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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Perseverance of the saints, true and deep conversion.

My heart is rejoicing in the theme of ultimate conversion, what I like to call a true and deep conversion.  Along side of that is the theme of the necessary perseverance of the saints.  This will be a long post a “last post of 2012“
It was the best of times, It was the worst of times.

Art Katz  “Whether by death or by deliverance, whatever gives the most glory to You God.”
This is an ultimate understanding of our lives in light of the glory of God.  We do not hold God captive, proclaiming that He must deliver us.  The three Hebrew children faced death with this attitude, and so will the end time church.  Revelation 12:11.
Revelation 13:8 “It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him.”  This verse will not make sense if you think that this life is ultimate.  The glory of God is ultimate.

From Charles Spurgeon

"Can the rush grow up without mire?" / Job 8:11

The rush is spongy and hollow, and even so is a hypocrite; there is no
substance or stability in him. It is shaken to and fro in every wind just as
formalists yield to every influence; for this reason the rush is not broken by
the tempest, neither are hypocrites troubled with persecution. I would not
willingly be a deceiver or be deceived; perhaps the text for this day may help
me to try myself whether I be a hypocrite or no. The rush by nature lives in
water, and owes its very existence to the mire and moisture wherein it has
taken root; let the mire become dry, and the rush withers very quickly. Its
greenness is absolutely dependent upon circumstances, a present abundance of
water makes it flourish, and a drought destroys it at once. Is this my case?
Do I only serve God when I am in good company, or when religion is profitable
and respectable? Do I love the Lord only when temporal comforts are received
from his hands? If so I am a base hypocrite, and like the withering rush, I
shall perish when death deprives me of outward joys. But can I honestly assert
that when bodily comforts have been few, and my surroundings have been rather
adverse to grace than at all helpful to it, I have still held fast my
integrity? Then have I hope that there is genuine vital godliness in me. The
rush cannot grow without mire, but plants of the Lord's right hand planting
can and do flourish even in the year of drought. A godly man often grows best
when his worldly circumstances decay. He who follows Christ for his bag is a
Judas; they who follow for loaves and fishes are children of the devil; but
they who attend him out of love to himself are his own beloved ones. Lord, let
me find my life in thee, and not in the mire of this world's favor or gain.

Every single act of faith in God during times that seem unfair-is sending a message that rings loudly through out the universe!  “My Broken Palace” web-site

“God has not changed tactics. He still uses silences and Bible difficulties and offensive situations as challenges for us to rise to the occasion and prove that we believe that no matter what, the answer is found in Jesus and in him alone, and that if we cling to him for long enough, all that we need will be revealed.

We again see this in Jesus’ interaction with the Canaanite (Syrophenician) woman. She needed him. He gave her the silent treatment. Instead of giving up, she hounded him all the more. When she finally wrung a response from him it was worse than nothing. He insulted her and said he wouldn’t give her a thing. Still she hounded him and ended up receiving not only her request but Jesus’ high praise (Matthew 15:21-28). It turned out that despite not revealing a hint of it until it was all over, her persistence thrilled him. And when you receive the silent treatment, your determination to keep badgering him because you believe he cares and will not remain silent forever, will likewise thrill him, gain you high praise and you’ll hear from him as well.”

Grantley Morris

Hosea 6:1  “Come, let us return to the Lord.
For He has torn us, but He will heal us;
He has wounded us, but He will bandage us.
2 “He will revive us after two days;
He will raise us up on the third day,
That we may live before Him.
3 “So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord.
His going forth is as certain as the dawn;
And He will come to us like the rain,
Like the spring rain watering the earth.”
4 What shall I do with you, O Ephraim?
What shall I do with you, O Judah?
For your loyalty is like a morning cloud
And like the dew which goes away early.
5 Therefore I have hewn them in pieces by the prophets;
I have slain them by the words of My mouth;
And the judgments on you are like the light that goes forth.
6 For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice,
And in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.
7 But like Adam they have transgressed the covenant;
There they have dealt treacherously against Me.
8 Gilead is a city of wrongdoers,
Tracked with bloody footprints.
9 And as raiders wait for a man,
So a band of priests murder on the way to Shechem;
Surely they have committed crime.
10 In the house of Israel I have seen a horrible thing;
Ephraim’s harlotry is there, Israel has defiled itself.
11 Also, O Judah, there is a harvest appointed for you,
When I restore the fortunes of My people.

The Syrophonecian woman Reggie Kelly style.

Only as the veil of human will and moral sufficiency is shattered by the ‘No’ of divine justice can the ‘Yes’ of God in Christ be heard. A kind of hearing is required that is only possible where there is first a death to any residue of confidence in one’s own righteousness. Such hearing comes only through ‘the Word of division’. For this, there must be first a “dividing asunder of soul and spirit” (Heb.4:12) that is only accomplished as the Word is quickened by the Spirit. It is the quickened Word that kills in order to regenerate, that cuts in order to heal. It is the principle of resurrection out of death. Therefore ‘in the place’ where the stern sentence of justice is clearest, ‘there’ the word and work of grace is dearest. The revelation of this grace comes with the revelation of death to all that the apostle Paul calls “confidence in the flesh.”
The word of grace and resurrection is always preceded by the word of judgment, and sanctified by an unfeigned acknowledgement of its awful righteousness, however severe (Lev.26:40-42). The righteousness of the Lord’s severity alone prepares the way for the glory of grace and mercy. “Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God” (Ro 11:22 ). To refuse to acknowledge the righteousness of God’s severity is to downgrade the cost, the sovereignty, and the glory of His goodness on the vessels of mercy. This wisdom is observed in the order of the dispensations: “For the law came by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (Jn.1:17).
Since the word of grace can not be more precious than the preceding word of judgement is clear and dreadful, the second (the word of grace) is only heard ‘in the place’ of the first (the word of judgement). Unless ‘the first’ is profoundly ‘heard’ and justified as utterly righteous and inexorable in its requirement, ‘the second’ can not come in a depth and power that endures (“because they had no depth of earth…no root in themselves,” Mt. 13:5, 6, 21).
We see this pattern demonstrated in the episode of Jesus’ encounter with the Syrophenecian woman (Mt 15:21-28; Mk. 7:25-30). To prepare the way of mercy, Jesus enforces recognition that the provisions of the covenant are restricted to Israel by right of unconditional election. The woman’s humble submission to the sovereignty that justly excludes her constitutes a study in true spiritual poverty. Far from an attitude of insult and offence towards the sovereignty of God’s discriminating choice, she justifies the righteousness of divine denial with the exclamation “truth Lord!”
Natural and moral disqualification becomes the basis of gift and grace.
Observe the method of grace in the tact that the Lord takes with this desperate woman. Through the wisdom of an initial denial, the woman is brought to a humility that now becomes the place of God’s boundless Yes! Natural and moral disqualification becomes the basis of gift and grace. Jesus must take before he can give, that is to say he must remove natural hope in order that she might receive God’s gift on the basis of grace that is only accessible to faith. After such a proving, grace is much more amazing and God is much more glorified. Here once more we see an example of that great axiom of redemptive wisdom: “He takes away the first that He may establish the second.” The woman’s imploring words “Truth Lord!” embodies the starting point for any appeal to the ‘throne of grace’.
Covenant exclusion, thus understood, becomes the necessary setting for grace, not only to Gentiles of this dispensation, but to all the saints of the older dispensation who despaired of perfecting righteousness under the first covenant. In order for grace to be free, sovereign, and unconditional, it is not only lawlessness that is rejected, but even the presumption of religious man who imagines a righteousness that requires something less than death and resurrection. The design of all is to empty the heart of this it’s most naturally resilient tendency.
However impressive it’s natural nobility and virtue, the ‘righteousness’ that issues out of the first creation is rejected as inadequate to fulfill the covenant. “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit” (Zech 4:6). Not only is man spiritually inert through original sin, he is further distanced from the life of God through the inclination of a fallen nature of enmity towards God. The principal character of this enmity is an irrepressible proclivity towards the autonomy of self will. It is the strength of this inborn presumption that stands between fallen humanity and the meekness of the divine nature.
The last obstacle to grace is not so much those things that men count vile, but the irrepressible presumption that righteousness stands even partly in human ability. At the end of power is the confession that no longer justifies self but God, “if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they accept of the punishment (that it was neither unjust nor incommensurate) of their iniquity” (Lev.26:40-42).
The old is crucified to its own initiative so that the power to believe and live might appear
Nothing more effectively bars the door of grace than the delusive presumption of self-determinism. Hence, coming to terms with the justice of God’s sovereignty, whether in judgment or in distinguishing grace is necessary if we will be brought to ‘the place’ (the dust of helplessness) where the ‘Yes’ of grace and resurrection can be ‘heard’ in transforming power. In this way the old is crucified to its own initiative so that the power to believe and live might appear as removed from human initiative as a corpse promoting its own resurrection. This since Christ is only revealed as our righteousness at the end of strength, and therefore ‘the end of the law’ (Ro. 10:4). “How precious did that grace appear, the hour I first believed” (Amazing Grace, John Newton). Indeed, grace is never so precious until faith itself, the one thing needful, is seen as ‘impossible to man’ apart from the gift of divine quickening.
This is how the truth of unconditional election severs at the root the one thing blocking the reach of reconciling mercy, namely, confidence in the flesh. Like the word of the cross, it destroys all hope of a righteousness that is one’s own; the best virtues of which fall hopelessly short of that righteousness which is Christ’s alone. Therefore, the most admired of those virtues that can be generated by human will and moral ability can never be the basis of divine acceptance (see Jn.1:13 with Ro.9:16). Because election assumes the total destitution of the natural man as spiritually dead, it ultimately becomes the ‘Yes’ of grace to all who justify God’s sovereign right to “quicken whom He will” (Jn.5:21), and that “apart from works” (Rom.4:6). “So then, it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs” (Ro.9:16).
Strategically, He has “concluded all [both] in unbelief” that no flesh might glory, and so that mercy might appear to the praise of the glory of grace alone. If grace is to be demonstrated as free, unconstrained, and uninfluenced it must be ‘according to election.’ And “in order that the purpose of God according to election might stand” (Ro.9:11), “it is [necessarily] not of him who runs or of him that wills” (Ro. 9:16 ).
With the principle of covenant rejection as background, we turn now to consider the process that effects the covenantal reinstatement of Israel as a redeemed nation. There is one condition for which Israel waits that must be realized before the Shekinah glory can return to a resurrected and reborn nation. Specifically, it is “when He sees that their power is gone” (Deut 32:36); and again “when He shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished” (Dan 12:7). Is this not also a principle that the church must realize for itself if it will attain to its own eschatological victory and fullness?

Many are called but few are chosen.  Even fewer will read to the end, but for those who did, I hope it was a blessing.  Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Prisoner of Hope during the long pause

David Baron's study of Zechariah has been a treasure trove of blessing to me.  These thoughts proceed from it.
Between Zechariah 9:9 and 9:10 there is a "pause" of 2,000 years.  "But this is sure and certain, that however long the pause may last, God never loses the thread of the purpose which He has formed for this earth"  (D. Baron) and just as certain, he will never lose the thread of your individual life.  Israel is a prisoner of hope and so are we.  It is even given the article "the" and called "the hope."  The Abrahamic covenant will be fulfilled by the God who made it 'one sided.'  The God who speaks of the future in the "perfect tense" of the verb, which means when He says it it is as good as done!
This sentence brings great joy to the redeemed heart, true of Israel, true of us.
"And since his iniquities have been the underlying cause of all his sufferings and sorrows, when God forgives Israel his sins, and removes his transgressions, He shall "redeem" him also " out of all his troubles."            (D. Baron)
When we truly begin to see and comprehend God's amazing covenant faithfulness to Israel, we will be able to rest in His covenant faithfulness to us.  And that rest will lead to works done in and through His power and for the glory of His grace. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

God and bad choices

The activities director at my job posted this on her bulletin board at work.
Happy Moments,
Praise God
Difficult Moments,
Seek God
Quiet Moments,
Worship God
Painful Moments,
Trust God
Every Moment,
Thank God

As I read it this morning I burst our crying and went into prayer in tongues
for our 15 year old son, Isaiah.  He is in the Captain America shirt in the
picture on the right.  He has a heart for the underdog, he came to the rescue
of a girl a grade below him, when she was being picked on in (I think) second
grade.  He can be caring, giving and compassionate, but right now, he is making
so many bad is just overwhelming to a parents heart.
I stated this blog would be a view into my heart and although my passion
for the truth about the end times is often the focus...I live in the day to day
reality of being a husband and a dad, and I need your prayers.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Acts 1:7,8

Dalton Thomas does a very good job of handling this verse which "seems" to fly in the face of being a "people prepared."   The full article is here,
but this section speaks specifically to these verses.
He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:7-8)
Jesus did not say, “It is not for anyone to know the times or the seasons”—He said, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons.” This statement was made to the disciples–not you and I. He did not say “no one can know, or “no one should know,” but that the disciples did not need to know. This information wasn’t intended for them. They didn’t need it. But that can’t be said of the generation of the Lord’s return. That generation will need more than the disciples had. This verse has suffered the same abuse as Matthew 24:36. Many an uninformed preacher has often used these passages to discourage believers from discerning God’s leadership and the timing of redemptive events. But God has made much of “times” and “seasons” throughout history because of the consequential nature of transitional generations. Jesus and the apostles all taught in the most emphatic terms that the Church is to “hear what the Spirit is saying,” “discern the signs of the times,” and “know” the “season” of Jesus’ return. And they also discouraged believers from ignorance and indifference towards the timing of the Lord’s return. Below are but a few examples.Matt. 24:32,33,
1 Thes. 5:2-5, Matt. 16:3, Luke 19:41-44.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Church in the tribulation

We start in Revelation chapter 12, not an easy chapter.
Let's pray.
 God we need You to reveal truth, to remove the veil.
We cannot, You can.  Come Holy Spirit and break
 open the Word to us, in Jesus' name, amen.

In verse 9 Satan is thrown down, at that time he will
be on the earth indwelling the anti-christ.  It is both an
awful and a glorious time because, Satan is no longer in the
heavenlies, he is on earth.  Verse 10 makes it clear that
from a heavenly perspective, this is great news.  Individual
believers in verse 11 will be giving a 'martyr witness.'
Verse 13 is very clearly the persecution of the physical
Jewish people.  They are spoken of as being rescued from
Satan's wrath and presence for the final 3 and 1/2 years.  This
will be true of a remnant portion of that people.  God's promises
can not ultimately fail.  Verse 15 "the flood" is associated with
the anti-christ's end times persecution of the Jew.  Verse 16 "But
the earth helped the woman"...Who does Satan get mad at when
the earth helps the woman?  Verse 17 states, " So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus."
Satan is aware of who helped the woman and is enraged.

Rev 13:7 It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him. All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the  book of life of the Lamb who has been slain. If anyone has an ear, let him hear. 10 If anyone is destined for captivity, to captivity he goes; if anyone kills with the sword, with the sword he must be killed. Here is the  perseverance and the faith of the saints.

The perspective of perseverance and faith that gets physically overcome but is still triumphant is an ultimate truth.

On to a beautiful section of scripture in Isaiah 35:3-6.  
"Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble.
Say to those with anxious heart,
“Take courage, fear not.
Behold, your God will come with vengeance;
The recompense of God will come,
But He will save you.”
Then the eyes of the blind will be opened
And the ears of the deaf will be unstopped.
Then the lame will leap like a deer,
And the tongue of the mute will shout for joy.
For waters will break forth in the wilderness
And streams in the Arabah."
Oh to be a faithful servant, who have walked through our own wilderness and trusted in the faithfulness of God, who can then be a light to the Jew in the wilderness and speak a powerful prophetic word that goes forth and accomplishes exactly what is stated.

Psalm 102:10-14 must be included as interpreted by Art Katz.                                                                                               "Because of Your indignation and Your wrath,For You have lifted me up and cast me away.My days are like a lengthened shadow,And I wither away like grass.But You, O Lord, abide forever, And Your name to all generations.  You will arise and have compassion on Zion; For it is time to be gracious to her,For the appointed time has come.  Surely Your servants find pleasure in her stones And feel pity for her dust."

The appointed time is when the 'servants' reach out with love
and compassion.  The Corrie Ten Boom family is the picture of gentiles
laying down their lives out of love for the Jew.

The principle of suffering followed by glory and death followed by resurrection is through out scripture.
Ezekiel 37 puts a 'son of man' outside of the condition of Israel, "dry bones" and he is commanded to prophesy to them.  Very humbly and totally relying on God he/they speak the word of the Lord and the results are miraculous.

The church is to be a light to the world  Matthew 5:14.  Would God withdraw light at a time of great darkness?  God give us grace to be what You have called us to be.  Give us a love for the Jewish people as you did Your servant Paul.  (Romans 9:1-4)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Israel, end times , covenant final thoughts

It is the covenant with Israel, God's choosing of that people and that land, that brings to a close this portion of history.
Exekiel 37:25 "They will live on the land that I gave to Jacob My servant, in which your fathers lived; and they will live on it, they, and their sons and their sons’ sons, forever; and David My servant will be their prince forever. 26 I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will place them and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in their midst forever. 27 My dwelling place also will be with them; and I will be their God, and they will be My people."
This is the place where God is leading history.  
He must keep this promise.  Satan hates this covenant.  
When Satan indwells the anti-christ, this hatred of the covenant drives him to trample down both the people and the land.
Threre are two sections in Daniel where the angel is revealing truth about the end times to us. One section details the future-telling of the career of the anti-christ in Daniel 11:21-45.  Also there is a unveiling of the way that his career starts in Daniel 9:27 And he will make
(the word for 'make' is also accurately translated as 'confirm' so the anti-chirst may not be the 'leader' in making this covenant, he could be just one of ten leaders who 'agree' with it.)
a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”  Most agree the start of the last seven years of history is the making of this covenant, that allows the rebuilding of the altar/temple in Jerusalem.

This little part of the detailed section in Daniel Chapter 11 emphasizes the HATRED of the covenant that will be the driving force of the terrible evil that takes place in the end times.

28 Then he will return to his land with much plunder; but his heart will be set against the holy covenant, and he will take action and then return to his own land.
29 “At the appointed time he will return and come into the South, but this last time it will not turn out the way it did before. 30 For ships of Kittim will come against him; therefore he will be disheartened and will return and become enraged at the holy covenant and take action; so he will come back and show regard for those who forsake the holy covenant.31 Forces from him will arise, desecrate the sanctuary fortress, and do away with the regular sacrifice. And they will set up the abomination of desolation. 

At this point the worst time in human history begins and goes on for 3 and 1/2 years.

Finally when Satan has been used to complete  "shattering the power of the holy people"(Daniel 12:7)  "When He (God) sees that their strength is gone,"(Deuteronomy 32:36) When "they say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope has perished. We are completely cut off.’ "(Ezekiel 37:11) Then it is time for the appearance (the second coming) the fulfillment of this amazing scripture. “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn. (Zechariah 12:10)  The rapture of the church and the national salvation of Israel end in glorious simultaneous fashion, with both groups receiving the fullness of the promises of God.  His covenant is fulfilled "the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled." (Luke 21:24)

As this year comes to a close, I would like to review scriptures that speak of the glorious role of the "church" during this 3 1/2 year period.  
I am so indebted to Art Katz
and Reggie Kelly
I recommend you immerse yourself in as much of their teaching as possible.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Conversion, repentance, the purpose of the law

Grateful today for solid Biblical teaching on salvation, and the need for repentance and conversion last night at my church.  There is an "ear-tickling" thing going on in the Body of Christ about, "you just need to change your way of thinking."  Joel Osteen is leading that charge and the platform that he has to speak from is incredibly large.  There is a death in a true and deep conversion experience that can not be included in a simple "changing of your mind."  This is not about the power of positive thinking.

Reggie Kelly makes these excellent points, and like my Spurgeon post from this morning, I can do no better so I will simply quote him.

There is an implicit divine strategy implicit in the words, “The law came by Moses, but grace and truth by Jesus Christ.” Just as God sent John ahead of Jesus to prepare the way, even so He sends a prophetic company ahead with the prophetic Word of judgment, since grace is always revealed where judgment has been justified as just and necessary.
Paul’s statement, “Christ is revealed at the end of the law,” is more than a statement concerning a change of dispensation. It is a divine principle. Christ is revealed at the end of the law, precisely because He is revealed at the end of human strength.
The law requires nothing less than Christ.
That is to say, human self sufficiency hinders the light of revelation that transforms and imparts a new nature. In other words, there must first be a humbling and an emptying as the Spirit uses the Word to make us sensible of our condition and need. The purpose of the law is to remove the lie that anything in man can accommodate the exceedingly high requirement of the law, because the law requires nothing less than Christ. In this way, the awakened sinner is “shut up” or crowded to Christ.

Spurgeon The difference between a talebearer and a rebuke.

When Charles Haddon Spurgeon, does a better job than anyone else could do, I let him do the talking. 
 Holy Spirit give us ears to hear this truth and act upon it.

"Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people ... Thou shalt
in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him." / Leviticus

Tale-bearing emits a threefold poison; for it injures the teller, the hearer,
and the person concerning whom the tale is told. Whether the report be true or
false, we are by this precept of God's Word forbidden to spread it. The
reputations of the Lord's people should be very precious in our sight, and we
should count it shame to help the devil to dishonour the Church and the name
of the Lord. Some tongues need a bridle rather than a spur. Many glory in
pulling down their brethren, as if thereby they raised themselves. Noah's wise
sons cast a mantle over their father, and he who exposed him earned a fearful
curse. We may ourselves one of these dark days need forbearance and silence
from our brethren, let us render it cheerfully to those who require it now. Be
this our family rule, and our personal bond--Speak evil of no man.

The Holy Spirit, however, permits us to censure sin, and prescribes the way in
which we are to do it. It must be done by rebuking our brother to his face,
not by railing behind his back. This course is manly, brotherly, Christlike,
and under God's blessing will be useful. Does the flesh shrink from it? Then
we must lay the greater stress upon our conscience, and keep ourselves to the
work, lest by suffering sin upon our friend we become ourselves partakers of
it. Hundreds have been saved from gross sins by the timely, wise, affectionate
warnings of faithful ministers and brethren. Our Lord Jesus has set us a
gracious example of how to deal with erring friends in his warning given to
Peter, the prayer with which he preceded it, and the gentle way in which he
bore with Peter's boastful denial that he needed such a caution.  Spurgeon

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Israel, Covenant, End Times Part 3

David Baron, in his commentary on Zechariah (written in 1918, 30 years before the nation of Israel was brought into existence again) speaks of God's Covenant purpose for this people and this land.  Mr. Baron gives as his second reason for studying Zechariah, the fact that it throws light on the events of the last times preceding the great and terrible "Day of the Lord."   quoting
"The presence in Palestine of a representative remnant of the Jewish people in a condition of unbelief; the fiery furnace of suffering into which they are there to be thrown; their great tribulation and anguish occasioned by the final siege of Jerusalem by the confederated Gentile armies under the headship of him in whom both Jewish and Gentile apostasy is to reach its climax; how in the very midst of their final sorrow the spirit of grace and supplication shall be poured upon them, and they shall look upon Him who they have pierced and mourn; how this blessed One whom they so long rejected shall suddenly appear as their Deliverer, and His feet stand "in that day" on the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east;  How God shall again say "Ammi"  (my people) to the nation which during the long centuries of their unbelief were 'Lo-Ammi' (not My people)  and how Israel shall joyously respond, "Jehovah, my God" ; how Israel's Messiah shall speak peace to the nations and Israel himself enter at last on his priestly mission to the people for which he was originally destined, and Jerusalem become the center of God's fear and worship for the whole earth."
That bold part is the covenant.  God will fulfill this during the one thousand year reign.

The warning of Matthew 10:23-25 holds true.  Suffering, Death, Resurrection, the pattern of the Messiah, is the pattern of the people who follow the Lamb wherever He goes.

For further study for those who are seriously into getting into the meat of these things, I give you this from Reggie Kelly.  (

Jeremiah is using the same language and terms of the former prophets, particularly Isaiah and Micah to describe a final great tribulation and travail of the nation that would transition into the kingdom of God (Isa 13:6-8; 26:16-17; 66:8; Mic 5:3 with Jer 30:6-7). The time is unmistakably the Day of the Lord salvation of Israel. 

With nearly exactly the same language that Jeremiah uses to describe the time of unequaled trouble that ends in the salvation of the Israel, Daniel speaks of the time of unequaled trouble in connection with the resurrection (Dan 12:1-2), including his own (Dan 12:13). Daniel has given us the decisive interpretation of the time of Jacob's trouble. It is the unequaled tribulation that occurs just before the dead are raised. It begins with the removal of a sacrifice (Dan 9:27; 12:11) and ends with Messiah's return to destroy the self exalting prince whom Paul will call, 'the Man of Sin" (Dan 11:36-37 with 2Thes 2:4). 

There can be no mistake. The connection of things is clear. Daniel applies Isaiah's, Micah's, and Jeremiah's description of an age ending 'travail of Zion' to the last half of the seventieth seven. Regardless of how it is used or applied by different schools of interpretation, it is agreed by all that the tribulation is represented as a short period of approximately 3 1/2 years (Dan 7:25; 9:27; 12:7, 11).

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Israel, Covenant, End Times Part 2

Succinct- briefly and clearly expressed, terse.
This word is my greatest challenge when talking about the end times.
6,000 years of Biblical history, and God’s ‘one story’ of dealing with
His people all, brought to a close, a fitting end.  All Glory to God, man
revealed as the ‘no strength’ recipients of grace.  The ‘one way’ covenant
between the active God and the sleeping man fulfilled.  Israel will be in
the midst of a peace covenant, that allows them to relax their guard and restore
the temple and its sacrifices.  Inconceivable, you say, but no more so
than that after 1900 years a nation would arise with its capital Jerusalem.
This ‘peace covenant’ is a necessary precursor to the ‘end times.’  The
anti-Christ needs an altar to desecrate.  Until these events play out, all else
is preliminary.  These are marks of the last 7 years (3 1/2 relatively peaceful, and
3 1/2 worse than any time in human history.)
Deut. 32:36 For the Lord will revoke sentence for His people and relent for His servants’ sake when He sees that their power is gone and none remains, whether bond or free.
 Daniel 12:7 And I heard the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, when he held up his right and his left hand toward the heavens and swore by Him Who lives forever that it shall be for a time, times, and a half a time [or three and one-half years]; and when they have made an end of shattering and crushing the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.
The anti-Christ is given a ‘short time’ to trample down Jerusalem, and when the bones are ‘very dry’ will come the word of resurrection from the Lord.
His covenant with Israel has not yet been brought to fruition, but it will be.  He can not
stop short of this goal.  A people set apart, chosen, loved, just because He chose them.  We bow to His choice, His right to choose.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Israel, Covenant, End Times Part 1
This is a quote from this video during the time specified.
3:23 – 3:56 “Your kids could see what your grandparents saw, a global conflict centered around the issue of the Jew. Which means this, the question of the Jew in our midst becomes the critical issue at the end of the age, not by virtue of nationalism or territorialism or colonialism or all these other words that get hurled at you when you say, ‘We stand with Israel.’, but because Israel represents the issue of covenant, not the issue of state or nationalism or anything in a carnal or material sense, not the materialism is bad, meaning the actual land of Israel.”

It is truly essential that the church begin to understand the "issue of covenant."  
God made promises, He gave His Word that certain events would happen.  He chose a people and a land.  Luke 21:23-25 23 Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days; for there will be great distress upon the land and wrath to this people; 24 and they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until  the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
25 “There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves,

Do you want proof that the Bible is the inspired word of God, read this passage carefully.  In the end times, "this people" (the Jews), "the land" (Israel) and Jerusalem all play a key role.  That was impossible prior to the changes in the world landscape made in 1947, and 1967.  

"Until" is such key word in scripture, it allows us to connect events and to handle the word of God accurately.  "The times of the Gentiles are fulfilled" is what we are seeing the beginnings of right now.  

So, remember, God made promises, He gave His Word that certain events would happen.  He chose a people and a land.  His promises can be put on hold, they can 'appear' to be impossible to fulfill, they can test the hearts of men, BUT they can not fall to the ground void.

Let us press on to grasp, "the issue of covenant."  This is part 1 of a journey, with that as the goal.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

why me

What God Is Always Aiming for in Our Adversity

Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.
Adversity by its very nature is the removal of things on which our comfort and hope have rested and so it will either result in anger toward God or greater reliance on him alone for our peace.
And his purpose for us in adversity is not that we get angry or discouraged, but that our hope shift off earthly things onto God.
God’s main purpose in all adversity is to make us stop trusting in ourselves or any man.

Friday, November 2, 2012

When I am weak, then am I strong

Thoughts from my heart to God's heart,  last night at work.
"God, we make a good team, I know nothing and You know everything"
and then a little later because of a deep struggle with one of our sons.
"and when I have no love, You are all love."

There is a truth in scripture that cuts across one of the biggest lies
in this culture, that if you are weak in some area you just need to work
harder, educate yourself more, pull yourself up by your bootstrap and
overcome.  Scripture has a much different solution, agree with the assessment
that you are ultimately weak, and rely on, trust in, continuously cry out for and
count on, the life of Jesus to work through you in your admittedly weak area's.

Daniel 12:7
1 Corinthians 1:27
2 Corinthians 12:10

NEED more proof that this is a principle in Scripture, keep going.
Job 26:22
Psalm 8:2
Psalm 18:1, 20:6, 21:1, 22:15, 28:7,8,  31:2, 31:4, 33:16,17,  46:11, 59:16,  68:28,34,  73:26, 105:4, 118:14, 147:10
Isaiah 12:2, 30:15, 33:2, 40:29-31
Jeremiah 17:5
Lamentations 3:18-23  (There is an aspect of judgment that is the forced
removal of strength, so that God's people will do what they should have
done in the first place, acknowledge their weakness and rely upon Him.)
Ezekiel 17:9
Daniel 10:16-19  When our strength is gone, the words of a messenger of God
can be to us a prophetic proclamation, that gives us the strength of God, AFTER,
we acknowledge that our strength is gone.

Amos was a prophet to a prosperous nation that was about to come under the
judgment of God.  Amos 3:11, 6:13.

2 Chronicles 14:11

Habakkuk 3:19
2 Corinthians 1:8-11
Ephesians 6:10
1 Peter 4:11

Monday, October 29, 2012

The suffering of close Christian fellowship.

Long quote from Art Katz from the message "Suffering."  This gives great insight into the 'suffering' of close fellowship, which almost no one in the church in the United States knows because our prosperity allows us to retreat into our own "space" away from each other.  We have not truly opened up our lives and hearts to one another in a way that will make us vulnerable to each others faults... but it is coming.  By the grace of God "prosperity" is hanging by a thread at the moment, and soon we will have the blessing of community.  Soon these words of His will 'make sense.'
"Suffering in the true Church as a result of close fellowship is the inevitable and natural out-working of God's sanctifying work with His people to bring them from where they presently are to where they need to be, to bring them from the things that are earthly to the things that are heavenly, to bring them from the things that are soulish to the things that are spiritual.  Its painful before it is glorious.   Only a jealousy for the glory of God makes us willing to bear the suffering and tension in the church.   Passing through the veil of disillusionment with others and with our self."

I will only add the cry of Malachi, "Purify the sons of Levi!"

Saturday, October 20, 2012

There are no 99 we are all the lost sheep.

I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek Your servant, Psalm 119:176
All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him.  Isaiah 53:6
For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.
 “What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying?  If it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray.  Matt. 18:11-13
So... we are all the lost sheep the "ninety-nine" are actually non-existent.  The 'ninety-nine' are simply those who have not gotten it yet, that all is grace.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Elijah Bible Study # 5 1 Kings 19 - 2 Kings 2

Elijah Bible Study # 5
1 Kings 19:15-2 Kings 2:14

1 Kings 19:15 The Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus, and when you have arrived, you shall anoint Hazael king over Aram; 16 and Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint king over Israel; and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place. 17 It shall come about, the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael, Jehu shall put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu, Elisha shall put to death. 18 Yet I will leave 7,000 in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal and every mouth that has not kissed him.”

19 So he departed from there and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, while he was plowing with twelve pairs of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth. And Elijah passed over to him and threw his mantle on him. 20 He left the oxen and ran after Elijah and said, “Please let me kiss my father and my mother, then I will follow you.” And he said to him, “Go back again, for what have I done to you?” 21 So he returned from following him, and took the pair of oxen and sacrificed them and boiled their flesh with the implements of the oxen, and gave it to the people and they ate. Then he arose and followed Elijah and ministered to him.

1 Kings 21:21 Now it came about after these things that Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard which was in Jezreel beside the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. 2 Ahab spoke to Naboth, saying, “Give me your vineyard, that I may have it for a vegetable garden because it is close beside my house, and I will give you a better vineyard than it in its place; if you like, I will give you the price of it in money.” 3 But Naboth said to Ahab, “The Lord forbid me that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.” 4 So Ahab came into his house sullen and vexed because of the word which Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken to him; for he said, “I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers.” And he lay down on his bed and turned away his face and ate no food.

5 But Jezebel his wife came to him and said to him, “How is it that your spirit is so sullen that you are not eating food?” 6 So he said to her, “Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite and said to him, ‘Give me your vineyard for money; or else, if it pleases you, I will give you a vineyard in its place.’ But he said, ‘I will not give you my vineyard.’” 7 Jezebel his wife said to him, “Do you now reign over Israel? Arise, eat bread, and let your heart be joyful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.”

8 So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name and sealed them with his seal, and sent letters to the elders and to the nobles who were living with Naboth in his city. 9 Now she wrote in the letters, saying, “Proclaim a fast and seat Naboth at the head of the people; 10 and seat two worthless men before him, and let them testify against him, saying, ‘You cursed God and the king.’ Then take him out and stone him to death.”

Jezebel’s Plot

11 So the men of his city, the elders and the nobles who lived in his city, did as Jezebel had sent word to them, just as it was written in the letters which she had sent them. 12 They proclaimed a fast and seated Naboth at the head of the people. 13 Then the two worthless men came in and sat before him; and the worthless men testified against him, even against Naboth, before the people, saying, “Naboth cursed God and the king.” So they took him outside the city and stoned him to death with stones. 14 Then they sent word to Jezebel, saying, “Naboth has been stoned and is dead.”

15 When Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned and was dead, Jezebel said to Ahab, “Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth, the Jezreelite, which he refused to give you for money; for Naboth is not alive, but dead.” 16 When Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, Ahab arose to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it.

17 Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, 18 “Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, who is in Samaria; behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth where he has gone down to take possession of it. 19 You shall speak to him, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Have you murdered and also taken possession?”’ And you shall speak to him, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord, “In the place where the dogs licked up the blood of Naboth the dogs will lick up your blood, even yours.”’”

20 Ahab said to Elijah, “Have you found me, O my enemy?” And he answered, “I have found you, because you have sold yourself to do evil in the sight of the Lord. 21 Behold, I will bring evil upon you, and will utterly sweep you away, and will cut off from Ahab every male, both bond and free in Israel; 22 and I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah, because of the provocation with which you have provoked Me to anger, and because you have made Israel sin. 23 Of Jezebel also has the Lord spoken, saying, ‘The dogs will eat Jezebel in the district of Jezreel.’ 24 The one belonging to Ahab, who dies in the city, the dogs will eat, and the one who dies in the field the birds of heaven will eat.”

25 Surely there was no one like Ahab who sold himself to do evil in the sight of the Lord, because Jezebel his wife incited him. 26 He acted very abominably in following idols, according to all that the Amorites had done, whom the Lord cast out before the sons of Israel.

27 It came about when Ahab heard these words, that he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and fasted, and he lay in sackcloth and went about despondently. 28 Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, 29 “Do you see how Ahab has humbled himself before Me? Because he has humbled himself before Me, I will not bring the evil in his days, but I will bring the evil upon his house in his son’s days.”

2 Kings 1:1 Now Moab rebelled against Israel after the death of Ahab. 2 And Ahaziah fell through the lattice in his upper chamber which was in Samaria, and became ill. So he sent messengers and said to them, “Go, inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron, whether I will recover from this sickness.” 3 But the angel of the Lord said to Elijah the Tishbite, “Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria and say to them, ‘Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron?’ 4 Now therefore thus says the Lord, ‘You shall not come down from the bed where you have gone up, but you shall surely die.’” Then Elijah departed.

5 When the messengers returned to him he said to them, “Why have you returned?” 6 They said to him, “A man came up to meet us and said to us, ‘Go, return to the king who sent you and say to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are sending to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron? Therefore you shall not come down from the bed where you have gone up, but shall surely die.’”’” 7 He said to them, “What kind of man was he who came up to meet you and spoke these words to you?” 8 They answered him, “He was a hairy man with a leather girdle bound about his loins.” And he said, “It is Elijah the Tishbite.”

9 Then the king sent to him a captain of fifty with his fifty. And he went up to him, and behold, he was sitting on the top of the hill. And he said to him, “O man of God, the king says, ‘Come down.’” 10 Elijah replied to the captain of fifty, “If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty.” Then fire came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty.

11 So he again sent to him another captain of fifty with his fifty. And he said to him, “O man of God, thus says the king, ‘Come down quickly.’” 12 Elijah replied to them, “If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty.” Then the fire of God came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty.

13 So he again sent the captain of a third fifty with his fifty. When the third captain of fifty went up, he came and bowed down on his knees before Elijah, and begged him and said to him, “O man of God, please let my life and the lives of these fifty servants of yours be precious in your sight. 14 Behold fire came down from heaven and consumed the first two captains of fifty with their fifties; but now let my life be precious in your sight.” 15 The angel of the Lord said to Elijah, “Go down with him; do not be afraid of him.” So he arose and went down with him to the king. 16 Then he said to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Because you have sent messengers to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron—is it because there is no God in Israel to inquire of His word?—therefore you shall not come down from the bed where you have gone up, but shall surely die.’”

Jehoram Reigns over Israel

17 So Ahaziah died according to the word of the Lord which Elijah had spoken. And because he had no son, Jehoram became king in his place in the second year of Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah. 18 Now the rest of the acts of Ahaziah which he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel?

2 Kings 2:1 And it came about when the Lord was about to take up Elijah by a [a]whirlwind to heaven, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal. 2 Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here please, for the Lord has sent me as far as Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As the Lord lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel. 3 Then the sons of the prophets who were at Bethel came out to Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that the Lord will take away your master from over you today?” And he said, “Yes, I know; be still.”

4 Elijah said to him, “Elisha, please stay here, for the Lord has sent me to Jericho.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they came to Jericho. 5 The sons of the prophets who were at Jericho approached Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that the Lord will take away your master from over you today?” And he answered, “Yes, I know; be still.” 6 Then Elijah said to him, “Please stay here, for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.” And he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them went on.

7 Now fifty men of the sons of the prophets went and stood opposite them at a distance, while the two of them stood by the Jordan. 8 Elijah took his mantle and folded it together and struck the waters, and they were divided here and there, so that the two of them crossed over on dry ground.

9 When they had crossed over, Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask what I shall do for you before I am taken from you.” And Elisha said, “Please, let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.” 10 He said, “You have asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so.” 11 As they were going along and talking, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire which separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven. 12 Elisha saw it and cried out, “My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” And he saw Elijah no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them in two pieces. 13 He also took up the mantle of Elijah that fell from him and returned and stood by the bank of the Jordan. 14 He took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him and struck the waters and said, “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” And when he also had struck the waters, they were divided here and there; and Elisha crossed over.

First  as a follow up to the last study, God seemed to reveal a part of the meaning of what took place when He put Elijah in the cleft of the rock.
Jesus has taken the tornado wind, and the earthquake and the fire, while we were in the cleft of the rock, also Jesus, until He comes and speaks to us in a voice that we can receive, Jesus Again!
Should have known the answer would be Jesus!

God shows us Elijah’s faults so that we can clearly see that the strongest characters are weak as water the moment He withdraws His upholding hand.

Elijah had just repeated his excuse for being on Mount Horeb, and God decides to move on.  He gives Elijah a job to do and speaks to him of  a chosen successor. Most people recognize that the way out of depression is to have a purpose and a goal a “job to do.”  God recovers us, reclaims us, and raises us back up.  God was saying, “Yes you are zealous for My name and My cause, but I am far more zealous than you could ever be.”  God commands, Elijah responds and all is right with the relationship again.

In the midst of this degenerate and idolatrous kingdom ruled by vicious, cruel, and degenerate kings, the Lord called two men, one the successor of the other. These two prophets stood as the heralds of God and His Word. They were also leaders for a school of prophets who actually served in both the northern and southern kingdoms.

Elijah’s ministry does not end with the call of Elisha who became Elijah’s attendant and student. Instead, it continued for several years as the mentor of Elisha. After his renewal by the Lord on Mount Horeb, Elijah began a ministry of mentoring or discipling Elisha. Mentoring others is one of the most important ministries any of us can have, especially leaders, but one that should not be limited to leaders.
Elisha had developed biblical values, priorities and eternal perspectives that had captured his heart which then controlled what he did with his life. As a result, he acted on his faith by following God’s call. He was willing to be uprooted from his quiet, peaceful, and rural life with its financial security to follow the Lord. Obviously he knew what his nation needed was the Word of the Lord. Like the sons of Issachar, he understood the times and knew what he must do

We skip a section of 1 Kings that does not have Elijah in it.  God seems to be keeping Ahab occupied with wars, so that Elijah has peace and time to establish the ‘schools of the prophets.'  Ahab is allowed to have military victories and ‘lesser prophets’ prophesy about these days, but when it comes time to deal with Ahab’s heart, God calls on Elijah.  This demonstrates that our heart is more important to God than our outward successes.

Elijah allowed Elisha’s request. He said, “Go back again . . .” Then he added a word of caution and said, “for what have I done to you?” This statement seems to be an idiom that sounds rather abrupt or even meaningless to us. According to the idiom, we might translate it something like, “go back and bid farewell, for I have done something very important to you, but think carefully on what I have done to you, for your call is not from me, but from God!” The idea is that Elisha was accountable to God for what he did, not to Elijah.   This was God’s call, not Elijah’s. What Elijah had done was to express God’s call. Elijah would become Elisha’s spiritual leader and mentor, but Elisha must understand that ultimately, he was accountable to God, not to a man.
 It seems to me there is an important principle here. One of the goals of leadership, as with parenthood, is to help people learn to become accountable to God (Heb. 13:17).
Naboth’s vineyard.  Those addicted to wealth are never satisfied with what they have.  Leviticus 25:23 was the command that Naboth refused the king with.  He was not being insolent to the king, he was obeying God.  Instead of seeing this as a good thing Ahab became sullen and hurt by this obedience.  Jezebel, like Satan, was right there to take advantage, but Ahab is held accountable for his “non-actions.”  The call for a fast shows that evil can and is done under the cloak of a religious event.  Jezebel’s scheme was allowed to come to fruition and to cost Naboth his life.  Then Elijah is sent in to reveal the heart of Ahab.  Elisha goes along for His very first ministry trip, wow!  Ahab is warned of a sure and fast approaching day when the judgment of God will fall on Him.  “Hast thou found me?”  The guilt in the heart is just looking in the rear-view mirror, waiting for the day when the cops will come and you will be arrested for speeding.   Israel’s kings were permitted to have their whole lines wiped out all their children.  Judah’s kings were not so, because Jesus was to be a descendant of David.  Even Ahab’s heart could be softened and in spite of the fact that Jezebel probably mocked him constantly, he had a conversion experience that the Lord recognized.  When any behave ill toward us it should make us examine our conduct toward the Lord Our God.  God could be using them to punish us.  The downfall of a society is due to the church’s lack of being salt and light, the salvation of a nation is in the hands of the church not the politicians.
Ahaziah’s sickness.  No inquiry was made of God as to the cause and worse yet he was about to consult with the false, defeated god.  Fortune tellers, astrology, ouijia boards, all lies, all idols, that we need to repent of ever consulting.  The cost for Ahaziah, the death sentence.  Hearing this Ahaziah was not convicted, did not turn to God, no, he focused on Elijah.  Ahaziah was offended and wanted to have a ‘talk’ with Elijah.
   The way to prevail with God is to bow before Him.  Ahaziah and the captains were about to learn this.  Twice Elijah is approached as if the demon god loving King had a greater authority than the prophet of God.  Twice the captain and their 50 are burnt up by ‘fire from God.’  Give credit to the third captain, he saw with spiritual eyes what was happening and he went humbly and God granted his request.
Elijah’s translation
In verse 9 we are told that immediately following the crossing of the Jordan, Elijah poses a very simple question. It is a question with tremendous ramifications on the life of any believer in Christ. He said to Elisha, “Ask what I shall do for you before I am taken from you.” Please note the timing of this. Elijah waited until after they had crossed over the Jordan, after this great display of the power and provision of God. Why? What can we learn from this?

(1) I think it teaches us the principle of timing and discernment. We need to discern the right time to witness, confront, challenge, or even to encourage. Sometimes it is just not the right time and our tendency is to speak when we should be quiet, and to be silent when we should speak. “A time to tear apart, and a time to sew together; A time to be silent, and a time to speak” (Eccl. 3:7). “Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances” (Prov. 25:11). “A man has joy in an apt answer, And how delightful is a timely word” (Prov. 11:23).

(2) This also teaches us that a great time to challenge believers to action is when they have just witnessed the blessing of God and are encouraged by the Lord through His Word or through what He has been doing in their lives.

Primarily, this question was a test. The Lord, if you recall, asked Solomon a similar question at the beginning of his ministry and work as king.

Why ask such a question? Because our desires and requests show the condition of our hearts. It shows just how ready we are for ministry, responsibility, and sacrifice. It shows if our treasure is primarily here on earth or in heaven. It shows if we really see heaven as home or whether we are trying to make this fallen world our heavenly home. It shows if we are ready to be a servant or still want to be served.

Scripture has a lot to say about man’s longings, though the word used in our translations is usually the word “lust.” Basically, lust is the strong desire for something caused by longing for satisfaction, security, significance, etc., apart from dependence on God and His righteous plan for one’s life.

Elijah’s Response (vs. 10)
Elijah’s answer is given in verse 10. Knowing that he was only an instrument and that such things are in God’s sovereign control, he said, “You have asked a hard thing.” This could mean “this isn’t mine to give. Only God can give it.” Elijah, however, knew Elisha was to be his replacement (1 Kings 19:16). That’s what he had been grooming him for over these several years. It is possible that Elijah is saying “that which you have asked will mean a hard life,” a life with trials, persecution, and great responsibility.

Whatever the case, a condition was attached which would manifest God’s will regarding such a request--the condition of seeing Elijah translated. This would manifest the will of God, demonstrate Elisha’s determination, and show that Elisha, as the witness of this dramatic event, would also be the prophet’s successor.

This is the way the Lord works; it’s the way life is. We are never ready to lose a loved one, a good friend or teacher. There is always more to say, more to teach and learn, more times we would like to enjoy together. But God, who alone is the indispensable one, suddenly breaks into our lives and takes our friend or loved one home to be with Him or moves them somewhere else. This hurts and causes pain for us, but it should never neutralize us. Rather, it should thrust us in another direction or into a new responsibility while trusting in the Lord and moving out for God. Life must go on. We must pick up the baton and keep moving toward the goal. Often it is a new goal God has set before us.

Please note that the prophet was not taken to heaven in a fiery chariot. He was taken up in a whirlwind. The chariot and horses of fire were manifestations of God’s divine presence or a manifestation of His angelic forces who came to get Elijah and accompany Him to heaven. The same is undoubtedly true for us in death. Elijah, like Enoch, was translated without seeing death. He was taken up into heaven which represents the paradise of God. He was removed from the pain of this fallen world into the bliss and joy of paradise.

It is right here that we have one of the most important principles of the Christian life. It is a principle that was surely a dominating, driving, life-changing force in the lives of these two prophets--the hope of heaven and eternity and all that it holds. Our ability to live godly lives, to serve God rather than self, to forgive and love others, and find real peace and stability is directly proportionate to the degree that the glories of heaven grip our souls and become the motive and anchor of our lives.  (much of this from J. Hampton Keathley III),%20III