Jonathan Cahn explains “The Harbinger,” on “Marcus and Joni.” If you’re not familiar with “The Harbinger,” this program is a good introduction. I bought “The Harbinger Decoded” DVD recently, an exceptional documentary with special features that were new to me. The book and documentary are based on Isaiah 9: 10 and the events following 9/11.
I was reading the second chapter of 2 Peter this morning and was struck by its similarity to the Book of Jude, which warns the body of believers about false teachers, wolves in sheep’s clothing. I love using a cross-reference Bible to compare scripture with scripture. Written by men, inspired by God, the Bible is consistence in its teachings.
EXCERPTS FROM 2 PETER:
But there were false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them–bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping (2 Peter 2: 1-3 NIV).
Bold and arrogant, these men are not afraid to slander celestial beings; yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not bring slanderous accusations against such beings in the presence of the Lord. But these men blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like brute beasts, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like beasts they too will perish.
They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you. With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable, they are experts in greed–an accursed brood! They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of *Balaam son of Beor, who loved the wages of wickedness. But he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey–a beast without speech–who spoke with a man’s voice and restrained the prophet’s madness.
These men are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity–for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true. “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud” (2 Peter 2: 10b-16 NIV).
EXCERPTS FROM THE BOOK OF JUDE:
Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints, For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.
Though you already know this, I want to remind you that the Lord delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe. And the *angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home–these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. In a similar way, *Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.
In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings. But even the *archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals–these are the very things that destroy them.
Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in *Korah’s rebellion.
These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm–shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted–twice dead. They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever (Jude 3-13 NIV).
* Balaam–Numbers 22: 4-20
* Sodom and Gomorrah–Deuteronomy 29: 23 and Genesis 19: 1-10
* Korah’s Rebellion–Numbers 16: 1-33
* Michael and the Body of Moses–see Book of Enoch (Jewish literature, not in the Bible)
* Angels who left their domain–Genesis 6: 4 and the Book of Enoch
Paul is regarded as the Apostle to the Gentiles, and rightly so; but in every city, he went to the synagogue first. As he stated in Romans 1: 16, For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile (NIV). Often we quote the first half of this verse and leave out the rest, and yet it was Paul’s method of evangelism.
Note that In the following passage, Paul is sharing the Gospel with Jews and Gentiles alike in the synagogue. He is not quoting the New Testament, which did not exist at that time, but is teaching primarily from the Tanahk (Old Testament).
On the Sabbath, they [Paul and his companions] entered the synagogue and sat down. After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the synagogue rulers sent word to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have a message of encouragement for the people, please speak.”
Standing up, Paul motioned with his hand and said: “Men of Israel and you Gentiles who worship God, listen to me! The God of the people of Israel chose our fathers; he made the people prosper during their stay in Egypt, with mighty power he led them out of that country, he endured their conduct for about forty years in the desert, he overthrew seven nations in Canaan and gave their land to his people as their inheritance. All this took about 450 years.
“After this, God gave them judges until the time of Samuel the prophet. Then the people asked for a king, and he gave them Saul son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin, who ruled forty years. After removing Saul, he made David their king. He testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’
“From this man’s descendants God has brought to Israel the Savior Jesus, as he promised. Before the coming of Jesus, John preached repentance and baptism to all the people of Israel. As John was completing his work, he said: ‘Who do you think I am? I am not that one. No, but he is coming after me, whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.’
“Brothers, children of Abraham, and you God-fearing Gentiles, it is to us that this message of salvation has been sent. The people of Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognize Jesus, yet in condemning him they fulfilled the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath. Though they found no proper ground for a death sentence, they asked Pilate to have him executed. When they had carried out all that was written about him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead, and for many days he was seen by those who had traveled with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now his witnesses to our people.
“We tell you the good news: What God promised our fathers he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it is written in the second Psalm:
” ‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father.’
The fact that God raised him from the dead, never to decay, is stated in these words:
” ‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings promised to David.’
So it is stated elsewhere:
” ‘You will not let your Holy One see decay.’
“For when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his fathers and his body decayed. But the one whom God raised from the dead did not see decay.
“Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you” (Acts 13: 14-38 NIV).
I Corinthian 6: 9 has been all over the news today, and I’m glad it’s getting 24-hour coverage. Here it is (a sermon in one verse) in the King James Bible: Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”
Here’s the same verse in the NIV: Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolators nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the Kingdom of God.
To whom is Paul writing?
I have written to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people–not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case, you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? *“Expel the wicked man from among you” (I Corinthians 5: 9-13 NIV).
Paul is writing to the new believers in Corinth. Obviously, the letter includes anyone who calls himself or herself a believer. Sobering, isn’t it? Maybe part of the problem with the world today is that the church (I’m speaking in generalities) is not setting the best example. Do I hear a collective “ouch?”
I’ll be the first to confess. I’m a shopaholic, which equates to greed, which equates to idolatry. As a fisher of men, my slogan should be “Gone Fishing.” More often than not, it’s “Gone Shopping.”
That said, let’s put the axe to our idols and go about the business of winning souls before it’s too late.
* When Paul writes “Expel the wicked man from among you,”, he is referring to several passages in the Torah, such as Deuteronomy 13: 5.
Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly (Matthew 6: 1-5 KJV).
He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack (Proverbs 28: 27 KJV).
It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20: 35 KJV).
Helping others–specifically the poor, needy, widows, afflicted, orphans, and those treated unjustly–is a recurring theme throughout the Bible, stressed in both the Old and New Testaments. Give without fanfare. Boasting to receive praise from men is not only unbecoming, it robs you of God’s favor.
Give because it’s the right thing to do, but don’t be surprised when God rewards you in unexpected ways. Loving and seeking God with all of your heart brings you into a deeper relationship with Him.
Recently, I ordered some clothes online from one of my favorite stores. The merchandise arrived in a package with the following words highlighted in red: “Yule Love This.” Indeed, I loved the clothes but found the slogan annoying, despite the clever word play.
What is Yule? What is Christmas? If you do a quick search on the Internet, you might conclude that Yule and Christmas are synonymous with celebrating the birth of Christ. However, if Yule celebrates the birth of Christ, why do pagans embrace Yule?
What connection, if any, does the Yule log, mistletoe, holly, and chopping down and decorating a tree (Jer. 10: 1-4?) have to do with the birth of Christ? Is Yule about the Sun or the Son? If you want to research Christmas and Yule, check out STORIES BEHIND THE GREAT TRADITIONS OF CHRISTMAS by Ace Collins (Zondervan, 2003), ALL ABOUT CHRISTMAS by Maymie R. Krythe (Harper & Brothers, New York, 1954), and the MYSTERY OF CHRISTMAS, a DVD by Norm Franz of Ascension Ministries. Also, be sure to watch the History Channel’s special on the origin of Christmas. It’s an eye-opener.
I love nativity scenes and hymns that celebrate the birth of Christ. Handel’s “Messiah” moves me to tears (although Handel wrote it to celebrate Christ’s Resurrection, not His birthday.) “Joy to the World,” “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” “Silent Night,” and “Mary Did You Know” are awesome reminders of the event that changed our calendar.
What troubles me is “the other side” of Christmas. Traditions are fine unless they clash with the Word of God. This brings me back to Yule. Is it wrong to mix pagan traditions with Christian traditions? Is it OK to Christianize a pagan holiday? By now you’re probably thinking what difference does it make? As long as we celebrate the birth of Christ in our hearts, nothing else matters, right? Actually, the question should be how does Christ feel about when and how we celebrate His birth?
“You must not worship the LORD your God in their [pagan] way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the LORD hates”(Deuteronomy 12: 31a NIV).
God doesn’t want us to worship Him the way the pagans worship their gods. Don’t mix the holy with the profane is a scriptural mandate. They [the Levitical priests] are to teach my people the difference between the holy and the common and show them how to distinguish between the unclean and the clean (Ezekiel 44: 23 NIV).
You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons(I Corinthians 10: 21 NIV).
Suggested further reading: Jeremiah 10: 1-4; Matthew 1: 1-24; Matthew 2: 23; Luke 2: 1-40; Deuteronomy 12: 29-31; Deuteronomy 18: 9-13; Galatians 4: 4-10.
Most of us in the West have no clue what it means to be persecuted for the sake of Christ. If people give us the cold shoulder for taking a moral stand or sharing the gospel, we feel persecuted. But rejection and persecution are not synonymous. The Apostle Paul gives us a graphic example of what it means to be persecuted in his second letter to the Corinthians.
I have worked much harder[than those exploiting the Corinthians], been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all churches” (2 Corinthians 11: 23b-28 NIV).
Persecution did not end with the martyrs in the early church but continues to this day in various parts of the world. Let us continue to pray for Pastor Saeed and others with firsthand knowledge of what it means to suffer for the sake of Christ.
My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent. If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood, Let us ambush the innocent without cause; Let us swallow them alive like Sheol, Even whole as those who go down to the pit; We shall find all kinds of precious wealth; We shall fill our houses with spoil; Throw in your lot with us, We shall have one purse,” My son do not walk in the way with them. Keep your feet from their path, For their feet run to evil, And they hasten to shed blood(Proverbs 1: 10-16 NASB).
After I read those verses this morning, all I could think of was Michael Jackson’s video “Bad.” The video is based on a true story. Jackson portrays a young man who attends a private school. When he goes home during an extended break, jealous friends try to entice him to attack and rob an old man in a subway station, but Jackson refuses. In the final scene, Jackson preaches to his friends, “You’re doing wrong.” The real-life story ended in tragedy, but Jackson gave his fictionalized version a happy ending.
Unless you see the entire video, you’ll miss the point. The short version is strictly entertainment. But the full version is a sermon in dramatization, song, and dance: a pictorial illustration of Proverbs 1: 10-16, although I doubt that Jackson had Proverbs in mind when he created “Bad.”
As a child, I attended the Methodist church. One of my favorite hymns was “Bringing in the Sheaves.” It still is.
This morning while reading Psalm 126, I came across the phrase “bringing his sheaves with him” and wondered if it inspired the familiar hymn. Psalm 126 celebrates the Hebrews’ release from captivity. Compare the hymn with the Psalm 126 (especially the last two verses).. The similarities are striking..
“BRINGING IN THE SHEAVES”
Sowing in the morning, sowing seeds of kindness, Sowing in the noontide and the dewy eve; Waiting for the harvest, and the time of reaping, We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.
Refrain: Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves, We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves; Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves, We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.
Sowing in the sunshine, sowing in the shadows, Fearing neither clouds nor winter’s chilling breeze; By and by the harvest, and the labor ended, We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.
Going forth with weeping, sowing for the Master, Though the loss sustained our spirit often grieves; When our weeping’s over, He will bid us welcome, We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.
When the LORD turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing; then said they among the heathen, The LORD hath done great things for them. The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad. Turn again our captivity, O LORD, as the streams in the south. They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him(KJV).
*In 1880 George A. Minor composed the tune to “Bringing in the Sheaves” that we are familiar with today.