Looking on what is going on and not being of it

Typically of Biblestudents is that they do take the Word of God seriously. They also like to look at the Bible and place it in the light of what is going on today in this world. Watching what is going on many bible-students become convinced that the return of our Lord Jesus cannot be long now.
After the establishment of the Judaic restoration lots of the Jewish community found their way back to the Holy Land. Though many non-religious Jews are making it very difficult for Jews and other believers to live over there. Those Jews are confronted with many other believers in the same God of Abraham, but still do not see who the Messiah is.

Mr Vladimir Putin is showing some of the characteristics of Gog in the recent occupation of Crimea. Gog will similarly move his army suddenly and forcefully in the future invasion of Israel when the time is right in God’s eyes (Ezekiel 38: 10-13). As today with the Crimean occupation, the Western powers will make only a verbal protest, as verse 13 of the quotation shows. The Middle East is in turmoil as the Prophets and Jesus declare. Surely our Lord will soon be here.

Ezekiel 38:10-13 The Scriptures 1998+  (10)  ‘Thus said the Master יהוה {Jehovah}, “And it shall be in that day that words arise in your heart, and you shall devise an evil plan:  (11)  “And you shall say, ‘Let me go up against a land of unwalled villages, let me go to those at rest who dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates,’  (12)  to take plunder and to take booty, to stretch out your hand against the waste places that are again inhabited, and against a people gathered from the gentiles, acquiring livestock and goods, who dwell in the middle of the land.  (13)  “Sheḇa, and Deḏan, and the merchants of Tarshish, and all their young lions shall say to you, ‘Have you come to take plunder? Have you gathered your army to take booty, to bear away silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods, to take great plunder?’ ” ’

The return of Jesus was the hope of the Ecclesia at Ephesus, as we read in verse 14 of today’s reading from the first letter to Timothy. In the second letter (2 Timothy 4:1) Paul wrote,

In the sight of Elohim and the Master יהושע Messiah, who shall judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His reign, I earnestly charge you:

They like we, should know that the Lord Jesus Christ shall judge the quick (living) and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom. Later in the same chapter the Apostle said (verse 8)

For the rest, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Master, the righteous Judge, shall give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all those loving His appearing.

“Appearing” and “kingdom” are concurrent events. The Kingdom of God will be established when Christ returns (Matthew 19:28; 25:31; Luke 23:42; Acts of the apostles 15:16). Jesus is now at the right hand of the Father in heaven (Psalm 110:1-2). The καλος αγων, good fight, was used among the Greeks to express a contest of the most honourable kind, and in this sense the apostle uses it.

Lots of fighting is once more going on. The world is in big turmoil. But in that darkness we can see the light of having more preaching been done in the world, one of the signs that the end would be near. Though we do not know When our Lord will come, we need to be ready like the servant in the parable spoken by Jesus in Luke 12: 31-36. We need to preach the truth of the Gospel to those around us, and to help our brothers and sisters in the ecclesia, and to teach our children the things of God. And importantly, we must try to be content with our lot.

Paul had much to say about being satisfied with what God has given us. The ecclesia at Ephesus had grown from being a small house meeting to a large ecclesia needing more division of labour and organisation. In the earlier chapters of the letter (1-5), Paul writes about the different roles of men and women in the meeting, and about the work of bishops (“overseers” or “elders”) and deacons (“servants”). He also spoke of the widows and young sisters and their responsibilities. And now, in today’s chapter, he writes about servants (“slaves”). Today we would call them “employees” or “workers”, but in Paul’s day they had few of the rights and privileges that employees frequently have today. Paul’s command was that they should give good service to their masters (“managers”, “bosses”) because we are at the same time serving God in heaven. Paul wrote earlier (Ephesians 6:5-7)

Ephesians 6:5-7 The Scriptures 1998+  (5)  Servants, obey your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Messiah;  (6)  not with eye-service as men-pleasers, but as servants of Messiah, doing the desire of Elohim from the inner self,1 Footnote: 1Rom. 6:16-26.  (7)  rendering service with pleasure, as to the Master, and not to men,

In this world we may still see many churches where people do not follow the words of the Holy Scriptures but are slaves of the doctrinal institutions. But we also notice that many more people are leaving those state churches or established church or state church. Either they lost faith totally, or came to wonder about many facts or have loads of questions about Bible writings unanswered by their main church, or at last they have seen that Jesus is really the son of man and son of God, who really died and in the knowledge that God can not die, Jesus came to see that Jesus can not be the God of heaven and earth. They also came to understand we all have to unite under Christ and that this demands, for the time being, a human organisation, where there have to be people who keep the ecclesia going. In this knowledge or understanding we do have to be prepared to make together church and to find workers for God who keep everything in good order.

In the ecclesia all have to offer themselves as servants (slaves) being obedient to their masters according to the flesh, their parents, their bosses, their organisers, their elders, with fear and trembling, in singleness of their heart, as unto Christ; not with eye-service, as men-pleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.

But there were other troubles at Ephesus. As we read in verses 3-5 of our Sunday reading, some were keen on debating and questioning the teachings and words of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul uses the word “wholesome” (Greek word is ‘hygiaino’ from which we get our word ‘hygiene’) to describe the words of Christ, which can make us spiritually healthy.

It is good for us to ask questions about the teachings of the Gospel to understand them better, and to confirm those teachings by looking up Scriptures, but it is not good to take such questioning too far and to start undermining the teachings themselves and engage in arguments about word meanings and introducing the ideas of men. Strife and envy can come into the meeting through such argumentative brothers, and some can be led astray. Rather, we should listen carefully to the elders of the ecclesia (1 Timothy 5:17) and their exposition of Scripture. We can also read some of the books written by wise Christadelphians, like Brother Thomas, Brother Roberts and Brother Carter, to help us enlarge our understanding of the Scriptures.

In verse 5, Paul says that argumentative men may teach that the Gospel can be a means in some way of material improvement “supposing that gain is godliness.” In the same verse, Paul tells Timothy to withdraw himself from these faith-destroying brethren. Gods’ great purpose is to develop a faithful people through trials and hardship (1 Peter 1:7; Job 23:10). The eleventh chapter of Hebrews is a reminder to us of the sufferings of the faithful that prepare them for the perfection of the kingdom (Hebrews 11:39-40).

Hebrews 11:39-40 The Scriptures 1998+  (39)  And having obtained witness through the belief, all these did not receive the promise,1 Footnote: 1See v. 13.  (40)  Elohim having provided what is better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.

Then Paul declares, that “godliness with contentment is great gain”. Rather than always questioning the Truth, or throwing doubts upon our beliefs and practices, or thinking that we will become wealthy by espousing the truth of the Gospel, we should be satisfied with what God has given us.

“For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.”

These words are simple but profound. The only thing worth having in our brief wanderings, the only real “gain” at present, is peace of mind. We should be content with whatever our present state might be from a material standpoint, knowing that we have a “treasure that neither moth nor rust doth corrupt” (Matthew 6:19-20; Luke 12:33).

Paul wrote elsewhere (Philippians 4:11-12)

Philippians 4:11-12 The Scriptures 1998+  (11)  Not that I speak concerning need, for I have learned to be content in whatever state I am.  (12)  I know what it is to be humbled, and I know what it is to have in excess. In any and every situation I have learned both to be filled, and to be hungry, both to have in excess, and to be in need.

The apostle had learned, in whatsoever state he was, therewith to be content. He knew both how to be abased, and how to abound. He learned this contentment, this sufficiency. Jesus tells us “Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart” (Matthew 11:29) and we are told in the letter to the Hebrews, that Jesus “learned obedience by the things he suffered”. (Hebrews 5:8). Being a man and not God, Jesus also had to learn things and sometimes it also was the hard way, by suffering. The Messiah did not extol himself to become the mediator or our master and High Priest. It was Jehovah who made him higher than angels and took him by Him at His site to become a mediator between God and man and to be a High Priest.

Hebrews 5:7-11 The Scriptures 1998+  (7)  who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and petitions with strong crying and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His reverent fear,  (8)  though being a Son, He learned obedience by what He suffered.  (9)  And having been perfected, He became the Causer of everlasting deliverance to all those obeying Him,  (10)  having been designated by Elohim a High Priest “according to the order of Malkitseḏeq,”  (11)  concerning whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.

It was Jesus who choose Paul and made him an apostle to be in all things being instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

Like Paul we too have to see and understand that chastening, suffering and disciplining are absolutely necessary for those who seek to be the sons of God. How can we consider spending all our precious time in pursuit of the riches that perish?
God has guaranteed that if we seek first the kingdom, then everything we need, will be given to us (Matthew 6:33). This cannot be used as an excuse for slothfulness – because among the duties we must perform to God’s honour, is providing for ourselves and our dependents (1 Timothy 5:8).

David in the Psalms knew “godliness with contentment”, despite the frequent turmoil of his life:

Psalm 37:23-25 The Scriptures 1998+  (23)  The steps of a man are ordered by יהוה {Jehovah}, And He delights in his way.  (24)  Though he falls, he is not cast down, Forיהוה {Jehovah} is supporting his hand.  (25)  I have been young, and now I am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Or his seed begging bread.

Those in the ecclesia gathering should be people who led their steps be guided by the Holy Scriptures, so that יהוה {Jehovah}, the Most High Elohim, God of gods can be delighted in their way. Like the writer of the Psalms those meeting should not fear man but have the assurance and conviction to say

“The Lord is my shepherd: I shall not want”.

Paul goes on to warn Timothy and the Ephesus ecclesia that

1 Timothy 6:9 The Scriptures 1998+  (9)  But those wishing to be rich fall into trial and a snare, and into many foolish and injurious lusts which plunge men in ruin and destruction.

Those who come together as brothers and sisters do not have to boast and would have to hate to fall into temptation. Their aim should not be to have a high place in our society or to be rich. They have to take care not to get many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown them in destruction and perdition. It is not riches themselves that are wrong; it is, trusting in them that turns us away from godliness, as verse 10 states.

1 Timothy 6:10 The Scriptures 1998+  (10)  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some, by longing for it, have strayed from the belief, and pierced themselves through with many pains.

‘The desire of money is the root of all evils’—avarice stifles love of higher things and so leaves the road open to all forms of sin.

Just as Eve was tempted by the words of the serpent, and led away by her lusts, so many are still tempted today.

1 John 2:15-16 The Scriptures 1998+  (15)  Do not love the world nor that which is in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.1 Footnote: 1Jm. 4:4.  (16)  Because all that is in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father but is of the world.

Those eager to get a high position in their civil life or in their religious life love the world, because they want to be seen as leaders and men or women in charge. They should remember that danger is around the corner that the love of the Father is not in them. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. Others could come to laugh with them, also being tempted, to tell them that they shall not stay in that position and that their world shall pass away, and the lust of it, but that the one doing the desire of Elohim shall remain forever.

James 1:14-15 The Scriptures 1998+  (14)  But each one is enticed when he is drawn away by his own desires and trapped.  (15)  Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin. And sin, when it has been accomplished, brings forth death.

(See also Proverbs 10:15). Acquiring riches is a “snare” because it makes us have divided loyalties (“Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24).

The closing verses of our chapter are an exhortation to flee from the pitfalls of wanting to be rich and to fight the good fight of faith. And, appropriately as we come to take the emblems of bread and wine, Paul reminds his hearers, of our Lord Jesus Christ.

“… who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession”. Our Lord told Pilate “Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I would bear witness unto the truth” (John 18:37).

Jesus came into the world, but he was not of it. He refused Satan’s offer of riches and worldly power (Matthew 4:8-10) and remained faithful to that decision and offered his life on the cross. Let us remember him now and follow his example, as we watch and wait for him to come again to set up his glorious kingdom.

Those gathering in unity should help each-other to exhort others and to go out into the world spreading the Good News of the coming Kingdom. They should not worry so much who is doing what and how somebody is doing what, or how many persons somebody can get into the ecclesia, but should be more concerned that the preaching work is done in these important times.

With ringing in our ears, the great rejoicings in a united Jerusalem dedicated to the Lord, we turn to consider the contrasting circumstances of Daniel. Like Hezekiah and all God-fearing people, Daniel’s fervent hope was in the establishment of Jerusalem as the united Throne of the Lord over His people. At the time of his writing both he and the Jews were in captivity in Babylon. Chapter 9 of the Book of Daniel shows that Daniel in his fervour had been reading in the Book of Jeremiah and calculated that Jerusalem was about to be restored as he fervently hoped. Chapter 10 contains Daniel’s urgent prayer for this restoration. He does receive an answer to his prayer – which was very unwelcome! In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a message was revealed to Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar. The message was true, but the appointed time was long; and he understood the message, and had understanding of the vision. (Daniel 10:1)

Let us too understand what has to happen in the world and understand the position of Jerusalem and our position in the community.

Our readings in the Acts of the Apostles detail the great times when the Gospel was actually being preached and how it was received. We stand in this far-off day recipients of the fruits of that “foolishness of preaching” with the Lord’s blessing, which has brought this great understanding to us.

As we ponder the wonderful work of our dear Lord may we each resolve, whatever our individual circumstances, to try to develop those characteristics of faithfulness, anticipation, patience and hope in that Future Day, which has been the Spur in the stalwart lives of those we have been considering.

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Related you may find:

  1. A Plan spoken of in long past times
  2. Russian government has the power to shut down any sort of organisation they do not like
  3. Looming verdict for the one who dares to speak and unravel
  4. Swallowing up Crimea, who is next
  5. Powerful Russia rising from the ashes
  6. Mother of Ukraine or Crimea
  7. Crimea votes overwhelmingly to join Russia
  8. Secret or public return of Jesus
  9. Disciple of Christ counting lives and friends dear to them
  10. A participation in the body of Christ
  11. What’s church for, anyway?
  12. Gathering or meeting of believers
  13. Meeting – Vergadering
  14. Congregate, to gather, to meet
  15. A participation in the body of Christ
  16. Partakers of the sufferings
  17. Some one or something to fear #5 Not afraid
  18. Members of the ecclesia uniting and seeking God’s help in tribulation
  19. Breathing and growing with no heir
  20. Continuing Paul’s Prayer Requests
  21. Atonement And Fellowship 1/8
  22. Atonement And Fellowship 3/8
  23. Missional hermeneutics 5/5
  24. Good or bad preacher

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  • World › Putin denies he left G-20 summit early due to criticism over Ukraine (japantoday.com)
    Russian President Vladimir Putin made an early exit on Sunday from a two-day summit of world leaders where he was roundly criticized over Russia’s escalating aggression in Ukraine, but brushed off suggestions that he had felt pressured.

    Putin was the first leader to fly out of Brisbane on Sunday afternoon as his fellow leaders in the G-20 club of wealthy and developing nations shared a lunch and before they released the communique to cap off their annual summit.

    He also departed Australia shortly before President Barack Obama and European leaders opened their talks on Ukraine, where Russia is backing separatist rebels in the east of the country after annexing Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula in March. In July, A Malaysia Airlines flight was shot down, killing all 298 people on board, while flying over a rebel-held area of eastern Ukraine.

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