Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Daily Bible Reading - July 11, 2017

Today's Reading:

Mark 16

1 Kings 12:1-31

Hosea 14

Listen to the Bible







Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading  

When a person is dying - say that person is the patriarch of his family - the family gathers about his bed, works to make him as comfortable as possible and cherishes every last moment with the dear one that will soon be gone.

But it isn't just those last moments the grieving family cherishes, it's the last words also. I can remember when my Grandmother was dying from bone cancer. It was hard. We all loved her very much. She was the Grandma that used to call me "the apple" of her eye. I adored her from my earliest memories. And when she lay dying, my son was only 3 years old...  but I digress...  Getting back on point, I remember that the single most important thing we all wanted from those last moments were to not miss any of her last words.

Have you ever been in a similar situation? Have you also strained to catch the last words of a beloved family member who is soon to be laid to rest? The last words a person says are perhaps the most momentous and memorable of all. Those are the words that stick with you most especially. 

If the dying one loved God, his/her last words will be ones of love, encouragement, and will probably even contain instructions for how the torch of Truth is to be carried on. They will be words designed to help the family continue to grow and be blessed in their walks with God. In those last moments together, the single most important thing on the mind of the dying one is the salvation and blessing of his/her family. How will they carry on? May they each and every one reach the finish line of their lives possessing the gift of Salvation. And may they also have been used of God to help others find Salvation. These supreme thoughts and most important desires come out in the dying one's last words.

In our reading from Mark 16, we read Yahshua's Last Words. No, they were not the words He spoke before dying. His exit came after having risen from the dead. His Last Words were spoken just before He was taken up into Heaven, never to physically return - until the Second Coming. These Last Words were so precious to those who loved and followed Him that they strained to catch every syllable, in some ways similar to the family gathering around a loved one who is breathing his last. 

The Saviour's Last Words were meant, not only for those who listened and watched Him ascend into the sky, they were meant for you and for me. And what were those memorable and momentous Words that He spoke? What were His final encouragements, instructions, and blessings upon His people?
Mark 16:15-19 "And He said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In My Name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. So then after the (Master) had spoken unto them, He was received up into Heaven, and sat on the right Hand of God."
The Saviour's final words to His people came to be called The Great Gospel Commission. The disciples took those instructions and encouragments and lived by them. And in so doing, the whole world was changed. In their lifetimes, God was able to use them to preach the Gospel to the entire then-known world! Obviously, the Saviour's Last Words were words to live by for the early Christian believers!

In William McBirnie's book, The Search for the Twelve Apostles, a compelling amount of research goes into to showing where each of the apostles went in carrying out the Gospel Commission in the Saviour's Last Words. 

Simon, Matthew, and Mark carried the Truth down into Africa. Bartholomew hit the region now known as Saudi Arabia. Thomas went to the region now called India. The other Simon went to the British Isles. James went to Spain. Andrew was in Germany and Eastern Europe. Paul went to Italy, etc...

And from their work in spreading the Gospel, obeying the Saviour's Great Commission, many became converted, kept the Torah, and observed the holy Days which Yahweh had given. Here are a few powerful quotations, showing the fruits of this powerful effort:

The people in the British Isles kept the Law of Moses, including keeping the Passover (after Christ's death) - which were things which they claimed to have learned from the apostle John, directly.

When Rome tried to strong-arm the Christians to stop keeping the Feasts and living according to the Torah, these converts of the Great Gospel Commission refused to budge. Consider the testimony of Polycrates from about 200 AD:

Therefore we keep day undeviatingly (without changing in the smallest particular), neither adding nor taking away. For in Asia (Minor), great luminaries sleep and they will rise on  the Day of Glory from Heaven and seek out all the saints. Such were Phillip (a disciple) and two of his daughters (who were prophetesses)... There is also John, who lay on Yahshua's breast... And there is also Polycarp at Smyrna, both bishop and martyr, from Eumanaea... All these kept the fourteenth day of the Passover according to the Gospel (a reference which shows that they were taught about keeping God's holy Days as part of the Gospel Commission) never swerving, but following according to the Rule of the faith (God's Law). And I also, Polycrates, the least of you all, live according to the tradition of my kinsmen... For seven of my family were bishops (leaders of the early Christian church) and I am the eighth. My kinsmen ever (always) kept the days when the people put away the leaven (the Feast of Unleavened Bread - Leviticus 23:5-6)... Therefore, brethren, I who have lived sixty-five years in Yahweh and conversed with brethren from every country, and have studied all the holy Scriptures, am not afraid of threats. For it is better to obey God rather than men,"
(Polycrates' Letter to Victor, Bishop of Rome, quoted in Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History)
The idea that the Seventh-day and annual Sabbaths were not to be kept after Christ's Death - indeed that they were nailed to the Cross - cannot be true. Only papal Rome refused to honor the days which Yahweh had sanctified. And history records that it was Rome who threatened the pressured the churches all around the world working to force them to stop keeping the Sabbath, Passover, Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, etc... all of which they were taught to do during the Great Gospel Commission.

Clearly, if the holy Days were nailed to the Cross, why did no one get the memo? - No one, that is, except for the papal power? Actually, it is documentable that the apostles taught the Christians to keep the Torah - including the Sabbaths - all over the world. It wasn't a "Jewish thing" at all - it was a Christian thing! How so? These things were understood to be part of the Saviour's Last Words. They were included in the Gospel Commission!

Here are a few examples to show that the Feasts of Yahweh (recorded in Leviticus 23) were kept long after Calvery - and in the most "unjewish" of places - how about Ethiopia for example:

Patrick of Ireland, who is now heralded as a "Catholic Saint", was actually a Sabbath keeper (who was ultimately martyred by the papal power for his refusal to give up the Sabbaths and keep the papal days).

Yahweh's Days from Leviticus 23 were kept by Christians throughout Scotland and Ireland.

The Waldensees were a special group of Christians who remained faithful to the teachings of the apostles, in spite of terrible persecution - and even martyrdom. Their hymns were absolute indictments of Rome, making their own commitment to Torah and God's holy Days clearly known. Consider the following Waldensean hymn, translated from German:

 And what was Rome's response to such resistance? The Inquisition!

Because the Waldensian parents were being tortured and killed and because Bibles were being burned to cover the Truth and keep it from the people - Waldensian parents preserved God's Word by keeping pages of it in separate hiding places. They sewed it into their clothes. They hid it in their homes. And they snuck down into the valleys where the villagers were not allowed to hear the Word of God. They knocked on village doors, never knowing if the ones who opened the door would be truth-seekers or betrayers. They read the Bible to the people. And in so doing, they kept the light from the Gospel Commission alive - even though Rome did everything in its power to extinguish it.

Finally, to make certain God's Word would survive, they preserved it by having their children memorize large portions of Scripture. The children, when lined up together, could recite the whole Bible!

Scripture tells us that the Gospel will be preached to the whole world once again - at the End of the World. There are no wall flowers in this work. Every follower of Christ is called to heed His Words. Every follower of Christ is to participate in taking the Gospel to the whole world, with power:

Mark 16:15-19 "And He said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In My Name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. So then after the (Master) had spoken unto them, He was received up into Heaven, and sat on the right Hand of God."
And what will be the Message that we give? Has it changed? Did the Gospel change after all these years? Or does it still involve upholding God's maligned Law - just as it did the first time it went to the whole world?

The Great Gospel Commission doesn't change at all. In fact, to show that it doesn't change, it is called the "Everlasting Gospel":
Revelation 14:6-7  "And I saw another angel fly in the midst of Heaven, having the Everlasting Gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His Judgment is come: and worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters." 
Just as it did the first time, the Everlasting Gospel involves four parts, which Yahshua commissions us to carry to the whole world:

Everlasting Gospel PART 1: Fear Yahweh

What does it mean to "Fear God"? Scripture tells us that if we "fear God", we will love Him wholeheartedly and will demonstrate it by "keeping" His "Commandments.
Deuteronomy 10:12-13 "And now, Israel, what doth Yahweh thy God require of thee, but to fear Yahweh thy God, to walk in all His Ways, and to love Him, and to serve Yahweh thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, To keep the Commandments of Yahweh, and His Statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?"
In other words, to "fear God" as it says to do in the Everlasting Gospel, involves obedience to Yahweh and His Law.  This is part of loving Yahweh, for He says, "if you love Me keep My Commandments," John 14:15.

Everlasting Gospel PART 2: Give Glory to Him

To give glory to Yahweh is to glorify Him. In Matthew 5:16, we read the we are to have "good works" so that men will see them and "glorify" our "Father which is in Heaven".  Again obedience to the Law is strongly indicated, as "good" works are obedient to the Will of God, by His Grace.

Everlasting Gospel PART 3: The Hour of His Judgment is Come

The next part of the Everlasting Gospel is the acknowledgement - the recognition - that God's Judgment is at hand. Notably, again the Law is a vital part of this as the Law of Yahweh is the Standard by which we are all measured in the Judgment (Romans 2:12-13).

Everlasting Gospel PART 4: Worship Him Who made Heaven and earth...

The final part of the Everlasting Gospel is the injunction to "worship Him" as our Creator. There is a memorial of God's Creatorship which He established at the end of the Week of Creation. Keeping this memorial - known as the Sabbath - is a vital part of worshiping God, as our Creator. In fact, the reason we are told to worship Yahweh as our Creator by keeping the Sabbath is that it was given as a Creation memorial. It is impossible to fully worship Yahweh as our Creator, without keeping the Sabbath.
Exodus 20:8-11  "Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy.  Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the Seventh Day is the Sabbath of Yahweh thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days Yahweh made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the Seventh Day: wherefore Yahweh blessed the Sabbath Day, and hallowed it." 
Polycrates was right on when he said that keeping the Passover was part of the Gospel. This is what he and the others were taught by the apostles, who learned it from Christ Himself. No the Gospel hasn't changed. The Law of God hasn't changed. And the message of Christ to His followers, given in His Last Words hasn't changed - not in word or in meaning. 

So what about you? Are you serving your Heavenly King as a witness? Are you living the Gospel Commission? To answer this rightly, you need to know the Gospel. It is not just the good news that Yahshua has died to Atone for our sins (Law breaking - 1 John 3:4). It is also the Elijah call to repentance and reminding us, by God's Grace, to align their lives in obedience to Yahweh's Torah. Anything less than this is a perversion of the Gospel, also known as the false gospel, which we were warned against.
Galatians 1:6-9  "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from Heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed."
Let's live and give the true Gospel - and nothing less! This is what it means to heed our Messiah's powerful Last Words!