenging Paul's authority and rebuking him for being humble (or timid) (2 Corinthians 10:1). In addition, they didn’t cover their heads or remain silent. Perhaps that’s why Paul said that it was better for women to cover their heads and keep silent. His command was appropriate for the context of the period.   The concept of differentiating between God’s principles and leading can help you better understand His words and follow His leading in your life. Of course, we must never tamper with God’s words. At the same time, we must never use God’s word mechanically or dogmatically. Instead, we should remember that in any situation, God will reveal his unchanging nature and guide us in the way we should go.   [1] [2] [3]
Bible Study With Jairus - Revelation 16
22-03-2022
Bible Study With Jairus - Revelation 16
Bible Study with Jairus - Revelation 16 Armageddon and the Seven Bowls   Have you ever scratched your head when you read about the seven bowls of God's wrath in Revelation 16? Have you wanted to better understand the pictorial and prophetic imagery of the bowls? Have you wondered about the Battle of Armageddon which takes place between the sixth and seventh bowls?   The imagery of the seven bowls and the battle of Armageddon reminds me of the picture that is painted in Genesis 15, which records God’s promise to Abraham. God told Abraham that his descendants would go to Egypt and be enslaved for 400 years. On the one hand, they were waiting for the iniquity of the Amorites to be complete; on the other hand, they were accumulating strength and growing into a huge army. In the end, the Amorites did not repent, and God judged them by the hand of the Israelites.   Revelation 16 paints the same picture: God is merciful. He is waiting for people to repent. He is also waiting for the church to accumulate enough power. God will eventually judge wicked people and evil spirits through the church. This will happen at Armageddon after the time has come and after the iniquity of mankind is complete.   Understanding the imagery of the bowls   If we are to understand the book of Revelation, we must be able to understand the pictorial languages it contains. These pictures are given in spiritual terms, so we must compare them to other Biblical pictures to understand them. We cannot simply use the language of the material world to understand these pictures.   For example, how should we understand the pictorial language of Psalm 56:8, "You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?"[1] How do we understand the bottle that David speaks about? David clearly said that God collects our tears in a bottle. Is the bottle physical or spiritual? Does God really collect our tears in a bottle, or it is just a metaphor? I believe this is a real bottle, not a metaphor. After the Lord Jesus was resurrected, He appeared to his disciples. The disciples “thought they saw a spirit” (Luke 24:37). The word “spirit” in the original language is “pneuma” (Newma), which signifies a non-material spirit. The Lord Jesus rebuked the disciples for doubting, asking them to touch His hands and feet. The Lord said, "A spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have." (Luke 24:39). After that, the Lord asked them for something to eat. They gave the Lord a piece of a broiled fish, and He ate it (Luke 24:41-42). This story shows that the resurrected body is not only spiritual, but also material. The material, resurrected body absolutely exceeds the material body here on earth. The spiritual realm of the resurrection may contain physical objects that are even more substantial than the material objects we have now. So looking at this story, the Heavenly Father's bottle may be a real bottle that can hold our tears.   Let’s look at another example of pictorial language, the Golden Censor. Revelation 8 mentions, "Another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel. Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth, and there were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.” (Revelation 8:3-5). These verses show that the function of the golden censer is to collect the prayers of the saints. As the smoke of the incense ascends, the prayers collected by the angels will also ascend to God.   We’ve looked at two objects with spiritual and pictorial meaning: the censer that collects the prayers of the saints and the bottle that collects the tears of the saints. What is then the function of the bowl? Let's look at Revelation 16:1, "I heard a loud voice from the temple telling the seven angels, ‘Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God.’” From this verse, we see that the bowl holds and collects the wrath of God.   Why are there seven bowls? To understand this passage, we must understand the language of numbers. What does the number seven signify in the Bible? This number may have a lot of meanings, but we will only share one or two here. According to the Genesis record, God created the world for six days and rested on the seventh day. Seven is a complete number, representing a complete period. There are seven days in a week. Seven signifies a complete phase or period. It also signifies increasing quantity. The seven bowls of God’s wrath must contain a sevenfold portion of His wrath.     Therefore, when the first bowl was poured out, harmful and painful sores came upon the people who bore the mark of the beast and worshiped its image (verse 2). When the second bowl was poured into the sea, the sea turned into blood, and every living thing in the sea died (verse 3). The third bowl was poured into the rivers and the springs of water, and the water became blood (verse 4). The fourth bowl was poured on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch people with fire (verse 8). The fifth bowl was poured out on the throne of the beast, its kingdom was plunged into darkness and people gnawed their tongues in anguish (verse 10). The sixth bowl was poured out on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, to prepare the way for the kings from the east (verse 12). When the seventh bowl was poured out, a voice said, “it is done” (verse 17).   These seven bowls represent the gradually increasing wrath and judgment of God. After the fourth bowl was poured out, the Bible specifically says that "they were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give him glory." (verse 9). They didn’t repent, so God's judgment and wrath continued to intensify. After the fifth bowl was poured out, people gnawed their tongues in anguish and “cursed the God of heaven for their pain and sores. But they did not repent of their deeds." (verse 11). You see, if we continue to be unrepentant, God's wrath will continue to increase.   A vision appeared between the sixth and the seventh bowls. Three demons gathered in a place called Armageddon and brought the kings from the east to fight against God and His chosen people. This occurred after mankind’s sins had reached their full measure. Under the influence of the three evil spirits, the kings united to wage war against God and His chosen people. This is what Armageddon means - the final battle between light and darkness in the last days.   So how do we understand the battle of Armageddon which appears in this chapter? How do we understand Armageddon, the final battle? Is this metaphorical language? Are there any other images in the Bible that will help us understand the battle of Armageddon?   Understanding the imagery of Armageddon   We often say that the Old Testament is a picture of a New Testament spiritual reality. Objects such as bottles, censers, and bowls, can remind us of spiritual realities. So can stories in the Old Testament. For example, the story of the crossing of the Red Sea is a picture that can help illustrate the Christian’s experience of salvation.   God's appearance to Abraham in a vision in Genesis 15 is a picture that helps us understand Armageddon. In Genesis 15, the Lord gave Abraham a vision and said to him, "Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions." (Genesis 15:13-14). Then the Lord said again, "They shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” (Genesis 15:16).   Why did God tell Abraham that his descendants were going down to Egypt? For one thing, Abraham’s family was small and weak. He only had one child, Isaac, and his other son, Ishmael, was unacceptable in the eyes of God. Although Abraham had some servants, there was no way he and his one son could completely conquer the land of Canaan by themselves. When Jacob led his family to Egypt, there were only 70+ people. They did not have enough strength to conquer the land of Canaan.   However, while the people were slaves in Egypt for 400 years, they continued to multiply in numbers. It is estimated that there were 3 million people (more than 600,000 soldiers, besides women, children, and old people) by the time the Israelites came out of Egypt. They had become a great army. They were able to conquer the land of Canaan.   In addition, the sins of the Amorites were not yet complete, so God gave them at least 400 years of opportunity to repent. But after 400 years, they still would not repent. The bowl of God's wrath was filled up and His wrath was poured out. He commanded the Israelites to destroy all the Canaanites.   Many people do not understand the historical background of this judgment, and they think that God was too harsh in judging the Canaanites. But when we understand the context, we see that the window of opportunity for repentance and mercy had closed. The Canaanites’ iniquity was complete, so God's wrath and judgment were carried out on them through the Israelites.   God is like a judge. When a judge sentences a thief to ten years in prison, he doesn’t leave the judge's bench, pull out handcuffs, and take the thief to jail. That's the job of the bailiff. The Israelites acted as bailiffs in the Old Testament. God said clearly to the Israelites, "You shall devote them to complete destruction, the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, as the Lord your God has commanded, that they may not teach you to do according to all their abominable practices that they have done for their gods, and so you sin against the Lord your God." (Deuteronomy 20:17-18)   Similarly, in the New Testament age, we as Christians play the role of the bailiff. We are destined to judge angels. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 6:3, "Do you not know that we are to judge angels?" Angels were created to be “ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation" (Hebrews 1:14). We as humans were created in God’s image, and we will one day be reborn as children of God (Romans 8:14). In other words, our destiny is to become princes. Angels will be our "Imperial Preceptors" who will help us become princes.   But since some angels betrayed us and tempted us into sin, God will judge them. God will use us, the bride of Christ, to execute judgment on the angels. As believers, we fight against evil spirits in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12). In the end, God will use us, the church, to judge the evil spirits and the sinners. Judgment is from God, but God uses our hands to judge the sinners. The Battle of Armageddon is the final battle between the Bride of Christ and the enemy. God and His chosen people will be victorious.   Judgment and Mercy God is giving humans the opportunity to repent and turn to Him. He is also giving the church time to gain strength.   The goal of God’s judgment is repentance. God sent a famine on the land of Canaan to encourage the Canaanites to repent, but they did not. God sent the fourth and fifth bowl judgments to draw people to himself, but people refused to repent. As a result, the sixth bowl was poured out and the final battle of Armageddon erupted.   God's judgment is only a means to an end: repentance. When people do not repent, judgments intensify. Whether it is the famine in Canaan, the ten plagues of Egypt, or the coronavirus today, the goal of God’s judgments is to make people repent. Yet many people still curse God and refuse to repent. Therefore, God's judgment will intensify.   In the church era, God's judgment and mercy coexist. We must seize the opportunity to repent. Otherwise, if God’s wrath reaches its full limit, God will pour out more of his wrath. Eventually, we will lose the chance to repent. Please seize the opportunity to repent and to turn to God.   As the Church, we should take advantage of the difficult environment we are in and use it for growth. The people of Israel multiplied greatly during their time in Egypt. In the same way, God has given us an opportunity to accumulate strength, multiply, and become firmly rooted in Him. We must seize this opportunity to prepare ourselves for spiritual maturity so we can win the war that lies in the future.   [1] All Scripture quotations are taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.
Bible Study With Jairus - Revelation 14
22-03-2022
Bible Study With Jairus - Revelation 14
Bible Study with Jairus – Revelation 14 Honing our God-Given Gifts   In Revelation 14, John saw some vivid images about harvest. John recounts, “Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and seated on the cloud one like a son of man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand.” (Revelation 14:14). The man “swung his sickle across the earth” to reap the earthly harvest (Revelation 14:15-16). Later, we read about another angel who used a sickle to gather clusters of grapes from the vine and to throw them into the great winepress of the wrath of God (Revelation 14:18). What do these symbolic pictures mean? How do we understand the pictorial language of the harvest, the grapes, and the great winepress? Do they have positive or negative connotations?   I believe that the harvest image has positive connotations, while the grapes are negative. They represent wheat and tares respectively, which in turn represent real and fake Christians. Although we do not know when the Lord will come back, we know the harvest is near. The wheat will be separated from the tares. God has given us each spiritual gifts, which he expects us to use. Like a harvester sharpens his sickle, God wants us to sharpen our gifts through constant practice.   Understanding pictorial language   One of the difficulties in understanding the book of Revelation is that it uses so many abstract and pictorial images. This often leads to a variety of misinterpretations.   Let’s look at an example of spiritual language. It is claimed that one of the founders of Google had a dream about an algorithm. Let’s assume that God gave him this information through his dream. Even though the founder had received the algorithm, he still needed to translate the information into a practical application before he could use it to create Google’s search engine. To turn an idea or concept into a finished product, a complex process is required. An idea—whether for a new phone, a new car, or something else—needs to be translated into a design. Then materials need to be selected and the production process needs to begin.   Let’s use this example as a metaphor for spiritual language. A complex idea or picture (such as those in Revelation) needs to go through a transformation process. It needs to be converted from concept to understanding and finally to application in the real world.   The sickle is a pictorial language   The concept of the sickle is an example of abstract, pictorial language. The son of man did not actually throw down a physical sickle from heaven. If it were a physical sickle, we’d have to ask lots of questions: How big is the sickle? What material is it made of? Where is it thrown?   But if it is a spiritual metaphor, we can ask other questions. What does the sickle represent? What was God’s purpose for including it? Viewing this passage as pictorial language will help us understand the entire book of Revelation.   The sickles used by the son of man and the angel are real spiritual sickles used for harvesting the earth. How does God reap? Does he reap the earth by himself (with the angel’s help), or does he need our cooperation? We know that evangelism requires human cooperation, and we can conclude that reaping is the same. God has given each Christian a spiritual gift: love, power, leadership ability, etc. These gifts can become your sickle, which will help you reap a mature harvest.   To understand the spiritual, pictorial prophecies in the Bible, we cannot just understand them in physical terms. For example, in one of my prophetic dreams, I visited heaven and received a Bible that was sweet to the taste. But I didn’t expect to receive a real, physical, edible Bible in my house. I knew that the dream represented God’s provision. It helped me understand that the Bible is nourishing and sweet, “sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103)   However, this dream did have an impact in the real, physical world. Every time I read the Bible, I ask for the Holy Spirit’s inspiration and light to help me interpret the Bible. When I share my inspiration with others, they are nourished and fed. The book of Revelation tells us that John ate a small scroll, which was sweet as honey in his mouth but bitter in his stomach, and was able to prophesy to many nations, peoples, and kings (Revelation 10:8-11). John did not receive a real, physical edible Bible, but his vision did have an impact in the physical world as he preached to those around him.   Similarly, the sickle’s spiritual and metaphorical meaning can be converted into the physical world. We must use the inspiration, thoughts, and gifts that God has given us to impact the real world around us. We don’t need to passively wait around for God to harvest the earth. God is throwing His sickle in heaven today. We need to use prayer and faith to receive the sickle that God has given us and make that sickle sharper through constant use and practice.   God has called me to minister His word, so I must sharpen this calling and use it to the best of my ability. When I neglect to study and prepare for a Bible study I lead, I feel like I don’t receive much inspiration from God’s Spirit. I’m letting my sickle grow dull. But when I pray earnestly, prepare, read many spiritual books, and ask God to enlighten and help me, I am sharpening the gifts God has given me.   The Bible says, "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another." (ESV, Proverbs 27:17).[1] Similarly, any gift that God has given us must be sharpened. God has given us many spiritual gifts. Just as our muscles grow stronger through constant use, we must use our gifts so they grow stronger.   Every time I lead a Bible study, I pray earnestly as I prepare. I do not rely on the knowledge and content I have prepared. Rather, I look to the Holy Spirit to answer the questions that my audience asks. When I do this, I am often inspired by the Holy Spirit and gain a new understanding of the Bible. In this way, I continually sharpen the gifts God has given me.   What is your “sickle”? Are you gifted in loving others? Then use your gift of love to visit a friend, bring him the warmth of friendship, and share God’s words with him. Perhaps you will lead him to salvation! This is your sickle. If you don't follow God's leading to visit this friend, your sickle may rust at home.   Are you gifted in prayer? Do you pray often for certain countries or people? This is also a sickle that God has given you. If you neglect to pray because you are too busy at work, you are leaving your sickle at home to rust.   If your gift is mercy, God may want you to use your gift by caring for homeless people. This is your God-given sickle. When you pay them a visit on the street, you're sharpening your sickle.   We live in the age of harvest. When the Lord Jesus was on earth, he said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few” (Matthew 9:37). We are God's harvesters, and God has given us sickles. We need to sharpen them. Are you unsatisfied with your sickle? Use the one you have, and ask God to give you another one. As you are faithful in small things, God will surely give you more responsibilities.   We as Christians can participate in the harvest, but there’s another aspect of the harvest as well. I don’t deny that the angel will use his sickle to directly reap the earth. The angels will separate the wheat (real Christians) and tares (fake Christians or the wicked). Many people wonder why so many Christians have tragically passed away in the recent COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps one explanation is that they were mature and ready to be harvested by God. God brought them into his presence. In addition, some wicked people were reaped by the angels and taken to hell.   Wheat and tares   To understand pictorial prophecy in the Bible, it’s helpful to understand the usage of those pictures throughout Scripture. This will help broaden our understanding of the metaphors and images in Revelation. For instance, how does the Bible use the image of “harvest” throughout the Bible? Is this image positive or negative? Jesus mentioned the harvest in Matthew 9:37 with a positive connotation. The Lord Jesus likened Himself to a grain of wheat (John 12:24), another positive association for this harvest theme. Wheat is good, while tares and chaff are bad (Matthew 3:12). The Lord Jesus told Peter that Satan would sift the disciples like wheat (Luke 22:31). From these verses, we can see that wheat is used positively to refer to Christians.   Now let’s look at the picture of gathering grapes. Is this picture positive or negative? In the Bible, there are good and bad grapes. The Bible says that sour grapes make one’s teeth set on edge. God wanted Israel, the vine, to bear good grapes. But the nation only bore bad grapes. When God came to see if the vine had borne fruit, it had not (Luke 13:6). Grapes can be either good or bad.   Jesus also used the fruitless branch as a metaphor, saying that such branches are to be gathered up, thrown into the fire, and burned. Jeremiah 2:21 says, "Yet I planted you a choice vine, wholly of pure seed. How then have you turned degenerate and become a wild vine?" Isaiah 5:2 says, "He dug it and cleared it of stones, and planted it with choice vines; he built a watchtower in the midst of it, and hewed out a wine vat in it; and he looked for it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes." From these passages, we see that there are both good and bad grapes. Some grapes are even poisonous! Deuteronomy 32:32 says, "For their vine comes from the vine of Sodom and from the fields of Gomorrah; their grapes are grapes of poison; their clusters are bitter."   The grapes mentioned in Revelation 14 are placed in the great winepress of God’s wrath. I conclude that these grapes have a negative connotation. Verse 20 mentions that the grapes were trampled outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress, as high as a horse's bridle, for 300km. The grapes in the winepress represent the judgment of the wicked.   During the harvest, tares and wheat are separated. Good and bad grapes are separated. The righteous are reaped into heaven and the wicked into hell. The Lord Jesus also said that the righteous would be gathered into the barn, and the wicked would be burned. Jesus used a fishing metaphor to say the same thing. The righteous would be taken into the boat, and the unrighteous would be thrown into the sea (Matthew 13:47-50). The sea represents judgment and hell. In the last days, the angels will reap the earth. They will separate the righteous and the wicked. God uses consistent metaphors and images to discuss the final judgment.   There is very little controversy among Christians about the meaning of the harvest metaphors. But other prophetic images are more difficult to understand. For example, how should we understand the profound and controversial references to the beast, the statue of beast, the dragon, the woman, etc.? To understand these concepts, we need the help of the Holy Spirit. We also need an understanding of the principles I outlined above. I hope to share more about how to understand these pictorial images in later studies of the book of Revelation. We must sharpen our sickles   We live in the age of harvest. If the harvest was already ripe when the Lord Jesus was alive, it is now even riper! Throughout the ages, countless Christians have given their own blood as the price for spreading the gospel and sowing the seeds of the gospel. Many years ago, people in various places hadn't heard of the Bible or the name of Jesus Christ, but today it's different. Take China as an example. Hundreds of years ago, many had never heard of Jesus Christ. But now almost anyone can find the Bible and the story of Jesus Christ online. The gospel has been spread through various media channels. Some people have not yet accepted the gospel, and they doubt its validity. But it is available for those who are receptive.   A hundred years ago, when Christian missionaries from the West came to China to preach the gospel, many had never heard of the gospel or the name of Jesus. Today, even though there is still a lot of resistance to Christianity among the Chinese people, information about the Bible and the Gospel is easily accessible on the Internet. This is the power of the information age. In the past, the government could destroy or restrict the reading of the Bible, but now it is almost impossible to do so. Because everyone has a smartphone, and the Bible has been produced in various forms (PDF, EPUB, and various apps), it is impossible for the Bible to be banned. The seeds of the gospel have been sown. It is time for the harvest to be reaped.   The number of Christians is declining in many Christian countries in the West. But the seeds sown by their godly ancestors will continue to grow. A great revival is coming. Many people will be brought into God’s kingdom.   I personally believe that we are getting close to the end of the age. We must be open to the Holy Spirit and be sensitive to the sickles (gifts) that he has given us. We must be ready to accept God’s calling and gifts and sharpen our sickles through constant practice. Then we will participate with God in reaping a ripe harvest.   [1] All Scripture quotations are taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.
Bible Study with Jairus – Romans 14
22-03-2022
Bible Study with Jairus – Romans 14
Bible Study with Jairus – Romans 14 What Matters Most: Doctrine or Love?   In Romans 14, Paul issues a powerful challenge to the Roman church. Amid controversies about eating food sacrificed to idols, Paul calls the believers to shift their gaze. He wants them to go a step further. He says that the reality of life with Christ transcends the realm of the physical. Romans 14:17 says, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Love and peace are what matter most. Knowledge and doctrine should never limit our ability to love and accept other believers, even those whose views differ from ours.    Clean or unclean Romans 14 discusses several topics that were disputed in the Roman church. Paul discusses the morality of observing Jewish feasts, eating meat sacrificed to idols, and idolatry in the Roman church. Idolatry permeated society at that time. Much of the meat sold in the marketplace had been offered to idols. As a result, believers debated whether it was permissible to eat this meat. Some believed that everything was clean, and others believed that the meat was defiled by its past.   Throughout the Bible, God had demonstrated that all food was now clean. For example, God told Peter in a vision that He had made unclean animals clean. What God had made clean should not be considered unclean. In 1 Corinthians, Paul asserted that in principle, all foods may be eaten. In 1 Corinthians 8:4-8, Paul said that idols are nothing at all; there is one God and one Lord Jesus Christ. He is the creator and the one for whom and through whom all things exist. In this sense, idols are just worthless, inanimate items. They don’t matter at all; they’re not real. But some people don't know this, so their consciences are defiled when they eat food sacrificed to idols. Paul explains, “Actually, food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat and no better off if we do.” (1 Corinthians 8:8 ESV). He goes on to say that we should not cause our brothers to stumble because of food (1 Corinthians 8:9-13). In Romans 14, Paul’s attitude is the same. Eating food sacrificed to idols doesn’t matter in the eyes of God. But if it causes a weaker believer to stumble, it’s best not to eat meat.   Good or evil Romans 14:16 says, “So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil.” This verse troubled me when I first read it. What was the “good” Paul was talking about? What was the “evil”? To answer this question, we need to examine the previous two verses. Verses 14-15 say, “I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died.”   Unwisely misapply the good thing   The word “good” in verse 14 most likely refers to the fact that everything is clean in the Lord Jesus, since God cleanses everything in Christ. It may also refer to correct doctrines about God. Perhaps it refers to the knowledge mentioned in 1 Corinthians 8. This verse says, “Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that ‘all of us possess knowledge.’ This ‘knowledge’ puffs up, but love builds up.” The knowledge about God and the fact that everything is clean in Christ constitute the “good” Paul is referring to. “Evil” may refer to causing weaker believers to stumble. Or “evil” may refer to the mistreatment of those who have different views. If we misapply the good thing in an unwise way, it will be spoken of as evil. Why? Verse 17 gives the answer. “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” The word “for” in the beginning of the verse reveals the answer. In other words, if I can paraphrase the verse, “For it is more important to keep your brother from stumbling than to prove you are right in your dogma or doctrine.” Can you imagine the believers arguing in the Roman and Corinthian churches? Some insisted they could eat anything because all foods were clean in Christ. Others said that it was wrong to eat meat. The stronger brothers wished that the weaker brothers would grow in faith and stop worrying so much. The strong believers certainly didn’t want to give up their right to eat meat to make the weaker brothers happy! Yet Paul makes it clear that our perfect doctrine doesn’t matter if we fail to love others with the fruit of the Spirit. The knowledge we possess is less important than the love we demonstrate. Romans 14:17 reveals the crux of the matter. The reality of the kingdom of God lies in the love and peace of the Holy Spirit, not in technical obedience. Bearing with one another in love Each Christian is at a different level of spiritual maturity. When another believer’s faith is weak, we must always accommodate them to keep them from stumbling. We may not have the same doctrines, but we need to learn to accept each other. But too often, we care more about right or wrong than about bearing with another in love. When others are different from us, we often point fingers and make hasty judgments. In other words, we care about our doctrines more than we care about people. God wants us to pursue unity. True unity depends on our love and acceptance toward each other, despite our differences. We can compare this to the process of learning love and acceptance in marriage. When I first got married, an older Christian couple told us that marriage is God’s best tool to teach us about love. Before I got married, I lived alone for many years. I was self-centered. Most of the time, I didn’t need to consider others’ feelings. My wife and I grew up in very different families, so we had different everyday habits. We each had our shortcomings. We had to learn to accept one another and learn patience and tolerance in all things. Believers in the church need to learn the same lesson. We have many differences, but we are family.   Righteousness, peace, and joy If we only care about being right and sticking to doctrine, we may neglect to care for others. God not only cares about what we eat but how we eat it and whether the way we eat will cause others to stumble. If we stick to correct doctrines but neglect the effect we are having on others, we are not pleasing God.  We must ask ourselves how the things we eat will affect others. When we combine these two aspects, our lives will be filled with righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. Verse 20 says, “Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats.” We should never use our doctrine about food (based on the word of God) to destroy God’s love for his children (who are the work of God).
Bible Study With Jairus - Numbers 36
22-03-2022
Bible Study With Jairus - Numbers 36
Bible Study with Jairus - Numbers 36   Stepping Into Your Spiritual Destiny   In Numbers 36, we learn that the daughters of Zelophehad cherished God’s promised land and stepped into their spiritual destiny. When Zelophehad’s daughters asked to inherit land alongside the other Israelites, their clan members feared that if the young women later married men from other clans, their ancestral inheritance would be transferred to another tribe. The clan begged Moses to handle this issue.   God told Moses that what the daughters were asking for was right. He commanded that the girls should only marry within their own tribe. Why does the last chapter of Numbers end with this story? I believe God was drawing a stark contrast between the daughters of Zelophehad, who longed to enter the Promised Land, and the people who threw away their chance to receive God’s blessing. Because of the faith and perseverance of the daughters of Zelophehad, they eventually entered the Promised Land (Joshua 17). This greatly pleased God. There is no better ending to a story than this.   Entering the Promised Land by Faith   The Bible first mentions Zelophehad’s daughters in Numbers 26:33: “Zelophehad the son of Hepher had no sons, but daughters. And the names of the daughters of Zelophehad were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah."[1] This chapter records the census of the second generation of fighting men of Israel. Usually, only men were counted among the ranks of soldiers. They were also mentioned in a genealogy in 1 Chronicles 7:15. The fact that God includes these women in the record shows how much he valued their faith.   The daughters of Zelophehad are mentioned again in Numbers 27. Here, they asked to inherit their father’s land. In allowing them to inherit land, God seems to have made a special exception just for them. In the past, the law had never allowed daughters to inherit land. However, God granted their request because these ladies took the initiative to ask for it. The Lord is very pleased with those who actively seek him.   In Joshua 17, the daughters of Zelophehad appeared before Joshua again and asked him to follow through on his promise to give them the land. As a result, Joshua allowed them to take possession of their inheritance. Verses 4-5 record, "Thus there fell to Manasseh ten portions, besides the land of Gilead and Bashan, which is on the other side of the Jordan, because the daughters of Manasseh received an inheritance along with his sons. The land of Gilead was allotted to the rest of the people of Manasseh." The daughters of Zelophehad did not acquire land east of the Jordan. Instead, they inherited land in the Promised Land of Canaan, west of the Jordan. We don't know if Zelophehad’s daughters and their spouses were the only ones who entered the Promised Land itself, or if there were others from the half-tribe of Manasseh who entered as well. We do know that these daughters were an important part of the half-tribe that inherited west of the Jordan.   The daughters of Zelophehad are mentioned at least five times in the Bible. This shows that God cares deeply about them. Their faith eventually led them to enter the Promised Land and receive their father's inheritance. God praised their faith.   There is an important reason that the Holy Spirit placed this story in the last chapter of Numbers. The book of Numbers is a story about Israel going to war and entering the Promised Land. In this story, some Israelites, like the ten evil spies and the entire first generation of Israelites, died in the wilderness because of their unbelief. But others, like Caleb and Joshua and the second generation of Israelites, were able to enter the Promised Land. Gad and Reuben chose the land east of the Jordan River instead of entering the Promised Land. The half-tribe of Manasseh, influenced by the tribes of Gad and Reuben, also chose the land east of the Jordan River. However, some descendants of the tribe of Manasseh, such as the daughters of Zelophehad, were not influenced by the dissenters. They placed their faith in the Lord’s promise to give them the land, and they eventually entered the Promised Land.   What a wonderful way to wrap up the book of Numbers! The story of these women concludes the book with a story of faith and victory. When the Holy Spirit inspired Moses to write the book of Numbers, he thoughtfully arranged for the book to end on this high note of hope.   Achieving Victory in Spiritual Warfare and Entering into God's Destiny   God promised that the Israelites would enter the Promised Land, but many fell in the wilderness because of unbelief and disobedience. To experience the fulfillment of God’s promises, his prophecies, and the destiny he has for us, we must unite ourselves by faith with God’s promises (Hebrews 4:2). Only then can we truly step into our spiritual destiny.   Whenever God's promises are involved, Satan fights back. The bigger the promise, the greater the spiritual opposition. An entire family can lose out on God’s promises due to disobedience. One faithful person who demonstrates their faith can become the recipient of God’s promise.   For example, God promised that Abraham's descendants would be a blessing to all nations (Galatians 3:14). God promised that Christ would be born from Abraham's descendants. But Abraham’s family was full of sin and dissension.   Abraham gave birth to Ishmael and Isaac. God clearly said that the Messianic line would be passed down through Isaac. Isaac had two sons, Esau and Jacob, and God chose Jacob. Many of Jacob’s twelve sons were disqualified from the Messianic line. Reuben, the firstborn, defiled his father's bed, so Christ could not be born from his lineage. Both Simeon and Levi killed innocent people and were cursed by Jacob, so they could not carry on the Messianic line, either.   Judah, another son of Jacob, was chosen as the forefather of the Messiah. Yet he married the daughter of a Canaanite man. Both his first two sons were put to death because of their sins. Judah did not follow through with his promise to Tamar, his eldest daughter-in-law. He had promised her that after her husband died, she could marry Judah’s youngest son, thus carrying on the Messianic line.   Tamar may have heard Judah recounting the story of Abraham, and how God promised Abraham and even Adam that "her offspring shall bruise your head" (Genesis 3:15). She may have received a direct revelation from God that Christ would be born into the tribe of Judah. Tamar devised a plan for Judah to sleep with her, and gave birth to Perez and Zerah, the ancestors of Christ. What Tamar did might seem immoral, but she actually treasured God's promises very much.   The enemy vigorously attacked the house of Judah because he was the ancestor of the Messiah. Satan succeeded in causing the two sons of Judah to sin and die. But Tamar didn't give up. She was like a volleyball player who made a "dig,” eventually rescuing the ball from falling. Her actions made Judah feel ashamed. He called Tamar more righteous than himself (Genesis 38:26).   The same thing happened in the story of Ruth. Ruth is also the ancestor of Christ. But Ruth's father-in-law, husband, and brother-in-law all sinned and died. Ruth was like Tamar. Perhaps she learned of God's promises to the tribe of Judah from Naomi. She was determined not to leave Naomi and eventually followed Naomi to the land of Judah. There, she married Boaz, the ancestor of David and Christ.   We see the same pattern in Ruth's story – the greater the destiny and calling of God, the greater the spiritual warfare. Sinful people and those who have no faith will be used by the enemy to block God's promise, but the righteous and faithful will seize God's promise and eventually win the spiritual battle. They will enter into the spiritual destiny promised by God.   I wonder why the tribe of Manasseh did not give Zelophehad’s daughters their father's land from the very start? Why did they leave them with no other option but to take their case to Moses and the whole congregation? In the end, God had to intervene before the land would be given to them. And Numbers 36 mentions again that the heads of the tribe of Manasseh were worried that they would lose their tribal inheritance if the girls married people from other tribes.   Why were they so worried? Perhaps the land that was allotted to Zelophehad was very large. Because Zelophehad had a large portion of the land, the tribe of Manasseh refused to give it to his daughters at first. They were worried that they would lose their tribal inheritance if the daughters married men from other tribes. Maybe they wouldn't have cared if Zelophehad had been allotted a very small portion of the land.     There must have been a great spiritual battle going on over Zelophehad’s land, just like there was in the families of Judah and Naomi. Zelophehad had died in his own sin, probably the same sin as the sons of Judah and the sons of Naomi had committed. The enemy attacked them and made them fall into sin to prevent them from entering their spiritual destiny. But Zelophehad’s daughters saved their family's destiny and entered the Promised Land.   The enemy sends obstacles and tempts us to sin, trying to keep us from fulfilling our destiny. But as we persevere in faith, we will be able to fulfill God's destiny for our lives. The fact that Zelophehad’s daughters eventually entered the Promised Land is proof of this. Many Christians have a great spiritual destiny, but if they cannot win their spiritual battle and defeat the enemy, they will not be able to enter into the spiritual destiny that God has promised. As Christians, we must understand that the more difficulties and enemy attacks we face, the greater the spiritual destiny God has promised us. Instead of feeling dispirited, we should be encouraged to keep our faith and our holiness in order to win our spiritual battles.   Why should tribal inheritances not be transferred?   At the beginning of this chapter, Gilead brought the chief of the tribe of Manasseh to discuss this matter with Moses. Gilead was the grandfather of Zelophehad (Joshua 17:3) and the great-grandfather of the daughters of Zelophehad. He was also the head of the tribe of Manasseh. Zelophehad’s daughters must have been at least ten years old, so Gilead was perhaps 80 or 90 years old. Let's look at the situation described in this chapter. Gilead, the great-grandfather, brought all the other heads of Manasseh to Moses to discuss what would happen if Zelophehad’s daughters married men from other tribes and lost their inheritance. This is the problem that bothers me.   The Bible doesn’t say that this grandfather and tribal heads helped Zelophehad’s daughters fight for their land. Yet after Zelophehad’s daughters got the land, the leaders suddenly started to worry that their tribe would lose their inheritance. What are their motives? Why the sudden concern?   I can't say that they had bad intentions. God had never stipulated that land could be given to daughters, so they were not wrong. The Lord stipulates that tribal land could not be transferred between tribes. He also said that what the tribal leaders said was right. So I can't judge them for having motives and bad intentions.   I believe that God does not want the tribes to have internal conflicts over inheritances and land. Rather, He wants them to focus on defeating the enemy. This is their goal in spiritual warfare.   Using an example from the modern church, churches should not compete internally, trying to attract Christians from other churches to their own church. A huge congregation seems to prove the success of your church, but it seems to have little effect on the expansion of God’s kingdom or the defeat of the kingdom of darkness. Instead, we should focus on witnessing to unbelievers and drawing them towards Christ. Instead of competing with each other, churches should unite to defeat the kingdom of darkness.   I suppose Gilead hadn’t entered the Promised Land. Many heads of the tribe of Manasseh also did not enter the Promised Land. Perhaps Zelophehad’s daughters had privately expressed their desire to enter the Promised Land. Many people in the tribe of Manasseh seem to have chosen the land east of the Jordan. Perhaps the stipulation that Zelophehad’s daughters should marry within the tribe affected others from the half tribe of Manasseh. Perhaps some of the sons of their father’s brothers wished to marry the daughters and eventually entered the Promised Land with them.   I hope we can all be inspired and encouraged by the story of Zelophehad’s daughters. Their example of faith is extraordinary. We should actively fight for our inheritance in the Lord, bravely win our spiritual battles, and enter into our God-given destiny.   Never underestimate yourself! Remember, the more difficulties you have in your life and the more enemies attack you, the greater the spiritual destiny and calling God may have for you. Don't feel discouraged. Rather, be encouraged!   As a conclusion, let’s look at this brief summary of the book of Numbers.   The book of Numbers began with the numbering of the Israelite soldiers. The purpose was to show how great God is. He transformed a small group of 70 Israelites into a great army.  God promises that they would enter the good land. However, he asked them to trust him. Because they did not mingle their faith with the promises of God, the first generation of Israelites were not allowed to enter into the good land. In disobedience and disbelief, they wandered in the wildness for 40 years. When the first generation died out in the wilderness, God numbered them again. Among those whom God numbered were Zelophehad’s daughters. God usually only counted male soldiers. But the five daughters of Zelophehad were numbered among them, as God considered them soldiers. Why? It is because they are fighting for their father's portion. Zelophehad died in his sins, just like Naomi's husband and two sons and Judah's two sons. Why did Naomi and Judah lose their sons? Their divine calling and destiny was to be part in the genealogy of Christ. So they must have been the prime target for the enemy. The spiritual battle was severe. Why did Zelophehad die? Perhaps he had a big portion in the good land. He lost the spiritual battle; he sinned and died. The first generation of Israelites failed to defeat the enemy and conquer the good land. Would the second generation repeat the same failure, or would they rise up to defeat the enemy their fathers could not? Yes, they would rise up to defeat the enemies that tricked their fathers! Zelophehad’s daughters rose up and said no to the enemy. They rejected the established religious status quo and asked God for their portion. They were not only granted their request, but they eventually entered the good land. They did not follow the example of the half tribe of Manasseh who stayed on the East side of Jordan (Joshua 17). In America today, evil spirits have tricked many believers, even in the older generation. Will the younger generation rise up like Zelophehad’s daughters to defeat the influences that defeated their fathers? Yes! They are rising up right now. The enemies who defeated their fathers will not stop them! The spiritual battle is so severe in America. Yet we must hold onto our faith, just like Zelophehad’s daughters did. This story of victory is a fitting finale for the book of Numbers. Zelophehad’s daughters represent all believers who will rise up in faith after past failure. Like the daughters, we must grasp God's promises and defeat the enemy who taunted our fathers! With God’s help, we can succeed!     [1] All Scripture quotations are taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.
Bible Study With Jairus - Numbers 34
07-03-2022
Bible Study With Jairus - Numbers 34
Entering Our God-Given Destiny Bible Study with Jairus – Numbers 34   Have you ever thought that God’s rules and boundaries were limiting you? We may think that God’s borders are hemming us in. But in reality, the boundary lines God gives us are far greater than the boundary lines we have already reached. May God give us the courage, faith, and hope to reach the full measure of what he has in store for us. May we pray like Jabez - “May God enlarge our borders.” God will grant what we ask.   Spiritual Stagnation   Numbers 34 contains two key stories. In the first story, the Lord told Moses about the boundaries of Israel. In the second story, the Lord told Moses the list of leaders of the nine and a half tribes participating in the division of the land.   When you compare the map of the land that God promised to the Israelites with the land they actually occupied, you will find a surprising contradiction. God promised the Israelites land in the northeast, rather than the land on the east side of the Jordon occupied by Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh. Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh occupied land in the southeast after the Israelites defeated the Amorites and Ammonites. After seeing the land’s beauty, they did not enter Canaan, the land promised by God. They wanted to stay on the other side of the Jordon and pasture their large herds and flocks.   How did God feel about this choice? In the Scripture, God neither praised nor blamed them. He just kept silent. Moses was initially angry about this choice, but later accepted it. God promised  the land of Canaan, not this land. Although Moses tacitly consented to this plan, it was not ultimately God's will.   I believe these two and a half tribes missed out on God’s blessings. When they chose to stay in the land on the east side of the Jordon, they showed they were satisfied with the victory God had already given. They chose to stagnate in the achievement they’d already made. In Numbers 32, they asked Moses to give them "the land that the Lord struck down before the congregation of Israel.” (ESV Numbers 32:4)[1]. They admitted that the Lord had helped them acquire the land and achieve victory in battles. But they were unwilling to continue to risk or to enter the Promised Land. They underestimated God's promise.   Aren’t many Christians today the same? They are satisfied with the measure of spiritual success they’ve already attained. They know that they believed in the Lord and will go to heaven. That’s good enough for them. With this mindset, you will miss out on so many beautiful things worth learning, exploring, and working hard on. You miss out on many spiritual battles God wants you to win. Don’t stagnate where you are! Move forward into the fullness of God’s plans for you!   Entering God’s Destiny   The Israelites never reached their full potential. They never occupied the full extent of the land that God had promised them. Even during the time of David and Solomon, Israel never expanded fully into the boundaries God had promised. These boundaries - borders – represent the measure of destiny and blessing given to us by God. Many people are concerned about not going beyond the boundaries God has set for them. True, God sets limits in our lives to keep us safe. But for most people, the problem is not that we go too far. For most of it, we fail to expand into the full measure of God’s expectations and promises for us.   God has given us each a measure of grace. Paul specifically said "Don't boast beyond your measure." (2 Corinthians 10:13). But many times, people use this verse as an excuse to think small. Rather than pursuing God's calling and gifts, they confine themselves to a small measure God never intended for them. Only after arriving in heaven will people discover just how big were the blessings God had in store for them in this life, and just how few of them they have achieved.  I often pray that when I stand before God, my Heavenly Father will praise me with the words: “YOU OUTDID YOURSELF.” I want to live out God’s destiny and calling for me, even "going beyond" my own measure. This is my prayer.   God had assigned boundaries to each of the twelve tribes through drawing lots. Drawing lots may seem like pure chance, but it represented God’s decision. He drew boundary lines according to the characteristics, strengths and weaknesses of the tribes. Nevertheless, God still gave the tribes a certain amount of freedom. For example, Caleb could choose to conquer the lands occupied by the toughest enemies.   God has given us grand and glorious promises! He wants us to understand the full extent of his blessings. Paul prayed that believers would have “the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints" (Ephesians 1:18). We need God to open our hearts and eyes so we can truly grasp the greatness of the rich and glorious inheritance He has prepared for us! In the Old Testament, God gave the land of Canaan as an inheritance. In the New Testament, God has given believers the inheritance of riches in Christ and spiritual blessings in the heavenly realm! (Ephesians 1:3).   God Knows us Personally.   Did you get bogged down by reading all the geographical names and details of Israel, as well as the names of the tribal chiefs? These are not just useless facts. They show that God is intimately acquainted with each one of us. God is not distant, far away, and difficult to please. Instead, Jesus says, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 18:10). We have personal access to his throne room.   Even if you feel far from God, your Heavenly Father is conversing with your guardian angels, asking how you are doing today, where you are going, and what kind of comforting and encouraging words you may need today. Our Heavenly Father frequently discusses these things with our guardian angels. David said that God’s thoughts towards us are more numerous than the sand of the sea (Psalm 139:17-18).   Malachi 3:16 shows us that God thinks about us. “Then those who feared the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name.” Not only are believers’ names written in the Book of Life, but our experiences and achievements are also recorded. For example, David wrote in Psalm 56:8, "You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?" Our tears and our sufferings are all recorded in God’s book.   In addition, Revelation 20:12 records, “And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done." God will judge each of us according to what we have done.   The Spiritual Significance of Your Name   God knows us. Paul said, “If anyone loves God, he is known by God.” (1 Corinthians 8:3). God also knew each tribal leader personally, by name, and each of their names has a meaning. "Caleb" of the Tribe of Judah means "loyal dog," which is often extended to mean, "servant of God."   As we discuss the names of the other tribal leaders, I will quote my translation of a passage from the "Comprehensive Interpretation of the Bible" website:   “The names are listed in order of the tribes, from south to north according to the land allocated to each tribe (Joshua 14-19). Except for "Caleb" (verse 19), the names of the other nine leaders are completely different from those of the leaders 38 years before (Numbers 1:5-15). Even their fathers are not the previous leaders. God recorded the names of these people and used their names to clearly demonstrate the faith of the new generation before Him: "Shemu-El" or “ Samuel” means "God's name"; "El-Idad" means "My God has loved"; "Bukki" is the abbreviation of "Bukki-Ah" (1 Chronicles 25:4), which means "The Lord has proven" or " "The Lord has emptied"; "Hanni-El" means "favored of God"; "Kemu-El" means "raised by God"; "El-Izaphan" means "My God has protected"; "Palti-El" means "God’s deliverance"; "Ahihud" means "Brother of Praise"; "Pedah-El" means "redeemed by God".   “Among these ten leaders, Caleb was already 80 years old (Joshua 14:10). There are seven people with "El" in their names, indicating that these leaders may have been born before the Exodus. They were about 40-60 years old at this time. Only “Bukki” is possibly derived from the name "Jehovah", indicating that he was probably born after God revealed his name "Jehovah" to Moses (Exodus 3:15). He was likely less than 40 years old.” [2]   This quote explanation specifically notes the names of the leaders mentioned by God. Except for Caleb, this is an entirely new generation of leaders. Even their fathers have never been mentioned before. These are not the same tribal leaders recorded in Numbers 1. They are leaders of a new generation, raised up by God.   What an encouragement! Can you imagine a tribal leader claiming these promises for himself?  “Our ancestors failed and were unable to defeat the enemy. Our ancestors’ failure to enter the Promised Land does not necessarily mean that we, the next generation, will be unable to do so. They lost the spiritual battle, but that does not mean that we will also lose! God has raised up new leaders to lead the Israelites into spiritual battle! As the younger generation, we must rise up for battle, defeat the enemy, enter the Promised Land, and fulfill the spiritual destiny He has given us!”   Can you see the parallel to modern-day America? We face many enemies all around us, like the Israelites of old. The previous generation left these enemies undefeated and unconquered. Now, they are coming to control us! But this does not mean that we will be unable to conquer the enemy. We may feel suppressed, but this is not necessarily God's will for us.   Many Old Testament Israelite kings chose to follow God, even though their fathers did not worship Him. And God helped them defeat their enemies. The younger generation in the United States must do the same. We must believe that God will help us, and that no one can stop us. We must rise up for battle and defeat the enemy. God will certainly help us. May the younger generation of the United States rise up as leaders and defeat the enemies that their parents’ generation was unable to defeat!   God is our Loving Father   God often treats us like a parent would treat a child. He has blessings in store for us and expectations for us to complete. But he will not force us to comply with them or take the steps he wants us to take. If we choose to ask for God’s help to defeat the enemy, trying our best to enter into God’s destiny for us through faith and hard work, God will help us. But if we give up, saying we don’t care, God will not rescue us from our own mistakes. The Bible tells us that God is good (Luke 18:19), while the enemy only wants to steal, destroy and kill (John 10:10). We must engage in spiritual warfare and not give up so easily. We must fight for our God-given blessings and ministries.   In the genealogy of Judah in 1 Chronicles 4, the author makes special mention of Jabez. 1 Chronicles 4:9-10 says, "Jabez was more honorable than his brothers; and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, ‘Because I bore him in pain.’ Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, ‘Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!’ And God granted what he asked.” The name Jabez in Hebrew means "sorrow.” His mother had a hard birth, so she named her son Jabez. There must have been many difficult experiences in Jabez's life. But he called on God, asking Him to enlarge his borders. He asked for God’s presence to be with him and keep him from harm. And God answered his prayer.   May God enlighten the eyes of our hearts, as Paul said in Ephesians, so that we can see just how great is the inheritance God has given us. May we enter into the full destiny that God intends for us. May we pray like Jabez, “Enlarge my borders!” God will surely answer our prayers!     [1] All Scripture quotations are taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted. [2] The Original is Chinese and the translation is mine.
Bible Study With Jairus - Numbers 35
07-03-2022
Bible Study With Jairus - Numbers 35
Bible Study with Jairus - Numbers 35 Cities of Refuge       Levitical Cities: An Enlarged Replica of the Tabernacle   The first few verses of Numbers 35 present an interesting paradox. Numbers 35:4 says, "The pasturelands of the cities, which you shall give to the Levites, shall reach from the wall of the city outward a thousand cubits all around."[1] However, verse five says, "You shall measure, outside the city, on the east side two thousand cubits, and on the south side two thousand cubits, and on the west side two thousand cubits, and on the north side two thousand cubits, the city being in the middle. This shall belong to them as pastureland for their cities." Which is it? One thousand or two thousand? These verses have puzzled rabbis and interpreters through the ages. The complicated explanations are too complex to include here.   The Holy Spirit showed me that the size, design, and layout of the cities of the Levites were probably proportional to the dimensions of the Tabernacle's Holy of Holies and sanctuary. The tabernacle's Holy of Holies and sanctuary was 10 X 30, and I surmise that the city pasturelands may have been 3000 X 1000.   During the wilderness wanderings, the tabernacle was always on the move. The tabernacle represented the presence of God. Upon entering the Promised land, the tabernacle stood still and resided in Shiloh. But this did not mean that the presence of God, represented by the tabernacle, was no longer with the Israelites during the expansion of the land. The size of their towns may have reminded them of the tabernacle, reminding them that God was with them.   As the Israelites were scattered through the land, living and fighting in various places, it would have been easy to forget that God’s presence was still with them. But God wanted to dwell among the Israelites. What should He do? The 42 cities inhabited by the Levites plus the 6 cities of refuge formed a giant replica of the tabernacle to remind them of his presence.   The different tribes of Levites had different responsibilities. The Kohathites carried items from the sanctuary and the Holy of Holies, while the Gershonites and Merarites carried the items from the outer courtyard (Numbers 3). Although they were all Levites, their service varied in scope. Similarly, all believers today are priests. With Jesus Christ, our High Priest, we serve our Heavenly Father. But level of maturity of each Christian varies greatly. Some serve in the outer courtyard, while others serve in the sanctuary. Among those who serve in the sanctuary, some are near the outer courtyard while some are near the Holy of Holies.   Archaeologists discovered that 1,000 square cubits is 202,500 square meters. Counting the size of the pasturelands around the cities, the cities would be even bigger. This was a very spacious city at the time; most cities at the time were not this big. However, this was God's ideal design for the Levites. Just like the Israelites failed to expand into the full territory God gave them, the Levites may have failed to build their cities this big. However, God’s original plan was to give them large cities.   God longed to be with the Israelites. After talking about Levitical cities and cities of refuge, God says, "You shall not defile the land in which you live, in the midst of which I dwell, for I the Lord dwell in the midst of the people of Israel" (vs. 34). Clearly, the Lord dwelt among the Israelites.   How did the Lord dwell among the Israelites? In addition to dwelling in the tabernacle at Shiloh, He also dwelt in every Levitical city. The high priest was a Levite who could enter the Holy of Holies and get close to God. If a high priest lived in a city, it could be compared to the Holy of Holies. That’s why I likened the cities of the Levites to the dimensions of the tabernacle. The pasturelands were measured in four directions (east, west, north and south). It’s as if there were four replicas of the Holy of Holies and the sanctuary. When fleeing to a city of refuge, the individual Israelite would see a picture of the Holy of Holies and the sanctuary facing them.   Levitical Cities: reminder of God’s presence The time and place here are clearly indicated in the first verse of this chapter. Verse 1 says, "The Lord spoke to Moses in the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho..." Before Israel even crossed the Jordan River, God spoke to them in the plains of Moab by the Jordan River. Shiloh was on the west of the Jordan River. Probably after the Israelites crossed the Jordan River from the plains of Moab, the tabernacle remained at Shiloh until the ark was brought to Jerusalem.   The tabernacle was a picture of God's presence. The Israelites carried the tabernacle through the wilderness and finally came to Canaan. In other words, the tabernacle was God’s presence among the Israelites. This presence was always with the Israelites on their journey. As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 10, Christ was the spiritual rock that accompanied the Israelites (1 Corinthians 10:4).   After the people arrived in the promised land, the tabernacle remained at Shiloh. It no longer moved along with the Israelites on their travels. The Israelites needed God’s presence, and God longed to be with the Israelites (Numbers 35:34). Now that the tabernacle did not move, God would show his continued presence through the establishment and expansion of the Levitical cities.   The Lord commanded Moses to give 42 cities and 6 cities of refuge to the Levites, three on the west side of the Jordan River and three on the east side of it. Please note that at this time, the tribes of Israel had not yet cast lots for their land assignments (Joshua 13-19). Even after the casting of lots, they didn't get the lands right away. At the beginning of the book of Judges, Judah and the other tribes were still taking the land of the Canaanites after Joshua's death. The Israelites were unsuccessful in driving out many Canaanites, and God was displeased (Judges 2:1-5). The Israelites were commanded to expand gradually to eventually occupy 42 Levitical cities. Not until Joshua chapter 20 did the Lord instruct Joshua to establish cities of refuge. Not until Joshua 21 do the Levites receive a total of 48 cities (42 cities plus 6 cities of refuge).   Perhaps every Levite city was a reminder of the tabernacle as the Israelite borders continued to expand. Although the Israelites could still come to the tabernacle of Shiloh and draw near to God, it was far from convenient. In the wilderness, the Levites, like the other twelve tribes of Israel, were camped near tent of meeting (Numbers 2:2). It was easy and convenient to draw near to God in the tent of meeting. But in the Promised Land, it was not as convenient to approach God through the Levites in the tent of meeting.   Let’s think about an example. After Caleb entered the Promised land, he had to fight during the day to occupy the land. At night, when he wanted to offer sacrifices to God through the Levites, he lived too far away from Shiloh to do so.   How could the Israelites continue to offer sacrifices to God and approach God through the Levites? The 42 Levite cities and 6 cities of refuge were established among the tribes of Israel to make it easier for these Israelites to continue to come near to God through the Levites. Just like a modern-day military chaplain accompanies the troops on the battlefield, the Levites could continue serving the Israelites’ spiritual needs.   Although we know that sacrifices were restricted to the tabernacle and later the temple, that doesn't mean that the Levites living among the people couldn't minister to the other spiritual needs of the Israelites. For example, Moses prayed for Joshua while he was in battle, and Aaron and Hur helped Moses by holding up his hands. Though Hur is from the tribe of Judah and Joshua is from the tribe of Ephraim, Moses and Aaron are both from the tribe of Levi. In addition to handling the sacrifices, the Levites could also pray for the Israelites’ battles.   The cities of the Levites were not a replacement for the tabernacle (later, temple). They could not administer sacrifices or other services of the tabernacle. Rather, the Levitical cities, in a spiritual sense, could provide prayer and encouragement to the Israelites. In this way, the dwellings of the Levites represented the presence of God, which was necessary to assure victory to the Israelites.   A Spiritual Picture The tabernacle is the most important spiritual picture in the Old Testament. Almost all spiritual truths and experiences can be explained by the metaphor of the tabernacle. For example, the tabernacle had three parts: the outer courtyard, the sanctuary, and the Holy of Holies. These three areas represent the human body, soul, and spirit, respectively. If we apply this metaphor to the cities and pasturelands of the Levites, then the Israelites who lived outside the cities of the Levites lived in the outer courtyard. In the Old Testament tabernacle/temple, ordinary Jews could only enter the outer courtyard to worship God. There, the Levites helped them offer sacrifices. Only the Levites could enter the sanctuary, and only the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies.   The Israelites in each region were just ordinary Israelites living in the outer courtyard. But in the center of each region was a city of the Levites, representing the Holy of Holies. God was physically present with the Israelites by means of the Levites. On the surface, it would appear that the tribes of Israel showed mercy to the Levites by giving them land. But in reality, the Levites were a blessing to the Israelites. God chose the Levites to serve Him. Through them, God showed His presence to the Israelites.   Transition from Tabernacle to Temple Even after the tabernacle came to rest at Shiloh, it would be many decades before the temple was built. God was waiting for the right time and for the right person to build the temple. Although David wanted to build the temple, God told him that he would not be able to do it because he was a man of war. However, David prepared countless materials, made plans, and hired human talent for Solomon’s future construction of the temple. During this transitional period, God’s presence may inhabit the cities of the Levites besides the tabernacle.   Christ is our city of refuge, and Levitical cities are a picture of God's dwelling place in Christ. So, our guess that Levitical cities were proportional to the tabernacle is not entirely a guess.   Later, the Levites were not cared for by the Israelites. Some were homeless and had no food to eat. The book of Judges tells the story of a Levite who was taken care of by Micah of the hill country of Ephraim but later robbed by the tribe of Dan (Judges 17-18).   The Israelites were supposed to give a tenth of their goods to the Levites so that the Levites could draw near to God and bring God’s presence and blessing to the Israelites. This is a positive cycle. However, the history of the Israelites portrays a negative cycle. The Israelites did not take care of the Levites. The Levites did not draw close to God. And in the end, the Israelites collectively turned away from God and were disciplined by Him.   This negative cycle continued until 1 Samuel. Here, God specifically mentions that Eli’s two sons were priests (1 Samuel 1:3) that did not know the Lord (1 Samuel 2). Eli’s eyesight had begun to grow dim. The Bible says that "the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision." (1 Samuel 3:1).   Later, while fighting the Philistines, the Israelites placed a superstitious trust in the Ark of the Covenant, thinking that with the presence of the Ark, they would surely win the battle. Unfortunately, not only did they lose the battle, but they also allowed the ark of God to be captured. The Israelites did not realize that God had already been with them through the cities of the Levites, and that they needed to practice taking care of the Levites to take care of their relationship with God. Their neglect of the Levites plus the fall of the Levites ultimately led to their defeat. Blind faith in the Ark is useless. Similarly, a Christian who never prays, never reads the Bible, and doesn’t pay attention to his spiritual life shouldn’t expect God to answer superstitious, last-minute crisis prayers.   Today, Christ is our City of Refuge and Immanuel The pastureland surrounding the cities of refuge or outside of the Levite’s own pastureland may have been a little bigger. The larger pasture may represent the outer courtyard, where the bronze altar is set up and where sins can be covered. Imagine that a person who has accidentally killed someone is fleeing to the city of refuge. At the same time, a family member of the victim is chasing him down. It’s a very urgent situation. How far away from the city (2,000 cubits, 5,000 cubits, or 10,000 cubits) should the person who is fleeing be considered as entering it? There has to be a border, right? Perhaps the cities of refuge in ancient Israel had a larger pastureland. As long as you had entered this area, you were safe. But this is just my guess.   Today, every Christian and every home is a tabernacle and a city of Levites. We can all be a city of refuge. Our friends and relatives can flee to Christ (city of refuge) through us. The Levites were the leaders of the cities of refuge, and God dwelled among the cities through His invisible presence. Those who accidentally killed someone and fled to the city of the Levites were fleeing under the protection of God.   Similarly, today’s church represents the Levites. Sinners who flee to the safety of believers are fleeing to Christ, the city of refuge. We are the Levites today, and God is with us. The church is like a modern city of refuge. Back then, the Israelites fell away from God because they neglected the presence of God as mediated through the Levites. In the same way, believers today can fall away as they neglect God’s presence. May we all cherish the presence of Christ, Immanuel. Although we cannot see Him with our eyes, we know that He has promised to be with us every day until the end of the age (Matthew 28:20).       [1] All Scripture quotations are taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.
Bible Study With Jairus - Numbers 32
07-03-2022
Bible Study With Jairus - Numbers 32
Bible Study with Jairus – Numbers 32   Faith and obedience to God are the best ways to receive His blessings. In Numbers 32, the people of Gad and the people of Reuben were told to enter the Promised Land with the rest of the Israelites so they could inherit their choice of land on the east side of the Jordan River. If they refused to do this, they would inherit land in the land of Canaan like everyone else (Numbers 32:29-30). They had to trust God’s words and show it through their obedience.   Let’s look at the following verses:   Numbers 32:29-30 “And Moses said to them, “If the people of Gad and the people of Reuben, every man who is armed to battle before the Lord, will pass with you over the Jordan and the Land shall be subdued before you, then you shall give them the land of Gilead for a possession. However, if they will not pass over with you armed, they shall have possessions among you in the land of Canaan.”   If the Gadites and Reubenites refused to send soldiers to fight with their brothers, they would not be able to possess their preferred land on the East of Jordan river. God commanded them to cross the river and fight with the rest of Israel.   Why did Moses tell the people of Gad and Reuben that if they crossed the Jordan to fight with the rest of Israel, they could get Gilead on the east side of the Jordan as their inheritance, but if they refused to obey, they would receive an inheritance among the Israelites in the land of Canaan? I also wondered about the meaning of verse 30, “If they will not pass over with you armed, they shall have possessions among you in the land of Canaan.” Did this mean that they could cross the Jordan unarmed and receive the land of Canaan?   When I asked this question during Bible study, one of the men had an inspirational idea. He said, “Crossing the Jordan River unarmed would require more faith. Faith surpasses physical weapons. This is why they would obtain the promised land of Canaan as an inheritance. If they chose to fight with material weapons, they would receive a certain blessing from God—the land east of the Jordan which they had prayed for. But they wouldn’t be able to enter the Promised Land.”   This insight helped me understand Moses’ words. It gave me even more insight into Christian obedience and faith.   Do We Cherish God’s Promises?   When the Gadites and Reubenites saw that the land of Jazer and Gilead east of the Jordon would provide perfect grazing land for their livestock, they asked if they could stay there rather than crossing the Jordon and inheriting land in Canaan. Moses’ first reaction to this request was to scold them for being like their unbelieving ancestors.   Moses longed to enter the Promised Land, but he’d recently found out that God would not allow him to enter. He would only be able to watch from a distance. This may be one reason he was so frustrated with the Gadites and Reubenites. How could they be so close to God’s promises and throw away this opportunity to enter the Promised Land? How could they settle for living on the east of the Jordan River?   Eager to enter the good land but unable to do so himself, Moses was displeased with the people. These tribes had reached the entrance to the Promised Land and were settling for less. Rather than entering in and receiving the inheritance promised by God, they were content with their own inheritance.   Moses rebuked them for not participating in the conquest of the Promised Land. Moses was afraid their apathy would discourage the rest of the Israelites. However, the people of these two tribes and the half tribe of Manasseh promised Moses that they would bring weapons to fight with the Israelites across the Jordan River. Only their women, children and livestock would stay east of Jordan River. After that, Moses changed his attitude. Surprisingly, he granted their request.   Moses mentioned the word "before the Lord" many times in this chapter. For example, “You will take up arms to go before the Lord for the war (verse 20), “Every armed man of you will pass over the Jordan before the Lord” (verse 21), and “The land is subdued before the Lord” (Verse 22). Clearly, Moses knew that these choices were made in the presence of God and that the tribes would be accountable to Him.   However, the text never explicitly mentions the words, "The Lord said to Moses.” This phrase is very common throughout Exodus and Numbers. Because these words are omitted, we wonder if this permission was actually given by God, or if it was only granted by Moses. Because of the Israelites’ hardness of heart, they were allowed to stay across the Jordon. Similarly, when explaining why the Israelites were allowed to divorce their wives, Jesus said that God did not allow this at first, but Moses temporarily allowed the Israelites to divorce their wives because of the hardness of their hearts. (Matthew 19:8, Deuteronomy 24:1-4).   I think this is a reasonable way to interpret Numbers 32 as well. In God's perfect will, He wanted all Israelites to enter the Promised Land. The Israelites’ ancestors died in the wilderness because of their unbelief and rebellion. The Gadites and Reubenites also reached the border of the Promised Land, but did not want to enter. Like their ancestors, they despised the promise of God. Although the degree of contempt was different, they still despised God's promise. I believe that Moses gave permission to stay east of the Jordon as an expression of God’s permissive will. Though it wasn’t God’s perfect will for them to stay outside of Canaan, it was God’s permissive will for them to do so.   Moses told the other Israelites that if Gad and Reuben took their weapons across the Jordan River to fight alongside their brothers, they could inherit Gilead, east of the Jordan River. If they did not carry weapons and accompany the rest of the Israelites, perhaps it meant they had abandoned their desire for the land of Gilead and had decided to cherish God's promise. They would receive an inheritance in the land of Canaan instead. I hoped these tribes would not send soldiers to fight with their brothers, but that they would all go into the Promised Land together with the other tribes. But this was not the case.   How many Christians today are fighting desperately for their worldly desires, when God just wants them to rest in him? They would get much farther faster by resting in the Lord with faith. The Bible says, “For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, ‘In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.’ But you were unwilling” (Isaiah 30:15). We should not fight desperately for what we already can see, but look in faith beyond what we can see with our eyes. Trusting has better results than struggling and striving.   The lesson of obedience and faith for individual Christians   In the wilderness, God was training the Israelites in faith and obedience. Hebrews 3:7-12 tells us that the Israelites tested God in the wilderness and were disciplined by God. Hebrews reminds us not to harden our hearts and forsake God in disbelief. Numbers 14:22-23 tells us that the Israelites could not enter the Promised land because of disobedience and rebellion.   What is obedience? Obedience is knowing and doing the will of God. When God’s will and our own free will come into conflict, we face a choice. Will we obey or disobey? God's ways are higher than our ways and God's thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:9). Mentally, we can recognize that we should always obey God’s wise commands. It should be very easy for us to obey, but it often is not. Ignoring the fact that God’s ways are higher, we continue to do things in our own way. God sometimes must use circumstances and suffering to discipline us and help us submit to his will.   What is faith? Faith is knowing God Himself. Faith is seeing the sun through the dark clouds. The sun is always there, always shining behind the clouds. God sometimes allows difficult circumstances to cover the “sun” of his love, but we must remember he is always there. His goodness is always shining like the sun. Satan, like a dark cloud, tries to obscure and distort our understanding of God’s goodness. He tries to convince us that the sun is dark or nonexistent. When a person lives under dark clouds or darkness for too long, he will believe such lies. We must not allow the dark clouds of suffering to twist our basic understanding that “God is light.” Trials are a test of our faith. Will we pass the test?   During my season of infertility, I experienced ten years of difficulty and trial. This suffering helped me learn lessons of obedience and faith. At first, I didn’t submit to the people and circumstances arranged by God. Later, I discovered that God’s hand was disciplining me so I could learn lessons of obedience. After I surrendered to God, these sufferings became my blessings.   As I continued learning these lessons, I began to pray and look to God. Not only did I get the miracle baby I had prayed for, but my faith in God also increased dramatically. I learned to see the hand of God working in my circumstances, even when they looked bleak. God is good, he will always take care of us. Those who believe in Him will not be put to shame (Romans 10:11).   Jesus also learned obedience through suffering (Hebrews 5:8). If Jesus needed suffering to learn obedience, then this is especially true for us too. We must follow his example and learn obedience through suffering. Today, many Christians are unwilling to talk about suffering. They only want to talk about blessings. This is unbiblical.   God also highly values ​​our faith. If we want to enter the spiritual Promised Land, we also need to learn faith. No matter what kind of suffering comes our way, we will not be separated from God's love. God promises that all things work together for the benefit of those who love God (Romans 8). Suffering helps us learn to obey. It also helps increase our faith.   The lessons of obedience and faith for humanity and the church as a whole   In my opinion, the Covid-19 pandemic is God’s way of disciplining the human race as a whole. In both the Old Testament and the New Testament, God often sends plagues as a part of his judgment. The majority of the human race does not believe the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and are under his judgment. But some object that Christians have also become infected and died of the virus. How can COVID-19 be a judgment from God? Some Christians say that since the enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy, this plague comes from the enemy, not from God (John 10:10). Others say that all circumstances are under the sovereignty of God. Not even one sparrow falls apart from the Father’s will (Matthew 10:29). They say that since God allowed this to happen, it must be God’s judgment.   I understand that all the bad things come from the enemy, but I also believe that God can achieve His purposes though this attack from the enemy. He allowed it to happen. We need to allow this crisis to teach lessons of obedience and faith. Again, obedience is knowing God’s will and faith is knowing God himself.   You may ask, “How can we obey God and have faith in God in such a difficult situation?”   First, we must repent and obey God. No matter how we look at this issue, we can be sure of one thing. Trouble should motivate us to turn to God, pray, and examine our lives. It’s important to ask ourselves whether there are any areas in us that are disobedient or displeasing to God. Many Christians testify that illness or trouble was the catalyst to their spiritual renewal and repentance.   Similarly, the purpose of this collective human suffering is to motivate us to turn to God. If the human race refuses to recognize that this is God’s discipline, we won’t be able to achieve God’s purpose. If we use human methods (science and medicine) to solve the problem, we won’t get to the spiritual root of the problem. I am not against science, but I am saying that we should not overlook the spiritual root causes of this pandemic.   Some Christians say that God would never send disease to test and discipline people, but this opinion does not align with God’s word. God clearly told the Israelites that if they disobeyed, “Every other malady and affliction, even though not recorded in the book of this law, the Lord will inflict on you until you are destroyed.” (Deuteronomy 28:61)   You may say, “That was in the Old Testament, and this is the New Testament.” Then how can you explain the plagues recorded in Revelation? It is never God’s perfect will to have His people sick or experiencing plagues, but sometimes He allows bad things to happen to motivate us to repent and turn back to him. He disciplines us so we won’t lose our eternal reward.   We must change our mindset and begin to reflect on our lives before God. If we attribute this trial to demons or human agency, we may end up losing our opportunity to repent. We must balance the grace of God with the righteousness of God. In God’s righteousness, He does judge and discipline His people, along with the world He created.   Second, we must have faith in God. It may seem like God is not listening to our prayers for healing from the pandemic. Many people are dying, powerless to save themselves. Controversies about vaccines, political parties, and elections are raging in the United States. Darkness is rampant. It seems that God doesn’t care about it. How can we have faith in God?   Such tests of faith are common throughout the Bible. Peter told us, “For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God (1 Peter 4:17). Paul also mentioned the judgment and discipline of God: “Our earthly fathers disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but the Father of Spirits disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore, lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees.” (Hebrews 12:10-12). When tests of faith come, believers often begin to doubt the existence of God or the goodness of God. Instead, we can strengthen our weak and drooping hands and move forward towards the great future God has for us.   A great revival is coming. The coming of this great revival has incited all-out opposition from the enemy. The darkness you see comes from the anger of the enemy. However, the enemy’s wrath cannot stop the coming of this great revival.   At the same time, in order to prepare for the coming of this great revival, God must cleanse the church and prepare us as clean vessels that are capable of receiving the coming outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Just like Jesus overturned the tables of money changers in the temple, God is cleansing his “temple” now.   Our current suffering should not make us lose faith in God. Instead, it should strengthen our faith. The process of labor and delivery is painful. But once the child is born, the previous pain will be forgotten because of the joy that the child brings. (John 16:21). In the same way, we can endure the “childbirth” that the church is experiencing. During this painful time, our church should be full of hope. As the saying goes, "Small child, small push; big child, big push.” This great revival is a “big child,” so we have to use great force to give birth. We must endure temporary pain in anticipation of the great revival that is coming soon.   Conclusion and blessings   God spoke to me in a dream on May 12, 2016 that my wife would be pregnant with a child within a month. After this dream, Satan began to attack me violently.   Satan’s attack caused discord between my wife and me. We did not speak for two weeks. However, on May 28th, my wife discovered that she was pregnant, after ten years of infertility. We were able to reconcile. I have learned from my personal experience that each time God releases a heavenly blessing in our lives, Satan launches a counterattack. We must endure these battles before we can receive these blessings.   Personal spiritual experience confirms this principle, which we are currently seeing played out in the church and in humanity as a whole. God is preparing a great blessing, a great revival. On many occasions, God has told me about this great revival through prophetic dreams. However, Satan has mobilized all hell in an attempt to prevent the coming of this great revival. But we know that Satan is doomed to fail. If we persevere to the end, we will win.   In time, we will see these promises come true. Meanwhile, let us learn the lessons of obedience and faith that God wants to teach us. Remember, obedience is knowing God’s will and faith is knowing God himself. We must align our will with God’s will and place our faith in God’s goodness.
Bible Study With Jairus - Numbers 10
07-03-2022
Bible Study With Jairus - Numbers 10
Bible Study with Jairus – Numbers 10- Moses’ Extended Family, God’s Presence in Battle, and Preparing for War Numbers 10 covers many topics: how to blow the trumpets (vs. 1-10); how to set out (vs. 11-13); marching order as they set out (vs 14-28); Moses pleading with Hobab (vs. 29-32); and the leading of the ark (vs. 33-36). What is the relationship of these to each other? I believe that the pieces are closely linked. The theme of this connection is the relationship between God's presence and doing battle for God. Let’s look at some of the background before connecting all the pieces. Hobab...Father-in Law or Brother-in-Law? When first reading Numbers 10, many people are confused about the name of Moses’ father-in-law. Numbers 10:29 says, "Moses said to Hobab the son of Reuel the Midianite, Moses' father-in-law..." This section is very confusing. The meaning in the ESV is "Hobab, the father-in-law of Moses, is the son of Reuel the Midianite," because Judges 4:11 mentions "Hobab, the father-in-law of Moses." But when I first read it, I  read it that Moses' father-in-law was Reuel, and he had a son named Hobab. Someone else pointed out that this understanding was not consistent with Judges 4:11. It seemed to her that the father of Hobab, Moses' father-in-law, was called Reuel. But I said that when Exodus 2:18 was talking about Moses helping to water the flock of the daughters of a Midianite priest in the wilderness, it was mentioned that their father's name was "Reuel." This proves that Reuel is not Moses’ grandfather, but rather Moses’ father-in-law himself. When Exodus 3:1 mentions Moses' father-in-law, the name used is "Jethro.”   So what is the name of Moses' father-in-law? There is an explanation that "Jethro" is just a title, like the title of the Midianite priest, and "Reuel" is the name of his father-in-law. In Judges 4:11, the word "father-in-law" in "Moses' father-in-law Hobab" is the same as "brother-in-law" in the original Hebrew text. Therefore, some Bible translation scholars also advocate that the father-in-law in Judges 4:11 be translated as "brother-in-law." Because there are different translations in the different English Bible versions, we often find certain words translated differently. For example, NRSV, Darby Bible Translation, King James, ESV, and others have translated Judges 4:11 into "Moses' father-in-law Hobab.” But there are also many versions, including the New Living Translation, NIV, Good News Translation, New Heart English Bible, American Standard Version, English Revised Version, World English Bible, and more which have translated it as "Moses' brother-in-law.” It can be seen that theologians have different understandings or ideas on how to translate this verse. My inspiration is that Hobab is Moses' brother-in-law. Why? I will give an example to prove my guess. First, let us look at Exodus 18. Exodus 18 tells how Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, heard of the great things God had done for Moses and for the Israelites, so he  brought Moses' wife and two children with him to the mountain of God. Moses then testified to his father-in-law again of how God saved the Israelites. Jethro’s reaction to Moses’ news is recorded in Exodus 18:9-12 (ESV):  “And Jethro rejoiced for all the good that the Lord had done to Israel, in that he had delivered them out of the hand of the Egyptians. Jethro said, “Blessed be the Lord, who has delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians and out of the hand of Pharaoh and has delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians. Now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods, because in this affair they dealt arrogantly with the people.” And Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and sacrifices to God; and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat bread with Moses' father-in-law before God.” Looking at these verses, we can see that Jethro praised Jehovah and offered sacrifices to God. To use a common phrase among Christians, Jethro seems to have received salvation and accepted God's salvation when he heard Moses' testimony. Exodus 18:13-26 then records that Jethro gave Moses advice. He told him to appoint chiefs of thousands and hundreds, etc. to help him judge the people. Please note that verse 18:27 (ESV) says, "Then Moses let his father-in-law depart, and he went away to his own country." What we should focus on here is the place and time when Jethro came. He might have come to Mount Sinai, the place where Moses set up the tabernacle, sometime in the second year after the Israelites left Egypt. Exodus 16:1 (ESV) recorded that the Israelites came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt. After Moses let his father-in-law depart (Exodus 18:27), Exodus 19:1 records that the Israelites came to the wilderness of Sinai "on the third new moon" in the second year after the Israelites left Egypt. The NIV says “on the first day of the third month” instead. And Numbers 10:11-13 (ESV) mentions, "In the second year, in the second month, on the twentieth day of the month, the cloud lifted from over the tabernacle of the testimony, and the people of Israel set out by stages from the wilderness of Sinai. And the cloud settled down in the wilderness of Paran. They set out for the first time at the command of the Lord by Moses." The book of Numbers records that they had been traveling from the wilderness of Sinai on February 20 of the second year. Perhaps they made stops along the way. Perhaps they were still in Sinai in March, when Jehovah descended on Mount Sinai. Exodus 19 records Moses going up the mountain to meet with God, where the Lord spoke to Moses for a long time and promulgated the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20). Moses stayed with God on the mountain for 40 days and 40 nights (Exodus 24:18). Then, in Exodus 31, the Lord commanded Moses to build the tabernacle. After Moses went down the mountain, he found that the Israelites broke the law by worshipping the golden calf. Later, he went again to Mount Sinai for 40 days and 40 nights (Exodus 34:28). Chapter 35 begins to record the details of the construction of the tabernacle. In Exodus 40:2 (ESV), the Lord says to Moses: "On the first day of the first month you shall erect the tabernacle of the tent of meeting." It can be seen that Moses was setting up the tabernacle on the first day of the first month of the second year after the Israelites left Egypt. The record of leaving Egypt ends here. It was mentioned that the clouds covering the tabernacle guided the Israelites' movement. When the cloud was lifted from above the tabernacle, the Israelites would set out. The book of Numbers is a continuation of the records here. It continues to record the journey of the Israelites. I guess that Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, left during the period around February 20, the second year after the Israelites left Egypt. Plus this was also recorded in chapter 16 before Jethro came in Exodus 18. The Israelites were in the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, around February 15. If this was recorded in chronological order, Moses’ father-in-law may have come to see Moses after February 15th. On February 20th, the Israelites began to “set out for the first time”. Perhaps the wilderness of Sinai was large and they had walked for quite a long time. Although we don’t know exactly when Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, came, we can guess from the above verses that he may come around February 15-20. How does this prove that the Hobab recorded in Numbers 10:29 might be Moses' brother-in-law, rather than his father-in-law? If he was his father-in-law, there would be no need for Exodus 18:27: "Moses let his father-in-law depart, and he went away to his own country." In Numbers 10, if Moses had begged for his father-in-law to not leave him, why didn't he prevent his father-in-law from leaving in Exodus 18? He encouraged it! We should also consider the distance Jethro would have had to travel to reach Moses’ camp. At that time, transportation was inconvenient. It is unlikely that Jethro would leave and come back that soon. This makes no sense!   Furthermore, we read that Moses' father-in-law was old and he had praised and offered sacrifices to Jehovah. So Moses was also comfortable with his leaving, knowing he would have a proper burial in his own country. It is very difficult for people to leave their hometowns when they are old, so Jethro likely would not have wanted to travel further with Moses. So Moses did not think it necessary to stop his father-in-law from leaving. However, when Moses' father-in-law came, he might have brought Moses' brother-in-law Hobab with him and stayed with Moses for a few more days. When Moses was encamping, Hobab might have said that he hoped to go back to his own country like his father, Jethro. That’s why Moses begged him to stay. Why? My guess is that, although Hobab wanted to return to his hometown, he was still young. The Bible does not record if he knew Jehovah, so if he went back, he might not be able to enter the kingdom of God peacefully like his father. Thus Moses hoped that Hobab could embark on a difficult but promising journey with him so that Hobab's family could be saved. Moses may have thought that he could still convince him to spend part of his time travelling with the Israelites. Moses’ Heart for Others Numbers 10:31-32 tells us, “Thus Moses begged Hobab and said, ‘Please do not leave us, for you know where we should camp in the wilderness, and you will serve as eyes for us. And if you do go with us, whatever good the Lord will do to us, the same will we do to you.’” Some people think that Moses does not trust God enough here but I disagree. Wherever Moses went, he had the presence and leading of the cloud. He did not necessarily need the help of Hobab. But if Hobab left Moses, he would not necessarily be able to enjoy the presence of God. The issue was not that Moses needed Hobab.. Rather, he was worried that Hobab would wander away from God.   The Line of Hobab Of course, the Bible does not record in Numbers 10 whether Hobab agreed to Moses’ request, but other verses suggest that Hobab did walk with Moses. Judges 1 tells the story of Judah going up first to fight. It is especially recorded in verse 16: "The descendants of the Kenite, Moses' father-in-law, went up with the people of Judah from the city of palms into the wilderness of Judah, which lies in the Negeb near Arad, and they went and settled with the people.” From this verse, we can see that Hobab may have agreed to Moses’ request, and thus received God’s blessing while dwelling with the tribe of Judah. Judges 4:11 says, "Heber the Kenite had separated from the Kenites, the descendants of Hobab the father-in-law of Moses (or brother-in-law), and had pitched his tent as far away as the oak in Zaanannim, which is near Kedesh." The descendant of Hobab, which is Jael, killed Sisera, Israel’s enemy. Part of Hobab’s line became warriors to fight for God. Since Hobab followed Moses and took this arduous journey, he had also received great blessings.   I heard Chuck Pierce, a prophet in the United States, say that the word for “peg” in the passage where Jael hits Sisera's head is the same word in the Hebrew text as the word “and” in Genesis 1:1 (“God created the heavens and the earth”). This tent peg is made of wood. It represents that when Christ was crucified on the cross, the heavens and the earth were linked together, and the power of God's enemy Satan (represented by Sisera) was removed. God used the descendant of Hobab to show his power. Directions for War: Then and Now When I was reading Numbers 10:1-10, the Holy Spirit highlighted verse 8 to me: "The sons of Aaron, the priests, shall blow the trumpets. The trumpets shall be to you for a perpetual statute throughout your generations." The two trumpets that Jehovah had Moses make had specific instructions for blowing the trumpets, and only the sons of Aaron, the priests, could blow them. What does this mean? This is signifying the presence of God. A priest is a person who serves God and gets to enter into His presence. Christians today must first be priests to draw near to God and minister to God Himself, and then enter into His presence before we can hear and release His words. The words of God are represented by the trumpets here, and these trumpets will lead us into battle. When two trumpets were sounded, all the Israelites would come. When only one trumpet was sounded, only the leader would come. When a trumpet blast was sounded, the tribes camping on the east were to set out. At the sounding of a second blast, the camps on the south were to set out. Numbers 10:9 says, "When you go to war in your land against the adversary who oppresses you, then you shall sound an alarm with the trumpets, that you may be remembered before the Lord your God, and you shall be saved from your enemies.” It can be seen that blowing the trumpets was indeed for war purposes.   I have made several observations about some people’s pursuit of spiritual warfare in the Pentecostal Movement. Some people I personally met have limited life and spiritual experience, but they often claimed that they engaged in spiritual warfare against enemies all day. I personally encountered these kinds of people. They would see demons in every place and under every situation. I also saw that they were deceived by the enemy in the end. I felt that they had a good heart, but their focus was misplaced. Our focus should not be centered on spiritual enemies. Rather, we need to focus on the Lord.   The secret of spiritual warfare is not to fight, but to rest and enter into God’s presence. Only by entering the presence of God and the richness and fullness of God's life can you overcome the enemy. However, this does not mean that spiritual warfare is not real. Many evangelical brothers and sisters ignore the reality of spiritual warfare and do not dare to be in contact with the spiritual realm or pursue spiritual gifts. The purpose of our pursuit of God is not just to have His presence for the sake of having it. After we enter into God's presence, we will naturally enter a spiritual battle.   This is also true in the second section of the chapter (vs. 11-13). The leading of the cloud is also the presence of God. In the third section (vs. 14-28), the order of the seven camps of the twelve tribes shows preparations for war. The tribes in the east set out first. After the tabernacle was taken down, the sons of Gershon and the sons of Merari, who carried the tabernacle, carried them away. The tabernacle represented God’s presence. When there was war in the Old Testament, the people had to walk with the ark and exalt it to win. This is proved by the later experiences of Moses and the experiences of the Israelites in the book of Judges. Then the camps on the south side set out before the Kohathites, who carried the objects of the sanctuary. After they arrived, the Gershonites and Merarites would set up the tabernacle and would directly put the objects of the sanctuary and the Holy of Holies into the tabernacle. This was to bring in or maintain God's constant presence. Do you see the cycle? God’s presence brings in spiritual warfare. But it is with God’s presence that we see victory in war. The purpose of war is to bring in more of the presence of God. It is a circle. On the one hand, there is God’s presence. On the other hand, there is victory in wars with the help of God.   Here is where we begin to see connections between the pieces of the chapter. This is all recorded before Moses begged Hobab. My inspiration in this is also to signify the theme of God's presence and war. The process of the Israelites leaving Egypt is a process of manifesting the power of God. Along the way, it is like testifying to the Gentiles. They let the prostitute Rahab (Joshua 6) and Gibeon (Joshua 9) etc. be able to join the army of God. This is a natural result of God's presence. Hobab may have been heard-headed, but he was still subdued and attracted by God's presence. Thus, in the end, he may have followed Moses embarking on a journey and a battle of leaving his home. How can the presence of God not attract people? If we really have the presence of God, our relatives will follow us. I found this true in my own life. It was not me, but the presence of God in my family that drew my realtives to Him. Like Hobab, they joined us in the army of God. Therefore, from this perspective, Hobab could not have left Moses in this place. If he left, I believe it would have been an insult to the presence of God. The Importance of Like-minded Friends Of course, I do not deny that Moses had his weaknesses. We can imagine Moses' moods. Suppose that Hobab was Moses' brother-in-law, and may have lived with Moses for nearly 40 years. Moses might have said to Hobab, "Look, God put the burden of leading the Israelites on my shoulders. I already told God to kill me. I can't bear it, but God still won’t listen. Although God commanded me to lead the Israelites in leaving Egypt and performing miracles for them, they complain constantly (Numbers 11 records that the Israelites were complaining about God, and God burned some of them to death). Look at my brother Aaron and sister Miriam. They are also helping me, but they are jealous of me in their hearts (Chapter 12 records this story). I have only a few like-minded people. We have lived together for 40 years. You are someone I may be able to rely on. Please help me out." This is only my imagination. However, the Israelites had just left Egypt and had not had much time to build trust with Moses. Moses and his brother and sister had not lived together for a long time, so they were not familiar with each other. I don't believe that Moses needed Hobab to lead them into camping in the wilderness. For one, the cloud of God led them. Also, Moses had lived in the wilderness for forty years, so he himself may have been familiar with the wilderness. What Moses needed was a like-minded person. Picture the situation of the church today. What many pastors lack is not the presence and leading of God, but like-mindedness from fellow church members. Thus, many times God's call cannot be fulfilled. I think Paul also had the same feeling; he repeatedly reminded brothers and sisters to be like-minded (Philippians 2:2). In order to win the battle, we need the presence of God and support from like-minded members of the body of Christ. Final Thoughts In the last section (vs. 33-36), it is recorded that Moses was praying to exalt the ark. This shows even more clearly that our inspiration may be right. Wherever there is the exaltation of the ark, there is the presence of God, there will be victory in battles, and enemies will also be scattered. The result of the victory in battles will naturally bring more of the presence of God, and will also bring more people of God into His kingdom. I will repeat the last two verses here to serve as inspiration for us all. And whenever the ark set out, Moses said, “Arise, O Lord, and let your enemies be scattered, and let those who hate you flee before you.” And when it rested, he said, “Return, O Lord, to the ten thousand thousands of Israel.” I pray that in your spiritual journey, you will be filled with the presence of God and surrounded by like-minded people so that you can win the battles you face. Let the name of Jehovah be exalted! May His glory fill the whole world in order to bring more people into the kingdom that He has prepared for us.
Bible Study With Jairus - Acts 19
07-03-2022
Bible Study With Jairus - Acts 19
Bible Study with Jairus – Acts 19   Acts 19 begins with a story about how Paul supplied the needs of Apollos' ministry.  Those who were ministered to by Apollos only knew John's baptism and weren't aware of the Holy Spirit.  Is there a deeper spiritual meaning here?  If so, what spiritual insight can we glean for our walk with the Lord?   The spiritual insight is that John's ministry introduces Jesus Christ, and Jesus' ministry baptizes us with the Holy Spirit and fire.  In other words, John introduced Christ, and Christ introduced the Holy Spirit.  This is the full gospel.  If we only talk about one aspect and not the other, it will cause Christians to have a one-sided understanding of the truth, leading to division in the church.   Why did Apollos only know John’s baptism? Acts 18:24 mentions that Apollos was a native of Alexandria.  Alexandria is a port city located on the Mediterranean Sea in northern Egypt.  If Apollos lived in Alexandria, then it would be very interesting.  Imagine how influential John's ministry was in Israel.  Many Jews had repented and been baptized.  Even the unbelieving Pharisees came to join in the fun, and John criticized them, telling them to produce fruit in keeping with repentance (NIV, Matthew 3:8).  Even Apollos, who was in Alexandria, Egypt, was influenced by John's ministry, so it is evident that John's ministry had significant influence.   John had two crucial messages.  The first was that you have to repent because the kingdom of heaven has come near (NIV, Matthew 3:2).  The second is that he was not Christ.  He just baptized people withwater for repentance.  But after him would come one who is more powerful than him – Jesus Christ.  He would baptize people with the Holy Spirit and fire. (NIV, Matthew 3: 11).   His two messages are very clear and definitive.  But it is like a stone thrown into the lake, creating a ripple.  This expanding ripple eventually becomes weaker and weaker.  By the time John's ministry reached Apollos, only one of his two messages seemed to be passed along.   When Paul arrived at Ephesus, he found that the disciples who were saved under Apollos' ministry weren't baptized in the Holy Spirit, nor had they even heard of the Holy Spirit.   Of course, Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied (NIV, Acts 19:6).   Please pay attention here.  The Bible did not record that Aquila and Priscilla helped Apollos to be baptized in the Holy Spirit.  Nor did it mention that Paul helped Apollos to be baptized in the Holy Spirit.  It only noted that Paul placed his hands on people who had been ministered to in Apollos' ministry, and they were filled with the Holy Spirit.  Did all of Apollos’ disciples receive the Holy Spirit?  Obviously not.  If yes, then Paul wouldn't talk about the church's divisions at Corinth in 1 Corinthians 1:12, saying that some people followed Paul, and others claim to follow Apollos.     I suspect that one reason for the divisions in the church at Corinth was because of the second aspect of the truth - the question of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  Among which, speaking in tongues is definitely an important point of disagreement.  Paul is teaching and putting the fullness of the Holy Spirit into practice.  He said that he speaks in tongues more than everyone else (NIV, 1 Corinthians 14:18).  Although he repeatedly urged the church not to speak excessively in tongues, he was not totally opposed to speaking in tongues.  But amongst the people saved under Apollos' ministry, was there someone who didn't speak in tongues?  Did they have a different understanding of this truth?  I feel that in addition to those who experienced Paul laying his hands on them and accepted his teachings, there may have been some of Apollos' disciples who did not advocate speaking in tongues. Plus, those who supported speaking in tongues had various fleshly behaviors. They also had reasons to oppose them in the matter of speaking in tongues.   So we have a clue here that there is a very close relationship between what kind of spiritual life a Christian will live in the future as to when he/she is first saved and what kind of spiritual teaching he/she accepts in the beginning.  On the other hand, the ultimate cause of the division of the body of Christ lies in the difference in teaching or the understanding of God's truth.  If the body of Christ wants to be united but can't come to an agreement regarding truth, it would be tough to find unity.    I was saved in the Local Church movement associated with Watchman Nee and Witness Lee. When Witness Lee started his ministry in Los Angeles, he tried to meet with a Pentecostal group in hopes of unity.  But ultimately, there was a dispute over the issue of whether or not to speak in tongues. The two sides refused to give in to the other, and unity wasn't realized. Overall, as far as Protestantism is concerned, one of the most significant factors that led to their division is how to treat the baptism of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues, etc. There are some estimates that Charismatic Christians probably equal the number of evangelical Christians, which is about 600 million people. There are about 1 billion Catholics, amongst which more than 100 million of them have accepted the charismatic experience.   In general, people classify the American Charismatic Movement into two categories. The first category is the traditional Pentecostal Movement, which advocates that speaking in tongues is the initial evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  The traditional church doesn't accept this, thus producing Classical Pentecostal denominations like the Assembly of God and others.  The second category is often referred to as the Charismatic Renewal. This kind of renewal does not encourage people to be separated from their original denomination.  They believe that speaking in tongues is just one evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  Therefore, this is widely accepted by the mainstream American churches, affecting many groups, including the Anglican Church, the Methodist Church, and even the Catholic Church. They accepted the baptism of the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues and operate in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, without leaving their current denomination.   The United Theological Seminary in the United States, where I am studying now, belongs to the Methodist Church.  Because I am participating in the new semester's Intensive learning of the Ph.D. program in Dayton, Ohio, I have come into contact with some Methodist believers. Some accept the baptism of the Holy Spirit, though not the majority.  But they are meeting with other men and women who haven't experienced this in church.   Let's look at Apollos' experience. He accepted John's baptism but did not accept the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  The disciples in his ministry didn't accept the Holy Spirit either.  They had not even heard that there was a Holy Spirit.  Acts 18 did mention that Aquila and Priscilla helped Apollos to understand the way of God more accurately.  But it did not explicitly mention helping Apollos to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  And at the beginning of Acts 19, Paul returned to Ephesus to meet the disciples who had received help from Apollos' ministry, and they hadn't heard that there was a Holy Spirit.  There are good reasons for us to speculate that Apollos did not accept the baptism of the Holy Spirit.   An important part of John's ministry was to reveal that Christ wants to baptize us with the Holy Spirit and fire.  But why is it that this part is ignored and distorted?  This reminds me of Jackie Chan's movie "Around the World in 80 Days."  When British officials discussed that a Chinese man had robbed the bank, the message was passed on. In the end, the original message that was passed turned into a totally different message saying that someone else robbed the bank.  One of the reasons is that the character (Jackie Chan) deliberately passed the wrong message in the middle, causing the following information to be all wrong.  This was a movie, but it also happens in actual spiritual experience.   These are the enemy's tactics.  He would keep people from accepting John's baptism by thwarting the message of repentance.  Unfortunately for him, the people believed that John was sent by God and kept coming to him to be baptized.  Tactic number two was to bring the Pharisees and Sadducees who tried to pass themselves off as repentant people ready to be baptized, but John saw right through them and harshly criticized them.  The enemy's last tactic was to hold John's ministry in high regard while downplaying Jesus' ministry. John's disciples could establish a new religion and stir his disciples to challenge the Lord by asking Him: "Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast? (Matt. 9:14).  In the end, John was martyred. The Israelites believed he was a prophet sent by God, and John's ministry of repentance was raised up, downplaying or ignoring the message that Jesus was greater and would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire.  Why?  Because Satan wants the most important message to be obstructed.   Satan's tactics are the same in today's church as it was in ancient times.  He still strives to downplay the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the teaching that Jesus will baptize us with the Holy Spirit and fire.  It is often said that speaking in tongues is the least among the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  This seems to make sense, but when you analyze it carefully, it's not entirely true. For example, why is it that the "least important" gift causes the body of Christ to experience the "biggest" division?  Why is almost half of the body of Christ divided into two factions by this teaching?   I often say that no doubt, speaking in tongues is the least gift.  Speaking in tongues can be likened to two sides of a mountain ridge with a tiny spot at the top representing speaking in tongues.  You can only see the side of the mountain you are on if you haven't climbed to the top of the mountain.   Those who don't accept speaking in tongues are stuck on this side of the mountain with a limited view.  They accept the truth of God on this side of the mountain.  But since they haven't climbed to the top of the mountain, they can't see what's up there or what's on the other side, so they don't get the full view.   Those who accept speaking in tongues have climbed the mountain, seen the view from the top and gone over to the other side.  Though the top, which represents speaking in tongues, looks small from the bottom side of the mountain, those who have climbed to the top get the whole view, not just half.  It's a more well-rounded view.  Those who don't climb to the top have a limited perspective and don't see the whole picture. This analogy is not limited to speaking in tongues.  It includes all of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.   Apollos only knew John's baptism, although Aquila and Priscilla helped him understand more about God's way.  Paul also helped some of Apollo's disciples accept the Holy Spirit's fullness, but it did not completely solve this problem.  Apollo's lack of understanding of the truth laid the seeds for the future division of the church at Corinth.  In addition to the flesh, the most significant cause of the church's division is the difference in teaching and understanding the truth.  Therefore, I have always believed that the body of Christ cannot be united in the understanding of the truth of God, making it difficult to have true unity.   This problem still exists in today's church.  There are still some members of the body of Christ who are like Apollos.  They only know John's baptism.  They may be full of eloquence, very knowledgeable in the Bible, had been instructed in the way of the Lord, spoke with great fervor, and refuted their opponents in public debate (these are all descriptions of Apollos in Acts 18-19).  Still, because of their lack of understanding of the truth, it foreshadowed the later Corinthian church's difficulties.   Of course, we can't attribute all of the responsibility to Apollos. The disciples at Corinth who sinned and the fleshy believers who pursued speaking in tongues and other gifts also caused the Corinthian church's difficulties.   John's ministry was not like this at first.  In addition to teaching the baptism of repentance, he said that Jesus would baptize us with the Holy Spirit and fire. Similarly, the Bible's teachings are not only about the baptism of repentance; they also include the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Although it's necessary to repent to receive the life of God, it is equally important to be baptized with the Holy Spirit, to get the power and the reinforcement of the Holy Spirit.   For quite some time, I've heard people talk about convergence, meaning that God not only wants us to be holy, but He also wants the church to be powerful.  If the church isn't holy, it cannot be the salt and light, therefore losing its testimony.  If the church is not powerful, the world will fall into the hands of the power of evil forces.  Holiness and power need to converge together. The church needs to be a witness of God in these two aspects.  One night, the Lord appeared to me in a prophetic dream. He said to me that the two rivers would converge together.  But He did not tell me what the two rivers were. I'm always trying to understand the meaning of the Lord's words. One thought I had is that holiness and power will converge together.  The teachings I received at the Local Church Movement were mainly about growing in holiness.  Later, the Lord led me to learn and pursue the gifts and power in the Pentecostal Movement.  My understanding is that the Lord will lead me to learn how to combine holiness and power.   Paul said, "I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. (NIV, 1 Corinthians 3:6).  Although Apollos has an insufficient understanding of the truth, he made significant contributions. Acts 19 has primarily recorded how God did extraordinary miracles through Paul.  When his handkerchiefs or aprons were laid on the sick, their illnesses were cured, and the evil spirits left them (NIV, Acts 19:11-12). There are a growing number of churches where people are weak, sick, and overcome by evil spirits.  We need to grow in the power of the Spirit like Paul so that sickness is healed and evil spirits are driven away.   Because of Paul's mighty power, many who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly.  The total came to fifty thousand drachmas. (NIV, Acts 19:19).  A drachma is w